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back to article UK.gov's web filth block plan: Last chance to speak your brains

A 10-week public consultation on blocking online pornography to "protect" children browsing the web ends today. And unsurprisingly many of those for and against such a plan have been lobbying hard as the deadline for opinions on the matter closes. The government wants UK internet service providers to install filters that, by …

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Headmaster

Green Cross Code

I thought you'd missed the 'L' from their christian name, and after reading that ludicrous statement I know you have.

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WTF?

Re: Green Cross Code

Indeed, the Green Cross Code is all about teaching kids how to safely cross the road, not denying them the option of crossing the road at all until they hit whatever age is deemed appropriate. Proper parenting, i.e., TALKING to your kids about pr0n and being safe online, is a much better idea. And kids will be kids, they will work round whatever block you put in place, if only because of curiosity.

Remember floppy disks? Not the small ones, I mean the old 5.25in version (yes, that old!). I used to work at a school that tried to ban them because kids were bringing in "filth" on the disks and copying it for their mates' disks using the school computers. As soon as the ban was in place a lively black market sprang up in the playground, with contraband disks selling like hotcakes, and interest having spread to those kids that originally had no interest in either computers or said "filth". It got to the ridiculous point where one busybody teacher wanted to search children entering her class, even though her classroom didn't have any computers in it! Eventually, as a compromise, we removed all the floppy drives from the classrooms and pretended that had cured the issue. No-one, at any stage in the farce, actually wanted to sit the kids down and explain to them why they shouldn't be looking at pr0n.

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Re: Green Cross Code

Why shouldn't kids be looking at porn? I seem to remember jazz mags doing the rounds in my days. Am I a damaged deviant now? (Don't answer that one.)

Seriously, has anyone ever challenged the Government to defend WHY images of boobies and willies are such a menace to society that I will have to be added to a list if I want to keep seeing them on the smut-pipe?

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Re: Green Cross Code

teaching the Green Cross Code, using seat belts, fitting car seats and so on

It's quite apt they mention car seats. Just like this proposed filter, they give an illusion of safety

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=um5gMZcZWm0

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Big Brother

@auburnman - Re: Green Cross Code

"has anyone ever challenged the Government to defend WHY images of boobies and willies are such a menace to society that I will have to be added to a list if I want to keep seeing them on the smut-pipe?"

Because we're all such weak-willed and morally bankrupt individuals that if we see this stuff we will immediately be mentally scarred for life and want to go out and commit all sorts of horrible crimes based on anecdotal post-hoc justificatinons such as "well person X looked at porn Y and then did Z, so *obviously* it was the porn what caused it..."

Clearly words like "conscience" and "consent" and "respect" do not feature in our vocabularies at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Green Cross Code (Why shouldn't kids be looking at porn?)

Because there is one hell of a difference between some of the videos available from pron sites and the tits and front bottom pics you allude to. I certainly wouldn't want my 10 year old to see most of the stuff on a site like Porn Hub, and I take steps, myself, to prevent that.

This is the way it should be. Provide parents with the tools to control kid's access to certain sites, but don't mandate on it. It is my responsibility to determine what is appropriate for my kids at what age and nobody else's.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Green Cross Code (Why shouldn't kids be looking at porn?)

"This is the way it should be. Provide parents with the tools to control kid's access to certain sites, but don't mandate on it. It is my responsibility to determine what is appropriate for my kids at what age and nobody else's."

Almost right, except I believe this should be opt-in. You chose to have kids, you chose to have to enable this to protect them. I agree it should be there, but it should be opt-in for parents who want it. Why should I go on a mission ringing some Indian call centre who doesn't understand me to be added to a "porn viewer bad guy list" etc. to protect your children.

The gov't can even mandate a flyer that is distributed with birth certificates explaining what needs to be done.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Green Cross Code (Why shouldn't kids be looking at porn?)

"Almost right, except I believe this should be opt-in."

Err, that is rather what I meant when I said "provide the tools but don't mandate". English not your first language?

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Re: Green Cross Code

"Why shouldn't kids be looking at porn? I seem to remember jazz mags doing the rounds in my days. Am I a damaged deviant now? (Don't answer that one.)"

The Consultation Form makes no allowance for your views. In one place, it asks how you think filtering of "obviously harmful material (such as pornography)" should be handled. Now I think pornography can be damaging to children because a lot of it is dehumanizing and nearly all of it gives a very distorted idea of what real sex is like (for most of us). But parents should be able to make their own views on this, not have the government mandate what is and isn't harmful. And in my opinion, porn is a lot less harmful than some other stuff such as heavy violence, racist material and the example of the rewards of dishonesty that many of our politicians set for society.

In general, the consultation form is a bit of a "when did you stop beating your wife" document with a number of presuppositions and limitations on what you can and cannot say by the framing of the questions. In particular, it makes little allowance for people who think parental controls might affect them if they're not a parent.

But it's still important to make your voice heard and takes ten minutes to fill out. It can be done here: Consultation Form and takes about ten minutes. We still have a few hours to rant at people who can actually do something, rather than just on the El Reg's forums.

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Re: Green Cross Code (Why shouldn't kids be looking at porn?)

@AC 09:53

It may be your personal preference to prevent your ten-year-old from viewing the stuff to be found on Porn Hub, and that choice is down to you but you have to remember that your children will reach sexual maturity one day, and preventing them from finding out about the many ways adults can express their sexuality is likely to end up with them thinking that anything other than male-female missionary sex is somehow wrong and dirty, and $deity forbid that they grow up, as many people do, with different sexual desires to that standard. Whilst Pron Hub may not be the best education for that sort of thing, I also don't think that most of the porn to be found on the internet is as harmful as you are making out.

Younger children are quite likley to a) not seek that sort of thing out at all because being sexually immature, it won't interest them and b) if they do see it, not understand what is going on, or find it funny.

There aren't really any other areas of human experience where we decide that it's not right for our children to learn about it until an arbitrary age - they can see violence and death quite readily on the news and in soap operas, along with all sorts of nasty psychological bullying that they are more likley to imitate and arguably those are far more harmful..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Green Cross Code

h4rm0ny is spot on about this disgrace of a questionnaire:

I was trying to respond, but as a non-parent and an opponent to opt-out filtering, the form is incredibly difficult to use because a lot of questions would be answered "not applicable" or "I disagree with the premise of the question" or "this is a biased question". The "YES or NO, have you stopped beating your wife?" analogy is correct.

Also, by providing the following categories (out of 9 total): father, mother, grandparent/otherfamily member and... other member of the public, they will be able to easily produce misleading statistics.

Someone with a scientific/statistics background should email the Dept. to ask about whether this document adheres to any accepted/fair standards of survey methodology. They say their contact details are:

"If your enquiry is related to the policy content of the consultation you can contact the Department by telephone on 0370 000 2288 or by email at: ParentalInternetControls.CONSULTATION@education.gsi.gov.uk"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Green Cross Code

Hopefully this magic filter will block the parliament website and MP's twitter feeds both are full of c*nts and w*nkers that are a danger to my kids

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Re: Green Cross Code (Why shouldn't kids be looking at porn?)

But it is not just the hard-core porn that they want to filter. By the definition used in the Perry report when polling how many children have seen pornography, a picture of a toddler waste deep in the sea with a caption indicating that they are not wearing a swim suit is pornography. A photo of the statue at the entrance to Hammersmith Underground Station is pornography. The Cranache poster on the underground is pornography. The National Trust, the BBC, Marine Conservation Society, nearly all newspapers, etc etc are all pornographers. It is fraud, pure and simple. http://www.bn.org.uk/campaigning/censorship.php

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Re: Green Cross Code

Form not there anymore

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FAIL

Face...

...meet palm.

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Anonymous Coward

Welcome to the People's Republic of United Kingdom...

All your rights are belong to us...

AC for obvious reasons...

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Anonymous Coward

"Welcome to the People's Tabloid Republic of United Kingdom..."

Or 'Kingdom of Fear' for short.

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There is a 100% effective filter ...

... or near enough. The kids call it 'POS' - Parent over Shoulder. The solution they are talking about is also called 'POS' by anyone with 0.01 clue-rating, but it stands for something else.

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Re: There is a 100% effective filter ...

Kids are always more technically savvy than their parents. Even good parents stand little chance really. And if you're a parent who thinks you've stopped your kids accessing the web freely, the chances are you haven't.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There is a 100% effective filter ...

"Kids are always more technically savvy than their parents. Even good parents stand little chance really. And if you're a parent who thinks you've stopped your kids accessing the web freely, the chances are you haven't."

You ain't kidding, my Dad bought a PC back around 1998 with one of those physical key locks. It'd been unplugged from the motherboard a week after we bought it. My Dad continued to lock/unlock it without ever testing if it was working for about 2-3 years until we got rid of it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There is a 100% effective filter ...

This is why you don't give your kids access to the internet anywhere other than a shared laptop in the living room or something.

Give them a device that can access the internet in their bedroom or worse a mobile device and you are just asking for it to be abused.

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Re: There is a 100% effective filter ...

"Kids are always more technically savvy than their parents"

When my kids can write network management software for SDH and SONET telecomms systems, I will consider the possibility.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There is a 100% effective filter ...

You don't have to be technically savvy to be an efficient parent. My mum quickly figured out that the little cable going out the back of my computer and into the phone line was "that internet thingy", at which point she started confiscating it.

She did a similar thing with TV aerial leads...

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Happy

Re: Re: There is a 100% effective filter ...

"....You ain't kidding, my Dad bought a PC back around 1998 with one of those physical key locks...." I had a friend that told his Dad that the security lock on the case (to stop physical tampering) actually controlled the power as well. In the evening his Dad would power off the PC and then lock the case, pocketing the key, and later that night my friend would creep downstairs and turn it back on for some illicit browsing. The scheme only became a cropper a year or so later when the son wanted a newer PC but his Dad spotted it didn't have a "power lock"!

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Facepalm

Re: Re: There is a 100% effective filter ...

"....Give them a device that can access the internet in their bedroom or worse a mobile device and you are just asking for it to be abused." Nope, you're simply assuming that you get to monitor all their browsing. A much simpler way would be to sit them down and have a frank discussion about pr0n, sex, Web safety, etc. They are going to see pr0n, be it "soft" or "hard" eventually unless you disconnect from the Internet, throw away the TV, and spend twenty-four hours a day monitoring them until they hit whatever age you consider responsible, so it is a far better idea to get them prep them for it. Or they will be turning to their mates and peers for advice and browsing sessions away from your monitoring.

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Re: There is a 100% effective filter ...

"This is why you don't give your kids access to the internet anywhere other than a shared laptop in the living room or something."

So confident and yet so naive. Your children have friends, right?

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Re: There is a 100% effective filter ...

"You ain't kidding, my Dad bought a PC back around 1998 with one of those physical key locks. It'd been unplugged from the motherboard a week after we bought it. My Dad continued to lock/unlock it without ever testing if it was working for about 2-3 years until we got rid of it."

Yeah did that one too as a kid. He felt in control and we did what we pleased. It was win win.

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Sir

I don't have kids, I never plan to have kids. Why on Earth is it even a question that my internet feed should be filtered because of people who should be opting in to a service that they require (i.e. that they have kids and want their net feed filtered).

Pure laziness, that's all it is.

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Re: Sir

A service you require?

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Re: Sir

You have pretty much excluded yourself from being consulted, then. The consultation is primarily aimed at parents and ISPs and you are requested to identify yourself when replying as "father", "mother", "grandparent", "industry representative" or "other". I'm afraid as a non-parent, you don't count as a "hard-working family"; you're just a drone whose job is to support the (self-) important people in society who've gone to the trouble of making themselves dependent on your income.

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Re: Sir

Thanks Jon, that's cheered me up no end. bzzzz.

As for Cameron:

If only some bright spark could develop a filter that would turn all lies on the internet into truth, I'd vote to make *that* compulsory, I wonder what Cameron would say to that?

"The social response is not something we can leave to chance." <- pass this through the 'truth' filter and you get:-

"The social response is not something we can leave to choice."

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@jon press

I totally agree that it is wrong to exclude those without kids from this consultation.

Your attack on people who do is completely out of order though, it wasn't them who made the rules up.

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@Sir Runcible

Really? Is it so terribly arduous to have to tick a box to indicate your preference for web-filtering, when applying for a contract with your chosen ISP?

Manually deleting all of the "adult" channels from my Freeview EPG, everytime the box gets re-tuned, is a pain in the arse, so I'd rather they had to be added in by those who want them, but is this really worth my while getting upset about? No, not really.

If they're going to have a filter, it'll have to be either opt-in or opt-out. Doesn't bother me either way, but I'd take a wild guess that many of those who want it, don't really know what it is, while those who don't want it are probably very aware of what it is, so having those who don't want it ask to have it turned off, is probably the method that most reliably produces the desired results (assuming that the desired result is a false sense of security among those who want the filter on, I suppose).

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Re: @jon press

" it wasn't them who made the rules up"

I wonder who did, then.

According to Save the Children, "UK total spending on early years more than trebled in real terms between

1997/98 and 2007/08 – from around £2 billion to just over £7 billion in today’s prices, making it probably the fastest-growing major area of public spending". And, "there has been a marked increase in the proportion of 3- and 4-year-olds in receipt of early years education across the UK, rising from 63% in 1997 to 92% in 2008". And as far as overall education expenditure is concerned it grew across the board: "under-5s (88% real-terms growth up to2005/06), followed by primary education (71% up to 2006/07), secondary education (54%), and last, further and higher education (31%)".

There is a net transfer to households with children of around £9500pa for the poorest households, but even the most affluent average a receipt of £2000pa.

The net effect has been a significant and mostly-recent transfer of resources towards parents. Now, this has had the economic effect of increasing GDP as more women (in particular) go back to work and there are more jobs in childcare and education. But increased GDP in Britain simply translates into increased housing costs. Net effect on child poverty - it's as bad as it has ever been and getting worse. Net effect on household financial security - people who rely on tax credits are constantly having to worry about ensuring their fluctuating incomes don't suddenly result in large bills for overpaid credits.

Net effect on politics - groupthink: everything is viewed through the lens of "think of the children". Or to put it another way, to simply question the amount parents receive from the rest of society or their disporportionate influence upon it is "completely out of order".

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Re: @jon press

"I totally agree that it is wrong to exclude those without kids from this consultation."

Even those who don't have kids may one day, *gasp* later have some.

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Re: @Lamont

No, never, absolutely not.

At the current point, nobody has any idea unless I tell them what my preferences are for web browsing, which is as it should be. Anything that limits that access should have to be opt-in to get it - you don't opt-in to gani civil or human rights, they are there regardless, you have to make a conscious choice to have any of them removed (by commiting a crime or whatever).

No legislation should ever be passed that puts the onus on people to have to opt-in to gain more freedom, similarly no legislation should be passed to limit the majority on the say-so of the minority - there are more adult houses without children than there are with.

More-over, the use of the word "filter" is just a friendly way to say "censor" - anybody who is actively requesting that the web is censored for everyone in the UK is insane or possibly a sociopath.

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Re: @Lamont

"......More-over, the use of the word "filter" is just a friendly way to say "censor"...." EXACTLY! Just imagine the public outcry if they had said, for example, that you had to opt-in to receive gay pr0n. Those that wanted to stay in the closet might not be too happy to have to tell their ISP their sexual preference. There is no politician in the land that would dress up such censorship in an anti-gay way as it would be a vote loser, but "think of the kiddies" is always a fave with the politicians pretending at moral superiority.

I have no problem telling the World I have browsed pr0n and will again but I don't see what business it is of anyone else. I'm also not stupid enough to think my kids never saw smut before they hit the age of consent, I just hope I gave them the right mental prep to be able to sort it out. This whole effort is for parents that are either too lazy or ideologically unable to talk to their children (i.e., religious). By all means, make it legal that sites have to have warning banners stating "only enter if you are the age of consent and it is legal to do so in your country", make them add an additional warning for abnormal content, and leave it at that.

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Re: @jon press

Investing money in the future(education) is sensible and improves the wellbeing of the majority in the nation.

I'm sure you've had your share, just like i'm sure there were members of your parents generation who whinged about paying for it.

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Re: Sir

"If only some bright spark could develop a filter that would turn all lies on the internet into truth, I'd vote to make *that* compulsory, I wonder what Cameron would say to that?"

He would say - "Yes, we have already implemented it."

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@relpy

So when a member of the opposition is quoted as calling Cameron a shit sucking wind-bag, then we can take it as gospel?

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Re: @Lamont

It's not censorship if you can tick a box to turn it off. That's like saying putting the steamy books in their own shelf in the library is censorship because you have to go through a door.

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@AC:Re: @Lamont

"That's like saying putting the steamy books in their own shelf in the library is censorship because you have to go through a door."

No, putting a 'only 18's or over' notice on the front page is like putting it behind a door.

Unless by 'door' you mean 'in order to pass through it they need to know your name, address, age, direct debit details' etc.. Then also at a later date, this 'door' can have other things put behind it, and even have some 'secret' doors that no-one is supposed to know about, and of course every time you go through the door it is registered against your name, even if someone else goes through it using your IP details.

If you let them build the capability, they *will* abuse it. Counter-terrorism laws for dog-shit patrol anyone?

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Re: @Sir Runcible @AC:@Lamont (this is getting horribly nested, isn't it?)

Bit late to worry about "them" having your name, address, etc. Internet access is a paid for service, not an inalienable human right.

I really don't think this counts as censorship, as 1) they tell you that they're doing it and 2) they stop doing it if you ask them to. Opt-in or opt-out, it remains optional.

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A straw poll to those who DO watch porn

If this did go through in a way that wasn't possible to evade, would you opt in to your ISP (vote up) or choose not to watch porn any more (vote down)?

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Re: A straw poll to those who DO watch porn

Neither, I'd bypass the filter.

Given I don't see it being any more effective than the TPB filter, it won;t be that difficult.

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Re: A straw poll to those who DO watch porn

It will never go through in a way that wasn't possible to evade, there will always be VPNs and if they blocked the VPNs there will always be black market ISPs. And the filter won't ever be able to block everything, that's why directory sites lost out to search engines - the interweb is too large to manually index.

That's really half the point; the legislation would be ineffective and actually harmful to legitimate users (and not even just porn viewers).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A straw poll to those who DO watch porn

I don't think it's that simple. I foresee an explosion in underground darknet porn sites. There are people that would rather take a trip to the seedy underbelly of the web rather than opt-in to this scheme.

Censorship and prohibition provide the necessity that is the mother of invention.

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Neither, I'd bypass the filter.

Now read the question again. Or re-word as "if bypassing the filter was a lot of hassle"

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Re: Neither, I'd bypass the filter.

I read the question. It's a false dichotomy. That's why I neither upvoted or downvoted you.

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Re: A straw poll to those who DO watch porn

I wouldn't opt in to nothing such madness. Having this type of filter in place at ISPs allows a multitude of things that should not happen:

1) Government has an easy to consult filter statistics and data, even though they have no right to do so

2) ISPs can (based on judiciary incentives) track certain IP addresses through their filter, and therefore people can be spotted by what they are browsing for things outside of the realm what the filters are there for in the first place.

Lastly, and most importantly, every router has Parental Guidance nowadays, most routers can block individually selected websites. Therefore, the Telco Industry has complied with government rules: They gave nearly everybody the option to make browsing safe for children.

The same problem exists here, as with the Red Light Crossers Who Tote Little Children: They don't wanna behave themselves according to the rules, and therefore everybody else has to make sure that the Toted Children are safe, which ironically has nothing to do with me, as the Red Light Crosser is actually endangering the Toted Children.

So I say: I don't want to have to opt-in or out of this. The internet should be on the basis free-communication-for-all (minus some crooked individuals, you know the "explosives information seekers"). Also everybody should behave according to their best safety-interest, and be responsible for their and their offspring safety.

That, though, is the state of society in the modern world: people think too much that they are the most important people, with little regard for anybody else (even their own offspring).

Best regards,

Guus

( I don't want to be anonymous, as I represent the industry in some way shape or form)

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