Friday, May 25, 2007

PR by redefinition of words

Minor newspeakification of note: Some commercial sites such as and redirect you to a page devoted entirely to serving up an ad before letting you proceed to the article you want to read. Both at least give an option to click a hyperlink that skips past the adpage with minimal fuss. The text for the hyperlink that lets you at is "Skip this ad".

The text for the hyperlink at is "Skip this welcome screen".

I can accept the need for acquiring revenue by force-serving advertising, but trying to redefine the imposition as a pleasing "welcome message" isn't going to make me suddenly start wanting it. Let it go, Forbes.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Citizenship test

The sample questions for the proposed Australian citizenship test confirm my impression that it's ideologically-driven bullshit. First point of note: despite the Herald Sun calling it an "exclusive look" at the questions being considered by the Federal government, now that people have had a chance to look at them and criticise them Howard and Andrews are claiming that "those questions in the paper this morning are not ours". Riiiight. Handling backlash 101: disclaim all responsibility.

But most disturbing is question 15:
15. Australia's values are based on the ...

a. Teachings of the Koran

b. The Judaeo-Christian tradition

c. Catholicism

d. Secularism

The answer should be (d) in my book. But the government says it's (b). Andrews is standing by this Christianist revisionism of Australia's secular history, according to the Herald Sun: Significantly, Mr Andrews said immigrants would have to acknowledge the Judeo-Christian tradition as the basis for the nation's values system.

That last link claims majority support for the citizenship test based on an online poll. Hoo boy. The arm of the Murdoch Empire on the other hand has the headline "readers slam citizenship test", so at least there's some effort to recognise that this whole farce isn't necessarily being dumbly accepted by the majority of the Australian public.

Jeez, what a joke. I can only hope this pointless theatrical display only means something to people who believe that anything with the label "keeps foreigners out" is automatically good. Especially pathetic considering it won't even do that: the test isn't a barrier to immigrants arriving here, just a barrier to them gaining citizenship afterwards.

The conflict between democracy and religious extremism in India

A reporter concerned about the rise in power of Hindu extremism in India, providing some info about the current status of the world's largest democracy. An insightful article, here.

Nice to see someone noticing that the overall problem isn't "Islamic extremism" or "Hindu extremism" but extremism, period.