Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:26 am

We’ll be on holiday heading down the east coast as far as Melbourne for the next couple of weeks. I’ll have a little bit of sporadic web access but not much, so there aren’t likely to be any new posts. Have a fantastic break, everyone, be close to your families (of birth or choice) and tell them you love them, and gear up for 2007 – it’s gonna rock!


Leader of The World’s Sole Superpower for Two More Years

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:59 am

On George Bush’s determination to fail in Iraq: http://www.salon.com/opinion/blumenthal/2006/12/07/iraq/


Assume the position and prepare to be microwaved

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:00 am

From Wired News, one more harbinger of Big Brother control… Goodbye WTO protests…



Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:44 am

A story quoted from The Scotsman newspaper (without permission but with attribution):

Sex with teens not paedophilia says expert

Sun 19 Nov 2006

ONE of the UK’s leading child protection officers has said men who have sex with children should not be classed as “paedophiles” if the victim was between the ages of 13 and 15, it was claimed last night.

A newspaper reported that Terry Grange, who speaks for English police on child protection and managing sex offenders, said only those who preyed on prepubescent children should be treated and labelled as “paedophiles”.

Grange, who is the chief constable of Dyfed-Powys Police, added the term “child pornography” should only be applied to images of children below the age of 13, according to the report.

Grange’s views last night seemed certain to spark a debate among child protection professionals, many of whom believe anyone who has sexual relations with under-16s should be treated as a paedophile.

Children’s charity Kidscape called Grange’s views “very disturbing, especially from a police officer”.

Grange told the newspaper his views were personal and reflected subtleties in the law in cases of young adults having consensual sex with children aged from 13 to 15.

He was reported as saying: “It is much more of an issue for me if a child is under 13. I think the closer they get to 16 the more it becomes a grey area, and I think everyone in the field of dealing with sexual health and sexual activity acknowledges that.”

He added, according to the report: “I don’t personally adhere to the 15-year-old being with a 20-year-old boyfriend being paedophilia, or even if the boyfriend is 30.”

Please note that Terry Grange is not condoning ‘ephebophilia’ (sex with a post-pubescent young person who is still below the legal age of consent), he’s just supporting the distinction between that activity and ‘paedophilia’ (sex with a prepubescent child). It’s a useful distinction, I would argue… while both kinds of sexual activity are likely to be coercive and to cause harm due to both the immaturity of the young participants and the uneven power relationships involved, it seems pretty clear that more harm both physical and emotional is likely to result from sexual activity on the part of a person whose body is not developed to a state of readiness for sexual activity than for someone whose body is sexually mature even if her/his mind is not.

I find it particularly worrying that the Kidscape people found his comments ‘disturbing’. It seems as though their goal is to emphasise the unacceptableness of ephebophilia by lumping it in with the (universally deplored) paedophilia. In other words, what they’re doing is using a category distinction – or in this case an over-simplification that removes a category distinction – as a way of applying a certain moral weight to certain activities.

That seems like a dangerous use of language to me, and an unnecesssary one. Keeping the distinction between paedophilia and ephebophilia allows us to make distinctions that might be useful and important, without condoning and supporting either.

This is just one example… I feel as though one of the besetting sins of our culture at the moment is the sound-bite view that anything that can’t be expressed simplistically is not worth expressing. As Einstein said: “Things should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”


“If we let you we’ll have to let everyone…”

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:41 pm

OK, this is part of the on-going saga, which I’ve mentioned here before, of the fact that we’re not allowed to be given administrator level accounts1 on the computers we work with here at the University of Queensland (actually, I think it might be policy across our Faculty, not the whole university). If you’re already bored with that saga, you might want to skip this post. But I think it’s a new angle. 😉

They haven’t pulled out the line in the title on me yet, but I suspect it’s only a matter of time, and a colleague with whom I was talking about the issue has alreadt said it. Basically, I don’t have the clout or the energy to take on the (ridiculous2) policy as a whole across the whole Faculty, I’m arguing at this point that my own level of knowledge and skill should make me an exception. I won’t bother with the brag at this point, but I do know my way around both Windows and Mac (and Linux). I guess I might endanger the machines by knowing too much and tinkering… but I’ll know it’s a delicate situation and resist the urge to tinker. But basically, as it stands now, this policy is a waste of the techie’s time and mine, and an insult to me, on both technical grounds – the assumption I’m not knowledgable and skillful enough – and ethical grounds – the assumption that I’ll do illegal, immoral or computer-threatening things if not kept on a short leash.

But the argument is likely to come up at some point, because it always does: “but if we give you an admin account, we’ll have to do it for everyone”. What?! Why?! The whole point of the case here is that I have (testable, demonstrable) skills (for which I can get testimonials from the very competent and qualified techies I’ve worked with in the past). This argument is frustrating, because it seems to assume that adults (in this case professors of education) are like kindergarten students and will cry if someone gets one more sultana. Where’s the level of sophistication, and the understanding that we know ‘circumstances alter cases’? it’s just lazy policy-making and governance to try to over-simplify the world and make one-size-fits-all policies.

I’ll keep ya posted on the issue, but what do you think… am I just being a sook and looking for special pleading? Or should adults be treated as adults, rather than treated all the same (lowest common denominator…)? (OK, that’s a loaded set of alternatives!)

  1. Which basically means we can’t install any new software at all – or even, on the Mac, update our existing software and operating system – without getting a techie in to do it for us
  2. As one example, I’ve had the techie guy in our School, Harry, up to my office 4 times to install software since I got the new computer last week, and it’s only not been more because I’m sick of asking – there’s more stuff I want to install. As another, I got the new video editing/compression software I’ve been waiting for – and being held up by waiting for – this afternoon at about 20 to 5. Harry had already gone home, so I couldn’t install it. When I do I’m going to have to do a video compression run that will likely take up to 40 hours to run. I’m not in that office fo the next 2 days, so instead of being able to set up that batch tonight and have it done when I get back, I’ll make a start on it on Thursday… which means I now won’t get any work with the video done before I go away on holiday.


Scooped Mids

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:28 pm

The term comes from music… in producing heavy metal, often the equalisation emphasises the low and high frequencies, particularly in the guitars, and cuts back on the middle frequencies. It makes the music sound ‘crunchier’, and also gets the guitars out of the way of the vocals.

But I’m applying it here to churches: both of the churches we’ve spent a lot of time in over the past decade (Fremantle Community in Perth and Red Willow Community in St Albert) have had this problem where there were lots of people older than us, and a fair few people younger, but virtually no-one our age. That also meant there weren’t many kids our kids’ age in these churches. (We really appreciated Lorne and Dawn and their kids at Red Willow.) In terms of the age range, these churches had ‘scooped mids’.

There are lots of reasons for that, including some of the arguments in the church about doctrine and the times when they happened, generational things about the late Boomers/early Gen-X and the shocking divorce rate among people our age. I’m not even sure what else explains it. But the few churches we’d tried here in Brisbane seemed to have some of the same problems… along with some other problems of style and substance which I won’t spend a lot of time on.

We grew up Seventh-day Adventist, and so far we’ve only tried Saturday-worshipping churches… and haven’t found a church home. Our neighbours here go to a Sunday church, and are fantastically kind and nice people, so we went along to Heritage City Community Church this morning… and received an amazingly friendly greeting. We enjoyed the music and the preaching very much – much more like what we were used to, with thought and passion and professionalism. We and pretty much everyone else stayed after church for coffee and to chat, and people intentionally came up to welcome us and get to know us. Cassie went and sat with Aaron from next door and was introduced to lots of people her age and welcomed as well (Alex stayed home today). The church has a regular Friday night youth group Cassie is keen to join.

And this church didn’t have scooped mids! Lots of people of every age group, including plenty our age with kids our kids’ age… which is really important to us. So it looks like we might be regularly going to church on a different day… some people get pretty exercised about that stuff, but I find it tough to be too worried about it.


A Good Move?

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:37 pm

So, the Melbourne Institute just released this report, naming our Education school at the University of Queensland as the top performing Education program in Australia. Looks like I mighta picked the right place to come.