Beta testing “Walking Melbourne” podcast

Last month I recorded a couple of pilot episodes of a new podcast series where I walk around Melbourne with one of the City of Melbourne’s “greeters”, Jill. This is a project cooked up between myself, Tourism Victoria and the City of Melbourne. We’ve recorded two pilots and I’d really appreciate it if a few of you in Melbourne would grab these and do the walk while you listen to the podcast and then give me feedback on how well it works.

The first tour takes us through Melbourne’s seedy past and is called “Politics, Prostitutes and Poverty”. The second, “Lingering in Laneways” takes us down some of Melbourne’s hidden laneways to discover some of the best kept secret bars, shops and restaurants.

Get both of them at TPN’s Melbourne Confidential site.

Religion and violence

This post “I Don’t Respect Your Religion” by Cenk Uygur from The Young Turks is right on the money.

Here’s an excerpt:

Read the Bible, the Torah and the Koran. They are all full of violent, bloody fantasies that teach you over and over to kill your enemies. Christians love to think they are the exception to this rule. They’ll say the Old Testament doesn’t really apply anymore because the New Testament overruled all the gory, masochistic violence of the earlier book. So, then I guess Genesis isn’t true either since that’s in the Old Testament? Oops.

Then, you’ll get the excuse that Jesus was the Prince of Peace. Yeah, I know, that’s why in Matthew 10:34 he says, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Sounds down right Christian of him.

But even if you can make up pathetic excuses for this obvious blood-lust and call to violence, it doesn’t matter. Because in the end Jesus murders almost all of us anyway. Jesus doesn’t just kill the “liars” and the “sexually immoral” and the eight other categories of people who get thrown in “fiery lake of burning sulfur.” He kills all of the “unbelieving” folks as well. If you don’t believe in Jesus, you get the lake of fire! What a swell guy.

Personally, though, I’m not convinced that Bhutto’s assassination had anything to do with religious fundamentalism. It seems to me to be a clean hit. I am amazed, though, at this video of her interview with Sir David Frost in early November, where, around the 6 minute mark, she clearly says that Osama Bin Laden was murdered, names his murderer, and Frost doesn’t even ask her to clarify the statement. She mentions it almost in passing. But then, according to Wikipedia, a week later, when she was placed under house arrest, she asked one of the policeman “Shouldn’t you be looking for Osama bin Laden?”

I’ve also been reading about the list of corruption charges again her and her husband on Wikipedia. Were they trumped up? Why did Musharraf drop the charges upon her recent return to the country? I would love to get some decent analysis of the situation.

Al-qaida has supposedly claimed responsibility for the assassination but it still isn’t clear to me WHO is behind Al-qaida. We know for a fact that the Afghani mujahideen were armed, trained and funded by the USA in the 80s. Hell, evenRambo liked them. It isn’t clear to me if or when the USA actually stopped funding them. And if it isn’t the USA, then what is the involvement of the USA’s ally, Pakistan and the Pakistani Taliban?

The only thing I know is that when I read simplistic descriptions of her assassination thrown about in the media with the propaganda words “terrorism” and “al-qaida” I am drawn into looking deeper. Superficial explanations don’t seem to do her or her legacy justice.

UPDATE 31 December, 2007: There are now reports that the BBC edited out Bhutto’s comments about Bin Laden’s murder. What I don’t understand though is where the original video, the one where Bhutto names the murderer, comes from if the BBC edited it out before broadcast?

Geeks Who Care

Over the last few months I’ve been wrestling with the notion that there should be some kind of framework for geeks to do something positive in their local community. Something that isn’t tied to any particular religious, political or social agenda. Something that plays on the strengths of geeks and doesn’t require a full-time commitment but also involves more than just writing a cheque or a blog.

After a chat with Father Bob Maguire (from TPN’s Father Bob Show and the guy who has been the inspiration for much of my thinking in this area), his co-host Michaela and Michael Leone from Gnoos a month or so ago, I realized that perhaps we should pull together a group of people together and workshop ideas on what we could do, together, to make a difference in our local communities. I don’t have the answers. Hell, I don’t even know most of the right questions to ask. But I do feel that I could be, should be, doing more. I just need to work out what kinds of things I, we, can do. And I think it might be easier if we were to try to accomplish it in a group.

So, with that in mind, I’m kicking off “Geeks Who Care” with a meeting at Bob’s place (Cnr Dorcas and Montague Sts, South Melbourne) on January 27th. I’m hoping we’ll get a small group of like-minded individuals to come together to workshop ideas. From there we can put together a framework, steps forward (kind of like how we started MODM early last year). I’m sure most of you will have more of an idea about what we should be doing that I do. I’m an idiot. I’ve already had a few great ideas given to me and I’m sure between now and Jan 27 I’ll get a lot more. There is a Facebook event set up for the meetup. Get to it here (link) and the main domain,, currently re-directs to a Facebook group for general discussion. For those of you itching to tell me how much you hate Facebook – save it, I’m not interested.

Perhaps, if this one works out, we can set up similar groups around the country, around the world even… hell, let’s put one on Mars. Those poor little green guys needs our help too. Martians are humans too you know.

Geeks Who Care

TPN mentioned (briefly) in The Age

There are a couple of stories about podcasting in Australia in The Age today. I chatted with both journalists at length over the last month for the stories but ended up with two lines out of a 2+ page story. Go figure. All of my journo and ex-journo friends (including Mrs R) this morning counseled me to just wear it on the chin. And perhaps they are right. But I’m pissed off about it anyway. And here’s why.

In the main story, by Andrew Bock, the ABC, Austereo (owner of Triple M and Fox FM) and even Salty Dog (congrats Dennis!) get their download figures trumpeted. Where are TPN’s figures? Omitted. Deliberate? I don’t know.

What I do know is that Fairfax, the owners of The Age, have a commercial relationship with Austereo. Fairfax hosts Austereo’s websites. Was that disclosed in the article? No, it was not. Accidental? Perhaps. According to the article, Austereo is doing more than 850,000 podcast downloads a month across all its stations. TPN is doing about the same (we spiked a few months back and hit about 800k, last month it was about 650K, which is where Austereo’s last annual report in July 2007 said they were at). TPN is a one-man, self-funded, three-year-old operation. Austereo is decades-old, publicly-listed company with revenues in excess of $255 million pa which has some of the biggest names in radio working on their shows.

Now if *you* were writing the story about podcasting, don’t you think this would have been an interesting comparison? Apparently someone at Fairfax didn’t think so.

Fairfax also now owns Southern Cross Broadcasting, owners of top radio stations 3AW and 2UE. Was that disclosed in the article? No, it wasn’t. If you take TPN’s listener numbers (450 – 500k per month) and compare those to, say, 3AW, I think we’re about the same size, perhaps even bigger.

Does Fairfax have a conflict of interest when it covers stories about radio and podcasting? What do you think?

By the way, I don’t blame the journo’s involved. They are both swell guys. I’m sure if their stories are being edited after they submit them, and important conflict of interest disclosures aren’t being made, then they would both be concerned. Is the paper interested in reporting news or in promoting a company they have a commercial interest in?

Luckily we now have alternative places we can get our news from, such as NORG. If you aren’t contributing to that already, I encourage you to. We have the tools now to report our own news. Of course, I’ll need to get my backside out of this chair so I know what’s going on the world before I’ll have much to contribute…