Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Waiting for the Feature

 It’s 11pm at a Coffs Harbour sports club. The lone gambler is $400 down and still waiting for the feature.

This particular poker machine, The King of the Nile (pictured), is his favourite. When the coveted 15-free-games feature appears – all too infrequently – any winnings are trebled. Even better, this machine gives him a second chance if the original prize is a meager one.

Problem is he is so far down the gurgler by now that he would need a whopping payback to get anywhere near break-even. Every crisp $50 note he pumps into the slot carries with it an increasingly feverish hope of redemption. And when that has gone, he can replenish his supply of notes from the auto-teller at the door.

Reflecting between spins, he knows this session will end badly, as so many have. It is just a question of how badly....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Secret Sauce

What did the International Monetary Fund say about the Australian economy? We’re heading for a severe slowdown. No, wait! We’re better placed than anyone. Hold on, that’s not right! Julia Gillard is putting a brave face on a grim outlook.

In an age when the source material for most news events is freely available on the web, it is gob-smacking that cynical and desperate media organisations continue to spin multiple versions of agreed facts to suit their own ideological positions.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Untouchables

They squibbed it. Given the chance to tackle News Ltd's stifling and anti-democratic dominance of the metropolitan newspaper market in Australia, the federal government has left ownership issues out of the remit of its independent inquiry into the media.

That was really the only reason for holding an inquiry in the first place. Instead, the inquiry - to be led by former Federal Court judge Ray Finkelstein - will focus on print media regulation, including online publications, and the operation of the Press Council - a body generally considered to be next to useless. This is akin is calling an inquiry into the liquor licensing board in Capone-era Chicago. Until you tackle the gangsters running the show, the Keystone cops appointed to police the precinct are going to prove plod-like in their pursuit of wrong-doing.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Double Fault

 A consequence of our "media insider"-driven interpretation of politics is that journalists' conceit over their proximity to the major agents domestically can leave them blind to the global nature of the crisis in liberal democracies.

Journalists, like commentators sitting cosily in their freebie box seats at the tennis, are so busy praising Abbott's passing shots on asylum seekers or condemning Gillard's clumsy backhand on the Malaysian solution that they cannot see that global issues such as the unregulated mass movement of people across borders, man-made climate change and systemic issues in financial markets are at a level of complexity beyond the ability of mere individual states to resolve.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Anti-Social Media

The Nine Network's recent staged live crosses to a helicopter "in flight" tell you all you need to know about the state of much of our mainstream media  - cynical pretenders that see news as entertainment and their audiences as idiots.