Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

September 2012

3rd September 2012

The Block Stops Here

The Government, following a lot of wailing from the Daily Mail, is proposing that ISPs should be forced to block “adult” web sites by default. I posted at length about this back in May and I refer you to that post if you’re unfamiliar with the issue. In summary, my objections are as follows:-

  • It is not the Government’s job to be babysitter to an entire nation of internet-using children. Children, of course, should be protected, but that is a parent’s job, through supervision and, if necessary, the use of filtering software on the child’s laptop, phone or tablet.
  • Any “default block” will be a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Nobody has defined “adult” web sites properly – is it just porn, or will stuff that’s a bit sweary like b3ta and Viz be blocked too?
  • Inevitably some innocent web sites will get caught up in the block. Two years ago PinkNews, an LGBT news site, found itself categorised as “adult” by mobile phone providers. Imagine if a small business which relies on web customers gets blocked by mistake. It will lose income and suffer damage to its reputation by being identified as “porn”.
  • Anyone wanting unfettered internet access will have to contact their ISP to request it and may have to repeat that request at regular intervals. There are many perfectly innocent reasons for a user to want an uncensored internet, but thanks to the stigma from certain parts of the media, they will feel like they’re putting themselves on a “porn user’s register”.
  • This is, essentially, censorship – and who’s to say that the blocking infrastructure wouldn’t be used in the future for less benevolent reasons? Perhaps UK Uncut’s web site will find itself classed as “adult”?

All of the above ignores the fact that the block will be easily circumvented by anyone even moderately tech-savvy and will therefore be largely useless anyway.

The deadline to respond is 6th September. The consultation web page on the DfE web site is a nightmare, requiring users to download and fill in a Word document. Even then, most of the questions are aimed at parents and not other members of the public – it’s almost as if they don’t want us to have our say!

The Open Rights Group, however, have an easy to use web page to respond to the consultation, and it will even automatically identify your MP and copy him or her in on your consultation response.

I urge you to go and respond, even if it’s only a sentence or two. Remember, this is not about porn, it’s about larger issues of freedom of expression online versus an interfering nanny state.

5th September 2012

Thoughts on Thirty
Posted by at 11.01pm | It's My Life | No responses

I’ll admit, I wasn’t looking forward to my thirtieth birthday. I didn’t want to cross over that threshold beyond which 80% of Grindr users won’t give you a second look.

Also, there’s the nagging sense that I haven’t achieved much in the first three decades in my life. There was so much that I wanted to see and do and I felt like I missed out somewhat.

So, I was feeling a little bit down in the dumps first thing this morning. However, an outpouring of love and generous gifts from family and friends has changed all that. Work surprised me with a small horde of gifts and a giant card signed by everyone. Thanks to everyone who sent birthday wishes.

Birthday presents

Today has brought home that I’m surrounded by people who care about me. Whatever else happens (or doesn’t), I’ll always have that. Suddenly, growing old (dis)gracefully doesn’t seem so bad after all.

8th September 2012

Park Bench
Posted by at 11.20pm | It's My Life | No responses

A little gem of a film I stumbled across on YouTube:-

I am the guy in this video. Too timid to approach someone, too shy to make the move, too nervous about what might happen. And then, afterwards, kicking myself for doing nothing.

At Liverpool Pride, I was in a pub where I saw a guy eyeing me up. It was so obvious even I noticed it. And yet, despite the cajoling of my friends (who even offered a pen and paper for me to give him my number), I couldn’t pluck up the courage to talk to him.

I’m sure in twenty years time, when I’m celebrating my 15th anniversary, I’ll look back on those missed opportunities and laugh.

Well, maybe.

13th September 2012

Panel Game

"We Never Walk Alone" bannerYesterday was a momentous day for Liverpool as the Hillsborough Independent Panel delivered its final report. Shortly afterwards, David Cameron made a statement to the House of Commons, in a very subdued atmosphere – the only noise from MPs being the occasional gasp of astonishment as the revelations came tumbling out.

Regular readers of this blog (both of them) will know I’m not a fan of football. For me, however, the Hillsborough disaster transcends sport and is about wider issues. It’s about a disaster which could have been avoided, or at the very least reduced in magnitude, had the people in charge done their jobs properly. About victims and their families denied a proper account of what happened. About a complete failure of the government and judicial process to hold anyone accountable.

Read the rest of this post »

14th September 2012

Good sport
Posted by at 8.32pm | Gay | 2 responses

Attitude Magazine October 2011The October issue of Attitude magazine plopped through my letterbox today (it’s in shops next week). They are celebrating Team GB’s success at the Olympics with a special cover featuring five British Olympians and their six-packs.

The perceived wisdom is that homosexuality and sport are mutually exclusive. This magazine feature is the latest sign that this long-held stereotype is breaking down. Elsewhere, we have rubgy star Ben Cohen running an anti-bullying charity specifically targeting LGBT youth and Liverpool FC sending a delegation to Liverpool Pride this year.

Despite these positive developments, high-profile openly gay sportspeople are few and far between. Of the 11,000 athletes at this year’s Olympics, only 22 were ‘out’ – among them, Team GB dressage gold medallist Carl Hester and Australia’s lovely Matthew Mitcham.

If the statistic that between 5% and 10% of the population is gay is correct, there must be many more athletes out there hiding their sexuality. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if the percentage of gay people in sport was less than that in society as a whole. Many people’s love of sports is first nurtured in school (not me, I was a fat bastard who preferred the tranquillity of the computer room). Schools are a hostile environment for many gay teens; the changing room with its atmosphere of machismo and testosterone especially so. How many potential sports stars gave up at a young age, after deciding that the hassle and abuse wasn’t worth it?

Society is changing, and the next generation of up-and-coming athletes may find themselves in a much better position. However, reading stories like this one, about a German footballer afraid to come out because of his fears of a hostile reaction, you realise how far we still have to go.

20th September 2012

Biennial Curious
Posted by at 10.01pm | Liverpool | No responses

The 2012 Liverpool Biennial is in full swing, with exhibitions and shows across the city centre from now until 25 November.

One obvious sign of the event is in Liverpool ONE, where this intriguing exhibit (The Lift by Oded Hirsch) bursts through the otherwise neat pavements of Peters Lane.

The Lift (Liverpool ONE)

I had a wander around some of the venues yesterday in the company of Scott. We ended up at the Cunard Building, former headquarters of the eponymous shipping company. Sadly, while most of the building is occupied, the vast hall on the ground floor which was once the first-class passenger’s waiting lounge is now empty. It’s good news for the Biennial organisers, however, who have taken over much of the space for exhibits.

Liverpool Cunard Building

The “To Let” banners are part of an installation called Liverpool to Let. The artists, according to the guide book, were “struck by the abundance of empty office and commercial spaces in Liverpool’s financial district.”

I tend to agree with them. Can you believe this beautiful space is empty? Speaking in my capacity as a lowly office monkey, I would love to work in a place like this. Someone sort out a lease or something!