The new breed of journalist-commentator

There’s really good insightful ‘defence’ of Michael Hastings — the journalist who (gasp) reported now-sacked-for-his-impertinence General McChrystal’s disparaging comments about his masters.

Interesting that Hastings’ ‘friend and admirer’ the writer Barrett Brown describes Hastings thus:

it was written by a perfect specimen of the new breed of journalist-commentator that will hopefully come to replace the old breed sooner rather than later, and which has already collectively surpassed the old guard by every measure that counts—for instance, not being forever wrong about matters of life and death.

Leaving aside the implausible adolescent-esque cavil about the ‘surpassed’ older generation ‘being forever wrong’, I know people who howl with outrage a the ‘mix’ of news/commentary exhibited by news professionals like Bernard Hickey et al. Get used to it, I guess.

After all: Why try to pretend you don’t have an opinion that is (a) relevant and (b) maybe actually reasonably well-informed, given the attention you pay to an area of interest on an ongoing basis? Why affect a ‘neutrality’ or fake ‘balance’ when it ain’t true? You have a view? Spit it out!

Anyway, the Vanity Fair article Why the Hacks Hate Michael Hastings is well worth a read.

“The times, they are a-changing …”

Here’s Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show typically excellent take on the topic (video below the fold):

“At approximately 11:04 Eastern Standard Time, the American news media finally realized they kind of sucked.”

Continue reading →

YouTube copyright win. For now.

image: Huffington Post (click)

Well, that’s an interesting turn. Looks like the judge has confirmed the rule as:
Go ahead, infringe somebody else’s copyright (or provide a platform for doing so), then stop doing it as soon as the aggrieved rights-holder demands you ‘take it down’ and … ‘sweet, bro!’.

Hmm, I don’t think I like that. The role of YouTube as ‘aggregator’ needs a different standard, in my view. They’ve built their fortune on the systematic exploitation of other people’s IP. (And I say that as an avid consumer/user of the service.)

In dismissing the lawsuit before a trial, [Judge] Stanton noted that Viacom had spent several months accumulating about 100,000 videos violating its copyright and then sent a mass takedown notice on Feb. 2, 2007. By the next business day, Stanton said, YouTube had removed virtually all of them.
Stanton said there’s no dispute that “when YouTube was given the (takedown) notices, it removed the material.”

Full [AP] story via Huffington Post

AP: Viacom Loses To YouTube In Landmark Copyright Case

A federal judge in New York sided with Google Inc. in a $1 billion copyright lawsuit filed by media company Viacom Inc. over YouTube videos, saying the service promptly removed illegal materials as required under federal law.

Wednesday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in the closely watched case further affirmed the protections offered to online service providers under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The 1998 law offers immunity when service providers promptly remove illegal materials submitted by users once they are notified of a violation.

That safe harbor had helped persuade Google to buy YouTube for $1.76 billion in 2006, even though some of its own executives had earlier branded the video-sharing service as “a ‘rogue enabler’ of content theft,” according to internal documents unearthed in the case.

Although it’s a major victory for Google and other Internet service providers, Wednesday’s decision won’t end a legal brawl that has already dragged on for more than three years. Viacom vowed to keep the case alive in appeals court, a process likely to last another year or two. …

My earlier comments re ‘fair use’ — quoting Wikipedia — “The use … does not limit or impinge on the image’s commercial use…” apply. It’s not enough to see and be jealous of the income the founders of YouTube or the buyers (Google) are generating from the ‘traffic’ attracted by the [alleged] copyright-busting.

Does the inclusion of, say, a clip from The Daily Show commercially hurt Comedy Central, as Viacom claimed? (A claim undercut by evidence Viacom employees were busy posting such clips at the show’s producers connivance … building an audience, you know, virally.)

But there’s something ‘off’ about the predator/parasite aspects of YouTube. Try considering if it was YOUR stuff being plastered up on the website, surrounded by ads for which you get nothing … and they do that as a business. (But they pay for the bandwidth, the electricity, and the server farms – phenomenal!)

There’s an incongruity at the bottom of it. Any thoughts?

Take no prisoners

image: (Click)

The canonization (OK, not really. He’s not dead!) of Jon Stewart — America’s most trusted newscaster — continues.

I rate Stewart very highly indeed, which should go without saying, but hey, let me say it.

His recent whack at Pres. Barack Obama’s underwhelming primetime televised oval office speech about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill sparked an interesting appraisal (well, I thought so) of Stewart as a ‘true satirist’ defined as …

A true satirist, and a true patriot, takes no prisoners; he stands for certain values and judges others not by whether they agree with him point-for-point, but whether they can go toe-to-toe with the satirist in terms of consistency and honour.

That definition is a little fraught, if you ask me — but, on reflection, I agree with it as an approach to commentary here at …

Yes, you’ll sometimes read strong judgement here of certain people’s actions and their outcomes (or ‘fruit’ — we’ve discussed that) and, yes, I’ll name names.

I do look for ‘consistency and honour’ — and aim for it. My words may be harsh, but not, I think, unfair. (And I don’t regard nor promote myself as perfect or a ‘saint’, nor, despite the protestations, do I set out to engage in ‘competitor-bashing’. But I digress … )

Matt Zoller Seitz’s full article at ‘Jon Stewart was born to bash Obama —
How attacking the president has turned the liberal “Daily Show” host into a true satirist
‘ is worth a read if you follow Stewart, as I do.

It also has a link to a video of that episode of The Daily Show which is well worth watching.

Oops. Another unpleasant surprise …

The latest in my occasional series ‘Unexpected things that can go wrong with your business or investment…’

image: (click)

Previous episodes:

  • Your ‘clients’ may take legal action against you, en masse, causing your ‘enterprise’ to fold with an AUD $5.5 m loss and significant loss of your own reputation.
  • Google may change their page ranking system to stop you ‘gaming the system’ on AdWords (too bad you’ve sold that as a business — too bad for the buyers!)
  • Facebook may BAN you for exploiting their ‘social media’ site for unacceptable use of your so-called ‘internet marketing’ system
  • ditto Twitter
  • ditto Digg

But how about a bit of sympathy for these guys:

Fiji military seize Bridgecorp’s Momi Bay resort

By Anne Gibson | NZ Herald | Wednesday Jun 23, 2010
Bridgecorp’s receivers are investigating what to do after the Fijian military regime seized the failed Momi Bay resort against its wishes. … The Fiji Times reported yesterday that the Momi Bay Development Decree became effective last Friday. …

“The state found it was essential and imperative that the [superannuation] fund acquired proper ownership of the stagnant tourism project so it could realise the securities that the fund held in Momi,” the newspaper said.

Seized! Bugger!
Read Anne Gibson’s full stomach-churning story at the NZ Herald website.

This unusual state of affairs reminds me of someone I know of who was so confident in the bright future of sections in a Fijian resort development/subdivision he was, apparently, on-selling at a profit (to fund his “work with the poor in Fiji”) that he personally guaranteed the buyers’ funds until they receive title

Does all this sound a bit too good to be true?? Well it is not unusual for developers to offer presales at discounted rates to get s/divisions out of the ground. The level of discount reflects the fact that the funds are being disbursed directly to the developers so potentially your funds are unsecured until title. I am sufficiently confident in the development having met with the developers on site and completing extensive due diligemce [sic] in Fiji that I am willing to remove that risk for you by guaranteeing your funds until title.

There is VERY significant profit in these sites as soon as title is issued or close. My onselling of some now enables me to continue my work with the poor in Fiji and allows you to purchase a significant investment for much less than it’s [sic] true value. There are only a small number of sites left so please contact me promptly if you wish to pursue this offer. CONTACT ME …
— source: Dean Letfus Massive Action promotion for Coral Lagoon development

Lucky for those holding the personal guarantees, huh? Phew.
But seriously, I wonder how that’s all working out? I’d be curious to hear an update from people in the know. Continue reading →

‘Friends’ and enemies …

This looks like it could be a good movie. We’ve discussed Mark Zuckerberg‘s [alleged] personality issues before, and the ‘inside story’ on the [alleged] treachery and deceit at the core of the Facebook extravaganza has, as they say, all the elements of a ripping yarn — sort of a Raymond-Chandler-meets-Bill-Gates thriller. (Bill Gates has skeletons in the closet, too. Another time.)

Time will tell.

Visit The Social Network official movie site if you’re interested.


UPDATE: Ha! Saw this in the NZ Herald this morning…

Apparently 4,992 is ‘too many friends’. (Nice to know there’s a limit. Snort.)

Refreshingly good advice from a former jailbird

It must be the season for straight talking (see earlier post today) …

Hawkins; 'Plead guilty, do your time and get on with your life.'
image: Sunday Star Times (click for link)

Disgraced businessman Hawkins gives jail tips

Rob Stock | Sunday Star Times

Disgraced businessmen in the courts on criminal charges have been phoning the country’s highest profile former white-collar prisoner for advice on how to survive life behind bars.

Allan Hawkins, who was jailed in 1992 after being found guilty of fraud involving Equiticorp, refuses to name those calling him, but says he’s been phoned by a number of worried company bosses facing charges, asking for his opinion on what they should do.

It is advice Hawkins gives freely, though the message he has for them is not one many want to hear.

“The system demands a scapegoat. I would advise those guys to put their hands up, and get it over with,” Hawkins says. “Get in there [jail] and then get out again and get on with their lives. “Plead guilty, do your time and get on with your life.”

It is, Hawkins admits, hard advice to take, but copping an early plea means a reduced sentence, and he believes there comes a time to face up to the fact that the system will have its sacrificial lamb and fighting the inevitable is pointless….

More ‘straight talking’ … but is that what it is?

America: the land of free speech. And ad hominem political attacks.

Watch this campaign ad (below the fold to stop the YouTube script slowing this page load), and count the bald, slanderous, (defamatory?) statements. Pretty robust stuff.

I wouldn’t dream of saying things like that unless I had evidence (even nailed-tight proof) for the statements.

Maybe he does. But they seem to get pretty ‘out there’ in US politics (… maybe it’s something to do with the prominence given to sedition crimes in the revolutionary history of the breakaway colony?) There seems to be a recklessness in some of the public statements made, as if in US politics, people are not accountable for their public statements. (It’s not always like that. Ask Nick Smith.)

Dale Petersen campaign ad (click for video) via Huffington Post

And this guy, Dale Peterson (with Winchester, by the look of it) is running for Alabama Agriculture Commissioner! (Actually, he’s now NOT running — he’s endorsing another candidate by trashing the reputation of the other guy in the race.)
Gee. Bruising. Not exactly top tier politics.

Continue reading →

Why are the get-rich-quick boys in such a HURRY?

Tim Burrowes, writing this week over at Aussie marketing/media website mUmBRELLA expressed this thought common to journalists everywhere:

The substance behind the Photon gossip

by Tim Burrowes June 17th, 2010
One of the perks – and frustrations – of being a journalist is that you often get to hear interesting gossip.
Perk because it’s nice to hear these things first. Frustrating because you often can’t stand up for publication what you’ve heard. …
Read on here

Ain’t that the truth, Tim? Well said.

Photon, if the name rings a bell, is the company which bought the now-infamous Geekversity er, enterprise … then shut it down at a big loss amid legal threats and a clamour for refunds. Browsing mUmBRELLA’s archives, it transpires there’s a lawsuit going on, apparently. It’s just one of the current woes beleaguering Photon.

Shaun Stenning promoting Geekversity. Seems like just yesterday. (Click)

Shaun Stenning, you may recall, was the ‘face’ of Geekversity, telling Australians and Kiwis he could turn ordinary mums and dads with ‘little or no computer experience’ into money-making internet marketing entrepreneurs. These “big claims” as one enthusiastic interviewer put it, turned out to be vapour. Watch the video.

Geekversity affiliates Dean Letfus and Steve Goodey gushingly promoted the short-lived Geekversity, uh, operation in New Zealand in effervescent terms until …

Geekversity/Geekdom crashed to a huge loss and refunded millions(?) [It's not clear] to avoid legal action by disappointed, oversold, aggrieved customers.

It turned out these “students” were not the only group who were disgruntled, apparently. According to the original report in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Former director sues Photon for $4.4m

by Julian Lee | SMH 29 Jan 2010
Just weeks after washing its hands of the controversial Geekversity internet get-rich-quick scheme, Photon Group is being sued for more than $4 million by a former director of one of its internet companies.

Late last year the listed marketing services company narrowly avoided a court action after aggrieved ”students” of the scheme, which charged people up to $21,000 to learn how to make money from internet traffic, demanded their money back.

Now a former director and principal shareholder of iMega, which at its peak generated monthly earnings of $750,000, is suing Photon for allegedly failing to pay $4.4 million in earn-out fees.

That’s interesting, I thought. Then there’s this from the same article which is fascinating: Continue reading →

My review of a recent Empower Education event

OK, if you don’t know I run Empower Education, that’s understandable. I don’t make a fuss about it here. (Separation of Church and State?)
But if you’re interested, here’s a review of a recent event Post-Budget Special Briefing and Property Q&A where three of my authors — Olly Newland, Mark Withers and Tony Steindle — shared their expert opinions about the effect of changes to property taxation announced in the recent NZ Budget and gave a market update.
Includes 7 minutes of audio samples and this example of my own deathless prose…

I never thought I’d write these words but one question was answered with, effectively, ‘The Tax Administration Act rides to the rescue!’ (Ha!)

Read the review at

For real?

Geography NOT a strong suit at WGNTV …

Image: (click for link)

(via Huffington Post.)

Bloomberg calls Fox News on its uppityness

image: Huffington Post

Remember Helen Thomas ‘retired’ after her ‘Jews should go home (to Poland and Germany) comments?

Now the argy-bargy about which news organisation should get her front-row seat at the White House media briefing room is getting interesting.

Fox News (bleurgh) thinks they should because they gracefully conceded CNN should get one in 2007. They’ve dissed Bloomberg, the other contender, as ‘niche’ (ha!)

Here’s Bloomberg’s case to the White House Correspondents Association… (PDF 80k)

It nicely puts the overreaching graspers at Fox News in their place, in my reading.

These film guys have got a point

Reuters reported yesterday that film studio Summit Entertainment, which produces the “Twilight” film franchise, is suing a retailer that’s selling copies of a jacket worn by actor Kristen Stewart who plays heroine Bella Swan in the movies.

The studio filed a lawsuit against women’s fashion designer BB Dakota on Friday for copyright and trademark infringement. On the company’s website, BB Dakota advertises a blue cotton canvas jacket like this: “Bella Swann (sic) wears this jacket in Twilight and scores the hottest vampire in high school, and so can you!” …. In the lawsuit, Summit seeks an injunction against further sale of the item, all profits earned from the jacket, and — the horror! — it wants BB Dakota to “deliver to Summit for destruction all Bella Jackets.”

Look at the image of one of the BB Dakota ads. I think the studio has some justification in tackling them. So has Kristen Stewart — they’ve effectively [by name and image] made her an unpaid fashion model or endorser of their clothing line.

Not OK.

Inspiring clarity of purpose from John Gruber

What makes Daring Fireball an efficient and effective soapbox is exactly that it is not noisy. My goal is for not a single wasted word to appear anywhere on any page of the site. … It’s my firm belief that all websites eventually attract the attention and respect that they deserve. The hard work is in the “eventually” part.

I heart John Gruber when he writes like this.

Read the full post, please. I recommend it.

Very, very good.

UPDATE: Reflecting on his admirable ‘not a single wasted word’ philosophy (which I respect, even if I don’t always live up to it) I recalled the ‘dicknose’ T shirt pic of Gruber I saw at 9to5mac … which got me to thinking about a really cool shirt I saw the lovely Calli Lewis of wearing once … (In case you can’t read it, it says ‘With a shirt like this who needs pants?’)

Yeah, I find these funny. I have wide streak of geek in me. (So sue me.)

Pop, pure and simple …

I like this…
Bang Bang Bang by Mark Ronson & The Business Intl featuring Q-Tip and MNDR (Amanda Warner)
… and I like how it’s being marketed. Very cool. Very synergistic. (Smell the budget, too.)

Amanda Warner (MNDR) features in Mark Ronson's Bang Bang Bang (music video below the fold)

Continue reading →

The escape of exnzpat, Part 1

Conversation with a madman

It is important, I think, to explain more fully the circumstance that has brought me to this strange and terrible place, which up until a year ago, was an unremarkable life.

There are gaps in my memory – of this you know – but more – there are gaps in the story and so I shall do my best to bring you to this weary place I find myself in now.  Perhaps the place to begin is in the place where I first realized that salvation was possible for one so wretched as me.  It happened after many months in the asylum and it went something like this…

Here in my room I sit.  It is a special room, in a special place, for those of us that are criminally insane.  Yes, that is what I am now.  Here and now, in this room, I am at home.

Here in this room I sit.  The room appears to be much like a fancy hotel suite.  It is true too I have felt my way about it and there is a soft bed to sleep in, a soft carpet to walk on, and a dresser to keep my few clothes in; there is even a separate room with a sink, shower stall and toilet.  I am one of the lucky ones I guess, my wealth from my lawsuit has enabled my lawyer to provide me with such comfort not afforded others.  Though, I care little for any of it.

Here in my room I have searched, inch by inch, for a way to kill myself.  As each day lengthens, and the medicines they give me wear down slowly like an unwound clock, my mind gives in to remembrance of the excruciating details of that terrible night.  I see throttled little faces; I see crying and screaming.  It was a night with one arm deep in my tool box and the other deep in my children’s blood.  I am a monster!  But, NO!  I was possessed by a monster; the beastly dark enraged lost soul of the murderer Scudamour!  He was the monster all along — now gone to Hell!  But, it helps me not to know of these doings — I am a simple man – and here I sit.  Continue reading →