Can a sequence of bytes be offensive?

Do you find this image offensive?

(This is an enlarged version, Here’s the original BMP).

OK. So I think we can all agree that’s not a pretty picture, but it’s not offensive.

What if I do a hexdump of the file:

0000000 4d42 3a1a 0000 0000 0000 0036 0000 0028
0000010 0000 004b 0000 0041 0000 0001 0018 0000
0000020 0000 39e4 0000 0b13 0000 0b13 0000 0000
0000030 0000 0000 0000 4552 4154 4452 4e20 4749
0000040 4547 2052 4320 4948 4b4e 5320 4f4c 4550
0000050 5720 474f 4420 4741 204f 4146 4747 544f
0000060 4320 4e55 2054 4942 4354 2048 4857 524f
0000070 2045 494d 4744 5445 4120 5353 4f48 454c
0000080 4620 4355 574b 5449 4d20 524f 4e4f 4420
0000090 4d55 4142 5353 4920 4944 544f 4620 4455
00000a0 4547 4150 4b43 5245 5320 554c 4254 4741
00000b0 4c20 5a45 4942 4e41 5320 482d 312d 542d
00000c0 4320 524f 534b 4355 454b 2052 5550 544e
00000d0 2041 5053 4349 4820 524f 2045 4146 4747
00000e0 5449 4d20 4e55 4554 2052 4f47 4444 4d41
00000f0 494d 2054 4946 474e 5245 5546 4b43 5245
0000100 5720 4152 5050 4e49 2047 454d 204e 4152
0000110 4e55 4843 4a20 4e55 4c47 2045 5542 4e4e
0000120 2059 4f4d 454c 5453 4120 5353 4142 474e
0000130 5245 5320 4948 4554 5441 5245 4720 444f
0000140 4144 4e4d 5449 4120 414c 4b53 4e41 5020
0000150 5049 4c45 4e49 2045 5341 2d53 4950 4152
0000160 4554 4220 5455 2054 5546 4b43 5020 5355
0000170 4953 4720 5449 5420 4f4f 5354 4d20 4854
0000180 5245 5546 4b43 5245 5220 5041 5945 4220
0000190 5455 4854 4145 2044 5245 544f 5349 204d
00001a0 4f54 474e 4555 4920 204e 2041 5341 4853
00001b0 504f 4550 2052 4c53 4145 595a 4320 4159
00001c0 494c 2053 4142 474e 5020 4f52 204e 5455
00001d0 5245 5355 4220 5421 4843 5320 4148 4747
00001e0 5245 5420 5345 4954 4c43 2045 5754 5441
00001f0 4320 434f 4a4b 434f 454b 2059 4f44 4b4e
0000200 5945 4952 4242 5245 4420 5530 4843 2033
0000210 5453 4952 2050 5341 4653 4355 204b 4942
0000220 2047 5242 4145 5453 2053 4853 5449 4f48
0000230 5355 2045 5550 5353 4549 2053 4f47 5344
0000240 4144 4e4d 4d20 5255 4544 2052 5546 4b43
0000250 5245 5720 5445 4142 4b43 4420 474f 4947
0000260 2d45 5453 4c59 2045 5543 4e4e 4320 4948
0000270 434e 4620 4f52 5454 4e49 2047 5542 5454
0000280 462d 4355 204b 4f43 4b43 5553 4b43 4445
(Much, much more…)
0000290 4720 444f 442d 4d41 5320 414d 5452 5341
00002a0 2053 4c42 4e4f 4544 4120 5443 4f49 204e
00002b0 5544 424d 5341 2053 4c50 5941 4f42 2059
00002c0 4946 5453 5546 4b43 5245 2020 4c46 474f
00002d0 5420 4548 4c20 474f 5320 4948 4854 4c4f
00002e0 2045 4f46 544f 4f4a 2042 414d 5453 5245
00002f0 4142 4554 5320 4355 534b 4320 4f4f 4843
0000300 4549 4120 3552 2045 5053 4b49 2053 4853
0000310 5641 4445 5020 5355 5953 4320 4152 4b43
0000320 5245 4620 4255 5241 4220 4552 5341 4d54
0000330 4e41 5320 4948 5454 4445 5220 5041 4e49
0000340 2047 5754 5441 2053 5542 4c4c 5944 454b
0000350 4620 4552 4b41 4659 4355 454b 2052 4850
0000360 4b55 4e49 2047 4f53 204e 464f 4120 4d20
0000370 544f 4548 4c52 5345 2053 4f47 5441 4120
0000380 5353 494b 5353 4120 5353 4148 2054 4144
0000390 4d4d 5449 5320 4948 4654 4341 4445 4620
00003a0 4355 4220 4c41 204c 5247 5641 2059 4943
00003b0 4352 454c 454a 4b52 4a20 4741 464f 2046
00003c0 494b 4b4e 5453 5245 5020 5349 4553 5352
00003d0 4e20 4749 4e20 474f 5420 5431 3154 3545
00003e0 5220 5041 5349 2054 5341 4253 4e41 4547
00003f0 2044 4146 4154 5353 4120 4952 4e41 4720
0000400 4e4f 4441 5020 4f4f 2050 494e 4c47 5445
0000410 4220 4f4f 4954 2045 494e 4747 5245 2053
0000420 5450 4348 4720 5249 534c 4720 4e4f 2045
0000430 4957 444c 4320 4e55 4c49 494c 474e 5355
0000440 5320 444f 4d4f 4420 4349 534b 5049 4550
0000450 2052 4542 5641 5245 5020 5548 454b 2044
0000460 4147 474e 4142 474e 2053 5341 4253 4e41
0000470 4944 2054 5541 4f54 5245 544f 4349 4320
0000480 524f 2050 4857 524f 2045 5341 5353 4f48
0000490 454c 4420 4f4f 494b 2045 4954 5454 4320
00004a0 434f 4d4b 4e4f 4c47 5245 4320 4e4f 4f44
00004b0 204d 4853 5421 5320 414e 4354 2048 5243
00004c0 4341 2d4b 4857 524f 2045 4e45 414c 4752
00004d0 4d45 4e45 2054 4853 5449 5242 4941 534e
00004e0 5020 4345 454b 4852 4145 2044 554e 5454
00004f0 5245 5020 4445 504f 4948 454c 4220 4f4f
0000500 4942 5345 5220 4d55 2050 4944 4b43 4f48
0000510 454c 5320 444f 4d4f 5a49 2045 4d50 2053
0000520 4f48 5054 5355 5953 4320 5241 4550 2054
0000530 554d 434e 4548 2052 554b 204d 5053 4341
0000540 4620 4355 414b 5353 5020 5349 5053 4749
0000550 4120 5353 4f4d 4b4e 5945 5220 5355 5954
0000560 5420 4f52 424d 4e4f 2045 4c4f 2044 4142
0000570 2047 5546 4b43 554e 5454 4620 4355 574b
0000580 4948 2054 414d 454b 4d20 2045 4f43 454d
0000590 4e20 4749 4547 2052 5546 4b43 4445 5055
00005a0 5320 4143 544e 4c49 2059 5546 4b43 4957
00005b0 5454 5420 504f 454c 5353 4620 4355 4d4b
00005c0 2045 4b20 4e4f 5544 204d 454c 4550 2052
00005d0 4c43 5355 4554 4652 4355 204b 5754 5434
00005e0 4420 4d55 4853 5449 4720 4e45 5449 4c41
00005f0 2053 5341 4d53 5341 4554 2052 4e53 4655
0000600 2046 4956 4741 4152 5420 5255 2044 5053
0000610 4441 2045 5550 414e 4e4e 2059 4f47 444c
0000620 4e45 4853 574f 5245 4520 5441 4820 4941
0000630 2052 4950 2045 4544 5045 5420 5248 414f
0000640 2054 5341 4d53 4e55 4843 5320 4e4f 4f20
0000650 2046 2041 4857 524f 2045 4f48 2057 4f54
0000660 4d20 5255 4544 2050 5546 4b43 4e49 4247
0000670 5449 4843 4320 4e55 2054 4148 5249 4220
0000680 4c41 204c 4153 4b43 5320 4c50 4f4f 4547
0000690 4720 5941 4154 4452 4620 4355 574b 5449
00006a0 4620 4d45 4f44 204d 4f48 4e52 4549 5453
00006b0 4620 524f 5345 494b 204e 5546 2051 4548
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00006d0 2058 4f43 4b43 4f4c 4556 2052 4f4d 4854
00006e0 4641 4355 494b 474e 2053 4157 4b4e 2059
00006f0 4950 4345 2045 464f 5320 4948 2054 4554
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0000730 4550 494e 4253 4e41 4547 2052 5542 5454
0000740 4843 4545 534b 5320 4e41 4547 2052 4d4c
0000750 4146 204f 4853 5449 5945 4320 4f4f 534e
0000760 4620 4355 544b 5241 2044 4f43 4b43 4e4b
0000770 4b4f 5245 5420 4152 4e4e 2059 4c43 5449
0000780 524f 5355 4720 5941 2053 414e 495a 5620
0000790 414a 4a59 5941 4620 5349 4654 4355 454b
00007a0 2052 5246 4545 2058 5341 4253 5449 2045
00007b0 3044 474e 4d20 4854 4652 4355 494b 474e
00007c0 4420 4b59 5345 5020 4f4f 2050 4843 5455
00007d0 2045 4148 444e 4f4a 2042 5550 414e 594e
00007e0 4b20 4f4f 4843 4220 4f4f 455a 2052 4946
00007f0 5453 5546 4b43 4445 4e20 4749 4147 2053
0000800 4543 5652 5849 5320 4441 5349 2054 5546
0000810 4b43 2041 4950 5353 5020 4749 4420 4349
0000820 574b 4545 2044 4553 4f58 5320 414c 544e
0000830 5945 2045 4f4d 4854 4641 4355 414b 2053
0000840 5242 574f 204e 4853 574f 5245 2053 494a
0000850 5a5a 5020 4e45 5349 5550 4646 5245 4320
0000860 434f 4d4b 4e4f 454b 2059 5553 4b43 5341
0000870 2053 414c 4452 5341 2053 5258 5441 4445
0000880 4620 4355 204b 4c42 4f4f 5944 4220 4c41
0000890 4c4c 4349 454b 2052 5644 4144 5320 4948
00008a0 2054 5341 2053 4548 4441 5546 4b43 5320
00008b0 4948 4654 4341 2045 5542 474e 4b20 4641
00008c0 5249 4620 5349 4654 4355 534b 4320 4841
00008d0 4e4f 2045 554d 474e 4e49 2047 4142 4c4c
00008e0 2053 4146 4747 5020 5548 2051 4944 5452
00008f0 2059 4950 4c4c 574f 2053 454a 4b52 4445
0000900 5020 4b49 5945 4f20 4f4d 4152 4853 2049
0000910 4c42 4555 5720 4641 4c46 2045 434d 4146
0000920 4747 5445 4620 4355 464b 4552 4b41 5420
0000930 5449 4954 4645 4355 454b 2052 2046 2055
0000940 2043 204b 4f4a 4b43 4720 4f4f 5044 4f4f
0000950 2050 414d 5453 5255 4142 4554 4320 434f
0000960 4c4b 4d55 2050 4946 5453 5546 4b43 5245
0000970 2053 4857 524f 4e49 2047 4f43 4b43 5553
0000980 414b 4220 5241 4245 4341 204b 4942 532d
0000990 5845 4155 204c 4c53 5455 4220 4355 454b
00009a0 2054 4956 4c4f 5445 5720 4e41 2044 4f50
00009b0 4e52 474f 4152 4850 2059 4146 4749 4220
00009c0 4c41 534c 4341 204b 4e49 5242 4445 5420
00009d0 4255 4720 5249 204c 555a 4242 4220 5345
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00009f0 4554 4220 5741 5944 4220 5455 2054 4c50
0000a00 4755 4620 4355 424b 5455 4554 2052 5341
0000a10 4253 4e41 2047 4147 5759 4441 4820 5245
0000a20 4550 2053 5546 4b43 542d 5241 2044 4f43
0000a30 4b43 5553 4b4b 2041 4154 4457 5952 4720
0000a40 4955 4f44 4a20 5041 4720 4e41 414a 4820
0000a50 4d4f 2030 4f44 4255 454c 5020 4e45 5445
0000a60 4152 4954 4e4f 4420 2050 4341 4954 4e4f
0000a70 4d20 544f 4148 5546 4b43 4e49 4320 4f4f
0000a80 204e 4b53 4e41 204b 4f43 4b43 4853 5449
0000a90 4f20 4752 4549 2053 494e 4747 4834 4220
0000aa0 4d49 4f42 4220 4e4f 5245 4820 4755 2045
0000ab0 4146 2054 5542 5454 5546 4b43 2041 304d
0000ac0 4f46 4520 4552 5443 4f49 204e 4952 4154
0000ad0 4452 4d20 544f 4548 4652 4355 494b 474e
0000ae0 4620 4355 494b 474e 4853 5449 4f4d 4854
0000af0 5245 5546 4b43 5245 4420 4349 574b 4145
0000b00 4553 204c 5542 5454 414d 204e 4853 5449
0000b10 4548 4441 2053 454c 5a5a 2041 4853 5449
0000b20 5053 5449 4554 2052 5234 4535 4c20 5345
0000b30 4f42 2053 5247 554f 2050 4553 2058 4146
0000b40 4f47 2054 4942 4354 2048 4954 2054 4552
0000b50 4154 4452 4445 4320 302e 432e 4b2e 4220
0000b60 534f 4d4f 4820 4f4f 2052 4857 524f 4145
0000b70 494c 4943 554f 2053 2053 4948 2054 554d
0000b80 4854 5245 5546 4b43 4e49 2047 4145 5054
0000b90 5355 5953 4620 4355 204b 464f 2046 4153
0000ba0 544e 524f 4d55 4a20 5a49 4220 5455 2d54
0000bb0 4950 4152 4554 4f20 4752 5341 534d 4220
0000bc0 4e4f 2045 4548 532d 4548 4320 4f48 4441
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0000be0 5345 4320 434f 204b 4e53 544f 4120 5353
0000bf0 4c4b 574f 204e 4546 4b43 4520 4343 4948
0000c00 4620 5349 4954 474e 4a20 5a49 204d 4944
0000c10 4b43 4820 4c4f 2045 4353 4c48 4e4f 2047
0000c20 4550 494e 4653 4355 454b 2052 5242 4545
0000c30 4544 2052 4542 5441 4843 4420 4349 464b
0000c40 4355 454b 2052 494e 5050 454c 4220 4c4f
0000c50 494c 4b43 4d20 5341 5554 4252 5441 4f49
0000c60 204e 4f48 4b4e 2059 4553 4d41 4e41 4d20
0000c70 544f 4548 2052 5546 4b43 5245 4e20 5455
0000c80 4220 5455 4554 2052 5053 4349 204b 4f43
0000c90 4b43 4d53 4b4f 5245 4e20 4b41 4445 5320
0000ca0 4550 4d52 4720 444f 4144 4e4d 4120 5952
0000cb0 4e41 5020 5548 534b 5320 554c 4454 4d55
0000cc0 4550 2052 4c53 5455 494b 5353 4320 4259
0000cd0 5245 5546 4b43 4445 4320 4e55 2d54 5453
0000ce0 5552 4b43 5320 4948 5454 5245 2053 414d
0000cf0 454c 5320 5551 5249 4954 474e 4820 424f
0000d00 4741 4320 4d41 4947 4c52 5320 4948 4354
0000d10 4e41 454e 2044 4147 2045 5550 5353 2059
0000d20 4c46 4e41 4547 4320 4f48 4544 4620 4c45
0000d30 4843 4e49 2047 5542 4e4e 2059 5546 4b43
0000d40 5245 5020 524f 4f4e 2053 4f47 4444 4d41
0000d50 4e20 5041 4c41 204d 4153 5355 4741 2045
0000d60 5551 4545 204e 4943 4150 5620 4c55 4156
0000d70 4d20 544f 4548 4652 4355 204b 4950 4c4c
0000d80 574f 4942 4554 2052 4f47 204f 4947 4c52
0000d90 5320 4948 5452 4c20 4649 4554 2052 4f4d
0000da0 4854 5245 5546 4b43 2041 4f42 4f49 414c
0000db0 2053 5341 2d53 4148 2054 5341 4d53 4e41
0000dc0 4620 5543 494b 474e 4120 5353 4f47 4c42
0000dd0 4e49 4620 4355 204b 5542 5454 4e4f 2053
0000de0 4542 544f 4843 5320 4948 2054 5546 4b43
0000df0 5245 4820 4f4f 4554 5352 4720 414f 5354
0000e00 2045 4152 4550 5420 5355 5948 4620 4e41
0000e10 594e 5546 4b43 5245 4120 5353 4f48 4552
0000e20 4220 4d55 4c43 5441 5020 4952 2047 5453
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0000e40 4145 5453 4f4a 2042 4957 4c4c 4549 2053
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0000e90 4d4f 2042 494e 5050 454c 2053 4150 544e
0000ea0 4549 4320 434f 424b 5449 2045 5546 4b43
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0000ec0 2052 564f 4d55 5020 4e55 414b 5353 5320
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0000ee0 5455 5420 4f57 4620 4e49 4547 5352 5720
0000ef0 5449 2048 4f54 474e 4555 4320 4f48 4441
0000f00 5220 534f 2059 4150 4d4c 4120 444e 4820
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0000f50 5245 4420 4349 4a4b 4955 4543 4320 4d41
0000f60 4c45 4f54 2045 4853 5449 2045 4557 2054
0000f70 5244 4145 204d 5243 4341 574b 4f48 4552
0000f80 4820 4d55 2050 4853 4d41 4445 4d41 2045
0000f90 5542 5454 554d 434e 2048 4145 2054 594d
0000fa0 4120 5353 4120 5353 5546 4b4b 2041 4947
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0000fe0 4420 4e4f 2047 4f43 544f 5245 4220 4241
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0001000 2045 5547 2059 4e4f 2045 414a 2052 4f57
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0001050 4646 454c 5320 4148 4556 2044 4542 5641
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0001080 204b 5542 5454 554d 4843 4620 4e49 4547
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00010b0 4a45 4341 4c55 5441 5345 4620 4f4f 204b
00010c0 4f43 4b43 4146 4543 4220 574f 4c45 2053
00010d0 4b4b 204b 3446 4e4e 2059 5754 5441 4548
00010e0 4441 4320 4948 4b43 5720 5449 2048 2041
00010f0 4944 4b43 4c20 5a45 495a 2045 2d43 2d55
0001100 2d4e 2054 4944 4b43 4954 4b43 454c 2052
0001110 5546 4b43 5242 4941 204e 5242 4e55 5445
0001120 4554 4120 5443 4f49 204e 4853 5449 4142
0001130 4747 5245 5620 5249 4947 204e 5546 534b
0001140 3520 3148 2054 5544 4d4d 2059 4142 4c4c
0001150 5320 4355 494b 474e 5320 4948 4254 494c
0001160 504d 4220 5449 4843 4e49 2047 4142 4542
0001170 414c 444e 5420 4255 4947 4c52 4320 4152
0001180 2050 4f53 2d4e 464f 412d 422d 5449 4843
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00011d0 4320 4e55 4154 5353 4320 434f 534b 4355
00011e0 494b 474e 4320 494c 4654 4341 2045 2d43
00011f0 2d4f 2d43 204b 5055 4b53 5249 2054 494a
0001200 4747 5245 4f42 204f 454c 4843 3520 4948
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0001220 4e49 5347 5720 4948 4554 5020 574f 5245
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00012d0 2053 5543 544e 4142 2047 414a 4b43 4f20
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00012f0 4146 4942 5441 4843 5020 5355 4553 4420
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0001380 2042 5543 204d 4843 4755 4547 2052 4f47
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00013a0 4b4b 5245 4420 4c49 4f44 2053 4f4e 4b4f
00013b0 2059 4954 5354 4420 4349 204b 4853 2059
00013c0 4f50 504f 4e55 4843 5245 4320 4d55 5453
00013d0 4941 204e 4153 424d 204f 4554 4241 4741
00013e0 4947 474e 5020 4749 5546 4b43 5245 5120
00013f0 4555 4645 5320 494e 4550 2052 4f43 4b43
0001400 4e53 4649 4546 2052 4c42 4341 204b 4f43
0001410 4b43 5220 5645 4555 4620 4355 204b 4f59
0001420 4d20 4d41 2041 4546 414d 454c 5320 5551
0001430 5249 4954 474e 5020 5355 5953 2053 5553
0001440 4349 4449 2045 4947 4c52 2053 454c 5441
0001450 4548 2052 5453 4152 4749 5448 4a20 4341
0001460 454b 2054 4f50 4e4f 4e41 2059 4146 2054
0001470 4147 4159 5353 5920 4145 5453 2059 5542
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00014d0 5020 5341 5954 5620 524f 5241 5045 4948
00014e0 494c 2041 4e43 5455 5720 4e41 4a4b 424f
00014f0 5320 5845 2059 3048 4f4d 4220 5241 4c45
0001500 2059 454c 4147 204c 5546 4b43 4154 4452
0001510 2053 5546 4b43 4857 524f 2045 5341 5753
0001520 4441 4220 5449 4843 2059 4f42 4b4f 4549
0001530 5420 5449 4954 5345 4320 434f 534b 4355
0001540 534b 4420 4c31 3044 5020 4545 4550 2045
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0001560 5445 4220 5344 204d 4542 4645 4320 5255
0001570 4154 4e49 4320 454c 4556 414c 444e 5320
0001580 4554 4d41 5245 4320 434f 4941 204e 554d
0001590 4854 2041 4143 454d 204c 4f54 2045 5453
00015a0 4649 5946 4720 4941 4720 4e41 2047 4142
00015b0 474e 4420 474f 5947 5453 4c59 2045 4154
00015c0 4646 4a20 5a49 455a 2044 4954 4445 5520
00015d0 2050 5944 454b 4120 5353 4c43 574f 204e
00015e0 4942 4354 5448 5449 2053 4c50 4145 5553
00015f0 4552 4320 4548 5453 4320 4d55 454d 2052
0001600 4146 4e4e 4259 4e41 4944 2054 454a 4c4c
0001610 2059 4f44 554e 2054 4853 5449 4554 2052
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00039eb

I’m still not having any problem.

OK, one final step. Let’s open it in a text editor:

Hmmm. This time I think opinions might vary.

To me the idea of an “offensive word” doesn’t really make any sense. A word is just a sequence of letters. I’m a computer guy, so to me it’s just a sequence of bytes. But I don’t think any word can be said to be offensive any more than we could claim that the letters in that word are also offensive. And I don’t think we should ban the letter “f”.

It’s the intention and meaning that we derive from the word that matters – the way we read it, not the word itself. The first image is innocuous because you are looking at that stream of bytes as a bitmap image. In the last one, you’re parsing it as english, and it causes a very different reaction. But even then, there’s no hate in a list of “bad words” that I pulled off the internet. I’d argue that the final image is precisely as offensive as the first two because it’s just a list that I pulled off the net. Nobody yelled this at anybody. It wasn’t used for a hateful purpose. Therefore it’s innocuous.

The point is that we should look for the message people are trying to convey when they use a word before we have an emotional reaction to the word itself. I’ll grant that certain words do cause real problems for some people, and that certain words have been used historically in very hateful ways, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that every possible use of that word is negative. There are indeed certain words that might currently be almost entirely negative, but that won’t necessarily always be the case, and it might not be the case all over the world now, and it certainly doesn’t apply to every word that has been used, for example, as a slur.

Then there’s the whole “freedom of expression should trump the right to not be upset” argument, wherein I will argue that there is exactly one thing that the muricans did actually – wait for it, I’m gonna say it – The Americans did get freedom of speech right. Or at least, pretty close. But that’s a whole other wall of text.

I just thought this was an interesting demonstration of how your perception of data can change, depending on how you look at it :)

Buying “For All Mankind”

I’ve been watching this show called For All Mankind. It’s glorious. One day there will almost certainly be a blog post here gushing about it. It has the potential to be my favourite TV show ever. I’ve told pretty much everyone I know about it.

But it’s an Apple TV show, so I can’t ethically recommend any legitimate means of watching it.

Today, I decided to do a thing that I do every now and then: make a good-faith effort to find a way to reward creators of content like this in an ethical way.

In other words, I want to buy For All Mankind on DVD or bluray.

So I decided to hit up apple for a chat to ask them when it’s coming out in a format where it can actually be purchased (as opposed to rented, which is what you get when you “buy” it from Apple TV), and unencumbered by DRM.

That went about as well as you’d expect.

The TL;DR version is that Apple won’t even discuss the possibility of you buying one of their shows on DVD without you providing your personal information. Much less actually release a show on a medium where you can actually buy it. Not only that, but they insist on using misleading terms like “buy”, and “purchase the content legitimately” even when called out on it. I guess they do deserve some minimal number of points for consistency.

So, if you want to watch For All Mankind, the most ethical way I can recommend to watch it is by using The Pirate Bay. You get very high-quality web-download rips there regularly every week.

And I really do recommend watching it. It’s great.

Dear Ronald D Moore: Your show is really great. I’d love to give you and your production company some money to support it’s ongoing creation, but Apple refused to help me with that. If you want to reach out to me and let me know how I can do that, Please do. I’d happily pay premium prices for a box set, I’ll be all like “shut up and take my money”. Thanks.

Here’s the chat log in full:

(well, almost full. This is the last screengrab I took. It was very close to the end of the chat. After this it was pretty much just “well, thanks for nothing I guess? Bye.”)


image of a long, text-based chat with apple tech support. Sorry, vision-impaired people!

The Register’s Totally Unbiased Journalism

I’ve been reading The Register for close to 20 years now. Certainly well over 15.

They have been getting less and less impartial, and thus worse and worse at journalism, over the years.

And today I found out that their comment moderation is also totally fair and unbiased. For instance, check out this totally offensive post that they censored:
Totally innocuous comment mentioning that their journalism isn't very impartial censored by their moderators
As you can see, I was totally out of line and very offensive here.

To add to this hilarity, it turns out that the person moderating comments on the article is the same guy who wrote it. Totally fair and not at all a recipe for a little fiefdom of echo chambers.

And as if that wasn’t enough, this comment was censored in such a way that there is no visible mention on the website that a post has been censored. Usually on their site, any moderated post will be replaced with a message saying “this post was removed by a moderator”. So it turns out that not only do they censor any even mildly critical viewpoints, they do it using a special censorship mode that they have implemented, so that nobody can tell that they’re basically nazis.

And that was the day that I stopped reading the register. Chris Williams, their editor in chief, is a little hitler wannabe.

QOTD

“Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.”

-Noam Chomsky

No, I won’t take my helmet off

When I buy petrol. There are 2 really basic principles why not:

1. Legal.

When I roll up to your petrol pump and lift the handle, if you turn that petrol pump on, you are agreeing to sell me petrol. By pouring petrol into my tank, I’m agreeing to buy it.
Any condition (for example: the condition that I take off my helmet when I enter your store) which is added to a transaction after I agree to make the purchase but before I hand over my money is pretty obviously an unfair condition of sale. Under Australia’s consumer protection laws, unfair conditions are meaningless. Therefore the condition that I take off my helmet before I enter the store is unenforceable.

If you don’t turn on the petrol pump while I have my helmet on, there’s no (legal) problem. Some places do this – you lift the handle, the pump doesn’t turn on. you look inside, and the guy behind the counter makes a motion as if he’s taking off a motorbike helmet. That’s perfectly fine – I’ll just go somewhere else based on principle #2.

If you have locked doors with a button behind the counter, and you won’t let me in the store with my helmet on, then you have a real problem. Because in that event, I will invoke my right under the Australian Consumer protection laws to change my mind about the sale – I’ll suddenly decide that actually I don’t want to buy petrol from you, after all. This presents you with a problem, because now you’ll have to remove the fuel that I pumped in – and *only* the fuel that I pumped in – from my bike. Good luck with that.

2. Moral.

I’ve worked in many client-facing roles. I’ve dealt with all kinds of customers, ranging from people at home calling up because their Internet is broken, right up to corporate executives. In my many customer-facing roles, and in fact one of the first things I was ever taught in my career, is the value of customer service. As someone who has had to provide customer service for a living, I pretty much insist on it when I’m the customer. And the first thing you’ll learn when you learn customer service is not to insult your customers.

By asking me to take my helmet off, you’re accusing me of being a thief. There’s no way to dance around it, it’s a simple fact – when you ask me to take my helmet off, you are very clearly implying that I am a thief.

And guess what? I consider that an insult. And if you insult me before I’ve handed over my money, I’ll go somewhere else, pure and simple.

“Oh, but the companies need to protect themselves! if they let you walk in wearing a motorbike helmet, then they’d get robbed all the time!”

Firstly, that’s not my problem, that’s a problem for the companies. Secondly, isn’t there an entire agency, widely referred to as “the police”, who deal with that kind of thing? Surely when you hand over the CCTV footage showing the thief’s number plate, the police will do their jobs, and no customers need to be insulted?

“Oh, well, these thiefs, they don’t use number plates, or they fake them…”

See the previous question. Now the police have multiple charges they can press.

“Yeah, but, we need to prevent crime!”

Then why do you let me pump the petrol into my bike with my helmet on? Assuming I’m a thief with fake number plates, why would you give me the opportunity to fill my bike up with petrol and simply ride away?

If you’re really interested in preventing crime, then guess what? There’s a whole industry sitting out there just waiting for your call! It’s called “The Security Industry”. There are companies like Chubb who make their entire living out of just that kind of thing! These guys are professionals who take their job seriously – they can advise you on best practices and whatnot, and they’ll provide whatever kind of security you like – The Security Industry can provide all kinds of wonderful services including but not limited to having a car drive past every so often, to make sure you’re OK, or permanently stationing a security guard (or, better, more than one) on site. If you like, the guards you have on site could probably even frisk every customer as they enter and leave the store! After all, I’m sure there are thiefs out there who are slipping through the cracks in your system because they’re not motorcyclists.

What this is really about is externalities – you can’t be bothered paying somebody to help you prevent crime (which indicates to me that it’s not really such a big problem), and you’d rather insult every single motorcyclist who comes to your store. After all, we’re only a minority…

Kites “Not Kid Safe”

(Originally posted on myspace on 14-Sep-2007)

(Original Article: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/09/11/2029365.htm)

—————————————-
An Anti-Darwinian lobby wants new laws to Ban children under 16 from riding motorbikes, or from doing anything else which could possibly be classified as “fun”.

A three year old retard at quantong in Victoria’s west was killed last week when he rode his motorbike into the Wimmera river. This was obviously due to the malicious intentions of the motorbike, and had nothing to do with a) parents allowing a 3 year old to ride a motorbike b) parents not supervising 3yo while riding a motorbike c) parents not instructing their child properly on how to ride a motorbike, and the dangers of riding them into rivers d) parents allowing 3yo to ride a motorbike next to a river, with no intervening fence e) the kid being a moron f) Parents being morons.

Kidsafe victoria says more than five children a week are being admitted to hospital because their parents have not properly supervised them on motorbikes.

Kidsafe’s president Dr Mark Stokes says it is alarming motorbikes do not attract the same regulations as cars, which is somewhat strange, considering that Motorbikes and cars are actually subject to virtually identical laws, the only real difference being that a bike is more easily classified as a ‘recreational vehicle’ than a car, which seems sensible to anyone with a brain, because they ARE more often used as recreational vehicles. However he fails to point out that a car on private property also does not need to be registered, and is legally driveable by a three-year-old. exhibit A: the 10,000 ‘paddock bombs’ in australia, so this issue actually would actually also apply to cars, but the thing is that cars aren’t possessed by evil spirits which like to dump three-year-olds into rivers, and motorbikes obviously are…

He says Australia needs to adopt laws similar to those introduced in the USA, Where they don’t even have a helmet law. He says that if we brought in the Patriot act here, then kids would be too busy being stripsearched on the side of the road to go riding motorbikes around.

“Children just aren’t able to control heavy machinery like a motorcycle,” he said, sending anybody with a bike license and an IQ higher than 0.007 into fits of hysterics.

“When you look at the evidence about developmental skills in children, they’re really not able to ride and control something like that until they’re probably about at least 16 years of age,” Dr Stokes said, sending the Netrider and AMA forums offline for 2 hours due to the an inordinate number of posts containing text like “OMGWTFBBQ?!?” and “LOLLERCOASTER!!! THIS GUY’S FUCKED IN THE HEAD!!!”

“I had a motorbike between the ages of 5-9 years old, and I loved every second of it. I fell off a grand total of once that I can remember, and I think i may have bruised my arm during the fall, which was due to my attempting to do something stupid (jumping a Honda Z50R isn’t a clever move). I was heavily reprimanded by my parents for even trying to do stupid things, they explained that doing that kind of stuff on a motorbike is asking for trouble, and that they can be dangerous if you’re not carefull. and I never did anything stupid again. I hurt myself alot more on my BMX than on my motorbike, so maybe we should Ban BMX’s too. Oh, and don’t forget to ban kites – I heard that some guy once got struck by lightning when he was flying a kite in a thunderstorm, so they’re clearly very dangerous…”, Says AntiSol, someone who actually has half a brain.

“So This guy is saying that my 4+ years of loving my Z50R didn’t actually happen, and that I wasn’t actually riding it, cuz I was a child? or maybe I went through some strange “childhood” which actually ended at age 4, implying that I am a super-genius or something, cuz I’d swear to god I was riding that Z50 around like a champion at age 6… And since when is a 35kg Honda Z50R a piece of ‘Heavy Machinery’? My Lego set was heavier!”

“Look, If they take away my Kid’s right to ride his PeeWee around, then I’ll have no choice but to start teaching him insurgency tactics and bomb making – What else will he be able to do for fun? I mean you can’t even get a semiautomatic air rifle in this country! and now they want to take away junior’s PeeWee?!?”, said a Hells Angel who wished to Remain anonymous.

“I think it makes a farce of the whole notion of licensing for motor vehicles, if we are going to say need a license to drive a motor vehicle on a public road, but in a more dangerous environment you don’t need a license,” he added.

A survey of Australia’s Motorcyclists indicated that arroximately 870% chose “a tree or a river over an idiot commodore driver any day, in terms of safety. Trees and rivers don’t move. Or aim for you. If you ride a bike into a river, it’s because you were a fuckwit, not because the river cut you off. Plus grass is a lot softer to land on than bitumen, especially when the mack truck behind you is taken into account…”

Haneef

(Originally posted on myspace on 03-Aug-2007)

HANEEF IS BAD!!! BAD HANEEF! HE’S BAD! BAD!!! BAD BAD BAD!!! BAD HANEEF! HANEEF IS BAD!!! HANEEF IS A BAD MAN!!! BAD MAN HANEEF! HE’S A BAD MAN! BAD! BAD! BAD MAN! HANEEF IS A BAD MAN! BAD!!! BAD BAD BAD!!! HE’S BAD!!! HE’S AN EVIL BAD MAN!!! BAD BAD! HE’S BAD! AND EVIL! BAD! BAD! BAD!

How do you know he’s bad? Because I said so! And I’d know these things! Like, I can’t tell you why, and infact I can’t even really tell you why I can’t tell you why, except to say that it’s for your own good. but trust me, He’s bad. You can trust me. I’m trustworthy. You know I’m trustworthy because I said so. I can’t actually prove I’m trustworthy, and I can’t tell you why I can’t prove it, but trust me, it’s all just for your own good. I don’t do anything that isn’t for solely your good and wellbeing, ever. And plus: he’s Bad. Haneef is a bad man. Don’t worry your little head that we dropped the charges and let him go in the end – that just means that we can’t actually PROVE he’s bad… but he is, Trust us, we know: He’s bad. Bad I tells ya. Bad. and evil. he’s a bad, evil person. You know it’s true because I would never lie… this has nothing to do with the election – there really is a threat – FEAR, FEAR!!! OOOH! BAD BAD!!! HANEEF = BAD!!! BAD!!! BAD! HE’S A BAD MAN!!! FEAR!!! FEAR!!! BAD!!! TERRORISTS! HANEEF BAD!! BAD MAN!!!

(vote for little johnny)

Translations from the propaganda

(Originally posted on myspace on 10-May-2007)

Looks like I forgot to post this when I wrote it…

(Original Article: http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200703/s1882231.htm)

I’ve translated this article from propagandese into english. Enjoy…

Rolling back WorkChoices ‘will send terrible signal’

The Prime Minister is celebrating the first anniversary of his Government’s WorkChoices legislation today. These celebrations will involve the usual consumption of ceremonial barrels of muslim blood and crude oil..

John Howard says the evidence is that the new laws have been beneficial with more than 250,000 20-hour-per-week casual jobs created over the past year, meaning a quarter of a million extra people needing a second job rather than being unemployed.

He told Radio National while he is open to finetuning of the workplace laws, they are a vital part of the economic reform process laid out by George Bush’s puppetmasters.

“The score card is very, very strong and if we roll back WorkChoices, which is what Labor will do if it wins at the end of this year, it will be

the first time in a generation that a major step towards the tyrannical, pseudo-democratic police state which I envision has been reversed,” he said.

“That will send a terrible signal to the millionaires in this country, and to millionaires abroad. It would be like saying ‘But you have 20 billion dollars already, that’s all you need’, which is obviously a terrible thing to say to a rich person…”

“The evidence is that WorkChoices has been beneficial. We’ve had what, more than a quarter of a million sub-minimum-wage jobs created, wages have continued to rise strongly for millionaires, and employees are so terrified that strikes are at their lowest level since 1913, so the scorecard is very, very strong… if you’re a millionaire…

“And Anyway, anybody who doesn’t like the workchoices legislation has already been investigated as a terrorist, so we’re on top of it.”

Federal Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey says the WorkChoices legislation is working to add an eighth bathroom and olympic size swimming pool to his house.

He then went on to repeat word-for-word everything the prime minister said:

Mr Hockey says 263,000 new jobs have been created in Australia over the past year, and that of the people filling those roles, at least 3 or 4 hundred are able to survive comfortably, because they have two or more jobs.

He says strike action is at its lowest since records began. He attributes this to “a lengthly campaign of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt”

Mr Hockey says WorkChoices is one of the foundations of building a strong bomb-proof bunker in his backyard, so that he’ll be safe when the rampaging hordes come looking for blood.

“It is about a choice on whether people on AWAs or collective agreements, or those on the award system, it is about choice and certainly the evidence points to the fact that people who work in parliament house and are on AWAs earn more than people on collective agreements, on the award system, or the dole” he said.

Slow News Day

(Originally posted on myspace on 14 Mar 2007)

I direct you to http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200703/s1871034.htm.

Sydney planes targeted by laser pointers

The Federal Government has confirmed that laser beams were pointed into the cockpits of passenger planes preparing to land at Sydney Airport earlier this week.

OMGWTFBBQ!!!Pilots have told aviation authorities they were targeted over North Ryde on Monday evening.

“It was terrible, I was trying to focus on the altimeter and a little red dot appeared on it! I’ll need at least 4 months of paid stress leave…”

A spokesman for Federal Transport Minister Mark Vaile says about 20 laser attacks on planes have been reported across the country.

Yep, and given that there are hundreds of flights all over the country on any given day, and the staggering number of crashes / injuries / strained eyes reported as a result, it’s obviously a problem of epidemic proportions, and therefore is wholly worthy of it’s very own news article in the national press.

The Federal Government has expressed concern that terrorists could use the technology to endanger passenger planes.

Ok. Seriously, you guys… Terrorists firing laser pointers??? I mean, how desperate do you have to be to try to instill fear into your population? and how GOD DAMN STUPID do you think your population is if you’re going to try feeding them this UTTER CRAP? I mean, what are the terrorists going to do, set up a network of 25 guys strategically located around the city so that they can shine their laser pointers at the pilot, forcing him to turn the plane, thus coming into the firing range of the next guy with a laser pointer, and using this method you ‘remote control’ the plane into a building??? as if! surely rocket launchers aren’t THAT hard to come by…? Surely it’d be easier to BUILD YOUR OWN WMD than to:
a) plan this
b) set up the 25 guys with their laser pointers, deck chairs, tripods, binoculars, synchronised watches, incredibly detailed plans of the plane’s flight path, etc
c) Train and then coordinate all 25 guys
d) find a target in Australia worth your trouble

Reasons why I wouldn’t be overly concerned:
1) I’d imagine it’s somewhat hard to aim a laser pointer at a plane, much less at the pilots eye, while it’s flying through the air at 400kph at 30,000 feet… Even while it’s landing (going slower, flying lower), I’d still say it’s going to be more difficult than…say…aiming a heatseeker…

2) So, on the off-chance that the terrorist does manage to get his pointer(s) – presumably two – most people have two eyes – into the pilots eyes REAL GOOD, so that the pilot can’t land – the pilots abort their landing, and wait a while before making another attempt. Where’s the issue? It’s standard procedure to overfuel planes in case of emergency – isn’t this exactly the kind of reason why they overfuel the planes? It’s not like they’re instantly gong to drop out of the sky if you don’t land at the scheduled time… if this is practicable in anything less than 99% of flights, I’d be seriously worried about getting on a plane without any of these important terrorist concerns…

3) The obvious reason: THERE IS NO TERRORIST THREAT TO AUSTRALIA.
But Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson believes it is more likely that thrill seekers are responsible.

This guy has an exciting life, if shining a laser pointer at a plane is ‘Thrill Seeking’… far more thrilling than building dynamite, putting coins on train lines, planning political assasinations, or even going very very fast down the highway. I’m glad this guy is so hooked into today’s youth culture, saves me from having to keep my finger on the pulse…
“It certainly does seem this is just people who are pretty stupid, who think this is the interesting or fun thing to do,” Mr Gibson said.

“The message is it’s not interesting or fun, it’s damned dangerous and they should simply stop.”

“Damned Dangerous”?

“Damned Dangerous”???

“Damned Dangerous”???

If a professional airline pilot, who neccessarily has a rather extensive set of qualifications, not least including a full-on pilots license which means he has hundreds of flight hours and allows him to fly a many-many-ton commercial passenger aircraft, isn’t able to fly his plane with one eye closed, or isn’t able to move his head two centimeters to the left to avoid a laser pointer, and can’t ask his copilot for help, and can’t say “oh there’s a red dot in my eye, I’d better abort the landing and let the flight controller or copilot help me”, I’d be even more worried about flying, even without the nonexistant terrorist threat.

Oh no… I just realised that Now I’ve written this, I’ve at least doubled the amount of mental effort spent on this subject… eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew, I feel so tainted…