Friday, June 22, 2012

Go to Hell, Australia

Go to Hell, you preening dandies, congratulating yourself on your superior civilisation, your higher levels of enlightenment, your more advanced phase of humanity, constantly patting your own head with such single-minded enthusiasm it never occurs to you to ask yourself what you're contributing to this world.

Go to Hell, you superior preachers, lecturing away at the lower orders for their failure to think the right thoughts, read the right books, watch the right movies or know the right quotes. Go to Hell you pontificating sacks of air who'd rather spend a week scrutinising a sentence with a magnifying glass for traces of incorrect word usage than spend a minute improving someone's life. Go to Hell you sour, withered bags of bones who know nothing of life but how to suck the joy from it, and who know nothing of humanity but how to take offence from it, and who feed on moral superiority and outrage, and who measure life's wonders only in exuberance crushed, difference homogenised, and spirit extinguished.

Go to Hell you snarling halfwits who can find no relief from the sorrows of life except that comes from identifying someone to blame, whose only reaction to being spat on from above is to look downward to see who they can spit on in turn. Go to Hell you grasping trolls with your windy shrieking greed and your drooling envy and your demands that not a raindrop should fall upon the earth without a slice of it being deposited upon your doorstep, and go to Hell you hollow kleptocrats who build your own power on the sale of warning beacons to be lit whenever someone is getting something that someone else doesn't have.

Go to Hell you hidebound bubbles of self-righteous nothing, with your wailing laments for better times, times when life was simpler and folks were friendlier and the air was sweeter and your days were unperturbed by the anxiety of someone who looked different to you walking the streets without fear.

Go to Hell you savage-brained zealots whose lives are so devoid of pleasure and empty of purpose that your atrophied minds can find occupation only in the pursuit and degradation of those with the audacity to seek happiness in ways that you will decry as unnatural, out of nothing but your own tradition-gnarled loathing for anything that disturbs the slimy stagnation you've grown accustomed to. Go to Hell you slobbering apes, with your perverted sense of satisfaction at the violence you wreak on those whose species you are not worthy to inhabit.

Go to Hell you primeval thugs, who deny agency and pride to members of the opposite sex, lest they be given the unnerving impression that they might be human beings. Go to Hell you snivelling apologists for atrocity, you sniggering dogs of oppression, you sleek, grinning, gloating, hearty, human livestock, who bleat and bellow of equality and fairness up until the point at which your fellow citizen asks if you might be persuaded to share. And go to Hell you vomitous frauds who would throw a veil of dewy-eyed concern over your efforts to keep those you claim to protect in a permanent state of fear and inferiority.

And you too, can go to Hell, you hand-wringing hypocrites, who hide your cowardice and selfishness behind that weeping wall of self-righteousness, who feel the prickles of guilt upon your flesh and will not rest until the source of that guilt is nudged neatly out of your line of sight. Go to Hell, you who wail and beat your breast and dab prettily at your eyes over the tragic plight of those less fortunate, and propose as a solution that those less fortunate be made to stay less fortunate, lest they bother us any further. Go to Hell you self-sainted reptilian liars, who demand that we prevent the poor and the desperate from risking their lives on our seas, and insist that instead they risk their lives in their own countries, where we won't have to worry about them, who cry Compassion as your only watchword when proclaiming your schemes to save people's lives by denying them a life worth living, when lecturing us all on the necessity of cruelty in the service of kindness, and kindness in the service of indifference. Go to Hell you leering goblins of misery, and dig yourselves deeper with every oily, disingenuous word, with every fork-tongued proposal to build better fences to obviate the need to concern ourselves with how we treat our neighbours.

And go to Hell, too, you damnable bigots who cling gleefully to that map of the world that floats before your eyes, a world populated by brown puppets with strings to be pulled, and kindly white puppeteers with plans that are all for the best.

But most of all, go to Hell you lordly chiefs, who seat yourselves on high, atop hills of broken bodies and treasure piles of worldly pain, who draw power and wealth from all those mentioned above. Go to Hell you warlords who owe your position to the dissemination of fear and the force-feeding of hatred, to the fuelling of anger and the widening of divisions. Go to Hell you vampiric stormcrows, spewing darkness and terror onto the quivering masses below, because you know that without darkness and terror someone may catch a glimpse of the vacuuous toads you really are. Go to Hell you avaricious bottom-feeding insects who amass more and more at the expense of those who have nothing, who build your castles from the disappointments of those with not a hundredth your fortune, and a hundred times your worth.

Go to Hell, all of you, for your breeding of inhumanity and profiting from cruelty, your celebration of ignorance and destruction of knowledge, your contempt for the world and vendetta against those you share it with, and your lying, hateful, blustering, selfish, imbecilic rampage through life.

And go to Hell, all of us, who won't lift a finger to change a thing, safe in the knowledge that as long as we can find somewhere that's worse, there's no reason to try to make here any better.

We can all, safely and soundly, go to Hell.

Monday, June 18, 2012

How To Fairfax (and WIN!)

A lot of people have been talking about Fairfax and where it went wrong and where it can go right and what needs to be fixed and how far back in time we have to travel in our magical time-fridge to fix it. 

Now, I am in a unique position to address this issue, because on the one hand I am a Fairfax columnist, which means I am a moribund dinosaur just begging to be put out of my misery, but on the other hand I am a blogger, which means I am an agile, exciting citizen journalist taking my rightful place at the peak of the media mountain and set to make a fortune in promoting nappy rash cream. And on a freakish third hand, I have a keyboard in front of me, which means I am a seasoned expert in the media industry and corporate governance.

As such I, like everyone else in the country, know exactly where Fairfax failed, and exactly how it can succeed.

First of all, it needs to invest more in quality journalism. People want to read quality journalism and it is only by investing in quality journalism that money can be made. Nobody ever made money in Australia by not investing in quality journalism - just look at Solomon Lew. Look at him! Weirdly out of proportion, isn't he? You see me point.

Secondly, engage with readers on social media. This might mean "logging in" to  do twitters, or getting a Second Life account, but the important thing is to engage. News is better when it's engaged. A good way to engage with readers is by saying "Thanks for your feedback!" or "That was a good joke about how I'm losing my job! LOL!"

Thirdly, be bloggers. Bloggers are the people who report the news nowadays, not journalists, and being a blogger is the best thing to be. Bloggers are more flexible and intelligent and they are not straitjacketed by old-style notions of what reporting means, so they are free to tell the truth. If you stop being journalists and start being bloggers you will tell more of the truth and less of the not-truth.

Fourthly, stop being bloggers. Blogger don't know anything because they don't wear leather shoes and never hang around in bars with Paul Howes. Bloggers are fine for sitting around in their pyjamas and putting stupid captions on a photo of Tony Abbott in a shower cap, but if you want someone to break into the Watergate you need a good old-fashioned alcoholic, and bloggers will never be that, so stop being bloggers.

Fifthly, don't put up paywalls! What is the first rule of business? Give the customer what they want. Customers don't like paywalls - they will not pay for them. What customers want to pay for is free content. If you give readers free content they will pay through the nose - believe me, the minute you start charging for things, customers will stop paying for them. If you REALLY want to make a lot of money, you have to stop expecting anyone to give you any money. This is an Ironclad Law Of The Media

Sixthly, get a Kickstarter. Kickstarters are a way for Clever People in the Digital Age to make money by asking people to give them money for things. This is different from a paywall because it is crowd-sourcing and is the democratisation of information. What you do is, you set a certain limit that has to be reached, for example "If we raise $2500 I will tell you what the Police Commissioner said at his press conference" and everyone who makes a donation of over $50 gets a t-shirt reading "Journalists Do It Till You're Accountable". In this way everyone feels they have gained Ownership of things, and the media industry thrives in a post-factual world.

Happy Fairfaxing!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Friday, June 8, 2012

Racking Up The Century

Way back in 2009, when my old friend Cam Smith said to me, "Hey, let's do a podcast!" I never thought we would ever record 100 episodes. Mainly because I refused to do it, telling Cam in no uncertain terms what I thought of his shady schemes. And yet, I began to weaken when he explained he needed to do a podcast to pay off his gambling debts. And I weakened even further when he said he had my children in a secret location and would allow me telephone contact with them if I made podcasts with him. And so I enthusiastically joined in the fun.

We named the podcast "Gather Around Me", after our favourite movie, starring Mickey Rooney and Jessie Matthews, which told the story of an impoverished chorus girl who meets a wizened dwarf in the street who she beats to death and robs, thus finding happiness and wealth.

Since those humble beginnings, when we recorded our first 'cast, which mainly consisted of Cam switching the microphone on and off and whispering "test" for half an hour, we've gone from strength to strength. From episode 15, when we recorded the sounds of our vigorous lovemaking, to episode 28, when we killed a pig live in the studio, to episode 49, the infamous "cholera" episode, to episode 67, when special guest Ron Barassi drank three litres of Jaegermeister and turkey-slapped the microphone repeatedly while reciting The Highwayman; it's been a wild ride. I've loved/hated every minute of it.

To get to 100 podcasts is a massive achievement - not many people do it, or even desire to. But after lots of hard work and unidentified pills, here we are, the Derek and Clive of our generation, and I am very very proud to present to you all:


Featuring discussions, among other things, of:

- Neighbours' racism
- Todd McKenney's anger
- Nemeses
- Time-travelling comedy
- Ann-Maree Biggar
- Being sober
- The follies of youth

Enjoy listening! If you're new to Gather Around me, why not browse the archives and subscribe on iTunes? It's free, and there are surprises around every corner!