on writing photography life

The wonderful world of covert surveillance

At a time when governments are increasing covert surveillance of their own populations (in Australia we must thank Potato-head Dutton for this), there is a lot of commercially based covert surveillance going on.

I became aware of the depth of commercially based covert surveillance of internet users when Paul Read (Monash University) proposed that I be a PhD candidate with him.

One of Paul’s many areas of research and work has been in treatment of “victims” of paedophiles, but he has had little to no contact with paedophiles, according to him. None the less, he categorised all paedophiles according to the same criteria, and all adult-child romantic and sexual relationships according to the same stereotypical “monster” category. As near as I can tell, my writings were the first he had read which did not portray paedophilia and paedophiles as monstrous in some way, and he seemed surprised by the proposal, from Michael Seto, that paedophilia may be a genuine sexual orientation, rather than a “perversion” (a mental health problem).(Seto, 2012) He was surprised even by some of what James Cantor(E.g., Cantor & McPhail, 2016) had to say, and Cantor cannot be regarded as radical in any way. Needless to say, some of what Rind, Bauserman and Tromovitch (1998) had to say seemed almost incomprehensible in the suggestion that adult-child sexual contact was not necessarily and always harmful; he had, after all, built a career on the assumption that just this was true. None the less, he proposed that we work together.

The project would be paid for primarily by IBM, and involved the development of a programme designed to conduct covert surveillance of all relevant areas of the internet with the goal of identifying paedophiles so that they could be reported to the police.

Although Paul’s justification for my working on the project was that I would bring some compassion to it, I immediately objected that I was completely against such surveillance, be it government or a commercial enterprise intent on increasing profit. (Whatever other justification they may have, profit always is the underlying motive for such a company.)

There are massive difficulties with such a project, not the least being (a) the person identified as a paedophile may not be a paedophile, (b), if the person identified is a paedophile, they may be non-offending, and quite purposefully keeping their contact with children at a distance and (c), the “child” may be provoking sexual discussion (and more). There was, however, a financial incentive and, after discussing the proposal with Tom O’Carroll, I decided to go ahead with it, should it actually go ahead.

In the past ten months I have heard nothing, except that IBM had decided to prioritise covert surveillance in respect of potential youth suicide. (One wonders just how many other programmes which rely on covert surveillance they are planning.)

I have no doubt that the project will go ahead at some stage, but it will not include me. I will, instead, maintain my stance that covert surveillance of this type is morally repugnant, at its very best.


Cantor, J. M., & McPhail, I. V. (2016). Non-offending pedophiles. Springer Nature.

Rind, B., Tromovitch, P., & Bauserman, R. (1998). A meta-analytic examination of assumed properties of child sexual abuse using college samples. Psychlogical Bulletin, 124(1), 22–53.

Seto, M. C. (2012). Is pedophilia a sexual orientation? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41(1), 231–236.

Back, sort of…

For the better part of the past fourteen months, I have done less than nothing: no photography, no poetry or stories, no study or serious writing.

Having been ill until just a couple of months ago, it was enough to maintain myself and my household whilst various people in my life took a break from sanity.

The last thing I felt like doing was—anything at all, but I am now, ever so gradually, coming back to “normal” and beginning to think a little more clearly.

None the less, the end result is that my interests have changed direction for the time being, though there will produce a few posts to round off some of my past thinking, some of my past plans and directions.

I may write about it all at some time, or take some explanatory photographs…. Nah. I have better things to do!

Until then…

Some new poems

I am pleased to say that two new poems have been published here, on Otoliths.

As always, this journal contains some amazingly good work, so please have a look around and enjoy.

If you like my work, you may be interested in my collection Laughing, hoping, praying, joking.

Rejection slip

Back in the day when stories and poems and other writings were sent by mail, and a rejection slip was the most common reply, it was all very interesting.

I received many rejections, some saying that they wished they could publish the essay  (it was always essays which got this reply) but that it just didn’t suit their publication.

But by far the best rejection slip, and the only one I still have, is the following from Island magazine, way back in the late nineteen seventies.

I couldn’t help but write about sex, and especially the most strange aspects of sex. I guess they didn’t like it, but I was very serious, at the time, anyway. And yes, it was a little pornographic, but more int he mind than in what was written.

No adults, children, dogs, cats or other animals were harmed in the writing of the story. Only the paper when it was burnt. (Grin)

Years later, although I thought it was still a good story, I burnt it, along with masses of poetry and essays and stories that had not been published. It was a glorious burning, made even better by the fact that my visiting sister kept coming up the back and asking if I was ok.

Climate news

This one is more than worth sharing, it makes me realise just how close we are to the point of no return.

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