Welcome to the new Political Musings Blog

I recently moved this blog from Blogger to WordPress.

The old blog was at http://polmusings.blogspot.com

I’m still trying to come to grips with WordPress. Somethings in Blogger were much easier (such as slideshows), but I think WordPress looks much nicer.

Please let me know what you think, and if you’ve got some suggestions, I’d really like to hear them.

I wanted to say a special thank you to the photographers who made their amazing photos available for use under the Creative Commons license, and which I used as the basis for the rotating banners on this site. If you’d like to find out more about those photographers, please see here.

The Great Firewall of Australia

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/07/09/2621354.htm

Most IT professionals agree that the Federal Government’s plan to install a nationwide Internet filter is wrong, misguided, and will be ineffective.

Now “Save the Children”, one of the lobby groups with a passion for protecting the interests of children, has added its voice to the growing list of opponents to the plan.

The planned Internet filter won’t stop objectionable material – it will still be exchanged via file sharing sites, chat rooms, and emails.

The problem is it’s not just ineffective, it’s dangerous. Not only does it NOT do what it it’s supposed to do, it actually gives the government an easy way to control the web browsing activity of normal law abiding citizens. Once the government adds a site to the list, most people won’t be able to see it in their browsers.

We expect (and see) this sort of behaviour in places like China and Iran. Now minister Conroy wants this sort of power in Australia. Do you think these politicians would be able to resist the temptation to block a website that’s critical of them?

If this plan goes ahead, the “Great Firewall of Australia” will let politicians control what we see in our browsers, while child-abusers continue to exchange their grubby wares unhindered via other methods.

Stephen Conroy, please listen to people like Save the Children, and spend the money more effectively via child protection authorities and police.

After all, we’re getting deeper and deeper in debt. We really need to be smarter about how we spend public money.

Google – Friend of Chinese Opression

Google is complicit with the Chinese Government’s censorship of it’s citizens.
Google - Friend of Chinese Opression

China and Google” by “Oyster

The Virus of Ideas

Ideas are like viruses.

They spread from person to person. If a person is infected they can pass the idea on to someone else.

Some people are immune to some ideas. Others are susceptible to them.

Ideas change the people they infect. They can turn someone into a political activist, a religious zealot, or a suicide bomber.

Some ideas (like some viruses) can cause much damage. Consider the AIDS virus, or SARS.

Epidemeology is the study of the distribution of diseases. It is an advanced science and is vital for containing the spread of infectious diseases. It teaches us how to prevent infection, and how to treat those who are infected.

I think that we need an “Epidemeology of Ideas”.

It is moot whether a particular idea is “dangerous” or not. I don’t want to be drawn on which ideas are “good”, “bad”, “dangerous” or “helpful” because each person will have a different opinion depending on their point of view.

But a society may feel threatened by the spread of a certain philosophy. For example, western societies feel threatened by terrorism.

The usual response to this perceived threat is to increase surviellence, military presence, etc – trying to prevent terrorist acts.

I think this is akin to doctors trying to stop a runny nose, or reduce a temperature. It’s dealing with the symptom rather than the cause.

We need to ask more probing questions such as:

  • How is the destructuve idea communicated from person to person?
  • What makes someone susceptible to such an idea?
  • How do we prevent people from being infected by such ideas?
  • Once infected, how do we remove the infection?
  • Can someone not infected with such an idea still spread it? For example, someone who doesn’t beleive in a certain philosphy might promote it for their own personal gain.

These questions raise more alarming questions about human rights, freedoms, democracy, freedom of the press, etc.

I’ll try and explore some of these questions in my future postings.

Big Google is watching

Let google be a snoop for you.

Imagine that you want to track what a particular organization, political party or competitor is doing.

Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts) will do it for you. It will send you an email every day of any new news articles, or web sites that refer to the topic that you’re interested in.

Just to be on the safe side, why not set up a google alert for yourself to make sure you’re aware of what everyone else can find out about you!