Can You Help?

This website is in imminent danger of being shut down. It has been online since 1995, but the personal circumstances of the owner, Malcolm Farnsworth, are such that economies have to be made. Server costs and suchlike have become prohibitive. At the urging of people online, I have agreed to see if Patreon provides a solution. More information is available at the Patreon website. If you are able to contribute even $1.00/month to keep the site running, please click the Patreon button below.

Become a Patron! Turns 18 is 18 years old. I can’t place the birthday precisely, except that it was somewhere during the mid-year school holidays in 1995. July 1 seems a suitably mid-point date to mark the occasion.

18My first ever web page was a set of teaching notes on the Watergate scandal. They formed the basis of what is now a separate website,

Within weeks of the page appearing, I began receiving emails from American students, teachers, librarians and others seeking information and asking questions. Many just wanted to debate Watergate. They were nicer times online than now.

Sometime during those holidays, I also posted Australian politics material. I think another set of teaching notes on the Whitlam Dismissal might have been the first Australian content. Thereafter the site began to take shape around the structure of the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) Politics course.

The website was hosted on my NetSpace internet account. Its very clunky URL was

One of my first memories of experiencing the power of the internet was the March 1996 federal election. Online newspapers were just starting around then and not much content appeared online. I started posting a daily election update, a very simple account of what was being reported in the news, supplemented by occasional audio items and election literature. Traffic began appearing almost immediately.

One night during the campaign, a work commitment kept me from posting an update. An Australian living in Sweden emailed me to say he was relying on me for news about the election. Others also contacted me and I began to realise there was an audience out there. It was small but growing. It continues to grow to this day. The internet revolution is still in its early stages. [Read more…] To Close will close shortly.

The site has been online since June 1995, nearly 18 years ago. It has operated on the current domain name for the past 12 years. It contains thousands of pages of content and routinely attracts 100,000-250,000 unique monthly visitors.

The site has grown in every year it has been online. At one point, I even hoped it would become a full-time venture. It had a bumper year in 2010 due to the federal election and other political events. This election year promised to be the site’s best yet.

However, my personal circumstances dictate that the site’s time is up. It will disappear from the web when the current hosting arrangements expire. The companion sites, and, will also close.

It has been a labour of love maintaining the site over the years. I would like to thank everyone who visited it.

Malcolm Farnsworth

Whatever Happened To The 45th President?

Ever since I installed Google Analytics on some 5 or 6 years ago, I’ve been addicted to studying the statistics in order to understand who’s using the site and how they’re doing it.

Last November, there was a spike in traffic in the week of the US presidential election. That’s a pattern with the site: major political events, especially elections, produce traffic spikes.

Because there’s quite a lot of material about American politics on the site, an apparent anomaly that I’ve long since stopped worrying about, it didn’t surprise me too much that the Obama-Romney contest would bring more traffic.

What I couldn’t work out, though, is what specifically caused the traffic spike. Tens of thousands of extra visitors came to the site that week. Google ad revenue rose accordingly and in fact it was this that alerted me to the spike.

A cursory check of the traffic stats didn’t provide any answers. The same patterns and proportions I see every month were also there in November.

I must have been asleep because I didn’t burrow into the figures to work out what had happened. Just before Christmas, I finally realised what had occurred. [Read more…]

Comments And

It’s been an interesting couple of days moderating comments submitted to

Recently I posted the text of an article that the Minister for Trade, Craig Emerson, circulated on Twitter. It dealt with media bias and media treatment of the Gillard-AWU matter and the Slipper-Ashby sexual harassment case.

Over recent days, I have approved a couple of comments on this post but deleted dozens of others.

I’ve been struck by the viciousness of the comments about Emerson. Many comments retailed salacious stories. The meaning of some comments was hard to discern. Many just attacked Emerson and the government in general terms. I won’t reproduce the most scurrilous and personal but here are some examples, as submitted:

“Before Dr Emmerson starts slagging off about media bias perhaps he should come clean about his adultery…” [etc, etc, snip, snip and many more like so, only more explicit]

“Reads more like a love letter than a critique. At a loose end over the Xmas break, are we! What the NBN hasn’t passed your way yet? Are downloads are so slow your getting fidgety? Try a satellite connection. Half the price and fast enough to put a “smile on your face”, until your back in Canberra, that is.”

“Emerson is a complete and utter fool. He has proven that repeatedly by his ridiculous utterances. As for Gillard, her misogyny speech was probably the most disgraceful speech I have heard from a leader of this country. For that alone, she deserves to lose the next election. Thankfully, it is not that far to go before this disgraceful, incompetent pack of losers are tossed out.”

“So Mr Emerson when you refer to “Some editors and a few journalists are blatantly biased.” are you referring to Oakes, Grattan, Harcher, Coorey and just about every journalist on the Fairfax payroll whose primary interest is to be the Gillard cheer squad! If, as you say “That has always been the case.” perhaps this is why The Age and SMH are dying mastheads. Then in your final statement, the punch line, you state “But the real problem is the abandonment of professional standards to give effect to that bias. All subtlety is lost.” I guess this is referring to the loss subtlety and one-side argument for climate change, or whatever term the Labor Government chooses to introduce re;clean energy, dirty power etc; and reference to those that challenge the idea as climate skeptics or deniers”

“I just wish Craig Emerson would go away for a long time. He hyperventilates, interrupts, claims high ground which he is not standing on. If it meant we would not hear from him again, it might almost be worth reigning in the press!!!”

“How can anyone take Emerson seriously after his childish “Whyalla Wipeout” performance. Its clear his intellect hasn’t passed the pre-school level. In any case he is certainly not we should be able to expect from senior government minister.”

“he should look to his own actions .. he should also make the party’s followers aware of how their policies are part of the big jigsaw puzzle which has a very red centre and should watch this video to make everyone aware of what they are dealing with here and in the USA…

“Is emerson serious? Hell the media, with the exceptions of a few, were bought and paid for, to the tune of $1 billion plus, by Kevin Rudd. The Lame Stream Media is a joke in this country, Labor suck ups, that should hang their heads in shame, for their fawning attitude, and refusal to hold the ALP to account. Hey Craig, if you wanna criticise something, why dont you take a good hard look at your past indiscretions… [snip, snip]

Along with the anti-Emerson abuse came a number of conspiracy theorists. The one quoted above wanted to post a link to a nutty American video about left-wing destruction of Western society. Another wrote about a long list of suspicious coincidences, of which my favourite was the claim that Lionel Murphy used to be Julia Gillard’s boss at Slater & Gordon before he was given a seat on the High Court. All nonsense, of course.

A number of things bother me about these comments. There’s the abuse. There’s the shabby allegations of personal impropriety. There’s the poor expression and inadequate punctuation. There’s the factual ignorance. There’s the lack of awareness of what constitutes debate and discussion.

At one level the comments are not particularly offensive but I don’t want them on my website. To me, they’re junk. They add nothing to the issues raised by Emerson.

I suppose it’s a subjective judgment on my part. These examples don’t do justice to the full range I’ve received but overall they strike me as ill-informed, angry, illogical and occasionally nutty. [Read more…]