Human Stupidity — Christopher Hitchens (Quote)

When I read of the possible annihilation of the elephant or the whale or the pouring of oven cleaner or cosmetics into the eyes of live kittens or the close confinement of pigs and calves in lightless pens I feel myself confronted by human stupidity which I recognise as an enemy. The connection between stupidity and cruelty is a close one.

Christopher Hitchens


Australia online a faraway and hard-to-reach place – theage.com.au

Australia online a faraway and hard-to-reach place

May 14 2002

Geoffrey Blainey wrote insightfully and famously that Australia suffered from the tyranny of distance. In this digital age you can still be sure that Australia suffers from the tyranny of smallness. And nowhere is this more obvious than in the realm of online content production and management.

The Web has given Australia an opportunity to define the country all over again, to tell its stories and show its achievements, its potential, its unsolved problems. Yet the Australia depicted on the 2002 Internet remains mostly a sparse and barren place, dominated by a peculiar combination of today’s headlines, last year’s government and academic documents, and images of koalas and the Opera House.

Type ”Australia” into a search engine and you quickly see why more than three-quarters of Australians’ Web content is hauled across the Pacific from the US.

Outside a few fields, we simply don’t have much online editorial content. A handful of sites can claim to represent and support Australia online.

The two main newspaper groups and the Nine Network boast extensive news and current-affairs coverage, though little of it is profitable. Former journalist Stephen Mayne rakes muck entertainingly at crikey.com.au, John Tranter publishes the arts online in Jacket (jacketmagazine.com), noted economist Peter Jonson presides over a site full of political and investment analysis at henrythornton.com and onlineopinion.com.au publishes the thoughts of political figures.

Niches such as sport and information technology attract clubs and self-publishers. Governments provide some of the richest resources, offering parliamentary debates and reports online. And the ABC’s under-funded New Media division displays an impressive range of content, old and new.

But other fields from history to ecology to literature are thinly represented on the Australian Internet. A citizen of the US, one of 287 million people at the centre of the online universe, has much more to choose from than an Australian.

And Australian content shows no sign of burgeoning any time soon. The large traditional players may be short on profitability but the new entrants have found no better formula. As Screen Producers Association president Nick Murray put it at a new-media seminar organised by RMIT University’s Network Insight group in late 2001: ”There is no revenue model” for much existing online content production in Australia. As Murray points out, local new-media content battles even to make the audience aware of its existence.

Telstra is this year doling out $50 million for new broadband content. Yet in truth Australia does not have a broadband content problem. It has an Internet content problem, pure and simple.

From: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/05/10/1021002394606.html


Visions of a Torn World

“Men of means have much to fear. Those with none know only bitterness. If you entrust yourself to the care of others you will be owned by them. If you care for others you will be enslaved by your own solicitude. If you conform to the world it will bind you hand and foot. If you do not, then it will think you mad. And so the question, where should we live? And how? Where to find a place to rest a while? And how to bring even short-lived peace to our hearts?” 

― Kamo no Chōmei: Hojoki


Antarctic Night

The Antarctic winter has a queer replenishment and dignity of its own. Nowhere on earth will you see anything lovelier than the Ross Ice Barrier by moonlight. Here you felt the beauty and repose of the night, it’s immensity and movement, whole armies of stars and wheeling constellations, and the tidal movements of the aurora, now lying like a pale ocean river of light through the zenith, now bursting into insane displays, becoming searchlights, puckering and flying curtains, growing rays. And you could glance up from the wastes of the Barrier and see taking shape, in misty showers of ice crystals, the magical refraction phenomena of the moon – halos, paraselenae (moon dogs) and, rarest of all, the corona, with the moon a polished ancient silver coin framed between concentric rings of colour, pale blues and greens and smoking reds.

When you look upon such things there comes surging an awareness of the dignity of the earth, of the unaccountable importance of being alive, and the thought comes out of nowhere that unhappiness arises not so much from lacking as from having too much.

Charles J.V. Murphy  in Antarctic Night by Admiral Richard E. Byrd