Tag Archives: Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Jokers

Comic Sans, Furious Backlash

It’s only a font. But it is a seriously loaded-with-meaning font. After it made an appearance on the front pages of the Sydney Morning Herald, it has turned into internet fodder to mock the Sydney Morning Herald. Let’s face it, the SMH has been going down hill for some time, and really did itself no favours by backing Tony Abbott at the last federal Election (yes, that again, but it’s hard to forgive).

Since then Darren Goodser, the editor has come forth defending his choice of font saying he was trying to illustrate how comical the idiotic answers were by the corrupt politicians. That may be true, and it is not for us pretend to understand the motivations of an editor who opts to go with comic sans on the front page. One thing that is abundantly clear is that Darren Goodser clearly does not take the Sydney Morning Herald with all its history, prestige and standing all that seriously. For years the SMH tried to affect a dignified tone until it ran out of editors of a certain generation who could administer a high style. Through the 90s it gave way to a more vernacular, breezy style – so much so that when you read articles syndicated from the New York Times in the SMH, you’re struck by how far down the style hill the Herald staff has allowed themselves to roll.

It’s a shame, because the Sydney Morning Herald has already lost its important prestige paper size of being a broadsheet thanks to the decline of newspapers worldwide. In this context Darren Goodser’s choice is understandable but goes to show there really isn’t much left at the Sydney Morning Herald that is high-minded or that which takes itself seriously. And if this is the big paper that stands apart from the already-dreadful-and lowbrow Murdoch papers, then the outlook on print media reportage in this country is pretty damn bleak. It’s easy to see that Darren Goodser and his choice to put comic sans on the front page is symptomatic of a wider decline in journalistic standards. It’s not just his fault per se. It simply illustrates just how far things have fallen.

It’s really quite sad because they used to be the establishment. Now they’re pandering.

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Body Without Organs Part 2

Thunderous Objections Continue

You know a document has hit some kind of mark if the people against it are lining up to make their views heard. One gets the feeling the journalists covering this document were all pretty aghast at what was being presented, straight-faced and brazen, to a greatly sceptical audience.

Peter Martin slammed it saying the underlying assumption is that the only way Australia can get back to surplus was through cuts while leaving the current tax system untouched, while it even answered questions it was not asked like drastically cutting the minimum wage.

Michael Pascoe was just as pointed describing its approach as “casual brutality”. He also pointed out the notion that if the states ought to compete with one another, it would result in putting the states falling behind now in a worse position, not better; and that those states would end up having to pay more. Australia is – last we checked – still a ‘commonwealth’ and not a ‘competition of states’.

Steve Keen was more in a demolition derby mood as he pointed out the fundamental stupidity of Australia worrying about getting back to a surplus now, given the context of the world economy. The fundamental assumptions underlying the very exercise seems to be dodgy, while the preconceptions going in were just as misguided.

I know from Pleiades that the AFR s not happy either calling it ‘illogical hostility’ and decidedly critical of the notion of abolishing key industry support programs. The AFR is also reporting that customers are taking action, protesting the four major banks for their support of fossil fuel investments. Some of these are major funds looking to allocate funds to companies and projects that are genuinely eco friendly. The Federal Government is flying into a storm with its contrarian position on Climate Change, and its stated desire to shut down all these green initiatives.

Basically there has been a loud chorus of boos from the press gallery, which probably doesn’t mean much to the man in the high office.  But it’s interesting to note some of this is spreading out to the world and will have consequences for Australia’s economy. If you look at the document it appears it is not that different to the sort of position statement that might come from the US Tea Party, and it would certainly be interesting to see how this document looks when lined up with the Tea Party’s position statement. After all, as Michael Pascoe points out, it appears Tony Abbott really wants to turn Australia in to a facsimile of America.

Gen-X Will Retire At 70

In amidst all the brouhaha about the Commission of Audit and its audaciously hostile report, was the gem that Joe Hockey announced that the pension eligibility will be raised to 70.

The line he drew in the sand?People born after 1965. That’s pretty much saying Gen-X onwards. I was going to lambast him for being born in 1964, but it turns out he was born 1965. So if you’re an old school mate of Joe’s you can thank him for that gift. He’ll be drawing on his generous Parliamentarian superannuation as soon as he leaves Parliament while some of his mates might never reach the age of drawing a pension. If there is such a thing as poetic injustice, it might just be in there somewhere.

If you thought demographics was crap, and that distinctions like Baby Boomers and Generation X and Generation Y and Millennials were just marketing brackets then the line in the sand drawn by the Treasurer might just give you pause. I’ve pointed out before that Generation-X were the first to get hit with HECS after the Baby Boomer generation went by on free Tertiary Education. It’s really no mistake that the boom is falling on the queue just in front of Generation X, because the Baby Boomers are fitting up the social cost of their lives and their education and their retirement on to Generation X.

I don’t know if this is going to work. 2035 is 21 years away, and there’s a lot of politics to be played out between then and now. It’s long enough for another generation to grow into maturity and look at all the social costs being passed on to the latter generations and tip the balance the other way. I’ve pointed this out before but the ALP is already coming into the next Federal election with a front bench dominated by Generation X, headed up by Bill Shorten. The script might be written, but this movie is far from shot, cut and mixed. 🙂

Oh, Let’s Cut All of It!

One of things that got put on the table for cuts was Screen Australia. Naturally there was an outcry from the usual voices.

“Culturally it would put us back in the stone age,” said John L Simpson, producer and founder of the film distribution company Titan View of the Commission of Audit’s recommendation. “I thought that Australians had got over the cultural cringe, the idea that the only culture engaging with is the culture imported into this country, but that’s what’s going to happen. We’ll be a cultural backwater if we don’t invest.”

“It would have a devastating effect on the Australian film industry,” said film producer and director Sophie Hyde. “It’s already a very underfunded industry. We do so much with the small amount that we get, but I think that would effectively decapitate it.”

Robert Connolly, a filmmaker and former board member of Screen Australia described the recommendation as “catastrophic”. He said that Screen Australia receives around $100m a year and has funded some of the most successful homegrown television of recent times. On 9 February, he said, “there was the INXS biopic and the Schappelle Corby one and there were almost five million Australians watching drama that Screen Australia had invested in.

You mean it would upset your gravy train perhaps?.

The people most vocal about it are the people who have received the most support from the funding bodies over their careers. Honestly I’d like to see all of it abolished just to see what would happen. I’ve got no love for film making in Australia any more, so I really don’t care if it goes to the dogs. Heck, if I can’t have it, let them not have it, is how I feel. Screw the bastards with their mouths firmly attached to the government teat and above all, screw the film bureaucrats. They can go find a job in another industry and work until they’re 70.

Yeah, don’t cut it in half, cut the whole damn lot.

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He’s Your Mate

Complaining Now? Wait Until It Gets Worse

Something I don’t really like to leave alone here is the fact the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald Darren Goodsir advocated voting for Tony Abbott and the Coalition in the 2013 Federal Election. At the time, it made no sense and the editorial itself hardly had anything to commend for itself logically, let alone anything in the wisdom stakes. Yet, there it was in broad daylight. He was saying, don’t vote for Kevin Rudd, vote for Tony Abbott for a change. A change to what? I ask you! To the worse, as it turned out?

What really pisses me off to this day is that when Rupert Murdoch and his bought minions were doing their best to bury Kevin Rudd’s government, “fair and balanced” would have been to back the incumbents and not join in with the Murdoch press, like the so many intellectually barren sycophants that came crawling out to hear Tony Abbott’s victory speech.

Of course “hindsight is 20-20”, but if you’re one of the Cassandras that saw this complete schmozzle we call the Abbott Government coming the only remaining delight we have is the delight we take in punishing Darren Goodsir for backing this dud government. Thus it is with great Schadenfreude that I present yet another instance of the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald having a whinge about the Abbott Government – yes, the Government they recommended because it would make a nice change.

 Let there be no bones about it. A levy, temporary or otherwise, is a tax, and if the Abbott government goes ahead with such a measure on middle- and high-income earners, it will be a shoddy way of trying to repair the budget, and will do little to improve the productivity of our economy.

The political hypocrisy of Prime Minister Tony Abbott contemplating such a tax, after explicit promises of no new taxes and three years of lashing Julia Gillard over her broken carbon tax pledge, is breathtaking. But it is more serious than this.

The Australian Industry Group and other business leaders are already warning that lifting tax rates will slow the economy.

Blah, blah, blah, and so it goes on for another 14 pathetic paragraphs, offering up reasons why raising taxes would be bad. It’s totally laughable because we knew before the election that there was no way that the Coalition was going to be able to make their numbers work, especially if they were going to spend on things that they said they would. I would like to write “and hilarity ensued”, but quite frankly, this is no laughing matter. If people thought the Rudd-Gillard government was dysfunctional, they haven’t quite swallowed the fact that this is a mendacious, malicious and incompetent government.

The biggest irony of all is how the editor-in-chief of the Sydney Morning Herald no less thought that these people were fine upstanding people who would be able to make adult decisions and behave like adults. So tell us how all that has worked out for you Mr. Goodsir?

 

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Didn’t See It Coming?

I Told You They’re Dumb

I love mentioning the fact the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald editorialised in favour of Tony Abbott’s Coalition on the eve of the last election. In fact, the upper end of Fairfax management seemed fairly determined to see the ALP government get kicked out, so the actual editorial at the time seemed like Fairfax ‘policy’. In that sense they were no better than Rupert Murdoch who was openly campaigning for Tony Abbott. I don’t know which bit is the most galling – that the editorial argued for the Coalition or that they argued that line based on some imagined principle that political stability – no matter what the ideological framework in practice – was a better government than one riven with internal stress.

One month in we find the same editors bleating about the Tony Abbott-led Coalition government. Good god.

Then there is the ultimate excuse: ”It’s a grey area.” That is a surprise to voters who thought this problem had been settled and acceptable standards made clear. When there is doubt, surely taxpayer interest beats the personal one.

The Prime Minister’s advice to MPs on Monday to ”err on the side of caution” comes far too late. The only way to remove surprises and the need for excuses is to have an independent oversight of rewritten expenses rules that are not based on an honour system.

The Herald has put forward the Greens’ national integrity commission proposal of last year as a template to clean up sports and racing; now is the time to revisit its aims to detect and investigate rorts among federal agencies, ministers and MPs.

Remember that the Coalition came to power because voters were sick of Labor governments betraying their trust through corruption, faceless men and broken promises. Abbott even promised to lead ”a government that accepts that it will be judged more by its deeds than by its mere words”.

Does this strike you as a bit much? It strains incredulity that somehow the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald did not exercise the same sort of parsing acumen in dissecting Tony Abbott’s position, and so did not see that an Abbott-led Coalition government would in fact be a worse government than the ALP. If it wasn’t stupid enough that they thought stability was a good enough reason to change, it appears they were too stupid to see that there was no way on God’s earth that Tony Abbott was going to be able to do anything resembling what he promised. It’s taken less than a month for us to find out that no, he didn’t quite mean what he said about towing back boats, and no, the Federal Government won’t be back in surplus any time sooner than the ALP government had projected a return to surplus.

Broken promises anybody? Do I hear a resounding chorus of complaint that used to greet every Gillard announcement? No. Quite simply, the Coalition were promising bullshit right through their run up to the election and clearly the newspapers did not stick it back in their faces, taking them to task. Couldn’t they see that the Tony Abbott-led Coalition was a thought-free zone? An Anti-intellectual’s party? A gathering of tiny minds fixed in aspic?

We knew that out here in voter land; and so would the editor of the SMH had he been reading the news – his own freaking newspaper – but somehow the editor seems to have not read their own bloody newspaper, or somehow managed to draw all the wrong conclusions. This is staggering when you stop to think about it, because I don’t think I can ever remember a time when the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald  got it so laughably wrong as they have with their endorsement of Tony Abbott. It’s positively comical that they’re now complaining about the very government they endorsed after only one month!

It truly is pathetic what you read in the papers these days. 🙂

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Paul Byrnes, You Suck – Part 1,001

The Worst Reviewer In Australia – Maybe Even The Whole Universe

From time to time I read Paul Byrnes reviews just to see how much I disagree with them. Sometimes I read them even before seeing a film, just to see what pisses him off. With the new Batman movie, it seems quite a lot.

I was going to wait until I saw the actual movie before I took a shot at this this execrable review, but the last bit reads thus:

I agree that Nolan’s Batman is the best yet: more dramatic, more soulful, more realistic. Nolan is a much better director than the character has had before, and the trilogy fits together as a whole, but this final instalment is flabby, and some might wonder at the sensitivity of its metaphors. Comic book superheroes and baddies do not explain the attacks of September 11, nor the Wall Street crisis. The Batman did not save those people, and conflating his fictional power with real-world tragedies is a dangerous game.

Even in literary terms, Batman is not Lear, nor even Sydney Carton heading to the guillotine, no matter how seriously Nolan treats him. He’s a 1930s-era response to the Depression, with a cape and a nice car. His retirement was overdue.

I find that thoroughly idiotic, myopic and willfully obtuse. The notion that Batman the character is not as important as Lear belies the fact that in the Big Now, people are more interested in the latest Batman movie than some production of King Lear somewhere on the planet. I don’t say that arguing ‘5,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong’, but rather, in light of the Big Now that has unfolded since 1970, where the sum total life experience of humanity is more with the living than the dead, surely a character like Batman is easily the equal of King Lear; and that this is the marvel of our contemporary world.

Yes, there have been countless productions of ‘King Lear’ through history seen by many eyes, and read in schools by even more; but it is likely that an even great number of eyes have been graced with Batman in its multitudes of incarnations. Going forwards, it may be the case that the fictional legacy of comic book characters will far outweigh the legacy of even Hamlet, the most important of Shakespeare’s characters.

So, no Mr Byrnes, Batman is not merely the 1930s-era response to the Depression with a cape and a nice car. Batman is so much more than that. Just his ‘nice car‘ is more than that.

The problem is that Paul Byrnes wants to leap to his conclusion so he’s willing to totally ignore what’s actually going on in the world, just so he can write that utterly incorrect last paragraph. I can only surmise from the manner in which he reaches his pre-designated conclusion, that he does so out of a desire to re-assert the hierarchical value system of entertainment and themes that stem from earlier prejudices. And the problem is that they are just that – prejudices on Paul Byrnes’ part. Paul Byrnes still wants to believe in a hierarchy that asserts that literature is better than comic books and therefore movies sourced from Shakespeare are better movies than movies sourced from comic books. I’m sorry, but that’s an antiquated view on what culture is, and where it now lives.

It’s like post-modernism just flew right by him and he didn’t notice. Or he only saw the blur of pastel blue and pink and thought it was a fad.

If Paul Byrnes thinks for a moment that the Batman movies don’t offer any insight into the post 9/11 world and the various discussions about power and justice, wealth and the un-egalitarian economy, then he is clearly not watching properly. If it were any other person, I wouldn’t be bothered in the least bit that they saw 3 movies and didn’t get what was being discussed; but Paul Byrnes is the reviewer for the Sydney Morning Herald! He gets paid to watch, and yet he does not see. If I had Gina Rinehart’s money, the first person I’d sack at the SMH would not be the political editor but Paul Byrnes.

UPDATE: The tragic events in Colorado since the publication of the Paul Byrnes review and this rebuke of Paul Byrnes’ review have rendered all this a bit moot. I think it is manifestly clear that the character Batman has cultural significance even today, when somebody like James Holmes carries out his elaborate massacre and then claims to be The Joker. The fact that a deranged mind out there is living the fantasy of The Joker and by extension Batman – and the fact that this is the prism through which we must understand his actions – leads us to conclude that the cultural relevance of Batman is far from over. I don’t think it’s surprising then that the Paul Byrnes review has been buried and hidden away deep in the SMH site.

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News That’s Fit To Punt – 30/May/2012

Julian Assange Loses Appeal

Here it is, fresh off the press. Julian Assange is going to be extradited to Sweden.

But his lawyer Dinah Rose, QC, asked the UK Supreme Court court for two weeks in which to consider the judgement and possibly to request that proceedings be re-opened as she believed part of the judgement was based on a legal question that had not been raised during the hearing and which she had not had a chance to argue on. She said this related to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

The court gave Mr Assange a stay of 14 days on the extradition order so that Ms Rose could make the application. Mr Assange did not appear in court.
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n a majority decision of five to two, the judges decided that the European Arrest Warrant issued by Sweden asking for Mr Assange’s extradition was legal and should be enforced.

If the court does not allow its proceedings to be re-opened, Mr Assange’s only other legal avenue would be the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. If that court should agree to take his case, he would be allowed to remain in the UK until the hearing.

The scarier thing for Julian Assange of course is the likelihood that he is then swept to the USA where a Grand Jury indictment awaits him.

Mr Assange’s legal advisers are believed to fear that if he goes to Sweden he could then be extradited to the United States, where authorities are considering a range of charges against him over Wikileaks including espionage and conspiracy.

American authorities link him to the case of US Army Private Bradley Manning, who faces court martial over 22 alleged offences, including “aiding the enemy” by leaking classified government documents to Wikileaks.

UA prosecutors reportedly believe that Private Manning dealt directly with Mr Assange and “data-mined” secret databases “guided by Wikileaks list of ‘Most Wanted’ leaks.

Nothing there we don’t already know. Anyway, we should mark the moment where Julian Assange lost his appeal to be extradited to Sweden.

The End Of The SMH As We Know It?

Who’d a thunk the Kiwis were scabs?

Fairfax staff walked out at 5.30pm.

The move came as hundreds of journalists from publishers Fairfax and News Limited met with union officials at stopwork meetings today over ongoing concerns about jobs in the industry.

Fairfax plans to move the mostly sub-editing jobs from newspapers in Newcastle and Wollongong to Fairfax Editorial Services in New Zealand.

At 7pm, the company issued a statement saying it would continue to publish as usual and was disappointed at the decision to strike.

Well, that’s dramatic. Of course it kind of makes sense in the way that all jobs can be out-sourced on some level. If I may, I would  submit that this is a bad decision. The moment you out-source a part of your business, it’s a commitment towards a shorter corporate memory and opening the door to a potential nightmare in prcocess failure. A simple example might be Foxconn who, at arms length from Apple managed to do considerable harm to the Apple brand.

On the other hand, it is entirely reasonable to think that Kiwis can provide the same service as sub-editors in Australia with a much lower cost. If Fairfax thinks these are totally fungible processes, then you can understand how this is happening. Perhaps we as the public should be grateful they didn’t send it to India or the Phillippines like the Telcos do it.

Hypocrisy Truly Knows No Bounds

…or rather, Hypocrisy they name is Abbott.

The government moved to gag the debate and Mr Thomson, who has always voted with Labor since being exiled a month ago, instead joined the other crossbenchers who, on principle, never support a gag motion.

The Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, and the manager of opposition business, Christopher Pyne, made for the doors but Mr Abbott was ordered back by the Speaker, Anna Burke, because it was too late to leave. His vote was counted.

Which is totally motivated by this little bit here:

The opposition does not want to ever accept Mr Thomson’s vote, fearing it could create a precedent in which it may have to grant him a pair in case he takes extended leave from the Parliament, thus negating any numerical advantage it would achieve from his absence.

Mr Abbott has also been demanding the government never accept Mr Thomson’s vote, claiming it is tainted.
Sitting in his office while the numbers were being counted,

Mr Abbott told the National Times Labor should refuse to accept Mr Thomson’s vote just as John Howard used to refuse the turncoat senator Mal Colston’s vote by having a Coalition senator abstain.

He said the Coalition would never be trapped into having to grant Mr Thomson a pair.

Kind of self explanatory.

This Craig Thompson affair has been pretty awful for the last 2years. it won’t go away because the Coalition – in their retarded bully minds – think that if they can get Craig Thompson to quit, then there would be a by-election and hey presto, they get that seat and with it the government. What they don’t seem to get is that the destruction of Craig Thompson’s life through trial by media, as engineered by the Coalition, is going so far into questionable territory that it would taint an in-coming Coalition government for a long time. If Tony Abbott is  willing to do all this to an individual to get his way, then how safe can any citizen feel in this country?

It is true that the allegations against Mr. Thompson are pretty vulgar and scandalous (if you have that turn of mind) but so far charges have not been laid. Yet it is also true that Mr. Abbott is trying to turn Parliament into a kangaroo court and the execution room where death by public opinion is the sought means. His position goes from total disapproval of Fair Work Australia because it favours the unions, but a 100% acceptance of its findings against Thompson after a four year inquiry, during which while it was going on, he used the ongoing investigation as an example for how bad Fair Work Australia was.

You can’t make this stuff up.

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Same Shit, Different Day

More On Property Prices

As if on cue, there are two articles today in the SMH as if to soothe the mounting anxiety about property prices. Here’s Ian Verrender trying to say that it’s not going to crash dramatically, it’s just going to go down slowly.

Among the biggest surprises was that Brisbane, one of the beneficiaries of the resources boom, led the housing market price declines with a 6.7 per cent drop in the year to the end of December.
Adelaide and Melbourne were next in line. But the biggest surprise was the pullback in Perth residential real estate, shedding a whisker under 5 per cent.
Unlikely as it may seem, Sydney was the best performer of all with a decline of just 2.7 per cent over the year. (OK, Canberra outdid Sydney with a 2.6 per cent drop but no one ever pretended it was a normal city.)

He then goes on to argue that these incremental slides down does not amount to a crash.The property market is deflating in an orderly fashion (a bit like the Greek default). But if I were in Brisbane, say and property went down 6.7 % 3 years in a row, that would be close to a 20% drop and I think that would be a massive correction downward that I would feel was a crash. Not to mention these figures are not adjusted for inflation. So… I guess it depends on what people mean by *crash*.

Leith Van Onselen (The name sure sounds like On-Selling to me) has this article here explaining why there’s going to be a slow melt in the coming years.

Given that the NSW stamp duty concession expired on 31 December 2011, there is a high likelihood that demand from NSW first-home buyers will recede over the first quarter of 2012, creating headwinds for Sydney home prices and, by extension, national prices as well.

Tuesday’s release of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) credit aggregates data also signaled more headwinds for the Australian housing market. Despite the recent 0.5 per cent cut in mortgage interest rates, Australian housing credit growth slumped to fresh 34-year lows, suggesting that households are becoming increasingly averse to mortgage debt

That sort of dovetails with the Professor Steven Keene analysis about credit deceleration. Even with lowered interest rates, it’s hard to imagine there will be more people trying to get in than get out. Plus, when the Greeks finally face reality and admit they’re defaulting and when China finally admits it is in financial trouble, one wonders how all this high pricing is going to stay afloat.

That being said, momentum in a market is an amazing thing. It can be very slow to respond to changing circumstances in reality. It’s a little like the Coyote in the Roadrunner cartoons that keeps leaping off the ledge, then looks down to find he has a long way to fall. Somehow momentum keeps carrying the coyote into gravity-defying moments.

Today’s Funny Quote

Following on from yesterday’s kerfuffle with Gina Rinehart trying to do to our democracy what private equity firms do to perfectly fine companies, here’s this remark by an unidentified Fairfax executive:

”Anyone that wanted WA to secede, thought [of] using a nuclear bomb to develop better harbour facilities, does not believe in the science of climate change, thinks the mining resources tax was unfair, wants to import cheap Asian labour to help her make even more money and, most importantly, has no time for any views other than her own is not the ideal person to influence media in this country.”

That just about sums it all up, doesn’t it?

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