Articles by Stilgherrian

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The Eye of GathgywnMy week of Monday 30 April to Sunday 6 May 2018 contained these things, in addition to fighting off a cold.



  • “Announcing ‘The 9pm Brisbane Forum’”, being an audio promo for the Pozible campaign of the same name. You can also listen to it on Speaker or SoundCloud. Do please consider pledging your support if you want the podcasts listed below to happen.

Media Appearances, Corporate Largesse


The Week Ahead

The next few weeks continue to see me based in Ashfield, Sydney, working through the Crikey project, and writing for ZDNet much as usual. I hope to get some walking in, however, and I might post some stuff about the places I visit, including photos.

The next episode of The 9pm Edict, will be recorded and streamed live this Thursday 10 next Tuesday 15 May at 2100 AEST.

Further Ahead

Other things I’ve pencilled in:

Update 8 May 2018: Edited to reflect change in podcast recording date.

[Photo: The Eye of Gathgwyn, the cat I’m currently cat-sitting in Ashfield, Sydney, photographed on 5 May 2018.]

[UPDATE: Sadly the Pozible campaign did not reach its target. There won’t be a Public House Forum podcast, but there should still be an episode with John Birmingham. Stay tuned for details.]

The 9pm Brisbane Forum: Click for Pozible campaign

Following the success of The 9pm Hometown Forum in Adelaide, and the bonus episode of The 9pm Probe with space archaeologist Dr Alice Gorman, I’m doing the same thing in Brisbane. But I need your help.

The plan? Two podcasts:

  1. Public House Forum 7, an episode like the last Public House Forum, recorded in a Brisbane pub on the afternoon of Saturday 2 June.
  2. The 9pm Probe with author and columnist John Birmingham. According to Wikipedia, he is known for the 1994 memoir He Died with a Felafel in His Hand, and his Axis of Time trilogy. He’s also responsible for the twice-weekly column Alien Side Boob, and his column for Fairfax Media.

From now until Thursday 17 May at 2130 AEST, you can help support The 9pm Brisbane Forum, a Pozible crowdfunding campaign to make these podcasts possible. You can buy the usual Forum rewards: ONE TRIGGER WORD or THREE TRIGGER WORDS or a FORUM QUESTION.

For details, click through now, or listen to this “excellent” promo, either here or on SoundCloud or on Spreaker.


You can follow the campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #9pmbrisbane.

Audio Credits

A Shop for ’Pong, Croydon RoadCompared to the previous fortnight, Monday 23 to Sunday 29 April 2018 appears much less productive. No articles were published. No podcasts were recorded. No corporate largesse was taken advantage of.

And yet it was productive. I did a bunch of work on that Crikey project, the one they crowdfunded via a Pozible project called Crikey Digs. Wednesday was Anzac Day, so work was not required, though I did have a long beer-filled meeting with my colleague on that project, Ben Grubb. And I was lazy on Friday and Saturday because I was fighting off a cold. I think.

Anyway, here we go…

Media Appearances

As I mentioned last time, I’ve fallen out of the habit of posting the audio from my radio spots. Would you like me to return to that habit? No one seems to care, I think.

Articles, Podcasts, Corporate Largesse


The Week Ahead

The next few weeks continue to see me based in Ashfield, Sydney, working through the Crikey project, and writing for ZDNet much as usual. I’m hoping to get some walking in, however, and I might post some stuff about the places I visit, including photos. But not today.

Further Ahead

The next episode of The 9pm Edict, will be recorded and streamed live on Tuesday 8 Thursday 10 May at 2100 AEST.

Other things I’ve pencilled in:

Update 1 May 2018: Added link to audio of Love Sport Radio spot. Update 3 May 2018: Updated with new podcast schedule.

[Photo: A Shop for ’Pong, Croydon Road. I know that ’Pong loves images of urban decay, so here’s one from the inner west suburbs of Sydney, photographed on 29 April 2018.]

Parliament House, CanberraI was a busy possum during the two weeks from Monday 9 to Sunday 22 April 2018. The first week was spent in Canberra covering some cyber events, and the second was spent writing, and working on the SEKRIT editorial project which I’ll tell you a tiny amount about… now!

I’m the series editor on a project for Crikey, one that they’ve crowdfunded via a Pozible project called Crikey Digs. Some of you may have seen me tweet that part of it is about businesses that misuse Australians’ personal data, or trade it in a dodgy way. More will be revealed in the coming week.

Meanwhile, all these things…


Media Appearances

I’ve fallen out of the habit of posting the audio from my radio spots. Would you like me to return to that habit?


None. However see below for a bit of a plan.

Corporate Largesse

  • There was plenty of food and drink at the ACSC Conference in Canberra, though I skipped most of the functions.

The Week Ahead

The next few weeks see me based in Ashfield, Sydney, working through the SEKRIT editorial project, and writing for ZDNet much as usual. I’m hoping to get some walking in, however, and I might post some stuff about the places I visit, including photos.

On Tuesday night I’m doing a radio spot for ABC Melbourne, some time between 1900 and 2200 AEST. We haven’t locked in the time yet.

Wednesday is Anzac Day. It’s a public holiday, so I may take it easy. But I also might get up early for the Dawn Service. Undecided.

Further Ahead

The next episode of The 9pm Edict, will be recorded and streamed live on Tuesday 8 May at 2100 AEST.

Other things I’ve pencilled in:

[Photo: Parliament House, Canberra, photographed on 13 April 2018.]

Cricket!This is about Monday 2 to Sunday 8 April 2018, but let’s get on with the details.


  • “The 9pm Probe: Dr Alice Gorman, space archaeologist”, being The 9pm Edict episode 76. You can also listen to it on SoundCloud and Spreaker. This is the pilot episode of what I hope will become a regular addition to The 9pm Edict cycle, a series of long-form interviews with interesting people. Please let me know what you think.


Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse


The Week Ahead

It’s going to be a big one. On Monday morning I’m heading down to Sydney, where I’ll do some important preparations, like getting a haircut. I’ll also be continuing with the research on that SEKRIT editorial project. I’ll be able to tell you about that eventually, but not just yet.

On Tuesday I’m taking the 1201 train to Canberra, doing a bunch of stuff en route. That evening, I’m covering a panel discussion at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), Stopping a Cyber Threat on Our Election: US and Australian Experiences. Should be interesting.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I’m covering the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) Conference, so on Friday I reckon I’ll still be writing about that. There’s usually a bunch of stories.

I’ll stay in Canberra until late Saturday afternoon, and have a lazy day in Sydney on Sunday.

[Photo: Cricket! A large and, I think, female cricket found at Bunjaree Cottages near Wentworth Falls on 2 April 2018.]

Dr Alice Gorman

This is the pilot episode of The 9pm Probe, a long-form interview with an interesting person. Today, space archaeologist Dr Alice Gorman aka Dr Space Junk from Flinders University in South Australia.

As some of you may know, I was a bit of an enthusiastic Space Age kid, so this is a very self-indulgent conversation.

We talk about: How the live TV images of the Apollo 11 mission were really quite dull; Vanguard 1, currently the oldest human satellite in space; how civilian and military space programs have always been closely intertwined; citizen science in space; a brief mention of the Manned Orbital Laboratory (MOL); CORONA and the movie Ice Station Zebra; the International Geophysical Year (IGY); the International Polar Year; why people get angry about the concept of space archaeology; Australia’s early involvement in the Space Age; the Woomera test range; the Zuni rocket; WRESAT; the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO), the forerunner to the European Space Agency (ESA); rocket playgrounds; Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Rocket Man”; the inevitability of Uranus jokes; the start of the Second Space Age; our shared love of the Soviet technological aesthetic; the cube-sat revolution; the recent launch of rogue satellites; space tourism; Australia’s planned new space agency; SpaceX’s recent work, including firing a Tesla into space; Rocket Lab’s Humanity Star; the live video feed from the International Space Station; the Aboriginal use of bottle glass after European colonisation; and colonial processes in space.

At the end, I also mention the licenses you need to fly a spacecraft.

This episode was recorded on Monday 26 March 2018 at Flinders University.

You can listen to the podcast below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe automatically in iTunes, or go to SoundCloud.


Read the rest of this entry »

Dawn over QueenslandThis is yet another Fortnightly Wrap, covering Monday 19 March to Sunday 1 April 2018, and it was dominated by domestic travel, nostalgia, and soju.


  • “The 9pm Public House Forum 6 / Hometown Forum”, being The 9pm Edict episode 75, was recorded and streamed live from Adelaide on Saturday 24 March. It’s also on SoundCloud and Speaker.
  • I also recorded a bonus extra podcast with Dr Alice Gorman, a space archaeologist at Flinders University. That episode will be posted by the end of the coming week.


Media Appearances

  • On Monday 26 March, I spoke about the continuing Facebook / Cambridge Analytica debacle on ABC Adelaide.

Corporate Largesse

  • This doesn’t really count as largesse, because it was work, but my recent road trip — more accurate a flying trip — to Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Sydney was for tech distributor Alloys, who were introducing their customers to products from Chinese video surveillance hardware manufacturer Zhejiang Uniview Technologies Co Ltd. I didn’t do anything sales-related. I gave a 20-minute presentation on the future of video surveillance in the age of artificial intelligence. That said, at the end of the project, Uniview shouted me a soju-sodden meal at Myeongdong Korean Restaurant in North Strathfield. I seem to recall that it was very good.

The Week Ahead

It’s Easter Monday, but I’m still doing work, such as writing this for you.

Tuesday through Friday will be dominated by two things. One, I’m series editor on a new investigative journalism project for Crikey, which I’ll tell you about in due course. And two, I’ve got a queue of stuff to write for ZDNet. Those two threads of work will be woven around the need to be in Sydney on Wednesday for medical and other appointments, and finishing that production on that extra podcast.

The weekend is unplanned.

Further Ahead

The only definite commitments are a couple of cybersecurity conferences.

[Photo: Dawn over Queensland. The view from Virgin Australia flight VA1384 from BNE to ADL, somewhere over Queensland, on 22 March 2018.]

The Wheatsheaf Hotel

Adelaide is “heaps good”, as the saying goes. This Public House Forum episode was recorded in that city, and suggests that it might well be true.

The first Public House Forum for 2018 is also the first one recorded in Adelaide, and the panel is simply wonderful.

  • Tory Shepherd, state editor of The Advertiser.
  • Katie Spain, editor of Fritz Magazine.
  • Dr Hannah Brown, a postdoctoral fellow in paediatrics and reproductive health at the University of Adelaide.
  • Nicholas Fryer, presenter of The Arch Window and all-purpose misanthropist.
  • Sebastian Fryer, a young person, also appears briefly.

This episode was recorded in front of a live audience at The Wheatsheaf Hotel in Thebarton, Adelaide, on Saturday 24 March 2018.

There’s talk of Lego, starting a family, fritz, crumpets, Maggie Beer, orgasms, collusion to commit lexicography, infertility, and underage drinking. Amongst many other things.

You can listen to the podcast below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe automatically in iTunes, or go to SoundCloud.


Read the rest of this entry »

Waiting for the train at Kings CrossThis is really another Fortnightly Wrap, covering Monday 5 to Sunday 18 March 2018. I’ve been busy, and I’ll be busy for the next couple of weeks.


I’ve also written a piece for ZDNet which will appear on Monday.


None, but see below.

Media Appearances

  • On Tuesday 6 March, I spoke about medical device security on ABC Adelaide. I probably won’t be posting a recording of that one.

Corporate Largesse

The Week Ahead

I’m travelling to a few cities to present at a corporate event, in Melbourne on Tue 20 Mar, Brisbane on Wed 21, Adelaide on Thu 22 (and staying there through the weekend). In between all that, I’m finishing the third batch of content for DirectorTech, and starting a new editorial project which I’ll tell you about soon.

On Saturday I’m recording The 9pm Hometown Forum at an Adelaide pub still to be chosen.

I’ll kinda stressed about whether I’ll be able to achieve all of this.

On Sunday I’ll have a lazy day in my hometown.

Further Ahead

The following Monday 26 March, I’m recording another interview in Adelaide, then doing a radio spot on ABC Adelaide that afternoon. On Tuesday, I fly back to Sydney for the final corporate gig, then back to the Blue Mountains. I’ll worry about the rest of the week after that.

Looking way further ahead:

  • Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) Conference, Canberra, 10–12 April.
  • Australian Cyber Conference, formerly the Australian Information Security Association (AISA) National Conference, Melbourne, 9–11 October.

[Photo: Waiting for the train at Kings Cross. A passenger waits on the platform at Sydney’s King Cross station as a train arrives on 16 March 2018.]

Customs House (Detail)Earlier today I saw something which shouldn’t have happened. Rather than walk away, I said something about it. And rather than leave it there, I sent this email to the City of Sydney. I also tweeted it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

[Update: On Thursday I received an email from the City of Sydney’s security operations manager, saying there would be “an internal investigation into this matter”.]

This is a complaint.

Two hours ago [at the time of writing] I saw an older man chucked out of the Circular Quay library for the heinous crime of trying to take a photograph with his pet rabbit. It was poorly handled. This is not on.

I’ve already discussed this with the staff member involved, but I could tell he just wanted me to go away. So I’m putting this on record, and I’m hoping it’ll lead to actual change rather than a boilerplate bureaucratic response. Please don’t disappoint me.

I’ll start at the beginning…

Around 4.45pm on Tuesday, I was leaving the library when I saw a man set down his rabbit on the corner of the 3D city model. It was a big rabbit, clean and well-behaved, with smooth orange-brown fur. It was a good rabbit, a rabbit that anyone would be proud to own. I stopped to watch.

As the man stepped back to take a photograph of his bunny friend with the model city in the background, a staff member approached. The security guy. I didn’t catch the beginning of the conversation, but the security guy stood close in front of the man, a metre away with the rabbit between them, in a stance which said “I am in control and you will obey me”.

It was clear to me that the man was confused, if nothing else because English wasn’t his first language. Was the problem walking on the glass floor? There were signs indicating it was wet, and a hazard. Was it photography? Was it the rabbit?

It was also clear to me that the man was being compliant. He was trying to understand the request and, once he understood that he had to leave, to leave at his own pace, keeping the rabbit calm while he moved to collect the bag in which he’d been carrying it.

Each time the man paused, however, the security guy stepped forward into his personal space. His body language was aggressive, the tone of his voice ever more assertive. This continued as the man slowly left the building, the security guy continually pressing forward into his personal space. It was clear that the man was frustrated by this constant pressure.

If I had to paraphrase the conversation, it would be like this:

Man: OK, I’m leaving.
Security guy: You have to leave now.

As the man stepped down onto the plaza, he turned, and for the first time in this entire encounter he raised his voice in frustration. “I’ll never see you again,” he said, not understanding why he was being pursued, then a few words I didn’t hear.

“Fuck you,” he finally said, before walking away.

The rabbit expressed no opinion.

Here’s what I think is wrong with all this…

There was simply no need whatsoever for aggressive policing by the security guy. He disagrees with me on the word “aggressive”, but stepping into the personal space of someone half your size, and staying there, is an aggressive act.

Once the man had finally understood what was required of him, and he was walking from the building, there was no need for close pursuit. The security guy could’ve just stood back and watch him leave. He didn’t seem to have anything else to do at the time.

I decided to confront the security guy about this. I spoke with him near the front desk. Two staff members witnessed it, but they said they didn’t see the incident itself.

The security guy pointed out that there’s a no-animals policy. Fair enough. But one brown rabbit is hardly an existential threat. There was no need for this situation to be rushed, let alone dealt with so aggressively.

It was just a rabbit, for God’s sake!

He also said that the man was intoxicated. I have no idea whether he was or wasn’t. That hadn’t been part of the conversation between them. But even if he was intoxicated, so what? Yes, he should be asked to leave, but why add pressure to an until-then harmless situation?

He also said that the man had been abusive. Yes, but only once, and only after he’d been under continuous pressure.

I wonder how this all might have gone if the person with the rabbit had been a child or tourist, rather than an older man with limited English.

I wonder whether a better way of handling this might have been to say, with a smile, “Mate, you can’t have a rabbit in here. Take the photo quickly, but then you’ll have to take the rabbit outside.” It would have made a cute photo, and it wouldn’t have harmed anyone.

To be clear, the security guy was nowhere near being violent or even abusive. I’m not making that kind of accusation.

But far too often we see an escalation of aggression in situations which present no risk of harm, or even of inconvenience, to anyone but the police or security personnel involved. These are the situations which turn a simple eviction into a fight, or an arrest into a fatal shooting.

The causes are usually a lack of patience, and a personal need by police or security personnel to feel that their commands are being obeyed promptly, rather let the situation unfold at its natural pace.

This was one of those cases. A tiny one, to be sure, but it’s still something that I think we should speak out against.

It was just a rabbit, for God’s sake!

Thanks for your time. I look forward to your response.


[Photo: Customs House (Detail). The facade of Customs House at Circular Quay, Sydney. This building houses the Circular Quay branch of the City of Sydney Library, amongst other things, photographed on 14 February 2018. Note: This version of the text corrects a some typing errors.]

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