Male ‘health’ issues:

Alan Kennedy writes: I have never met Tim Mathieson and as I have to pay my barber a finder’s fee I don’t spend a lot of time in the chair being a recipient of the tonsorial arts. But for Christ’s sake the commentary on Mathieson’s voluntary job not only rings of double standard because if it was a pollies’ wife no -one would be turning a hair (sorry). But also there is the sneering ahnd behind the hand laughing at him because he is a “hairdresser”. Is this some sort of profession that is beneath contempt? Why all the nudge nudge wink wink? And why is The Australian going over his private business dealings? He’s just an unpaid ambassador for god’s sake not an applicant to be head of the Treasury On the ABC’s Insiders they were chortling away and asking what does a hairdresser know about men’s health and what does an ambassador do? Barrie Cassidy struggled to defend Tim as a man just trying to do the right thing in a campaign that is important. Blokes only go to hospital when they are near death or dead. Trust me I know only too well. And may I suggest that the answer to the latter question could be found by asking. That is, after all, Insider panelists, your job.

UN climate conference:

Catherine Sullivan writes: Would the following be of interest to other Crikey readers for consideration during the next two weeks, when the United Nations Climate Change Conference is being held in Poznan, Poland?  “In terms of future world leadership, on an entirely different note from the US Presidential Campaign and without being disrespectful to Mr Ban Ki-moon, I was thinking ahead as to who might be the next Secretary General of the United Nations … could it be Al Gore (former US Vice President and climate change champion), Mike Bloomberg (current Mayor of New York) or even Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd? If anyone is going to Poznan, perhaps they could canvass views and let Crikey readers know”.

US mortgage market:

Julian Gillespie writes: As the suffering continues from the devastation being wrought by the perhaps fraudulent creation of CDS and CDO toxic subprime mortgage securities, and Wall St is understood to have learnt nothing with a whole sub-market being recreated in Re-REMICs. REMIC stands for Resecuritisation of Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits. With Re-REMICs they slice-n-dice home mortgages from existing (and new) REMICs into a basket of mortgage backed bonds that are then traded – virtually identical to CDOs , except (banks and financiers would have us to believe) Re-REMICs don’t involve mortgages sold to home buyers with no income, BUT may include mortgages where people haven’t had to prove their income. To date Re-REMICs have generated something in the area of US$9.3 billion in trades in 2008 alone – with delinquencies in the US mortgage market continuing unabated, one can only ask what type of fool would be buying these things, and importantly who in Washington is still allowing them to be spruiked by Wall St to the market?

The death of Joern Utzon:

John O’Hara writes: It’s a pity some of Joern Utzon’s admirers are so imbued with iconomanic zeal that they’re blind, and seek to blind the rest of us, to his shortcomings. By all means let’s honour him for the magnificent roof he bequeathed us, but, the roof being built first, it so limited the space underneath that the project failed to meet its intended aim — to provide adequate accommodation for operatic and symphonic performances. The resultant compromise was a botch. Utzon refused to come to terms with this fact, and let himself be used by a hubristic “trendy” clique of local architects, academics and journalists in a bid to gain “creative architects” a status akin to being politically untouchable–“a masterpiece being beyond price, the public should be prepared to pay whatever price it calls for.” However, the public wouldn’t wear this absurdity, and, losing patience after cost blow-out upon cost blow-out, with the project getting nowhere, booted out the Labor Government which commissioned it. Then Utzon misjudged by threatening the less accommodating incoming Government with his resignation once too often. The Government appointed the local triumvirate of Hall, Todd and Littlemore to complete the project, and it’s to it we owe our thanks for having salvaged what could be salvaged of the cramped interior.

HD TV:

Ron Poole writes from Townsville: Seemed like a good idea at first then the truth hit home. Same old same old. Same sh-t as usual complete with very old very low resolution 320 X 240 pictures from the US and UK. If it is supposed to be high definition then lets make sure every programme broadcast on HD is HD and not more of the above. I purchased a HD set to watch HD and so far I am extremely disappointed. Some of the crap is not quite as good as 8mm film shot be bad camera operators in bad lighting. The sound levels of each “high quality” broadcaster is still all over the shop as far as levels are concerned. Change channels and you have to change brightness, and sound levels. As a once very dedicated TV technician who worked for the ABC and other networks transmission stations I am quite disgusted at the incompetence of some of the so called operators. HD in Australia is bound to fail if the current low res programming system continues.  

Executive renumeration:

David Havyatt, Principal, Havyatt Associates writes: Re Item 26 How to improve executive pay structure Crikey 25 Nov, Adam Schwab has left out one of the most obvious ways to “fix” executive remuneration and it can be described in the agency theory that he has used. We want executive remuneration to reflect the long terms return to shareholders, not just the short term. The best way to achieve that (for listed companies) is to make their “performance” pay just that – determined by the actual value of the company in three or five years time. That means shares issued at zero dollars that cannot be sold (i.e. held in trust for the executive) for the required period with all dividends earnt on those shares in the period re-invested. Unlike existing zero-option preference schemes the executuive does not need to stay with the company – if they think the company will do as well without them they will consider other jobs, if they think they are critical they’ll want to stay. 

Peter Fray

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