Links for 21 November 2008 through 22 November 2008

Stilgherrian’s links for 21 November 2008 through 22 November 2008, after being tickled with a feather duster:

  • Danger Room Debrief: How to do Defense, When the Money’s Gone | Danger Room from Wired.com: “The current global economic and financial meltdown may yet become something worse: a protracted global depression. As with the last century’s Depression, which spawned fascism and WWII, it could recast the world at a fundamental level. As such, it may soon represent our biggest security challenge in over 50 years.”
  • The Power of Nightmares | YouTube: The 2.5-minute introduction to The Power of Nightmares, to give you a flavour of the full 3-hour documentary series.
  • The Power Of Nightmares (DVD) | Internet Archive: This film explores the origins in the 1940s and 50s of Islamic Fundamentalism in the Middle East, and Neoconservatism in America, parallels between these movements, and their effect on the world today: “Both [the Islamists and Neoconservatives] were idealists who were born out of the failure of the liberal dream to build a better world. And both had a very similar explanation for what caused that failure. These two groups have changed the world, but not in the way that either intended. Together, they created today’s nightmare vision of a secret organized evil that threatens the world, a fantasy that politicians then found restored their power and authority in a disillusioned age. And those with the darkest fears became the most powerful.” The full DVD image is free to download.
  • Irrelevant Al Qaeda | Jon Taplin’s Blog: Is it time to declare Al Qaeda irrelevant and downgrade the War on Terror a police action that’s just mopping up the stragglers?
  • Mother Earth Mother Board | Wired 4.12: A massive 1993 feature article in which Neal Stephenson toured six countries following the roll-out of fibre optic cables. It introduced me to his writing and it remains an excellent read today.
  • The End | Flickr: A collection of classic “The End” title cards from a wide variety of films.
  • Fiscal Conservative vs. Tax & Spend Liberal | Be the signal: Another variation of an infographic pointing out that the Republicans don’t have the best track record for the US economy.
  • Opinion graph | Junk Charts: On average, the US stock market does much better under Democrat Presidents than Republicans, as this graph shows.
  • How Twittering Critics Brought Down Motrin Mom Campaign | Advertising Age: A groundswell of opinion on Twitter caused Johnson & Johnson to pull an adverting campaign.
  • Thesis Theme for WordPress | DIY Themes: A high-quality but not-free theme framework for WordPress. While I currently use the free Tarski theme for my website maybe this is worth a look at some point.
  • NSW Parliamentary Research: Mandatory ISP filtering is not what it seems | Internet Industry Association: Research by the NSW Parliamentary Library shows that Senator Conroy’s claims about other nations’ compulsory Internet censorship regimes are wrong.
  • Kerr's curse | ABC Unleashed: If nothing else, I love this essay for the phrase “cardboard cutout think tanks”. But there are many other reasons to like it.
  • Internet Censorship and the Irukandji Jellyfish | First Dog on the Moon: Only First Dog on the Moon could successfully combine Senator Conroy’s Internet censorship plan and jellyfish in one cartoon.
  • PG Nation | ABC Unleashed: An interesting essay about the neo-wowserism of the Rudd government.
  • Europa Film Treasures: An archive of European cinematographic treasures. It looks like there’s a lot of material here.
  • The Trojan Horse | Business Spectator: “The current government policy of forcing ISPs to offer their customers a so-called ‘clean feed’ has the overt intention of helping parents to protect their kids while surfing the Internet. It is, we are told, all about child protection. However, the use of content filtering to make the Internet ‘safer’ for kids is already available, to the extent that any statistically significant real demand exists to solve it.”
  • Failing hard drive sounds | Datacent: A collection of the sounds made by dying hard disc drives. Yes, they can be used in music provided you contact these guys first.
  • 19-year-old Commits Suicide on Justin.tv | NewTeeVee: Abraham K Biggs committed suicide on Wednesday while broadcasting himself on video site Justin.tv. Apparently the 19yo Floridian was egged on by commenters on Justin.tv and forum users on bodybuilding.com. The article canvasses some of the legal and ethical issues.

Links for 16 November 2008

Here are the web links I’ve found for 16 November 2008, posted automatically and not.

Is it really so wrong to mix business and politics (and religion)?

So last week Apple announced new products. Yawn. The Cult of Apple worshipped their God, and millions of words were written praising His Wisdom. However the most interesting comment I’ve read so far was about the political content of Steve Jobs’ presentation.

Alastair Rankine writes that the Macworld Keynote has moved from slick-but-reality-distorted marketing into the realms of straight-out entertainment, and then criticises Randy Newman’s performance. Not because it was crap (which, being Randy Newman, is inevitable), but because it was political.

Criticism of the Bush administration is something I obviously have a lot of time for. But is it suitable for a consumer product launch? …

Mix politics with business and you take a risk with a relatively small upside but a big downside. If your politics match mine, we are no more likely to do business together than before we knew each other’s positions. But if our politics disagree, this difference becomes a barrier that we each have to overcome in order to do business together.

I’m not arguing for censorship or anything. I’m just saying that the separation of politics and business is crucial for the success of both.

I disagree.

Business is about making money, yes, but sometimes I think it’s wrong to “leave politics at the door”. In fact, is it even possible?

Continue reading “Is it really so wrong to mix business and politics (and religion)?”

“Business Ethics”: starting a journey

Somewhere in the last fortnight, I decided that my business Prussia.Net should operate ethically. Not that it’s unethical now, but rather that I should consciously work to improve its status as a “good citizen”.

But what does that actually mean in practice?

After all, Westpac makes a big deal of being the world’s most responsible bank, but that’s like saying you’re the world’s most polite gang rapist. “Responsible” or not, they’re still about being a parasite on everyone else’s business transactions.

So far, I’ve figured three things…

  • I should be happy that I’ve given my office manager the flexibility she needs to be a good mother and community participant. And I am.
  • I should see what I can learn from the St James Ethics Centre.
  • I should be happy that I refused to do work for Hillsong Church today — though a soft drink company’s fine, hey, they just sell addictive alkaloid drugs to children.

But I also figure it’s a lot more than just saying stuff, it’s actually about making a real difference. Wish me luck.