Open Thread


All through the ages, the first thing the great dictators did when they got into power was to burn the books. There hasn’t been a time throughout history when a dictator hasn’t burned or banned books. Whether it be Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, Napoleon, Brezhnev, George Bush or Sarah Palin. Even now countries such as China, Saudia Arabia, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and Cuba just to name a few have strong censorship laws.

I came up through the sixties and seventies working for Collins Book Sellers who were battling the Henry Bolte/Aurthur Rylar government’s arcane censorship laws. Books like The Little Red School Book, Portnoy’s Complaint, The Outcasts of Foolgarah, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, were books that we were able to use to challenge the law; along with various editions of Playboy. Gough Whitlam came along and there was a new dawn with books. Most of the old rules were overturned and in Victoria there was very little trouble any more because Bolte was gone. Although in Queensland they still had Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

Labor governments in Australia through the ages have been on the progressive side of censorship. The Howard Government was doing it’s best to bring in strong censorship laws. Once even getting a law that would have had anyone arrest and charged for loading any sort of porn onto the Internet inside or outside the country, that is, if you were uploading porn to the USA you would be charged. It was stopped on the way to getting governors’ approval. Whose definition of porn was it?

I was most relieved when Kevin Rudd was elected. No more trouble with censorship laws. The ALP had more sense. The ALP would have much smarter people working in that department. No more trouble. Imagine my horror when I received an email from my son about the Great Firewall of Australia. You cannot imagine the anger and swear words that came from my mouth. The thing that really disappoints me the most is the amount of talent in the ALP that has not stood up against this law. One person in particular who is my hero, Maxine McKew, for beating John Howard in Bennelong. I have my own personal desktop background of the Bennelong result, she has not been stood up on this issue. Maxine is not the highest person in the ALP but she comes from a very strong media background. I expected that she would have taken a stand on this issue. But Maxine is not alone. There are many others in the ALP who remain silent.

Why won’t the firewall work? First of all, you could never make it a word based program. There are two many words that cross over, for instance the first and most obvious word is sex. If you ban the word sex, you also ban communicating with Middlesex and Sussex, you could never mention the word sextant. You would stop any email with a job application asking the persons sex or any document asking for your sex. That would just about grind the Internet to a halt in Australia. What about Virgin? Well there goes Virgin Airlines, Virginia and West Virginia for a start, then the online bible. Most of the words to do with women’s sexual health would be out. To show how effective a word based censorship firewall is to try blocking the word Viagra in your email. Ads by using the word Viagra will still get through. It cannot be done, because I still get V!agra Vi*gra and Viagr* coming through.

Senator Conroy says he only wants to ban child porn sites. Well I can tell why it won’t stop the child porn sites. Even if he blocked every site it would still get into Australia very, very easily. How? Every laptop coming into the country. Every portable USB hard drive on a key ring. Has anyone mentioned to Senator Conroy that the new portable hard drives can hold over 1Terabyte of information? Then there is Peer to Peer networks. His system won’t be able to block those at all. The record companies have been unsuccessful in stopping them, how is he going to stop them? Anybody with a little bit of computer knowledge can do that. Just ask your kids to show you how. Ask them about Limewire. Peer to Peer networks are a giant whole in Senator Conroy’s firewall, so big you could drive a truck through it.

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Senator Conroy’s intention is to block illegal websites. He has a budget allocated for that. It will be very difficult to do that for the present standard of the Internet without blocking a lot of innocent sites. But what Senator Conroy has not taken into account the huge explosion of the Internet in the USA that’s about to happen under Barrack Obama. Free up restrictions on the Internet, introducing broadband to large amounts of untouched area’s in the USA. Senator Conroy’s system will slow the Australian Internet down under today’s system. It will be worse when Obama’s Internet kicks in.

Let’s say Senator Conroy is 100% successful in the sites he blocks. All are correct none that shouldn’t be are blocked. The ALP is tossed out at the next election. The Liberals win in a landslide and Tony Abbott is the new Minister for communications. Not a nice thought is it? That would be senator Conroy’s fault.

Senator Conroy’s 40 million dollars would be much better spent and far more effective on extra police to crack down on child pornography. Oh I forgot, he can’t give that to another department can he?

Obama’s Internet Revolution Begins.

1,645 replies on “Censorship”

“There will be human winners out of climate change, too. Some areas will become more hospitable and better for agriculture, for example.” Siberia will be better off the Russians say.

Chris B,

It depends. Many cities and roads in Siberia are built on the permafrost. If it melts, then there will be subsidence. The impact of this could be disastrous for the Russian economy.

But in the longer term they are likely correct.

It defies logic to claim that Russsians will be better off with global warming. The planet in it’s entirety will be so affected that everything from food production to water availablity and extreme weather will affect everyone.
Catrina, apparently the cockroaches will flourish.

“How long does carbon dioxide remain in the atmosphere?

This section aims to highlight the fact that CO2 could remain in the atmosphere for up to two centuries before it is removed by various reactions, thereby increasing the importance of CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

The time taken for atmospheric gases to adjust to changes in sources or sinks is known as the atmospheric lifetime of a gas. The atmospheric lifetime of carbon dioxide is in the order of 50-200 years. ”

“The white paper warns that the cost of inaction is likely to be measured in an increase in the severity of natural disasters such as bushfires, cyclones, hailstorms and floods. Delaying action will increase the risks of climate change and the costs of future action.

It also forecasts that the frequency of drought may increase by up to 20 per cent over most of Australia by 2030 – up to 40 per cent in south-east Australia and 80 per cent in south-west Australia by 2070. ”

Hmmm. If we are talking about 2030 – 20 years from now – then it is already too late to do much about that. We might be able to influence the 2070 figure to some extent. But unless we actually reduce carbon levels in the atmosphere – and we will not do that by continuing to emit carbon above the levels that pushed the increase in the first place – then all we are doing is delaying when these effects occur.


Some people will be better off in the long term. The melting of the permafrost will enable more food production and easier access to mineral resources in Siberia, for example.

So, while the initial effects will be disastrous, in the longer term they could well benefit.

Of course, the Ukraine food production area will likely be much reduced. So it depends on what the balance ends up being, and when the measurement is taken.

The Labor Government is showing signs of very early arrogance. It took the last ALP government a long time to show that.

DavidG – (well done on your results. ).
you can’t look at any rehionin isolation – it’s GLOBAL warming we are talking about here, and even if you try and look at a positive response in one area such as agriculture in Siberia, you are not factoring in the many other possible effects such as insect and pest increases, disease outbreaks, fire, flood, whatever etc all of which could destroy any crop or livestock stores. Trying to spin global warming and climate change into a posistive is just silly I’m afraid.

The last Labor government was nowhere near as popular as this one is. And, combined with a completely ineffectual opposition, that is fertile ground for arrogance.

Chris B
“There will be human winners out of climate change, too. Some areas will become more hospitable and better for agriculture, for example.” Siberia will be better off the Russians say.

I don’t know that “winners” is the correct term.
*Survivors* is probably closer to the mark.

The sort of “head in the sand” mentality that Rudd, Wong, and the ALP Govt have produced after the last 12 months of enquiries, white papers etc etc etc, makes me utterly despair what the future will bring. 🙁

Denialism takes myriad forms, including *the big one* about population growth.

I guess in the end, Gaia will adapt to the rising temps and we humans will be among the species that suffer acatastrophic population collapse.
Hopefully, it won’t be total extinction.


It is obviously not a positive overall. But it is simply a fact that some regions of the world will be better off – they will have a nicer climate than they do currently and they will not be the ones suffering flooding or disease or insect plagues and so forth. It could even be that they will be able to demand much higher prices for goods as other regions that produce them can no longer do so.

Global warming is a very bad thing. But that does not mean that no-one will benefit from it. World war is a very bad thing. Nonetheless, some people benefitted.


I do not think that humans are in any danger of going extinct. I would indeed doubt that even with a massive drop in population our overall population will drop any lower than it is at present.

Hi Paddy-
I too despair. I guess the horrible reality is just so incomprehensibly terrifying that everyone including governments are going to pretend that really it will all be OK and make pathetic tokenistic decisions that will ultimately do fuck all to address the seriousness of the problem. They are still only really going to focus on the next election.
as the Greens slogan says – : No jobs on a dead planet. 🙁

I am a long-term optimist for our species. Humanity will emerge from this just fine. Many other species, however, will not.

Paddy this bit is Davids bit “There will be human winners out of climate change, too. Some areas will become more hospitable and better for agriculture, for example.”

All I am quoting is what the Russians say. Nothing else.


I would indeed doubt that even with a massive drop in population our overall population will drop any lower than it is at present.

David, how did you pass that maths exam? 🙂

Seriously though, there is a very real threat of mass deaths in the next 50 years from climate related issues.
If (for example) 1 billion people in China, India, Bangladesh are deprived of water because the Himalayan glaciers disappear. They’re not going to quietly sit there and die. There’s going to be a major problem with very real “climate wars” that will result in 100’s of millions dying., not just the odd million here or there.

For those interested. Here’s a link to the white paper. (Thanks Kev. NOT!)


What I meant was this:

Currently, our population is around 7 billion. This is predicted to grow to close to 10 billion by 2050. If we assume a massive die-off by about that time as climate change effects hit, then a 30 per cent loss of humanity would still give us a population of 7 billion.

100s of millions dying over the next 50 years will not reduce global population below the current population.

Apologies if I’ve mixed things up Chris.
I’m a little *emotional* at the moment and have been struggling with a crappy connection all morning. (Thanks Conroy)
I’ll just have a quick read of the day’s media and them come back with some more bile. 🙂

It is five per cent by 2020 if there is no global agreement.
If there is a global agreement, we will match that global agreement. There is no expectation that the global agreement will go beyond 15 per cent cuts for developed nations, and even that figure is optimistic.

paddy at 1623
Not too far into that whitepaper we have:

It also commits to a medium-term national target to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by between 5 per cent and 15 per cent below 2000 levels by the end 2020.

The top of this range (5 per cent below 2000 levels) represents a minimum (unconditional) commitment to reduce emissions by 2020, irrespective of the actions by other nations. The bottom of this range (15 per cent below 2000 levels) represents a commitment to reduce emissions in the context of global agreement where all major economies commit to substantially restrain emissions and all developed countries take on comparable reductions to that of Australia.

Fair enough David. You pass the maths part, but not the logical reality of climate wars.
The only reason the planet can currently support 6.5 billion people is cheap oil, enough arable land and sufficient water.
All these things will significantly diminish by 2050.
Supporting the current level of human density on the planet is, sadly, a fantasy.
Anyway, I’ll get on with my reading and be back later.

Technological solutions to those problems will be found. Indeed, we already know what they will be (except for air travel). These solutions will come too late for many, but three billion people will not die as a result of climate change.

Climate change damage to agricultural production will be matched – indeed, exceeded – by technological improvements to agricultural production.

Solar power and fusion power, combined with electrical vehicles, will mean that oil will not be an issue any longer (at least for the wealthy west).

Even if, for example, agricultural production drops by 90 per cent, that will not result in a 90 per cent drop in population. It will result in many deaths. But it will also result in a forced reduction in consumption.

So, three billion deaths is still an over the top prediction. And, given your comments, you are predicting a bigger reduction than that, I am guessing.

Even if there was a war on the scale of WWII running continuously for the next 40 years with a million deaths a week, human population would still increase over that time period. Heck, even two million deaths a week would not reduce our population.

Okay – two million a week would, actually. Around 1.5 million per week is the balance number at present.

Actually, the effect on population is a bit more complex than that. It depends on the age groups and gender most affected by the catastrophe, whether that be war or extreme climatic conditions. Note the effects in Africa, where many villages now consist mostly of the elderly and children, with few adults remaining due to the Aids epidemic.
Extreme on-going climatic events would have far more catastrophic results than war, I imagine. In fact, once the climatic events reach a certain critical mass, it would most likely results in wars over land and resources anyway.

David- I guess it must be hard to accept that life is not actually that esaily reduced to a set of numbers. You are ignoring the political fallout, the economic and social repurcussions on top of the actual square feet of available land to grow food etc. As I said earlier I think the possible reality is so unbelievable awful that we try and ameliorate it. If statistics does it fro you , fair enoughh. i prefer wine 😉

David Gould

There’s a bigger problem with the permafrost melting and that is the release of the trapped methane, which as you know, is a worse greenhouse gas than CO2 by many times (30 from memory, but you get the picture).

If permafrost melts across the vast areas of Russia and Canada, then we can kiss our arses goodbye is my understanding of the science.


But those who put us on the verge of collapse are also reducing the problem to a set of numbers. Remember the Club of Rome predictions? Remember the book ‘The Population Bomb’? Statistics were used to ‘prove’ that the world was on the verge of a disastrous population collapse.

The problem is, these statistical predictions did not take into account many other factors, the main one being human ingenuity. The speed of technological advance in the last 40 years has been absolutely unprecedented. And we have pushed much further in the last 20 years than we have in the last 2000 in many, many areas.

They also do not take into account the fact that human socieities can and do act rapidly to changing circumstance (by ‘rapidly’ I mean within one generation).

All such predictions have been proven wrong.

As to it being a possible reality, sure. But it is an extremely unlikely possible reality – so extremely unlikely that it is as worth bothering about as the notion that we are living in the end times with an eternity in Hell looming down upon us.

This is why I say that we in the west have nothing really to worry about beyond a short-term rise in energy prices (assuming that we do not care about animals or those in the third world).

David Gould

Don’t be too sure about that DG. If we lose a third of our Australian biodiversity, then how sustainable will this fragile continent be for long term human habitation?

Sure, we can ‘hang on’ with massive extinctions worldwide, but we may just find it impossible to support ourselves in such huge numbers. It’s the stuff that can disappear which people don’t notice that can really make it VERY hard for us. (Try and imagine the planet without bees for example! Or, the more probable loss of ocean biodiversity with acidification. No crustaceans will cope well, and the whole food chain depends on them.)

This problem is more than just about us, and if we view it that way then the imperative to act is that much greater.

Kirribili Removals,

The clathrate gun stuff, yes. But even if that occurred, as disastrous as it would be, it would not happen for about 50 years or so under the worst climate change predictions over that period. And by then our carbon emissions will be effectively zero.

Methane also has such a short time in the air compared to carbon that it would be only a problem for 20 years or so. And again, technology would save the wealthy west.

1637 David Gould I agree with what you say about human ingenuity. I suspect that we would be flooded with thousands and thousands of refugees that no border patrols will stop.

Kirribilli Removals,

We can replace bees with microbots if necessary. We are on the verge of having that technology now. Other solutions are available, too.

With a crash in biodiversity in Australia, there will be less competition for water from plants and animals and fewer areas worth protecting from an environmental perspective. Thus, we could farm and mine the shit out of them even if they were relatively marginal.

Humans are not immune to big environmental changes. But we are much better equipped than any other species.

Chris B,

If necessary, the border patrols would stop them. Fear will produce violence, and our ability to detect boats and deal with them violently will be exponentially increased over the next 20 to 30 years.

By the way: I am not arguing that we should do nothing about climate change. It is going to be bad for the world. What I am arguing is that effectively we will do nothing about climate change over the next 40 years and that then the problem will effectively be bypassed via technology.

Too late for many species, though. And bad luck, third world. But we’ll be okay.

I am just thinking of the doom and gloom regarding the surging oil price over the last couple of years: ‘the end, the end,’ was the cry. It was just another bubble, though. Pity. We need oil to be expensive, and there was some hope it would be. Not now, though. At least the global financial crisis will slow emissions …

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