Weekly Wrap 320: A midwinter shift in focus

Sydney in WinterMy week of Monday 11 to Sunday 17 July 2016 was full of exhaustion.

After finishing an important stage in bringing my tax compliance up to date last week, and after producing a marathon podcast, the stress was reduced a little. I spent a lot of time resting this week.

That said, in between the sleep and the neverending lurgi, I did start to get back into research and writing, and the coming week will see more.

Podcasts

  • “The 9pm One Nation Policy Reading”, being The 9pm Edict episode 61, was posted on Monday night, having been recorded the previous Saturday. You can also listen on SoundCloud and Spreaker. Yes I know I listed this last week, but if other people listed for more than two and a half hours then so can you.

Articles

Media Appearances

Corporate Largesse

None. But there’s plenty in the coming week.

The Week Ahead

I believe I’ll be in Sydney all this week, working through some geek stuff, as well as writing for ZDNet. So far I also have three fixed appointments…

On Wednesday evening, I’ll be doing a radio spot on ABC 774 Melbourne, at either 1900 or 1930 AEST. Check my Twitter stream on the day for the time.

On Thursday, I’ve got a couple of briefings. First thing in the morning, it’s a briefing on the current state of ransomware by folks from Trend Micro. Then in the late afternoon it’s a look at “The Changing Landscape of Cybersecurity” from a legal and risk perspective, with law firm Jones Day, and a panel including Alastair MacGibbon, who’s now the prime minister’s special adviser on cyber security.

Further Ahead

While the following few weeks are still be be organised, I can say that I’ll be going to theGartner Security & Risk Management Summit in Sydney on 22-23 August, and the AISA National Conference in Sydney on 18-20 October.

[Photo: Sydney in Winter, photographed from Lilyfield in the late afternoon of 13 July 2016.]

Weekly Wrap 310: Repaired computer, repaired(-ish) human

Malcolm Turnbull announces the federal electionMy week of Monday 2 to Sunday 8 May 2016 was essentially a continuation of the previous week, although the illnesses both physical and digital have ended.

Well, the short-term medical conditions anyway. The long-term conditions are both being addressed more or less according to plan. Ish.

I’ll tell you about the key events another time, however. For now, just the essentials.

Podcasts

I’m quite pleased with this episode, and what little feedback I’ve had about the potential future of this podcast suggests that this magazine format is the way to go — although the Public House Forum episodes also seem popular.

Meanwhile…

Jobs and growth, jobs and growth, jobs and growth. Australia’s federal election has finally been confirmed for Saturday 2 July. We have an eight-week campaign, which means there should be at least two episodes of the Edict.

The mediascape will be filled with the usual commentary and mainstream punditry based on each day’s action. So for my own efforts, in podcasts or elsewhere, I intend to slow down and get outside that bubble.

What will this mean in practice? I don’t know yet. Watch this space.

Articles

Media Appearances

  • Mark Newton decided to preserve my rant about Senator James Paterson from Thursday night. I was angry that he’d asked a question in Senate Estimates about the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) spending $50,000 on a custom typeface, the answer to which he could have found by reading any news story on the topic. I’ll have more to say about that another time.
  • On Sunday, I was quoted in an article, My innovation is bigger than your innovation, by Ken Wolff at The Political Sword. It’s an interesting read, in which I play a tiny, tiny part.

Corporate Largesse

None.

The Week Ahead

I’ll be based at Wentworth Falls for most of the week, I believe, and it begins with a day off on Monday.

Remarkably, the rest of the week has no fixed appointments, but I’ve got plenty to do. There’s the usual writing for ZDNet and perhaps Crikey, the geek-for-hire work, and the neverending work to bring my tax affairs up to date. I’ll also have to lock in my podcast and election campaign plans. But I’ll be able to work on these things in the most comfortable order. This pleases me.

The weekend is similarly unplanned. Joy.

Further Ahead

On 24-27 May, I’m covering the AusCERT Cyber Security Conference on the Gold Coast. Apart from my usual conference coverage, once more I’ll be on the panel for the event’s closing Speed Debate.

[Photo: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announces the federal election on 8 May 2016. Screenshot from ABC News24.]

Welcome to Abstralia, Tony Abbott’s Australia

Cover of today's Sun-Herald app: click to embiggenAs expected, a landslide victory in yesterday’s election means Tony Abbott will soon be Australia’s Prime Minister — and to judge by some of the screechy hand-wringing, you’d think the world was about to end in a plague of radioactive ever-bleeding toad-newts.

Well, that’s the impression I got via Twitter. I wasn’t watching the news coverage, because I’ve pretty much abandoned the daily — and faster!– news cycle. Research has shown that reactions on Twitter don’t represent overall public opinion.

Nevertheless, I think some people forget how very similar Labor and the Coalitions’s positions actually are on many, if not most, issues. Mindless tribal loyalties lead them to imagine vast differences where none exist.

They also forget that a party’s announced policies have to survive the sausage factory of parliament before they can be enacted, and governments still have to work within the existing framework of law and government agencies. A certain inertia is involved.

That said, the image in the news this morning of Abbott’s face-splitting grin, almost-invisible wife and entourage of near-identical meat-prop daughters, looking for all the world like out-takes from the wedding episode of Deal or No Deal Mosman, does not fill me with confidence. It’s the very picture of assumed privilege.

“Ready to rule” indeed.

Nor am I reassured by his victory speech.

So my friends, in a week or so, the Governor-General will swear in a new government.

A government that says what it means and means what it says. A government of no surprises and no excuses. A government that understands the limits of power as well as its potential.

And a government that accepts that it will be judged more by its deeds than by its mere words. In three years’ time, the carbon tax will be gone.

The boats will be stopped. The budget will be on track for a believable surplus. And the roads of the 21st century will finally be well under way. And from today, I declare that Australia is under new management and that Australia is once more open for business.

There’s not a lot of what you’d call “grand vision” in there. Dismantling a tax that most people were already being compensated for. A hand-wavey promise to stop a made-up threat. Some bookkeeping issues. And building roads. There’s an air of assumed privilege in that too, with the dismissal of the incompetent lesser folk who’ve been minding the shop these past few years and the reinstatement of proper authority.

“Once more open for business,” you say? Perpetuating simultaneously the idea that a nation is no more than an economy, and an economy is about nothing more than running businesses.

During the election campaign, Abbott made plenty of unforced errors, we might call them. He does have a habit of saying daft things a bit more frequently than I like to see in a leader. And he did say once that he can only be held to what he puts in writing. These are not good traits for Abbott to possess as his role changes from the relentless carping negativity of opposition to the positive consensus-building of leadership.

Now Abbott may well grow into the role. Maybe he’ll be able to build a coherent team from his ragtag collection of the experienced, inexperienced and occasional nut-job. Maybe they’ll be able to implement their policy program. I’m sure there’s already endless speculation on these points. But I might try to form my own opinion.

I plan to re-read David Marr’s Quarterly Essay, Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott. Indeed, I just bought an electronic version for my iPad. I’ll let you know if I have any interesting thoughts about the man’s character.

I also plan, or had planned, to return to daily blogging at some point. This seems as good a day as any to start setting aside an hour or so to gather my thoughts and see what emerges. So here we go. Welcome to Abstralia.

See this, folks? It’s a picture of democracy

Sunday Telegraph from cover: click to embiggenThere’s plenty of feels clogging the intertubes this morning about the front page of Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph (pictured). “AUSTRALIA NEEDS TONY,” it says. Oh this is so terrible! It’s a threat to democracy, whaaa whaaa whaaaaaa!

No, kids, look at it more closely. This is a picture of democracy. Suck it up.

Or, if you don’t like it, stop your whining, get off your arse, and do something about it.

Sure, the Murdoch newspapers’ ability to endorse a particular candidate on their front pages, effectively plastering a party-political poster onto newsagents and breakfast tables across the nation, gives that candidate a huge advantage.

Sure, if you don’t want that candidate to win, then this is a bit of a blow to your dreams.

But how about thinking through the implications of what you’re actually suggesting before you spend the whole day whining about how “undemocratic” this is?

For a start, why do you imagine that this, Murdoch’s alleged influence, is why Labor can’t win? Have you not considered that Labor itself has some sort of role to play in the process? By all accounts, they’ve been playing a pretty shit game. But that’s not really what we’re talking about here.

As Mark Newton tweeted a short time ago, your argument seems to be “All we need to do is reduce Murdoch’s influence and ALP will win.” That’s (a) antidemocratic, and (b) magical thinking.

“Let’s adjust media censorship laws specifically to improve the chances of my favourite candidate winning, because democracy,” he said.

You seem to be assuming that, despite the hundreds or thousands of people involved in the production of these newspapers and other media operations, they represent solely the opinion of one man, and him alone. You seem to discount the happy participation of all the others.

And even if it were solely Murdoch’s opinion, you seem to be wanting to remove his right to free speech because his opinion is different from yours, and you’re jealous because more people read his opinion that yours.

Diddums.

Do you really think that expressing opinions is some zero-sum game? That because Murdoch, or anyone else, has loudly expressed their opinion, that you’re somehow silenced? Then you’re an idiot. Stop whining, start influencing. And don’t whinge that Murdoch has so much power that it’s unfair and you can’t catch up, because I’m pretty sure Murdoch didn’t create his media empire by whining.

Sure, he had a head start, inheriting a ratty little provincial afternoon tabloid called The News. But you’ve got the internet at your fingertips, you can start organising, and try to counter the opinion you don’t like — because persuading and organising is precisely what politics is about, and in a democracy anyone can play.

Oh? That’s all too hard? Waaa! That’ll take ages. Waaa waaa waaaaaa! You just want to rub your tummy and have the Magic Democracy Fairy appear in a burst of sparkly how-to-vote cards and fix it all for you?

OK, let’s do that. Let’s have the Magic Democracy Fairy take away Murdoch’s influence. “Poof!”, it goes. Now what? Who’s next down the line? Take away their freedom of speech too? And the next? And the next one after that?

In terms of someone’s perceived influence being greater than yours, just how small must the margin be before you’ll allow them their freedom to express a view different from your own? Clearly-stated policies, or GTFO.

[Note to the hard of thinking: If you think this is somehow written in support of Tony Abbott, you really are an arsehat.]

Announcing “The 9pm Election”

Photograph of TV showing Kevin Rudd announcing the election date

Today Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that the federal election will be on 7 September 2013. Tonight I announce that I intend to produce five episodes of The 9pm Election.

They’ll bear some passing resemblance to previous episodes of The 9pm Edict, such the episode from when the last election was called.

It is my intention to post a new episode each Friday night at 9pm AEST. Provided you cough up some money, that is, and I’ll be telling you more about that over the next 72 hours.

[Update 8 August 2013: I’ve had a busy week. The first episode will appear this weekend, probably Saturday night but maybe only Sunday. Like you care. Meanwhile, listen to Corrupted Nerds.]

I’ve recorded an announcement, which you can listen to below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

Play

If you’d like to comment on this (non-)episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

[Credits: News excerpt from ABC TV. The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission.]