Thursday, September 30

Great essay "What the bubble got right" on useful positive learnings to take-away from the Internet boom-and-crash, by Paul Graham, who was a founder of Viaweb, a cool ecommerce hosting service acquired by Yahoo!, which became Yahoo! Store, which I found both liberating and frustrating in my time at Yahoo!. Paul's nevertheless a very, very smart guy.

Here's some snapshots from the history of Viaweb, one of the first-ever web applications (possibly the first.) The author's built his site using Viaweb - anybody who's used the Yahoo! Store interface will recognise the nav UI. How very late '90s!

Buy this album now!

buy Karma County - 'Pacifico',
It's cheaper for you that way (no retailer margin) and the
band members get a bigger share of the proceeds (no distributor
margin.) Everybody wins!

Wednesday, September 29

Best Flash game of the campaign

Are you moving the glass?

I'm not a medium, I'm an extra-large, but sometimes I see dead people...

I'm for outside-the-square solutions

School bonuses are outside-the-square

The Liberal party thinks it's a good idea to give money directly to P&C
groups to fund schools instead of to state governments? That's not
nearly outside-the-square enough for me! The Liberal government gave a
'baby bonus' to new mums, right? So why not give every parent of a
school age child an annual education bonus, but instead of getting that
cash in their hands (which they'd only spend on a new TV or a holiday
on the Gold Coast), make them choose a school to award it to.

Then replace the current school funding system with a government
contribution of a flat $/student amount, whether the school is public
or private. Let the schools compete for school bonus awards on merits,
marketing, or whatever they find works best for them. Let the parents
choose whether they want to put that amount each year towards a private
or public school of their choice.

It wouldn't just put public and private schools on a level playing
field for the first time, it would blow away the distinction between
public and private schools altogether.

If it works, apply it to hospitals too!

Ditto hospitals. It's a bit more complex because sometimes healthcare
can be life-threatening, but if people really want the choice of public
or private healthcare, let them make the funding decisions for
themselves. Keep nothing but the Medicare brand, and out of the money
usually spent on Medicare each year, give them a lump sum X$/year to
assign to the hospital of their choice, X$/year as a fixed health
insurance subsidy to the fund of their choice, X$/year to assign to the
GP of their choice, and $X/year that can be split up on a per-use basis
to spend on specialists, ancillary, pharmaceuticals, etc. Once the
money's run out, they have to pay for any additional health costs they
incur. Any additional health insurance you want you have to pay for

My bet is people will probably spend their money with the hospital
which is closest to them, which ought to re-adjust the funding problems
neatly so that the best hospitals service the most people, and people
in regional Australia make sure they don't live too far from the
medical services they need - nobody's forcing them to live out in the

My guess is suddenly a lot of specialists will discover they're
overpricing themselves and introduce more affordable pricing, people
will reward the best GPs on merit, and health insurance funds will
finally have to make financial sense rather than survive on legislated
compulsory payments.

It'll take some getting used to, and it won't always work perfectly the
first time, but fuck it, I'm for outside the square thinking!

Monday, September 27

Why I won't be voting Liberal

Federal election coming up in two weeks, and in case I'm tempted
between now and then by the extraordinary $6.5b in pork-barreling
promised in John Howard's campaign launch speech, I've made a note of
some of the reasons why I shouldn't (and you shouldn't) vote Liberal on
the day.

  1. Sending SAS commandos to board and turn-back the Tampa, a container ship packed to the gunwhales with refugees rescued from a sinking boat, then parcelling them out as hostages to poor Pacific nations with the promise of massive aid assistance, so that it costs our taxpayers an average of $400,000 a month to keep each refugee there while the Dept of Immigration delays the processing of their applications for refugee status for as long as possible. Eventually, almost all the refugees are accepted into our country as potential new citizens, despite government ministers having accused them of throwing their children overboard to gain asylum, of being potential terrorists and carriers of disease at election time.

  2. Committing us to supporting the illegal US invasion of Iraq, allowing the US to detain our citizens in Iraq and Afghanistan without trial, and giving us no indication of when and under what circumstances our commitment to Iraq might end.

  3. Closing Australia's embassies in countries where political refugees might actually be able to apply for a visa, making it effectively impossible for refugees to legally come to Australia.

  4. Cutting funds to Medicare, public secondary education and tertiary education for ten years, and then promising to pump a few billion back into it two weeks before the election in the hope it might win you votes.

  5. The anti-terrorism fridge magnet.

  6. Spending more on assistance to private secondary education than is spent on the entire Australian university system.

  7. Riding roughshod over various laws to protect the commercial interests of the Prime Minister's brother-in-law in the Manildra ethanol affair.

  8. Making us the laughing-stock of the world by making our overseas representative someone as pompous, moronic and manic as Alexander Downer.

  9. Encouraging a public service culture that effectively isolates and persecutes whistle-blowers in the public service.

  10. Playing to the weaknesses in the national character; the greed, xenophobia, and selfishness of the Australian people again and again and again and again, just in order to get four more years in power.

  11. Spending the budget surplus for the next four years before we've even collected it, just to fund election pork-barreling.

  12. For not saying sorry to the Stolen Generations.

  13. For actually raising more taxes than any government in Australian history and doing almost nothing to reform our tax system, after promising to do it.

  14. For all those "non-core" promises from last elections that never got delivered on.

  15. For spending $120 million of taxpayer's money in this election campaign alone on political advertising masquerading as information, completely ignoring the Auditor General's recommendations in the report commissioned by this same government when it took office.

  16. For not implementing a ministerial code of conduct until forced to do so. For not enforcing it on ministers until forced to do so. For then watering it down to protect the remaining ministers in the government and their ongoing conflicts of interest. For fostering a culture of carpetbagging that thinks its OK for an MP to take their lover on a taxpayer-funded overseas holiday and lets her get away with it without even a slap on the wrist.

Wednesday, September 15

Karma County on TripleJ!

Here's a recording (Quicktime streaming audio) of the debut airing of Dexter & Sinistra, the first single from the new album. It aired on TripleJ on the afternoon of the album's official launch date, and lead singer, Brendan Gallagher got a great interview along with it, too!

Tuesday, September 14

Went skiing for a week! Don't hate me!

LinkJust back from an awesome week's skiing with family and friends in Wanaka, NZ!

It's alive! It's alive! (insane cackle...)

CD on the shelf
Originally uploaded by bigyahu.

It's alive! It's alive! I spotted 'Pacifico' by Karma County for the first time on the retail shelf yesterday in a shop in Surry Hills. Then I moved it from the bottom shelf to the top shelf, next to the Jeff Buckley.

Oddly anti-climactic moment, actually. I had daydreams of something ceremonial in a huge HMV or Virgin Megastore, with the band, the distributor, some bimbos, a lot of champagne and the hint of a long night of irresponsible partying to come. I guess as the impresario backing the project, the blame for it not happening that way is entirely my own. I'm my own cheapest bastard!

Instead I was rushing to the post office to send something and get back to the office before a meeting started without me. But it was still a special moment.

Now we just have to sit back and wait for the critical acclaim and platinum sales. You can do your bit too - you can buy it online at - just look for the 'buy Pacifico' button!

QuickFlix and going the extra mile for customers

A contemporary of mine, Stephen Langsford, is also building an online DVD rental business, called Quickflix. Got a lot of respek for the man, and he sure does care about his customers. See here how he personally intervenes in a customer service compaint about Quickflix on the aus.dvd forum - QuickFlix run by semi-trained monkeys.

Still, I wonder if it's wise to post your work email address - - on a public forum?

Buy content through ScooptWords