* Posts by Jane Fae

116 posts • joined 13 Apr 2010

Should your system offer Mr, Ms ... and Mx?

Jane Fae

Loads of alternatives

There are loads of alternatives - and plenty of discussion of same on the internet. A less offensive term than "it" is "they"...though that can lead to difficulty at times linguistically.

Otherwise - and i did once use this term in a story about an individual who thought they HAD persuaded the Aussie government to ungender them - there are various groups of ungendered 3rd person pronouns, including zie/ze and hir/hirs.

Try this as a basic primer:



Jane Fae

Systems inference

Having had the (mis)fortune to be closely allied to the direct marketing industry for some part of my career, i can reveal that there are many, many systems "out there" that infer gender in one way or another, sometimes quite erroneously.

One route is to infer gender from first name in order to set title. Another is to use title to infer gender in order to differentiate in offers made. All sorts of uses happen: some of the uses were barely lawful then, almost certainly unlawful now.


Jane Fae

Existing law

IN fact a large part of this issue is simply about recognising pre-existing best practice. The Information Commissioner has frequently condemned organisations that collect data "on the off chance of it being useful": there needs to be a proper purpose to collecting it at the time it is collected, otherwise it runs the risk of being "excessive" within the meaning of the DPA.

The Equality Act simply precludes provision of services differentially on the basis of protected characteristics (which include gender) unless for a specified purpose. Insurance, f'rinstance: following EU rulings, at some point next year it will no longer be permissible to discriminate on basis of gender for insurance purposes...at which point, capturing gender becomes, possibly, pointless...possibly a DPA breach...and just another chance for things to go wrong.


Jane Fae

Common sense required

Nah. There are many things in the UK system that are "strictly" unlawful, but which the law would never bother taking up. I think that if you, as individual, mentioned the name of someone who had changed their details in this way with no awreness of that fact and no link to their present name, etc. there is very little case to bring against you.

That is way different from you either, as journalist, carelessly reporting that Ms X, formerly Mr Y, did such-and-such: your words have import and you are meant to have done some fact-checking. And it is also different from an organisation with loads of HR resources to hand, plus its own legal department, exposing some individual to public embarrassment because it didn't tidy up its own procedures.

Also in play would be issues like whether the individual had a grc (these are few and far between) and whether they did, in fact, object to being outed.

So, sure, it is possible for you to break the law in this instance by accident, but very very unlikely for there to be any consequences...whereas if you are assumed to have some duty to think thru what you are doing, then the consequences may be more serious.


Facebook under fire over Israel, transgender bullying

Jane Fae


Excuse me if i can't quite buy this. Unless you go for the absolute free speech argument, including the right of people to shout "fire!" in a crowded cinema, then you'll agree that some speech needs to be looked at. Some speech is performative: by its very existence, it creates issues in the real world.

If you are an absolutist, fine: but i'm not.

And if you're not an absolutist and you agree that SOME speech maybe has sufficiently bad consequences that it needs dealing with, you need to ask what and on what grounds. For me, harm is a very good test. When i'm not writing i am involved in advocacy work and support for minority groups.

I've seen first hand - experienced - the awful consequences of abuse and intimidation and i don't see a page like the poundland one as much of anything else. It outs a named indivicual, exposes her to ridicule, and possibly makes her a target for violent attack. No. That's speech going a step too far.

I have a smidgeon of sympathy with you on the homophobic page. Its talking in general terms, so yes - you could view it as just an empty intellectual exercise. Though again, having seen damage first hand, i'm not easy with that view.



Sex Party's down-under struggles with dominant Catholic priests

Jane Fae


In cases such as these, the "story" tends to consist of official statements and what is given to us from attributable sources.

Where we don't have direct statement, we stick in signpost words like "alleged" and "reported" as we have here. A comment from someone claiming to be an election official is interesting, and worth following up if the story turns out to be more than a storm in a teacup: but since anyone can post on a site claiming to be pretty much anyone they like, comments don't generally get regarded as evidence of anything.

Unless they are from a moderator or similar.


Operation Ore was based on flawed evidence from the start

Jane Fae

Up to a point

The problem with the US advice is that it is only half right for the UK. Yes: it is absolutely true that talking too much to the police in the early stages of questioning could well damage any form of defence you try to run at a later date. So the obvious advice is NOT to talk to them.

Unfortunately, not talking may also damage your defence at a later date. That is because if you have an innocent explanation for your actions and that explanation is not forthcoming until long after you had a chance to give it, there is a good chance that a smart prosecutor will argue that it was concocted between you and your Defence Counsel after the event.


Damned if you do: damned if you don't.

Also complicating is that for some offences, the duty sol will be well out of their depth, and advise individuals to plead one way or another without really understanding the depth of the law they are dealing with. I'd guess the best possible way forward is to say something along the lines of above, stating you'll answer questions fully as soon as a sol arrives - and then use your phone call NOT to get someone from the local roster, but to phone a friend and to ask them to find a dedicated lawyer (i.e., an expert in the law you are deemed to have breached) to turn out.


Labour MP says police should clamp down on online incitement

Jane Fae

Google is your friend

Its not that different. I just tend to write, most places, as Jane Fae....

Jane Fae


You're sort of right: i really ought not to use the phrase, since i know that i don't have its meaning down pat - and therefore am likely to walk into bear traps. In this instance, i think there is enough of the literal meaning of that phrase hovering over the point i made for it not to be 100% wrong - but its far from right, so score one to you, Mr/Ms pedant.

On the other hand, if you follow me at all outside El Reg, you'll be aware that JF Ozimek doesn't exactly work, since its the last name that's the add-on and not exactly my surname, either.

Most of the time, i'm just plain Jane Fae - though not, i trust, an entirely plain Jane.

I hold on to the other bit, from time to time, to link back to the fact that i also have some academic reputation. So - pedanting right back atcha: its either J Fae or J Fae Ozimek. :)


Apple 'gay-cure' app severely slapped

Jane Fae

oh no it doesn't...

the real prob is that many fundamentalists go back to the Old Testament for justification...and there's loads of nastiness in there.

However, the main point of being Christian, as i learnt it, ws compassion and acceptance. And an over-turning of a load of the OT bollocks.

The key teaching is the bit where Jesus specifically picks out the old doctrine of "an eye for an eye" and proclaims it dead, urging people to "turn the other cheek".

I did a piece not that long back (for the Catholic Herald) looking at these sort of issues . Sadly it is not online. However, i spoke to one of the UK's foremost theologians and he had very little to say on the subject that most people would consider "hateful".

He was working with exactly the same doctrine as the fundies...but came to some very different conclusions.

Which i think is the point others on this thread have made: being christian does not inevitably mean buying in to the fundy approach.


Bad Belgian busted by kinky iTunes openness

Jane Fae

Fruit of the poison tree

As someone with a fascination for all things legal, this story intrigues me in two ways. First, is the exact nature of the technology that allowed this to happen. Although i have asked the questions, i am not gettin 100% clear answers - and may never do.

Second is a clear difference between UK and US legislatures in this area.

In the US, many cases founder on the doctrine known as "fruit of the poison tree". That is, where a search of an individual, their premises or their property was carried out without sufficient legal justification, any evidence turned up by such a search may be thrown out wholesale by the courts.

Not always: where someone is clearly a rapist, murderer, etc. US judges will look for ways to bring evidence in. But the principle - and the danger - is well known and makes US police that much tighter in their search and chain of evidence procedures.

In the UK, the informal understanding is that where evidence is relevant, courts will seek to find ways to bring it into play. So you have far less protection against improper search in the UK than you do in the US.

Strangely, this approach seems recently to have been reversed in respect of documents turned up in the financial leg of divorce proceedings. Hitherto, courts had been very happy to look at documents turned up by, say, an unlawful search of a partner's computer if they revealed evidence of financial impropriety.

Now their admissibility is rather more limited.

NSPCC blurs lines as vetting debate kicks off

Jane Fae

No mistake

Nope. Under UK legislation, young persons are children until they turn 18. That dovetails neatly with the UN's view of things, which also has young people as children up to that age.

This is the source of a great deal of legislative confusion, including some of the dodgier provisions of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Thus, it is lawful for two 16-year-olds to sleep together and indulge in various sexual hijinks - but photograph the event and hand out pics...and the recipients of those pics, even other 16-year-old friends - are instantly criminalised.

Hence, too, a lot of the strange surveying by charities like BeatBullying which talks of "children" receiving sexual material over their phones and over the internet.

er, yes: seeing as the little darlings are lawfully sexually active for a couple of years before they reach the magic number 18, its hardly surprising that they get into all manner of sexual stuff. They can, of course, also get married at 16 and, i believe, travel to far off exotic places and kill people at 17.

Nonetheless, they may not buy booze or ciggies until a year later.

If you think of youth as reaching adulthood at 16, you will be very confused. Rather, see them as reaching adulthood at 18, with certain privileges (like sex) granted a couple of years earlier and the picture will be a bit clearer..


Facebook pulls naked smutty filth from NY Academy of Art page

Jane Fae

In the UK...

its the concept that content can be regulated by ISP's amongst others, which is a view of regulation analogous to that taken in respect of film censorship. It derives from the demand for pre-filtering of content.

The difference - the problem -is the sheer volume of stuff.

Compare and contrast the number of films that appear each month with the number of new images, new pages that appear on the net every day.

Those responsible for net content can then choose: whether to censor post-complaint; or to pre-censor. The first produces all the inconsistencies that Facebook encounter and which does their reputation so little good.

The latter, though, is equally problematic. Just imagine: 50,000 new pages a day; 5,000 decisions to censor - and presumably 500 long-winded appeals to follow.

That is the debate that is just beginning - and where that goes will affect a lot of the net to come.


Facebook reviews smut policy after slave site uprising

Jane Fae


The WI do bdsm? Now that i HAVE to see.



Sex offenders will get a review – after 15 years

Jane Fae

Not in England

This case comes from Scotland - and may also be partly the reason why the Scottish legal review of the SOR is slightly milder than the one Theresa May just announced.

The difference is that a peculiarity (?) of the offence of Breach of the Peace in Scotland - but not throughout the rest of the UK, is that a guilty verdict may be followed with your addition to the Scottish SOR. The bike guy got done for doing something strange in his hotel room...was surprised by two cleaning ladies (who in their turn were extremely surprised by what he was doing to his bike)...and done for BotP.

The SOR notification followed.

That would be much less likely in the rest of the UK (and not just because of the esteem in which those south of the border hold their bikes).


Single complaint sparks police raid and total ban on rental movie

Jane Fae


..as someone whose partner has just rented out "TheHuman Centipede".


i shall not even be in the room when that is on.


Europe bites Hungary over media and internet censorship

Jane Fae


Sorry to disappoint, but idid indeed read - or at least skim thru the law, all 200 pages plus of it, last week. I also noted the bits about fines that were imposeable upon those who breached it...that, too, is in there.


Badness-browsing Belgian busted on Brit break

Jane Fae


Just for the record, since i have receved several comments on this issue - some direct to my inbox.

It is fairly standard practice to publish an indiviual's address details. They are a matter of public record and in most cases are given out freely by the courts.

The reasons for doing so are not some peculiar vindictiveness on the part of our publication (or any other): they are purely legal. To wit...publish jus a name, and it is open to any other individual of the same name to claim that they have just been libelled.

Unlikely. But in a career of writing up court reports, chances are that if one is continually careless over such details, sooner or later someone WILL sue.

That may be tough for the individual concerned: but it is also a fundamental principle of English justice: that not only should justice be done, but it should be seen to be done,which means that individuals found guilty of particular offences should be openly and publically identified in court - and that the press may report on this.


Developer accuses TfL of 'fudging FOI requests'

Jane Fae


If you read thru the FOI correspondence, you will see that TfL originally released a sample file (containing a few hundred records) to Adrian to check compatibility. I suspect that this is what is referenced here.

In respect of the rest of the story: I spoke to Arian yesterday, who confirmed he had not got the data he wanted...and also spoke to TfL who said they hadn't given it to him, so...i rather think we are talking about a quite diffeent data set.

(Either that or Adrian and TfL have got together to stage a perfectly bizarrepublicity stunt).


Jane Fae

Not missed...

...but specifically asked. Adrian likes the idea of "some day" creating a real-time app... but i think he acknowledges this would be a wholly different ball game.

This was a one-off request for data at a point in time. End of.

Twas TfL that decided to start adding bells and whistles, including regular updates.


Jane Fae

Wombling free...

Well above their station? We talking undeground or overground, here?



Jane Fae

Parallel lines

Not s muchchicken and egg as parallel lines of development, and touching on issues that will have significant future implicatons for lgal developments in this area.

Organisations have, since the beginning of FOI, attempted to get round it by using copyright as a means to restrict the use of material post-publication. Most infamously, the long-running dispute between parliament and requesters – but also various university cases that have been reported in El Reg.

Personally, I think this is wrong-headed: but it springs from two quite separate motivations. On the one hand, it is just an obstruction tactic. On t’other, I suspect some bodies genuinely believe they are doing their job when they do this, and protecting ip that they have a duty to protect.

This case merely takes the argument one step further on. The data that Mr Short wants does have a commercial value: but there is also no earthly reason why that should stop it being publically available. My sense, from talking to TfL, is that they regarded this as morally, ethically wrong: those who support open access and the various common release projects out on the web will obviously take a diametrically opposed view.

Personally, I see no issue with someone attempting to profit from publically available data. A couple of years back, I modelled up the outlook for people to be drawn into the government’s vetting scheme. I used publically available stats on the Labour market and, I gather, almost certainly re-invented an approach and method used by KPMG on behalf of the Home Office.

I stuck the whole result into excel underneath a VBA shell and made it available to anyone who asked. The whole probably took me about a day’s work and cost zilch.

I bet KPMG charged a load more! But their argument would be that they deserved some payment for the work required to build the model.

The only irritation with this process is that the HO kept saying that KPMG had “modelled the outlook” – which was nonsense. They’d worked out an outlook, based on feeding one set of parameters into their model – and then they had chosen not to reveal to the public what would happen with different parameters. Anyone using my model could have played endless what-if games by changing parameters…so in principle, mine was better value for the public.



Councils show true grit in the face of ... FOI requests

Jane Fae


Would you like to tell me a bit more about this by sending a message to me off-board (just click on my name in the piece). Would be very interested.


Daily Express social network pwned by slew of smut

Jane Fae

Oh dear...

...the Express admin appear to have got their act together and done something to remove the offending material. So nothing to see here after all.

Oh. But what's this "cached" button do?

Oh my!

Well, i never....


Jane Fae

Quite the opposite...

...being of Eastern European descent myself.

No: there is no such “language” as Eastern European – but there is the slavic group of languages, in which many many words appear in similar form across several different languages.

There’s enough similarity for me to be able to work out the content of a Polish conversation from my knowledge of Russian – and vice-versa. I don’t know the exact etymollgy of “proverka”: I’ve encountered it in a russian context…but it’s the sort of word that almost certainly crosses over. So, not knowing the actual language of origin, I was playing safe: if anyone knows it is DEFINITELY linked to one country rather than another, would be interested to know that.


Canada steps closer to legalising sex work

Jane Fae

The law...

Mmmm. That's why i wrote:

"The federal government in Ontario is in a lather after the Superior Court of Justice struck down laws against keeping a common bawdy house, communicating for the purposes of prostitution and living on the avails of the trade."



Did UK.gov break the law with its child database?

Jane Fae

Mathematically challenged

The numbers aren't exactly anything, since at various points throughthis process, the DCSF was quoting dfferent approximations and ranges. The start figure, in one place, was 320k...which would give the lift to 400k as 25%. However, they didn't even forecast a definite rise to 400k: it was a range.

The bottom line is: at one point they were suggesting about 300k. At another, they were suggesting about 400k. If you take bottom of lower range to top of higher range, you are probably looking at an increase of the order of 40-something percent. If you take top of lower to bottom of higher, you are closer to 20%. Guess i may be letting them off lightly by notgoing for the most extreme figures.


Climate change apocalypse NOW

Jane Fae


So, like, that means i only annoyed 10,000 people?


Jane Fae

Really? I mean REALLY?

i wrote "mild" and i meant "mild" - and i did that from the persepctive of having read both the IPCC FAR and the Stern Review pretty much cover to cover - plus various helpful documents from the US DOE, the UK government and the like. Bonus points for you if you did the same: points away if you haven't.

You also need to pay attention to the detail: I am not taking issue here with the judgement delivered by the ASA, as with the poor quality of the complaints. If you read the ASA report, you will see they are in such general terms, and critical of the whole climate change edifice to the extent that they don’t really add up. There IS a consensus that extra CO2 causes warming…and there is also conssensus that a chunk of the current increase is anthropogenic.

Now go find me a decent model that puts quantifiable bounds around those two measures. And the difficulty is you can’t. What you get (courtesy of Stern) is 13 different reviews that come up with the range I quote. You also have the IPCC stating that a 2 degree rise in temperature is not ideal, but manageable. So whilst it would not be ideal, I think it justified as being termed “mild” by comparison with some of the other scenarios out there.

And again, if you know your climate science, you will know that a projected increase in atmospheric CO2e to 1000 ppm above pre-industrial levels is presently considered way outside likely outcomes. Not impossible: but a very extreme outcome, when the majority of medium-term projections out there right now are suggesting an increase of 450-550ppm.

So what’s my point? DECC, then Act on CO2, then ASA and finally Ofcom have all agreed that the ad in question was OK “because” scientists have said it “could” be possible. Sure: I agree it “could”. But this strikes me as a very very bad principle indeed. Becauze you end up saying that you can say pretty much stick anything in an ad and have it deemed non-political if one of the outcomes you highlight “could” just remotely happen.

As for being a sceptic…? Yes, in terms of the detail: no, in terms of the trend. It might help if you check out my publishing record OFF the record before you toss that sort of word across my bows in future.

I’d certainly describe myself as an expert on the issues around climate change (though not a scientist)…and the fact that I am likely to be publishing extensively in that field over the next 12 months suggest that others agree with me.

Jane Fae


First, i am going to aplogise for mis-reading a figure. The range should be 2.8 to 17.1. The figure comes not from the Exec summary, but from table 1.1 in "Part I: Climate Change – Our Approach". I am not saying that 2.2 - or even 2.8 - per se, is a wonderful outcome. Just that for the most extreme outcome currntly being modelled, the range of associated tempeatures is so wide as to be almost meaningless in practical policy terms.

If you look even at the mid-range of current forecasts (450 ppm to 550 ppm) you are predicting a change ini temperature between 0.6 and 9.1 degrees celsius.

Unlimited CRB checks may fall away

Jane Fae

Racial screening

Yes. As several people have commented in debate on this matter elewhere (i can't remember if Ms Featherstone made the link herself), the chances of a young white boy being picked up for the same reason are significantly smaller - or at least believed to be such.

So in this instance, the colour is relevant.


Have hordes of sex workers snubbed the Commonwealth games?

Jane Fae

Politically correct?

Thanks. For the record, i use the term beause it is what many - but no, not all - sex workers seem to prefer.

Partly becaue there are serious negatve connotations with the p-word, as it finds is way into language pejoratively in the sense of "to prostitute oneself", and also because of the now abolished offence of "common prostitution".

Second, because not everyone presumed to be turning up at these games, trafficked or otherwise, would be necessarily there as a "prostitute"...which does have current legal definition which includes oneor other forms of penetrative sex.

Someone providing "extras" in a massage parlour is a sex worker but not technically a prostitute. A dominatrix - at least in the UK - may be a sex worker but probably is not a prostitute.

And so on.

Overall, though, my touchstone is courtesy. I don't believe the law should proscribe against using particular words or phrases. I emand the right to be tactless, insulting or offensive. But in general, i really don't believe i should be any of those.

If people who do sex work prefernot to be referred to as prostitutes, i consider it common courtesy not to refer to them as such - and the fact that i have the privilege of writing for a widely-read site makes that courtesy more, not less, necessary.

I mean otherwise, i might start suggesting that some IT workers were prostituting their talents...and then where would we be? :)


Internet firms welcome CEOP chief's exit

Jane Fae

Might be worth talking

very happy to follow this up...if you want to drop me a line off-board.

just click on my link on any of my stories.


US college girls: Fatter roomie helps control 1st-year plumpening

Jane Fae


I'm sure this story is just WRONG...in loads of ways.

Very funny.

But wrong!


Facebook fudges policy in page-purging pickle

Jane Fae

thanks, trev

Yep. I’d more or less buy this. I freelance. At any given time, I maight be writing pieces for the Register, Erotic Review, Index on Censorship, Business Insights, Police Review…to name but a few.

The way it goes is: I pitch an idea…two or three sentences. If an editor likes it, they’ll say yes, give me a wordcount, and off I go. I am expected to check out the publication so I have some idea of style, permissible content, etc. though there are things that don’t appear in the editorial guidelines for a lot of publications that, in time, you just get to know.

I know, therefore, that a proportion of my court pieces don’t get picked up because I get excited by ongoing trials…whilst editors are very wary of contempt of court. I also know, in respect of one top-shelf mag, that I may not submit pieces that in any way explore issues that might be considered to skirt the borders of non-consexual sex.

That is interesting, because there is an odd sensitivity there based on context: cosmo, f’rinstance, did a fairly insightful piece on “rape play” and why women even contemplate it. I wouldn’t bother pitching that to a mag like Foreplay, because even if I did it as serious insightful treatment, they would be far more concerned at being seen to advocate non-consensuality, whilst Cosmo can trade on its reputation and “everyone knows” it wouldn’t.

Another mag – not the Register, but I ain’t saying who – drives me up the wall with their nit-picking corrections. Some editors are secret sub-editors! Though at the end of the day, they usually do a good job and I can see how their input improves the quality.

On t’other hand, humour is a minefield and there have been times when I and even the world’s greatest sub-ed’s have fallen out on this one.




Is US prudishness ruining the internet?

Jane Fae


Hmmm. I write tis after reading the early comments, so maybe the overview changes. However, i get the distinct sense that i have failed in this piece. Because a fair few people haven't got what i was getting at and, in the end, it is my job as a writer to communicate my meaning clearly.

This s not having a go at anyone in particular (americans, puritans, anglo-saxons). Nor is it particularly advocating any single moral stance. Rather, this piece was intended to explore the question of whether it might be damaging, culturally, if some of the world's largest social media all tend to be managed or owned by representatives of one cultural strand.

Facebook and Apple are good exemplars of that strand.

Its certainly not about whether theit take on censorship is good or bad. I am informed that my outpourings tend to be regularly blocked in the Middle East. Fair enough: i don't agree with tha view, but if the authorities in Dubai don't wish to permit their populace to access my subversive writings, that is between the people of Dubai and the government of that country.

What would be far more contentious would be if Dubai controlled a major media channel, and censored off the air all mention of a particular debate...or certain sorts of images.

That is compounded in this case by the fact that the world's largest social networking site is US controlled: the world's fastest advancing mobile technology is US-conrolled...and so on.

Its not a particularly US phenomenon: probably, as some have sugested, more of a corporate one. TheUS, culturally, is far more tolerant of speech than many European countries...but far more squeamish about imagery we would probably consider quite acceptable. (I am reminded of comments from another context altogether: UK legal representatives incapable of understanding what particular imagery they have declared extreme and pornographic could be if NOT produced for sexual titilation).

Perhaps a far more mundane example - but maybe even more insidious - is the fact that many spell check programmes are set initially to the US version...creating a generation of UK schoolkids who believe the US spelling of various words is the "correct" one.

Personally, i think nudity is pretty much a non-issue, and find Facebook's obsession with it to be laughable. It worries me a little, though, as it contributes to sexualisation of imagery that is often not meant to be sexual.

Back to Apple and corporatism: the arguments going on are between Apple and news media owners in the US, in Germany and in the UK, because Apple is close o demanding they censor their news in order to be published on Apple. Acceptable? A lot of people thnk not.

To be honest, at the end of the day, i felt that the bigest issue out of all of this is the way in which accounts get banned on a simple complaint: if the corporatesare teaching anything, it is that offense = power. Get offended and you have a right to dictate things to othrs...not a good result.



Jane Fae


What a wonderfully self-revelatory post. "Filth"? Not sure that was what i ws writing about at all. Rather, my focus was on the differeing values adopted by different cultures and questionng whether itis a good thing if one culture's hegemony, technologically, resulted in those values being pushed around the world.

Probably not something many americans worry about at present...but imagine if the boot were on the other foot...and the US was being systematically "swamped" with Chinese cultural values.

One prime area where this issue comes up is in respect of nakedness. There is no a priori reason for considering nakedness to be "filth": the focus of a lot of my commentary was not on pornographic action, but simple display of the human form.

That was why i raised the issue of Germany, where two different cultures, reunited after years apart are struggling to come to terms with their differing attitudes to nudity.

So what is the issue? Presumably ac, in this instance, finds nakedness in any context to be "filth". I am not going to persuade him (or her) of the wrongness of that point of view. It is merely worth noting that that is not a position held by everyone: indeed, in some quarters, that position might be considered downright disturbed.



Sussex police try new tactic to relieve snappers of pics

Jane Fae

Spot on...

Actually, you have it in a nutshell, and there is no good answer...(and just wait for my next piece on this subject!).

There are problems whichever way you leap. If you allow journalists to "self-identify", then anyone with a blog gets to be a journo...and the exemption spreads very wide.

However, if you go the other route, with increasingly draconian rules about accreditation, you can end up with a situation akin to that in some highly authoritarian countries where a journalist can be kept in line by a threat to remove her accreditation.

Which do you prefer?


Godly Aussie MP accused of being online 'smut' junkie

Jane Fae

Oh, dear...

...yet more evidnce that anything slightly fancy is wasted!

The original quote, of which i am well aware is "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak". Comes from Matthew 26:41 .

I was trying to be ever so slightly clever by inventing a variation on that. I see now that i shouldn't have been. :(

And oops...my original version went: "whose spirit may have been all too willing, but whose flesh proved that bit stronger". It was a delibrate play with the original.

That said, i rather think i prefer the subbed version, which maintains the allusion, but still inverts the idea.


Jane Fae
Paris Hilton

Motes, beams and political implications

The two are hardly unrelated. The link I make is a very practical one – as John Major found out to his cost in the UK.

In general, family and politicians’ private lives are off limits. Not totally: and if family are involved in criminal wrong-doing, then they become fair game.

Back in the ‘90’s, John Major started banging on about “family values”, at which point, personal morality became an issue…and a number of his MP’s suddenly got outed as serial cads and sleaze-bounders.

Now fast forward to Australia. If things had gone differently and, electorally speaking, Ms Gillard was now in bed with Fiona Patten of the Australia Sex Party…. If the Labor Party advocated minimal net censorship…then stories about politicians surfing for smut would be mostly irrelevant.

However, in a system where the government advocates a clean net and keeps having to do deals with far right independents and the likes of Family First (which I know they haven’t just done…but the principle remains), personal political morality is very much in the frame.

The story of the rev Nile is merely a cautionary tale…but with implications for national politics should any of Julie’s 75 parliamentary supporters have smut-gobbling tendencies. A warning of things to come.

Paris...cause she'd have no probs dealing with smut-goblins of any tendency. :)

Underweight passport pic left traveller stuck in Amsterdam

Jane Fae


for some reason, it hadn't ocurred to me that this issue might just apply to me. In view of the number of people who lately have told me i look "totally different"...maybe i'd better not be doing any international travel in the near future.



Defra gifts £22m to payments quango

Jane Fae

£40m isnot that much?

Perhas it isn't. That much, that is. But it would be nice to be able to have some detail to work with.

Before i took up the pen again - oh, ok, keyboard - i spent some twenty years building and managing fairly chunky databases for some equally chunky organisations. I certainly have come across this sort of cost level elsewhere...most notably in a government department that appeared to believe that an £1100 call-out charge for pc support at the weekend was OK.

But to be honest the issue here is NOT the cost, so much as the accountability. This is not a Natural England system...because if it was, there would be pressure on them to manage down costs. It isn't exactly a DEFRA system, because they just shell out money and get it straight back.

In short, there is nothing in the system to encourage anyone to shift costs downward and the hands-off arrangement makes finding out stuff doubly difficult.

DfT denies deliberately misleading on speed cam stats

Jane Fae

Straw man argument

The automatic corrollary to saying that the figure published is not the right figure is not that the "right" figure is the pubished figure less the number just owned up to.

The actual state of play is that the DfT had evidence that said: at speed cam sites, the reduction in KSI after putting a speed cam in place is x%. The amount of reduction definitely NOT attributable to the speed cam is y%. Therefore the amount of reduction that MAY be attributable to the speed cam is (x-y)%.

Not IS, but MAY. However, i am also aware of work that challenges any claim that the true reduction in KSI is (x-y)%. So it is fair to say that the oft-quoted figure is wrong: not fair to say that we now know that the real figure is whatever is left.

As someone with a healthy respect for stats, this bothers me, because it feels very much like the DfT has cut the ground from under its feet. If they had come clean in the first place, then people would be far more likely now to buy into the reduced figure. As it is, they are in the position of saying: sure, we knew our figures were misleading, but we published them anyway...

Likelihood of people having great confidence in what is out there now? Not great would be my guess.

The irony is that places like Oxfordshire DO appear to have done some of the regression to the mean studies needed...whereas some other partnerships (Devon and Cornwall spring to mind) haven't. Yet, on the basis of what is quoted by officials, it is next to impossible now to separate out junk stats from decent peer-reviewed and critiqued invetigations.

That is a breeding ground for junk stats from all sides, making a total nonsense of the debate. But it could have been all different: if the DfT in the first place had taken note of the various critiques made of their work, done a longer-term study using independent academics considering each of the methodological criticisms made - and maybe also published a gold standard methodology for assessing the utility of speed cams...well, not everyone would have bought into that, but a lot more would.

So if you ask me what the real story is here? A well-intentioned government department getting its comeuppance for being too superior, too economic with the truth - even if that was done at some point for the best possible motives.


Cutbacks strip speed cameras from Blighty's roads

Jane Fae

Punishment of over-eager motorists?

Hmmmm.... seems like a good place to mention a recent Cambridge incident.

There, for those unfamiliar with the city centre, automated bollards go up and down depending on whether the approaching vehicle has the requisite key fob (or gizmo...) or not. So buses, taxis, etc. may enter the town centre. Others may not.

Watched, one saturday, what happens when you try and sneak through in the tail of a bus. The guy was not swift enough.

Cue large popping sound (as bollard took out nearside tyre). Cue clatter, as front bumper fell to the ground. Cue large pool of water, as something obviously essential got ruptured inside the engine. Add in airbag going off - apparently the car objected to being "shafted" in this fashion...and the engine coughing to a halt a few yards later.

Hmmm.... not bad for a few seconds thoughtlessness. A repair costing several thousand pounds (unless the car was a total write-off). Public humiliation. And an interesting insurance claim.

If you hurl your car at a brick wall, do you get your money back? Dunno...but this seems similar.



Academics challenge moral consensus on sex and the net

Jane Fae

Why did i just KNOW...

...that someone would make this comment.


Professor warns Aus firewall is undemocratic

Jane Fae

If you can talk...


I can understand how awful this is - and therefore how difficult it is to talk about. That is one of the reasons i continue to report on this subject. I am aware of others who have suffered in similar ways - and their parents have not blamed some nebulous "other" - but actually set up a campaign to make information that much more available.

If you can do so, i would be very grateful if you contacted me off board. I'm not in the business of writing up every story no matter how sensastional - but if this case can be used as background in future, it would be very helpful.

many thanks,


Romford coppers try to stopper young snapper

Jane Fae

Organisational sensitivity

Personally, i find that whenever organisations spot that you are actually noting down what is being said, there is an odds-on chance the call will then terminate.

That is what happened with the police on the night: i phoned the call centre to ask about the law. I listened. I tapped notes into my keypad as he talked.

At some point, he went: "wait a moment" (or words to that effect): "what's going on. you're not taking notes are you. I'm terminating this call".

And he did.

Silly boy!

In a way, this seems to be little more than an extension of the problem that police have with photography generally. Tis absolutely OK...de rigueur, in fact...for them to photograph all and sundry as they attend demos. Its absolutely not OK, according to some police officers, for the public to photograph them.

Aus politicians puppeted by hackers

Jane Fae

Not so sure

i would agree that much of the material appers to be pure spoofing, the page content did appear also to be tampered with...certainly in terms of a phrase that was removed later.

I also have the comment from one of the individuals directly associated with this incident, to the effect that individuals "got into their system".

Sure sounds like hacking to me....unless it is being deliberately spun as such by the ACL.


French judiciary makes transgender boob

Jane Fae

The IT angle?

Strangely enough...well, there probably isn't much of one to THIS story...but i would be interested in more general feedback since a) i am currently writing a fairly serious paper on the implications of identity change (name, title, gender) and b) i have a fairly strong suspicion that many current systems are not built to withstand this sort of messing around with.

Two reasons, really: first, that some fields/variables tend to be regarded as either fairly invariant - or almost always precursors of other fields. Specifically, the link between gender and title: but there are other links in there too. Also, few systems have audit trail capacity for issues of identity.

I was told recently by one public organisation that, in order to prevent fraud, they required documentation prior to changing some details on their system. OK. that's not actually logical, but we'll give them that.

However, it turns out they are then NOT storing any copy of the original physical documentation, over-writing old details with new and - if they're lucky - some data entry person will note the change in the comments field. Secure? I think not.

This piece was about gender identity...the above paper looks both at gender and the issue post-marriage/divorce.

I think these issues are going to be much more important to systems designers over the next few years for a number of reasons. First, the marriage/divorce issue will always be there. Second, the number identified as transgender in the UK has been multiplied by ten over the last decade. Two Home Office reports, approx. ten years apart, have dramatically uprated the numbers likely to be involved.

A couple of other straws in the wind: a number of jurisdictions - including the EU and Australia, not to mention many US State legislatures - are now well on the way to recognising gender as a matter of self-identity rather than biological fact. You may like or dislike that policy. What cannot be argued against is that over the last few years, almost every major western legislature has started to implement it.

Last but by no means least, and here my antennae could be twitching in error: from covering the various alternative scenes in the UK and to a lesser extent in Europe and elsewhere i am encountering an increasing tendency to reject conventional labels. Non-gender as political statement seems to be on the rise... even on the part of those who are firmly wedded to their male or female tackle.

So...not...there wasn't much of an IT angle in the article: but i suspect it is coming...and will require a rethinking of how some systems get linked together.


ISA circling the drain

Jane Fae


Generally unadmissible, then....subject to common law practice, as codified in CJA 2003...not to mention whatever the last government was tinkering about with just before it departed.


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