Slippery Slope to a Police State ?

The ABC is reporting that the Federal Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC – part of the Australian government) has said the unthinkable, that under coming anti-terror legislaton Australia is taking the the first step towards a police state. They quote him as saying:

“The defining characteristic of a police state is that the police exercise power on behalf of the executive and the conduct of the police cannot be effectively challenged and regrettably that is exactly what these laws are proposing,”

The report goes on to say that the judicial review of control and detention orders is illusionary and that the experience both in South Africa and in Australia is that when the government says “trust me” with respect to not abusing their powers that trust is all too often betrayed.

“Revelation of the Palmer report demonstrates how abuses of power can occur where there is no acceptable and realistic way that people can question what is happening to them.”

The Palmer Report (PDF) mentioned there is the report into the wrongful detention of Cornelia Rau and the wrongful deportation of Vivian Alvarez.

But we are not even to be trusted to see the legislation, we cannot talk about the latest draft because the Federal Government have tightened things up so that those in the State Governments can’t reveal them to us. The only reason I can think of is that they don’t want them discussed by the public, they fear what may be found.

Please, contact your state and federal politicians and ask them to open up these laws for discussion in the public domain, let us see what is proposed and work out whether we feel they fit the threat. Surely that’s not a problem if they’ve got nothing to hide – after all, that’s what they tell us..

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

Well we’ve just come back from seeing The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, and I’ve got to say it’s a great little film.

It’s the story of Mark Bittner and his curiosity for, friendship with and care for a flock of wild cherry-headed conure’s who lived around and about Telegraph Hill in San Francisco over a number of years, as well as about his history and what happens to him during the making of the film.

I thought he held his own really well against the parrots, who occasionally tried to steal the show – especially Mingus who set up home under his fridge and oscillates between being very cute and attacking his shoes, forcing Mark to put him outside to cool down for a bit.

If you like birds, wildlife films, documentaries about interesting self-effacing people and a nice gentle warm feeling after a film then this is one for you.

Mark has also written a book about his experiences, and there is a FAQ about the parrots that you see in the film.

Annodex – multimedia neatness

So James has written a very enthusiastic & spot on piece about Annodex, the open source technology from CSIRO that allows you to annotate and index multimedia files (using patent and royalty free codecs, though legacy non-free ones like MPEG-1 are usable in the short term).

I was lucky enough to be at both the presentation and fixit session for Annodex at LCA 2004 and have to say it sounded like an excellent technology, one that is long overdue and badly needed.

The ability to hyperlink into a given time range of a media file and then have just that segment sent to you (rather than having to get everything up to that range, or even worse, the entire file) is, I believe, perhaps its strongest feature.

I made a heap of notes in the presentation, but they’re at work and I’m not, so I can’t make any more comments about what occurred to me about it’s other possible uses..

Google Video

So Google has announced that it’s baby Google Video has come to an arrangement with the US Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation and announced a joint effort to make the Foundation’s Archive of American Television interviews available for free viewing. They say:

Today, the first 75 of the 284 historic films (which equals to about
240 viewing hours) can be watched on Google Video at The collection includes a virtual “who’s
who” from the past 75 years of television.

But it’s more than that, there are all sorts of things there and, of course, you can search them. The downside is that audio and video is out of sync for me. 🙁

Donna’s website in new languages..

I’ve spent a big chunk of the weekend adding links to translate Donna’s website into a variety of languages using FreeTranslation.Com who kindly provide a method to link such that a visitor can click on a page and jump to a translation of it created via their site in real time.

I can’t speak any of the languages, but Donna assures me it’s pretty good as machine translations go for the ones she understands! 🙂