Another week rolls by and the injustices of the world continue to require our attention and vigilence.

An interesting look inside the Indian call centre industry. Yes, you may be annoyed with having to talk to an Indian on the phone, but also spare a thought for what they are going through as well. Direct your energy towards the companies and policies that cause jobs to go offshore, not the fact that this is a rare shot for thousands of poor people to make a ‘decent’ wage. Buy an answering machine to screen calls if you have to.

In Australia, the furor over the introduction of the carbon tax has overshadowed the reality for a lot of people that they are currently living through a recession, despite all the ‘official figures’ saying otherwise. There’s also the issue of the government shooting Australian internet users in the foot over wireless internet. A “prohibition on Telstra “promoting wireless services as a substitute for fibre-based services for 20 years” “!?!? 20 years ago – in 1991 – NO ONE had internet access in Australia. Not a single person. My university got internet in 1994. In twenty years the rest of the world will be downloading entire full-sensory movies into their minds to be experienced in all five senses, and the internet users of Australia will be clinging on to their legacy DVDs and Blu-Rays. Ridiculous.

This was an interesting piece looking at the underlying racism behind unemployment figures in the USA. One highlight of the piece was an experiment done where four types of job applicants applied for work and the reponse rate was measured. The worker types tested were all male, of similar age and educational background. The only differences were if the applicant was white or black, and if they were a felon or not. The white applicant without a criminal record achieved a 34% rate of callback and the white felon received a 17% rate of callback. What made the experiment devastatingly eye-opening were the callback rates for the black applicants: 14% and 5%. The white felon was preferred over the college-educated black man with a clean criminal record. The experiment’s results have been reproduced, so it seems apparent that racism, and a glaring disparity between blacks and whites, is still alive and well in the USA.

Despite what the American politicians say, the next election is all going to be about jobs. No one is talking about that giant elephant in the corner and while ‘austerity’ is the word in the air, you can bet your bottom dollar that the situation will not improve, which may well affect us all. You can certainly bet on cutting services to most Americans, whereas if just the top 25 hedge fund managers were forced to pay taxes like most ordinary Americans, they could cut the deficit by US$44 billion over the next ten years. That’s a lot of money to help fund actual policies that help actual people. Will it happen? Don’t bet on it.

The global situation over food, water, climate and energy continues to unravel. The wars of the 21st Century will continue to be about control of the world’s resources – that’s if the fundies don’t kill us all first.

Maybe North Korea is getting close to implosion since it can’t even feed its army any more.

This was a moment of journalistic beatup and hysteria-mongering that almost defied description. Victoria experinced a small earthquake that rattled some windows in Melbourne, so the next day The Age ran a story about how Victoria’s volcanoes were ‘overdue’ for eruption. The writer ignored most of the science on the issue (such as the hot spot under Mt. Gambier being well and truly dead) and focused on the law of averages as referred to by one single piece of research. It was scraping the bottom of the barrel in search of a story. Good fun to read though. 

Almost as entertaining, but not quite as harmless, the same newspaper (amongst others) ran a piece on how the next terror threat involved surgically implanted bombs. The Department of Homeland Security think the terrorists are getting their ideas from Batman movies and are going to set off bombs on planes by remotely detonating explosives hidden inside suicide bombers. I’m sure the terrorists are saying ‘thanks’ for the idea and we should all look forward to CT scan machines making an appearance at boarding gates before too long.

Oh, and I’ve said this for years, but now Cracked has picked up on the idea that major events in the War on Terror™ mirror Starship Troopers in no small way.

Hey reader,

It’s been a historic week in Japan with the change of government and all. To be honest I never really thought I’d see it, but since the LDP has spent the past few years changing prime ministers more often than their underwear, and each one being steadily more uncharismatic and prone to foot-in-mouth disease than the previous one, I guess it was only a matter of time. That and the economy is not getting any better and simply the LDP ran out of ideas.

So there are a lot of expectations for the new mob, except that most of them are rich old men like the like lot, and also inherited their seats from relatives – like the last lot. Heck, even the new PM was a member of the LDP until the 1990s – and his grandfather was the first LDP PM. You just can’t escape a shadow like that so easily. The bureaucrats certainly don’t seem to be panicking. The important thing is going to have to be patience on the part of the public, and for the DPJ to actually make good on some of their big promises.

Newsweek had a series of three interesting articles about Japan which were written before the election, but they’re a good primer for what’s been ailing Japan politically and economically in recent years as well as what needs to happen to make Japan a prosperous nation again.

The NY Times has a a look at the hostessing culture in Japan. What’s going to be interesting to see is how the continuing economic malaise is going to affect this particular part of Japan’s economy. The clubs and hostesses (and hosts) rely on a steady stream of cashed-up clients and as the cash dries up it remains to be seen how these young people are going to make their money. In a worst case scenario, Japan could end up like Thailand, but things would have to get much worse for it to happen to that extent. Currently Japan’s GDP is about 18 times that of Thailand’s.

Adbusters looks at Japan’s malaise in psychological, rather than economic, politcal or cultural terms.

And this driver represented Japan’s malaise on a highway by driving 47km in the wrong direction.

This article brings a lot of Japan’s quieter and more sinister aspects out for an airing.

The Return of Charisma Man!? One can hope! (Probably the best comic ever about foreign life in Japan)

Oh yeah, and my corrupt, company-destroying former boss is in prison. Yay!