Open threads

Mar 9, 2012

Long Weekend Open Thread March 9-12 2012

A long weekend. If you want to take a break from solving the various humanitarian disasters in Africa by forwarding a YouTube video (so much easier than supporting our country provi

A long weekend.

If you want to take a break from solving the various humanitarian disasters in Africa by forwarding a YouTube video (so much easier than supporting our country providing refuge for people fleeing it!), here’s a thread for discussing whatever takes your fancy.


(If you are interested in discussing the broader question of how you attract needed attention to a complex humanitarian problem without oversimplifying it and potentially causing more harm, this Forbes article on “#StopKony” does a reasonable job of exploring the challenge. And this one points out some of the serious questions about what “Invisible Children” is doing with donations.)

PS: Donating money to go to the Ugandan army? Seriously? This Uganda?

UPDATE: The Crikey servers are undergoing some further maintenance this weekend. We hear all-new rubber bands, freshly fed hamsters on wheels, and some highly advanced “sticky” tape will be installed, helping Pure Poison run better than ever. But there will be some outages between now and then.

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26 thoughts on “Long Weekend Open Thread March 9-12 2012

  1. Aliar Jones

    [Draw your own conclusions.]

    You should see if before you do Angra.

  2. RobJ

    What a beautiful morning, News has put Blot behind the paywall. Now it remains to be seen if he continues to be Australia’s most read columni… blogge… whatever he’s supposed to be.

  3. Angra

    But the comments are still all there – even though most will not have read the full article.


    And the punters are already complaining.

    “Mon 12 Mar 12 (08:43am)

    New look, or is the page broken? Subscription required for more of the column?

    Too bad.
    kae (Reply)”

    A classic example of shooting yourself in the foot.

  4. Angra

    My mistake – must have been be a transitional thing.

    AB’s blog has gone paywall too.

    “(Registration required for full column) ” appears after the 1st paras of his latest blog offerings.

    Truly a great day for democracy and free speech!

    News Ltd coverage and influence will be drastically reduced.

  5. Angra

    The HUN has gone paywall.

    “All you have to do is register today for your free two-month trial of the Digital Pass to unfold the whole Herald Sun experience online.”

    They’ve started with the Opnion pieces. Strangely most are still fully available elsewhere (eg Bolt at the Tele and his blog site).

  6. Phil Vee

    Listening to 2UE last weekend the announcers were saying that public anger was growing about Bob Carr’s appointment, as shown by comments left on their website.

    here is an example…..
    Carr has shown his colours throwing his support behind the worst rotten fkn government in the history of Federation in this country. Look at its record, a record of utter failure, massive stuff ups, abject waste of taxpayer funds. So now Carr and his Asian wife will trapse around the worled handing out funds to the creeps as did Rudd the Dudd.BRING ON A NATIONAL ELECTION PLEASE!
    Justin J Friday 2 March, 2012 – 5:43 PM

    How would you expect the on-air announcers to deal with this tripe? They get Paul Kelly (Oz Ed) on to ask him “if the groundswell of public anger about the unelected Bob Carr will resonate as loudly as the failure of trust after the Carbon Tax lie.”

    Even Kelly was taken aback. “Er, umm I don’t think so, no. I would be surprised if this became an issue”. Didn’t matter to the hosts, they finished by reminding us that a lot of on-line commenters are fired up about the unelected Carr.

    I know that talkback radio can invent a furore instantly but at least on that you have to be able string some words together in a sort of conversation. Just vomiting stuff into your computer shouldn’t qualify as rational debate. (another thing…. notice the heading for the blog is “time to call another election” . This is not even dog whistling anymore. It is more like “sick ’em Rex!” )

  7. Fran Barlow

    You’re quite right MOC — ‘bias’ is inevitable. All of us start with a perspective — a set of opinions about what is relevant and what isn’t. Of course, if that is true — if avoiding ‘bias’ is not possible, then bias isn’t a very useful concept.

    What we need is intellectual rigour and candour in our descriptions of the world and their provenance. Then those paying attention can make up their minds whether what each of us proposes sheds useful light on a problem or not.

  8. Angra

    Oh, and ‘Homeland’ is a drama/thriller series developed for American television by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa and based on the Israeli series Hatufim (English translation: Abducted) created by Gideon Raff.

    Draw your own conclusions.

  9. Angra

    Our cousins are so obsessed with self-justification.

    See tonight’s premier of Homeland.

    Yeah we have good Muslims and bad Muslims. But no real questions about the morality of war and covert operations. Or what the US does to kill people.

    We even have a kid who falls for a US operative, ‘cos he talks about home and the smell of fresh-baked-bread and family values (aka Disney and Macdonalds – straight from the Lion King).

    “All that can be done is being done…to protect the lives of the children”.

    Tell that to the wedding parties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    It is propaganda pure and simple – not matter how much tarted up with some token Muslims and US ‘home values’.

    At least Spooks last night had some compromised British agents, with a bit of personal reality thrown in.

  10. Angra

    Homo floresiensis – an elaborate hoax, an ancient case of endemic cretinism (an ancient microcephalic people), or a genuine discovery?

    Partial skeletons of nine individuals have been recovered, including one complete cranium. These remains have been the subject of intense research to determine whether they represent a species distinct from modern humans, and the progress of this scientific controversy has been closely followed by the news media at large. This hominin is remarkable for its small body and brain and for its survival until relatively recent times (possibly as recently as 12,000 years ago). Recovered alongside the skeletal remains were stone tools from archaeological horizons ranging from 94,000 to 13,000 years ago.

    I admit that the scientific term ‘cretinism’ has been perverted by popular

    However you must admit the evidence is compelling and the scientific controversy bloody interesting.

    My point is that science is never static, and is contantly subject to testing and alternative hypotheses.

  11. John Reidy

    Great point Matt
    [Is the media a critically important piece of our democracy, with a crucial role in informing the public and holding the government to account, or is it just a business like any other]
    If that question can be answered then everything can fall into place.
    A similar question can be asked of the banks, are they a critically important part of ur financial system, or are they just businesses?

  12. John Reidy

    MWH – my comments re bias, what I hate above anything else is hypocrisy, so you can guess some my of least favourite politicians (given that I don’t have a problem with Barnaby Joyce).
    As MoC says all outlets are biased and the Age should have done better, however I think this is a different category to the ‘campaigning’ that News Ltd titles do, re. Carbon tax, BER etc. from what i understand the Age reported the Lib Govt correctly, but ommitted to say that Labor had the same policy. For balance this should have been included , however
    I think it is in a different category to other examples that are posted here.
    Examples of these sorts of bias are important.
    I don’t want is to be read/posting into an echo chamber, we cannot criticize News Ltd of right wing bias unless we criticize left wing bias as well.

  13. dendy

    According to the Australian Right, Fairfax is biased towards Labor. Really?

    Checkout this. Three pictures of Abbott and the captions are “Abbott now the picture of restraint” from (who else) Michelle Grattan, “Business backing for Abbott audit” from (who else) Michelle Grattan and last “Abbott plans cuts in health, defence and education jobs” not by Michelle Grattan (well I guess one of them had to be reasonably honest).

    How does the Right define bias? When every article is not a not a hagiography of Tony Abbott? Jeezuz.

  14. ruawake

    hello world

  15. Matthew of Canberra


    On The Media “Tracking Pundit Predictions, Correcting Wikipedia, and More”

    MWH @11

    I also get quite annoyed at the way people used the word “biased” to dismiss something they find inconvenient – the paucity of evidence supporting the case for war in iraq, for example. Left-leaning outlets only pointed this out because they were “biased”. As if “biased” is a magic spell to make facts go away.

    All media is biased. Fairfax is biased, NEWS is biased, green left weekly is biased (shocking, I know). I dare suggest that the ABC and NPR are biased (although they tend to be WAY more mindful of the problem because they’re accountable in a way that the others aren’t – they actually struggle with it, whereas the others don’t seem to be aware that the problem exists).

    Bias isn’t inherently a problem, provided that there’s an actual competition for ideas. The big problems are (a) when the press starts just printing outright falsehoods and getting away with it, and (b) when the competition starts to struggle. I think we’re seeing both of those lately.

    There was obviously a great deal of bashing of the liberal government. And while I’m happy to hear counterexamples, I don’t recall the press managing to convince the bulk of the public at large of things that were provably not true. Certainly not for any extended period of time.

    To see the problem, we’d only have to poll the public about whether a new tax was imposed on the mining industry by kevin rudd, or if the BER was a giant waste of money, or if crime is increasing, or if unemployment is increasing, or if the carbon tax is a bigger tax than the GST, or if our economy is struggling. None of those things is true – but I bet more than 50% of the population believes every one of them.

    The question I’d like to see posed is this: Is the media a critically important piece of our democracy, with a crucial role in informing the public and holding the government to account, or is it just a business like any other? If it’s the latter, then we clearly have a problem with competition, and the government should do something to open up the field. If it’s the former, then there’s a lot of sock-pulling-up to do, because it’s not (overall) behaving like that.

    NEWS-believers like to counter the claim that murdoch has 70% of newspaper eyeballs by arguing that it’s just that he’s such a good supplier of market needs that people have chosen to read those papers over all others (I suspect it has more to do with sporting coverage than that, but hey). Ok, that’s fine – but it doesn’t explain The Oz (which wouldn’t exist if it was down to market forces). And it tends to paint the media as just another business, where success or failure in the market is all that matters, and market share is its own reward. If that’s so, then the government should be free to regulate the market, and we can do away with all this tripe about free speech – because that’s not exactly central to that line of thinking.

    NEWS-haters don’t care so much about whether murdoch’s business model is successful, but whether his influence is causing our voting public to be misinformed about important matters. That’s a fair bit closer to actually believing the principles that AB et al are currently wrapping themselves in than the people who think market success means more than accuracy – or that market success means it MUST be accurate.

    I like the idea suggested by holmes on media watch – just run it every night. The press clearly hates having its dirty laundry pointed at.

  16. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    I wish there was a way to correct typos:

    I meant to type: “The Age report points out how in opposition the coalition supported a scheme but has NOW backed out.”

    I am interested in what others think about my claim that The Age is biased.

    And if anyone thinks that it is ok for The Age to be biased against The Greens, is it then ok for the Murdoch press to be biased against Labor?

  17. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Another interesting comparison in reporting the News, once again showing just how biased The Age is in its reporting:

    Last week the Victorian coalition decided not to support a state based container deposit scheme.

    The Age reported it and the progress-leader reported it

    The Age report points out how in opposition the coalition supported a scheme but has not backed out. The Age story also points out the success of such schemes elsewhere, and asks readers to vote on whether or not there should be a scheme in Victoria (92% say yes).

    Apart for criticising the Coalition, The Age does not mention the views of Labor nor The Greens (Labor was against such a scheme and the Greens support the scheme).

    The Leader report shows how this story is reported when there is not a strong anti-Green bias. It is only by reading The Leader that readers are informed that not only do the Greens support a container deposit scheme, but the state governments inquiry was initiated as a response to a private members bill introduced by The Greens.

    I think I’ve made my point about The Age’s bias now, so unless something spectacular comes up, or there is further discussion on this topic, I’ll not say any more.

  18. Idlaviv

    Bartholomäus Traubeck’s ‘Years’.

    A record player that plays slices of wood. The tone arm uses a modified PlayStation Eye camera.

  19. Matthew of Canberra

    “The Crikey servers are undergoing some further maintenance this weekend. ”

    Wow – they finally get a hard drive?

  20. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    A few points I noticed in the last day of media.

    Last night’s Melbourne ABC TV News had a report on the UK soldier’s killed in Afghanistan. Unlike all their reporting when an Australian soldier is killed or injured, the UK report talked about a growing opposition to the war within the UK.

    The ABC TV news also had a report about the stalling economy in Victoria. After so long of seeing business and Liberals talking down the Australian economy it made quiet a change to see in this report the business and Liberals saying that all was well and Victoria was strong.

    Today’s Age had a front page story on the fall in employment in Victoria. The Green’s call for a stimulus boost for Vic and NSW was included – but as is almost the rule at the Age when the Greens are mentioned – they are only mentioned in the very last paragraph of the story.

    The best example of the Age supporting Greens policy but not mentioning any political opposition to Labor and Liberal in today’s paper was their story of a report saying that the Aboriginals in the NT were not properly consulted about the future of the intervention.

    One very significant article in today’s Age presented the results of some research into what people want done about climate change. see

    I thought this story was buried within the paper and could easily be missed. The results were amazing, with even 66% of coalition supporters believing that the state had a responsibility to cut emissions.

    This story supports the Age’s progressive line as the flavour is that Baillieu should do more. But there is no word from the opposition (who despite spin have been business as usual) and of course no word from the Greens who are the only party who believes in some real action.

  21. Brizben

    Freedom of speech! Hitler! Stalin! KONYYYYY!

  22. monkeywrench

    Gina Tells The Kids Off.

    “”The plaintiff children have seen fit not to follow sound advice from family friends that if they are not happy they should go out and earn for themselves.

    Just like she did.

  23. monkeywrench

    One can only hope that OFCOM finds Little Jimmy Murdoch to be unfit to hold a position in British broadcasting, and that this is the first in a series of rebuffs that eventually sees News Intl. and its subsidiaries finally brought to heel.

  24. Angra

    Two very different reports of poor Gina’s failed attempt to keep her dirty washing from the public gaze.

    The Tele. – “Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart has been refused leave to appeal”. Which goes on to quote at length a heart-wrenching appeal from the one daughter who is supporting her. “”I am proud to be part of my family’s Australian legacy and most of all I am proud to be the daughter of such a strong business leader, role model and loving mother.” It ends with “”The case is motivated entirely by greed.”

    But Fairfax goes with “Rinehart warned children of bankruptcy, documents reveal as court lifts lid on family feud.” Which then goes on to quote Gina’s letter to one of her three eldest children (who are the ones challenging her on control of the family trust) “Enough is enough, your ill-considered action is now also causing media attention and jeopardising the lives of our family. Any prolonging of this unnecessary and irresponsible action and fishing trip and lawyer feast will cause continuing media attention and greater jeopardy for the safety of you and your children and family.”

    It ends with “Last December, the same appeals court discharged the suppression orders, ruling that the suppression of information about the legal proceedings would undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.”

    Guess it’s not too hard to see which side of the bread News has buttered.

  25. Ravenred

    Freedom of speech! Freedom of speech! Hitler! Stalin! Boogie-woogie-boogie!

  26. calyptorhynchus

    Saw a Herald Sun copy yesterday with the headline “Sick Carbon Tax to cost Hospitals $150 million”.

    I’m quite sure that the carbon tax won’t cause hospital power bills to rise by an extra $150 million over whatever time period and I’m quite sure that some people in the Herald Sun hierarchy knows this as well.

    At what point do you stop saying “misleading reporting” and start saying “lying”?

    Perhaps a new regulatory body might help.


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