ARCHIVES 1997-2007  --- ARCHIVES 2007 +

APRIL 2011


I am a libertarian.  Not a civil libertarian.  I am an internet libertarian as described by the Nolan Chart and my web pages.

There are three "entertainers" who dominate Sydney morning radio.  The early spot is totally dominated by Allan Jones on 2GB between 6-9 AM.  The 9-noon spot is a bloody battlefield between the resurrected majesty of John Laws on 2SM, and gadfly newcomer David Oldfield on 2UE.

Successful radio commenters in the USA (Rush et al) and Australia all seem to be what liberals call "right wing".  On the Nolan Chart they are strongly pro-Economic libertarianism, but moderately anti civil (personal) libertarianism. 

About 30 years ago Marshal McLuhan offered a theory from which one can perhaps derive an explanation.  McLuhan was a media scientist, and wrote a seminal work "The Medium is the Message".  He observed that a message delivered by multiple sensory inputs (aka "holistic") seemed not to be subjected to the same sequential assessment as is performed on a message delivered via a single sense.  He called a multi sense message a "cool" message, while a single sense message was "hot".

TV and movies are "cool" media, because sight and hearing are an intrinsic part of the message.  Reading (newspapers, books, surfing the net etc) and listening (to radio) are "hot" because only one sense is involved.   With a "hot" medium, the most persuasive message is logically constructed points presented in a sequential fashion.  With a "cool" medium, the most persuasive message is that which shocks the senses with an interplay of emotional images and crescendos of sound.

In Australia TV was introduced circa 1956.  The internet arrived about 1998.  Most people born between 1950 and 1985 were probably saturated by cool media (TV), and probably are more accustomed to absorbing information from cool media than people born outside of that era.  People born outside that period were less likely to be saturated during their formative years by cool media, and are less likely to respond to a cause presented on the basis of an emotional message (such as global warming, save the whales).

John Laws on 2UE is the original morning radio host star, and for some decades had the largest share of morning radio airtime.  After a brief retirement he has moved to 2SM.  Allan Jones joined 2UE and gradually gained the largest share of the early morning market.  He moved over to mate John Singleton's 2GB network, rumor has it because 2UE was paying Laws a higher wage.  David Oldfield is a much younger presenter who has recently joined 2UE after a checkered public life that involved Tony Abbott, Pauline Hanson and the NSW upper house.

All of those "hot" media presenters are right of center.  They see boat people as "opportunistic queue jumpers" rather than as objects of sympathy.  They are against the "greenies" and global warming alarmists.  This is not because they are unsympathetic or against wildlife or are deniers who will not admit that climate change might be mostly anthropogenic.  It is because they do not accept the logic that we can reasonably stop boat people by rewarding them with citizenship instead of TPV's, or that dams that would save the need for billion dollar desalination plants are more important than concerns for a minor genetic variation of wombat, or that we can solve global warming with carbon taxes.

As a libertarian I mostly agree when they are against big government or global warming or offer boat people a TPV until it was safe for them to go home.  On the other hand I am against their message that women should not be permitted to serve in the military.  Sex should never be a determinant of a person's rights.

Marriage between same sex partners is a current issue.  The Church allows annulment of a marriage on the grounds that no children were produced.  So marriage is a contract wherein producing children is not just a term, it is a condition.  So a marriage between people who are unable to produce children can never be a marriage by definition.


The union bosses are feeling their oats.

In 2007 they invested a fortune in an advertising campaign that destroyed John Howard and "Work Choices" and installed a Federal labour government.  That was because they correctly assessed that "Work Choices" was possibly the greatest threat to the union bosses since "pig iron bob".

There were many other rewards offered to the labour movement following their defeat of work choices.  Mostly the rewards are the enormous expenditures of public money spent on overpriced schemes such as
the NBN. the BER & the Batts.   The various building companies came to the party by kicking in political donations to the Labour party, and paying their workers pretty much whatever they asked.   The grateful workers paid whatever union dues were levied.

With the collapse in popularity of the Rudd-Gillard government, they now see the writing on the wall, and are grabbing whatever they can in anticipation of the long drought that will follow the next federal election.  Wage rises on the NW shelf of up to $430,000 pa to washing machine operators are among those benefits which the coming Abbot government will have difficulty repealing, (although repeal of the closed union shop and the judicious granting of 457's might do the trick.)


Last night (12th April) I attended a "round table" conference in the law school foyer at Sydney University.  It was chaired by the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.

The best value speaker was Helen McCabe who edits the Womens Weekly.  Among seven issues she raised were that, if things continue as they are, the "old media" is well and truly f****d.  Mostly because of the www, because our culture is changing, and people are reluctant to pay for any content whatsoever.  She mentioned that shortly after she publishes, her content is free on sites such as Mia Freeman's which (according to Ms McCabe) runs the Weekly's ideas and grabs much of the Weekly's audience.  Other bon mots were her anecdotes on the influence that advertisers have over content, & her admission that some stories are exaggerated to attract audience.  Particularly revealing was her comment that she came to the Weekly from Murdoch, who (she made a point of reporting) does not (as many liberal media personalities allege) exercise editorial control.

The female from ABC news (Kate Tourney) was in comparison colourless, reflecting no doubt a career spent in the public service promotion system where bright sparks get doused.  Like another speaker Angelos Frangopolous who edits Sky News, she seemed to be oblivious to the economic pressures which have not yet had a major impact on TV news.  Angelos contradicted Helen by declaring that advertisers had no influence over HIS editorial policy.   I am not a subscriber to cable.  However
I took that assertion with a grain of salt.

Neither of the news editors has met the (so far undiscovered) Matt Drudge of the Australian news cycle.  And so long as the ABC is a department of government, she does not need to concern herself with crass matters like selling space to commercial enterprises.  Cable TV of course does not rely on advertising so much as subscription.

The Sun Herald editor was obviously quite junior to the Chairman, probably got volunteered.  The chairman did not say much about anything.  The SMH is no longer a "river of gold" and has had a catastrophic circulation collapse.  (you can pick up free copies all over the place, at the Museum in College St, even at Toyota while your car is serviced.)  Of course that is not Angelos' fault, he has only been in the job for a few months.

I found it interesting that the speakers mostly seemed to be from liberal oriented media.


This is another Lindy Chamberlain event.  An ambitious prosecutor, a shopped for psychiatrist, and an ambitious police team.  And an inadequate defense, probably kept from favourable evidence. 

Consider the facts.
Her story actually makes more sense than murder.
I can accept that the nineteen year old Keli was living life rather selfishly and did not want to give up the freewheeling lifestyle of an elite athlete for penurious motherhood.  So perhaps she did not appeal to a particular composition of jury.   However those facts do not support a finding of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  To my mind they do not even support a finding of guilty on the balance of probability.  I can only hope that this case is reversed on appeal.

Whatever the outcome, Keli's life has been destroyed.  The guilty party is the ambitions generated by our public service promotions system.  Unfortunately I do not have a remedy.  The problem is we need a robust justice system to control our legislative and executive arms of government, but our prosecutors must be steered away from the "easy option targets" that do not have the expensive protection afforded to the powerful.



Over Easter I attended Confest.  It is an outdoors camping co-op along the lines popularised by Jim Cairns and Juni Morosi in the 70's.  For an $80 entry fee the DTE (Down To Earth) organization provided camping space for around 4,000 people from Easter Thursday through to Tuesday.  Amenities provided were potable water, several camp kitchens with gas cooking and an ample number of adequate toilets.
  Attendees contracted to contribute two hours of their time to the operation of the enterprise (during which time they would be given tasks such as collecting at the gate, distributing toilet paper etc).  There was a first aid post with volunteer trained staff and satellite phones.

Activity centred around the "market"   The market was an elliptical area about 70 meters by 50 meters with a few gums surrounded by about 15 fast food concessions.  Perimeter gaps were lined with stalls selling bling and the like accoutrements.  Entertainers would occasionally attract transient populations throughout the day and into the early hours.
  Satellite to the market were various named "theme camp" regions centred on kitchen facilities.  Examples were "Gypsy" which was tolerant of carnivores, cars, noise, nudity, you name it.  "Bliss" and "Tranquility"excluded cars and both seemed very quiet, "Art" was quite lively, & seemed to specialize in whole body painting and offered various methods of removing that paint such as saunas and outdoor showers.  The kitchens were organized as smaller models of the enterprise.  Members of a theme camp would often contribute food and kitchen duties and share the cooking within the camp.   Activities stream information was provided by the information centre, where anybody could offer a meeting on whatever hobby or whatever else they chose by filling in a space on a whiteboard.  The information centre provided the news hub for organising meetings for various interest groups, and was the booking centre for the various venues.

DTE is a co-operative with 49 members.  Whatever else, DTE appears to be a commercial success.  It reportedly owns the two farming properties near Deniliquin where it holds it's festivals.  I happened to intersect with some of the members in Gypsy. They were having a meeting discussing some of the problems at the Confest, one of which was that most attendees appeared not to be contributing their contracted two hours of service.  I suggested that they should charge an extra $10 entry and refund it to those that attended, perhaps at the exit or perhaps as a discount to the next confest.  That suggestion was rejected on the grounds that they did not want to introduce "incentives".

The members that I met seemed to be politically aware.  They were canvassing any ideas for expansion of the services they offered, or assistance for any political or social end that might be consistent with DTE's goals, with the implication that they might provide the funding for suitable enterprises.

I floated the meme I have been recently developing.  It's purpose would be to modify our current low feedback representative system of government into a higher feedback model closer to direct democracy.  The classic putdown of direct democracy is the film called "The rise and rise of Michael Rimmer" where a system of direct democracy was voted out because it demanded too much of the individual.


The innovation that I advocate is intended to advise of and encourage our representatives to follow the wishes of their constituencies.

This end could be initiated by having just one representative set up a voluntary polling website for his or her constituents, and requesting their directions on how to vote on any particular piece of legislation.  If there was a "thin" response on any question, then the representative should feel free to vote as conscience dictated.  However if a significant proportion of constituents suggested a particular vote, then the representative should feel bound to follow their suggestion.

The polling function of the website should be both transparent and private.   Currently I envision software similar to banking software.  A voter would own an "account" which could be logged into using a password.  The voter would initiate the process by making an online application for an account.  The representative would snailmail an account name & password to the voter's registered address.   The online "account" would retain a record of the voter's voting record for private perusal.  Anybody would be able to anonymously view the votes cast on any issue, perhaps with some form of encrypted identifier unique to each voter.

  A vote cast in parliament by a federal senator after such a process would have great moral persuasive power.  That Senator would be able to say to fellow state senators "I cast my vote the way I did on this issue with the majority support of the people of our state."

Or, look at it another way, from the point of view of a voter.  Wouldn't you prefer to vote for a representative who would decide what position to take on any issue only after seeking a consensus in your electorate?


Of course this meme is unlikely to meet with approval by our major political parties.  Those parties rely on "leverage" so that they can "sell" legislation.  In fact it would not sit well with most of the people who currently buy and sell legislation.  In that group I especially include trade union bosses and their (supposed) bitter opponents, the shadowy "capitalists" who manage the mega corporations that employ trade unionists.  Without their protective legislation I suspect that our industrial corporations and their employee unionists would cost us far less.

A co-op member offered the suggestion that the DTE web site might be available for the purpose of political polling along the lines that I suggested.   Or that DTE might help me find and consult with others who might have similar ideas.   I would of course be happy to hear from others who have similar ideas.  If only to further develop the meme.

Unfortunately, however, just setting up a polling website is not the way this meme would function.  Intrinsic is the direct and resonating contract that must be formed between the members of an electorate and their representative.  The vitality of the connection is the knowledge of the voter that "their" representative will be dialectically advancing their wishes.  The representative will benefit by being the positive energy focus of people who recognize that they are being honestly represented.


The Burning Man is a new model of Confest that DTE is introducing in Australia.  The "Burning Man" was also the time traveling Alter Ego and inspiration of the "jaunting" hero of the Alfred Bester story "The Stars my Destination" published 1956.  Bester died in 1987, the year following that in which Larry Harvey and others burned a wooden man in San Francisco.  Since then "burning man" has achieved cult status, moved to Nevada and developed a philosophy of modular self activating community.

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