27 February 2000.
Editorial opinion expressed on this site is unbiassed by any advertising dollar.



As a result of Telstra's failure to curtail access by customers who were guilty of using foul language on the forum operated by airgunletter, the staff of airgunletter have banned all telstra customers from access to the forum.   (Click the "forum" link.  If you are banned, the word "forbidden" will appear.)  About 40% of Australian internet users belong to Telstra.

A week ago SPIN complained to Telstra, but apart from a form letter dated 14 February at 11:53AM there has been no response.

Thank you for your e-mail to regarding
  "ban by www.airgunletter/forum"
This is an automatic response to acknowledge receipt of your e-mail.
A Telstra Customer Service Consultant will attempt to personally acknowledge all e-mail within 1 working day of receipt. Occasionally this personal response may take longer due to unforeseen workloads.

On 28 February SPIN contacted Telstra and complained that the site was unavailable, and explained that because of a customer's obscenity, no Telstra customer could access the Airgunletter Forum.

The TELSTRA manager took the attitude that it was not Telstra's responsibility, that Airgunletter staff should contact Telstra with the complaint, and forward logs identifying the miscreants, and provide logs detailing the obscenity.  SPIN argued that it was Telstra's responsibility to follow up on SPIN's complaint, since SPIN was a customer, and it was Telstra's responsibility to restore access, but the Telstra manager was adamant.


The centre of Australia is a basin, parts of which are below sea level.  This fertile centre is turning into an inland sea as precipitation exceeds evaporation.  Perhaps if world weather patterns shift Lake Eire could become a permanent waterhole, with an ecology based on soil not depleted by millennia of bushfire.


The Northern Territory has mandatory sentencing laws that resulted in the sentencing of an Aboriginal youth for three months to a hostel for the theft of goods valued at about $100.  Days before release the youth suicided, apparently because he was sent in disgrace to his room for refusing to do the washing up.

Opponents of the law refer to that suicide and state that the law is inhuman, that mandatory sentencing does not prevent recidivism, and that it is contrary to international treaties.  Incarceration of any kind does not prevent recidivism, except that the criminal is not at liberty to recidivate - (no, I do not think recidivate is a word, but it should be)

Defenders of the law state that the NT government has a mandate from the people of the NT, and that anyone who has obtained three convictions between age fourteen and sixteen is really working at being a criminal, and that perhaps a stay in a youth hostel is the appropriate remedy.  They also state that they are a democratically elected representative government, and that the majority of the electorate supports the law.



President Wahid continues to act in a way that furthers the causes of Indonesian democracy.  He does this by holding meetings with the new leaders of the former territory of Timor, replacing military commanders with attitude & being visible on the world stage (although Henry Kissinger is a bit passé).

As the first Indonesian leader selected democratically, SPIN commends the Indonesian people on their choice of President.


McCain (any relation to the biblical Cain) has taken the Michigan primaries, heartland of the USA.  It is de rigeur for a candidate to win his home state, and McCain comes from Arizona.  Expect Bush to take Texas.

SPIN can see advantages in an inactive, illiberal US president.  Spin can also see advantages in a US president who knows first hand the horror of war.

Camille Paglia says that she has an emotional negative about McCain, while Maureen Dowd can't stand Bush.  What is it with female journalists, always being negative.


The ultra secret electronics intelligence gathering operation run as a transgovernmental organization by the English speaking democracies (well Canada is mostly English) has attracted criticism (and envy) for the past week.

Just about everybody I meet is pro "law & order", (well, except for the incarcerated).  Differences arise on the issue of how the forces of law & order should be supervised.  Sadly, in most democracies, the very politicians whom we elect are all too frequently the abusers of that supervisory power.

Nobody should mind that a taxpayer funded government intelligence organization is collecting information that might forestall terrorist activity.  Just about everybody would agree that personal profit or empowerment should not be obtained by those with access to sideband information.

Perhaps there are other methods of preventing crime & terrorism.  Of course, preventing private gain by supervisors might prove to be an insoluble problem.  We the people might then have to quantify whether the benefit of government intelligence gathering outweighs the pain of continual and expanding political corruption.

The problem of the corruptibility of representative government has been known since the era of Pericles.

It might be the greatest problem facing our burgeoning technological civilization.

This page published during the week starting 27 February 2000.