“A poll by data and marketing company CDMS found that 31 per cent of top UK firms were guilty of flouting the EU directive on privacy and electronic communications, which provides internet users with the right to refuse emailed adverts and marketing material.

many firms are jeopardizing their reputation by permitting themselves to be regarded as ‘junk emailers’.” BCS
I’m glad to see this study because I develop an immediate hatred for any company that spams me (or is slightly dodgy in how they add your email to their list – explicit opt-in only, please) and I’m glad to know it’s not just me.

theadgenerator.org: “The ad generator is a generative artwork that explores how advertising uses and manipulates language. Words and semantic structures from real corporate slogans are remixed and randomized to generate invented slogans. These slogans are then paired with related images from Flickr, thereby generating fake advertisements on the fly.”

Big Day Out bans national flag

“The Australian flag has been banned by the organisers of a major Sydney rock music festival, who fear it may be used as a symbol of hate.

The event tours six cities in Australia and New Zealand but the ban will only affect Sydney, where the festival has been shifted to the day before its usual Australia Day date to avoid nationalistic overtones.
Last year in Sydney, festival-goers were intimidated by music fans brandishing flags and demanding people pledge their allegiance.

Event organiser Ken West said the fans’ behaviour last year in the wake of the Cronulla riots and the recent ethnic violence at the Australian Open tennis tournament had forced his hand.
“The Australian flag was being used as gang colours. It was racism disguised as patriotism and I’m not going to tolerate it.”” Age
What’s happening to Australia? I really don’t get it. Were these people always there and I just didn’t notice, or can things change so much in only a few years?

“Supermarket chain Tesco pledged last night to revolutionise its business to become “a leader in helping to create a low-carbon economy” with a raft of new measures to help combat climate change.
In the most significant step announced yesterday, the UK’s biggest retailer, which produces 2m tonnes of carbon a year in the UK, said it would put new labels on every one of the 70,000 products it sells so that shoppers can compare carbon costs in the same way they can compare salt content and calorie counts.” Guardian

“Late last year, I shared a podium at the NSW Parliament House with a radical cleric for the first time. That religious leader refused outright to condemn a terrorist organisation responsible for more suicide bombings than any terror outfit on earth. The cleric called on his religious group to take over politics in Australia. He also asked his congregation to pray for the houses of worship of other faiths to be pulled down.
But far from being condemned or threatened with prosecution, The Age reported yesterday that this cleric and his group are to receive a special video message from the Prime Minister.” The Age
Ok, I’ll stop now.

Is this one reason I like working in a museum? It’s a constant reminder of the myriad histories present in any city and a privileged insight into the lost layers of the city.
“An interesting exercise can be performed on the streets of London. Look around you, at the shopfronts and the traffic and the houses, and imagine these things as historical phenomena. Envision them as a temporary stage set in a drama with no ending. Then the true nature of the period will become apparent.”
From a London: City of Disappearances
No wonder London sucks you in: “Of all cities, London most powerfully touches the imagination. It is the landscape for these stories because no other place has the same capacity for labyrinthine obliquity. It elicits wonder and horror in equal measure. In Blake’s words, it has become ‘a human awful wonder of God’.”

Secondly, the cover of a report from the Australian Liberal Party about the ‘Achievements’ of the Coalition Government since 1996.
The title, ‘Strong Direction, Mainstream Values’, sends a chill through my heart. Isn’t a democratic government meant to represent all citizens of its country? In the case of modern Australia I won’t waste anyone’s time by suggesting the government should represent everyone resident in Australia because we all know that won’t happen.
As Kirsty says, “Check the white faces on the front page. I can’t believe it.”
And further, look at the gender roles represented. What do women do? Have kids and work as hairdressers. What to men do? Manly stuff! Business! Welding! Work in the outdoors. Oh, and breed. Because we need more White Australians.
Mainstream values
John Pilger, writing in The Guardian, Cruelty and xenophobia stir and shame the lucky country:
“Australia is not often news, cricket and bushfires aside. That is a pity, because the regression of this social democracy into a state of fabricated fear and xenophobia is an object lesson for all societies claiming to be free.”
“Flag-waving and an unctuous hand-on-heart jingoism, about which sceptical Australians once felt a healthy ambivalence, are now standard features at sporting and other public events.” That’s incredibly depressing if it’s true. Australians used to mock Americans for exactly that kind of thing.
I’d like to be cheered by the final paragraph but the truth of the first sentence is too strong for me to ignore: “Howard faces no real opposition from the compliant Labor party.”
“During the recent Ashes series, Ian Chappell, one of Australia’s most admired cricket captains, walked out of the commentary box when Howard walked in. After seeing for himself conditions in a refugee prison, Chappell said: “These are human beings and you can’t just treat them like that … in cricketing parlance it was like cheating. They were being cheated out of a fair go.””
Thanks to Kirsty, Grant and KD for the Howard tip-offs today.

I’m on a blogging roll today (blog… roll… blogroll… geddit?).
For your viewing pleasure, two suspect images.
One is from a plush real estate marketing brochure. Is it just me or is the placement of the long rod-like object just next to the open fig a tiny bit suggestive?
Update: Foo says it’s a melon, not a fig. I guess it’s still suggestive but doesn’t have the same long history of associations as a fig.
And yes, I know it’s a knife.

I said I needed to write about what I wanted to do this year. A lot of it seems to be related to work. Am I suddenly ambitious? Or am I galvanised by the knowledge that in a year I might not be tied to a work permit and I could work anywhere in the UK? Or am I just a sucker for a challenge?
2006 was a good year because I went on some really interesting trips and worked hard on some really cool projects and I gave a conference and a seminar paper like some kind of grown-up person.
When I look back on 2007 I want to be able to say that I:

  • maintained a professional blog (not this one! Google my real name and you’ll find it)
  • wrote and presented two or more conference or seminar papers and/or articles for publication
  • applied for and got indefinite leave to remain in the UK
  • spent quality time with loved ones (friends, family, whatever)
  • went on a few interesting holidays
  • went surfing at least once
  • started learning a language properly
  • consolidated my professional skills
  • used some of my leave/flexitime to work on my own projects and catch up on stuff I never get around to doing instead of going on another trip
  • got my concentration span back
  • seriously investigated my options for doing a Masters or PhD
  • finally stopped hitting ‘F5’ on forums instead of getting on with things!

So it was good timing to get this email:
“If you want to study in the UK at the September 2007 intake you will need to submit your application by Friday 29 June 2007.
Apply now for your best chance of getting into the course you want or securing a scholarship.”
Please excuse the introspective post but I figure if I make it public I have to do it.
Oh, and the sun’s out so London doesn’t seem that bad.