THE CANBERRA TIMES SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER, 26, 2009 FORUM 17 Life & times Red faces and rough justice ing to the navy and army, as well as Craig Gamble those belonging to NASA and the FAST LIVING Pentagon. His obsession ruined his daily life, causing him to lose his job and his girlfriend, before he was finally caught after brazenly leaving Y messages inside the machines he ou might have read last hacked. McKinnon has since been week about British diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome Prime Minister Gordon and his obsession could have easily Brown issuing a formal been a symptom of that, along with apology to Alan Turing. his inability to judge realistically the Turing was probably consequences of his actions. one of the greatest The case has raised the hackles of mathematicians of the century. He campaigners in Britain, who see it as carried out vital work during World a heavy-handed action by the US War II to help break German codes Government, trying to lord it over made by the Enigma machine, thus Britain, and who see McKinnon as giving the Allies crucial information someone who needs help rather than to use against the Germans. After the imprisonment. McKinnon and his war he was heavily involved in the mother, who has campaigned creation of modern computers and fiercely on his behalf against extra- artificial intelligence, working dition, admit he acted stupidly, but among other things on the she and medical experts are con- Manchester Mark 1 at Manchester cerned imprisonment in a high- University, considered by many to be security facility in the US will do the forerunner of all modern irreparable harm to his mental computers. The tragedy of Turing’s health, and that he should be tried – life was he was persecuted for his and serve whatever sentence is homosexuality, after admitting to a decided upon – in Britain. sexual relationship with a man in But it seems the US Government 1952. Only two years after being has decided to pursue this case as given an experimental sentence of hard as it can, in effect making chemical castration – the choice McKinnon a scapegoat, when it being between that or prison – seems more likely he is, in his own Turing killed himself; he was only 41. words, more ‘‘a bumbling computer There is no doubt Turing was nerd’’ than a threat to national treated, in the words of the prime security. One of the government minister’s apology, in a ‘‘horrifying’’ arguments for doing so is the cost, in and ‘‘utterly unfair’’ way, along with time and money, to fix the problems thousands of other gay men of the McKinnon caused, but the $700,000 time. Because of that persecution, figure mentioned by government the contributions Turing might have lawyers seems hardly enough to made to mathematics and science justify the venom of this pursuit. were lost, and some of the truly the crime is hacking into US govern- McKinnon is more than likely telling The US Government fails to see the revolutionary ideas he fostered were ment computers, and US officials the truth when he says he did it bigger picture. They have been not nearly well enough applauded have some legitimate concerns over caught asleep in the digital world, without malicious intent, and in an during his short life. deeply negligent in their security the security of government files. But attempt to satisfy his obsession with The apology resonated for me with around their own classified infor- the government heavy-handedness UFOs and extraterrestrials. He another British case I’ve followed, mation, and they’ve been shown up that of the ongoing attempts by the in both cases shows a surprising convinced himself the US Govern- by a man working alone in his flat in United States Government to extra- inability to see the bigger picture. ment was withholding information Britain on a cheap PC. dite British hacker Gary McKinnon Gary McKinnon lost his latest appeal about these things, and decided to That’s the connection with Turing. for trial. I’m not drawing any com- against extradition to the US early use his computer skills to hack their Doggedly pursued: The In both cases the government parison between the two ‘‘crimes’’ in this month, so he will face trial for computers in to uncover it. Possibly US wants to extradite actions are reactions to red-faced question. In Turing’s case there was hacking into several government more scary than any government Gary McKinnon for embarrassment on their part. no crime – except the discrimination computers, including some in the alien-hiding conspiracy is the ease accessing US then enshrined in law against Pentagon, an act to which he readily with which he was able to do it. He government computers. homosexuals. In McKinnon’s case admits. However, it’s emerging that accessed military computers belong- Photo: REUTERS email@example.com As action on the field begins, action off the field slows leisure in our so-called ‘‘new’’ flexible and parkas are painstakingly colour- jumping up and sitting down. The SLOW LIVING economy. The sweaty display of coded to signify fan loyalty and pride mass footy-cheer erupts like a vol- hyper-masculine competitive speed is in the exquisitely exciting lead-up to cano and, like lava, quickly turns into a catalyst for the rest of us to stop. As ‘‘the big game’’. For the live spectator, stone-like stillness as fans wait for the the action on the field commences, a toilet run, a drink, a pie, or a giant action off the field ends. Spectator foam finger require considered AFL fandom is opportunity to relive their victorious a nationally moment at a more leisurely pace, Hundreds of thousands of Australian bums pause for hours at a time on movement and careful negotiation during the slow-motion replay. fans practise a weekly winter cel- stadium seats, bar stools, plastic TAB through a heaving ocean of bodies. acceptable Post-game, defeated or elated, slow ebration of slow as they press pause chairs, armchairs and couches. Grand Movement for millions more, the excuse to put AFL spectators depart in search of Final Day is the climax of a winter’s indoor fans, only need be from hand on busy weekend schedules, and worth of simmering, slow-cooking to mouth, from couch to fridge. To the brakes exhausted, drunken, corpse-like still- manic working weeks, to ‘‘watch the game’’. AFL spectatorship catalyses a spectatorship. Fans salivate as a long- venture outside on Grand Final Day on the ness to put their deliciously slow communal ritual of slow nationalism awaited sporting banquet is served. finds an otherworldly, peaceful accelerating sporting journey into hibernation for as bodies from Perth to Hobart sit in Whole cities, suburbs and states come silence as major cities transform into blur between the summer, and lapse into a blissful couch-swathed stillness, transfixed to a standstill as spectators are ghost towns. Spectator slowness is sleep. on a sport that the Australian nation collected like snowballs. punctuated by the excitement of the work and claims as its own. Mobs queue outside local ticket goal when bums leap off seats, hands leisure. AFL fandom is a nationally accept- vendors, forming a snake of frozen fly into the air and voices rise into the Dr Rebecca Jane Bennett is a member able excuse to put the brakes on the stillness wrapped in downy war- atmosphere. Passion explodes in of the Centre for Everyday Life at Murdoch accelerating blur between work and paint. Sleeping bags, scarves, beanies simple, repetitive vertical action: University.