With Sydney entering week 12 of COVID lockdown, I’ve now been restricted from travelling more than 5 km from home for getting up towards three months. As last weekend, I scanned the 5 km radius circle centred at my home to see what we could do today. I chose to take my wife and Scully out for a short drive over to Harold Reid Reserve, which is just within the edge of the circle.
We went early, around 10 am, to avoid the heat of the early afternoon. Like yesterday, today was expected to be very warm, and it ended up reaching 30.1°C, a little hotter than yesterday. Fortunately, much of the walk was shaded by the thick forest. We parked on a street and walked downhill towards the water of Middle Harbour, which is a large inlet off Sydney Harbour. The terrain here is mostly steep slopes down to the water from elevated ridge lines, making it unsuitable for building. Houses cluster on the ridge, but the slopes are mostly left as bushland, threaded with walking tracks.
Down at the water the views were beautiful. The sky was clear and cloudless, and the sun burnt down. Scully enjoyed the walk too!
In one spot we passed a slope that had been burnt recently – in a controlled burn to clear the undergrowth and ward off uncontrolled fires during the summer.
We passed quite a few people also out walking along this track, many with dogs too. Several family groups were out enjoying the unseasonally warm early spring weather. At a few places the track had small branches leading right down to the water, where people could splash in the shallows on a rock shelf, or go for a swim in deeper water.
Towards the end we began climbing back up the hill to the streets on the ridge above. This gave us longer views across the harbour to the opposite ridges.
Near the exit from the reserve back to the street, we passed a family with two kids going the other way, and the mother slipped and fell down some rough sandstone steps. She hurt her ankle badly enough that she couldn’t put any weight on it. Her husband and I carried her out through about 50 metres of bush track to the street, where we put her down sitting on a low stone wall while he and their kids went to retrieve their car. I stayed with the woman while she waited, and talked with her to keep her mind off the pain – it was clearly extremely painful as she was almost constantly wincing and groaning. The man returned with the car and I helped him lift his wife into the passenger seat. He said they’d go straight to the nearest hospital.
Her ankle had swollen up quite badly. Hopefully she’ll be okay, and hasn’t broken any bones, although it looked pretty serious. I made it back home with my wife and Scully without further incident.
In other news, today I deleted my Facebook pages for Irregular Webcomic!, Darths & Droids, and Square Root of Minus Garfield. I created them some years ago, but neglected to update them with anything after a few months, and have basically just been ignoring them since. But this past week the Australian High Court made a ruling that made me delete them.
Briefly, someone brought a defamation case against big media companies, who had created Facebook pages and then allowed people to post defamatory comments on them, without moderation. The media companies argued that they were not responsible for comments posted by third parties, on a third party website (i.e. Facebook). This argument went to the High Court, who on Wednesday this week ruled that media companies are publishers of content, even if that content is hosted on a third party site, and they have a responsibility to moderate it. The upshot of this for the defamation case is that the plaintiff can sue the media companies for defamation (that case is now pending, on whether the comments in question were actually defamatory).
But as pointed out in an article today, this ruling means that anyone who creates a Facebook page may be liable for defamatory comments posted on that page by third parties.
Now, if I were actively moderating those pages that I created years ago, I wouldn’t be worried about this, because I’d just delete anything that might be defamatory (as I do with my comic forums). But since I’m not actively moderating them… they have to go.
I’m not sad about this. I actually support the High Court decision. The big media companies had been using their Facebook pages as a shield against taking responsibility for publishing defamatory content on their own websites. It was an easy way out for them. Rather than host their own websites and allow comments and moderate them for defamation, they created Facebook groups, posted news articles there, and let commenters have free rein, trying to dodge any responsibility to moderate defamatory comments. This decision will force them to take that responsibility back, as they should.
In fact, I’m kind of glad that I had a solid prompt to delete those Facebook pages I’d created. They were relics of what seemed like a good idea years ago, but which had long outlived their usefulness. And frankly, any excuse to use Facebook less is fine by me.
New content today: