The government spent $50 million of our money telling us public holidays were Protected by Law (emphasis in original). So how is it a great victory for Barnaby Joyce to get amendments which mean that we can’t be sacked for working on Christmas Day[1]. Not that I’m bagging Joyce, who’s at least doing something. But it just points up the mendacity of the ad barrage to which we’ve been subjected.

fn1. If we’re lucky we may get Good Friday and Anzac Day protected as well.

Feed of the day

i got a note from James Gross at to say this site has been picked as Feed of the Day by which seems to be an RSS-based version of blog search services like Technorati, Blogpulse and IceRocket.

Obviously, part of the implied social contract in such selections is a reciprocal plug, which I’m happy to provide, since I think RSS is a really big deal.

Following on from my previous post, I’m a bit dubious about the potential for RSS-based advertising, at least for general rather than product-oriented blogs, but Feedster seems to have the lead running in this field, and it will be interesting to see what they can do with it.


Blogs and ads

With the general resurgence in Internet-related commercial activity and speculation, it’s not surprising that a fair bit of attention has turned to the commercial and advertising possibilities of blogs. Blogging as a large-scale phenomenon came too late to cash in on the dotcom mania last time around, but plenty of people are keen on a bite at the cherry this time around. The multi-million dollar purchase of Weblogs Inc got lots of people thinking about how much their site might be worth.

But just like last time around, there are plenty of reasons for scepticism. Looking at the prices being charged by leading bloggers on Blogads, it doesn’t seem as if many people are making a lot of money. Nic Duquette did the sums and concluded[1] that a site with 10 000 page views a day ought to be able to gross around $US4500 a year. Putting in 10 hours a week for this kind of return amounts to a wage of $US9 an hour, and that’s before you allow for any costs.
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What I’m reading, and more

Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow, a novelist who’s also a blogger. He hangs out at Boing Boing. It’s good fun. The idea of the title is that Net-oriented people orient themselves into tribes according to the time of day at which they are active. The hero is one of a team of saboteurs who’s job it is to persuade rival tribes to implement user-unfriendly and unreliable software, adopt time-wasting bureaucratic measures and so forth. So, while the first part is pretty far-fetched, the second is the most realistic explanation I’ve so far seen for Microsoft. But the big question I have is how someone can blog and write novels at the same time.

Yesterday was the Seiyushin karate grading and Christmas party. I wasn’t grading, so it was a very relaxed and pleasant occasion for me, though I did have one round as a sparring partner, which was fun (a respectable draw).

Anti-americanism redux

Following the recent discussion here of critics of US foreign policy being labelled as anti-American, I saw a snippet in the Fin (subscription required) in which the Wall Street Journal (also subscription required) applied the same epithet to anyone critical of US labour market institutions and their outcomes, even extending this to former PM Bob Hawke, about as prominent a supporter of the US alliance as you could find, though, like many others, a critic of the Iraq war. The relevant quote

Even Labor leaders who have previously been strong supporters of the alliance have not hesitated to stir anti-US prejudices this time. Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke warned that making it easier for workers to negotiate wages directly either their employers would be “a move down the path to” horror of horrors “an Americanisation of labour relations

Unfortunately, my efforts to find the full piece have been unsuccessful – I assume it’s behind the paywall somewhere. I’d appreciate it it anyone could supply the full text.

I’d be interested to know, for example, whether the WSJ has extended its net to catch that notorious anti-American, John Howard, who has warned against taking the “American path” in relation to gun laws and tort litigation.

In the meantime, let me offer the hypothesis that lots of American workers share the “anti-American prejudice” that they would rather have a union on their side than enjoy the benefits of direct “negotiation” with employers. For example, this Gallup Poll reports that 38 per cent of Americans would like to see unions have more influence, as against 30 per cent who would prefer less. And I’ll guess that the WSJ itself would be happy enough to endorse Howard’s anti-Americanism, at least as far as tort law is concerned.

Update Thanks to several readers, the full column is over the fold
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Gunns drops accusations

The Gunns case in which woodchip exporter Gunns’ is suing a large number of critics, has taken an interesting turn, with Gunns abandoning claims of criminal damage made against the respondents in general and a number of specific individuals. The case is now confined to the attempt by Gunns to suppress public debate using the deplorable SLAPP method, now largely prohibited in the US, where it originated.

The criminal allegations, if there were evidence to support them, would have justified a court action. Instead, it appears, the existence of court proceedings has enabled Gunns to make allegations that would be defamatory in normal circumstances, then drop them without providing any evidence.

The Wilderness Society has put out a press release (over the fold) calling for an apology, but I can’t see that happening. Still, it seems certain that Gunns and its shareholders will pay dearly for this exercise, in both money and reputation.
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