Friday, March 14, 2003

junk email

I am being deluged in junk email at the moment. Last month it was from some people in Nigeria wishing nothing less than to make us exceedingly rich.This week it is from those saying I will become incredibly rich by working from home. Next week it will be? Whatever, I know that my e-mail account being clogged up with junk. Spam into my email account is increasing at an alarming rate, and it makes up over half of my email content. It is leading me to consider to abandon my email account.

I feel so passive other than hitting delete. There seems to be little in the way of legislation to regulate the sending of unsolicited electronic mail (or pop up adverts). No doubt there are web crawling robots search for email addresses on behalf of the spammers. Maybe it is time to avoid putting my email address on the web pages.

I hope the people that send spam eat junk food, get fat and are crippled by a heart attack.
Update Neale over at Wrongwaygoback has a account of the responses by public authorities to his inquiries about spam and what can be done.
Being serious
If Tony Blair is Bush's poodle, then he is in the doghouse back home.

If Australia is to go to war to avoid another Pearl Harbour, then Australia is the 51st state of the US.

If the US under the Bush administration is acting like a schoolyard bully, then many hope that it gets a blackeye.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

What can you say

Not much, not much.

I was unable to post yesterday.Blogger was down last night. The old problems continue. I have been thinking about moving out. Moving over to Blosxom

I was going to mention my reaction to John Howard's speech to the National Press Club. His winning style was long on passion and short on reason. He used passion to persuade Australians citizens not reason to win the war of words. There was no new evidence that the Iraqi regime had provided such weapons to known terrorist groups around the world (meaning there is none).

The speech employed the standard rhetorical techniques of appealing to the commonplaces. He invoked the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to argue that the world could not wait no longer for further evidence that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He appealed to used the imagery of Iraqi torture methods – including the gouging out of children's eyes and amputation of tongues – to justify the support for the war.

It would have gone down well with US administration and the Australian war bloggers. It would have won their approval-----John's doing a good job selling the war. But that is not the purpose of rhetoric. The aim of the PM mastering the arts of speaking and writing with persuaveness is to shift or move a hostile or sceptical audience towards the acceptance of the PM's point of view of why we need to go to war now without UN sanction.

As an Australian citizen I did not find this vivid imagery an effective use of language.It was as distasteful as the invoking the Bali bombing to help make the war case on Iraq a week ago.

The self-defence argument simply failed. The Iraqi regime is not planning to attack America in that way, and it is Australia that we are talking about. I thought this was a sick joke and an abuse of history given the PM"s rejection of the old war of warfare and his advocacy of a shift into a new kind of warfare with international terrorism.

The vivid torture imagery was deployed to arouse our emotions. But John Howard has come late in the day to a humanitiarian concern about the brutaility of the Iraq regime and he has shown no sympathy towards the refugees from the Iraq regime in the past. The Tampa incident clearly put political before humanitarian considerations.

The speech struck me as akin to selling a political product. Bad taste on my part. Perhaps. But the PM invoking the above commonplaces as a seat of persuasion was in bad taste.

The PM has my respect but he did not persuade me.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Dr. Janet offers advice
I'm stressed. God I'm stressed. I'm on the go the whole day and far into the night. And weekends too. It never stops. Life is a treadmill. The stress is making my body sick. It's all aches and pains. I yearn for some time out to relax. I feel like taking days off to recover. The boss will understand that I need to see the doctor.

He will won't he?

GP's are generally pretty good about giving you a few days off work for the body to recover.

And then I read Janet. And I fell a whole lot better because Janet sorts me out quick and smart. Her policy prescription is for me to stop complaining. Stress, she says, is a non-problem. I' m just a whinger. She quotes authorities to that effect.

One authority, the federal MP Ross Cameron said, in the context of the debate over bulk-billing, that "we [Australians] are a bunch of hypochondriacs and we need to be weaned off our addiction to general practitioners".

That comes as a a bit of a shock I must admit. I'm just a hypochondriac!

Janet, however, concurs with Ross Cameron. She says:

"He is correct. We also need to be weaned off our obsession with stress. It is a sign of the fickle, cosseted spirit of our times that the wealthy complain about it, academics write about it, and others expect to get paid for it."

And I'm neither wealthy of an academic and I don't get paid for it. But I sure have stress. Do I ever. But I feel sorted out after reading Janet. Its a non-problem.

I realize that you just get on with your life and look at stress as a challenge. Life is a series of opportunities to overcome challenges.

Oh well, back to the daily grind.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

cyberculture contra the freewheeling market?

The heading of the post comes from a question asked at the end of Sunday's Broadband/Internet post. What I had in mind was whether the weblog as a democratic form could stand in opposition to the self-organizing market even though the weblog's feet are in the marketplace. We pay for pay for server space, bandwidth and various services so there is a little commercial involvement to enable us publish what they want to say. Writing and the market are intertwined.

The question that is posed is: will commercial interests enclose the commons? This was raised or suggested by plasticbag.org who drew attention to the advertising and publicity corporations sailing into weblog world behind Google's acquisition of Blogger. Tom Coates says:

"The main impact of that acquisition is not faster servers or a better weblog infrastructure, it's that marketing and public relations firms - always more brand-conscious than perhaps they should be - have noticed Google turn our way, and (carefully following the integrity-based brand's line-of-sight) have finally noticed us... "What is this new grassroots phenomena?" they seem to be asking ..[Weblogs] are almost inherently a tool for rating and promotion. They are public opinion made manifest. In fact the only mystery is that marketers haven't been trying to exploit them before...

... weblogs have already had their integrity 'corrupted' - we're already advertising things for companies in return for money. The most common and widespread form of integrity-reducing advertising we are undertaking are Amazon referrals. We don't tend to think of them as interfering with our credibility or compromising our integrity - but we make more money if we write in a way that puts more Amazon links into our sites, and we make money if those links are recommendations...But this does seem to me to be the crux of the issue - that as soon as advertising enters the space of personal publishing, integrity becomes questionable - the particular authenticity of weblogs and diarist content becomes under threat."


The simple answer is suggested by Marcus Weatherall at neverthink.com is to be transparent. He says that if:

"you're a weblog author who uses commission-earning links: write (commission earned) next to the link. Easy hey? This way, you're advertising your interest. You're being 100% transparent about what you're doing."

And Rebecca's Pocket has an extended post on ethics for weblogs here. These six rules or guidelines are centred around around acountability and are for primarily for those webloggers taking the path to journalism.

Whatif turn to the language of democracy rather than journalism? This introduces is a political language. This language in the words of the Happy Tutor at Wealth Bondage: is about public goods, the public interest, of the common weal, and the web as a small piece thereof. This political language of democracy is concerned with our responsibilities as citizens, and what must we do to protect our public goods, including not only the internet, but our political freedoms. The Happy Tutor gives this democratic discourse a particular twist:

"Bit by bit, we, the best educated among us (fools and knaves, though we be) are reinventing the rationale for classical liberalism. We remember the bit about the free market, but we have forgotten the bit about free speech and political liberty, nor are we willing yet to see that these ideals are now in conflict. That our government has sold one out for the other. To balance public goods against private interest is why we have government -- and why some would wish to downsize or eliminate it. Leaving us as satisfied customers of one big happy global corporation run amok and calling itself America."

As an aside, prefer a less individualist language and more republican political language myself, with its talk of civic virtue, self-governing citizens, political communty and citizens acting for the sake of the common good . But that is another debate.

My concern here is: does the political language of democracy make any sense in terms of weblogs and emerging democracy and gives us a way of thinking othewise to the market? Jon at Listen to Musak thinks so. He says that the weblog as a form of:

"...personal publishing can empower people. To me the pull of the medium was access to views and interests outside the main-stream. The ability to publish what you had to say without an editor's red pen."

This gives us freedom of expression to express diverse views and thus is writing within the realm of the aesthetic. So how do we go from the aesthetic to politics and democracy?

Monday, March 10, 2003

forever young

Loren Webster, who lives in the Pacific Northwest, where the snow storms pound the mountains, is responding to our dark time by Planting seeds of hope. Spring is in the air. What a great and lovely idea.

Over here, in southern central Australia where the mouth of the Murray River meets the southern ocean, autumn has come. The soaking rains will soon arrive. I will plant some eucalypts in the creek bed near our holiday place at Victor Harbor. They will be Red River Gums, which will last several hundred years. When we are all well gone, and the war a chapter in a military history book the majestic red gums will still be forever young.
dead bodies
There is a bit of a debate about internet porn happening in Oz judging from this this and this and this report from the Australia Institute. For a response see Net censors ride again. See this for the double standards and moral hypocrisy.

This response by Family.org captures the ethics of pornography. It is a perversion that distorts the humanity of those involve. Those captured by camera images are treated as mere sexual products to be manipulated, exploitated and consumed, rather than treated as fellow humans worthy of dignity and value. The calls for censorship is countered by the libertarian informed free expression and Libertus.net

The problem with Family.org is that it fails to account for the moral hyprocisy noted above or give an account of why an enlightened liberal society has ended up in such a strange place.

What we have with porn is the effects of instrumental reason that treats bodies and nature (eg., females bodies) as objects to be manipulated for (males) personal pleasure through a process of domination and subjugation. This calculating reason is unable to adjudicated between competing values other than through private decisions whilst the form of activity ---its usefulness---becomes more important than its content. So pornography as private vices (perversions) becomes the dark side of the public virtues of the liberal Enlightenment that has separated mind and body.

What porn discloses so dramatically is both the intimate connection between reason and domination, and the character of the subject as one of unrestricted strength, hardness and authority.
A quote
"'One is always one too many around me' ---thus speaks the hermit."
Nietzsche.

It would not pay to go to a hermit looking for advice about friendship. Not all hermit are sages. Many are homeless.
New Oz Blog

Check Mortigi Tempo out by Tim. Nice and bitey in a weblog way.

I don't agree with his claim that media bias in Australia is pretty much a non-issue. What the heck. The neo-cons will sort him out about the liberal press if they are on their toes.
Photos of World Trade Centre

A portfolio of photographs of the World Trade Centre before during and after 9/11.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Machine Politics

That the factions drive and control the Australian Labor Party is a well known truism in politics. If you doubted this, then this fragment in the story by Miriam Cosic, 'Rann the Man', in the Weekend Australian Magazine, (March 8, 2002, p.10ff) should ease any doubts. The SA ALP is controlled by the left and right factions combining into a machine that runs the political party led by Bob Ellis, who says the factions:

"...were devastated when Mike got so many extra seats in '97---their plan was for him to be the fall guy. And when the Lewis thing was happening [in 2003], the leader of one faction said, "Rann's got two more days, then we are going to neck him', he says."

Okay, its political gossip, Mike Rann survived, and the Machine backed off because Rann delivered what they desired ---power, power and power.

But it speaks volumes about democracy in the ALP. This account of Sussex Street spells out the totalitarianism in the ALP. The event iinvolves Ms Deirdre Grusovin –--- an active NSW ALP member with 24 years' experience, who increased Labor's majority in Heffron at the past two elections. She isSussex Street's first victim of the controversial N40 preselection rule, a strategy that is used to deny the rank-and-file a vote on the preselection candidate and installs head office's preferred candidate, Kristina Keneally, 33. Deidre says:

"You have to do as you are told (by Labor's executive) and have unquestioning loyalty or you don't get anywhere, and unfortunately this can have an effect on the quality of the candidates who do make it...Don't ever think there's a sisterhood in Labor, there's no real support because it's too difficult for a woman's career path."

There is a tragedy here. Ms Grusovin earned her political stripes in the early 90s after exposing the failed police pursuit of the now notorious "Mr Bubbles" child sex abuse allegations. But after naming alleged pedophiles in parliament, she lost support within top-level Labor ranks in late 1994, after making unsubstantiated allegations of pedophilia against prominent Sydney lawyer John Marsden.

Sleaze: private vices and public virtues. Its old one. There are many untold stories in the pages of that sandalous chronicle.

Another story is told by Margo Kingston in her Meanwhile, in the NSW Election ... post. She reports that ALP member David Borger, was a talented up-and-comer in Parramatta with the support of his local branch for pre-selection. it was not to be. Margo says:

'The NSW Labor right machine said no and abused the good intentions of an affirmative action rule to install Tanya Gadiel, chief of staff to NSW Right Police Minister, Michael Costa, wife of Labor Council assistant secretary, Michael Gadiel, and sister-in-law of Mr Obeid's chief of staff, Aaron Gadiel. The machine rules, OK? It's in the family.Machine money-man Eddie Obeid then rang Borger and offered him the spot if he'd defect to the Right faction. "I declined his offer because I do not trust him," Borger said.'

Borger than offers this comment on the state of the ALP in NSW:

"The rank-and-file preselection process is dead and one of the reasons is because the party is so dependent on funding from corporate sources. The ALP no longer rely on local supporters, on people putting things into letterboxes any more. They rely on the big fund-raisers and use those resources to run campaigns. There is a disconnection between branch membership; they are owed less now, have less input and, as an extension, now do not have their say in the selection ballot process."

There are many untold stories in the political sleaze chronicle. Poor democracy. It has been destroyed by its guardians whose embrace of machine politics sanctions totalitiarianism. The self-discipline of the criminal is what the political culture of Sussex Street signifies in civil society these days.