Rupert is taking business advice from Tony Montana

One of the great lines from Scarface and most quoted of all movie lines is, “…first you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the woman.” So says Al Pacino’s immortalisation of Tony Montana and while the line is delivered brilliantly it is a business plan that works best for drug lords and wannabe wise guys in the later part of the 20th Century.

For a translation into NYSE and FEC financial reporting parlance you get this…

“We have many challenges and opportunities ahead, and Lachlan’s strategic thinking and vast knowledge of our businesses will enable me, as executive chairman, and the company as a whole to deliver the best outcomes on behalf of our stockholders, employees and customers.”

This quote by Rupert Murdoch from The Guardian defines exactly what’s wrong with business priorities; stockholders come before employees and customers. Aside from the fact that Rupert and Lachlan are number 1 and 2 shareholders respectively and are essentially putting themselves first, they are putting their staff and customers last, after investors.

It’s completely arse about for the 21st Century. Messrs Murdoch, if you really want to keep your shareholders happy do this;

  1. Keep your staff happy – you know what to do here so just do it. They produce a better product and…
  2. This will make your customers happy and give you more money – proven time and time again. So….
  3. This will make your shareholders (and yourselves)  rich/er happy/ier.

Fast forward to Bryan Cranston’s critically acclaimed portrayal of high school chemistry teacher turned 21st century drug lord Walter White in Breaking Bad and you get this…

Advisory invoice to come. You’re welcome.

UND YOU VILL ENJOY!

World politics and economics are far from my strong points but I do find them interesting. Even in this era of über (pun intended, as you will discover by reading on if the tone of the headline hasn’t suggested already) connectedness I still feel somewhere between isolated and protected living in Australia.

The real life Greek tragedy playing out in Athens, Madrid, Rome and Lisbon, and Brussels and Berlin and it seems everywhere in the EU has become a mere punch line to steady stream of bad jokes.

This excellent essay by Victor Davis Hanson offers great insight to the situation and while over 6 months had gone by since it was originally published, nothing much has changed.

by Victor Davis Hanson
Hoover Institution, Stanford University
December 15, 2011

The rise of a German Europe began in 1914, failed twice, and has now ended in the victory of German power almost a century later. The Europe that Kaiser Wilhelm lost in 1918, and that Adolf Hitler destroyed in 1945, has at last been won by German Chancellor Angela Merkel without firing a shot.

Or so it seems from European newspapers, which now refer bitterly to a “Fourth Reich” and arrogant new Nazi “Gauleiters” who dictate terms to their European subordinates. Popular cartoons depict Germans with stiff-arm salutes and swastikas, establishing new rules of behavior for supposedly inferior peoples.

Millions of terrified Italians, Spaniards, Greeks, Portuguese and other Europeans are pouring their savings into German banks at the rate of $15 billion a month. A thumbs-up or thumbs-down from the euro-rich Merkel now determines whether European countries will limp ahead with new German-backed loans or default and see their standard of living regress to that of a half-century ago.

A worried neighbor, France, in schizophrenic fashion, as so often in the past, alternately lashes out at Britain for abandoning it and fawns on Germany to appease it. The worries in 1989 of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and French President François Mitterrand over German unification — that neither a new European Union nor an old NATO could quite rein in German power — proved true.

How did the grand dream of a “new Europe” end just 20 years later in a German protectorate — especially given the not-so-subtle aim of the European Union to diffuse German ambitions through a continent-wide super-state?

Not by arms. Britain fights in wars all over the globe, from Libya to Iraq. France has the bomb. But Germany mostly stays within its borders — without a nuke, a single aircraft carrier or a military base abroad.

Not by handouts. Germany poured almost $2 trillion of its own money into rebuilding an East Germany ruined by communism — without help from others. To drive through southern Europe is to see new freeways, bridges, rail lines, stadiums and airports financed by German banks or subsidized by the German government.

Not by population size. Somehow, 120 million Greeks, Italians, Spaniards and Portuguese are begging some 80 million Germans to bail them out.

And not because of good fortune. Just 65 years ago, Berlin was flattened, Hamburg incinerated and Munich a shell — in ways even Athens, Madrid, Lisbon and Rome were not.

In truth, German character — so admired and feared in some 500 years of European literature and history — led to the present germanization of Europe. These days we recoil at terms like “national character” that seem tainted by the nightmares of the past. But no other politically correct exegesis offers better reasons why a booming Detroit of 1945 today looks like it was bombed, and a bombed-out Berlin of 1945 now is booming.

Germans on average worked harder and smarter than their European neighbors — investing rather than consuming, saving rather than spending, and going to bed when others to the south were going to dinner. Recipients of their largesse bitterly complain that German banks lent them money to buy German products in a sort of 21st-century commercial serfdom. True enough, but that still begs the question why Berlin, and not Rome or Madrid, was able to pull off such lucrative mercantilism.

Where does all this lead? Right now to some great unknowns that terrify most of Europe. Will German industriousness and talent eventually translate into military dominance and cultural chauvinism — as it has in the past? How, exactly, can an unraveling EU, or NATO, now “led from behind” by a disengaged United States, persuade Germany not to translate its overwhelming economic clout into political and military advantage?

Can poor European adolescents really obey their rich German parents? Berlin in essence has now scolded southern Europeans that if they still expect sophisticated medical care, high-tech appurtenances and plentiful consumer goods — the adornments of a rich American and northern Europe lifestyle — then they have to start behaving in the manner of Germans, who produce such things and subsidize them for others.

In other words, an Athenian may still have his ultra-modern airport and subway, a Spaniard may still get a hip replacement, or a Roman may still enjoy his new Mercedes. But not if they still insist on daily siestas, dinner at 9 p.m., retirement in their early 50s, cheating on taxes, and a de facto 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. workday.

Behind all the EU’s 11th-hour gobbledygook, Germany’s new European order is clear: If you wish to live like a German, then you must work and save like a German.

Take it or leave it.

Is SOPA the end of the internet…?

If you use the interent any time during the day you may have seen the term SOPA pop up in news sites, social sites and blogs.

But what is it all about? This is the best explanation I’ve seen so far.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/31100268]

To say that SOPA could be the end of the internet is stretching the ideas of rational thinking, but it will be, if it passes the US House of Reps and Senate, and isn’t vetoed by President Obama, the end of the internet as we know it today. Facebook, YouTube and Wikipedia could all be nothing but a memory or nothing like they are right now.

We all take the net for granted but it’s important to remember that the controlling organisation, ICANN, is overseen by the US Dept of Commerce and was created by US Dept of Defence’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), also the guys who first invested in Facebook, but that’s another story.

A brief, open letter to Paul Keating

Dear Mr Keating,
You of all people need no reminding of the importance of the Barangaroo development site. It is more than a once in a generation opportunity, it is a once in history opportunity.

As such there are many with specific interest in the site and the majority of those have profit as their main motivator.

Your role as a guardian of Sydney’s architectural and planning oversight through your commentary in all forms is not only required but is your duty. Resigning your post as Chair of the Design Review Panel is unacceptable.

There is no way you could have anywhere near the influence being outside the decision process of this development. To wit, it is in the national interest that you immediately take whatever steps necessary to reverse your resignation from the aforementioned post and continue to fight for this unique development.

No matter what obstacles are put in your path by politicians, bureaucrats or lobbyists you must as you have always done find creative ways to sidestep their efforts for the good of the residents of Sydney, the state of NSW and the future of Australia.

This is an opportunity for you to leave a lasting legacy. It is up to you if that legacy is of failure or triumph.

Regards etc,

Craig Ashley Russell

Breaking the Code

The news cameraman and their stills photographer counterpart form a very small and exclusive club. Being at what is often the front line of a war without actually taking part is not an easy thing. It creates a bond between these newsmen who are comrades while waiting for something to happen and competitors when the action starts.

Recently a Channel 9 Melbourne cameraman insulted the father of a man charged with several crimes, including rioting, after being verbally abused by the father outside a court. It’s happened before. Many times. I’ve witnessed it. When you see footage showing angry mourners or defendants or their families attacking news crews typically you don’t see or hear anything from the cameramen or photographers. There’s two reasons for this:

  1. 99 times out of a hundred nothing is said by the newsmen,
  2. That one time something is said the ‘code’ is such that no other news putlet would report the incident.

But with this story the ABC in Victoria have removed themselves from the club by breaking the code. The SMH and all Fairfax papers are also out now. In fact, not only out, but ripe for retribution from the Nine Network.

But here’s the interesting thing about this story; if the son is found guilty, the cameraman will not have been insulting the father but stating fact.

Earth Hour 2010

Once again I ventured out to capture what was promised to be a spectacular demonstration of individuals and corporations proclaiming together that something must be done about climate change. Yeah, I know that doesn’t make much sense and neither does Earth Hour anymore.

Annual events like Earth Hour need to make changes to the patter every year tin order to remain relevant. I’ve now made a time lapse movie of Sydney during each of the four Earth Hours and it’s easy to see that this year had FAIL all over it. My interest is only because it affords Larso and myself the opportunity to blaze up on the only thing Cuba exports of any value; cigars!

For the event this year it appeared that the word didn’t get around too well. Most people I spoke to didn’t know it was on and those that did thought it started at 7:30. So did a few building managers by the looks. The Millionaires’ Factory did their best but forgot to come back on. Australia Square went off, came on to early and had to shut down again. Westpac went off way too early. And the harbour party boats had the festoon lights on overdrive.