Think of the children

Someone said that on irc just now, "Think of the children"... in jest, but my having had a few drinks I was thinking "what does that mean?"

I have children! I have 5 kids (3 mine, 2 step kids) and I have 2 grandchildren. One of whom is round here playing World of Warcraft right now...

So, let's think of the children for a moment - what do I think is important to them?

Well... I am a realist and I don't think that terrorists or child abusers will play any part in their lives. This is a simple matter of statistics - such things are rare. In the case of child abuse it is way more likely to be family members than a stranger so even less likely, knowing my family. Really, all the hype on such things should not worry me, or my children. Do the numbers, work it out, it is not an issue. They are far more in danger as a passenger in a car or walking along a pavement.

So what is an issue for my kids? Well, there are big things. Think 50 years ahead? Climate change is likely to be an issue, though, to be honest, the politics and hassle around climate change control are likely to affect their day to day lives more that actual climate change itself, IMHO. But even looking at something simple like the world population and our global ability to house and feed people, there are possible issues. My children and grand children may face somewhat interesting issues. They may even face wars.

But one thing I think is very important - that people matter. The people of the world, even the stupid ones, matter. It is, after all, "making people continue" that matters, and for me, making my kids and their kids continue. This is the driving force of life as we know it.

So it is crucial that people have a view and a say - that we do not separate those that control and the drones that do the work. That all people's views count. This is the very foundation of any democratic society.

To make a system of government that "works for the people" rather than being a class that controls and managers the people there is one key element without which it cannot work. Freedom of speech!

At a large scale, social commentary, whistle blowers, and so on - it makes sense. There are obviously issues at smaller scales - one cannot allow everyone to say anything they want with no consequences - what if they are telling lies to con old ladies in to giving up their life savings? That is not the sort of "freedom of speech" we mean here. But at a general level - being allowed to state your opinion (as an opinion) is important to any democratic society.

A massive part of that is allowing the means for anyone that wants to speak, to be able to. To ensure all communications means are themselves impartial and transparent. Yes, if what someone says is, itself, legally unacceptable, take legal action against them, but do not try and stifle there means by which they say it. Allow the world to judge what they say. Allow the speech!

There are bad things in this - I was in Vegas and saw this with someone in the street spouting rather offensive homophobic messages, and others "in their face" shouting back. It did not come to blows or contacts as that would have invited the police - but speaking, no matter how wrong it seemed to me, was allowed. It was a right, and to be frank - everyone ignored it. The message in this case was wrong, but the right to spout the message was important. The right to state what is wrong with it just as publicly is protected and allowed.

Without that - in a world of censored messages - we do not know what is important and what messages we are missing - we would live in a world of coverups and propaganda and no way to see the truth.

Think of the children!? I am when I say we need to keep the Internet open and free from meddling, even with the filth that lurks, it means we also get the truth that matters.


  1. Great blog piece. The arguments therein seem obvious, but to many they are not apparently.

    We dont post our sincerely held beliefs to try and convert people to our cause, we post them to let others who think the same know they are not alone.

  2. There's the old saying 'I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it' which seems quite apt here...

  3. Nice one RevK, I am worried by the culture of uninformed hysteria into which we seem to be descending.

    By brother came round, he is an airline pilot, and when I mentioned my drone he commented that drones should be banned. BANNED?

    A few pilots have reported seeing them in controlled airspace and there is a risk so he wants them banned.

    I have flown many planes and many r/c aircraft and I conclude that the risk is very close to zero. I mean that it would be INCREDIBLY difficult to hit an airliner with a drone and even less likely that you would bring one down.

    The hysteria will continue because it may allow the government to ban r/c models and drones but is it *really* justified?

    We then moved onto the subject of lasers and the dangers to air traffic. Now I really cry because even more hysteria is present and yet there is no evidence what so ever that a domestic laser can take out an airliner at thousands of meters.

    Don't get me wrong, it would take a VERY stupid or malicious person to fly a drone in controlled airspace or to lase an aircraft and they need dealing with but to ban such items - hysterical.

    My brother plays golf, that is a sport with a proven record of being dangerous - lets ban golf - it makes more sense.

    I am fed up with the press reporting in fanatical terms what are statistically stupidly unlikely outcomes, but then the press is paid for by the public (me) so I have to despair of me.


    1. People forget what the press's job is: it isn't to report news, it is to make money. When you realise this, things start making a lot more sense (but the fact that most people don't seem to realise it is pretty depressing stuff)

    2. As far as lasers are concerned, the problem isn't that they might damage the aircraft itself (they won't) but that they are a severe distraction to the pilot - and potentially even a threat to his eyesight. The range isn't much of a defence, either, because the whole point of lasers is that they don't diverge (much); they seem very nearly as bright at 10,000 feet as at point-blank range.

      FWIW, even *train* drivers need to have their eyes checked for damage after a lasering incident, before they can return to work. Actual damage is not very common, but it's a serious enough risk to justify such checks.

      Drones are basically RC aircraft that can operate out of line-of-sight and out of direct radio contact with the operator, ie. semi-autonomously. There *is* a risk of damage to a "proper" aircraft if a collision occurs; that risk increases as the drone gets larger and the aircraft gets smaller.

      But I don't think banning drones is the right answer. Licencing, along the same lines as amateur radio, seems like a much better idea. Licensed operators will have been informed sternly about the dangers of operating in or near restricted airspace; drones above a given size class could reasonably be fitted with transponders, which both identify the operator and allow larger aircraft to detect and avoid them.

    3. Re drones, there are already regulations regarding their use see http://nats.aero/blog/2014/11/guidance-safe-use-drones-uk-airspace/ the problem seems to be lack of awareness and effective enforcement. That is not a reason to ban them.

  4. @alex. I gave the best years of my life to defending that right and I was prepared to die for the same but now I am sadly of the opinion that stupid people deserve no such luxury. If their argument has no logic or respect for maths/physics then they can just stfu.


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