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


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?


    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?


    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).


    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.