In this episode of The 9pm Probe, I visit Victoria’s Parliament House in Melbourne for a long chat with Fiona Patten MLC, leader and sole elected member of the Reason Party, formerly the Australian Sex Party.Continue reading “The 9pm Probe: Fiona Patten MLC”
Kristina Keneally confuses mindless populism with leadership. The nimby-burghers of Glebe confuse concerns about the urban environment with selfishness. And the Vivid Festival… another white middle class baby boomer nostalgia wankfest.
Here, ladies and gentlemen, is episode 4 of The 9pm Edict. Finally.
If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.
[Update 6 March 2010: I really should link to the material I discuss. That’s the Harold Park redevelopment plan and the local residents’ objections, the Vivid Festival, Laurie Anderson’s Language is a Virus, Dom Knight’s The Premier, the portrait and the paedophile and NSW Premier Kristina Keneally’s video A New Direction.]
[Credits: 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.]
Here are the web links I’ve found for 12 September 2009 through 19 September 2009, posted not-quite-automatically.
- Steak House or Gay Bar?: Can you pick the steakhouses from the gay bars, just by their names? It’s harder than you might thing!
- Greenpeace frees ocean life from Pacific longliner | Greenpeace Australia Pacific: Greenpeace’s report on their ship Esperanza “freeing tuna, sharks, marlin and an endangered sea turtle from a Taiwanese longliner”, the Ho Tsai Fa 18. Or, as I prefer to label it, Greenpeace committing piracy and endangering the lives of mariners going about their business.
- Fish Now, Pay Later | Greenpeace Australia Pacific: Darren Smith told me the article on dolphin-safe tuna wasn’t right, that Greenpeace didn’t support any kind of industrialised fishing. Here’s what Greenpeace is currently doing in the Pacific.
- The ecological disaster that is dolphin safe tuna | Southern Fried Science: By promoting “dolphin-safe tuna” — I prefer to spell it with a hyphen thusly — we’ve ended up with a system that’s unsafe for pretty much everything else.
- Meet my hot new stripper wife / Turns out the mid-life crisis is a cruel global phenomenon. Can it be stopped? | Mark Morford: Mark Morford is rapidly becoming one of my favourite writers. In this piece from February 2008 he explains a man’s mid-life crisis rather too well. And entertainingly. I’ll never be able to listen to Justin Timberlake in the same way again.
- The Lost Seasons | ABC: More details of the Australian Aboriginal six-season cycle, including a nice explanation of the system used by the Sydney basin’s D’harawal people.
- War 2.0: Political Violence & New Media | ANU Department of International Relations: I’ve been invited to attend this 2-day symposium in Canberra on 7-8 October. Now, to figure out who’s paying for it, which will be the key factor in deciding whether I can go.
- Jimmy Carter says that tea baggers hate President Obama because he's black | The Root: The former president points out a truth so self-evident you wonder how it could possibly be controversial. But controversial it is. Has modern journalism become so timid that it can’t handle the truth?
- Understanding the Telstra d-i-v-o-r-c-e | SearchNetworking.com.au: Richard Chirgwin’s backgrounder explains just how difficult it will be to separate Telstra into separate wholesale and retail divisions.
- The next generation bends over | 37signals: The makers of Basecamp, something I use every day, reckon the sale of online accounting software Mint to Intuit, the makers of Quicken and Quickbooks, is “indicative of a VC-induced cancer that’s infecting our industry and killing off the next generation”.
- Kid Cannabis | Rolling Stone: “How a chubby pizza-delivery boy from Idaho became a drug kingpin.” It’s just another product distribution business, just illegal.
- Rudd & Conroy Gambling On Mandatory Internet Censorship Working | broowery.com: An odd statistical analysis of the likelihood of stumbling across banned material online.
- ACMA Blacklists Iran Protest Video & Boing Boing: Another example of why the ACMA blacklist process is seemingly out of step with what the community might want. That’s not ACMA’s fault, they’re just implementing a dodgy policy.
- Why Sol Trujillo should be sued for stuffing up Telstra: Kohler | SmartCompany: There’s so many historical analyses of Telstra coming out this week, what with the government announcing its break-up and n’all. This one is marvellous.
- 2009 Menzies Lecture by John Howard (full text) | The Australian: “In the Australian context the adoption of a Charter or Bill of rights would represent the final triumph of elitism in Australian politics,” reckons our former Prime Minister. A fascinating read if only for its disingenuous use of political rhetoric and coded messages rather than rational argument.
- Oil Rocks | BLDGBLOG: Imagine a city of 5000 people built on stilts and causeways some 45km out into a lake. Well, it exists, and it’s called Oil Rocks, in the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan.
- The Mushroom Tunnel of Mittagong | BLDGBLOG: A fascinating look, with photos, of a mushroom farm inside a disused railway tunnel. The tunnel itself is still government property, with the farm existing on a 5-year lease.
- Death by Information Overload | HBR.org: “New research and novel techniques offer a lifeline to you and your organization,” it says.
- The Economics of Sex Work | Core Economics: Good to see an update of knowledge since I did a little research on the sex industry for ABC Radio all those years ago.
- CHART OF THE DAY: Primetime On Facebook Is Monday To Wednesday | Silicon Valley Insider: “Social media marketers, take note. The best days to spam, erm, publish wall posts on Facebook that you want your ‘fans’ to pay attention to are Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.”
Most of the more enthusiastic web developers worry me. In their wild-eyed enthusiasm for the latest, coolest technology they seem almost oblivious to wider or longer-term implications. Nick Bradbury, creator of FeedDemon, a popular RSS reader for Windows, had an interesting take on this recently.
Back in 2004, I asked: “What are we actually building here? A lot of people in my profession wear rose-colored glasses and believe we’re helping to make information free to the world, but some of the early proponents of television believed the same thing. Are we really just building the next version of TV, one even more powerful because it knows your name and shopping habits?”
I thought I was being cynical then, but now I’m not so sure. Google continues to carve out a huge share of the Internet advertising market, in large part by figuring out what we’re paying attention to. The quality of the content doesn’t really matter to them — only the number of eyeballs they can advertise to does. Sounds a lot like commercial TV, doesn’t it?
So far, has the Web been better than TV, or just more targeted? And is it really worth giving up so much privacy in order to get it?
One of the biggest changes facing society right now is a massive loss of individual privacy. And one of the best introductions to the issues is Simson Garfinkel’s book Database Nation.
Garfinkel is a leading researcher in computer forensics, so he’s well aware that “privacy on the Internet” isn’t really about your email address being used to send you spam — despite that being the focus of most website privacy statements.
As he says in Database Nation:
To understand privacy in [the 21st century] we need to rethink what privacy really means today:
- It’s not about the man who wants to watch pornography in complete anonymity over the Internet. It’s about the woman who’s afraid to use the Internet to organise her community against a proposed toxic dump — afraid because the dump’s investors are sure to dig through her past if she becomes too much of a nuisance.
- It’s not about people speeding on the nation’s highways who get automatically generated tickets mailed to them thanks to a computerised speed trap. It’s about lovers who will take less joy in walking around city streets or visiting stores because they know they’re being photographed by surveillance cameras everywhere they step.
- It’s not about the special prosecutors who leave no stone unturned in their search for corruption of political misdeeds. It’s about the good, upstanding citizens who are now refusing to enter public service because they don’t want a bloodthirsty press rummaging through their old school reports, computerised medical records and email.
- It’s not about the searches, metal detectors and inquisitions that have become a routine part of our daily lives at airports, schools and federal buildings. It’s about a society that views law-abiding citizens as potential terrorists, yet does little to effectively protect its citizens from real threats to their safety.
Actually, you could argue that privacy has already been lost — we just don’t realise it yet.
It’s now impossible to drive anonymously across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Every mobile phone is a tracking device. Every web page you look at is logged by your Internet service provider. And a generation is recording every little detail of their lives in LiveJournal or MySpace or Facebook or whatever social media website will make all those look so last week.
My take on this?
Society will have to come to terms with the fact that everyone has skeletons in the cupboard — that joint they smoked, for instance. Roughly 1 in 7 of the men listed on birth certificates isn’t actually the father — but now routine DNA screening for diseases is uncovering uncomfortable bedroom secrets.
Many “bad” things are really quite common — they’re just not talked about. Our private worlds remain private. Or at least they used to.
We’ll have to get used to the idea that politicians, teachers, bus drivers — whoever! — are all flawed humans. We can’t ban those who smoked a joint or has “a history of mental illness” (depression affects 800,000 Australian adults a year) or committed a crime (copyright infringement is now a crime, you know) or there’ll be no-one left!
So long-term we might get a more tolerant society, with a more reality-based view of the world.
However in the shorter term I can see a decrease in tolerance. As new technologies reveal more of our hidden private worlds, people will be shocked to discover “all these criminals” and so on, and there’ll be a crackdown.
It could be an uncomfortable few decades.
Hypocritical drug laws, as demonstrated by a UK parliamentary committee. This drug danger league table courtesy of New Scientist magazine shows the relative danger of various drugs, legal and illegal,
based on scientific evidence covering dependency and physical and social harm .