From the terminal of Spi

Tweet roll-up, 14.11.2020


Trying something a little different, to give this site a little more content.

My usual dump for my thoughts is some bird site. At times I can dump a lot of stuff there - between threads, quotes and replies, I think I tweeted between 90-100 times in the course of the week. It would be a waste to not lose them in the abyss of posts.

But I'm not just going to post the tweets unedited here - I'd like to reflect on some of the highlights of the week, see if there are any themes that pop up and stuff. I'd like to do this on a weekly or fortnightly basis, so I'll see how I go.

These will be a little bit random, so strap in I guess.

Election time... aaargh

The start of the week was still dominated by the continued counting of the votes in the US election - and despite the current sitting president's protestations to the contrary, it looks like Joe Biden will, presuming the democratic process is honoured, take the chair in the White House on January 20th next year.

US elections stress me out, even though I don't live there, because the actions of the US have far-reaching effects worldwide. They stress me out even more when I deal with other people talking about it, because (although I think furries are more likely to lean left) it exposes the deep divisions between left and right, where I'm sure that in some sections people will refuse to deal with each other on the basis of politics.

I think Biden will face pressure from both sides - both the hardened Republicans who look like holding control of the Senate (unless the run-off elections in Georgia turn blue, which I doubt they will, but who knows), and from the progressive wing of his own party who want him to focus more on climate change, identity politics (think BLM) and the like. It will be an interesting tightrope over the next few years, to say the least.

Biden's election has also sparked some controversy on the left in Australia, with a resigning Labor minister complaining that some will use Biden's win as a push for a more aggressive climate policy in the party. Labor's already committed to a "net zero emissions by 2050" policy, but Joel Fitzgibbon suggests that this ignores the pleas of folks in places like Queensland - which did not swing to Labor like the rest of the country in 2019 - who see their thermal coal jobs being threatened. Some people don't really care about global temperatures in 2100, they care about their jobs now, would be the argument - and Labor is supposed to be the party of the workers. I guess we'll see if that's validated in 2022 or whenever.

Hard right

In the past month and a bit, I tried to challenge my centre-left views, by signing up to the Murdoch papers, taking advantage of cheap trials. You might think I'm a little mad by doing that, but I guess it's worth knowing what the "other side" is complaining about.

I mainly did it in the knowledge that the actual news in The Oz and Murodch state papers is actually kinda okay. I don't think my revulsion of the papers comes from the journalists, as much as they know which side of the bread their butter's on. Heck, the same even applies to the hotbed of conservative America that is Fox News - their news is still straighter than their prime time opinion, something that Trump himself riled about, that the daytime news component wasn't "loyal" enough to him.

But I think Murdoch knows that we are in a post-news world, where people don't want the facts - they want their leanings validated. And they know from the US that conservative opinion is an extremely lucrative business, and that Fox News has been at the forefront of that - and it's little surprise that they would try it on in their Australian properties, such as the papers and Sky News AU. And as much as I'd hate to admit, there is probably a hunger for that in much the similar places where Trump was popular - in the aspirational middle-class suburbs, who don't want to associate themselves with the "working class" that Labor still partly serves. Likewise in the conservative regions, where the Sky News sub-channel provided by WIN has very little actual news, and is mostly repeats of the opinion of Jones, Credlin, Bolt et al.

As such, the papers' websites are ordered very much with the realisation that they aren't going to have to appeal to a broad church - there is so much opinion above the fold that it kinda makes me puke. I was mainly hoping that I'd read the digital edition of the actual paper, but I found I just don't have the time. There was also an interesting piece in the Sydney Morning Herald about Sky News on social media - they might have a third of the reach of ABC News 24 over the airwaves, but people on social media are absolutely lapping up the postings of their opinion.

In the end, I couldn't do it - I'm cancelling my subs to the papers. If I can't read the actual paper, it's not worth paying $70/month (after the trial) to have to stop myself from gagging at hard-right opinionators. And that's probably okay - I'm realising that it might be OK to have bias, partly because it might mean that I actually take a stand on something. Meanwhile, I might get my "economic right" stuff from the Fin Review or something. Dunno.

I don't Stan this

So Nine has done a deal with Rugby Australia for a "whole of southern hemisphere rugby union deal" that means rugby won't be appearing on Foxtel screens for the first time since the Super 12 rugby competition was created in 1996, not long after rugby union turned professional.

In some ways, it will be a help to the exposure of provincial rugby - Seven carried delayed telecasts of Super 12 in the first couple of years but this will be the first time that Super Rugby will be live on free-to-air, sandwiched on a Saturday night between the NRL telecasts. Good.

But for almost everything else (bar the internationals and a few club rugby matches), you'll have to subscribe to Nine's streaming service, Stan - and it won't be on the base tier. And you won't be able to subscribe to the sports service by itself, which means it'll probably cost $25/month just to watch rugby. Boo. Likely won't be doing it. That's more than I'm paying for Kayo right now.

Fans of the English Premier League football felt the same thing when Optus gained the rights to it (and some other soccer content), and started charging $15/month for non-Optus customers. Since some people are nuts about the Premier League, I suspect people will pay that, and maybe even get a Fetch box so they don't have to stream it using a computer.

I guess sport suffers the same fragmentation that entertainment has, and although it's probably a good thing that Fox Sports is not a sports monopoly anymore, having to pay for multiple services is a pain and I'm not sure whether I'll do it. It's not quite the same as paying for multiple streaming services when you previously paid $140/month for a Foxtel platinum subscription, as you're still better off there.

Word of the week?

The word of the week apparently was "vidiprinter" - as it applies to the football (soccer) results service that used to be run by the UK Press Association, and is now run by a sports analytics company.

The UK, of course, is nuts about football, and a LOT of it happens on Saturday afternoon, from Premier League all the way down to non-league football. No internet back in the day, so most people found out the scores for their local team from the (mainly) BBC sports show on an afternoon. Also important at the time were people finding out results for their football pools tickets, as this was one of the main methods of gambling available in the UK in the days before the National Lottery (which didn't appear until 1994).

Back in 1980 they'd have an actual printer with a person standing there reading out the scores, but by the middle of the decade, computers with graphics suitable for TV made it easier to just print it on the screen (likely using a BBC Micro at first) - to which they termed the "vidiprinter" - the name's kinda stuck in some way to this day. So back in the day you'd sit in front of the TV at 4.40pm or thereabouts and watch the scores appear "live" on the screen for about 10-15 minutes. They'd sometimes also run it in other breaks (such as half-time), as it also covered goals and red cards in live games.

Back in the 80s it was rather raw (and also occasionally covered rugby games, which they couldn't filter out), but the TV/internet services are a lot more filtered these days, rarely covering lower than about step 6 in the pyramid - but that is still a maximum of 80 male games, plus usually coverage of the elite women's league and some of the leagues in the devolved nations. So as a results service, it still seems like a live thing.

Too much? That's what I thought when I read the Wikipedia article. 😂

No more salad days

Finally, it's farewell to a restaurant chain that, I guess, was just "there" - at least the local one was. Sizzler, known for its cheese toast and salad bar, is finally going away this Sunday in Australia.

I don't really have a lot of memories of Sizzler, despite one of their main stores in NSW being in Spi territory - I think I only went there two or three times in its 30+-year history. With Covid making buffets and shared foods kinda problematic, it's perhaps not surprising that it's happening now, but they'd been on the decline for some time I think. Buffets in general aren't overly a thing in Australia - you just have to see the decline of the dine-in Pizza Hut restaurant to see that (where there are only about a dozen left in Australia).

The unrelated US arm of Sizzler, which was sold off by Collins Foods (who owned Australian Sizzler), also went into Chapter 11 administration in September, so who knows what will happen to the brand worldwide. As for the Australian arm... well, Collins, best known for being one of the biggest franchisees of the Yum! Brands group in Australia (especially with KFC in Queensland), has just started bringing back Taco Bell to Australia after a roughly 15-year absence... so perhaps the local Sizzler will be turned into that in time. Who knows really.

I'm sure there was more that I talked about, but that's already 1,700 words which is probably half of what I actually wrote on Twitter. 😂 I like being able to expand into prose sometimes, and I guess I'll see if it sticks. Enjoy your week!

~ Spi 💙