You’re probably assuming that by that statement above, that I have my head approximately five feet and nine inches up my own rectum, right? Don’t read the news… Yeah, right. what kind of uninformed simpleton refuses to read the news?
I will hand-on-heart say this. The large bulk of your issues can be resolved quite easily, if you did yourselves a favour, and stopped panicking about the latest non-issue you see in the news, took five minutes to ground yourself, and actually did some proper reading on a topic. Why? Because surprisingly, the news, is not designed to inform you. No, not even that site that your mate at work recommended you that calls Anthony Albanese a lizardman, or that one about how eating Kale-infused Soylent Green nature-chips will suddenly save all those crying cows from being eaten by oil companies. The news has one function, and one function alone. To sell you bullshit disguised as knowledge.
Let me tell you a little bit about my family history. My Dad used to work for The Big Three. Not to be confused with the Big Four, or that other Big Four, or the chain of Big Four caravan parks that I think no longer exist, We’re talking about the Big three, free to air broadcasters that make up the large bulk of Australia’s free-to-air television stations. That would be Channel Seven, owned by Seven West Media, Channel Nine, owned by Nine Fairfax, and formerly the Packer family, and Channel Ten, now owned by Paramount USA.
When dad used to work nightshifts at Channel 7, Mum and I would drop Maccas off to him at around 5, maybe 6pm. Just before the news. His work involved sitting in a dark room, with a wall covered entirely with television screens. His Job was to cue up and check the quality of programs that are being broadcast, and to address any issues with broadcasting if it so happens. If you ever lived in Perth during the Mid 2000s and saw a black screen whilst watching telly of an evening, chances are it was my dad who was doing his best to get the picture back.
We saw Rick Ardon and Suzannah Carr, sitting at their desk preparing for the broadcast on one of the monitors. There was a vision switcher on the studio floor, so they would be responsible for the news feed. All Dad was doing was making sure the picture was clean and any gear in the MCR didn’t crap itself during the broadcast.
So, why the extra guy? Well a Pres and Ops operator has two main tasks, Firstly, as mentioned, check the picture quality and solve technical issues, and the second, was to make sure advertisers got ads played their slots at the appropriate time. This was a super important role, because this is basically the main reason why the Television station even had programs in the first place, to draw your eyes to the Ads.
My curious 11-year-old self would sit for hours, watching the MARC robot, this giant tape-loading robot, load tapes into D3 1/2″ digital tape players, which whizzed and whirred to specific cue times. One main tape player was loaded with the Show that was playing next. After the news it was Today Tonight, and then Home and Away at 7pm. The robot would have those tapes loaded in the top player, VTR1. The second player, VTR2 had ads loaded into it. Each programming block had its own tape, and had specific timecodes for when ads would play, and they would be taped in order according to the cue sheet, sitting on Dad’s desk.
It was important that these tapes got played at certain times. I asked the manager of that department once how much it cost for a single ad to be played. According to them, a nationwide spot during the news would set the advertiser back, back in 2001, somewhere in the realm of $25,000 to broadcast a 15 second ad.
25 grand! for 15 seconds of playback time… And this was only on one station too. It cost half my dad’s yearly salary at the time to tell Perth that Coles had a special on chicken this week.
During these times, only the big guns could afford ads during the news. Coles, Woolies, Insurance and banking companies, so on and so forth. Each one dropping close to the cost of a brand new Toyota Corolla in 2023 to purchase a mere 15 seconds of attention. In five minutes, the maximum allowable time the ACMA allows for advertising time during any given hour of broadcasting, 20 ads would be playing. That’s $500,000 in revenue generated for the station in an hour. Now of course, wages, broadcast licensing fees and the exorbitant costs of power and rent that the television station chews up, that could potentially work out to be a hefty profit overall. This is based on published statistics though, and it will usually be an ad agency that will work with these bigger companies to do what’re called “Blockouts” where ads will play on the same networks at roughly the same time in a broadcast depending on who is involved or what is being advertised.
So, the news has to be a massive revenue generator, to allow for the television networks to sell the most expensive ad space to the most cashed up agencies and advertisers. This means, that unfortunately, televised news is not designed to inform. Why?
Information is boring.
There’s an old saying in Journalistic circles. If it Bleeds, it Leads. Look at the structure of a typical news broadcast. Pay attention to the layout and positioning of what stories go where in a broadcast. A broadcast will often begin with a wild or tragic story based in your local area, something along the lines of say, a violent home invasion, or a car crash, or a huge fire. Something big, bold, and intriguing, in an anxiety-inducing way. The manner in which the newscasters read this out conveys a sense of importance. You must know this! This is for you to understand and be informed about.
Once this story is over, the beginnings of the News’s A-plot begin to form. The next B-plot will be another similar story, maybe lesser in engagement, maybe a story about a topical issue, a current affairs story, as they call them. Next, onto politics. If the news station likes the political party in power, they will sing the praises of the party. In Australia, that’d be the Liberals. Pretty much all of the three news stations love them, unless they are really, really messing up… You know, to the point that the country is on fire. If Labor is in power, they will do everything they can in the beginning to look like they are an okay choice, especially if they endorsed them over the screwups in the Liberals. But if it’s more than a year, or even the tiniest of flaws is seen on their character, wham. Attack piece. “Cost of living is getting worse and Labor isn’t doing anything”, they’ll say, completely ignoring the bills they are passing that actively fix the issue, much to the chagrin of the news station’s very rich board of tax-dodging mining company shareholders. If the Liberal party is still seen as incompetent, they praise independents, outsiders, for fighting against “the two party system” or whatever.
They distill misinformation into short snippets, because to actually understand what is going on, would involve trawling through the Hansard, or watching Question Time, which happens usually when people are at work, so nobody’s paying attention to it. The news, however, is, and they’re selectively editing down the clips taken from Parliament House to distill a narrative that suits their whims.
To be truly informed about an issue or topic requires you to sit down and extensively research an issue. It will take you literal days to fully get a grasp on the economic issues that’re associated with the present day (as of 2023) cost of living crisis. I’ll boil it down to its root causes, in case anyone’s reading. Corporate profits being high, due to unpaid wages, rampant price gouging and unpaid taxes, Boomers having too much money and not enough sense, and unprecedented amounts of global warfare and supply chain issues directly affecting the flow of goods and commodities around the world. There you go. I, a Kelmscott Bogan, have condensed the reasons as to why things are so expensive into three things. It’s not Immigrants, it’s not inaction, it’s companies being dicks, boomers being dicks, and Russia and Hamas being dicks. The government of Australia can fix only one of those three things, and even then, it has bugger all chance of doing that, because both houses of parliament are, as of right now, wedged by small-picture, niche interest independents and the braindead Redditors that cheer them on because they happen to tickle their egoes and their dopamine receptors in just the right spot.
My point is, if the media’s relentlessly attacking a particular political party in your country, there is a very good reason why. Corporations who either own shares or pay advertising dollars to the station, do not want the party they don’t like taking power. Unless of course you’re talking about one-party states like Vietnam where all news is blatant propaganda for the VCP, then this point is moot.
What I am saying is that Noam Chomsky is right.
To truly understand the nuances and details of an issue, takes a lot of time and a lot of energy. Energy which you waste on watching the news, reading social media articles, and more importantly, being scared of shit that is completely irrelevant to you.
An electrical storm is brewing.
Seeing as I am recently, very interested in Electric Vehicles, there is also a lot of misinformed news about this topic too. Oil and Gas companies in particular have gotten their claws deep into the pockets of many media company CEOs. Not to sound like a tin-foil-hatted conspiracy theorist for a second, but Rupert Murdoch purchased Equity stakes in Genie Oil and Gas back in 2010. What’s Genie Oil and Gas? Why that’s a subsidiary of IDT Corporation, owned by one Jacob Rothschild. Yes, of those Rothschilds. The ones that all them crazyass conspiracy theorists think that the Democrats in the US are in bed with, when the main proprietor of their agenda-setting propaganda network, Fox News, owns a stake in a Rothschild company. Rupert’s son James also has a stake in BlackRock, a massive company which owns equity stakes in all sorts of shady oil and gas companies. The Murdochs have huge, huge interest in making sure that there is as much FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) as possible about electrification. Why? Well of course, because Oil and Gas companies want to keep existing, of course! Even though in an electrified world there will always be a place for such companies, in their lower value products, such as plastics and so on, they want to keep raking in the big bucks!
So you’ll see Daily Mail articles about how EVs are tinderboxes prone to catch fire, about how Teslas are put together poorly and their drivers sleep at the wheel whilst Autopilot is engaged. You’ll see stories about how Toyota is the saviour of the world when it comes to cars, that Hybrids are the way we save the ICE from extinction, blah, blah, blah.
Here’s the truth. EVs are safer, more environmentally friendly, and cheaper to own and operate than ICE cars.
Firstly, if EVs were considered as unsafe, then Government agencies would not allow them to be sold, in the same way as ICE cars that considered as are unsafe are not allowed to be sold. Secondly, EVs are mechanically simpler, meaning less service costs and more efficient driving. More of the power you put into the battery gets put to the ground, purely due to reduced mechanical losses through a less complicated drivetrain. Thirdly, on an environmental standpoint, your average EV will be lower in terms of its environmental impact within two years of you taking ownership. If you charge solely on solar power, emissions are only emitted during production, whereas an equivalent gas car emits throughout its entire lifespan. If you charge using carbon intensive grid power such as we have in Western Australia, it will beat the ICE car in three years, because 65% of a gas power plant’s burnt energy is used to generate electricity, as opposed to around 35% of your fuel being used to make actual power in an ICE, plus all the energy it takes to actually turn crude oil into petrol in the first place. Petrol, doesn’t come out of nowhere.
This does not come from me, by the way, it comes from the United States EPA. You know, the most oil hungry government on the goddamn planet.
But it is really, really easy to accept misinformation if it means you do not have to change. Many people took the bait when it came to COVID-19 misinformation early on in the pandemic. It cost people their lives. Millions who died because they chose not to wear masks, get vaccinated, keep their distance, wash their hands, and so on. Nope, it’s easier to keep doing things the way you’ve always done them, because change, is apparently hard and inconvenient.
The truth is, EVs are not inconvenient either. Imagine having a petrol bowser right at your front door. How sick would that be?! Not having to worry about how expensive fuel is or when to fuel up. No more lining up at the local servo on a Tuesday arvo because prices are a whole 40c cheaper than what they’d be on Wednesday, it’s 33c per kilowatt hour from your house if you’re on the A1 Tarriff from Synergy, and even less if you’re on a Midday Saver with EV Addon for overnight charging. Imagine also leaving home every day with an entirely full tank of petrol. Imagine not having to have political discussions with old people at the petrol pumps about how expensive shit is these days… Wouldn’t that be great?
No, you’d still prefer to buy a Landcruiser with a dirty-ass V8 Diesel?
I get it. I totally get it. It’s cool to burn shit. We’ve been doing it for millions of years. Its hard to undo all that just to do things for the sake of other people, for the sake of keeping our air clean and our native wildlife alive, but I guess that you’d rather run them over in your big fourby that you never, ever take off road.
At least if you’re going to buy a fourby take the cunt offroad like my brother does! Makes no sense to blow the cost of two BYD Seals on a car you have to wait three years for and then subsequently never get dirty.
Humans of course, oftentimes do not think with rationality and information. Information is boring. Being rational is boring. No, it’s more fun to dig into your feelings. The truth is, I like EVs because of the feeling they give me when I drive ’em. Instant Torque, Instant power, endless creature comforts, amazing tech, and all packaged in a way which means i’ll rarely have to service them, and there’s less risk of dealing with a fire.
Oh yeah, did I mention they’re safer than gas cars when it comes to fires too? Have you ever seen a Lithium battery go off, like an RC car battery? As a former RC Racer, I can tell you that It doesn’t happen instantaneously. Usually there’s some lead time before you see the big scary fire go off. You’ll see smoke, some cell swelling, plenty of time to drop the thing that’s about to catch on fire into a bucket of sand, and get said bucket of sand to a safe location. In the case of an EV, one or perhaps two cells out of potentially thousands will go off first. The car’s BMS will report a fault, immediately unlock all doors and allow you to escape before voltage drops to the point where the car’s control systems can no longer respond. Your driver’s side door is jammed, but your passenger door works. You and your kids clamber out this door. More cells begin to smoke. By this point, all occupants are out of the car. A few minutes later, the car lights up and fire spews from under the car. By now you are all a safe distance away, and emergency crews are already trying to put the car out. A crane picks up your car and sticks it in a big vat of salt water, immediately discharging your pack to 0V. Your car’s a writeoff, sure. But you’re alive.
Contrast this with a gasoline fire. A ruptured tank will spew hot fuel, everywhere after an impact. So much as a spark from say, a 12v battery or some form of short circuit caused by the crash will set the car immediately on fire in a matter of seconds. The car cannot sense a fire has gone off. Your doors are jammed shut. There’s no emergency exits built in to the car. You try and kick in a window. You can’t. Your legs are too weak. You and your family scream as the car begins to get really, really hot inside. You try to open the passenger door, but see there’s flames outside as the stream of fuel lights up underneath your car. Suddenly, the ratio of oxygen and fuel hits just the right spot for disaster to happen.
Now of course, the converse can also happen with both scenarios because, car crashes are not predictable in their nature and damage to vehicles, even in similar impacts can wildly vary, this is just an example of how EVs don’t just suddenly explode like what the news tells you. Lithium batteries in EVs have failsafes, mechanical and electrical fuses in adjoining cells, isolation systems, all kinds of backups on backups on backups to prevent the spread of fires. You wouldn’t know all this information of course, if you solely paid attention to the news.
That is because the function of the news is not to inform you. It is to give you the illusion of information whilst manufacturing consent in the process. I am of course, not immune to it either, it plays into the deepest desire for us to be connected in this never ending world of isolation.
So if the news is bullshit, what can I do?
The cynic’s answer is to just go “Bah humbug” and ignore the news all together. I for one am a bit of a cynic, but i am also a pragmatist too. The Cynic is right, ignore the news, but this is not an excuse to be misinformed. If you are interested in a topic, beit climate change, electric vehicles, music, arts, whatever, don’t get your information from distilled sources like the news. Actually have conversations with those who are enthused and/or respected experts in the topic, more importantly, read articles and information from reputable sources that are peer-reviewed and fact-checked. When it comes to EVs, I get most of my information from organisations that promote EVs and talk about their technology in a cited, fact-checked and nuanced way. Not all EVs are cars sent from heaven. Toyota, oh ye mightiest of car companies, is absolutely floundering when it comes to EVs. They want to flounder, because they, like the oil companies, do not want to change. The best EVs mostly come from either companies who are willing to adapt with the times, like Volvo, Hyundai or Kia; Or companies who are starting out as dedicated EV makers, like BYD, Tesla and NIO.
If you do read the news, keep a cursory understanding that underneath the writing lies an agenda. The purpose of news of all kinds, left or right, factual or flagrantly false, is to persuade you of an argument in a way that appeals to your emotions. The monkey mind is more powerful in a whim than the sapient mind. News’s double-function of keeping you anxious and using agenda-fied stories to provide you with a solution to that fear.
Worried about EVs? Relax. EVs are bad for the planet, according to this Oil and Gas billionaire-funded think tank. Worried about house prices being expensive despite attempts by a prospective Labor government in 2019 to bring forth policies during the election that’d actively fix the very cause of said house prices being so sky high (Negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions) by repealing the mechanism that would allow said prices to be the norm? Just vote in the Liberals. We’ll keep interest rates low, whilst subsidising the million dollar portfolios of our property developer mates through these mechanisms on the side, creating this massive pool of useless, overvalued debt that’s set to bite the entire nation in the arse come say, 2023, when Labor is finally elected again. Oh, this article happens to be sponsored by some property development company based in the Caymans and a banking corpration who’s set to collect that sweet sweet portfolio money when you and your missus default on your $1.5m Sydney Shoebox for not being able to pay a mere 5% interest rate on a $60,000 salary. Oh, don’t join your union either, they’re corrupt, apparently. Oh, Labor is also bad because they refuse to freeze rents despite it being constitutionally impossible to do so. (Yes, Greenies are also in my proverbial crosshairs too.)
That’s the news. Its job is to provide you with the illusion of information. Labor does not get praise from any news outlet, because it is an effective government. No corporation in their right mind wants a competent government. EVs get slammed in the news because once you drive and live with one, you will never, ever want to drive another ICE car again. Macs are bad because they are not upgradeable and you can’t game on them, but once I, a former gamer, opened up the lid on my first Macbook Pro, I have only turned my PC on in a solid three months, purely because of how good this machine really is.
So read reputable publications, books on the topic, and just read anything with the idea that its sole job is to persuade you of their ideas. It is indeed important to read ideas which contradict yours, absolutely. However, the difference lies in what is truth and what is agenda. Human-induced climate change is supported by 99% of the world’s scientists, therefore the current consensus is that humans are causing climate change. For now, BEVs are the least impactful way, if you are considering to buy a new car, to drive. Cars are bad for the planet in general, but if you are to buy a new car, buy an EV if you can. Labor has been the most successful government for the working class, based upon OECD Statistics. During the GFC, Wayne Swan was ranked as the number one-rated treasurer on the planet. Why? Because of his bottom-up stimulus strategy which got Australia out of the GFC. Paul Keating was one of the best leaders in Australian history, for solving a wage-price spiral whilst also making Australians some of the wealthiest citizens of a nation in the world in the process thanks to Superannuation. If you look throughout history at other political parties backed by their country’s respective union movements, they have contributed more positive economic outcomes for their respective nation than those who are not backed by unions. This is not agenda-based, these are statistical facts.
So what’s the take-home of all of this. Well, simple. News is not there to inform. Always, always, always take it with a grain of salt. If you want more information, you gotta go digging for more. This will take time. If you feel this is too much, it is better to focus your time on something that enriches your life, and dig into that instead. Most of the things you see and hear in the news make little to no impact on your day-to-day life, and are designed purely to scare you into compliance. Great creative minds and innovative inventors and thinkers are often not newsheads. Those that are, are not very good at their job. Donald Trump, Elon Musk, so on, so forth, spend more time focusing on what people think of them. Luckily, Elon’s engineers do not think in the same way, and spend their time developing amazing products that’re making EVs cool and accessible.
So if you don’t want to read the news and be informed, chances are you are likely going to be more informed on some things than the average newshead is on the things they read. I know more about making things with my 3D printer than the Israel-Gaza conflict, and that’s okay. I don’t work in foreign policy. Not my wheelhouse, not my boat. I wanna print cool things, drive EVs and make some sweet, sweet solar power. That’s alright to me.