Pro-censorship Morans

You really couldn't make this up. The pro-censorship brains trust has descended on article about a death threat received by an anti-censorship campaigner.

SALLY of TOOWOOMBA Posted at 12:54pm today

PORNAGRAPHY IS A SIN AGAINST GOD AND JESUS AND WE NEED THIS FILTER TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN FROM THE INTERNET. THE INTERNET IS CORRUPTING OUR CHILDREN WITH ALL THE PORNAGRAPHIES AND THE WEBSIGHTS. ONLY THRUOGH GOD CAN WE BE SAVED. IF YOU LOOK AT PORNAGRAPHIES YOU WILL NOT BE ACCEPTID INTO GODS KINGDOM. THE FILTER NEEDS TO STOP ALL BAD WEBSIGHTS, AND IT SHOULD STOP COMPUTER GAMES TOO. GO READ A BOOK INSTEAD, MORANS. OR READ THE ONLY TRUE BOOK, THE BIBLE.

Five percent

Carbon emissions by region

So Rudd has announced that we're going to reduce our greenhouse emissions by a staggering five percent. How ambitious! Worse, every polluting industry and his lobbyist appear to be in line to get a handout, giving them no incentive to reduce emissions. All the while the industries that aren't carbon-intensive don't get a handout!

Note that Australia's Kyoto target was for an 8% increase in emissions on 1990 levels by 2012. We're unlikely to even make this target, despite the fact that we managed to get the "Australia clause" into the treaty, which allows us to include the extraordinary land clearing in our 1990 baseline levels.

This new soft commitment is, instead, from a baseline of our 2000 emission levels, so you can't even compare it to our Kyoto commitment, and I suppose, means we'll still be emitting more than we did in 1990 by the time we hit 2020!

What's the point? So much noise, so little impact.

Private school funding

If people want to send their kids to a school that is a social, single-gender and/or religious ghetto in an attempt for them to meet the "right" people, keep away from the "wrong" people, live out the dreams of their parents or continue some unbroken line of inherited bigotry, they should pay for it themselves.

From this opinion piece. Couldn't agree more.

Put a different way, as my public school teaching uncle said it, you don't get a rebate from the government for not using the public swimming pool when you install one in your backyard.

But how does it work in theory?

Last night on Radio National's Australia Talks, Paul Barclay hosted Clive Hamilton and Mark Pesce to discuss the Internet censorship proposal from Labor.

The host was pretty clearly pro-censorship, and allowed Hamilton's bogus claims about the effects of pornography to pass without challenge. Anti-censorship callers on this talkback programme seem to have spent the entire programme on hold. My favourite bit, however, is when he cuts off Mark Pesce's description of how the Chinese have admitted it's not technically possible to have effective, mandatory censorship.

Paul Barclay: I suppose we could debate all day whether or not, technologically, it's going to be possible to actually block these sites, but what I'm also interested in here...

Which reminds me of the classic quoted, attributed variously to an academic or French bureaucrat:

That's all very well in practice, but how does it work in theory?

Clearly the only way the pro-censorship guys can win this debate is by completely avoiding head-on debate. That certainly seems to be Conroy's approach!

How much for the soul, Pete?

Radioactive Peter Garrett

I sure hope Peter Garrett got a good price for his soul because his principles sure haven't amounted to much. He seems to have a Short Memory with his politicans, party lines, don't cross that floor!

There is one thing he's achieved. Any time one of my mates decides to joins the ALP and says you have to be in power to achieve change, my answer can be "oh yeah, like Peter Garrett has then?"

Genoa police riot: cops get off

The police who raided and smashed the crap out of a building full of peaceful protestors in Genoa in 2001 will get off completely from all their crimes, despite being found guilty. A statute of limitations means their convictions and sentences will expire before going into effect.

This kind of injustice will breed violence. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the victims decided to mete out their own justice, given the system has completely failed them. What's more, I imagine if the cops ever tried to raid a building full of protestors again, the protesters might decide to use violence to defend themselves, since the state won't do it for them.

Scary stuff.

Nonphilately

A great letter in this week's Guardian Weekly.

If Bill Goodman (Letters, September 5) is indeed correct that atheism is in and of itself a religious belief, then surely not collecting stamps is a hobby.
James Beattie
Reservoir, Victoria, Australia

How the hell do NSW local council elections work?

On Saturday NSW local councils (or at least the ones that haven't been dissolved) had their elections. I was handing out material for The Greens in St Peters and one of the voters asked me how we were directing preferences. This got me thinking about how the votes are counted, and I'm still no wiser.

The ballot paper was arranged with parties or groups along the top and, beneath the line, the candidates for those groups. Voters were instructed to number either above the line or below the line, and I seem to remember to number as many boxes as they wished. Confusingly for those of us used to above-the-line voting in Federal Senate elections, the ALP how-to-vote suggested voting 1 in the ALP group and 2 in the "independent" group, above-the-line.

First step was to go into the polling place and ask the person in charge. She didn't know how it worked. When I got home, I tried looking it up on the Electoral Commission NSW site and didn't come out any the wiser, though it appeared to be a straight optional preferential system. Then on election night Antony Green's results included a quota column, which got me very confused, because that's something normally associated with our Senate elections, which are proportional representation (by state).

Digging a little deeper, I discover that Optional Preferential is used for popularly elected mayors (a la Sydney, Byron Bay etc) and council wards with two or fewer council positions. Wards with three or more council positions get Proportional Representation. Helpfully, the Electoral Commission site gives a good rundown on proportional representation systems, but doesn't mention which system is used for NSW local government elections!

So I have two things that confuse me here. First is how are preferences distributed for above-the-line voters? Since there was no list of preference flows at the polling place, as you get with Senate elections, I presume it's just numbered down the list of candidates in that group list.

Next is how are quotas transferred? For example in Central Ward of Marrickville Council we seem to have 1.44 quotas in the current count. What happens to the 0.44 quota in Group C if they don't make it over the line? If it's optional preferential, if the voter didn't continue from that group, are the votes thrown away? Wouldn't this lead to the full quota not being filled?

You would imagine this kind of information would be kinda essential for the Electoral Commission to disseminate. I'm sure the counting handbook tells the returning officers how this works, but it's not available online.

Anyone got any better information about how this works?

Update: Rich points out this page (which I'm sure wasn't on the site this morning, but perhaps I missed it) which answers my second question. It's a quota-based system, with a formula similar to the Senate in federal elections. Digging further I found this page which answers my first question. Above-the-line votes go down the list for the numbered groups, as I expected.