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Chokepoint Capitalism: why we’ll all lose unless we stop Amazon, Spotify and other platforms squeezing cash from creators

In 2020, the independent authors and small publishers whose audiobooks reach their readers via Audible’s ACX platform smelled a rat. Audiobooks were booming, but sales of their own books – produced at great expense and well-reviewed – were plummeting. Some of their royalty statements reported negative sales, as readers returned more books than they bought. This was hard to make sense of, because Audible only reported net sales, refusing to reveal the … Read more

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Meeting with an Axe Murderer

This is a tragic tale however you look at it. In 1966 I moved to Burnham in Buckinghamshire to work as a software engineer for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. I lodged with a couple whose names I forget, so I’ll call them Edith and Bill. They treated me as their son. My immediate predecessor, a PhD graduate, suffered a nervous breakdown. I like to think my more stable personality was a pleasant change for … Read more

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Australia is the canary in the coalmine

The latest IPCC report on global warming was released this week. As expected, it showed that we are still not responding quickly enough to slow the onset of catastrophic deterioration to our climate. Australia is the canary in the coalmine. This week we have seen unprecedented flooding down the east coast. Lives have been lost, tens of thousands of homes are submerged under water, and there’s no immediate relief in sight. You … Read more

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Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid…

The following article is from The Conversation dated 29 October 2021 and is titled Facebook relaunches itself as ‘Meta’ in a clear bid to dominate the metaverse. It’s a disturbing read. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has announced the company will change its name to Meta, saying the move reflects the fact the company is now much broader than just the social media platform (which will still be called Facebook). The rebrand follows several … Read more

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Climate Vandals

The one group that above all others is blocking serious action to remediate global warming is the fossil fuel industry. It comprises coal, gas, and oil companies desperate to protect their profits, regardless of the cost to future generations, our young and yet-to-be-born, who will bear the dreadful consequences of their selfish policies. They directly influence politicians and the media with large financial contributions, as well as spending huge sums on lobbyists, … Read more

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The Death of Optimism

We need a catastrophic event to drive fear into our leaders, led by an angry public demand for action. The pandemic is not it, but the encroaching breakdown of climate integrity could well be. Daily, we see around us the consequences of our failure to act, and still our leaders refuse to face up to the crisis, preferring instead to make “commitments” that lack real substance. I was born in ’41 in … Read more

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ANZAC Day 2021

If ever a song encapsulated the exploitation of patriotism and the horror of war it is Eric Bogle’s: And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda. My dad fought in the 14-18 war. He was invalided out after being wounded. He was lucky, as he completely recovered. Others of course didn’t fare so well, as I discovered when I started work. Being severely traumatised, they were treated with circumspection by their workmates. Even non-combatants … Read more

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Bill Gates and Me

Now, I’m not going to pretend that Bill and I are best mates or just friends or even that he vaguely remembers me, but we have met and shaken hands and conversed. This was back in 1983/4, so that probably explains it. Besides, he’s a very busy man, as I would be if I were building a huge global business. The encounter occurred one evening in Sydney at a computer exhibition. I … Read more

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The Dictionary of Lost Words

Every now and then a book comes along in which I become totally engrossed. This is one such.  Despite its title, the book is a novel, the first by Australian writer, Pip Williams. The background is a period during the creation of The Oxford English Dictionary, which began in 1857 but wasn’t completed until 1928. As evidenced by those dates, it was an enormous task requiring the labours of a team of … Read more

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Greenwash is eyewash

2021 must be the year greenwashing dies Fossil fuel companies are adept at pretending to be part of the solution, when they’re actually the cause of the problem.   PROTESTERS TAKING PART IN A NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION AGAINST MINING GIANT SANTOS IN DECEMBER 2020 (IMAGE: AAP/DEAN LEWINS) Early this year, scientists will put the final touches of the Sixth Assessment Report from the International Panel on Climate Change. It will not … Read more

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…but a whimper

Watching Trump’s refusal to concede the presidency reminds me of the final lines of TS Eliot’s appropriately named poem, The Hollow Men: “This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper.” Substitute “presidency” for “world”, and that is how I expect him to finally leave the White House. However, there are some who believe he will need to be dragged from the White House on Inauguration … Read more

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Our functioning democracy is skin-deep

“Our political system has the outward appearance of democracy, but it is largely controlled by undemocratic forces. We find ourselves on the wrong side of the portcullis, watching helplessly as crucial decisions are taken about us, without us. If there’s one thing the coronavirus fiascos show, it’s the need for radical change.” This article by George Monbiot is about the UK political system, but there are obvious parallels with the Australian system, … Read more