Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Now for some technical stuff. The good news is that I’m very, deeply sorry about the deplorable visual quality of this site. The bad news is that this here little “renovators delight” in front of your sore eyes is probably going to take at least the rest of my life to get it looking even semi-professional. Yes my computer skills really are THAT bad, especially when combined with the very limited support offered by Blogger.

But actually, I think that this is more a case of “Care Factor? – Zero! I’ve actually just had my computer skills put to the test, and in a quite serious way. Funnily enough, the nasty thing I had to get rid of from my computer was some residue left after downloading a “something”.EXE from LiveJournal.com. Yes, that wholesome-sounding site, that I heard of through the “recommended sites” sidebar of a feature article on blogs in my local newspaper. I went to the site, downloaded what I thought was going to be some free software to help me polish-up this blog, then a prompt came up, asking for my money. So far, nothing too much out of the ordinary here.

But then, when I declined to pay (what I was downloading just seemed rather amateurish, even from the LiveJournal.com front page), I was left with “LiveJournal” crap lingering all over my computer. Over a week, I deleted LiveJournal stuff – some “program” files, others not – through about fifteen re-starts, and about thirty separate delete clicks (though some of these seemed to be just “babies” that sprung up from one of the program files when I deleted something else that smelled of LiveJournal in any way).

Anyway, now it’s gone! And I am never going to touch LiveJournal, or anything remotely to do with it, again. I don’t think what I “got” was a virus, but it was definitely a scam. Of course, on the LiveJournal.com site, there are the usual disclaimers about “no responsibility for viruses, etc”. Well, that’s all fair enough at a glance – but this is actually not about some overworked geek who unwittingly donates bugged-up, amateur software to the world. The LiveJournal software, despite all appearances, is definitely very professional – it basically captures your desktop, without corrupting your data, but with enough of an annoyance factor to make many people (I am sure) just give in, and pay up, as much to make the crap go away, as to get the product, such as it is.

Thinking about it, LiveJournal’s website front page now makes perfect sense:

"If you're totally new to the site and just want to sign-up without paying, we understand your frustration. However, very few people just stumble upon the site... nearly everybody that signs up does so because a friend referred them. To be able to use LiveJournal, you either have to be introduced by an existing member of the community, or get a paying account ($25 per year)”.

Now call me a cynic, but when a *commercial* website pretends to be some kind of closed community, something is immediately wrong. This wrongness-factor doubles when you’re talking about something as scaleable (the bigger the “community”, the more pure profit) as Web-delivered software.

So in conclusion, I don’t care how “good”, or “easy to use” LiveJournal is. The whole sick outfit makes Amway, and its multi-level marketing methods, look positively wholesome. If LiveJournal’s people did door-to-door sales, and you chose not to buy, the salesperson would get you by leaving a fake prosthetic foot superglued in your doorway (so your door won’t shut) as their pleasant little corporate calling card.

Not sure how to put my email address into the page proper; so for any comments, writs, etc – here’s the spam-trap version: pauljwatson at hot*m*a*i*l d#t c#m

Monday, June 03, 2002

Now for something completely different. It's a cross
between media commentary and some serious
soul-searching. For my generation (b 1964),
perhaps our key defining quality is a distinct variation
on the "Where were you when you heard the news
about JFK" theme. In my case, it goes something like
"Where were you when the paedophile priest and
brothers were doing it at your primary/elementary
school?" and "When you hear the news only thirty
years later, does it matter, anyway?". I won't go and
regurgitate what is "the news" here - if you want to
find out more, just google "george pell" and "ridsdale".

As a six/seven year old at St Alipius primary school in Ballarat, Australia
in 1971, I have so far followed the Ridsdale case in a detached manner. I
simply don't remember very much at all about that year, and until today, I
have been quite content to leave it at that, in a "whatever happened, I'm
over it" way.

What has just changed for me is not a flood of memories, but just the
piecing together of some stark facts that have emerged in relatively recent
court cases. First fact: this was a primary school - the *upper* age range
for institutional "pickings" was thus 11 to 12 year olds. Second fact - in
the year 1971, the entire male teaching staff - four Christian Brothers, Br
Robert Best (headmaster and teacher), Br Edward Dowlan, Br Stephen Farrell,
Br Fitzgerald [died 1970's], and also school Chaplain/priest Fr Gerald
Ridsdale, were later to be convicted (or in Br Fitzgerald's case,
posthumously accused) of child sex crimes.

"Paedophile ring" is an emotive phrase. With the age of consent for gay
sex varying widely within Australia, the term potentially means anything
from a legal, if hardly flavor-of-the-month, social gathering for gay "sugar
daddies", to secret groupings of utter depravity and evil. While the
younger the victim, the more reprehensible the act will usually be - more
importantly - the younger the victim, the more there presumably will be a
real "ring" - of persons acting in concert.

What I'm saying, then, is let's not have a false witch-hunt. I'm reasonably
sure that if George Pell had much of an inkling about what was going on at
St Alipius school in 1971 (the year that he (and I) moved to Ballarat, but
two years before he actually shared digs at St Alipius for a year, 1973),
far more serious accusations would have since been made against him.
Whatever he, or anyone else, has done wrong in handling the matter should be
judged by what they did or didn't do at the time, and not by now going for
the tallest target, who has - by coincidence - grown into a position of real
power decades after the event. My guess is that George Pell does have a lot
more to say about what happened at St Alipius in 1971 - but it's not at all
his own skin that he's protecting in so far maintaining his silence.

I suggest starting up whatever process that will best will bring out the
whole truth, Royal Commission or otherwise. In one sense, this leads me
personally into murky, unknown waters. Equally though, whatever
long-dormant villains, in high or low places, may be uncovered, there must
logically also be heroes in the story.

I don't know about George Pell here, but my clearest
and happiest memory of 1971 is of classes with Sister
Wanda. If you are still out there, Sister Wanda,
I want you to know that, whatever happened,
I'm all right - and I hope that you are too.

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