Only sentimentalism could have saved the Australian car industry

There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth over the news that Toyota will follow its fellow foreign-owned carmakers GM Holden, Ford and Mitsubishi in ending car assembly in Australia. But at least from an economic point of view, there shouldn't be. The basic problem for the Australian car industry has nothing to do with … Continue reading Only sentimentalism could have saved the Australian car industry

The Facebook decline paper is a disgrace to Princeton’s name

The obvious answer to the question "why won't Facebook decline by 80% by the end of December this year" is "because obviously it won't, what kind of idiot would even claim it would?". It's the leading social network in all age groups, and between July and December 2013 total user numbers only fell by 3%. … Continue reading The Facebook decline paper is a disgrace to Princeton’s name

Content filtering is stupid, but you are stupider

There's been masses and masses of fuss over the last couple of days about the implementation of opt-out content filtering for porn in the UK. As everyone sensible argued in great detail at the time the PM promised it following a Massive Stupid Media Panic, content filtering is pointless: it's easy to bypass, provides a … Continue reading Content filtering is stupid, but you are stupider

Ronnie Biggs wasn’t a hero or a villain, just an idiot

The death of Great Train Robber (which, rather like the Holy Roman Empire, is a descriptive phrase that falls down on all possible counts) Ronnie Biggs has led to some predictable, polarised reactions: the geezer-ish "he was a fackin' legend!", and the handwringing "but he was a violent cwiminal!". Both are fairly stupid. Ronnie Biggs … Continue reading Ronnie Biggs wasn’t a hero or a villain, just an idiot

High Court did the best it could on same-sex marriage

The fact that marriage isn't yet equal in Australia is saddening, depressing and annoying. But, given John Howard's 2004 anti-equal-marriage amendment to federal marriage law and the fact that the Constitution explicitly reserves marriage to the federal government, the High Court made the right decision. For the Australian Capital Territory's Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act … Continue reading High Court did the best it could on same-sex marriage

Did globalisation kill satire? And is that for the best?

How should we judge someone's words? By intent, by effect, or what? How much does unintended offence matter? Also, LILY ALLEN and TWERKING and EATING IRISH BABIES. I do therefore humbly offer it to public consideration that of the hundred and twenty thousand children already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only … Continue reading Did globalisation kill satire? And is that for the best?

Globalisation and the death of literary Australiana

Anne Treasure has written an excellent piece on the impact of digitisation and globalisation on the publishing industry. The piece is global in scope, and works well in the context of UK and US publishers and writers. The picture is more complicated in Australia, where the global shift creates an additional problem. Traditionally books by … Continue reading Globalisation and the death of literary Australiana