No Illusions Podcast #47 – I Can Haz Higgs Boson?

My first podcast in several months is a bit of a rant and a bit of science – a basic primer to help you understand yesterday’s announcement of the discovery at CERN of a “Higgs-like particle” and a rant on why it’s important that we all try to understand the basics of physics and the hard sciences. I’m so sick of the MSM dumbing down announcements like this and I was hugely disappointed last night to see even the host of the 7:30 Report asking dumb questions. The internet is supposed to make us SMARTER, not DUMBER, people.

Is Syria another Operation Ajax?

If you want an alternative perspective on what’s happening in Syria to the one you’ve been getting on the MSM, try this one by Lebanese-American writer and activist Joyce Chediac. Is Syria another Operation Ajax?

At least since 1953 (and probably before that) it has been a tried-and-true tactic of the CIA to finance and conduct (either directly or indirectly) “false flag” civil unrest in a country they want to overthrow. They will then blame escalations of violence on the person running the government (the target of the operation) and use his perceived abuses to justify political or military intervention (directly or indirectly).

The list of countries where they have carried on this kind of operation is lengthy (I counted 53 in Tim Weiner’s book “Legacy Of Ashes”). Here’s a short list:

  • Iran (1953)
  • Guatemala (1954)
  • Indonesia (1958)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo (1960)
  • Dominican Republic (1961)
  • South Vietnam (1963)
  • Brazil (1964)
  • Chile (1973)
  • Afghanistan (1979)
  • Turkey (1980)
  • Nicaragua (1981)
  • Iraq (1992)
  • Afghanistan (2001)
  • Venezuela (2002)
  • Iraq (2003)
  • Haiti (2004)

So when you see something similar happen in Syria, you’d be naïve not to wonder if the version of events we are getting from the corporate media isn’t the same bunch of fabricated bullshit that we’ve seen so many times before. Assad may be the antichrist – like so many were before him – or maybe he’s being set up. Since Washington has been funneling money to a right-wing Syrian opposition group since at least 2005, there is obviously more to the story than the one we are being told.

Aussie Startups in Aust Financial Review

Renai LeMay did a story on Aussie start-ups in today’s AFR. But, of course, I can’t link to it online, because the zombies running the Fin still have it locked up tighter that a fish’s asshole. Memo to Fairfax – it’s 2008! HELLO?

Anyhoo, the article is also up on MIS Magazine’s website and you can read it here. I love that MIS Magazine is still called MIS, which apparently comes from the latin malum in se “wrong in itself”. So true, so true.

Read the article here.

It’s called ‘Funds drought hurts web hopes” and is basically saying that most if not all Aussie online startups are hurting from lack of funding. I kind of agree and kind of disagree.

Look – sure – if we all had a few million, I’m sure we’d be doing things differently. We could hire more people, invest in better infrastructure, hire some sales people, etc.

However, I’m not sure a lack of funding is necessarily a bad thing.

I’m sure we can all rattle off a bunch of start-ups in the US which raised a bucket load of money, only to be gone a few years later. Why? Because you have to learn to crawl before you can walk. Bootstrapping a startup, with little funds or people, forces you to work on the basics. What service do we provide? Who do we provide it to? What problem are we solving? How do we make money from solving it?

The benchmark that we seem to give to online startups is, I think, unhealthy. Unless they have a constant growth curve that looks like the Mt Everest, and are raking in the cash, we think EPIC FAIL.

However, I look at it a completely different way. I’m trying to build something that I will still be running in 20 years time. Something that can make a difference. Something I can have fun with. Something that will let me do what I want, when I want, where I want with whomever I want.

So check it – I haven’t had a job for nearly four years. I sit at home, playing on my Macbook Pro, talking to cool people around the world and getting paid to do it. I take my kids to school, pick them up, hang out with friends whenever I want – and I have fun doing it. I have zero stress in my life. Sure – I could easily spend a coupla mill. But at the end of the day, when I compare how I’m living today, to how I was living four years ago, I know which I prefer.

So how should we define success for a start-up? Is it a business with a billion dollar market cap, or a business that is doing good work, or a business which is allowing someone to follow their dream or a business which is making ends meet? Or perhaps its all of these things?

Here’s the thing about reading mainstream media – and I say this with all respect to my friends who work as journalists, editors and the like – the MSM does NOT want you to leave your work and build a start-up. They want you to conform – to sit in your little cubicle and live the Aussie dream, working 80 hours a week for the man, not thinking outside the square, not taking any risks outside of your footy tipping, just being a good obedient consumer and doing what you’re told.

Australia ranked only 27th most peaceful nation

Australia slipped two places to be ranked only the 27th most peaceful out of 140 countries on the Global Peace Index 2008, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, while neighbour New Zealand is fourth.

The USA ranked 97th, below China, Cuba and Libya.

I wonder who much coverage this will get in the MSM. Are you, as a citizen of Australia, happy with the result? Do we want to be a peaceful nation?

State of the News Print Media in Australia 2007

Last year I did a blog post covering the general decline in circulation and readership for Australian newspapers.

The Press Council’s 2007 report shows a slightly healthier situation, with a handful of papers actually showing growth from 2001 – 2007. I’ve posted the main graph of Metro papers here (you might need to grab the actual image to read the details). To make it easy, I’ve coloured the papers with declining readership in yellow and the ones maintaining steady in grey.

However – when you read their report in depth, you notice that there has been some creative accounting with these figures in a desperate attempt to forestall the knowledge that their industry is closer to death than General Suharto (what? he died today? well…. let’s say Castro.)

The report sez:

A significant development has been the unprecedented initiative taken by newspaper proprietors, acting collectively, to establish a new organisation, The Newspaper Works, to reaffirm to advertisers in particular that newspapers offer them a better and more influential platform than other media and, complementarily, to improve total newspaper circulation and readership. The new organisation has also undertaken, in conjunction with polling organisations, to try to improve the techniques used to measure circulation and readership of print editions and to measure newspaper website traffic accurately.

(Italics mine).

So – they are factoring in their online readership. Fair enough. Here’s the secret though – as I’ve argued here before – the transition from paper to online is VERY BAD for the print news business. Why? Isn’t a reader a reader? It’s the economics, stupid. When you buy The Age, how much do you pay for the privilege? A dollar fifty? I’m not sure, i don’t buy it (unless I’m in it). When you read The Age online, how much do you pay? Nada. So – they are automatically making less money. What about advertising? Well – let’s say you’re an advertiser. If you want to advertise in a newspaper that people in Melbourne read, how many options do you have? A handful? If, however, you want to advertise on websites Melburnians read, how many options do you have? Bazillions. And that number is just getting bigger every year. So it’s simple supply and demand economics. You don’t make as much money from an online reader as you do from a print reader.

Okay, so revenues must be in decline. What happens next? Do they hire MORE journalists? No. As everybody knows, they hire less journalists. And so the quality of their content goes down. Does that make readership go up? I don’t think so. And so the cycle of rot sets in. Print news organisations have a very expensive operation on their hands. When revenues go down, when people get down-sized on a regular basis, morale drops and… hey I’ve seen it happen in a million IT companies. It’s what happens when you think you’re invulnerable to generational change driven by technology and you think your brand has some kind of magical power which will continue forever. Basically – you’re sucking on your own exhaust pipe.

We’ve had an opportunity to witness this last week with the announcement that ACP is closing down The Bulletin, a magazine I was fortunate to appear in a couple of times – when Josh Gliddon did the first MSM coverage of TPN back in Feb 2005 and again in October 2006. The Bulletin’s circulation had been down and it just didn’t make sense to keep it open, according to ACP management. And we all know how disinterested Packer 3.0 seems to be in the media business.

What did the ACP execs have to say?

The Bulletin is Australia’s longest running magazine and was launched in 1880.

In the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations figures, The Bulletin had 57,039 in sales (Sept 07), which is down from circulation highs of over 100,000 in the mid 1990s. This trend is consistent with that experienced by many leading weekly news and current affairs magazines globally and is somewhat symptomatic of the impact of the internet on this particular genre.

It’s the beginning of the end.