Friday, June 27, 2008

ICANN loses marbles

ICANN, the body set up by the US government to oversee the Internet, has gone mad. They've spotted another chance to "Make Money Fast!"as the phrase goes, and are jumping in with both feet.

We're used to top level domain names like ".com" and ".net", and the two-letter country ones like ".uk" and ".ca" for the UK and Canada, or ".cn" and ".ru" for China and Russia. These are based on an international standard list of country codes.

Now they have decided to allow anyone to pick their own top level name. Well, anyone with a "six figure sum" to spare. The result will be confusion, and perhaps a little chaos. You won't know whether hello.html is a file on your own machine, or a new-style website belonging to... anyone.

They are also rushing to develop plans to allow internationalised (as in non-latin alphabet) names. So if a spammer can't get, they can register a domain name with a russian S (which looks like a C... but isn't one) instead of a "normal C". It will look the same to casual victims, but will belong to the hackers instead.

Maybe they'll come up with a way to stop that. Maybe it won't depend on corrupt or lazy domain name resellers for its success. Or maybe hackers will all repent. We'll find out next year, when the details arrive.


At least they are restricting spammers' ability to register all their millions of variations on "" for free. Perhaps if they concentrated on issues like that, instead of new ways to squeeze money from the rest of the world, we'd be better off.

Got to go. I need to think of a way to make 6 figures out of my new top level domain ".is-a-moron". Can I charge people what I like to register names with me?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Get visas fast!

It may have been as quick as I've ever seen a government department move (privatised agency or not). In less than a week, Maithrie got her visa. Prayer, perhaps? It's not yet clear whether Dr Dido or Dr Aristophanes will be joining her.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Unashamedly white and unapologetically Christian?

It's been bothering me since I read about the issue [on BBC News] a week ago, and I thought I'd mention it here.

Would it ever be OK for a church to describe itself as: "Unashamedly white and unapologetically Christian"? Or is that a denial of the fundamental truth that there is no race or sex or colour in the Kingdom of Heaven?

It's just that Barak Obama's old church refers to itself as "unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian". They'll even sell you the slogan on a T Shirt. It's not only the order that these come in - colour first, faith afterwards - that bothers me. It's the contrast between a God who accepts all who turn to him, regardless of colour, and our own human tribal tendencies - expressed in a church that presumably tries to follow God's teaching.

Sure that church may not be in the most racially mixed of areas. Indeed, the congregation may be entirely black. As a church they may have to live out Christ's teaching by opposing racism and injustice in today's society. And, as individuals, they may well be proud to be black (or, perhaps, "African American"). But to advertise in the church's slogan that you are not a place of worship for Native Americans, Latin Americans, Asians, Arabs, Hebrews or white people? Can that be right?

It's wrong when parts of the Christian church in India segregate themselves by Caste. And it was wrong when the church in South Africa allowed itself to be co-opted by the Apartheid state. Churches anywhere which refuse to include people based on race, nationality, or the colour of their skin are ignoring the basic truth about human beings' relationships with Almighty God. We are all in the same situation!

As it says in Galations 3 v 28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

Not the least of the ironies of this unrelenting blackness is that it would seem to exclude Christ himself. And that can't be right!