Hard News by Russell Brown

Actually, it's not alright ...

The reflexive forgiveness of Telecom over this week's big jumbo outage has obscured some salient points. Although both cable breaks were to the north of Wellington, many people in the city were unable to send emails across town. That appears to be because in the normal course of business, Telecom hauls such traffic to Auckland and back.

If Telecom was peering properly at the Wellington Internet Exchange - as the slogan goes, keeping local traffic local - could such problems have been avoided? You betcha. Adrian Smith of the National Library - whose swift and effective steps to maintain its service on the day were a direct result of its peering at the Wellington Internet Exchange - provided a substantial commentary for the NZNOG list:

When the big one hits New Zealand and we have a full-scale major civil defence emergency it will be far too late for the very capable technical people in each of the organisations to implement Internet peering. They will not be able to use the phone networks due to outages and overloading, and the current New Zealand Internet will fail because peering was not put in place and working.

It is in the interest of every single New Zealander that every New Zealand Telco, ISP and organisation connects their networks to the nearest Neutral Internet Peering Exchange and starts peering; and helps to create a real New Zealand Internet.

The original Internet was designed for this very reason for the US Defence Department to prevent a total failure of communications during major infrastructure outages and emergencies.

There would also be benefits for the Telco's and ISP's if this peering was already in place before the Telecom outage on Monday. It may have been a non-event, when both fibres were cut, the Telecom network could have re-routed traffic around the damage over TelstraClear's equally capable backbone network.

Even if Telecom had to pay TelstraClear for the temporary transit traffic, it would have probably been a far less cost to pay both financially and politically. And the major disruptions caused to a lot of people waiting at airports, unable to use EFTPOS networks etc. may have been avoided, and Telecom customers would still have trust in them to provide Internetworking services.

This would also work in reverse should such an event hit TelstraClear's network.

So come on New Zealanders, please get the important message and do something about this situation today.

I also discussed the issue with Computerworld's Paul Brislen (or as he's known in hop-hop circles, The BRZA) on the radio on Wednesday.

Whoops! I have this $500 tax windfall - where on earth did that come from? Here we go: here's some new roads. As a matter of budgeting policy, the government's windfall splash on roads is arbitrary and unusual - and not exactly Kyoto-friendly. But as a means of grabbing back the news agenda from National, it appears to have been relatively effective. You don't have to be a strategic genius to see that the government needs to be seen as acting, rather than reacting.

Don Brash is starting to dampen tax cut expectations. As well he might. I think Labour has already demonstrated how unhelpful the fostering of unrealistic expectations with regard to tax cuts can be.

A Herald editorial says Brash is being disingenuous in demanding proof of climate change. I think "cynical" was the word the author was looking for …

Dr Brash might also ponder what would happen if, as National has previously proposed, New Zealand were to pull out of the protocol in 2012 if the United States and Australia had not ratified it by then. Withdrawal would mean reneging on an international agreement that had been signed by every member of the OECD except those two countries. That would inevitably be viewed dimly, especially as it involved a country only too willing to promote a clean, green image. In essence, withdrawal is not an option.

No Right Turn reaches the places others don't: he notes the complaints in the House by Dail Jones MP about the hoops a returning New Zealander has had to jump through to gain approval for his foreign-born wife and family to stay here. But hang on: Jones is a member of the New Zealand First party:

The sheer gall of this is simply astounding. One moment, NZFirst is demanding stringent checks to prevent migrants from using sham marriages (and sham parental relationships, even) in order to assist others to gain entry; the next they're complaining when such checks (or rather, far weaker ones - were those children DNA tested? I think not) are in fact applied. But I forget: Winston's stringent conditions were never meant to be applied to white people...

Perhaps a news reporter could ask Winston Peters what's going on here …

Dubber has written a lovely open letter to the Kansas State Board of Education over its contemplation of teaching "intelligent design" as actual science in schools. He was amused by this letter urging that the theory that " a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe" also be added to the school curriculum.

AmericaBlog is on the warpath over Karl Rove's claim that liberals didn't really think 9/11 was that bad, and that their "motive" is to get US troops killed.

Meanwhile, Fox News's Bill O'Reilly plays down an official report of a Gitmo detainee being chained into the fetal position for a day or more at a time by saying it's nothing special: "Most of us sleep in a fetal position." Huh??

Labour's Tim Barnett taps the Barmy Army for campaign contributions.

CommonBits has a torrent for Afghan Massacre: Convoy of Death (that looks a cheery little number).

And finally for yer Friday … I can see my house from space! Nearly. Stephen Taylor has pointed out that Google Maps has released a bunch of zoomworthy new photographic maps of New Zealand, including this one (zoom out and toggle your targeted region into the middle of the image, then zoom in). Cool.