Monthly Archives: August 2009

The News-Fairfax Non Aggression Pact

I thought this might happen. From today’s Crikey:

The head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has warned Australia’s newspaper companies that they should be very careful about behaving like a cartel as they plan ways to make money from the internet and recover from their financial difficulties.

Graeme Samuel issued the advice following last week’s comments by Fairfax chief executive Brian McCarthy, who announced that he would like to hold talks with rival News Limited about ways in which the two businesses could maximise profits from their respective on-line operations.

It’s the only way they can make the jump to locking up content behind a paywall. If they don’t do it together, then the remaining free, ad-supported one will get all the traffic. The first one will die, while the second one will cannibalise its business until it’s gone – before making the same move.

So neither wants to jump. But if they don’t, then they’re both going to disintegrate as they continue to respond to declining advertising revenues by firing staff, leading to further losses in quality followed by further declines in revenue, and so on, until there’s nothing left.

I’m no media industry expert, but it seems to me that the only way they CAN save themselves is to act as a “cartel”. Even though they absolutely despise each other.

Two bitter, hated rivals forced to join forces, knowing that a last-minute betrayal would ruin their opponent and lead to them reigning supreme, but also fully aware that if it falls apart they’ll be ruined too?

This will be very interesting to watch indeed.

UPDATE: Ben Shepherd considers which areas might work beyond a paywall. Or not.

Something for the “lock ‘em all up” advocates to watch

The Laura Norder types calling for us to get tougher on juvenile offenders really should watch last Monday’s Four Corners.

It constantly amazes me that governments, which do know better – they know perfectly well that concentrating on punishment of juvenile offenders rather than rehabilitation both creates more crime and is, in fact, more expensive for the taxpayer – insist on pandering to them. And unnecessarily ruining more lives in the process.

Worth watching, if you doubt me.

It’s everyone else who’s crazy, not Glenn

While we’re on the subject of raving loons – I think everyone’s been very cruel over the past few weeks, mocking the output of Fox News’ Glenn Beck. They’ve been making fun of the deranged outpourings on his twitter feed and website:

I think you can sense the darkness, the sadness quite honestly that has been in me for the last couple of years and specifically in the last year. We are headed for real destruction, and I have been ‑‑ I feel like I have been a watchman on the tower just as much as you a re, and you know the frustration of just trying to wake your friends up and they won’t listen to you.

Where’s their compassion? It’s actually kind of sad. Have you ever read a more tragic, desperate cry for help? The man is obviously seriously ill, and the Fox network is just exploiting the crazy rather than getting him the help he’s clearly crying out for.

Of course, if Beck were just pointing out that the Republican and Democrat parties are corrupt, that the US version of “democracy” is a sham, and that the corporate lobbyists have an unhealthy and disproportionate amount of influence on government policy – well, he’d have a point. But, disingenuous “I go after the GOP too” claims aside, he doesn’t. He objects to the government providing healthcare to the poor (socialism! An end to freedom!) but he had no objection to the previous regime giving itself special powers to lock people up indefinitely without trial or to go through Americans’ mail without a warrant. He claims to object to the duopoly of the Republicans and Democrats but it’s not like he’s out there advocating for preferential voting and a third party.

There is of course a second possibility – that he’s not mad, just a shameless liar. That he’s not oblivious to the contradictions in the paranoid fantasies he relates – he just hopes his audience will be. A person can, after all, get quite rich by exploiting people’s fears – particularly in difficult economic times, where the real “elites” (hint: it’s not the poor people who want healthcare) have badly screwed the country and many are losing their homes and livelihoods. It wouldn’t take a genius to realise the profit in playing a game like Beck’s – and clearly his network does, whether he’s a fully-aware, perfectly sane co-schemer, or an oblivious loon they’re cynically exploiting.

One thing you’d have to say – if Glenn Beck is a rational man playing a crazy one, he’s doing a disturbingly good job of it.

UPDATE: Nasty sponsors.

I think I see where they’ve got confused

Apparently Daniel Radcliffe is a bit annoyed by homophobia. Apparently the “Catch The Fire” people are a bit annoyed by Daniel Radcliffe.

The magazine quotes Radcliffe continuing his tirade against pro-family parents saying: “I just loathe homophobia. It’s just disgusting and animal and stupid and it’s just thick people who can’t get their heads around it and are just scared.”

Hang on – I think I see where they’ve got confused. They want to be “pro-family”, but they’ve inadvertently defined that as meaning “being ANTI-family if the family has gay people in it”. And they’ve accidentally convinced themselves that being “pro” all families – including gay ones – is somehow “anti-family”. They mean well, they’ve just got the whole thing backwards!

Please be gentle in pointing this out to them. I’m sure they’ll be very embarrassed.

ELSEWHERE: That’s if you can get hold of them. I understand that they’re busy fighting demonic powers:

I believe God has given us a strategic spiritual warfare assignment to take back the high places in our nation. As I have been prayerfully seeking the Lord, the Spirit of God has been revealing to me that the whole nation is under a curse because the witchcraft covens from Mount Ainsley in Canberra are cursing the Federal Parliament, which is the heartbeat of Australia where decisions are being made that effect the whole nation.

On Saturday 17th October 2009 we are calling on all Christians to mount an offensive spiritual warfare attack on the demonic strongholds over the nation.

With that kind of responsibility weighing on their minds, you can see how they might have been distracted on the “pro-family” stuff.

ELSEWHERE #2: Via Confessions, a Washington Post puff-piece for a man the US bigots are using to try to find “arguments” to make their bigotry seem palatable:

["National Organisation for Marriage" head] Brown is confident that if people hear his message, they will believe it. “People already believe it,” he says, “but the issue is so deep-seated that they’ve never had to create an argument for it. Now we have to give people the language to do that.” Create talking points. Help them see.

I doubt he meant that to be as revealing as it is.

If you’re happy with the fundamentalist bigots forcing their will on the rest of us, you can ignore this post

The religious right, terrified of being forced to divorce their spouses and marry a gay person, have been flooding the Senate Inquiry into the Greens’ Marriage Equality Amendment Bill with desperate pleas for the government discrimination to continue.

If you’d like to make your voice heard on the side of logic, fairness and justice; if you’d like to encourage our politicians to do the right thing, and to help grant peace to these poor paranoid people (only by seeing the discriminatory legislation fixed will they see that they really aren’t threatened at all) – there’s a submission form here (with suggestions).

Submissions close Friday afternoon – ie, in a few hours.

MEANWHILE: You can see the sort of thing the liars at the “Australian Christian Lobby” are spreading in their deranged scare campaign:

“Omit ( Omit ‘husband and wife’, substitute ‘two people’ ) – - Substitute ( Omit ‘husband and wife’, substitute ‘up to five people’ )

That is, of course, not in the Bill at all. But it’s not like the ACL has a history of treating Christians with respect, so their shameless dishonesty here is not a big surprise.

AND ELSEWHERE: The moronic prejudices underneath the discrimination get full play in the comments to a “Christianity Today” article objecting to the equality bill. “Unnatural”! “Wrong!” “The Greens are despots!”


ALSO: A “Mathew Hamilton” puts his facile “arguments” for bigotry here, but quickly closes comments when challenged.

River or Cameron?

Easy answer: they’d both be destroyed by idiot network programmers who don’t know a bloody awesome thing when they’ve got one.

If you’re losing market share, don’t be greedy

This reminds me that I’ve got a quick message for the world’s satellite navigation manufacturers like TomTom and NavMan: don’t rip your customers off.

You know how you’re fighting a losing battle with GPS-enabled mobile phones? And how you have maps of most of the world but won’t provide them to customers unless they pay a ludicrous fee – almost the price of the receiver again? Well, perhaps you need to think about that.

I would’ve bought a TomTom last year before our overseas trip if it would have been usable when driving through Europe. The maps exist and are in all the European TomToms – but if we’d bought one there, then we wouldn’t have been able to use it in Australia. So we didn’t buy one. See that, TomTom company? A lost sale. It wouldn’t have cost you any more to let your Australian customers download the European maps for free, as people who’d purchased one of your units – but instead, by being greedy, you got no sale at all.

First GPS manufacturer to realise this and release a decent model that doesn’t arbitrarily restrict which maps I can use depending on the territory in which I bought it – you will have a sale.

Chick chick room

Tried buying eggs ethically lately? It’s bloody complicated. Obviously we all know that caged or “battery” hens suffer enormously in their short lives, and buying eggs so produced is propping up a cruel industry. But there are alternatives that don’t involve animal abuse, aren’t there?

Please don’t abuse us, we say while looking our cutest.

For a while I thought it would be alright as long as I bought eggs approved by the RSPCA – the “barn laid” ones with the RSPCA logo. Then I saw reports about dodgy farms still being accredited and such confidence was severely shaken.

Okay. So, maybe not the “barn-laid” eggs. What’s left, then? If you can’t trust the RSPCA, who can you trust? The supermarket shelves have a selection of “free range” eggs – many from the same farms (like Pace) that have been cynically fooling the RSPCA – but what exactly is the definition of “free range”, anyway? For a very brief period in Victoria (1989-1995) we had such a legislated definition, but then Kennett got in, deregulated the egg industry and those restrictions vanished. There is a free range industry group that has a definition that might hold, which appears to be the safest bet for the consumer trying to find a vaguely ethical choice on the supermarket shelf. But it’s still not as if anyone’s being regularly checked for compliance.

Of course, Animal Liberation Victoria would rather consumers didn’t buy eggs at all:

  • Half the chicks hatched are male and are killed at one day old by the egg industry because they’ll never lay eggs. They are macerated in industrial blenders, suffocated in plastic bags or drowned in buckets.

  • All laying hens used in commercial egg production are slaughtered prematurely when their economic productivity decreases.
  • The parents of all egg laying hens (both battery and free range) are locked in breeding sheds. The hens in these sheds are mated continually making their backsides completely raw and swollen. The floor is often covered with a thick layer of excrement causing the air to be toxic with ammonia.

Then all the little male chicks were liquefied.

They suggest using “egg replacements like ‘No-Egg’ in baking or Silken Tofu instead of scrambled eggs” – which, frankly, I don’t think would work for either meringues or the burger patties I make.

Buggered if I know what to do, though. Maybe we’ll have to get our own hens.

It makes their little hearts race

Exciting footage of people being blown up, via Tim Blair.

Also, thrilling news that someone his commenters don’t like has died.

A corporation isn’t “green” just because its advertising says it is

The cynical appropriation of the conservation message by the corporate world (ranging from telcos ripping off customers by suddenly charging them for paper bills to huge polluters promoting themselves as “green” on the basis of incredibly minor improvements) should be a constant source of outrage to environmentalists – far more than the smug corporate defenders who use the suits’ cynical behaviour to bash the environmental movement of which they’re taking advantage.

In any case, you’ve got to admire – in an appalled, horrified way – the success the dictator-enabling “Fiji Water” company has had running just such a stupid “we’re green” claim in the US.

How could anyone read that “shipped from around the world” advertising line and not grasp that it is pretty much the opposite of environmentally friendly? How can anyone think that taking water from small islands in the middle of the Pacific to quench the thirst of Americans is somehow responsible?

And that’s before you read about the links between the company and the repressive dictatorship in Fiji.

(Via LGWS.)

ELSEWHERE: The Punch publishes a puff-piece about how popular Bananarama is in Fiji and how elections aren’t in any way necessary to demonstrate this. Everyone Tracey was allowed to speak to agreed!

For her next revealing expose, she should go to North Korea. I’m sure there’d be no end of North Koreans who’d tell her how wonderful the Dear Leader is.