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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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52 Responses to 641

  1. Rachel says:

    In addition to this, don’t forget how – by carrying our mobile ‘phones – our location can be tracked at any time & it’s (apparently) possible to pick up on any conversation we have if carrying our ‘phones (even if they’re switched off)…

  2. subo says:

    was this an episode from ‘only fools and horses’? (am sure i remember Rodney trying to get Cassandra to try a police outfit)

    seriously, though, it takes decades of campaigning to get heard – but don’t give up

  3. Carole says:

    I suppose the one consolation is that if so many millions of people are being tracked, any minor misdemeanours (spellcheck, please) I may be guilty of may be lost among all the serious stuff.

    I mean, if this surveillance is so good, how come cyberspace is filled with so many perverts and computer virus spreaders? Can’t these be traced? Some are, but we are talking tip of the iceberg.

    BTW, can’t think of any offences I am guilty of (honest!)but no doubt someone can tell me! :)

  4. ridata says:

    Right on.

    And don’t forget to mention our guns – they’re being taken away to protect us. Here in the US the Supreme Court has ruled the police are not obligated to defend us, yet we are rendered defenseless.

  5. dennis says:

    Yeah I agree with no.3 If its that good then why don’t these people get caught?

    What if I don’t leave my house am I still on camera? Whoooaaaaa PARANOIA kicks in again, is someone watching me?

    Freedom! Huh?

    I wonder if I wore a T shirt that said I love Red more than Blue I would be arrested for protesting as I walk past Parliament?

  6. chris says:

    you may have difficulties taking photographs of your own too…

  7. Mike says:

    Another killer post. This sums up our times. We talk of freedoms but the truth is more freedoms are being removed.

  8. Carole says:

    The thing is, we don’t do a very good job of looking after each other as far as privacy is concerned. I know loads of people who have been quite upset that ‘friends’ have posted pictures of them on Facebook and the like which they have not given permission for and have refused to take them down. When people ‘move on’ in relationships and suchlike, it is not helpful to have pictures of them in former relationships posted in public.

    Then there are the videos on Youtube – some teacher friends were a bit upset a few years back when kids had been setting them up and recording them in lessons, then posting them on Youtube.

    I think the issue of personal privacy is very much interlinked with the personal freedom thing.

  9. miriworm says:

    Did you know that if you know for sure that the goverment is doing something illegal and you tell someone else that you are then breaking the officials secrets act even though you havn’t signed it and can be arrested and locked up for doing so. It’s been law since the 1990’s.

  10. Caroline Too says:

    Every so often the people in grey suits send of soldiers to war and risk death “for freedom”

    I sometimes wonder what we civilians are prepared to risk for freedom?

    We’re told: “If we stop pursuing/searching/imprisoning-without-charge possible terrorists, then we increase the risk of another July 7th (or 9/11)

    yes, I ask again, what are we civilians prepared to risk so that genuine freedom for all exists?

  11. JF says:

    Rachel (1) hit the nail on the head. If you’re concerned about potential surveillance, throw away the mobile phone. No, thought not.

    It doesn’t take long on Google to come up with stories of serious criminals (crimes against people) who have been tracked and ultimately brought to justice by mobile phone, CCTV and plate-recognition. Some will say that one doesn’t justify the other, but I am willing to sacrifice an iota of “freedom” (I won’t even miss it) to bring especially evil people to book.

    I subscribe to the view that if I am within the law, I am of little/no interest to anyone who might have access to this data. I even wonder if some people WISH someone out there would take an interest in their mundane existence! I don’t think anyone’s really interested in mine!

    I actually tend the other way and think that the more extensive use of cross-referenced profiling data is an immense opportunity to improve the quality of our lives in regard to potential massive information overload and the tailored/efficient provision of products & services. Bring it on!

  12. jeremy says:

    coming on the heels of this article perhaps?


    Looks like your net traffic will be tracked much more closely soon too. When the govt owns it all… (coming from an outsider who doesn’t know all of the implications of the article, just reading into it some maybe)…

    but, for the most part, i don’t worry about this sort of thing. Kinda like Red-Light Cameras.. if i don’t run the red light, it ain’t gonna matter anyway. So keep a clean nose and I’m alright.

    (have no idea what the protest thing is referring too though).

  13. darrin says:

    try going to a football (soccer) match in this country…i thought i was brad pitt or something by the amount the police trained their camcorders on me and my son

    dare to ask or question them (as I did) about it…and they threaten that perhaps you won’t get to see the game

    then there is the misuse of terrorism laws by councils for example to check up on their citizens

    oh dear…i’m coming over all daily mail…my dad will be disappointed

  14. henry says:

    jf (11): you really trust a government capable of committing war crimes and acts of terrorism with all this data? the more data around, the more data can be stolen/hacked and used against you. the government may not think that you are dangerous now, but you just wait until the next nutter gets to be pm.

    read about critical mass, a peaceful cycling gathering, that gets broken up by the police and even had new laws passed to empower the police to arrest people for no reason whatsoever.

    bring it on? bring on 1984.

  15. darrin says:


    for clarity

    i ain’t no brad pitt and i don’t read the daily mail…i wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea

  16. David says:

    I am a regular reader. The “Blogroll” on the right side blocks the strip on most days. What can I do? Thanks.

  17. jonbirch says:

    jf… :lol: i know 1984 is one of your favourite movies, but (“bring it on.”?) i never expected you wanted to star in it. :lol:

    darrin… i can believe that you don’t read the daily mail… but do you seriously expect us to believe that you are no brad pitt!? :lol:

    david… you could report me to the police having committed such a terrible act i guess. :-) or, more helpfully, have you tried opening your browser window to make it a bit larger? it may be that wordpress isn’t working properly with your browser or platform if this doesn’t work. hmmm, i’ve never come across this before and i wonder if you’re seeing the blog as everyone else is on your machine. hope this help a bit. :-)

    to answer your question caroline too. i wonder whether we’re all happily giving up our freedom for freedom. :-( it’s a sacrifice i’m not sure we know we make most of the time.

  18. marcus says:

    I am in agreement with 11 that as long as we are within the law what does it matter if we happen to appear on some cctv camera every once in a while or if some of our blogging is checked to make sure that we are not planning bomb attacks or other such nasty work. I certainly don’t see it as giving up some of my freedom. Many of these laws are there to protect people from wrong doing.

    Thinking out loud now – God has set certain laws in place that will affect our lives (granted some won’t have any affect until we pass away) is God curbing our freedom?

  19. Pat says:

    Not sure quite what sort of laws you are thinking of here Marcus? Isn’t the point that God has given us freedom?

  20. Sophie says:

    I was watching a discussion on tv the other day about whether there should be CCTV cameras in school loos. Surely not! Isn’t it mad if you can’t have freedom to go to the loo in peace. Who will be watching the cameras? where will they be pointing?

    I do think it’s a worry that our civil rights are being curbed – all because of fear. What is with the ‘anti-terror’ laws that mean you don’t have to have a reason to lock someone up anymore? Scary scary.

  21. kls says:

    one of my favourite graffitis:

  22. beatthedrum says:

    And Jesus see you ALL the time even when your off camera!

    How scary is that.


  23. Pat says:

    Jesus the ‘spy-in-the-sky’ eh? Reminds me of a poster which used to be in vogue amongst Christians when I was at uni:

    “Christ is the head of this household,
    the unseen guest at every meal,
    the unseen listener to every conversation.”

    I think I’ve moved away from an image of God dominated by fear of retribution though….

  24. jonbirch says:

    centuries ago. lots of men with big horses and big swords took the land. they called themselves ‘lord’ and things like that. they put laws in place so they might keep ‘their’ land and make it secure. they charged people money for living on ‘their’ land to stop them from having any time to make trouble and to focus their minds. they catalogued everything and every one so they’d know if any of their stuff went amiss. as the years went by, new ideas and technologies made their task even easier and threats to the security of their land from outside provided even more reason to use these devices wherever possible. after all, the people would easily be persuaded these gizmos were for their own good… people aren’t stupid, are they?
    these devices, or cameras caught criminals. they did their job rather well and the people felt safer with them, so they did not notice as more and more of them were put in place. a place where every nook and cranny was being filmed… how safe, how secure.
    welcome to britain.
    my freedom to walk down the street.
    (i’ve been stopped four times in my life and humiliated. i’ve been strip searched. frisked for firearms. apparently i once looked like a burglar :-) ). GONE
    my freedom to peacefully protest to my leaders. GONE
    soon it will all be gone. but that’s okay, because all these things are done for my benefit. all these things are done with my interests in mind. that is a great comfort to me.

  25. jonbirch says:

    be careful little eyes what you see
    be careful little eyes what you see
    for the father up above
    is looking down in love
    so be careful little eyes what you see

    be careful little ears what you hear
    be careful little ears what you hear
    for the father up above
    is looking down in love
    so be careful little ears what you hear

    be careful little lips what you say
    be careful little lips what you say
    for the father up above
    is looking down in love
    so be careful little lips what you say

    be careful little hands what you do
    be careful little hands what you do
    for the father up above
    is looking down in love
    so be careful little hands what you do

  26. rebecca says:

    There are some postings here that suggest that if you are not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide. I beg to disagree. What about somebody who is trying to hide from an abusive ex-partner — they won’t want their details to be anywhere their ex could find them. And everybody should be concerned about cyber crime and identity theft — no system is ever 100% secure.

    I don’t like the image of Jesus as “the unseen listener to every conversation” — it makes him sound like the ultimate nosy parker (I was going to say Big Brother, but perhaps that’s too obvious).

  27. rebecca says:

    Jon (#25): I’ve just cross posted with you. Did you write that song yourself? (If “song” is the appropriate word).

  28. Robb says:

    On saturday a friend was threatened by PCSO’s for taking photos of harvey nicks in Leeds. They actually threatened to “put him on his ar$e” because he could be “taking photos of kids” or “going to blow up harvey nicks”.

    One response to the tale was that the 7/7 bombers used photos taken from a camera. If harvey nicks was blown up then there would be outcry that the PCSO’s did nothing.


    Do PCSO’s stop every photographer on the surrounding area of harvey nicks? Do PCSO’s have a permanent presence around harvey nicks? Do PCSO’s search the property of every house of you click this link?

    Erm…. no…

    What total rubbish!

    Would terrorists use a DLSR and tripod to take shots of harvey nicks with exciting star trails behind it if they were planning to attack? Doubt it. Probably use a camera phone and come back when the high vis jackets aren’t around harassing arty farty types!


    The time I got pointed at by chavs and PCSO’s for ‘having a camera around my neck’ [not even holding it – ‘sir I am stopping and searching you for posession of a camera with intent’] it was a 1970’s fully manual OM-1 with high ASA black and white film so that it would give lots of arty farty grain.

    Ironic Frankie Boyle Quote:

    Frankie: What do you do sir.
    Audience Member: Photographer
    Frankie: I put it to you that you are a trainee paedophile sir!

    JF – I am of little/no interest to anyone who might have access to this data.

    I bet the countless stories of photographers who are of ‘little/no interest’ who are left feeling criminalised and victimised for having a hobby would disagree. Particularly when elderly gents are told “for all we know you could be Bin Laden’s brother”.

    Oh what the heck… more Frankie Boyle (can you tell what I watched last night?)

    ID cards won’t stop your identity being stolen it just means that when it it you are f***ed. “Oh no I need new eye balls and finger tips”.

  29. jonbirch says:

    rebecca… no i didn’t… a little ditty from my childhood… it also has a catchy little tune. hmmmm. :?
    the idea that someone wrote a teaching song telling us to be good or else we will be found out, as opposed to expending their energy on a song that teaches us to love goodness and righteousness amazes me. :-)

  30. jonbirch says:

    i’m doing nothing illegal when i choose steak and chips for tea… but i don’t want it filmed.

    exactly what am i doing wrong carrying a placard 200 meters from parliament? up to a very short while ago, nothing. nowadays, i’m looking at 6 hours in a cell while the police find someone to interview me, tell me off, and let me go with a caution. it’s okay though… it’s for my benefit they have to do this.
    if only all this silly money had been invested in our societies real problems.
    the idea that if i do nothing wrong i have nothing to fear is both pants and lazy in my view. the freedoms i had growing up are no longer there for my nephews and nieces. the world is not a better place for these losses.
    and… sadly… john mortimer (google him if you don’t know who he is), one of the greatest champions for freedom and justice, died last week. very sad. he saw what was happening decades ago… but history shows, no one listens to sense until it is too late.

  31. jonbirch says:

    kls… in my view (not that i have many ‘views’ :-) ), banksy is the well known artist in this country with the most to say. he is excellent. also, he can draw, which is particularly pleasing in a world of unmade beds and cows in formaldehyde.

  32. jonbirch says:

    robb. i completely agree. the idea that one day, by law, i’ll be asked to carry around with me, something that poses this kind of threat to me, is to say the least, a bit annoying. it’s madness, complete madness.

  33. becky says:

    Define safety – what makes me feel insecure is the fact that in the US we have created a monetary system based on “phantom wealth” that collapsed in December and scared the crapola out of a lot of us.

    Living in New York City post 9/11 made me feel on a very small level what folks in other countries go through with tanks, etc. running through out city and military men with guns everywhere you look. I didn’t feel safe but scared.

  34. JF says:

    Jon (24) – Get your hair cut mate and they’ll probably leave you alone! Hahahaha :)

  35. Robb says:

    JF – That is strangely very informative in the debate.

    I was standing in woolworths with the principle of a theological college when “Code 7 Isle 4″ came over the tannoy.

    I turned to her and said “that translates as ‘security guard go and watch the guy with long hair and piercings and make sure he doesn’t nick anything'”.

    Within 15 seconds there was a security guard standing at the end of the isle – watching me buy candles in lanterns for the children to carry in the Epiphany service.

    It happens so often you notice it.

  36. jonbirch says:

    jf… :lol: i also have had many robb type experience… with both long and short hair. either way it seems i look like a criminal. it happens less and less as i get older. now my hair is growing long again it is clearly the wrong colour (grey) to fit in with that certain demographic they must deem as ‘looking dodgy’. aah… so long as prejudice is alive and well, we can all rest secure. :-)

  37. Hayles says:

    Where has the thought police cartoon gone? This is showing as the latest cartoon for some reason.

  38. Hayles says:

    Oh it’s back…weird. I hope my laptop isn’t getting poorly!

  39. jonbirch says:

    that’s odd hayles… 642 is there on my machine. try refreshing the page or something. hmmm. :?

  40. Robb says:

    Thanks hayles, didn’t know it was there :D

  41. Caroline Too says:

    It’s not new, Jon, I’ve only been stopped once… walking in my home village in posh Surry, obviously wearing of jeans in that part of the world made me look suspicious..

    I was not a happy bunny

  42. darrin says:

    i walk a about a mile from my office just in east london to my station at cannon street…the journey takes my through the city

    this evening i counted the number of security cameras that would have recorded part of my walk…so the ones i could obviously see and obviously pointing at my bit of the pavement…totalled 57

    the station itself had an additional 25 or so


    although i am now probably a marked man for showing too much interest and staring at these eyes in the sky

    anyone know a good lawyer…just in case :-)

  43. JF says:

    Well I used to get stopped regularly by the German police while driving home at night. A combination of what I drove, where I lived and the hours I kept. Probably a little more serious than the pick’n’mix aisle at Woolies as one officer always stands in the shadows with a pistol drawn. I never had any alcohol in my blood or on my breath. At no point did I ever feel my liberty was being infringed. I guess I chose the car because it had a certain image and I lived with the consequences. I can’t go through life feeling threatened because some people in uniforms can only think in binary!

  44. becky says:

    I have the reverse Robb experience. I look so freakin’ wholesome that I am convinced I could do some serious damage and no one would notice. Good thing I have an ethics code that prevents me from going criminal.

  45. Robb says:

    Probably a little more serious than the pick’n’mix


  46. jonbirch says:

    “I can’t go through life feeling threatened because some people in uniforms can only think in binary!” me neither. it’s not ‘my’ fear that’s the issue here, it’s what they get up to because of ‘their’ fear that annoys me.

  47. Linus says:

    I’ve read Johnny Wilkinson talk about choosing to imagine a videocamera recording his every move, and then having to watch the playback. That attitude has given him a self discipline that i envy hugely and allowed him to excel. But it seems natural to him, and it is his free choice to impose that upon himself. To have someone try to impose that on you would be very unhealthy. And for me, i would find that kind of thinking paralysing and guilt inducing rather than standard raising i think. I need to find other ways to get into the habit of choosing good.

    As for civil liberties… its holding two things in tension i think. Key phrases of Obama’s inauguration address? “we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals… Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.” Is it really victory if you betray the principles you’re fighting for in order to win? I think ID cards are useless and expensive. I think governments and authorities should be prevented from abusing power. I also think i should be expected to give account for my actions, have nothing to hide, be prepared to go through security checks at airports and public buildings. I think that the Police deserve my respect and co-operation as a default position (they are innocent until proven guilty just like the rest of us). I want to be protected from anarchy and lawlessness as much as from control and coercion. This is about balance.

  48. jonbirch says:

    i wholeheartedly agree linus. :-)

  49. JF says:

    Yes I agree with Linus too.

  50. Caroline Too says:

    Do you know, Linus, I’m not sure that I do agree with you

    I’m not sure that I am happy with balance

    because I’m not sure about why I (we) accept some things as natural
    (and so balanced)

    it seems to me that what we consider natural, and
    so ‘balanced’, is created socially but almost below our radar, our
    ability to notice.

    and some people have more power to shape that sense of what is
    natural (balanced)

    those people are usually the rich and the powerful,

    and, generally, they want to keep it that way

    and – this is the killer for me – I really don’t know if the
    important thing is our safey/realism/balance etc. or just
    that the rich and powerful stay rich an powerful…

    so, if you don’t mind

    I’m going to stay unbalanced ‘cos that’s one of the best ways of
    illuminating why people do things.

  51. Linus says:

    Oh thank goodness for that! If you and Jon and JF had agreed with me all at once, i’d have thought the secret police had got you all!

    I didn’t say our society was balanced – far from it i think. I said we should be looking for a balance.

    What i was after was that most people want neither anarchy nor totalitarianism – they want to find a place somewhere between the two extremes where the living conditions are rather more genteel. What tends to happen is that people polarise over this and you have a fruitless argument about which extreme is the worst. That’s not the point. They’re both bad. If people stop polarising then you can start having a helpful discussion about where the optimum point between the two is.

  52. darrin says:

    i’d like to think asbo has a hand in this….jon certainly got there first :-)


    jon for the lords…and prime minister…and archbishop…and queen of england….well…king

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