Cam’s World for 20 April, 2007

It struck me last night while reading Brian Greene’s tremendous “The Elegant Universe” that if religious types were at all genuine, they would be digging through books on physics and chemistry like they were the new word of God. I’ve read the explanation of the double-slit experiment time after time over the last 20 years and it *still* blows me away. It brings out an awe and wonderment in me that I can only connect with a religious experience. The fact that most so-called religious types don’t study what we’re learning about the way our universe operates is a testament to how serious they really are at understanding “the mind of God” (as Stephen Hawking put it).

The Elegant Universe

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Apparently this week marks 40 years of talkback radio in Australia. As anyone who has been watching Media Watch (and you *should*) knows, the state of talkback radio in this country hit an all-time low last week when Alan Jones and his station 2GB were found as having breached the code of practice by ACMA (for inciting violence) and then they spent the week thumbing their nose at the ruling.

For those of you who haven’t bothered reading Chris Masters’ excellent book on Jones, “Jonestown“, here is a quick review of his career highlights according to Wikipedia:

  • In December 1988, Jones was arrested in a public lavatory block in London’s West End. He was initially charged with two counts of outraging public decency by behaving in an indecent manner under the Westminster by-laws.
  • For a time until 1990, Jones had been writing for The Sun-Herald but it announced that Jones’ column would no longer appear following a petition by staff calling for his removal as a contributor. This followed Jones’ publication of a column predicting an oil crisis, in which a large amount of material had been taken from Frederick Forsyth’s novel ‘The Negotiator’ without attribution or indication that their source was a work of fiction.
  • Between 2002 and early 2004, the “Cash for comment” investigation was conducted. Jones had been accused of contracting to have personal commercial support in exchange for favourable “unscripted” comments, principally for Telstra and QANTAS, during his radio show. The independent Australian Broadcasting Corporation TV show, Media Watch, was heavily involved in exposing these practices. The Australian Broadcasting Authority finally decided that disclosure had to be made, hence the “Commercial Agreement Register” at the Jones portion of his station’s web site. (Jones was investigated along with John Laws from 2UE.)
  • Also in April 2004, a stream of flattering letters to Jones from Professor David Flint, Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Authority, came to light. This called into question the impartiality of Flint, and the then Federal Minister for Communications, Daryl Williams, was embroiled in media speculation as to the future of Flint. With an inquiry imminent, Flint resigned. In an appearance on the ABC’s Enough Rope, John Laws accused Jones of placing pressure on Prime Minister John Howard to keep Flint as head of the ABA, made comments that many viewers took to imply a sexual relationship between Jones and Flint and broadly hinted that Jones was homosexual like Flint, who is openly gay.
  • In December 2005, in the lead-up to the Cronulla riots, Jones used his breakfast radio programme to read out and discuss a widely-circulated text message calling on people to “Come to Cronulla this weekend to take revenge… get down to North Cronulla to support the Leb and wog bashing day”. Media commentator David Marr accused Jones of inciting racial tensions and implicitly encouraging violence and vigilantism by the manner of his responses to callers even while he was verbally disapproving of them taking the law into their own hands.
  • (and, the most recent… )

  • Today Jones was fined $1000 and put on a nine-month good-behaviour bond for naming a juvenile witness in a murder trial. (link)
  • And yet Joan Warner, head of Commercial Radio Australia, says the radio industry in this country should “pat itself on the back”. Please. Hang your heads in shame, more likely.

    But who is really responsible for people like that being on radio? The owners of the station? Or the people who continue to listen to him and therefore enable him to continue earning millions by behaving in this manner? Do we get the media we deserve? Or should the owners of media companies try harder to provide us with people worth listening to?

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    Meg Tsiamis from dLook obviously has way too much time on her hands. She has compiled a list of the Top 100 Aussie Blogs by Australian Audience. Unfortunately TPN didn’t make it into the top ten (we were at #12) and so didn’t make it into yesterday’s AGE.
    top aussie blogs

    I can’t work out why Darren’s eternally-popular Problogger site was named #1 in The Age article while Meg had In The Mix as #1 but I’m sure there is a good reason.
    ITM is a real surprise. Who knew dance music had a following? 🙂 Congrats to the folks at ITM, they are obviously doing a terrific job. I need me some dance music podcasts. I also can’t work out how Meg determined popularity by AUSTRALIAN audience. Can you filter Alexa or Technorati by the geography of the audience?

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    It’s almost enough to make me believe in God. A new Napoleon film comes out. And it stars Monica Belluci. What more could I ever ask for??? (Okay, apart from actually getting to meet Monica…).

    Elba island, 1814. Martino is a young teacher, idealist and strongly anti-Napoleonic, in love with the beautiful and noble Baroness Emily. The young man finds himself serving as librarian to the Great Emperor in exile whom he deeply hates yet soon begins recording Napoleon’s memoirs, getting to know and learning to value the man behind the myth. Among seductions and affairs, expectations and fears, he will craft a precise portrait that never less will not manage to hide a final, inevitable, disappointment.

    Here’s a link to the trailer (in Italian).

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    Speaking of trailers… the new trailer for “Live Free or Die Hard” is surprisingly cool. Good to see Timothy Olyphant doing something big now that Deadwood has been canceled. It’s a big jump up for director Len Wiseman as well. His Underworld films were pretty cool concepts but never really seemed to pull it off… not that you need much of an excuse to watch Kate Beckinsale for a couple of hours.

    ******

    I’ve decided that running a startup is a little like running a marathon. Not that I know anything about running a real marathon (and I have no intention of ever finding out), but stick with me on the analogy.

    A startup, be it a business or a podcast, takes time to build. I was reminded of this when I sat at E&Y the other day. One of their guys gave a presentation talking about how it takes 5 years for a business to get through the startup phase. It takes another 10 – 15 years to become a mature business. Phillip Goodman from Rivers talked about his business lost money for something like the first 8 years.

    Hanging around with the web 2.0 crowd, it’s easy to forget that. There’s this idea in web circles that if you ain’t a billion business in 18 months then you’re doing something wrong. Of course, most of the people who try to pull that off, usually end up flaming out. 0.0001% pull it off.

    I see the same thing with podcasters all the time. They start off with these huge promises, oh they are just going to take over the WORLD! They are SO TALENTED! The world has just been waiting for them to hit the scene. They are going to smoke it.

    Then, when a few months in they only have a few hundred listeners, they disappear from few. Pussies. I really respect the folks who come in and take a long term view. Not that you shouldn’t push yourself to grow each month, to stretch yourself – you should. You should have goal and a plan to achieve the goal. I’m always trying to get better at doing that stuff. But you have to have a long term view. It takes time to build.

    TPN is now at an interesting stage. When I look back over the last two years, I can see that on average we have grown our audience and our downloads at a rate of 15% month-on-month. Today we’ve got about 500,000 regular listeners. So it’s taken us two years (and change) to get to 500,000.

    However… if we keep up this growth curve (and who knows if we can?), then by September we should have a million monthly listeners. Five months later (Feb 07) we should hit 2 million. That’s the power of compound growth. Martin Wells from Tangler (who, btw, recently released their baby to the world, check it out if you haven’t already), shared some of his wisdom with me a while back. He talked about how when you build a startup you spend the first couple of years just getting through one month at a time until one day, you look back and realizing that your monthly revenue increase is more than you made in your first year. It takes time to build.

    Anyway… 2 million listeners starts to look like a real platform to build a business from. And Feb 07 will be our third anniversary as a network. If our revenue keeps growing the way it is, we should be having a lot of fun by then.

    But back to the marathon… I’m continually surprised by how few people can actually think in terms of 5 years. I don’t know – maybe playing chess for 30 years has helped me think long term. You can’t play chess at a high level unless you can think 20 moves ahead. I think business is a bit the same. Not that I consider myself an expert on either chess or business, I’m just a learner in both. I’m trying to get better at the business side of things. One day I hope to be able to spend more time getting better at chess.

    12 thoughts on “Cam’s World for 20 April, 2007

    1. Hi Cam… long time listener, yadda yadda …
      I am continually amazed that Mr Jones is still able to muster an audience. Is it a Sydney thing? (I’m obviously from Melbourne as I just don’t get it)
      I must confess I avoid most commercial radio so miss all this talk radio bullshit, but really, if that many people tune in to him, and don’t complain enough to get him off the radio, what does that say about us? And I was appalled that our “honourable” politicians came out in support of him this week too – what is wrong with this picture??

      CG

    2. It struck me last night while reading Brian Greene’s tremendous “The Elegant Universe” that if religious types were at all genuine, they would be digging through books on physics and chemistry like they were the new word of God. I’ve read the explanation of the double-slit experiment time after time over the last 20 years and it *still* blows me away. It brings out an awe and wonderment in me that I can only connect with a religious experience. The fact that most so-called religious types don’t study what we’re learning about the way our universe operates is a testament to how serious they really are at understanding “the mind of God” (as Stephen Hawking put it).

      A serious flaw in your argument. Why would “religious types” need to be digging through books on physics and chemistry? Physics and Chemistry are very limited for realm you are talking about. Not everything in the universe isn’t logical, so not everything can be explained by science.

    3. CG – it’s a sad reflection of Australia (Sydney) for sure, but it just makes me all the more determined to invent a new kind of media. We now have the ability to make some change. It’s a responsibility I feel deep in my bones.

      Raj – What about the universe, in your humble opinion, isn’t logical? Apart, of course, from people who believe in mythology? 🙂 The laws of physics are mind-boggling and mysterious beyond belief, but they are logical, in as much as the universe has its own logic. They certainly don’t correspond well with our previous Newtonian “logic” though.

    4. It’s disgusting that Alan Jones didn’t get any jail time. It’s not like this is his first offence. I’m sure Alan Jones and 2GB made far more money from breaking the law than they have been fined. Apparently crime does pay if you’re a media whore.

    5. >It struck me last night while reading Brian Greene’s tremendous “The Elegant Universe” that if religious types were at all genuine, they would be digging through books on physics and chemistry like they were the new word of God. I’ve read the explanation of the double-slit experiment time after time over the last 20 years and it *still* blows me away. It brings out an awe and wonderment in me that I can only connect with a religious experience. The fact that most so-called religious types don’t study what we’re learning about the way our universe operates is a testament to how serious they really are at understanding “the mind of God” (as Stephen Hawking put it).

      There are plenty of them out there but, you don’t want to engage them! Preferring to instead ram your own version of science down your listeners throats, becoming as fundamentalists as the religious types you talk about. In fact The Dalai Lama has recently insisted that modern physics now become a part of the monastic curriculum in all Tibetan Buddhist monasteries.

      Scientists like Anton Zeilinger http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton_Zeilinger famous for the first demonstration of quantum teleportation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_information_theory
      between two separately emitted photons don’t play this arrogant – we are better than you – game but instead prefer to engage so called religious types without becoming a convert in order to LEARN! I myself have read and continue to read AND learn from science, especially physics.

      Get off your pedestal Cam and start using empirical knowledge (a core science tenet) rather than just regurgitating what you have read. Because without doing so you end up looking like the very people you criticise…your just the other side of the same coin.

    6. I don’t want to engage them? Show me them and I’ll happily engage them.

      Zeilinger is a fine scientist but so is Dawkins and he is as adamant as I am that the time for going easy on religion is well and truly over.

      I don’t mind at all being called arrogant or a fundamentalist when it comes to the issue of truth versus mythology because I don’t believe mythology is a valid premise to understanding the universe. It’s terrific for understanding human history and culture but not as a means for making decisions in the 21st century.

      I AM the other side of the coin, as you put it. I am fighting for truth and awareness and rational thought, which is something most professional scientists CAN’T do, because they are too scared about the negative impact it might have on their sources of funding support, especially in the USA.

      It’s time for those of us who can to speak up and denounce religion completely.

      Calling me names isn’t going to stop me.

    7. To be fair Cam, the eastern religions are far less of an issue than the western. Yes there are huge problems with Christianity and suchlike, if you need any more fuel for your argument there go see The Magdalene Sisters http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0318411/ but the Buddhists in particular, prize wisdom and encourage independent thinking.

      In fact I believe the Dalai Lama has said that if any scientific evidence was presented to him that directly contradicted any element of Buddhism, then he’d change Buddhist wisdom accordingly.

      Yes there are still occasional arguments over differences and suchlike but that falls under human nature. The worst earful I’ve copped from a Buddhist was a lecture on the importance of education and not drinking or smoking… That and not meeting up with people I’ve met on the internet in case they abduct me.

      That said, Buddhism in many of its forms could be considered to be closer to a philosophy than a religion.

    8. I’m not trying to stop you Cameron. Just pointing out some inherent faults in your presentation. In fact I’m all for discussion…the more valueable discussion the better…but if you present you case by using words and you have done it again “issue of truth versus mythology” no one will be listening to you accept for the people you completely agree with you or have some other kind of investment in you…i.e. friendship.

      Though I can’t and don’t want to speak for the Christians.
      Buddhists would say that anyone who says that Buddhism is a mythology is just plain ignorant of what Buddihsm is and how it is presented at least in the Tibetan tradition. Where it has and continues to have a rich culture of empirical investigation. We are encouraged to not believe the tenets of Buddhism but, to investigate for ourselves. If we can run the experiements and can replicate the result then accept the findings if not leave to one side.

      Openness and true empirical learning is how we can move from todays society to a better one.

      >Calling me names isn’t going to stop me.
      This is a classic 😉
      You call other people names and expect them to listen to your presentation of the reality of the universe but, get defensive and defiant when it happenings to you! Do you really think that the people that do need changing will?

      >I don’t want to engage them? Show me them and I’ll happily engage them.
      http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=983112177262602885

    9. I neither call people names nor expect them to listen to me. And I’m not defensive. I am defiant though. So you get one out of four right.

      All I do here is call mythology what it is. Mythology. If people get offended by that, that’s up to them. It doesn’t change the fact that mythology is an inferior way of examining the universe to an evidential approach.

      As for Buddhism, some elements of it are, without doubt, mythology and others aren’t. For example, the Tripitaka is a tradition of oral myths about Gautama’s teachings and life. They weren’t written down for hundreds of years after his death. Therefore, they are, by definition, a mythology. Mahayana Buddhism is almost completely a mythology.

      Theravadic and Tibetan Busshism, on the other hand, both seem to emphasise the tradition of critical analysis of individual experience, which I’m totally supportive of. Some schools of Tibeten Buddhist thought, primarily Dzogchen, are very similar to Advaita Vedanta, which I obviously don’t consider religion or mythology, because I do an entire podcast about it.

      Total props to the Dalai Lama for embracing scientific inquiry. Also to Alan Wallace, that’s a great speech you linked to, although he totally mis-understands BF Skinner’s point about the mind versus physical processes. Of course the mind is nothing more than physical processes, as Skinner and Jack Smart declared in the 50s. At least we have no scientific evidence to the contrary that I’m aware of.

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