anthonybaxter: (Default)
Someone on CNN has an appropriate sense of perspective, at least:

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Is Anna Nicole Smith still dead, Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes, we're going to -- updating our viewers coming up shortly on...
CAFFERTY: I can't wait for that.
BLITZER: ... the mysterious circumstances surrounding that, Jack. Thank you.

[update: ThinkProgress has the video, and yes, it's delivered with the snarkiness you'd imagine from the above transcript]

This bullshit non-story is still on the front page of the Age [update: website, not paper, at least - although it's the full front page of the Hun], and is in the list of "top stories" on the ABC News website. Aargh.

John Rogers delivers the best response to CNN:
... if you compare Anna Nicole Smith to Marilyn Monroe unironically one more time, the shambling corpses of JFK and Bobby will claw their ways from their graves and cut a fearsome brain-eating swath of undead terror through the terrified populace until they reach your studios in Atlanta and summon down a Cthulhoid hell upon you.]
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A few days late, but here's some of my highlights from the world of media.

First off, the world of TV.

The new show of the year is far and away "Heroes" (starting soon on Channel 7 in Australia). The premise sounds a bit X-Men-ish. People all over the world start discovering they have superpowers. But it's anything but - it's great writing, sensational characters and a plot that twists and turns and spins and spirals. Almost every episode ends with a cliffhanger that will leave you eagerly anticipating the next show. There are many moments in the show that have left me open-mouthed with delight - it is that damn fine. A quick note that this really isn't a superhero show to show the small kiddies - drug use, violent death and quite a lot of other things that the Justice League cartoons didn't cover on Saturday mornings.

A second place is probably to Showtime's new show "Dexter". Michael Hall (who played the uptight gay brother David on Six Feet Under) plays a serial killer. One with a difference - he works as a police forensics expert during the day, and hunts and kills other killers at night. He knows exactly what he is - a monster - and this is the way he channels this into something better. It's not for everyone - it's uncomfortable, in places quite gory, and extremely disturbing. But it's good - and Hall in the title role is just stunning.

Other highlights for the year include 30 Rock (mostly for Alec Baldwin - a complete comedy genius, who knew?)
Older shows that I finally watched and got hooked by include The Wire and Stephen Fry's QI. Much of QI is on youtube, and is worth checking out.

And of course The Daily Show continues to produce some of the finest satire on TV. Their episode the Monday morning after Dick Cheney shot his 78 year old friend in the face when hunting "pen-raised wingless quailtards" is some of the funniest stuff you will ever, ever see. I find the spinoff The Colbert Report patchier, but only by comparision to TDS - when Colbert hits the mark, it's brilliant and savage.


This year I've really found myself drawn back to non-fiction for some reason. There's been many a good book out this year, particularly in the area of politics. Thomas Ricks' "Fiasco" is the best book so far on what the fuck happened in Iraq these last few years. Ron Suskind and Seymour Hersh also produced excellent work this year in the same area.

The most disturbing book I've read (well, am still reading) this year is Dominic Streathfield's "Brainwash: A Secret History of Mind Control". The same author penned a magnificent book a few years ago titled "Cocaine", which should be on everyone's reading list. This new one is compelling, but at the same time leaves me feeling quite unwell at times. Some of the things that have been done in the last 50 years or so are so completely messed up - and in some cases, it was just someone curious about "what happens when we try this?"

As far as fiction, the end of the year I received the first book of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. Miss S. discovered that I hadn't read it and insisted on buying the first book in the series for me, immediately. It's terrific stuff. I'm a little wary of fantasy these days - too much of it is just rubbish. This is anything but. It's well written, features an interesting world and damn, damn, I want to know how it ends. Fortunately all 3 books are out - I just need to visit a bookshop to grab book number 3.


Dec. 1st, 2006 01:36 am
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One of the very tedious parts of occasionally reading all of the Australian is coming across a column by opinion writer Glen Milne, unofficial Liberal Party Spokesman and Official Biggest Gobbler Of The Costello Penis In The Media.

I'm not the only one. tends to point out his failings on a regular basis.

Turns out, Glen Milne is a little bit bad at getting criticised:

The annual Walkley Awards for journalism were rocked by an attack on stage tonight at the Crown Casino in Melbourne.
Controversial writer Stephen Mayne was attacked by Sunday Telegraph columnist Glenn Milne.
Mayne had just finished awarding the best business news report to the Australian Financial Review's Morgan Mellish when Milne rushed up onto the stage and accosted Mayne, pushing him off the platform and onto the floor.
Milne then began berating Mayne from the stage as the audience, which consisted of a representation of Australia's top journalists, looked on horrified.
Milne called Mayne "a disgrace" and continued to abuse him from the stage, while the floor manager rushed to restrain him.
Mayne jumped back on stage but Milne almost broke free from the clutches of the floor manager, forcing Mayne to jump from the stage.
Milne was then escorted from the stage and ejected from the Crown Casino Palladium Ballroom.

The Age also covers it, does

Berating Mr Mayne about making unsubstantiated claims on the popular media critique website, Milne had to be restrained by security guards and escorted offstage.
“Thanks buddy, thank you,” Mr Mayne replied, provoking a fresh charge from the tuxedoed Milne.
The ballroom full of guests at Melbourne's Crown Casino cheered and whistled as Milne stumbled down the stairs and, still yelling insults, was led away.
Not to be upstaged, the uninjured Mr Mayne dusted himself off and paid tribute to his detractor, saying “Ladies and Gentlemen, I have an announcement to make on behalf of (News Ltd owner) Rupert Murdoch.”
“That is the former Sunday Telegraph political correspondent Glenn Milne, sponsored by Fosters.”
Mr Mayne named the unprecedented stage dive one of the “great moments in Crikey's history”.
“That's even better than (Nine Network boss) Eddie McGuire saying 'I wouldn't even cross the street to give Crikey a backhander',” Mr Mayne said.
“Glenn, that's right up there, that's the best one I've ever seen.”

Nothing on youtube yet. I hope someone taped it.

video here (thanks Halo!)
Milne seems pretty drunk, but sheesh, that's no excuse.

Hopefully this is a trend, and we'll next see someone glassing Piers Ackerman.
anthonybaxter: (Default)
I can't say I watched it often, nor can I claim to be surprised (a little birdy told me this was going to happen, a couple of weeks ago):

THE ABC last night axed its popular and irreverent television comedy show, The Glass House, which has been at the centre of a storm over allegations of anti-Howard Government bias.
The decision to axe The Glass House came despite the show achieving its highest ratings since it first went to air in 2001 - with average audiences of 728,000.
The program regularly outrated commercial programs in the same time slot and this year won a peak audience of almost 860,000 viewers.

What a shock. The Culture Warriors on the right strike again. All Must Conform To The Glorious New Order.

How much longer will Clarke and Dawe last? Any bets?
anthonybaxter: (mini-me)
Family First in hacker attack

Well, if by "hacker attack", you mean "they had an open form that encouraged you to post blog entries", then, sure.

The journalist in question (Jane Holroyd) got spun, plain and simple. Poor work on her part.

"It is day one of an election campaign and it is interesting that you found out before Family First found out," [party spokeswoman Felicity Dargan] told
"It shouldn't happen in politics. It's just not necessary."

Then don't create a webpage that allows anyone to post entries, you fools.

Perhaps the reason the age found out before you is because you're idiots? Just a thought.

Kyle and Damien have more.

(A pity - I was going to post something from "Jamie Packer" thanking Senator Fielding for the several billion dollars I now have to spend on increasing my gambling empire, but it got yanked first)
anthonybaxter: (Default)

Can IE7 kill off phishing?

Phishing could soon be a thing of the past and the credit may have to go to Microsoft. That's according to a leading Web security expert who says functionality built into Internet Explorer 7 could shutter fraudulent Web sites within 18 months.
Tim Callan, a director at VeriSign, said anti-phishing guards in IE 7 -- which will warn users off malicious Web sites where they may be asked to submit personal information such as bank or credit cards details -- will help restore badly damaged consumer confidence.

Total clown-town piece, big floppy shoes and all. MS's inability to design sane and secure applications (cough outlook cough IE cough) is a major part of why phishing is such a big problem. A few small changes (the sort of thing google toolbar has had for well over a year) and they get one of the rent-a-quote crowds out there spouting Hosannahs. But I want to draw your attention to the little box on the right hand side - the 'related news' box.

That second article:

Spoofing bug found in IE 7

Security experts have found a weakness in Internet Explorer 7 that could help crooks mask phishing scams, the type of attack Microsoft designed the browser to thwart.
IE 7, released last week, allows a Web site to display a pop-up that can contain a spoofed Web address, security monitoring company Secunia said Wednesday. An attacker could exploit this weakness to trick people into believing they are on a trusted Web site when in fact they are viewing a malicious page, Secunia said in an alert.

So I guess the answer to "Can IE7 Kill Off Phishing?" is "Not while Microsoft programmers are writing the code for it, no".
The answer to the rent-a-quote crowd - I wish I knew.
anthonybaxter: (Default)
Both of these on the front page today:

The Age: Liberals face crushing loss at poll
The poll, conducted last Friday and over the weekend, shows support for Labor after distribution of preferences at 56 per cent, way ahead of the combined Liberal/Nationals vote of 44 per cent.
This represents a swing away from the Government of two percentage points since its record win at the 2002 election — but a one point move back to Labor compared to the last poll, taken two months ago.

The Hun: Poll reveals Labor backlash
THE Bracks Government is facing a voter backlash and could lose up to 16 seats, an exclusive Herald Sun poll shows.
The poll of 800 Victorians, conducted on October 17 and 18, shows that the primary vote for Labor has fallen to 44 per cent, down from the 48 per cent recorded at the 2002 election.
On a two-party preferred basis the swing against Labor is 5.8 per cent.
Liberal support rose from 33.9 per cent to 39 per cent.

The Age: And it records a surge towards the Greens. Their vote is up from 10 per cent at the last election to 13 per cent
The Hun: The vote for the Nationals, who hold seven seats, rose marginally while the Greens vote fell from 9.7 to 7 per cent.

The Age: If the vote in the latest ACNielsen poll were repeated at election, Mr Bracks would be returned with only a slightly reduced majority. A uniform two percentage point swing against the Government across the state would result in Labor losing just three seats — Evelyn (held by Heather McTaggart with a margin of 0.4 per cent), Hastings (Rosy Buchanan, 0.9 per cent) and Gembrook (Tammy Lobato, 1.6 per cent).
The Hun: THE Bracks Government is facing a voter backlash and could lose up to 16 seats, an exclusive Herald Sun poll shows.

Confused? Yes, well, that's hardly suprising. The Age is reporting two-party-preferred numbers, while the hun is reporting primary votes. Neither of them, in their online stories, report things like margin of error, or the full set of data. Of course, it's also pretty clear that the hun is going all out for the Liberals, the age is biased (but less so) towards the ALP. But still - guys. This is bad reporting, on both sides. It's totally unclear what the polls actually said. I'm guessing that at least the age probably had the full table of data inside the paper, and I'd hope the herald-sun did, too. But only sad politics geeks like me check that stuff out.
anthonybaxter: (Default)
There's a big long feature in this weekend's Washington Post about Doonesbury and Garry Trudeau. It's fascinating reading.

For those who don't know, Doonesbury's been going since the early 1970s - an amazing run. And while it's had ups and downs, the last year or so has had some sensational and touching moments - Trudeau had one of his main characters lose a leg in Iraq, and has been exploring what the impact of this is. It's been extraordinary, and it becomes clear partly why from this piece:
What happened next was unusual, to say the least. Within a day or two of B.D. lying broken on that stretcher, Garry Trudeau, bane of every presidential administration since Nixon's (particularly the current one, which he has absolutely lacerated), got a call from the Pentagon. The brass was offering to help him figure out where to go next.

Anyway, I'm a big fan of Doonesbury (and of comics, generally), so I found this a really interesting article.
anthonybaxter: (Default)
Imagine what post-Katrina New Orleans is like. Imagine you're a journalist or columnist working there - a year's worth of tales of misery and despair. The local paper (The Times-Picayune) has a columnist, Chris Rose, I've checked out occasionally over the last year, and it's been really quite depressing. Not suprisingly, all this had an impact on him - he finally realised he needed help. He's written his tale of depression and seeking help down, and it's an excellent piece. If you're not sure about seeking help for depression you might have, read this. I wish I'd had something like this back in the time where I was too stubborn to see a doctor about how I was coping (or not) with the world.

Anyway, it's a good piece. Go read.

(And why o why isn't the state of New Orleans a campaign issue in the US? Here's a free slogan for the democrats: "It's The Competence, Stupid")
anthonybaxter: (Default)
Prime Minister John Howard says people worried about News Corporation buying a stake in the media group Fairfax need to calm down.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has paid $364 million for a 7.5 per cent share in Fairfax.

Mr Howard says the Government's new media laws are not behind the acquisition.

Uh huh. Sure. Right. It's just a GIANT COINCIDENCE that Packer sold off a chunk of PBL (while maintaining control, nice effort), Stokes is moving on the WA newspapers, and now Murdoch is moving on Fairfax.

I mean, there's assuming everyone is stupid, and there's assuming everyone is really, really, really stupid.

From the same article:

Communications Minister Helen Coonan says she is not surprised by the string of media deals being struck this week.

Last week Senator Coonan said she did not expect to see a wave of takeovers as a result of the Federal Government's new media ownership laws.

Oh my god - look! ABC bias in action! Pointing out that a federal minister is spinning absolute shite!


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