The Management of Meaning in Australian Journalism

20/03/2021

The art of communication has become highly coveted in today’s global and highly connected societies and economies. Whether it’s PR spinning a positive image for a corporation, a creative team selling a hit advertising campaign, or journalists telling the news, professional communicators reach into every aspect of our lives. Some can, and do, have immense power over our perceptions of reality, particularly in the political realm. But while these communicators have the power to disperse meaning, they aren’t always the ones making it.

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Bounty on Disney: Star Wars Strikes the Outrage Cycle Again

11/02/2021

The ever-harmonious Star Wars fanbase’s discourse is crashing through Twitter again. This time, “#CancelDisneyPlus” is trending, as some call for subscriptions to the streaming service to be dropped after Lucasfilm confirmed that Mandalorian actress, Gina Carano, is no longer a part of the series. It’s the usual story: a controversy, actual or perceived, occurs, and the usual suspects come out to give their “politically incorrect” opinion on the matter.

In short, the “free market capitalists” are trying to cancel Star Wars. Again.

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Sky News’ Rita Panahi Spreads Lies About Victoria Anti-Conversion Bill

08/02/2021

Like all other Sky News’ hosts, Rita Panahi is a textbook example of how vacuous sycophants will reject and oppose anything so long as they get paid large enough sums to do so. The more outrage and clicks it can generate, the better – facts and science be damned. Yesterday, she rambled (and on occasion stumbled) on about how the “radical left” can fool the “apathetic masses” by using ostensibly pure naming to “[ram] through radical policies”. Antifa, BLM, the Labor Victorian government – surely, she’ll consider all the facts on hand!

Heh.

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Outsourcing Deliberation: Political Misinformation Online

04/02/2021

Through the rambling redundant sections, forced jokes (except the one that sounded like something straight out of a Discworld novel*), and seemingly irrelevant personal anecdotes, the book The Knowledge Illusion: The myth of individual thought and the power of collective wisdom has (thankfully) offered up a few worthwhile points as I read it. In particular, the discussion on intuition and deliberation was interesting. Intuition is your immediate response to something, whereas deliberation is taking a moment to properly consider and reflect on it beforehand (or in hindsight). With social media today however, especially in political circles, many people do “deliberate” – they just get someone else to do it for them.

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The Irony of Trump’s Twitter Ban

10/01/2021

Trump has been permanently suspended from Twitter, and seemingly banned from various other social media sites, in the wake of his efforts to incite violence in Washington DC. Obviously, that hasn’t simmered down tensions on the dear bird app as we now have an already raging debate reaching new heights – that is, the power of Big Tech and the right to freedom of speech in relation to causing harm. I’ll let that little discussion run its course, because here I just want to point out the obvious contradiction from the pro-Trump camp.

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My 2020 Reading List

30/12/2020

As this rather wretched and exhausting year comes to a close, I looked back at my list from 2019 and laughed sadly at my optimistic plans to read more in 2020. Perhaps I did when you count news, analysis, etc. online, but in terms of books it was disastrously minimal. However, the books I did read offered brilliant insights or just fascinating bits of knowledge. So, in no real order:

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Historical Amnesia Goes Both Ways

07/12/2020

The first time I heard the term historical amnesia, it was in relation to a discussion about American exceptionalism and the masses “forgetting” the more bothersome parts of their history of involvement (ironically, I can’t recall the specific source or case I first came across). But, rereading Noam Chomsky’s On Anarchism (again, ironically because at the time I read it, I did so without any real focus or retention), the now seemingly obvious opposite is also true: that the true victories and battles fought by the masses themselves are also victim to this international blank slate.

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Governments Can’t Self-Regulate Surveillance

10/10/2020

Reading Sacha Molitorisz’s Net Privacy: How We Can Be Free in an Age of Surveillance, I have appreciated the background and philosophical backing for protecting privacy. In particular, the relational approach to privacy he describes I think is a brilliant way to expand the scope of what actually constitutes privacy as an individual and societal concern. However, there have been a few points that I do not agree with or wish were explored more; as young as it is, the role blockchain technology has and could play in ensuring net privacy is not even mentioned once. Instead, the chapter I am currently reading speaks of regulation and legislation, talking about the privacy of individuals and society but then falling back on the State or global institutions to uphold it – a tad problematic.

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Loss of Rationality: Kant, Consumerism, and Democracy

06/10/2020

My current read is Net Privacy: How We Can Be Free in an Age of Surveillance, written by Sacha Molitorisz, which is unexpectedly intensely philosophical in its approach. At little over the halfway mark, whilst it seemingly hasn’t answered the question posed by the subtitle, it has still been a fascinating book that I would recommend. Although I do intend on writing a piece on it relating to the commodification of data and privacy, here I want to jump on a bit of a tangent. Molitorisz references Immanuel Kant a number of times, and it is one reference to “rational beings” that I am homing in on.

Because in the modern world, Kant’s rational beings are seemingly dwindling.

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Consent Manufactured? Bill Clinton, Treasury, and Russia

27/09/2020

In his 2002 book, Globalization and Its Discontents, Joseph Stiglitz goes over how he believes Russia’s transition from “communism” to a “market economy” failed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Despite his mistake in stating that Russia was somehow “Marxist” in nature beforehand, it does explain how, with US assistance, the country continued to freefall to levels below what they were under the Soviet regime. The minute point I want to dissect from this, however, is his faith in then President of the United States, Bill Clinton, to have taken stronger action if he “had been confronted with the arguments”.

I doubt it.

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