A tale of global stupid

I like The Strokes, so when I saw that I could pre-purchase the band’s new album for just $US7.99 I jumped at the chance.

The official Sony Music download site offering this service is US based and has made the album available on March 22nd.

So fancy my surprise when I learn that the album has already been released here in Australia. I can even buy it on iTunes.

Without waiting for the 22nd.

I’ve argued before that territorial copyright just ain’t working no more. Giving away distribution fiefdoms to subsidiaries or rights-holders in different nations makes little or no sense in an age when no matter where you disseminate information it can reach the whole planet.

But this incident takes the whole thing to  new dimension of stupid. We’re all used to the USA being the “master market” where stuff gets released first. Now territorial copyright is making even that assumption unreliable.

I just wanna buy the entertainment I wanna buy, when I wanna buy it?

Can someone get rid of all these arsehats who decide on the dates it suits THEM to release something ?


No flesh for lunch

I’ve made a New Year’s resolution: I will not eat flesh for lunch.

I’m an omnivore and I enjoy meat, but I’ve never been a big fruit and veg eater. I tend to be overweight.

Rather than go on a crash diet, feel all superior for a while and then backslide, I figured this year I should find a way to make long-term change to my eating habits.

Hence no flesh for lunch.

There are other reasons for the change.

I’m aware that meat is, by and by, not the friendliest product for/on earth. A lot of it is produced in nasty ways (a relative read Jonathan Safran-Foer’s Eating Animals and quickly gave up meat, this extract gives you the gist of it) through factory farming or unsustainable land use. I’m pretty sure that most of the meat I’d eat at lunchtime – cans of tuna, ham, salami, snippets of meat in food court meals, whatever it is that goes into pies, burgers and Subway sandwiches – probably falls into the worst categories of meat, given its low cost.

So this decision has a number of motivations. I think of it as a latte-leftie, guilty, fatty thing.

So far it’s proving a nice thought-starter. On Jan 1, driving home from a camping break, I discovered that McDonalds no longer has a meat-free offering. On Jan 3 I was taken out to lunch … at a steak house. That taught me there’ll be days I have to make exceptions.

But on other days I’ve had fun. An antipasto toasted sandwich is nicer than a tuna toasted sandwich. Today’s Haloumi, Olive and Tomato pizza was grand. Tzatziki and pita is delicious.

I’m looking forward to exploring new foods, re-emphasising fresh foods and perhaps being a little healthier along the way – if I can stay out of three-curries and rice for $8.00 indian joints.

Whenever I remember to do so, I’ll tweet my lunches with the hashtag #nofleshforlunch.

An era of Australian cricket ended today

I’m making the call: an era of Australian cricket ended today.

The era started in 1987, when Australia unexpectedly won the World Cup.

It ends today because the  continuous improvement that started with that win has stopped.

Time to go back to the drawing board.

In 1987 Australian cricket was hungry. A decade of sputtering cricket since the mid-1970s, helped by the World Series circus, meant Australia had not had a cohesive team for a decade. The advent of one-day cricket meant leading players were being asked to play more than ever before. We know now that as late as 1986, Australian players thought drinking Fanta was the best preparation for a day’s play. They figured the sugar was important.

From 1987 onwards, the team started to get more support. Sports scientists and academies became part of the scene.

Our national team soared: we’ve played in all bar one World Cup final since 1987 (and won three we did play in) and swept all before us at test level.

The lineage from Border to Taylor to Waugh to Ponting was always about taking the foundations of the predecessor and building on them. Taylor added tactical sophistication. Waugh played on the edge of the rules as a kind of cricketing thought experiment. Ponting’s job has been to adapt a team, to find a way to dominate without generational genius.

Alas, the great batter (check his numbers, he is a great) has not been able to pull it off.

With a second collapse for under 100 in six months (we were all out for 88 vs. Pakistan) it is clear that the team is in crisis and Australian cricket needs to rebuild?

The signs beyond the performance of the national team? How about these:

  • Sheffield Shield cricket is a shadow of itself: The competition is producing lopsided results with teams bowled out for very little while tailenders rack up centuries.
  • Young players are not achieving: the Shield does not have a cohort of uncapped players pushing the 1000-run or 50-wickets in a season marks. When Australian cricket was on the up, we had the likes of Stuart Law, Matthew Hayden and Damien Martyn scoring heavily without being able to make the team
  • Players enter the national team with striking flaws. Philip Hughes is vulnerable on leg stump and outside off. Steve Smith is terrible under sustained off-stump pressure and wobbly under short balls. Mitchell Johnson is acutely inconsistent
  • As Peter Robuck points out, young players don’t come up against superior players often. Instead, they play against their peers in tournament play. This produces situations like a retired Glenn McGrath predicting in a festival 20/20 game just how he would get Dave Warner out (straight one, straight one, away cutter) and then doing so. Up and coming players may have great body fat levels, but little nous.

And at the peak of the game, the mens national team, we see a bowling attack without wit or discipline.

Not all is grim. In Hughes and Smith – and others outside the team, no doubt – we have players with raw talent and the spark to succeed.

But they won’t get there, I feel, with the current management and methods.

Ponting must be retained as captain for the World Cup. He won the last two without losing a match.

For the next tour, a new captain must be tried. Off the field, a thorough review is needed. The line and length of Australian cricket is now predictable.

It’s time for a new era.

Dolphin Bacon

I was thinking the other day: if seals are the aquatic evolution of dogs, and dugongs are the aquatic evolution of bovine animals, what is the aquatic mutation of pigs?
I know it’s not likely to be true, but I hope it’s dolphins.
Because Dolphin Bacon would be awesome.

Why the big four banks win

A couple of weeks ago, wearing my magazine editor’s hat, I attended a meeting at which I was asked for some input into a project one of the big four banks will run in the second half of 2011.
Yep that’s right … at least eight months from now.

These guys are thinking long term about their customer acquisition and retention strategies.

I mention this because, in the last few weeks, we’ve been thinking of refinancing our mortgage.

As part of my research for a new financial institution, as one does these days, I hit Google and searched for “credit unions Sydney”. The results were poor. Most of the credit unions had confusing websites. Contact details were hard to find and call centres did not operate out of business hours. Email seemed not be a medium with which credit unions were familiar.

This all left me thinking that, for all their faults, the big four are at least pretty good at communicating with prospects and customers. Even if they screw us once we’ve signed up.

Two more things have since told me more about why we stick with the big four.

One was a full-page ad placed in the SMH by the Credit Unions, pointing out that they represent a financial services alternative. The ad had no call to action and no contact details, which is pathetic.

The second was ongoing analysis of the deals on offer across several financial institutions. Long story short, we’ve found that bundling products, going for credit cards with points schemes (and always paying on time) then using points for things like shopping vouchers saves quite a bit each year. A little more, in fact, than moving to another financial institution.

So the big four have the littl’uns outmuscled on marketing and products.

No wonder there’s no-one at Credit Union HQ sharp enough to notice the missing call to action.

A press release from Scientology

I got a press release from Scientology today.

I won’t use it – the content is not exclusive and the publication it was sent to does not deal in second-hand content.

But I thought it would be fun to post it here.

So, without any further ado …






FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                              7 November 2010

CONTACT: Karin Pouw

(323) 960-3500


Meet a Scientologist—Melissa Schiliro, Hairdresser:  Making People Feel Good and Look Great


Exuberant and full of life, Melissa Schiliro loves working at the family hairdressing salon in Sydney, Australia, where she goes out of her way help her clients get as much out of life as she does. Her profile is one of 200 “Meet a Scientologist” videos on the Scientology website at www.Scientology.org.

“People tell their hairdresser things they won’t even tell their friends,” says Melissa Schiliro.


In a video featured on the new Scientology Video Channel at www.Scientology.org, Schiliro opens the door to her salon and her life.


Schiliro runs and manages a hairdressing salon in Sydney with her mother and brother, where the atmosphere reflects how much the team of 11 staff like each other and their work.


“My mum is a hairdresser and I always admired her work and wanted to follow in her footsteps,” says Schiliro, 33, who enjoys nothing more than working hard and creating exactly the right look for a client.


“You meet people from all walks of life and you get quite close to them,” she says.  “They confide things to their hairdresser that they don’t tell anyone else and knowing Scientology I can always suggest something to help them with their problems.”


Schiliro, whose mother and two uncles are Scientologists, says, “I love Scientology—it is a workable technology that really assisted me.”


With her own life going right, Schiliro finds it natural to reach out to help people resolve their problems.


“That’s where the 19 booklets of the Scientology Handbook come in so handy,” she says.


Covering everything from communication skills to overcoming stress, improving relationships, resolving marriage problems and raising children, there is know-how for addressing nearly any situation.


“When someone has a problem, I can give them the right booklet and they leave with the practical tools they need.”


“I think it’s innate in me to just want to make people feel better,” says Schiliro, “and it makes you feel so good when you do something for someone else.”


View the Melissa Schiliro video at www.Scientology.org.



The popular “Meet a Scientologist” profiles on the Church of Scientology International Video Channel at Scientology.org now total 200 broadcast-quality documentary videos featuring Scientologists from diverse locations and walks of life. The personal stories are told by Scientologists who are educators, teenagers, skydivers, a golf instructor, a hip-hop dancer, IT manager, stunt pilot, mothers, fathers, dentists, photographers, actors, musicians, fashion designers, engineers, students, business owners and more.

A digital pioneer and leader in the online religious community, in April 2008 the Church of Scientology became the first major religion to launch its own official YouTube Video Channel, which has now been viewed by millions of visitors.

Scientologist Melissa Schiliro—hairdresser


The results of my Apple vs. Microsoft auction experiment

Some of you may have read my last post,  in which I announced my way of celebrating the 1st birthday of WIndows 7 with an auction of my pristine, never-worn, Windows 7 t-shirt, cap, shopping bag and 2GB USB memory stick.

That auction was crosslinked with another for a frequently-worn Apple Store Sydney opening t-shirt, from 2008.

I’m a big, sweaty, guy. You don’t want to wear my old t-shirts. Trust me.

The result?

The Windows collection attracted 106 page views, five watchers and a couple of bids. The winner, who bid more than 24 hours before the auction closed, will pay $4.25 for the collection.

The Apple t-shirt attracted nine watchers, 12 bids and a final price of $51.00.

The proceeds of both auctions will be donated to MS Australia, as part of my participation in the Gong Ride.

My tribute to Windows 7

At the press launch of Windows 7, on this very day last year, I was kindly given a shopping bag, t-shirt, cap and USB memory stick all emblazoned with the Windows Flag and the date of the lauch: 22.10.09.

I mischievously wondered if there would be any fan interest in this stuff, the same way t-shirts from events like the opening of Apple stores appear on eBay not long after those stores open.

So I tucked away my Windows 7 kit, poppped a reminder in my diary for today and have posted two auctions.

One is for the pristine Windows collection.

The other is for the oft-worn Apple Store Sydney opening t–shirt.

Pics for each are below.

As this is loot acquired through work, I’ll be donating any or all proceeds to MS Australia, as part of my participation in this year’s Gong Ride.

And I’ll also blog about the result: I’ll be interested to see if anyone bites on either item.