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.
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.
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.
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 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?
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.
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 Australiaâ€™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.
Another video from X | Media | Labs (yes, Caroline and Melissa, I’m getting there)… this one is with the gentleman I prefer to think of as Mr Suw – Kevin Anderson. Kevin is the Blog Editor at The Guardian in the UK. In this short video (my tape ran out at the end of a long day), Kevin gives his views on how MSM sites distinguish between a journalist’s blog and their articles.
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This is strange. A few sites (link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4) are reporting that German police intercepted American agents trying to smuggle C4 explosive into the G8 conference at Heiligendamm. No coverage of this by MSM at the moment.
Sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that US security men tested German security by trying to smuggle C4 plastic explosive past a checkpoint at Heiligendamm.
German surveillance machinery detected the tiny stash in a suitcase in a car and the Americans in plainclothes then identified themselves. German police declined comment.
I wonder who the ‘sources’ were who reported it to DPA? And why would German police decline comment? If the story was untrue, surely they would just say so? I’m going to ping a few friends in Germany to see if it’s getting much coverage over there.
Tonight we watched the first episode of a short-lived American series from 1999 called “ACTION“. I’d never heard of it before but this first episode was great. A little like a combination of The Office and Entourage. In fact, I’d be surprised if Marky Mark didn’t use this as part of the inspiration for Entourage. If you can track it down, check it out. Stars Jay Mohr as an arrogant Ari Gold-like Hollywood film producer and Illeanna Douglas as his former-child-star-turned -high-priced-call-girl-turned-Vice-President-of-Production. It was produced by Joel Silver. Apparently FOX only ran 8 episodes and then canceled it.
Doc Searls has a post up about his religious beliefs, something that surprised me. I tried to leave him a comment (even registered on his site for permission) but got an error. Doc, for the record, it was:
Sorry! There was an error: Can’t evaluate the expression because the name “referer” hasn’t been defined.
The error was detected by Frontier 9.5 in mainResponder.respond. Webmaster: firstname.lastname@example.org. Time: Tue, 29 May 2007 06:56:52 GMT.
I tried several times.
Anyway, here’s the response I was trying to leave:
Doc, I’m surprised (an understatement!) to learn that you are a religious guy. The next time you come on G’Day World we’ll have to make that the topic of discussion! It’s been a regular theme lately.
I read Hedges piece and while it is obviously extremely well written, the flaws in it are deep and wide – as are the flaws in “faith” in general.
Let’s take your quote from above:
“This individualism… is a gift of the Abrahamic faiths.”
Perhaps Hedges has never heard of Socrates.
The Old Testament is replete with tribal doctrine. In fact the central tenant of the OT is that the Jews are the race beloved by Yahweh!
Exodus 11 – God kills the firstborn of everyone in Egypt so “that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.”
Exodus 32:27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.
Leviticus 25:45 Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.
And the list goes on and on and on.
The New Testament is no better.
Jesus (if you believe he even existed and, if he did, that the NT is any accurate record of what he might have said and did, there being zero historical evidence to either of these questions) also preached that anyone who didn’t listen to his messengers deserved to be brutally killed:
Matthew 10:15 Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
Matthew 13:41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
So much for altruism and individual responsibility. Whilst the NT does say (briefly) to love they neighbour, the REAL message is:
Love thy neighbour… as long as they look like you and believe what you believe. If they disagree with you, kill them. If they like to have sex with men – kill them. Love them as long as they are Jews who agree with you. Everyone else is fair game.
The Code of Hammurabi, which pre-dates Moses’ laws by 600 years, established a public list of guidelines for individual conduct. This idea that Abrahamic ideas lead to the idea of individual responsibility is just vacuous.
In fact, in his book “Ideas: A History From Fire To Freud”, Peter Watson argues that the Catholic Church fought aggressively AGAINST the idea of “individual faith” as they (rightly) understood that this would diminish their temporal and spiritual power.
The main concern I have about faith is that is dulls the mind. It entreats people to accept untestable bronze age mythologies in a time when the human race needs, more than ever, all hands on deck. We won’t build a better world by clinging to 2000 year-old superstitions. We won’t build a better world by refusing to acknowledge scientific evidence. We won’t build a better world by hiding behind well-meaning phrases such as “love thy neighbour” – which, by the way, significantly pre-dates Christianity – while on the other hand using mythology to mobilize armies.
It’s my belief (yes, I don’t have evidence to support this particular theory… yet) that the only way for us to build a better world is for the human race (or, at least, the West) to jump fully into the 21st century – let go of our primitive bronze age belief systems (without completely denying their important role, for good and for bad, in our history) and accept the scientific method as the best way we’ve come up with so far to determine the facts of who we are and how the universe operates. Everything that we can’t verify with evidence is merely one of many theories and not something any rational person should believe in.
You’ll be seeing a lot in the MSM today about Chavez shutting down Radio Caracas Television. The Rag Blog has a great interview with Noam Chomsky on Venezuela from Venezuelanalysis.com dated May 18. He talks about the polling in Venezuela that demonstrates the popularity of Chavez with the people. He is the first Government they have had in a long, long time who is actually taking steps to help the poor. Is he an evil dictator? Or a man of the people? I don’t know, but I know that the impression I get of him from mainstream media seems to be lopsided. The question is – why?
Hey – are the LINKS in my posts showing up the RSS feed? I was just looking in Netvibes and I can’t see any links. There are about ten links in the post below. Can you see them? Is that broken along with the page breaks? (Yes, TPN IT is *still* trying to figure that out).
“More than 10 percent (of Americans) think that Noah’s wife was Joan of Arc.”
I snorted with laughter when I read that this morning. It’s from an article in the NYT that Tony Harris sent me about Stephen Prothero’s book “Religious Literacy”. Other fun facts from the book are that
Approximately 75 percent of adults, according to polls cited by Prothero, mistakenly believe the Bible teaches that “God helps those who help themselves.” Only half can name even one of the four Gospels, and — a finding that will surprise many — evangelical Christians are only slightly more knowledgeable than their non-evangelical counterparts.
Now… the next time I suggest that Christians (in general) aren’t the most well-educated or intelligent demographic on the planet, go easy on me, mmmkay? I’ve got hard data to back it up. Stand back ladies and gentlemen. Here comes the de-religification of the human race (yes I made that word up, see how clever I am??)
My latest post for The Age is up. It’s called “Staying NaÃ¯ve“.
A great quote from Quotiki this morning to get you on your way:
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
When I was reading Anais Nin last night she mentioned that her therapist, Otto Rank (one of Freud’s contemporaries), showed her that the neurotic is just using their creative faculties in a misguided manner, that there isn’t anything wrong with them, they just need to use their creative powers with a new focus. I think this quote hits it on the head.
Speaking of Freud, I just discovered that he committed “doctor-assisted suicide”.
A heavy cigar smoker, Freud endured more than 30 operations during his life due to mouth cancer. In September 1939 he prevailed on his doctor and friend Max Schur to assist him in suicide. After reading Balzac’s La Peau de chagrin in a single sitting he said, “My dear Schur, you certainly remember our first talk. You promised me then not to forsake me when my time comes. Now it is nothing but torture and makes no sense any more.” Schur administered three doses of morphine over many hours that resulted in Freud’s death on September 23, 1939.
How many of you have installed the TPN version of Particls? Any feedback?
Soâ€¦ has anyone installed Spinword? My best score on Spinword Eternal is still only 11860. Anyone beat that?
Okay, Okay, I’m finally on Facebook. Here’s my profile. Holy frak, hasn’t this just gone nuts lately? I’ve had a bunch of invites saying people have added me as a friend, which I assume makes me part of their invite blast just after they joined themselves. I spent some time on it this morning and, unlike Second Life, in this case I *can* see what all the fuss is about. It’s simple, clean, huge amount of features, and of course yesterday’s announcement of the Facebook platform is just going to make it even more useful.
My mother just emailed me a link to this video about using "bump keys" to open locked doors. As interesting as the video itself is, the point is this: MY MOTHER sent me a link to something on Google Video! Surely that’s a sign of a tipping point? (I think the Book of Revelation also had something to say about what happens when your mother sends you a link to Google Video… I think it’s one of the signs).
This makes me think of an argument I’ve been having lately with a bunch of MSM people. It’s this idea of "watercooler chat" media. There’s this idea, which may be true in part, in the minds of the mainstream media that we (their audience) have some Maslowian need to all watch/read/listen to the same thing so we can talk about it the next day around the watercooler, like we are so pathetically desperate for some sense of social identity that we need to rely on Big Brother to feel whole.
I’ve been explaining that this isn’t what happens when I catch up with my friends for coffee. Our conversations go more like this:
"Hey have you seen that clip from The Daily Show where Sam Jackson was talking about why he made Snakes On A Plane?"
"No, I haven’t. Shoot me the link!"
"Yeah I will."
"Hey have you seen the Urban Ninja videos on YouTube? This crazy kid who can seriously run up a wall?"
"No, getthefeckouttahere. Shoot me the link!"
"Hey have you heard that new podsafe track that James Brown put up on PMN?"
"No way dude! James muthafucking Brown??? SHOOT ME THE LINK!"
"Ow! I feel good!"
Now that even my 59 year old mum, born and bred and still living in Bundaberg (rural Queensland, about as far behind the modern world as you can get without going to Uganda… I think even Bono is petitioning the IMF for debt relief and cheap AIDS vaccines for Bundaberg), is flicking me the coolest Google Video links, I think we can safely say the era of "one-size-fits-all" media is coming to a close.
My fellow West Wing fan Chris Saad linked me to this 6 minute promo of Aaron Sorkin’s new TV show "Studio 60" on YouTube this morning. Looks totally brilliant. Good to see so many faces from the WW cast coming back to work with Sorkin again.
Don’t forget – tomorrow is the 4th of July – Independence from Mainstream Media day. You mission is to completely avoid all forms of MSM for the entire day – no newspapers, magazines, radio, TV or film. Lots of great podcasts on The Podcast Network to help you out. Think of us as a public service. 🙂