From the Author:2022/Going across the pond

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Originally published on: 2022-05-23, 00:17
Updated: 2022-05-23, 05:09
Shortcut: FTA:20220523

Three months late—blame it all on a mix of marathoning, Miraheze maintenance, morpheme-table imports, and tending to a couple of niblings—but at least we finally found time to deal with what we promised last time around.

As you may recall, the Queen caught COVID-19 back in February—proof that COVID-19 still hardly cares if royalty is infected. From NPR's wires on February 20:

Experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms... [Buckingham Palace] said [that Elizabeth II], who has been fully vaccinated and had a booster shot, would continue with "light" duties at Windsor Castle over the coming week.... A host of senior British politicians [among them Boris Johnson, an earlier case] sent get-well messages.

...The queen is the latest monarch from around the world to catch COVID-19. Queen Margrethe of Denmark, 82, and Spain's King Felipe VI, 54, both tested positive for the illness earlier in February and had mild symptoms.

Almost two months later, according to CBS News:

"It does leave one very tired and exhausted, doesn't it?" she told recovering COVID-19 patient Asef Hussain and his wife, Shamina [at the Royal London Hospital's recently opened Queen Elizabeth Unit]. "This horrible pandemic."

As for digital-regulation proposals just as horrible? Just ask the Techdirt team:

We already knew that the UK’s Online Safety Bill was going to be an utter disaster for the open internet, because that had been made clear early on. Last week [during mid-March], the government finally unveiled the latest version of the Online Safety Bill and it’s perhaps even worse than expected. It’s 225 pages of completely misunderstanding the internet, and thinking that if they just threaten companies to fix the internet, that will magically make the world work. Last year, when an initial draft was released, we noted that it was a near identical copy to the way that China’s Great Firewall initially worked, because it just sort of handwaves the idea that online service providers need to stop bad stuff… or else. And rather than recognize that’s a problem, the Online Safety Bill leans into it.

There’s a lot in this bill, and it’s going to take a while to dig through the whole thing and find all the many problems with it, but as UK lawyer Graham Smith highlights, the bill leans hard on giving the government the power to order websites to monitor and filter content.

As that shows the regulator OFCOM will now have the power to order websites to use “proactive technology” (i.e., monitoring/filtering) to deal with illegal content, children’s online safety, and “fraudulent advertising.” Of course, anyone who knows anything about any of this would recognize the problems. How do you build a monitoring tool that recognizes “illegal content”? Or content that is a risk to children’s safety? It’s not like there’s some clear definition. Normally, to declare something illegal, you have to have a full adjudication. But here, the UK may be demanding that service providers just figure it out, and never get it wrong. That’s going to work out great.

As Smith notes, this is a complete switch from the EU’s rules that forbade general monitoring requirements. The UK, post-Brexit has gone in the opposite direction entirely, to now potentially mandating general monitoring requirements.

As UK open web activist Heather Burns notes, this is, in some ways, the UK trying to Brexit the internet.... [P]erhaps even worse, like Brexit, it appears that the Online Safety Bill, like unfortunately too many internet regulation bills in the US and elsewhere,[1] seems more driven by spite and petulance, than thinking through what makes good policy. It’s about playing the victim, because that riles people up in support, rather than figuring out what would actually be good.

...Everything about this seems to have been written by people who have no idea how any of this works in practice, or who don’t seem to care that this will lead to a massive suppression of the ability to speak online. Like Brexit cut the UK off from the wider EU and all the benefits that brought, this is an attempt to wall off the UK from the wider internet… and all the benefits that brought. Good luck over there on your tiny disconnected island, UK. You’re going to need it.

Disclosure: Miraheze, our current host, is based in the UK. How this may or may not affect them in the long run, we must wait and see.

Coming soon to this feed: Reasons why Rogatia recently left politics. (This being exactly one of them. Not to mention they all but cut diplomatic ties to their former mother country as early as December 2019. However, the Bulwark remains an integral part of the Commonwealth—take it or leave it.)

Meanwhile, back at my ranch...

  • I still owe "Jae3ird" one half of an art trade; see ¶ #1 as to why. (As it stands, I can only muster so much as a sketch before moving back to the anthro-commission line next month for extra laptop money—because what's in our meagre coffers still may not be enough for our dream-replacement candidates. The sooner I save up, the sooner I return to mapping, songfiling, and what-have-you.)
  • Speaking of the anthro scene: One "garydactyl7" by handle has recently showcased some Bluey-influenced requests at the Australian preschool hit's subreddit. Any hour after this goes to press, I'll fill out his form and remind him through PM. (As far as I'm aware, raccoons are nonexistent in the world of the Heelers—but what if Sam were initially designed by Joe Brumm? Tune in soon enough and find out.)
  • If you're not aware yet, this site recently became one of the first on Miraheze to receive Semantic MediaWiki—after years of community requests and SRE concerns. (SMW was once the key selling point of Yaron Koren's now-dormant Referata farm, on whose network I was an administrator and ran four separate wikis; the latter's contents are still being rescued despite chronic source slowdown.) So far, so good—but the custom namespaces haven't been reached at this writing; watch this space once it has (maximum deadline Tuesday). Now, as for the deployment of Score...
  • Looks like a couple of dreams by yours truly—one from yesterday afternoon, the other from early this afternoon—have prompted me to return to Unspooled's Scratchpad later tonight. What stewed in my conscious is shaping up to be relegated to the side-story heap; Volume 1 (with Alfred and Maurice in Carriacou) remains in development.
  • Right after we finish up here, time to create the "FTA posts" category so that we can link them up to the Form tab (per Koren's advice from several weeks ago; project pages for the namespace IDs don't really work if subpages are detected).

Until next we meet, take care, stay safe/connected, keep exploring, benparl, see you in the bestsellers, we'll meet you back home...and watch your tails.

Onward and upward...

--Routhwick (talk)



  1. ^ Looking at you, SMART and EARN IT.
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Tags: United KingdomQueen Elizabeth IIDigital rightsBluey