G’Day World #331 – Ex-Gloria Jean’s Franchisees Speak Out

My guests tonight are a couple from Melbourne who we’ll call “Bazza” and “Shazza”. For the last five years they were franchisees with Gloria Jean’s Coffee. They’ve come on to discuss their experience.

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As regular readers will know, I’ve been taking an interest in Gloria Jean’s over the last few years (read earlier posts here), especially in the relationship between Gloria Jean’s Coffee, Hillsong Church and Mercy Ministries.

As you might be aware, there have been allegations over the last six months that Mercy Ministries has been treating it’s clients (mostly “troubled” young women) with techniques including exorcisms and prayer readings.

Even Gloria Jean’s Global Marketing Manager has commented on the blog in an attempt to provide their side of the story.

So I was pleased when Bazza and Shazza agreed to come on to share an insider’s story.

The G’Day World theme music:

End of DaysConquest
“Secrets of Life” (mp3)
from “End of Days”
(Dark Star Records)

More On This Album

If you’re wondering what the opening quotes are from on today’s show, it’s the opening lines from Rimbaud’s “A Season In Hell”.

PlayPlay

G’Day World #330 – Kat & Matt from OpenAustralia.org

OpenAustralia

Tonight’s guests – Katherine Szuminska & Matthew Landauer – are the founders of OpenAustralia.org, a recently-launched site which makes politics more transparent.

Based on the British site TheyWorkForYou, OpenAustralia.org scrapes Hansard and makes it much more accessible. You can find out who your local MP is and then subscribe to email alerts whenever they say something in Parliament. And that’s just the beginning. Kat & Matt have a number of exciting features they intend to bring to the site in the next year or two.

This is their first interview.

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The G’Day World theme music:

End of DaysConquest
“Secrets of Life” (mp3)
from “End of Days”
(Dark Star Records)

More On This Album

Other music in today’s episode:

Silba A Ennio MorriconeCurro , Curro
“El Bueno, El Feo Y El Malo” (mp3)
from “Silba A Ennio Morricone”
(DiscMedi)

More On This Album

An Inconvenient Truth - SoundtrackMichael Brook
“Earth Alone” (mp3)
from “An Inconvenient Truth – Soundtrack”
(bigHelium/Canadian Rational)

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“Great Apes” to get full rights in Spain?

Apes to get full rightsAn interesting story… apparently “great apes” – that is, all non-human members of the biological family Hominidae which includes chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans – are soon to get full human rights in Spain.

They won’t be able to be kept captive, used in experiments for in television commercials. This outcome is the work of The Great Ape Project, which was co-founded by Peter Singer, a Melbourne-born philosopher who is currently the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University.

But why stop at hominids?

I’m sure Singer would like to see all animals share the same rights as humans but hominids is the low-hanging fruit. They share so much DNA with us that it’s easy to make the case that they should enjoy the same rights.

Personally I’d like to see similar laws in Australia and I’d also like to see them extended to all mammals.

Imagine a world where it was against the law to put a cow or a sheep or a kangaroo behind a fence or in a cage, let alone kill them for food.

We’d be forced to re-think our entire relationship with other species. We’d be forced to re-think our entire way of life.

Back to Spain… amazing to think that the country that only abolished the Inquisition less than 200 years ago has now legalized gay marriage and is about to give full human rights to apes and chimps. Any Spanish folks out there? I’d love to know what you think about how Spain is leading the world on these issues.

Gates, End of Act One

Now that Bill Gates has left his day-to-day role at Microsoft, I feel compelled to write something.

Last week ABC TV’s Lateline program contacted me asking if I would be prepared to “balance out” the positive coverage of Gates for their show. I informed them that they were asking the wrong bloke – I’m a huge Gates fanboy. I may be using a Macbook Pro as my main working PC these days, and I may think that Microsoft’s best days are long behind them, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the importance Bill has played in the history of computing and the history of the human race.

About 12 years ago I was working at an ISP, Ozemail, and I remember lots of the techs there bagging Microsoft on a daily basis. They were mostly Linux geeks. I remember pointing out to them that none of us would likely have a job without Gates – that the low-cost “computer on every desktop” that we all benefited from was the result of Gates’ decision to license his DOS to every PC manufacturer on the planet, thereby making the hardware a commodity and driving down prices.

I started studying Gates in the early 90s. I remember buying every book I could that discussed Gates and Microsoft’s culture. I wanted to understand how and why he built the company, how it did what it did and how it became such a success.

When I had a chance to work there in 1998, I jumped at it. Even though I ended up disappointed with the culture in the Australian subsidiary, and I today can see how Microsoft’s role has changed from being an innovator to a hangeronna, it doesn’t diminish my admiration of Gates one iota. It’s not his wealth that I admire, it’s his vision, tenacity and execution. Like Napoleon, he not only saw further than most, he was able to execute around that vision. And that is so, so rare.

Many commentators are calling Gates’ new role his “third act”. I think it’s only his second. Microsoft was just the first act in what is going to be one of the most interesting lives of the 20th and 21st centuries. This guy has literally shaped the course of human history. Can you even begin to imagine what the world would look like today without the PC revolution?

Some people say “well, if Microsoft hadn’t done it, another company would have”. But we don’t know that. Apple certainly wasn’t interested in low cost computing back then – or today for that matter.

Quite possibly, without Microsoft, we’d be still living in a world where a basic home computer would cost $5,000 – $10,000. No internet outside of Universities and the military. No Spore. No Twitter.

What happens next?

My guess is that Bill will be back at Microsoft in five years. I think that Microsoft without Bill will be like Apple without Steve. It’ll flounder, collapse in internal political jostling, lose it’s best people (the ones it hasn’t already lost to Google and start-ups), the share price will continue to flounder, it’ll play even more catch-up with Google and Apple, more OEMs will defect to Linux and Google – and eventually Bill be back, refreshed from his time spent solving the world health crisis (his Act Two), ready for his personal Act Three.

One day I’d like to interview him on G’Day World. One day.

Iraq – Chickens Coming Home To Roost

America – your tax dollars have been well spent. What can you buy with one trillion dollars? No-bid contracts:


Nearly Four Decades Later, U.S. Oil Companies Return to Iraq

Four oil companies are in the final stage of contract negotiations to regain drilling rights in Iraq — thirty-six years after they lost them. Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — founding partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company — are currently in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry “for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields.” Joining them are Chevron and several smaller oil companies. The deal is expected to be approved by the end of the month and “will lay the foundation for the first commercial work for the major companies in Iraq since the American invasion, and open a new and potentially lucrative country for their operations.” The no-bid process has frozen out 40 other oil companies, including Indian, Russian and Chinese competitors. A spokesperson for the Oil Ministry said that “the no-bid contracts were a stop-gap measure to bring modern skills into the fields while the oil law was pending in Parliament.” He added that the companies chosen already had a relationship with the government, “advising the ministry without charge for two years before being awarded the contracts.” While the current contracts are relatively small, they represent a foot in the door for much more lucrative future deals.

Source: New York Times, June 19, 2008 via Center for Media and Democracy

In Honour Of George Carlin

Most of the coverage you’ll see about the passing of Carlin this week – that is, assuming you see any at all, I don’t think I’ve seen a single mention on Australian TV – will cover his infamous “Seven Words” sketch and how it helped to break down free speech barriers. Tell that to the poor Gold Coast kid who was charged today for wearing a t-shirt which said “Jesus Is A Cunt”.

My favourite Carlin rant, one I’ve listened to many, many times, goes a little something like this:

“The owners of this country know the truth: It’s called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it. The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they’re an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They’ve got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They’ve got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying – lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago. You know what they want? Obedient workers – people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they’re coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the big club.”

In one of his last interviews, he said:

“There is a certain amount of righteous indignation I hold for this culture, because to get back to the real root of it, to get broader about it, my opinion that is my species–and my culture in America specifically–have let me down and betrayed me. I think this species had great, great promise, with this great upper brain that we have, and I think we squandered it on God and Mammon. And I think this culture of ours has such promise, with the promise of real, true freedom, and then everyone has been shackled by ownership and possessions and acquisition and status and power.”

And that pretty sums up how I feel. Humans had a lot of potential and we fucked it all up on mythology and superstition and greed and violence. And if we don’t sort our shit out in the next 30 years, the machines are going to wake up, take one look at us and say “sorry, you are the Weakest Link” and evict us from the big house.

G’Day World #329 – Rob McNealy, StartUpStoryRadio.com

On the show today, something a little different – I’m interviewed by Rob McNealy from StartUpStoryRadio.com. Before I throw to the interview, I talk about some recent blog posts, including the OpenAustralia and Registry of Members’ Interests issue, the Gloria Jean’s story and the future of the newspaper industry.

Don’t miss out on winning the signed Indiana Jones IV poster (Australian listeners only I’m afraid) – subscribe now to the weekly update email (fill in the below box) to get a weekly list of all of the new episodes on TPN in one easy-to-read format!

Enter your email address:

The G’Day World theme music:

End of DaysConquest
“Secrets of Life” (mp3)
from “End of Days”
(Dark Star Records)

More On This Album

Former Gloria Jeans Franchisee Speaks Out

In the comments section to one of my earlier posts exposing Gloria Jeans, a guy claiming to be an ex-franchisee sez:

As an ex-franchisee (yes, if you will pardon the pun I “saw the light” and got out) it disturbed me that we were given Targets for our “voluntary contributions”. In fact, we were required to audit the donations from our Mercy “box” on the counter and explain why were not at our required target every month. Everything this franchise stood for was, in one word, MONEY; and they would do anything in an effort to make more. It’s easy to feel Christian when you can screw your franchisees over 6 days a week and then go to Hillsong on Sunday and get absolution. This franchise is the single most evil facade masquerading as a Christian “feel good” company we ever encountered. Stay away.

There’s nothing wrong with a business chasing revenue but if “Paul Barista” is correct, Gloria Jeans’ franchisee’s are pressured to increase their takings for the Mercy Mission, a very scary fundamentalist group preying on weak young women.

I urge everyone to stay well clear of Gloria Jeans. Buy your coffee somewhere else. The more I learn about the way Gloria Jeans works, the more they sound like a scary fundamentalist group. Every dollar you spend there helps them financially support the Hillsong sect and their equally-scary offshoots like Mercy Mission. If we’re not careful, Australia could end up like the US, with right-wing Christian fundamentalist groups playing an increasingly large role in politics.

Newspapers facing worst year on record

Tony Harris sent me a link to this story in the New York Times which says that this year is shaping up to be the worst on record for newspaper advertising revenue.

I’ve been predicting a steady decline in advertising revenue for years (The Future Of Newspapers, State of the News Print Media in Australia 2007, Aussie Newspapers in decline and denial ) as people move online to get their news. The newspapers report people are moving online to their sites, but unfortunately they don’t make as much money from online advertising as they do from print, because online they have competition.

So what happens when revenue is in decline? They have to sack people and stop investing. The rot sets in.

A couple of the big metro newspapers in Australia seem to be holding steady but I suspect that’s got more to do with funny statistics more than anything substantial in the trending. They will inevitably fall prey to the same forces bringing down the newspapers in the US.

This is a good example of where shareholder activism (as Stephen Mayne was talking about on the show last week) is needed. Why aren’t the shareholders of Fairfax and News creating more of a shitstorm about what those companies are doing to make sure they don’t go down the tubes over the next decade? All I ever heard from Fairfax’s management is “things are great, we’ll be around forever” which just shows me that they are either in denial or just lying their asses off, hoping they’ll get out before the whole facade crumbles around them.