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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Friday, 9 January 2009
The Google Adsense experience ... so far at non profit SAM micro news

Well call us slow but after 2 years and a month dithering we finally managed to take the plunge and subscribe to Google Adsense.

On the upside, it wasn't really that difficult to work out where to place the html code they allocate to you. It wasn't that frustrating reading carefully for several hours (in aggregate over several weeks break in between, sometimes refreshing) over the terms, policies, how to, extra mysteries to track down later etc. They are very user friendly it seems.

The biggest advantage was realising early that the "source view" for the html code to insert in SAM articles are easy enough to access and add to via a blog tool. I had noticed the existence of these programmes way back 2 years ago subscribing to our host web server, a big US company. Indeed we have learned that 70% of our readers are US based. So we are actually a 'US blogger' in Sydney Australia. Given there is a Sydney USA somewhere over there, it might be confusion.

There are 'blog tool' programmes for just about every web host server apparently. So the entry page has WYSIWIG which is jargon for What You See Is What You Get - not just the name as I recall of a downtown photo laboratory in the 1990ies here in Sydney for getting colour slides copied. The entry page has also switch button for source code for the article just written.

Inserting adverts around the general infrastructure of the SAM website, not just within article entries is a much bigger ask. This means really going into the html source code - which we are just starting to sniff around now. Especially the big white blank streak at bottom left of the screen that would take a skyscraper ad unit no worries.

We are allowed 3 'link ad units' and '3 text/image based ad units' per web page. Given our SAM front page was running at 10 articles of roughly a screen length long each (or 10 screen length scrolls per page) we soon realised we needed to limit our front page to 5 articles. Our web host server allows 1 or 5 or 10 front page articles so we stayed with 5 which is reasonable spacing of 5 often text based articles and 3 picture adverts and 3 link based adverts. We have also copied the crikey.com.au technique of setting a divider in place to avoid any editorial confusion between content and mucky money. And given we are not permitted to click on the links ourselves without a preview tool (at risk of being banned) so far we have no idea who is behind many of these advertised services/products.

So now the first shaky steps in the world of html proceeds in order to copy and paste the code provided by Google Adsense. They are very efficient too filling the advert spaces within a very short time sometimes paying, often charity slots. But who are they paying? Not SAM content provider would be our view. That's how Google is rich and we just a little micro news blogger.

But their "complex algorithms" as a "technology company" are impressive. Not least because they have bot crawlers that appear to match up the content of the articles and origin of the readers - which is information SAM doesn't really have even as the webpage creator. We presume anyway that the adverts for Arabic and Hebrew language courses, for local Holden cars, for foreign diplomacy education, teaching in the UK etc all reflect the segments of the 25,000 readers per month from those places.

These adverts are quite informative of services out there in the world which is something the advertising industry claims for their product in the uplifting sense. So yes they are quite compatible with the look and goals of the SAM non profit ethos. Who is actually behind those adverts and services we have no idea.

There is a micro managing tool called "channels" which we have little clue about so far. And we have realised over night that with about 1000 stories already on the site, that's 6 x 200 html advert scripts we could be adding onto the site. That feels like a fair bit of drudgery for probably scant income. But who really knows.

We would welcome comments or advice on experience of non profits or community based blogs as to either income, presentation or know how.

Posted by editor at 11:04 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2009 12:17 PM EADT
SAM editor probably first to reveal ID of Katherine Wilson expert hoaxer of Keith Windschuttle
Topic: independent media

Rabble rouser on the roof ? Quadrant bete noire Katherine Wilson in her days with Green Roofs Australia.

Rabble rouser on the roof ? Quadrant bete noire Katherine Wilson in her days with Green Roofs Australia.
Photo: Rodger Cummins

This hoax prank was discussed by Marg Simons on Crikey.com.au yesterday, both in the main ezine on Thursday:

Outing 'Sharon Gould': the hoaxer's identity revealed 8 Jan 2008

where we comment as follows:

Tom McLoughlin
Thursday, 8 January 2009 4:00:05 PM
Katherine possibly misunderstands the capacity for campaigner analysis [in thinking she could stay covert]. She hadn't written for a while so a good prospect of going under cover. She had the record on very good stories on the politics of genetically modified organisms which appeal to greenies like moi.

As I was saying on Marg's blog I can demonstrate I had it by 4.32 pm on Tuesday under my "Mmm" comment, but earlier actually as I read it early arvo at the local job agency instead of doing my job applications. Ha ha. Which is where I ought to be right now, and God bless Barry Cohen for being symapthetic in a piece in The Oz in mid December being an ex Federal ALP minister when unemployment was stalking the land.

I was thinking as I read the lead story - who wrote those strong GMO stories for crikey in the last year. Then I was trying to remember is it Murphy, is it Kate. As it was I googled the right name first time and when I saw "co-editor of Overland" on the face of the search it was doh. Motive being a rival journal. Skills being an editor. Skills having written on the topic. Motive being of the progressive side of things. And also Modus Operandi. KW's articles showed depth of research, which was a plank of the hoax too.

But you never can be sure. I thought about blogging it for myself but hey I thought the traffic should go to those that did the project so I put it in a comment. To be honest I was also thinking, if I'm wrong, or it's denied I could be sued for defamation so I left it as speculation. Bit lawyerly coward there but yeah it's true [I was cautious].

Simons also writes on her crikey sponsored blog The Content Makers here:

Who Killed "Sharon Gould"? , by Margaret Simons

SAM's editor here Tom McLoughlin was one of the first, and probably the first, to publicly state that Katherine Wilson, freelancer and researcher into the politics and science of genetically engineered organisms, was the newly famous hoaxer. Here are the relevant comment posts dated variously from Tuesday 6th January when the story ran, with ours in bold below being the crucial one naming the hoaxer Ms Wilson:

* at 'Sharon Gould' speaks: the difference between hoax and fraud crikey ezine 8th Jan 09, comment:

Tom McLoughlin
Wednesday, 7 January 2009 1:20:34 PM
I feel like writing my guess of who Shane, err sorry Sharon Gould, is on a piece of paper and giving it to a friend to keep in their wallet. But methinks the hoaxer whoever s/he may be will declare sooner or later, especially after the silly season front page prominence in the big media has got made it's mark. The clues are there without even looking at the bogus Quadrant article. But if I mentioned the lines of inquiry it might cramp their style. One google and I got my suspect. Anyway I might be totally off track. We shall see.


* at Gould and Windschuttle: The fallout crikey ezine Wed 8th Jan 09, comment:
Tom McLoughlin
Wednesday, 7 January 2009 2:16:31 PM
As said I suspect it's one for the literati, and fair enough, given they make a crust from getting this stuff right or not. True to say it's confection to displace Gaza and Israel nukes and possible Iran nukes and the who[ole] damn mess Cheney and GW have left us in. And thank heaven for little sanity breaks from that too.

And I am quite sure .... s/he the hoaxer is not thee, Margaret Simons. I reckon I know. But here's the thing - it's totally not the same as the Helen Dale fraudster case. That was genuinely fraud. This was a test because it was self declared a hoax soon after publication.

I've a good mind to call Bob Phelps of Genethics and ask him if my guess is right, and no I don't think it was him. Enjoy your fame Hoaxer you really worked hard for it.


Tom McLoughlin
Wednesday, 7 January 2009 4:17:14 PM
Damn it, I just can't sit on this, it's like I'm busting:

Katherine Wilson (and Bernard Keane, subbing?) meet Sharon Gould? Sharon Gould meet Katherine Wilson?

Exhibit 1, 21 July 2008

"CSIRO scientist's GM letter campaign 'backfires' "


Tom McLoughlin

Wednesday, 7 January 2009 4:22:30 PM
Exhibit 2?

Google Australia: Katherine Wilson Overland

Result: "Voices from the edge - Books - www.theage.com.au
Nathan Hollier and Katherine Wilson, the joint editors of Overland, the left- wing literary and cultural magazine,"

3rd entry from top etc etc. She's got the skills, the history on GMO, the wit and flair. She's my candidate until I'm told otherwise.

The comment above analysis by SAM's editor was alluded to indirectly by the SMH in today's press. Notice their use of "candidate" from SAM's "She's my candidate until I'm told otherwise.". SMH write:

"Bloggers "outed" Wilson as a likely candidate for the hoax " in The blogs of war: how Quadrant hoaxer was outed 9th January 2009

The hoax was to get a well written but bogus article into Quadrant past 'footnotes Nazi' and ABC Board member Keith Windschuttle.

We feel we may well have been the first to ID the hoaxer which we can verify by indirect means: For instance we also published on a crikey comment string a day earlier under a pseudonym "Mmm" with the words "we have a name in mind" timed at 4.32 pm Tuesday 6th January. This was the same day that the story was published - around midday:

In How Windschuttle swallowed a hoax to publish a fake story in Quadrant By Margaret Simons 6th January 2009, comment:


Tuesday, 6 January 2009 4:32:32 PM
I already have a name in mind. It looks like a royally executed prank. Whether it really has deeper political consequences I'm really not sure. One for the literati perhaps. By all means enjoy. Something to console oneself as Howard gets his medal of freedom.

Notice how the Toad, to quote a veteran wonk, wraps himself in the flag even at this dreadful time. A bit like Henderson airbrushing perhaps a million deaths and saying history still has to judge. Like yeah we did in the street in Sydney 2003 with 250,000 -500,000 rally unprecedented in my time saying No War in Iraq.

As if the Australian people agreed with him and he still says it's a medal in our name. What a nerve the guy has. Is Windshuttle the Toad's toadlet as it were still on the ABC Board?


Purely by coincidence we explained our use of "Mmm" handle (on rare occasions) the day before 5th January 2008 waiting for crikey ezine to resume after the summer break:

In 2008: Dashed dreams and mouldy political compromise, 19 December 2008, comment,

Tom McLoughlin
Monday, 5 January 2009 1:23:20 PM
Mmm. There's a clue for you Venise. If you go back to some of the Crikey comments by Mmm that will be my alter ego. It's when personal security overcomes transparency of authorship. Otherwise I try to own what I say. .....

[That pseudonym "Mmm" was lifted off a nickname for a geek here in Sydney by the name of Kenaar then at Friends of the Earth Sydney 1995-2001. The nickname was in turn given to Kenaar probably by the now dearly departed (and somewhat famous) super geek Pred, aka Predator, aka Cave Clan member Mike Carlton, may he rest in peace.)]

We don't use "Mmm" as a handle very much. Only when we feel too insecure physically and sometimes legally which is not very often at all. In this case we

1. didn't want our identity to lead to clues who it really was, at least not for another 24 hour news cycle, and

2. a possibly misplaced sense of chivalry that if we blogged the identity which was virtually certain given the rival journal Overland connection, then we would get traffic that really belonged with the hoaxer and the chosen outlet for that reportage being crikey.com.au.

Then after the big splash in the press last Wednesday by that afternoon we sort of decided it was a race to name the hoaxer so we jumped in on a comment string late Wednesday. Even then being a little careful in case it became an issue of defamation blowback, genuinely or falsely denied ID. By Thursday the hoaxer outed herself as indeed Katherine Wilson, soon to be proud mum apparently.

It's all there via the crikey newsletter and Marg Simons blog The Content Makers. Meanwhile we press on with Google Adsense of which we will be writing about soon too.

[As an update, late Friday 9th January 2009] The SMH (above) was very flattering to Katherine Wilson with nice big picture story promoting Green Roof Australia. A great initiative by the way. We've been meaning to write on it via clips etc. The Australian quoting her father alot was also a nice touch in keeping with their patriarchical Murdoch leanings. But The Oz were putting an angle on it with their headline about her being a cultural/gmo "warrior":

Quadrant hoaxer an anti-GM warrior | The Australian9 Jan 2009

That is, to portray as an axe grinder and so be read down accordingly, and that she didn't have 'real' points of principle to make.

Keep in mind WindThrottle (!) is on the ABC Board our premier cultural institution. He wants this to go away desperately. THAT is the political dimension. He should resign for lack of credibility. His mates are keen to protect him. Earlier this evening we vented out spleen at one of his supporters, which was not much better than a flame on our part and duly moderated off the board, but gee it felt good:

In Who killed "Sharon Gould"? 8 Jan 2009, comment:

Tom McLoughlin, Posted January 9, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

What alot of pompous hogwash Andy George. Simons had a cracking story.

Windschuttle is a public figure. He's made a crust and reputation as Mr Fine Tooth Comb aka Footnote Nazi. He's a big tough debater. He can defend himself ... or not.

Get off your house paint white Shetland Pony you dope.

We will be lucky if we get 20 more stories like this one. Let's just repeat, the guy is arguably a creation of the Howard regime and then PMC office, a PM who was not only thrown out of government but out of his own seat. We've since had the widely celebrated Sorry Ceremony. A new high court judge who want to further improve Native Title processes. A leading business man who until the GFC got all the big players to agree to a 50K job drive for the First Australians.

And we have apologists for ruthless, murderous squattocracy, many of whom are close to white supremacists in love with mother England in the Antipodes. Well F... You. If you believe all that hogwash - then go and live there and give us Fenians, yellow, coffee and other mongel races, a bit of space to get on with the business of adaptation to the land we're in, including respect for the Originals.

It's so obvious you are [a] semi retired boomer. God I?m sick of them hogging everything. Bunch of fat arses.

The conservatives at The Oz want the story to fizzle, especially the fact WindThrottle demands but can?t meet his own academic standards. People forget the Howard Years hurt alot of people. Alot. And Windthrottle was part of that machine. That?s why they hid it away on page 4 far margin today. SMH went the even pages too, but still big summery size and picture. That says alot: Like goodbye John Howard, ousted from Bennelong for good measure.

Let the fangs of the left have their prey, it's the Darwinism The Oz itself would approve, as per big Rupert's 'be prepared for global competition' mantra.

Posted by editor at 9:38 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2009 12:19 PM EADT
Regev mispeaks on tv 3 times for Israeli 'PM' while 7.30 fails to ask the blockade, occupation question
Topic: world

Yesterday was another day in hell for Gaza. Today is another again.

As we wrote on December 31 cynical politicians Israeli and Arabic are using Palestinians as cannon fodder, as per ABC tv news again tonight [post on their website this morning about an hour after this SAM article was first posted]

News Video | Fri, 09 Jan 2009 10:51:00 +1100 | Duration 1m 17s

A UN aid worker is dead after a convoy transporting aid to Palestinians was attacked by the Israeli army.

News Video | Fri, 09 Jan 2009 10:05:00 +1100 | Duration 1m 48s

The UN suspends operations in Gaza after the Israeli military fires on an aid convoy as the Red Cross claims it is being prevented from helping the injured.

Just like that UN observer post on the Lebenon Israel boder in 2006, the UN have been scathing of Israel over the carnage of 40 innocents in one neutral UN school.

Today the International Red Cross similarly accused the Israeli Defence Force of breaches of international humanitarian law regarding rescue of little orphan children stranded by cross fire for 4 days until they too almost perished.

We make some simple observations - we have read that up to 30% of Israelis think the assassin of Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin should be pardoned. We know that whoever forms a Coalition majority in the Feb 2009 Israel election will need to negotiate with the Greater Israel expansionist fanatics in their own Parliament. It is blatantly obvious this war is a pre-emptive attempt at coalition building by all rival major parties. With the Palestinians in Gaza as cannon fodder.

Who indeed trusts Israel or the IDF to not fire on the UN, if 30% of society already support a pardon for the killer of their own Prime Minister? This is a society with a substantial element of criminal rogues and one can predict about 30% of the IDF are in this category.

No wonder the USA via Secretary of State Rice has buckled to world wide pressure and abstained from blocking a UN Security Council resolution late today (ABC Australia news story follows again]:

News Video | Fri, 09 Jan 2009 15:49:00 +1100 | Duration 5m 15s

The UN Security Council has passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, with 14 countries voting in favour and only the United States abstaining.

In our view this mediocre and cowardly administration in the USA has acted 12 days too late for 500 or more dead civillians in Gaza, and probably more to die yet at the hands of rogue IDF. All part of a cynical strategy to first starve out then bomb the Hamas Govt, before the Obama administration takes office on 20th January 2008.

So we heard Mark Regev twice yesterday here direct to Australians as spokesperson for the ostensibly corrupt Israeli PM Olmert - who is only acting PM with his resignation submitted and accepted. No doubt Olmert's job is to take the approbrium of Gaza with him on exit, which is cute choreography by Israeli Big Politics. Regev was on early with the Breakfast ABC Radio National Programme our time Thursday 8th of January about 7.35am. Regev was fresh and conciliatory and sounded even hopeful of ceasefire talks with Hamas via France and Egypt provided the rockets and tunnels stop.

The interviewer Steve Kinane asked (Israel truce 8 Jan 2009):

'and will that mean lifting (and one presumes complete lifting) of the blockade on food and medical supplies unlike the last 6 month truce?'

Regev fully admitted that Israel constrained supplies during the truce as an "economic sanction" for sporadic rocket fire. We understand for those first 4 months the rocket fire was minimal but the crippling blockade hardly altered at all. That we suspect is the truth - of Israeli bastardry and effective breach of the truce terms leading to more rockets and the cycle continuing. That Israel had a deliberate strategy for months of starving the Hamas Govt. More on the nature of the Hamas Govt from Kinane's show (actually stand in for Fran Kelly) today: Inside Hamas thinking 9 Jan 2009

This same critical question regarding the occupation and blockade was not put by the holiday stand in compere on 7.30 Report last night to a harried and defiant Mark Regev 12 hours later on Australian TV last night 8th of January. Even so Regeve mispoke 3 times, which is unforgiveable of a professional media performer, referring to Hamas as Hezbolah to the point of clamping his lips in frustration at his own errors and conceding "I'm confused". Quite. His till now supreme poise was cracking: His own IDF were caught red handed brutally killing 40 innocents at a UN school the Gazan civillians were encouraged to attend as a refuge.

Regev must now be asking himself at some level whether this is the same kind of indiscriminate killing the Jews fled from after WW2, that they are now guilty of, becoming what they most hated. Certainly the Australian journalist on 7.30 did press him very hard on how the IDF could have attacked a UN facility on a false basis and change it's story so quickly. That is Hamas the enemy were not in, but now 'near' the UN school. The propaganda machine and the enforced censorship of western media against the order of the IDF's own Israeli Supreme Court tells the story. Regev can't afford transparency. Not with the world against this slaughter.

The press in Sydney have led today 12 hours behind the news cycle now. They refer to 4 rockets from Lebanon which are already convincingly disowned as not from Hezbolah according to latest report, accepted by both sides, rather by another Lebanese splinter group. This press in Sydney is already being crowded out by the electronic news regarding the UN and Red Cross scathing assessments of the rogue IDF. Even lucid Jewish writers like Sara Dowse are in the mainstram press yesterday in the generally pro Israel Sydney Morning Herald that Israel 'can't be trusted':

8th Jan 2008 Shocking cynicism of a poisoned homeland - Opinion - smh.com.au

This was juxtaposed against an opinion piece by Israel's loyalist here Vic Alhadeff who also avoided like 7.30 the ostensible 4 months breach of the truce by Israel by failing to completely remove the blockade on food and medical supplies. How weak and cynical to avoid responsibility for that?

Vic your article read as hollow compared to the images of dead children out of Gaza [ABC Australia tv/web coverage here]:

News Video | Fri, 09 Jan 2009 18:53:00 +1100 | Duration 2m 35s

Israel is continuing its offensive in the Gaza Strip, despite a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire to the 14-day-old conflict.

Posted by editor at 8:54 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2009 12:20 PM EADT
Sydney Daily Telegraph drives booze advertising then feeds off the results at Rosemeadow?
Topic: big media

We've written in the last year several times about the amazing number of pubs around Holt St base of News Corporation in Sydney, publishers of the Sydney Daily Telegraph. They used to be quite cocky about their alcoholic escapades in the past. We even did a photo gallery of the pub circuit getting up to about 12 hotels within one city block, not including brothels or restuarants. This was last year sometime during the big 'binge drinking' controversy before the Rudd federal govt regarding the so called alcopops tax, given those drinks are for recruiting children into a lifelong habit. Good tax that.

We made collages of the full page daily adverts for booze indicating high revenue dependence of Sydney's highest circulation newspaper. And now again above are 3 full pagers from 7th January, 1 from 8th January, and 3 from today close to full page adverts. Drink up boys. It's your 'Australian culture' of binge drinking. Hence the befuddled highly violent internecine arguments at a western suburb? Hence angry people in poverty lashing out at the press and law? How much better if there was no booze in this equation?

Hot weather up to 40 celsius for 3 days is bound to create irritable suburbs, and probably drives excessive beer drinking. Every year in summer there is a set formula 'riot' story with a few variations around say race, or Bondi Beach or whatever. But why the social approval for that excessive lifestyle in the bastion of moral rectitude that is the 4th estate? Could it be it's simply a case of money talks?

Over at the Sydney Morning Herald they have probably been taking the booze adverts too, but less so? And they have been running a series of stories exposing a cynical 'grassroots' campaign by hotels to free up drinking laws again. Keep going, teetotal Police Comissioner Scipione, keep going! We do approve. Like cigarettes and gambling it's a woeful waste of money and opportunity for a better life.

Posted by editor at 8:37 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2009 12:21 PM EADT
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
Quest for the perfect gear change on a bicycle rebuild
Topic: culture

Careful what you wish for when it comes to bicycle rebuild projects. Over the break we marshalled a bunch of old bikes and parts - maybe 5 different wrecks - and other spares to make a nice fast safe bike in city traffic.

Most people these days seem to settle for a mountain bike with knobbly tyres. But this weighs alot. We have one of these already which is nice and robust for towing our bike trailer on slow trips. But on scenic or fast trips you want light racer/hybrid wheels, skinny frame and 'slick' treads. And gears that work smooth in the clinch like Samuel L Jackson smooth. Like Denzel Washington. And with explosive power like Daniel Craig. All those fantasies.

We had some rusty hybrid wheels with good aluminium rims potentially savable via wire brush on power drill and oil to protect from new rust. Also suitable chain wheel/ring - drives the chain off the right pedal via 3 front cogs for more gear combos. As long as there is clearance on the axle of the 'bottom bracket' (see BB below) for the modern chain ring.

Then gears. These can be a real beast. Are the front and back derailers worn out or modern enough to take the extra cogs? Mine were both too small and too worn. Damn. Keep looking.

What about the sprockets/cogs on the rear/free wheel. Is it a "cassette" or single piece asked the bloke at the medium trendy shop. Ans: The former for a hybrid. Is the casette worn out so that the chain skips? Yes. There goes the cheap 2nd hand part via The Bower. A new casette cog assembly comes in at a cool $50 which is no longer a cheapie rebuild. New casette means new chain at $25 because the two match by wearing out together. And chain tool. Add two new tyres at $30 and $35 because the real trendy shop only had those sizes when the tyre blew.

We were already at $140 plus for the perfect gear change on the "cheap". We will be going back to our low rent untrendy suburban bike shop for the gentle prices.

Not forgeting to clean/re-grease the wheel and BB bearings and axles: The BB is that mysterious closed mechanism between the pedals. You need a neat tool to painlessly remove pedals and it helps to have customised spanners to get in there. We had the first but only standard spanners/grippers for the latter .... and suffered accordingly.

Then brakes: Mountain bikes have 'off the forks or old style' but neither fit hybrid/racing wheels. But here scavenging paid off, as did the hard core goose neck on the straight handlebars. Many, many instructive hours later, and too many fiddly detours and hand washes with degreaser and vitamin E cream to mention, we have arrived. Complete with new $10 water bottle cage on clips because there are no bolt holes on the old fashioned chrome frame. Sigh.

Then close to the bell (geddit?) of this 16 round bout the gear switch to the rear derailer started slipping out of position. Not only annoying but also dangerous in those acceleration moments at crossings. Maybe we could just hold it in place? Nah, f*ck that for a joke.We took a day's rest in despair. This has delivered solutions at least 3 times already. We took a second day off for good measure. Sure enough we re-assembled the switch lever slightly wrong. All is forgiven. The perfect gear change for a slightly dodgy left hip.

That's our third bike since the break. Cool. Look out clunky knobby wheels ....

Some lessons for the future: The web, like for most other subjects, is amazingly helpful in learning the ropes about various technical aspects and diagnosis - like skipping chain. People are really glad to record their lessons if you google the right keywords and read patiently. Also get to know your local bike shop when they are not too busy serving customers. Vitamin E cream before getting greasy is very wise for an easier washup. Then use again when clean to rescue the hands a bit more. One might even try gloves? Don't force the tools or threads on nuts and bolts etc. It works or fits or it doesn't. And remember riding a well constructed bike is a joy. And a bad one a misery.

And if all else fails stop being so cheap and buy a new one.

And very lastly, at all costs resist 'stealing' parts off the abandoned racer chained to the fence in front of Marrickville railway for 2 weeks with increasingly bigger signs of vandal abuse - buckled back wheel, bent front forks where the steal cap boots jumped on it with violent purpose. It could lead to awkward moments with lads and lasses in blue, at the early morning cafe nearby, spanner in hand with no key in sight. And we did so resist. The day we finished our sleek mongrel bike the object of our temptation had gone - no doubt to the landfill in the sky via the council workers back from holidays. And it had such nice shiny alloy pedals too. So sad.

Posted by editor at 6:52 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2009 12:14 PM EADT
Monday, 5 January 2009
Rolling Stone reviewer's credibility gap on movie Rendition
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: big media

To be fair we steered clear of this 2007 Hollywood new release because we expected it to be tendentious bleeding heart material. Worthy but boring. Now counter intuitively we gave it a go partly because we have trawled the DVD library forever now.

But no, if you enjoy the West Wing tv series, or Left Wing, as Republican's like to call it, then you will enjoy this 2007 film.

Just like WW the production values are high, as with casting, costume, cinema quality, credible actors, research, plot line. It's all there. We listened to the South African director's commentary. That's over four hours invested in watching the main show and again as commentary - and he would know the subject of torture from his own country's painful past. He reveals sources in general being ex CIA officers who "quit" over torture in rendition, and academics into terrorism regarding the "chilling" martyrdom speech.

Rees Witherspoon is surprising for buying into this cerebral centre lefty content - and she gives a powerful speech 'don't be one of those people who just turn away' to her buddy the senator's aid who buckles under the moral pressure. No wonder Witherspoon she didn't last with ex Ryan Phillipe though he is surprisingly good too in the true story Breach about a 20 year career of treachery by FBI operative Eric O'Neill. That's a centre right wing show - to be sure, to be sure.

Meryl Streep is outstanding as the hard nosed bitch too.

The water boarding scene in Rendition reminds of BBC film's 2004's Red Dust (only released in the USA in 2005) another South African related political drama about torture but so much more, of real merit with Hillary Swank and a Nigerian born british actor Chiwetel Ejiofor. We got teary watching both. Rendition can be bracketed easily with Lions for Lambs and Spy Game, and Catch a Fire and Blood Diamond. Also presumably Cry Freedom we haven't seen. All quality work in our view.

Rendition gets a 3.5 and at times 4 out of 5 from this writer. A worthy addition to a bevvy of thoughtful films leavened with action. It helps if one is nostalgic for Morocco street scenery, and the CIA character reminds of a suitably sceptical uni buddy etc.

So to read the wikipedia entry where some dufous at Rolling Stone said Rendition was the "worst" anti war movie made in 2007 ... well the guy is either cash for comment, an idiot or malicious. You don't have to be a Democrat or Republican, lefty or whatever to enjoy this movie. Assuming you are interested in alternative cultures and politics of torture.

Here is their entry:

"Roger Ebert awarded the film four stars out of four, saying that, "Rendition is valuable and rare. As I wrote from Toronto: 'It is a movie about the theory and practice of two things: torture and personal responsibility. And it is wise about what is right, and what is wrong.'"[2] In contrast, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone applauded the cast, but noted that the film was a "bust as a persuasive drama".[3] Travers declared the film the year's Worst Anti-War Film on his list of the Worst Movies of 2007"

Similarly with Red Dust, we noticed some dope and his very big fat encyclopaedia of films at the ABC Bookshop with a 2.5 stars out of 5 (?) for Red Dust. Or perhaps allowing for cultural variations maybe it was out of 4? 2.5 out of 4 still doesn't do justice to the production values, and legal drama as well as generally instructive content about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issues. Again like Rendition it's for a fairly selective political audience but if you are in that segment it's top value from the local DVD shop.

Which just leaves the question why are film reviewers so easy to discredit? It reminds of the blarney over Nicole Kidman as the so called "porcelain doll" to suggest one dimensional quality in the latest folktale Australia. Which shows they never saw her perfect French African accent in The Interpreter.

And speaking of South African cultural outreach to Australia - it's obvious how much westernised populations there and here in Australia have in common. Something about the light, the landscapes, the wide open spaces, even for want of a better word, the drawl or ocker. Whether this is a good thing is another question but the echo is there.

Interestingly we notice in the suburban free press South African Jewish community in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney is quite significant running into the 10 or 15,000 mark, with an exhibition on at their cultural museum this month.

The multiracial/cultural South African cricket team is going excessively well here in Australia too. We notice the international solar conference is on in South Africa later this year 2009 also.

Posted by editor at 11:17 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2009 12:11 PM EADT
Sunday, 4 January 2009
SAM micro news pageview stats for December 2008 trending back up at 21,858 after GFC dip?
Topic: independent media

This month we made the big decision virtually to take Google Adsense advertising to continue sustainably. Only we are dithering on putting the code onto our site yet. After 2 years we are edging up to a corporate advertising reality. Something is holding us back. And yes we know, stop talking about it one way or the other.

This month we also had a normal pageview statists month unlike November which got hit by a host server maintenance problem. We decided to junk the figures. Still we are down on the 27,000 high of June 2008 but back on an upward trend with some 800 readers per day. That's okay. Yes we can. We lost a real monthly count for November from about 19 to 25 November curiously just about the time we posted the Amy Goodman Naomi Klein interview on Democracy Now about robber baron corporates in the US Treasury as W Bush exits the Presidency.

Other stories of note this last month included:

* visit to Sydney of the Japanese Hibakusha survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombs, via their 63rd voyage of the Peace Boat;

* important activist video of huge trees being destroyed by the ALP governments in East Gippsland Victoria

* follow on coverage of the late November international Solar Conference held in Sydney

* text of speech by local historian and environmentalist Bob Walsh OAM on the 150th anniversary of the Eureka Rebellion on the Victorian gold fields

* A photo essay of the wake, and contribution of environmentalist Bruce Dover who died recently

* Buying into and maybe influencing the Bidgood MP/Aminov Parliamentary protest controversy for taking those photographs like a community media practitioner

* As well as regular Sunday Political Talkies and other small and big topics with our usual alternative flavoursome information.

This month we also revamped the presentation. White easy loading/reading non colour background. Our cute frog symbol. Yellow, orange and green trimmings which are common Australian colours. Our story coverage was

We have also learned that RSS feeds which might be a fair bit of our traffic might not actually go into counting our circulation, and as we understand it those readers don't get the pictures. That sort of ruins the point of the web doesn't it being such a visual medium?

Previous monthly reader pageview figures for 2007, 2008 verified by screen shot (web host provider monthly pageview account details) posted on or about 4th day of the month found in this thread:

  • December 08 - 21,858
  • November 08 - unavailable, host breakdown
  • October 08 - 20,343
  • September 08 - 20,746
  • August 08 - 25,344
  • July 08 - 22,855
  • June 08 - 27,440
  • May 08 - 25,046
  • April 08 - 19,250
  • March 08 - 20,803
  • February 08 - 13,109
  • January 08 - 19, 898
  • December - 11,627
  • November - 10,220
  • October - 9, 100
  • Sept - 8,100 roughly, no screenshot
  • August - 8,845
  • July - 7475
  • June - 9675
  • May - 9, 059
  • April - 12,087
  • March - 6,684
  • February - 5,372
  • January 07 - 2800 3rd Jan - 3rd Feb 07

Posted by editor at 10:25 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2009 12:12 PM EADT
Australian Green Party issues statement on Israel war on Gaza, overtaken by ground invasion
Topic: world

We hold to the view as published last Wednesday 31st December that the spooky subtext to the latest Horror in Gaza with the bombing of many innocent children amongst militant nationalists, and now ground invasion, is the nuclear weapons issue/perceived threat. Significantly News Corp's weekend quality broadsheet led page 1 with a variation on the nuclear theme that it is Israel's Dimona nuke plant/weaponry at risk with regional consequences from any Islamist missiles (Hamas or Hezbolah), as if nuke warheads weren't safely stored underground:

A problem with the headline of The Oz story with byline by Abraham Robinovich in Jerusalem is that there is nothing about nukes in the reporter's article. Such is "quality" press. However we still think there is truth in the nuclear dimension to the warmongering in Gaza. And we think it's more likely this: It's Israeli fear and loathing of dirty bombs, suitcase nukes, and/or supply tunnels for same via bogeyman Iran (or Syria) as The Oz asserts 'driving Israel's hard line'.

We bring to our perspective some 6 years up until 2001 working with Friends of the Earth Sydney which held some serious expertise on nuclear weapons and peace related issues.

Is the Israeli open secret for 20 years now of 'covert' nuke weaponry doing things to their leadership's mind? A neurosis out of secrecy? Indeed is Israel projecting it's own nuke arsenal onto it's enemy in woe begotten Gaza, an open air prison? We are well into the Fog of War territory here as per the documentary film about the Vietnam war. What is fantasy and what is real?

Probably the general public will be the last to know. It will take some Robert Macnamara type figure as per the film 25 years after the event as then secretary of defence for the USA during the Vietnam War to find out. For instance that Mac was against use of nukes on the Viet Cong while madman Nixon wanted to go for it. Last Wednesday 31st December 08 we wrote of the donkey cart scenario as per an old fictional tv West Wing episode complete with ex Clinton presser as their content adviser (bold added):

Truly the Palestinian people are cannon fodder and hostage for cynical politicians. Truly the Jewish population in southern Israel of moderate disposition are hostages of a much reduced kind too. Israel desperate to prevent an effective delivery system of military grade weaponry into Gaza. Hamas desperate to break the blockade for humanitarian but surely also less honourable purposes (?).

Is Israel's military violence proportionate or disproportionate? Depends who you ask. Depends what's at stake. An Iranian A bomb on a donkey cart? Or is this a nightmarish fantasy like Saddam's non existent WMD? Who the hell knows? Is the Israeli Right in a neurotic Holocaust loop? We wonder.

We wrote back on 21 May 2008 about Mordechai Vanunu, Israeli Jew who spent time in Sydney and blew the whistle on Israel's nuke weapons, with 20 years gaol to reflect on that, as follows:

Nuke weapons road block to a one state solution for Palestine/Israel?
Mood: sad
Topic: peace

Notice from our earlier SAM story, one of recently released on home detention: Mordechai Vanunu

Image:Mordechai Vanunu.jpg

The green non government groups keep an eye on Mordechai's fate always - as here:

Mordechai Vanunu arrested again | Earth Island Journal |Spring 2005

And secondly this detail from US scientists:

"Israel could potentially have produced a few dozen nuclear warheads in the period 1970-1980, and is thought to have produced sufficient fissile material to build 100 to 200 warheads by the mid-1990s. In 1986 descriptions and photographs of Israeli nuclear warheads were published in the London Sunday Times of a purported underground bomb factory at the Dimona nuclear reactor. The photographs were taken by Mordechai Vanunu, a dismissed Israeli nuclear technician. His information led some experts to conclude that Israel had a stockpile of 100 to 200 nuclear devices at that time.

By the late 1990s the U.S. Intelligence Community estimated that Israel possessed between 75-130 weapons, based on production estimates. The stockpile would certainly include warheads for mobile Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 missiles, as well as bombs for Israeli aircraft, and may include other tactical nuclear weapons of various types. Some published estimates even claimed that Israel might have as many as 400 nuclear weapons by the late 1990s. We believe these numbers are exaggerated, and that Israel's nuclear weapons inventory may include less than 100 nuclear weapons. Stockpiled plutonium could be used to build additional weapons if so decided."



"The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) was founded in 1945 by scientists who had worked on the Manhattan Project to develop the first atomic bombs. These scientists recognized that science had become central to many key public policy questions. They believed that scientists had a unique responsibility to both warn the public and policy leaders of potential dangers from scientific and technical advances and to show how good policy could increase the benefits of new scientific knowledge."


Here belatedly is the Greens Federal Party statement from their leader Senator Bob Brown challenging Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard (bold added):

Greens call on Gillard for Israel Action

Saturday January 3, 2009

Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown has called on acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard to add Australia's weight to calls on Israel to end the gross and disproportionate violence and bombing of Palestinians in the Gaza strip.

"We call on the acting Prime Minister to speak out against the violent and disproportionate action by Israeli leaders which has lead to the death of 400 Palestinians including many women, children and innocent men," Greens Leader Bob Brown said today.

"Australia's voice should also be raised against the threat of an imminent invasion of Gaza by the Israeli army and instead push for internationally brokered peace talks.

"The Greens have consistently condemned violence from both sides, including the rocket attacks on Israel.

"Australia should be active at the United Nations in condemning the violence and promoting an international peace operation.

"The Rudd Government's record is woeful. It voted down a Greens Senate resolution in December - before this recent violence started - calling for Israel to lift its ban on foreign journalists entering Gaza," Senator Brown said.

Posted by editor at 9:29 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 4 January 2009 10:21 AM EADT
Friday, 2 January 2009
Sue Dunlevy, News Corp reptile - here's your penance as requested ....
Mood:  hug me
Topic: big media

Sue Dunlevy is a thinker. She's a real survivor too having written about some serious troubles in her time. She hangs with the Canberra press gallery if memory serves.

So she asks in the last line of her somewhat flippant sledge of environmentalists "Will I still be facing an eternity in environmental purgatory ..." or will camping and giving the modern appliances/energy guzzlers a rest for a week be sufficient penance?:

Cold showers atone for my green sins

Sue Dunlevy - Thursday, January 01, 09 (08:51 pm)

ENVIRONMENTAL puritanism almost killed Christmas in my suburb this year when green crusaders objected to neighbours who wanted to put up a Christmas light display.

I've commented on her blog as follows:

I've accepted your request for penance formula in your last sentence. It's on my micro news blog - you can find it no doubt.

As for front page of sister paper The Australian yesterday with their dubious headline about a cooling planet. It took till the spill out on p3 to concede via Don White of Weatherwatch "If the same temperatures [in 2008] had occurred in the early 1990s it would have been the warmest ever."

Sooo as always it's the trend that counts. Also the dodos above might like to consider all the soot from China and India which just ... went kaput in the GFC. Less particulates, less dimming, more global warming in 09 ... you read it here first.

Well Sue, and we know it's taboo to hold a conversation with bloggers (unless of course they are on your corporate blog) being an environmentalist, science graduate in zoology mainly, lawyer, lapsed Catholic and community media practitioner here is my penance for you:

One column about the virtues of gross feed in tariff for photo volatic solar power to jump start an Australian alternative energy industry that can mix it with king coal and actually close those dinosaur power stations down.

If we get gross feed in tariff for PV you can show those Christmas lights to your heart's content. Won't that be fun?

Oh, and part of the penance is to research what "gross feed in tariff" really means. Here's a clue - solar panels have to be big enough to exceed daily usage to feed back into the grid. Here's another clue - Prof Mark Diesendorf of University of New South Wales.

Otherwise champ, you have a happy and safe new year and watch out for the Araneomorphae - they bite their prey with highly effective downward pointing fangs.... including reptiles. There's more around this year apparently known in the trade as funnel web spiders.

Posted by editor at 3:30 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2009 12:23 PM EADT
Thursday, 1 January 2009
What role web 2 in the Global Financial 'Crisis'?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: corporates

Is history speeding up via web 2.0? What if sedentary screen time combined with high rate of information flow, and often powerful content, on web 2.0 is radically altering society?

Have you watched James Bond in Goldfinger made in 1964 or so and compared it with the Bourne trilogy made in the noughties, or indeed latest James Bond Quantum of Solace? The point is everything is faster now and public taste looks to be following. Maybe not the quality of plot line say but the overall data is getting very fast. Nor is this an original thought. The calls for strong context and editorial to manage this avalanche are becoming louder and louder in the big press too.

Even alcohol has stopped being very cool in Australia. There isn't much time for hangovers these days if you don't want to miss the next thing, be it job, news story, social opportunity, whatever.

We recently responded to the last Mayne Report ezine as follows with some observations about that publication, the GFC and the subtextual role of web 2.0 in altering society from bricks and mortar economy to cyberspace in many ways:

Sent: Thursday, January 01, 2009 11:00 AM
Subject: bloody good work there Stephen ....
.... "publisher of the Mayne Report". In my judgement you're getting critical mass of cred in your vehicle post crikey.com.au ownership.
* Agree re GFC biggest story and agree Obama was "huge".
Arguably the biggest story never covered was the tens of thousands made homeless by king tides in north of PNG in recent months. Imagine that in Shanghai and Bangladesh. Will make Tampa look like a child's sail boat on a pond in the gardens.


*On sub prime loans I still question where those millions of poor folks were going to live IF cowboy capitalism had not been 'given' the job of housing them, when any number of other domestic political pressures meant G W Bush etc needed to park the urban homeless issue - not least good will for recruiting cannon fodder for Iraq etc.

* Interesting take on Russia big [financial] come down. Haven't read that any where before.

Thanks for that commentary previously about auditors questions under the new provision of the corporations code. The forest folks can use that re Gunns, South East Fibre Exports (in Eden, Japanese owned).


*Great point about inconsistency of the bailouts/blowouts re Bear Stearns (saved) v Lehman (abandoned) - Stiglitz and Naomi Klein make me very nervous about the so called bailout 'plan'. More like rob the US treasury blind on the way out like that Enron exec who got out early. Also makes me nervous that sharp blade Turnbull would praise Hank Poulson so sincerely. We need a useful Opposition not free market ideologues nostalgic for the Wild West.
Coincidentally my US web server's counter crashed when I posted in late November on Klein thesis of Wall St robbing treasury blind, no stats for next 5 days. Mmm. They said it was maintenance. Maybe it was, or Klein/Amy Goodman were better censored like a spark in a haystack.
I still wonder the role of the internet in the GFC - how's this for a wild theory? Bricks and mortar retail outside seasonal fluctuations are going down. My source, a web builder at biggest online retailer here in Australia, says that even so they still trending up modestly post GFC. What if that's the case across social and economic sectors? The overall flight from bricks and mortar? Screen time predating on leisure, retail, government, television and other big media, exercise (obesity), even industry (why drive so much, tele-commute etc).

I'm wondering if the web is part of the cause of the GFC?: Even more information via google and web based news streams means people feel more fearful regardless of objective statistics. There is always a corporate fraud, a mass murder somewhere. A horror, a snake bite, a flood, a fire etc. It bleeds it leads. It's enough to cause emotional and psychological confusion like the seagull predator presented with a million baby turtles rushing to the sea (a real phenomenon in zoology/ethology). Even Dr Google is making people worry more.


To egg the theory a bit more - markets have never been transparent which can provide blissful ignorance. Markets now however have never been more transparent and nuanced contradictions - eg like your point on Lehman v Bear Stearns - are happening all the time. I myself pick apart disjunctions in the quality media too often to be really comfortable about trust.
Interesting to see ex PM Howard back on front page of The Australian today. Truly this guy is an energiser bunny. It's damn 'lucky' he was voted out otherwise we would all be talking Howardish eventually like an Exclusive Brethren sect. And he would be embracing nuke weapons for our own good of course. Which brings me to the international politics. Never forget the nuke weapon shadow.

Variations of this drive the bombing of Hamas only this last week to prevent 'delivery systems' like the 'high tech' proverbial donkey cart (or paranoia re same) via Hamas. And what Hamas is getting now Israel will contemplate for Iran at any cost to the world, after all what the f*ck did we do for them when it counted in WW2? And if that happens well as Bugs Bunny has said it could well be "That's all, folks": Nuke exchange in the middle east. Chernobyl like clouds drift globally. False positives in nuke weapon systems from Russia to Pakistan to India to USA to France to Britian. If one of them doesn't let fly by mistake it will be a miracle in itself.

W Bush is probably still flirting with Rapture concepts this last month.

Yours from the grassly knoll etc

Posted by editor at 11:05 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 1 January 2009 11:51 AM EADT

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