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Wednesday, August 30

World

This Week In Australian Politics

About a month ago, I noted that two Australian politicians had been found after years in parliament to have never been eligible for election because our constitution forbids anyone holding dual citizenship with another country from becoming a federal representative or senator.

The number is now seven confirmed instances and at least another eight possible cases - including the Deputy Prime Minister and the Senate opposition leader.  Labor (the opposition party right now) are sitting on documentation of citizenship status after originally promising to release it, so there are almost certainly more shoes set to drop in coming weeks.

All of which means, basically, nothing, because no-one cares about Australian politics, least of all Australians.

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Saturday, August 12

World

The End Of Google?

Call for Mr Betteridge.  Mr Betteridge to the courtesy phone please.

Unless you've been sleeping peacefully under a rock for the past week - in which case, congratulations - you'll be aware that Google fired an employee.  With over 70,000 employees under the Alphabet umbrella, this is something that must happen every day of the year, but in this case it was handled so ineptly that the resulting chaos resembled a bored teenager setting off a cherry bomb in a nest of crazy ants.

What happened was this: James Damore, a biologist working for Google in some unspecified capacity, disagreed with Google's methods for meeting its diversity quotas and wrote a memo suggesting adjustments to the company's approach.  Damore, being a nerd, evidently forgot that if Rule 1 of Corporate America is CYA, Rule 1a is Don't rock the boat.

The usual suspects leaked this internal memo to the ever-hungry outrage mobs and the mainstream media - if there is any distinction these days - and the relatively dull memo was immediately spun into a latter-day Mein Kampf.  Within a day, the CEO of Google publicly announced the firing of the suddenly inconvenient Damore.

When the CEO of a major public company has to personally address the firing of a single, fairly low-level employee, who has broken no laws nor done anything that - without the leak - anyone outside the company would have even known about, it means that the corporate structure has screwed up, badly.

And the nature and scale of the panic exhibited by Google makes it clear that engineers are no longer running the show.

And that is a huge problem for Google.

We implicitly trust engineers because we know they view the rest of humanity with benign indifference, as long as we don't gum up the works.  Engineers want to build things, and they enjoy seeing the things they build getting put to use.  An engineer-led Google could be trusted implicitly with your email, because they were far more interested in shaving another fifty milliseconds off the response time of the search box than they were in anything you could possibly be mailing back and forth, short of a solution to the Goldbach Conjecture.

The Outrage Mobs, on the other hand, don't care about building things, don't think in fact that anything should be built, but are passionately interested in what you say and what you think and what your motives are.

And if the mobs are gaining power inside Google, as they seem to be, that means there is no longer that implicit trust, that rather, we can expect sooner or later the backlash will take the step from fellow employees to customers.

Which would be utterly disastrous for Google, of course, but as I said, the mobs aren't interested in building things.

Google have so far responded with profound ineptitude to what should really have been a trivial internal problem solved by a chat with HR.  What they do next could save or doom the entire company.

If I were playing the market, I'd go long on Amazon and Microsoft right now.

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Monday, July 31

World

Frog

A very angry frog.

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Tuesday, July 18

World

Australian Politics, Ladies And Gentleman

Turns out that the Australian Greens' Scott Ludlam was ineligible to run for Senate.


It turns out that Greens deputy leader Larissa Walter was also ineligible to run for Senate.

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Monday, June 19

World

Much Ado About Shakespeare

Amid the more visceral chaos of the world this year, there has been something of a contretemps involving the Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar, to wit, that they had placed a Trump-like figure in the part of Caesar.

Those who know anything about the play - or about history - will know one key fact about Julius Caesar, which is to say, he gets stabby-stabby murdered by a gaggle of Roman senators.


Back in the last millennium, I had a minor role in a failed high-school production of Julius Caesar, not so much because I was interested in amateur theatrics, as because it got me out of sports practice for several weeks. The production was being done by the 8th grade, but they were short-handed, so a couple of us 9th graders pitched in seeing as we had studied the play the previous year.

So every week for a couple of months I spent one afternoon in rehearsals. Since my part was a small one and I'd learned it the first day, I took the time to memorise the rest of the play.


And this is the second thing people should know about Julius Caesar, both the play and the man: It's a tragedy.

Was he a tyrant? Perhaps, but less so than many who came later. Was he a great leader? Indubitably. Was it a good idea to kill him?

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men–
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.


The play is unequivocal on this. Though its discussion of the honour of the various characters is subtle and complex, its position on that question is clear enough.  When Marc Antony says, So are they all, all honourable men, what he is saying - and the audience will know this - is that in his opinion not a one of them is deserving of the dignity of a final cigarette.


So to me the interesting question was, how does this production handle this question? Does it present Trump as a noble but flawed figure? Does it present Brutus the same, the assassination a tragic error that he must, for honour, pay for with his life?  The parallel with Trump here would be painfully clear - that the fruitless Russia investigations and the inane and incessant calls for impeachment are folly that can only lead in disaster for all involved.

Or does it play it broadly and bastardise one of the greatest works of English literature in service of convenient political point-scoring?

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Tuesday, May 23

World

Manchester

Sorry, I lack the words.

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Tuesday, May 09

World

Bob Owens

Long-time mu.nu blogger and Second Amendment activist Bob Owens, founder of Bearing Arms, has passed away.

I didn't know him as well as I would have liked, but from everything I saw he was a great guy and his death is a terrible loss.

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Friday, April 07

World

Name That Planet

And for our late-night viewers, a quick game of Name That Planet!

/images/NameThatPlanet1.jpg?size=720x&q=95
A familiar planet seen from an unfamiliar angle.

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World

Name That City

Hello, and welcome to Name That City, the game where you have to name that city.

Our first picture tonight is this beauty:

http://ai.mee.nu/images/NameThatCity1.jpg?size=720x&q=95

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Thursday, January 12

World

BuzzFeed Ben Kills, Eats Puppies On Live Television

Or not.  Hey, here's ten amazing facts about toothpaste!

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