Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Tue 1st Aug, 2006

DC Marketing scam part 002

Got another call from DC Marketing, this time on 02 8404 2207. If you get a call from any number that immediately hangs up, Google it. If you end up at a page on gmanual.net or 4wisemonkeys.com, you've got scammed by DC Marketing.

I'm into proactive response, so (thanks to JT's pointer about who owns the block of numbers they called from) I called Powertel to complain about their customer. I also called Optus (my mobile phone carrier) and complained to them, to pass the hurt on. If everyone did that, then Powertel and whoever else they use for their telephone service will disconnect them. They've already had to move their Post Office box at Spit Junction because one disgruntled person started hanging around it with a baseball bad waiting for the mail collector to show up...

There is no question that what they're doing is wrong. Their marketing is completely misleading. They're not paying a cent for their calls, but instead are getting you to pay to call them. They're calling unlisted mobiles, which is a direct violation of the laws about cold calling - you're supposed to get a list of numbers to call from the phone companies, rather than just trying every number possible (which is what they're doing). And the phone companies will hate them because the call setup process to a mobile ties up a lot of resources, which is instantly torn down again without a cent being billed. You can bet that Optus and Telstra will take them to the cleaners if they get the chance.

And the grand irony is that, if you read their website, the "DC" in their title stands for "Direct Contact"...

Still, I got my "pinch and punch for the first day of the month" in on my brother before he rembered to call me, so the day can't be all that bad... :-)

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Thu 22nd Jun, 2006

Alan Jones, Broadcasting Bigot

And while I'm up here on the goat, I'll just say that there was never a man so evil, so hateful and so black in character as Alan Jones. There was a good article in a magazine I read today about Jones, a man who only once has actually turned up in court to defend his slanders and defamations of people - and that only because the prosecution subpoena'd him as a witness (probably just to piss Jones off - it was Stuart Littlemore, the man behind Media Watch). The brief quotes from Jones about the Cronulla riots, which were taking the racist hatred of the people and pretending that this was just "the voice of the community" while broadcasting them, would turn your hair. Evil stuff.

One question that they ask in the article is: why is there no book on Alan Jones? He's one of the top broadcasters in the country, he's led the South Sydney Rabittohs through a Grand Slam (whatever that means), and he was at the centre of the "Cash For Comment" scandal. No book? Why not? Because he's threatened to sue anyone who publishes something about him. So much for "fair hearing".

In the documentary "Outfoxed", they pointed out that there was an interviewer who the Fox network has as one of its top presenters - I can't remember the name - who was slandering and lying and reporting biased, bigoted misinformation; yet you couldn't sue him for slander since it's only slander (in the USA) when the other person know's that they're not telling the truth, and this person was basically so deluded and so perpetually biased in favour of the Republicans that it was impossible to prove that this person didn't actually believe what they said. Jones, I think, is in the same mould - a person who is so well aligned with the broadcaster's aims that their latent insanity and refusal to accept the reality that the rest of us live in is forgiven in the face of their manifest excellence at raking in tonnes of money.

I don't know what to do about him, though, short of proposing curare on his razor or a high-powered rifle from a good vantage point. You can't take them out, you can't out-speak them, and they have thousands of people who will back them up every step of the way because they share the same delusion. If you listen to Jones, I beg you to regain your sanity and join us in the real world. Switch off the radio and don't listen to the bigotry.

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Why not copy a computer?

Saddle up the goat, I'm going for a ride, thanks to Leon's article referring to the "Copy The Cat" article.

OK, here's an even easier challenge than that: Copy a computer. It doesn't have any biological stuff, so you aren't going to require nanotech or complex chemical laboratories to even start making one. A lot of the parts are readily for sale - PCB, chips, capacitors, etc. You've got a complete blueprint of one inside your computer. It shouldn't be that hard. Let's leave aside copyright issues here. Go on, copy it.

What, you say you can't do it now? That it would take months of time to disassemble the board, to source all the parts, to check the design actually worked the way your now disassembled board used to? And you'd need big complex stuff like wave soldering machines and seven-layer PCB printers? Well, the original board manufacturer's got all of that, why don't you?

The "Copy the cat" argument is absolutely bollocks. Its primary fallacy is Irrelevant Conclusion: "if we can't do it, only God could have" assumes that everything we can't do must be explained by God. That's These people probably don't have the first notion of what a potato does and its role in the overall survival of the potato plant, let alone how to synthesise starches and amino acids and cellulose in a lab. "Oooh, we can't copy a potato, that must mean God exists!" has to be right up there with "God must exist because I can conceive of God existing!" in the realm of "Stupid ways to justify the existence of God."

Because that's what these people are doing. They use "Intelligent Design" because people are weary and cynical of hearing that "God created it all". "Intelligent Design" never means "Aliens created us." It never means "We don't know what created us." It means "And I have this book here that tells us that God is the Intelligent Designer." I do not wonder why these people are trying to hide their stupid, contradictory, hermetic little religions behind the airy sophistication of the "Intelligent Design" moniker: because they know that "Creationism" died back in the fifties. They just can't let go, and their circular, bigoted beliefs tell them to go out and proselytise; like good little marketing executives, they've just simply rebranded it. Claiming that "Intelligent Design does not require the espousing of any religious belief" is really just blushing, just preaching, heh, to the choir.

The fact that they're prepared to play word games with "Fortunate Mutation" - using the popular cancer-derived, eugenics-forming idea that mutation moves 'away' from some 'ideal' - is just further proof that these people have abandoned any "Intelligence" in the "Design" of their arguments and are just relying on sophistry to carry their arguments. Further down they argue that just because we can't create a cat from non-cat materials, there must be an intelligence in the universe. Just another fallacy, carefully wrapped up as a logical deduction. And they have the absolute hide to then ask that ID "be examined on a scientific basis" - as if this hasn't been done countless times before and every examination proved that their arguments are specious at best and absolutely wrong at worst.

You may wonder why I'm so angry. It's simply that these people are the worst kind of hypocrites. They lie, they twist facts and words and arguments, they deny any proof that they're wrong - and then they claim that they're right anyway. They are prepared to do this to weasel their way into an education system that continues to cast them out. Their believers just lap up these 'proofs' in slack-jawed self-confirming agreement, refusing to listen to any of the arguments that might prove that they're wrong. I would be prepared to conclude that belief in God required the sacrificing of ones logical faculties if I didn't know a couple of believers in my local Linux group who are, in every other respect, intelligent, logical and well-read.

It really does make me despair.

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Mon 29th May, 2006

"Missed Call" scam - DC Marketing

I got a call from 03 8102 9565 the other evening. When I say "got a call" I mean "missed a call", since they seem to have tried for about 0.5 seconds to contact me. A brief bit of research turned up a large quantity of pages about these numbers, and the antics of DC Marketing, who are based in the UK with an office here.

Basically, they ring your number but immediately hang up. You don't recognise the number, so out of curiosity you ring back. They then give a rather deceptive spiel which asks you to ring a 1900 number to claim a valuable $40 prize. The $40 prize is actually ringtones, and while one or two might be free, if you accept the prize you're then subscribed to buy ringtones off them. So as well as suckering you for the 1900 call, the 'prize' is dubious at best and deceitful at worst.

Despite DC Marketing's legal bluster, this is almost certainly illegal, but because it's only poor punters losing their money the police aren't going to be getting involved any time soon. This has pissed a few people off enough to track down DC Marketing - one guy has even apparently hung around their post office box with a baseball bat. I can't condone the violence, but to me it's merely a sign that people feel increasingly disempowered by the law processes and by companies hiding behind legal smokescreens while unashamedly ripping people off with dodgy marketing.

Heads up, y'all...

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Fri 28th Apr, 2006

Kill All Smokers part 001

There's someone outside the building smoking. We happen to be in the lab next to the front door; to get a bit of 'fresh' air in we've opened the windows. They've been standing there for the last fifteen minutes, smoking away and listening to their iPod and obviously waiting for someone to pick them up. The smoke has now completely penetrated the lab and is completely distracting me. I could cope if it was a nice aromatic pipe smoke as described by Neal Stepenson in "The Diamond Age", but no; it's ordinary, 'dirty leaves on fire' smoke from a standard boring cigarette.

Smokers, I think, just don't realise how annoying they are. Maybe it's because they've lost all sense of smell. Either the chemicals in smoke twist their brain into believing that no-one else minds their smoke, or they do so subconsciously out of the sort of retrojustification that we all indulge in to justify our own antisocial habits. Perhaps they just don't even think of the habit any more - their fingers light the thing, and their lungs breathe it in, without the slightest conscious thought. Maybe they justify it by thinking, "if someone wants me to stop they'll just come and ask me, and until then I'm going to stand here and make a good reek," (an idea which reminds me of a child saying "I'm just going to wave my fists about and walk toward you, and if you happen to get in the way that's your own problem.") I don't know. I've never smoked.

What I do feel like doing is going up to them and saying, "Do you mind if I just stand here for a while and let off some really noxious, rotten egg, toxic wasteland farts for a while? Because it makes me feel good, and it's actually quite good for my digestive system, and no-one else seems to mind or says anything to me while I do so anywhere else. Perhaps you'd like to join in, and we can comment on the types of food we eat to get the really horrendous birds-falling-from-the-sky smells that I think is a sign of a good fart. If you don't like the smell, just say so and I'll flip a coin - on heads I'll pretend to be polite and cork myself up, surreptitiously scowling at you in your persecution of my innocent pasttime; on tails, I'll discard all pretense at politeness and openly abuse you for daring to take my rights away, quite possibly openly farting in your face beforehand." Of course, to complete the effect, I'd have to eat a special food that costs about $30 per packet, stained my teeth and made my breath smell bad (so that even if I wasn't tooting merrily away it'd still be unpleasant to be in close conversation with me), the pack would have to warn me in violent, graphical detail that farting may kill or maim you permanently (!), and the fart would have to be a glowing cloud of green gas that everyone for fifty metres could observe and that you could never quite get rid of from your clothing.

Do you think that's going a little too far? :-)

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Thu 20th Apr, 2006

Buy This Book And Make The Author Rich!

I read Mikal's mention of the teenager's guide to preparing for the second coming. I'm inspired to write a book with the title "How Awesome Was It Supposed To Be Again? A Teenager's Guide To Understanding The Disappointment After Realising That The Second Coming Isn't Coming.". Or maybe "How Awesome Is That? An Adult's Guide For Turning Teenager's Into Gullible Fools To Do Your Bidding". Or "How Stupid Are You: A Teenager's Guide To The Myths, Contradictions And Schisms In The Christian Church". Yeah, that one's going to get me a million.

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Sun 26th Mar, 2006

Where's the fairness?

The whole idea of atheism has been roiling in my head since I read the article linked from someone's blog on planet.linux.org.au. The article basically talks about atheism being the only approach to life that sees things as they are. All religions colour how life is by saying "it's OK, good things happen to you when you die" or "she might be having fun but she'll go to hell and then she'll be sorry." They justify good behaviour by reference to some arbitrary text or teaching. They take your reasoning and your judgement away and replace it with someone else's, which you're mostly supposed to trust to be right.

I'm not going to try to point out the silly things, the stupid things, the atrocities, the immense untold harm that religions all over the world do to their followers and/or people who don't believe (take your pick). Other people have done a far better job.

Atheism is the only principle which says "we must be responsible for our behaviour now". The only moral code we should trust is the one which we come up with ourselves. Our actions should only be judged by what they do now, not what reward we reap from them when we're not here to have to justify them. Sure, the Ten Commandments might be a good start, but let's not trust them just because of an old story. Let's trust them and live by them because they make perfect moral and ethical sense. Since nothing's perfect, we have to debate them, and by seeing where things are dark grey and where things are light, and everyone learning by actively thinking about it rather than just taking the ideas in on faith, everyone can see a much clearer picture of where their decisions take them and the society they live in.

But what's really getting to me is that Atheism seems to be the one choice that is tacitly assumed was left out of the Declaration of Human Rights. You're free to believe in something, even if it consists of 90% sexism and 10% dreams. But when you don't 'believe' in anything, then you have to justify it. You have to be constantly explaining why you chose to think about your actions rather than take the chinese whispers of principle that most organised religions have become (with each new book re-interpreting the old ones and rewording and editing the old doctrine to make it fit the new). I could say I belong to a religion that teaches people to be cannibals and to punish curiosity with death and I'd get a "That's nice, I'm a wicca". But say I don't 'believe' in anything and I have to justify it every step of the way.

And the worst thing about this is I have to justify it in terms of whatever religion the other person holds. It's like saying "You don't believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster? But, like, everyone does! All the cool people do. Why are you so uncool?" I have to suddenly be able to quote chapter and verse to prove why I don't believe in what the other person believes. I can't win the argument, because that would be denying the other person's religion. But when I lose, I am implicitly saying "You've proved (to yourself, if not to the people around us) that your religion is justified. I cannot refute it. You win." It's stupid.

Things like the Flying Spaghetti Monster are there to make the religions of the world have to disprove that belief. That's a nice intellectual way of approaching the idea - try and prove that no religion is justified because one can't disprove the other. But again it doesn't matter, because the Declaration of Human Rights, when watered down sufficiently by the zealots and the Political Correctness Doublespeak Cabal, says that you can't actually say anything against another religion. And it doesn't matter because these people have never actually entered the arena, so to speak: they'll never take you on in a fair argument about the logical, ethical and moral reasons for their beliefs. If you don't believe as they do, you're just wrong and they don't need to justify it at all to themselves, which is exactly the people you're trying to convince.

And what happens at the far end of this spectrum is what you get in Kabul, where people want to put a man who converted from Islam to Christianity to death. This is a religion that's OK? You believe us or you die? We're supposed to tolerate that? They declare a fatwah on someone who says something a bit nasty about their religion - any person that kills that out-speaker is actually hailed as a hero. This is fair? This is just? These people don't respect the Declaration of Human Rights in the slightest. Why should their rights be respected? And yet they cling to this, and invoke the DoHR whenever their beliefs are threatened.

Hypocrisy is considered the greatest evil of all in that it is inconsistent: it applies one standard to the speaker and another to the listener. It also admits no challenge - the person cannot be challenged on their actions because of the very sin you accuse them of. They need not justify themselves to you because they have already justified their actions to themselves. It is the greatest evil because it is a deception of oneself, and it is most harshly punished because society requires consistency.

So don't ask me why I don't believe. Prove to me why, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary, you still believe in whatever your doctrine teaches happened. Prove to me that your system of ethics has a complete consistency that relies on no external scripture for correctness. Prove to me that your stubborn insistence on teachings that make no sense or, at best, have to be so liberally warped as to have no residual meaning, is an application of logic and intelligence and not of blinkered self-deception and I'll yield. Until then, don't hide behind some convenient right to your own religion.

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Tue 21st Mar, 2006

Only a matter of time...

One thing that gets on my goat is people who think the rules don't apply to them. People who think that getting in other people's way and taking lots of risks is their way of proving how great they are. People who think that laws are just around to irritate and annoy, rather than to save their lives.

So my goat was well and truly ridden hard this afternoon by a 'Lycra Lizard' cyclist in yellow jersey not wearing a helmet while riding on the road not five metres from the cycle path. The urge to say something to educate these pole-sitters that the rest of the world isn't going to always slow down and drive safely around them had finally got too much for me: I wound down the window and yelled out "Get a helmet!" I don't know if he heard me or not, because he was jacked into his iPod with headphones.

So congratulations, older moron! You've completed the Stupid Trifecta! Keep on riding around like you own the road, because someone else who also thinks they own the road - and is driving a tonne or more of heavy, cyclist-crushing car - is going to prove you wrong. And then your precious bonce isn't going to be so holier-than-thou. And your insurance is probably not going to pay for your medical bill, either.

Grrrr.

Paul.

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