24 October, 2013

The Rules: evidence and trends

Alright Internet, let’s clear a few things up:

Any given thing that happened is not necessarily evidence of that thing you’ve said is happening. Not necessarily.

So no, one bushfire is not necessarily evidence of dangerous climate change – but it may be, and that’s a discussion worth having. It just has to be had in a sensitive and rational way, not in the language of political soundbytes. The moment you start acting like your opponent is the moment you stop being any better than them.

However, if the only counter-argument you have is, “Oh, you shouldn’t politicise that,” then you don’t have much of a counter argument.

Yes, fire is a part of the Australian experience. In summer. New South Wales RFS standards for fuel reduction burns published in 2006 state that while southern NSW, south of the Illawarra should conduct controlled burns in autumn...
In northern NSW (generally Sydney north, and more particularly north of the Hunter district) bush fire hazard reduction burning is generally conducted in early spring, when fuels have dried out during the usual dry winter. http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/file_system/attachments/State/Attachment_20060131_C4C3FB83.pdf (page 8)
If you can see massive and catastrophic bushfires occurring a good two months before peak fire season and not at least think to yourself, “Bugger me, self! That’s a bit different,” then how thick are you?

Finally, if you need to look up Wikipedia to learn what the “rest of the world” thinks, then YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG and should immediately stop talking about anything.

For a start, Wikipedia is not Reddit. It’s intended for facts, not opinions, and the moderators of Wikipedia do a pretty good job of flagging articles that are questionable in their objectivity. Secondly, the entire point of Wikipedia is that it is crowd-sourced so there’s a strong likelihood that the article Minister Hunt is referencing in the interview above was written by an Australian. Thirdly, although Wikipedia is pretty good about weeding out non-objective content and general vandalism, that still takes time and if the page Greg Hunt mentioned has not already been edited to blame bushfires on Liberal politicians and bunyips by now, then the spirit of Aussie larrikinism is not what I remember.

Speaking of larrikinism, I can only assume the BBC bleeped out the word ‘crap’ to spare the sensibilities of international listeners, but if you’re an Australian who gets an attack of the vapours about “swearing” on the radio when someone quotes Prime Minister Tony “shit happens” Abbott to you, then you really, really need to get a grip.

16 October, 2013

Some are more equal than others

The law can be very confusing sometimes, so to make things a little bit simpler, here’s the first* part of a beginner’s guide.

Let’s say you’ve been caught stealing money by means of claiming it when you’re not really entitled to it and hoping nobody notices.
What will happen to you?

Well, if you’re a member of the Liberal/National Party, you’ll be quietly asked to pay it back under an arrangement known as the Minchin Protocol, no harm done.

If you’re a member of the Australian Labor Party or an ex-member of the Liberal Party, then the matter will be referred to the Australian Federal Police, which will override the Minchin protocol and your career will be destroyed.

If you’re a member of the Hell’s Angels in Queensland, you’ll get whatever the standard sentence is plus fifteen years.

Look, I have no time for bikie gangs, but if we’re not all equal under the law, then we all should be worried.
*and probably last

15 October, 2013

The Next Small Thing

Last night, the ABC’s Media Watch program ran an excellent segment on the increasing trend of journalists and photographers, including award-winning professionals, being expected to work for free on the promise of “exposure.”

This idea of exposure and recognition as remuneration is a kind of bizarre twist on trickle-down theory. We’re not prepared to pay you for your work but if we’re both really lucky, it just might be seen by someone who is. It’s a novel theory but in a market where even one of the country’s biggest newspapers isn’t prepared to pay for content, one is left wondering where the publishers who are prepared to pay for content really are and if they even exist at all.

We’re all guilty of similar attitudes. How many of us have actually, materially contributed to all the causes we promote? Or do we just retweet them or share them on Facebook in hopeful expectation that a few more people will share and retweet them until it comes to the attention of some influential benefactor who will make enough of a contribution for the rest of us?

If people aren’t paid for their work, then they’re going to find a job that does pay and that will leave a hole in journalism, both written and pictorial, that no amount of enthusiastic amateurs will be able to fill, no matter how good they are. Media Watch does an excellent job of reminding us of how difficult it has become to make a living creating content that is accessed digitally and can so easily be copied.

So isn’t it time we finally admitted that musicians may just have had a point about file sharing?

11 October, 2013

You are 10 days into your trial of
No More Big Government®

Dear Subscriber,

We hope you have enjoyed the first ten days of your trial version of No More Big Government®.

We would like to remind you that you can continue to enjoy the benefits you’ve had over the last ten days by taking out a permanent subscription to No More Big Government®.

Yours Sincerely,
Liberty, Inc.

In other words, if you’re one of those people who thinks the US federal government should only be responsible for national defence and deciding who can and can’t get married, and that everything else should be handled by the states or the private sector, then you should probably reflect on the fact that if you got your way, this is how things would be ALL THE TIME!

So if you’re still of that view and you, or anyone you care about, has been in any way inconvenienced by the government shutdown, then either quit whining and OWN THIS, or admit that your premise is fundamentally flawed.