Thursday, April 24, 2014

In which Greg Sheridan does an imitation of a Little Golden Book ...

(Above: and more Rowe here)

You don't have to be Saul Easlake to point out that the emperor is wearing exceedingly see-through clothes:

... in my view, it will do next to nothing to lift either participation of women in the workforce or productivity of those who are in the workforce. (here)

That'd be Abbott's pet project, announced by himself and endorsed by the sheep around him, the lavish and indulgent paid parental sceheme. Easlake went on to make the even more obvious point that it's the cost of childcare that's likely to inhibit participation in the workforce, and about that the Abbott government seemingly says, and intends to do, nothing ...

The scheme itself is just a wealth transfer, a bit of boon doggling to lure in the fish, and pork barreling for the rich ...

And the people most likely to pay for this pleasure are the elderly, with the 'no changes to the pension' promise amongst the many lined up for the chop.

Does the pond care? Not really. The elderly demographic - call them silly old farts or buggers if you will - stampeded in the direction of the Abbott government, and now they've got what they wanted. Good luck with that, and remember caveat emptor ...

Speaking of caveats, anyone who can remember the folly of the Collins class submarine will carry in their genes a healthy disdain for the capacity of defence to make the right decision about anything.

You don't have to read local assessments of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to get a case of the jitters.

Just read the story last year in Vanity Fair, which carried the header Will It Fly? and this summary:

The Joint Strike Fighter is the most expensive weapons system ever developed. It is plagued by design flaws and cost overruns. It flies only in good weather. The computers that run it lack the software they need for combat. No one can say for certain when the plane will work as advertised. Until recently, the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, was operating with a free hand—paid handsomely for its own mistakes. Looking back, even the general now in charge of the program can’t believe how we got to this point. In sum: all systems go!

Even if the plane did work as advertised, there's no guarantee that would suit Australian conditions. Why, for example, would you have a flock of them at Williamstown outside Sydney? Is it because the Kiwis provide a dire national threat?

How does the plane cope with tropical heat? What's its range? What happens if you add tanks to increase the range? How does that affect its stealthiness?

How's the weight control program going? (Yes, like most Americans it drinks too much soda and eats too much fast food).

What actual purpose will it serve in the event of combat? How are those computer bugs going?

The Joint Strike Fighter is still waiting on software from Lockheed that will make good on long-promised capabilities.
When I spoke with Lockheed’s vice president for program integration, Steve O’Bryan, he said that the company is moving at a breakneck pace, adding 200 software engineers and investing $150 million in new facilities. “This program was overly optimistic on design complexity and software complexity, and that resulted in overpromising and underdelivering,” O’Bryan said. He insisted that, despite a rocky start, the company is on schedule. Pentagon officials are not as confident. They cannot say when Lockheed will deliver the 8.6 million lines of code required to fly a fully functional F-35, not to mention the additional 10 million lines for the computers required to maintain the plane. The chasm between contractor and client was on full display on June 19, 2013, when the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester, Dr. J. Michael Gilmore, testified before Congress. He said that “less than 2 percent” of the placeholder software (called “Block 2B”) that the Marines plan to use has completed testing, though much more is in the process of being tested. (Lockheed insists that its “software-development plan is on track,” that the company has “coded more than 95 percent of the 8.6 million lines of code on the F-35,” and that “more than 86 percent of that software code is currently in flight test.”) 

Still, the pace of testing may be the least of it. According to Gilmore, the Block 2B software that the Marines say will make their planes combat capable will, in fact, “provide limited capability to conduct combat.” What is more, said Gilmore, if F-35s loaded with Block 2B software are actually used in combat, “they would likely need significant support from other fourth-generation and fifth-generation combat systems to counter modern, existing threats, unless air superiority is somehow otherwise assured and the threat is cooperative.” 
Translation: the F-35s that the Marines say they can take into combat in 2015 are not only ill equipped for combat but will likely require airborne protection by the very planes the F-35 is supposed to replace.

No doubt things have improved immensely since 2013, but its the software and all its bugs that attracts the attention of geeks, as  in $397 billion fighter jet deployment delayed by software glitches, a story derived from a United States Accountability Office government March 2014 report in pdf form (may be slow to load) , grandly titled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Problems Completing Software Testing May Hinder Delivery of Expected Warfighting Capabilies.

Now at the very least this might give anyone pause for thought, though you don't usually associate strategic future planning with Australian politicians of either of the main stripes.

Surely at the minimum you'd want anyone who scribbled the following to have a proper psychiatric evaluation before sending them off to bedlam:

If I believed in reincarnation, I think I’d like to come back as a Joint Strike Fighter. Lean, sinuous, sleek, intimidating, the best in my class. Ah ...  (ah yourself with Fighters strike the right note on national security, but 'ah', note the 'ahs' are hidden behind the paywall, because infectious stupidity must be carefully controlled)

Ah, now there's a first class hagiographic fool.

Truth to tell, Sheridan would be better off coming back as the EDI UCAV (that'd be the Extreme Deep Invader Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle) which resulted in the movie Stealth being one of the most gigantic colossal box office flops of all time.

But at least he could go rogue like a rogue robot should, and discover that North Korea is full of gum trees and looks a bit like the Blue Mountains ...

As for the rest? Why it's hagiographic knob polishing. So where's the Labor party? Why they get their knob polished too:

... we shouldn’t be frivolous. The Abbott government has made the right decision in announcing the purchase of 58 more JSFs. This will provide ultimately a fleet of 72 of the most formidable fighter jets the world has seen. Bill Shorten deserves credit for backing this decision. His instincts on geostrategic issues are all sound, which is good for the Labor Party, and for Australia. The JSF acquisition speaks to the character of the Abbott government and settles several theological questions about its approach to defence.

Theological questions? Is that why the reptiles at the lizard Oz think climate science is a religious issue?

Meanwhile, how to measure the scale of the delusional thinking? Try this one:

Between the Americans and their allies there will ultimately be 3000 or more JSFs operating in the world (the vast majority in the US force, of course). That means that, without any additional res­earch and development on our part, our planes will be on a path of continuous upgrade, especially to their software. In effect, our air- combat capabilities are future-proofed. It is vanishingly unlikely the Chinese or Russians will ever catch the Americans in this technology, but if they do it will not be for decades to come. This is the best investment we could possibly make in our own security.

Future proofed? Security?

Don't worry citizens of Ukraine, the JSF is on hand to ensure your safety.

Sheridan is of the blithe Bjelke-Pietersen school of 'don't you worry about that':

Don’t be deterred by controversies about costs and capabilities. The birth of every aircraft type is accompanied by much screaming and a lot of extra bills. The unit costs of the JSFs are heading down. All the nonsense spoken yesterday about superiority of the F22 Raptor ignores key facts: the Raptor ceased production in 2011 and will not be revived; the US would never export it; and it doesn’t do some of the things we need, such as maritime attack. The JSF is in any event moving past the Raptor. Soon enough, they will be retro-fitting JSF radar on to the Raptor. 
Of course, being an Australian story, there are some peculiar inefficiencies. We will have our first operational squadron of JSFs by 2020. That gives us a lot of comfort, as it is several years after the first US Marine JSF squadron comes into operation in 2015 or 2016. Because we panicked a bit and bought Super Hornets and then Growlers, due to JSF delays, we will for a time operate simultaneously four different types of fast jets — classic Hornets, Super Hornets, Growlers and JSFs.

WTF? Peculiar? Even more peculiar than Sheridan wanting to return as an unproven, untested aircraft with a long history of hard- and software problems?

The pond often pauses to think how lucky Australia has been that all the specious military activities in which it's indulged in the past few years have been mainly land based, and haven't had to rely on the Collins Class submarine, which often had a third of its fleet on the shelf, and the rest exhibiting all sorts of problems:

Questioned by the Coalition defence spokesman, David Johnston, the Chief of Navy, Russ Crane, admitted that HMAS Rankin had been inoperable for two years and would be for another three years. Similarly, the sister ship HMAS Sheean had been laid up for two years and would not put to sea for another two years, Vice-Admiral Crane said. 
HMAS Farncomb was recalled to port last week after a generator failure, while HMAS Collins is on restricted operations because of problems with its diesel engine. 
Of the remaining two submarines, HMAS Dechaineux is undergoing maintenance and is supposed to be operational next month, while HMAS Waller is the only operational submarine, and will set sail tomorrow from the HMAS Sterling naval base in Western Australia. Vice-Admiral Crane said the navy hoped to have three operational submarines in the water by mid-year, with HMAS Collins slated to set sail with HMAS Farncomb's crew in May (here).

At the time, the pond wondered why the navy hadn't ordered working, proven, off the shelf submarines and was howled down by the school of "now don't you go worrying about that". Why attempt to re-invent the wheel at vast and inefficient expense?

Now the wheel has turned and its Johnston who's set in motion the latest folly, but he's cheered on by the Labor party and by Greg Sheridan, who likes to think of himself as an aeroplane! Look, there's Greg with Bobby:

Or maybe this fits better:

Does it worry the pond that carrying on like this puts the pond in the same turf as Dennis "carbon dioxide can be enjoyed in a can of cola" Jensen?

Well it's better company than someone who wants to reincarnate as a dodgy expensive plane.

You can read the rest for yourself if you like, but the pond was reduced to reading the comments, and particularly enjoyed this one:

Thank god for a government that understands the importance of a song and capable defence force.

Indeed David.

Can we all sing 'the mug punter fleeced by government yet again' song?

Then Freedom couldn't stand the glare of Royalty's regalia 
She left the loafers where they were and came out to Australia 
But now across the mighty main the chains have come to bind her 
She little thought to see again the wrongs she left behind her 
 Our parents toiled to make a home hard grubbing twas and clearing 
They wasn't troubled much by lords when they was pioneering 
But now that we have made the land a garden full of promise 
Old Greed must crook his dirty hand and come and take it from us 

Just remember David, that songs don't come cheap, and are inclined to bugger up.

(Below: your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to work out the difference between an EDI and the Tony Abbott sighted in David Pope's cartoon, and more Pope here).

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Forget the pitot tubes, on with the parade of bigots ...

(Above: bright Portland ideas the pond commends to George Brandis. Yes, George, that's Kyle McLachlan, mayor of Portlandia. And now on with the parade).

So the pond already knew about the role that the pitot tube and, likely enough, the black and yellow mud dauber wasp, played in the demise of Birgenair Flight 301, and unwisely switched over to watch another disaster unfold.

The pond can only plead insanity or perhaps the effects of a strong black tea drunk too late, but there it was, Emma Alberici interviwing Maruice Newman, with climate change first up on the agenda - as you can see for yourself in No evidence that man has caused warming, with the caveat that if you click on the link, the pond absolutely denies any legal or moral responsibility for any deterioration in a reader's ability to think.

So was it Newman's predictable science-denying rant that disturbed the pond? Nope, it was the sight of Alberici, ill-informed and floundering, incapable of asking intelligent questions, and appealing to authority on the vaguest grounds.

So this is the best interviewer the ABC has for its prestigious and allegedly serious late news and current affairs program on its main channel?

Alberici started off by trying to bell the cat, and Newman immediately revealed himself to be disingenuous and a hypocrite and a fraud:

EMMA ALBERICI: Now, Clive Palmer thinks the $1.5 billion worth of money the Government has set aside to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is money better spent on the aged pension. What's your view? 
MAURICE NEWMAN: Well, I don't quite know what he means by that. When he says it should be spent on the old age pension, does he mean we should increase the pension, that it should replace other money? I don't quite know what Mr Palmer is talking about frankly.

It was a stupid question, in that talk of the pension gave Newman wriggle room to avoid giving an honest answer to the most important part of the question. Namely what does a key advisor to the government think of the direct action plan?

What he should have said, if he'd been honest, is yes, I think climate science is a load of bunkum, and I agree with Clive Palmer that pissing $1.5 billion against the wall is a waste of time, energy and money. I just don't think we should waste it on pensions.

What we need to do is make old folks sell off their homes, and send them off to poorhouses like they did in sensible Victorian times, where they can eat gruel until they kick the bucket and stop bothering the world and the ruling elite (but don't you worry about me in my old age, Tony Abbott is seeing me right).

Right at the start, Alberici could have belled the cat. She should have asked "But you do agree with Clive Palmer don't you? That the direct action plan is a total and complete waste of money?"

It would have put Newman to the test. He wouldn't have been able to dissemble. He would have either been forced to agree with Palmer, or he would have been revealed to be a fraud, ready to dissemble on behalf of Tony Abbott, Greg Hunt, and their risible, pathetic attempt at window-dressing.

But Alberici just didn't have the class, and instead innocent stray viewers had to listen to a classic Newman rant, replete with all the superstitions doing the rounds in denialist circles, and with all Alberici able to offer as an alternative ... "But scientists say".

There was just one blindingly obvious insight in her questions:

EMMA ALBERICI: I think the one thing we can agree on is that neither of us are scientists. 

The ignorant talking with the ignorant, and shedding neither light, nor heat, at least in any warming and useful sense of the word ...

Alberici even accepted Newman's own specious definitions of what was happening

NEWMAN: ...It's a question of what has the climate done? And we've had, since 1996, 17.5 years where the temperature has shown no measurable increase. In fact, it can be argued since 2003, it has cooled off somewhat. And yet CO2 has been going up about six or seven per cent. So what do we make of that? What do we make about the pause? 
EMMA ALBERICI: That it's a pause. I guess that's what scientists say. It's a pause. They look back 800,000 years as I understand it, so 17 years in the scheme of things isn't an enormous amount of time.

She guesses that's what scientists say?

She guesses?

In the same week that a story broke about the symbolic 400 ppm number, here?

That bit of the interview ended with this classic bit of dissembling and confusion sowing crap, a snow job of the first water:

MAURICE NEWMAN: Emma, let's not confuse the issues. Cleaning the atmosphere, which is what carbon pollution is about, not CO2, CO2 is not a pollutant. But cleaning the atmosphere, being more efficient, all of that makes sense. That's got nothing to do with climate. That's to do with economics and being efficient. But I would say to all of those people who are arguing that CO2 creates global warming and man is adding to the global warming to show the empirical evidence of where this is so. Because I'm saying to you that where this originates is from models. Computer models which are wrong. Now, if you can show me where there is some sort of correlation that proves beyond doubt that what we have is global warming as a consequence of CO2 and man's contribution to CO2 in the atmosphere, well then we can have a different conversation. 

EMMA ALBERICI: I'm sure there will be scientists lining up to give you that information but we'll move on. 
MAURICE NEWMAN: Well we'll look forward to seeing it.

She's sure?

Damn sure it won't be Alberici lining up to ask intelligent questions.

The pond switched off and went to bed in a irritable funk. If there'd been a cat in the room, the pond would have forgotten all about peace on earth, and love for animals, and given the cat a kick. Or at least a major glare ...

Not because of Newman's predictable rant, but because of the failure to ask him any intelligent and informed questions, which might have tested his assertions and pushed him to justify his assertions.

Instead we only knew that Maurice Newman is the true face of Tony Abbott and Greg Hunt on the matter of climate science and climate change, but we already knew that years ago ...

Meanwhile, the Murdochian climate alarmists keep on spreading their panic and alarm:

So what shocked the Devine so?

You don’t have to look far in the climate change debate for examples of the “sheer authoritarianism” that so shocked Attorney-General George Brandis. 
Here was Neil Ormerod, Professor of Theology at the Australian Catholic University no less, writing in the Fairfax letters pages: “Free speech for racist bigots, free speech for climate denialists. Where will it end? There is a value in free speech to promote reasoned discussion and deliberation. And then there is obdurate and at times wilful ignorance ... 
“Denial is not driven by some otherwise ignored piece of scientific insight but by the massive vested interests of the fossil fuel industry (which pursues) its own short-term benefit, even if it means destroying the planet in the process.” 
So you are free to say whatever you like — but only if you agree with the professor’s doomsday eco-nonsense. Yep, just the spirit of open inquiry you want to see at a university.

That's it?

Ormerod rightly points out the likes of the Devine are full of hot air and inclined to idiocy, or at least obdurate and at times wilful ignorance, and all the Devine can do is nicely contrive to overlook the good professor's key point, that there's absolutely no value, use, or benefit in the Devine routinely asserting her free speech right to blather on endlessly, pursued by nightmare visions of demonic greenies who should be hung from the nearest lamp post, along with all those nightmarish bicyclists who simply ruin the street scape (except for a special 'get of out MAMIL jail' card for the PM).

So what was the real point of the exercise?

Well surely it was so this portrait of Bill Shorten could be run:

Eek, a bizarre green monster, picking at a banjo like they did in Deliverance.

Quick children the banjo plucker might be hiding under your bed ... it's Kermit mated with Frankenstein's monster.

Yep, it was a classic piece of fear-mongering, and alarmism, of the most pathetic and childish kind.

The funny thing? The pond doesn't have much time for Bill Shorten. He's much loved by a branch of the extended pond's family, who are as thick as thieves with him, but the pond has always thought the best way to reform the ALP would have been to select anyone other than Shorten as the leader. The difficult question is who ...

Anyhoo, by the end of this nakedly pathetic effort, the pond had a sneaking sense of pity for Shorten. With the cretins at the Murdochian gutter press constantly sniping, it's going to be a long and hard road. And not just for Shorten, for the whole bloody planet.

You see, the Murdochians, made gloomy by the many epic fails of the current government, have taken to living in the past.

Just wait until all the broken promises cascade around ears at budget time when it's sure to get worse. Is it possible to have everything? Fighters, paid parental leave for the rich, pensions untouched, all promises kept?

Soon enough there'll be the epic noise of sounding brass and tinkling cymbals and much speaking in tongues ...

In the meantime, the Murdochians are spending all their time reliving the good years, of hatred and opposition, so much more pleasant than actually having to do things, and resolve conundrums and complexities like Clive Palmer and climate science and pretending to believe in it while working out how to do absolutely nothing about it ...

So today we routinely copped stories like this:

Now Bramston has a book to flog, so there's an excuse for living in the past. But then there are any number of opinion pieces like this, about the Ruddster:

The Murdochians are still obsessed with navel-gazing, and obsessive rear-view mirror looking at former chairman Rudd and chair Gillard...

Stop it, stop it, you'll go blind, or grow hairs on the palms of your hand ...

Time's a moving on. Things have changed. Get over it.

Here's the top story of the day. A cash-strapped government decides to piss money against the wall on a dubious fighter:

Oh dear, we're back to thinking about the pitot tubes ...

Can we at least have a decent cartoon?

Oh we can, we can, David Pope's back from his break. Naughty Mr Pope, please, no recreation leave in these days of Australia's darkest, direst hours ...

Oh wait, it's not a joke. Damned if the pond didn't see this musée when last in Paris. The French love their antipodean eccentricities ...

Yep, it's a serious insight, and a damn sight more of an insight than you'll get from Emma Alberici ... (and more Pope here)

Greg Hunt as a penis gourd and scrotum cover ... now when will he be able to find that in Wiki?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Oh huzzah, huzzah ...

It's that time of year again. You could read this:

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, 
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, 
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs 
And towards our distant rest began to trudge. 
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots 
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind; 
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots 
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind. 

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling, 
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time; 
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling 
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.-- 
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light 
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. 

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, 
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. 

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace 
Behind the wagon that we flung him in, 
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, 
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin; 
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood 
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, 
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud 
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-- 
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest 
To children ardent for some desperate glory, 
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.

Or you might even read this:

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? 
Only the monstrous anger of the guns. 
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle 
Can patter out their hasty orisons. 
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells, 
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,— 
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells; 
And bugles calling for them from sad shires. 

What candles may be held to speed them all? 
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes 
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes. 
 The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall; 
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds, 
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds. (And more Wilfred Owen poems and World War One poetry here).

Of course you might be more of a jingoistic, nationalistic, flag-waving patriot, joining other scoundrels in your folly, and would prefer to read Kenneth Slessor's Beach Burial:

Softly and humbly to the Gulf of Arabs
The convoys of dead sailors come; 
At night they sway and wander in the waters far under, 
But morning rolls them in the foam. 

Between the sob and clubbing of gunfire 
Someone, it seems, has time for this, 
To pluck them from the shallows and bury them in burrows 
And tread the sand upon their nakedness; 

And each cross, the driven stake of tidewood, 
Bears the last signature of men, 
Written with such perplexity, with such bewildered pity, 
The words choke as they begin - 

‘Unknown seaman’ – the ghostly pencil 
Wavers and fades, the purple drips, 
The breath of wet season has washed their inscriptions 
As blue as drowned men’s lips, 

Dead seamen, gone in search of the same landfall, 
Whether as enemies they fought, 
Or fought with us, or neither; the sand joins them together, 
Enlisted on the other front. (And more Slessor poems, here)

Of course they're all raging Lefties, the lot of them, these bloody wretched poets:

Yes, it's time for the armchair generals to get out of their leather-clad sofas, and fight for the right for people to kill and be killed.

And never you mind that it's sometimes held that nihilism and anarchism doesn't have much in common with conventional lefties.

When you've swallowed the dictionary, sometimes you just have to go the verbal chunder.

The pond was first alerted to the armchair generals being on the prowl when Frank Furedi turned up on Amanda Vanstone's wretched program. That's too many minutes of the pond's life that can never be retrieved or made good, though if you like you can ruin your life too by listening here.

Even Vanstone herself gave the odd indication that Furedi was barking mad, but then that's how she makes a listening and achieves some sense of continuing relevance - by letting the barking mad how at the moon ...

As for the Caterists, Anzac cynics blind to reality, (behind the paywall because armchair generals must make a living, and it's certainly not by joining up) it's the usual pile of horseshit from a blow-in chest thumping war monger of the traditional kind.

Now the pond has never been to war, and never will be, but endured a war of sorts, with the alcohol-induced violence of a grandfather who'd seen service on the Somme, and spent his subsequent years in nightmare dreaming ...

In fact, in the usual rural way, most of the extended family could boast of men who'd served in either of the big wars, but the strange thing the pond routinely noted, is that few of them wanted to talk about the experience or tub thump about the glories of the killing field (the Gallipoli veteran was the most mute of the lot of them, and the least inclined to celebrate, taking the view that the campaign was a bloody disaster conjured up by incompetent Englishmen).

The pond has never raged at the ordinary soldier doing time, but does take time out occasionally to get agitated at the politicians and the cultures that send men off to die, and the industrial military complex that sees this as a good business opportunity.

The pond has always thought the Italian attitude to war in the desert was the right one - take plenty of red wine and when an opportunity presents, surrender ...

But as the memories of actual combatants fade - apart from the odd movie about the Christmas truce in the trenches - the hagiographers get going, and it turns out that the Caterist is a lover of war, and a lover of British generals, and a lover of their splendid work in the first World War, and a firm believer that the first big show was all the fault of the filthy Hun, and it was all about liberty.

Yes, he's a fatuous twit, but you already knew that.

There is, the pond believes, no point spending too much time with twits, and certainly no point in debating or arguing with them.

The Caterist caterwauls about Paul Keating making some sensible observations about the meaning and purpose of the first world war, and comes up with this:

The defence of liberty is a far more convincing explanation for the extraordinary fidelity that drove more than 400,000 Australians to enlist in World War 1 than the supine imperialism suggested by Keating.

Oh indeed, indeed, and won't someone think of the women:

The Caterist also gets agitated by revisionist academics who dare to suggest that war might have its difficulties:

To the extent that the unconventional thinking of Stanley, Stockings, Brown and others encourages a broader debate on our history it is welcome. 
Yet the pejorative tone of the language these historians use and their arrogantly named website — Honest History — indicates clearly that they have no intention of negotiating with those they regard as dishonest. 
They live, says Bendle, “in an elitist parallel universe” in which they alone understand the truth about our past and in which ordinary people are incapable of anything other than mawkish and muddled sentimentalism. 
When it comes to condescension, the monocled British generals of their imaginings are hardly in the same league.

That'd be the elitist parallel universe where millions died in misery in the mud and the trenches or suffered shell-shock and spent their later lives in Sassoon-like trauma.

So what is the actual truth about "our past"?

Is it, per Furedi and the Caterists, that it's an ennobling and enhancing battle for just causes?

Well, iff war's so much fun, why weren't the Caterists and the rest of the armchair general brigade the first to enlist and experience the fun of all the recent jolly japes, from Korea on?

It turns out of course that, unlike that part of the populace that swallows the myths of war-mongers, some Australians have had a rather more sceptical concept of war, and thought nothing - a mere piffle and trifle - of being called a cynic by an armchair general, remembering things slightly differently, from the successful fight against conscription in the first world war, to the fight against conscription and the folly of the Vietnam war, and the protests against the folly of the Iraq war.

Hasn't that one turned out well?

But hey, the pond is always happy for the Caterists to show how it's done, and Frank Furedi style, to show how being one of the sixteen million odd dead, and twenty million wounded in the big one, was an ennobling and enhancing experience ...

We'll be in the leather couch in the corner with a good gin and tonic, and can be relied on for cheering and 'Huzzahs', while the Caterists teach those filthy gooks/Huns/Nazi swine/Japs/towel heads/ a bloody good lesson in best British style ...

Monday, April 21, 2014

In which the pond is overwhelmed by ironies, blather and true believers who seemingly don't know what to believe ...

(Above: free speech now? Relax, that's code for freedom to blather, George Brandis style)

Now where were we?

The last thing the pond dimly remembers before the coffin lid of compound chocolate slammed shut on the pond was George Brandis sounding incredibly silly.

Now as the Minister for Bigots and Bigotry, the pond is sure Brandis wouldn't mind being called a fuckwit and a cretin, though it's possibly politically incorrect to demean cretins in this way.

But as a result of the Minister mouthing off, the pond was swept, like a vortex in a whirlpool time warp, into memories of the very first science teacher who strode the pond's high school laboratory.

Now it wasn't much of a lab - some bunsen burners, some sinks, a few beakers and condensing jars - and the man himself was notoriously eccentric. He was, it seems, in love with Julie Andrews, and could routinely be sighted drooling night after night at the revival of The Sound of Music, and any other Andrews vehicle that landed in town at the local fleapit.

Worse, he fancied himself as a singer, and was addicted to appearing in the local Gilbert and Sullivan shows, which mainly featured bankers and doctors and the like.

So he was human, and in his way irrational, but in the lab he was a different man. We had to write out our aims, we had to observe our experiment, and we had to write up our findings and conclusions. Were the findings replicable? Observe and replicate.

Now all this meant for the pond was that the school case was full of iron filings for years afterwards. But something stuck, particularly the science teacher's insistence on the complete uselessness of belief. Either the iron filings would cluster around the magnetic poles in certain ways, or if they didn't, questions needed to be asked.

There was no room for the bible or any other belief in the science classroom, just as there was no room for dinosaurs in the bible.

Yet, there he was, dear old George Brandis, sounding just like a fuckwit of the first believing water.

First of all, he announced he was a true believer:

He describes the climate-change debate – or non-debate, or anti-debate, to be really pedantic but also accurate – as one of the ‘great catalysing moments’ in his views about the importance of free speech. He isn’t a climate-change denier; he says he was ‘on the side of those who believed in anthropogenic global warming and who believed something ought to be done about it’. (Here, with Brandis talking to that exceptional tosser Brendan O'Neill, and getting Spiked in the process)

But, billy goat, but, the pond learned long ago in Tamworth - lordy, lordy a hillbilly talking of science - that 'believe' and 'believed' and 'beliefs' have got nothing to do with it.

If you accept the findings, if you accept the weight of evidence, if you accept the theory, then you're not talking faith-based belief, you're also accepting why the theory of evolution holds a lot more water than creationist tosh.

The last thing you should do is try to turn science into a religion.

But that's exactly what Brandis did, invoking of all things, medieval times:

But he has nonetheless found himself ‘really shocked by the sheer authoritarianism of those who would have excluded from the debate the point of view of people who were climate-change deniers’. He describes as ‘deplorable’ the way climate change has become a gospel truth that you deny or mock at your peril, ‘where one side [has] the orthodoxy on its side and delegitimises the views of those who disagree, rather than engaging with them intellectually and showing them why they are wrong’. 
He describes how Penny Wong, the Labor Party senator for South Australia and minister for climate change in the Julia Gillard government, would ‘stand up in the Senate and say “The science is settled”. In other words, “I am not even going to engage in a debate with you”. It was ignorant, it was medieval, the approach of these true believers in climate change.’ Wong, whom Brandis tells me is ‘Australia’s high priestess of political correctness’, is far from alone in suffering from what the American journalist Joel Kotkin recently described as ‘The Debate Is Over’ Syndrome. Throughout eco-circles, and among the political and media elites more broadly, the idea that the time for debating climate change is over, and now we just need action, action, action, is widespread. And to Brandis, this speaks to a new and illiberal climate of anti-intellectualism, to the emergence of ‘a habit of mind and mode of discourse which would deny the legitimacy of an alternative point of view, where rather than winning the argument [they] exclude their antagonists from the argument’.

But, but, billy goat, but, science isn't about an alternative point of view.

It's either observable and replicable, and the atomic bomb goes off, or it isn't. If - as you say you believe - the theory is correct, then surely there's a need for action. Or so you believe ...

There's no point indulging others in a creationist point of view, not even in Tamworth in those long lost secular days when a public servant could take a secular path in the science lab - as opposed to taxpayers now funding religious fundamentalists of all stripes.

Back then there was no way that DNA could be used to track the amount of Neanderthal in George Brandis's make-up, but these days it's easy peasy.

The pond's poor old science teacher would have been rolling in his grave, because there was George Brandis berating others for being true believers, while at the same time explaining how he was on the side of true believers, who believed something ought to be done about climate change.

Now the pond has no problem with free speech, even when said free speech reveals the Minister of Bigots and Bigotry to be a very confused possum, perhaps, it might be said, a cretin and a fuckwit.

But then it occurred to the pond that Brandis was in fact a lawyer, with a handsome library financed by the Australian taxpayer (don't forget the bookcases), and casuistry was his stock in trade.

Relativism is very handy for a politician, though it has little to do with the theory of relativity:

While a principle-based approach might claim that lying is always morally wrong, the casuist would argue that, depending upon the details of the case, lying might or might not be illegal or unethical. The casuist might conclude that a person is wrong to lie in legal testimony under oath, but might argue that lying actually is the best moral choice if the lie saves a life.

Indeed, indeed. If you move on from a case-based approach and morality, it might well be that, depending on the details of the science, you might just make up whatever suits you.

You see, Brandis seems to think that science involves a habit of mind and everybody's opinion is valid and must be heard:

The great irony to this new ‘habit of mind’, he says, is that the eco-correct think of themselves as enlightened and their critics as ‘throwbacks’, when actually ‘they themselves are the throwbacks, because they adopt this almost theological view, this cosmology that eliminates from consideration the possibility of an alternative opinion’. The moral straitjacketing of anyone who raises a critical peep about eco-orthodoxies is part of a growing ‘new secular public morality’, he says, ‘which seeks to impose its views on others, even at the cost of political censorship’. 

Now if Brandis had said that the cosmology eliminates from consideration the possibility of an alternative scientific theory, backed by replicable observations, he might have had a leg to stand on.

But instead he had to talk of an alternative opinion.

Now the pond is aware that as science gets to the end game, there is much talk about how the quark is a form of Zen, and the Higgs Boson a koan.

But even the Zen Buddhists wouldn't stand for this sort of nonsense:

Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku. Desiring to show his attainment, he said: "The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no realization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received." Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry. "If nothing exists," inquired Dokuon, "where did this anger come from?" (more here)

Opinion is all very well, but in the pond's book, the square root of fuckwittery is three, or one plus one rarely amounts to five.

By the way, let's not talk of the square root of three as a proof of irrationality.

The square root of 3 is the positive real number that, when multiplied by itself, gives the number 3. It is more precisely called the principal square root of 3, to distinguish it from the negative number with the same property... The square root of 3 is an irrational number. It is also known as Theodorus' constant, named after Theodorus of Cyrene. (Do your Greg Hunt here)

We could be here all day pondering what it means, and the pond is no Lewis Carroll ...

You see, the actual science has got nothing to do with eco-orthodoxies or new secular public moralities or political censorship or whatever. Either the theory is credible, with thousands of scientists beavering away on it, to detect flaws, weaknesses, and failing in the task, or it isn't, and we can believe that George Bell and the Bolter are internationally renowned climate scientists.

Uh huh. If you get hit on the head with an apple, consider the immediate implications of Newton.

There's way more in the interview, as Brandis gets himself well and truly spiked, and much blather about the Bolter and freedom of speech, and the left, and the state, but the clue came to the pond right at the end of the piece:

Brandis isn’t defending racists, as his illiberal critics claim; he’s defending the Enlightenment-era principle that the state shouldn’t get to determine what people can think and say. As another bottle of wine arrives, he returns to Mill ...

Surely that should have read, as he returns to Mill, he keeps getting more and more pissed ...

It is of course a nonsense, and Brandis has already displayed various sorts of illiberalism with anyone who disagrees with him.

And it's the only way to explain how a true believer could berate others for being true believers, and to hell with the science ...

A few cared to notice - a few days ago the ABC seemed to be reporting something other than the forelock tugging, the kowtowing, the bowing and scraping and simpering involved in the Royal Tour, and Adam Bandt got to throw back the charge of feudalism, here:

...if Senator Brandis really believed in free speech in this country and freedom of choice, he wouldn't be threatening to cut funding to artists who express their political views, as he did in the Sydney Biennale. He would be saying that individuals are able to marry the person they love, instead, this government is keeping discrimination in place. This isn't a government that's motivated by liberalism. It's not a government that's even motivated by conservatism, because they are failing to do what Ronald Reagan said was the fundamental duty of every conservative government, which is to protect a country's people. 
It's not liberalism, it's not conservatism, it's straight out feudalism. As we've seen with the resurrection of knights and dames, that fundamentally is what's driving Tony Abbott and George Brandis.

Indeed. Bandt also had a few words about the science, but the reality is that the mainstream media isn't set up to deal with scientific matters, so much as short grabs of abuse and charges of feudalism, and in that sense Brandis, with his charge of medievalism, has won, because he's shifted the debate on the science into other feudal areas.

And, as a pond correspondent noted, that shift allowed Brandis to sound even sillier. So:

...there were two recent, specific things that made him realise just what a mortal threat freedom of speech faces in the modern era and that he would have to dust down his Mill, reread his Voltaire, and up the ante in his war of words against, as he puts it, the transformation of the state into ‘the arbiter of what might be thought’...

And thus:

... He’s receiving colossal flak from what we might call Australia’s chattering classes. They accuse him of standing up for bigots. He didn’t help himself when he said in the Senate a couple of weeks ago that people do have the right to be bigots. That unleashed a tsunami of ridicule, even from some of his supporters. But he tells me he has no regrets. ‘I don’t regret saying that because in this debate, sooner or later – and better sooner than later – somebody had to make the Voltaire point; somebody had to make the point [about] defending the right to free speech of people with whom you profoundly disagree.’

Re-read his Voltaire? What a fuckwit and a cretin.

What a pity he didn't do a Greg Hunt and dust off his wiki, but then that's not funded by the taxpayers like his expensive book collection (don't forget a decent set of bookcases)

The most oft-cited Voltaire quotation is apocryphal. He is incorrectly credited with writing, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." These were not his words, but rather those of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, written under the pseudonym S. G. Tallentyre in her 1906 biographical book The Friends of Voltaire. Hall intended to summarize in her own words Voltaire's attitude towards Claude Adrien Helvétius and his controversial book De l'esprit, but her first-person expression was mistaken for an actual quotation from Voltaire. Her interpretation does capture the spirit of Voltaire's attitude towards Helvetius; it had been said Hall's summary was inspired by a quotation found in a 1770 Voltaire letter to an Abbot le Riche, in which he was reported to have said, "I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write." Nevertheless, scholars believe there must have again been misinterpretation, as the letter does not seem to contain any such quote. (here, with footnotes and a link to Hall's wiki)

You see, the clever casuist would say, I know it's not exactly what Voltaire said, but it does conjure up what Voltaire stood for, before delivering the quote, and moving on, but sadly Brandis is about as much a historian as he is a scientist.

And that's the real problem. Everybody has the right to personal opinions, but unless you want to be branded a fuckwit and a cretin - and so defame cretins in a most politically incorrect way - sometimes it's best to keep your personal opinions and your feudalism to yourself ...

Of course it all happened just before Easter, and so it was swept away by all the subsequent blather, but attention should be paid, because you see George quite ruined Easter for the pond.

What with memories of compound chocolate, Julie Andrews, the dreaded double period in the science lab, and libraries of books and shelving at taxpayers' expense to produce the blather of an illiberal ignoramus hoeing into the wine with Spiked like a member of the chattering classes sipping a decent sav blanc, while sending up the chattering classes ... and not having a first clue about the pigs and the farmers and the ironies, oh the ironies ...

It's going to be a long winter of discontent ...

(Below: okay, it's time for some T-shirt philosophy, right up there with George's insights)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The pond takes a break, but not before predicting dreams, nightmares and a bloody big hangover ...

(Above: Willy Pogány c. 1910, Slimy things did crawl ... upon the slimy sea)

So this is Easter, and what has the pond done?

Another year contemplating a god who would crucify Her son in the most brutal way imaginable, while offering pie in the sky later on ...?

How's that helped?

Let's not mention the genocide that led to the film Noah, and the torturing of thousands of innocent, hapless cinema goers, or the suffering of the dozens trapped inside churches this Easter by angry Sydney Anglicans and Catholic priests.

Or for that matter the mystical musings of Elizabeth Farrelly this very day in Meditation on the cross:

I feel it in the Gothic, its hefty stone stretched skyward; in the psalms, with their sooty melancholy and soaring descants; and in the upright of the cross. God keeps us tall. 

She keeps us tall?

This vertical stretch, good for us, is demanded by the planet. On any issue – materialism, carbon, financial crisis, climate change, population – old Gaia needs us to clamber up a few chakras. Blindingly obvious. Our environmental crises are not scientific, political or behavioural. At root, they’re spiritual. It’s almost as if Gaia wants to drive home the core mystic message, the age-old paradox; we must lose our selves in order to win eternal life. 
Paradox, and the parable needed to express it, lives at the heart of Christian traditions: darkness in light, poverty in riches, pain in beauty, death in renewal. Paradox is the mystery and the enchantment. Witnessing the sung Passion last weekend sent shivers down my spine. The music was glorious but the story – the betrayal, the regret, the suicide, the cowardice, the despair – the story is breathtaking. I like Jesus best in his darkest doubt. A doubting God is the most bewitching paradox of all. For me, that’s it. Story could stop right there. 
Easter, the pagan point of renewal, is the chosen moment of God death. Saturday’s Paschal Vigil begins with The Blessing of the New Fire, reminiscent of an Aboriginal smoking ceremony. This mix of paradox and paganism gives Christianity a potency that New Age religions cannot access; a potency daily betrayed by mainstream dumbed-down populism.

Uh huh.

Like people scribbling about tallness and shivering and Gaia and paradox, and in the mainstream media this very day abusing others for their mainstream dumbed-down populism?

The pond feels a koan coming on:

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. 
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!" 
"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?" (and more koans here, and here).

But on to the matter at hand, which will see the pond sheltering from the storm and broadband in a world as remote as the dreamtime, though it's sometimes mistaken for a major rural heartland. It's either an Elizabeth Farrelly dreaming or a pond nightmare.

Of course it happens because big Mal isn't up to the job, but then his dream for the big smoke isn't much of a dream either.

More a same old ongoing nightmare, of the kind where Freddy Kreuger keeps lurking under the slow-moving bed:

... users of the FTTN network will not receive speed guarantees beyond 25 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up, the report states - similar to the maximum performance under ideal line conditions of today's ADSL2+ service. 
Fibre customers hoping to receive the fast service they ordered may also end up being disappointed under NBN Co's proposals. 
NBN Co reportedly said it will not take responsibility for individual line speeds, leaving the selection of the correct speed tier to end users and providers. It will not prevent end users or providers from ordering up to 100 Mbps speed tiers for a service that would typically experience speeds of less than 50 Mbps, according to the report. (more details here)

So have there been any consequences for this profound failure?


Hold on.

Remember all those predictions by the Liberals of a state-owned monopoly using its market dominance to deny competitors offering a better service?

NBN Co this morning signalled an attack on the fibre-to-the-basement plans of competitor TPG, in an effort to mark its territory in reponse to the threat of emerging competition. 
It announced a plan to bring forward its FTTB rollout in certain metropolitan areas in a "commercial response to emerging competition for high-value customers", in a rollout that could extend to 50,000 apartments.
TPG has already begun construction on plans announced last September to roll out fibre to the basements of an extra 500,000 apartments across metropolitan Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. 
The plan mimicks the Coalition's FTTB efforts and has drawn criticism from NBN Co CEO Ziggy Switkowski, who said it had the potential to “severely impact" the NBN. 
TPG is using a legal loophole in federal anti-cherry picking legislation in order to build its FTTB network alongside the NBN. NBN Co will announce a list of priority areas in the coming weeks, which it said will likely include Haymarket in Sydney, New Farm and Fortitude Valley in Brisbane, and South Melbourne. 
"A building that signs up to TPG runs the risk of being left with only one retail service provider – TPG itself," NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow said in a statement.

Yep, offer a shitty service, and when someone offers a competitive service, crush them like cockroaches.

Because when Turnbull and Cormann blathered about a multi-mix technology last week, they didn't mean an actual multi-mix.

They meant a monopoly on shitty services ...

Of course the fear of cherry-picking is a fear that government will be left offering expensive services to remote users ... while users clustered tidily in big cities and wanting a half-way decent service will pay for the pleasure and tell the big Malaise and his tin can and spaghetti machine to go away ...

Never mind, at least where the pond's going they're still relying on string and sealing wax for a broadband service ... and the carrier pigeons are performing well, though beaks are drooping under the stress ...

Meanwhile, the pond is still brooding about the HFC which is the new big Malaise dream for the pond's neighbourhood.

Yes, we've already had our future technology, and we've had it for decades, little did we know.

But if they do force local ADSL users off copper - as proposed in the pond's street - and on to the HFC, the pond will end up with even worse broadband, because all users will be forced into what the jargon calls shared utilisation.

Too many users ruins the speed.

This is well known - it was predicted way back when, as you can read in Coalition FTTN would ignore HFC areas: Conroy.

The HFC cable infrastructure is capable of supporting speeds up to 100Mbps, and Telstra and Optus have upgraded the infrastructure to a certain level in order to support these kinds of speeds. However, the technology is considered by many to be broadly unsuitable for Australia’s future telecommunications needs, as it does not function well under heavy shared utilisation, and many renting so-called multi-dwelling units such as apartments are unable to have it connected as it requires a whole block of apartments to be hooked up.

There it is: ... it does not function well under heavy shared utilisation ...

The pond can't work out what's worse. Being forced to agree with Conroy or living in a bleak grey future, a kind of black plague of grey technology known as the grand Malaise.

Come on down TPG, it's not just the apartments that need you ...

What else?

Well occasionally the pond goes cultural, as a break from the tedious rants of the reptiles or the mystical musings of the slightly strange.

Sadly, the first episode of Fargo was disappointing.

The Slate review here had it about right:

All of these characters and all of these stories frequently add up to something handsome, funny, and weird. But Fargo is missing the spark of originality that would make it great. If you’re going to remake something as concise and self-sufficient as Fargo, there should be a reason, and pointing out that unexpected evil lurks in the hearts of men is not a very good one. For that we have, and I am just barely exaggerating, almost every other drama on television.

The problems came early, with the new version of the William H. Macy character shown as a total drop kick and a loser, and worse, graced with a name (Lester Nygaard) that led to predictable, cheap, easy jokes.

It would have been easy to give Martin Freeman a little more to work with, so he could produce a less one dimensional character. In the near to opening sales scene, his character could have been given the sleazy charm of a grifter insurance salesman, who could at least defraud the gormless pregnant woman and her gormless partner who turn up in his shop front. A closer can still be a loser, or vice versa, as Macy showed (and he threw in the Tru-coat) ...

Instead  Freeman's character is subjected to OT bullying and slapstick broken noses, which head into caricature well before the episode is over ....

Never mind, the pond got out the feature film, and soon enough all was forgiven and forgotten ...

Well except for big Mal. You see, the reason why everyone in old media - from the FTA networks through the Murdochians to the Fairfaxians - is happy with shitty broadband is that talking about a show that just premiered in the United States - and destined for SBS here - is what all the closed fortress types fear, and never mind that a simple same day FTA service would make it all redundant ...

In closing, please allow the pond to stay in the y'artz for a moment, to marvel at the way having The Graudian as a local downunder edition has led the pond into some bizarre encounters.

Like reading the incredibly pompous and more than vaguely ridiculous Jonathan Jones on art.

It seems that Jones has a hang up about Banksy, and frequently embarks on rants about the man. You can sample this sort of nonsense in New Banksy? Whatever. Graffiti is just a tame in-joke for Guardian readers.

Now it's a good thing that the pond gave up on Freud, because otherwise there'd be something bizarre about a writer for the Guardian flagellating readers for being readers of the Guardian - a kind of Algernon Swinburne or Percy Grainger quality, especially when all Jones has to offer is bile and prejudice, and personal opinions dressed up as universal truths ...

The pond was fixated and entranced, that such a thing should be (yea, just as slimy things did crawl with legs upon the slimy sea), and read the outraged comments, and it dawned on the pond that Jones was just a y'artz troller.

So we read a little more, and came across Jeff Koons: art's king of pop reigns on at the Gagosian.

In Antiquity 3, a model in lingerie and stockings rides a toy dolphin and caresses a toy monkey in front of a trio of marble nudes. The art of ancient Greece meets modern sex. They get on well in this irresistibly funny tease of an artwork. Koons collides the sublime and the ridiculous yet slyly asks a question that is hard to answer: what is beauty? Is it abstract or carnal? 
A scrawled, primitive drawing also covers the composite image, which draws attention to the peculiar play of dimensions in it. The picture is a tangle of two-dimensional and apparently three-dimensional space, of the flat and the seemingly solid. This is the kind of attention to form that makes it impossible to dismiss Jeff Koons. The real tedium of so much art today lies in a lack of interest in aesthetics, a lack of pleasure in visual complexity. Perversely, Koons, who has never pretended to be a hands-on artist and who is notorious for commissioning craftsmen to make statues as well as running a factory-like studio, stands out for his attention to the finer details. His works are richly visual and formally satisfying. 
Long may the monkey king ride the seas of commerce on his dolphin, and long may Gagosian attend him.

Banksy really bad, and Koons really good? In particular this Koons really good?

The pond has come across this easily excitable kind of male before.

Indeed there's a shop on south King in Newtown dedicated to the kustom kulture scene, Faster Pussycat. You can usually find this sort of Betty Page thing there:

It's probably where Koons and Jones do their shopping.

So the Graudian gets the village idiot to cover the y'artz?

And Malcolm Turnbull is entrusted to deliver broadband to Australia?

Enjoy your easter eggs and hot very cross buns. It's going to be a long winter of discontent ...

The pond will, roadwork permitting, resume business after Easter, but here's a last movie memory from David Rowe, and more Rowe here ...

Never mind, after Easter, it might not be a dream or even a nightmare, it might just be a bloody big hangover ... but where's Mike Tyson when at last he's needed?

No joy, but plenty of plonk and weirdness on the ABC ...

(Above: screen cap only, you can find the fun here)

Prattling Polonius surfaced on the ABC last night - though why he graces that reprehensible mob of leftist tea trolley cardigan wearing greenies with his presence is inexplicable - and did his best to help Barry O'Farrell:

I mean, the idea that you would lose your job because you accepted and probably drank a bottle of wine, which you didn't try to sell and you didn't even try to pawn it, you probably drank it, the idea that ...

He probably drank it?


...I read the newspapers and listened to the news. But the point is this: that Barry O'Farrell's out, Australia's got a reputation of being corrupt, as has NSW, as has Sydney, over a bottle of wine which he probably drank - and I know Barry well over a long period; he's not particularly interested in wine, as I understand it. I wouldn't know the cost of a bottle of Grange. I would have no idea it was worth $3,000. If someone gave it to me, I'd probably drink it and I may or may not forget about it.

He probably drank it ...

And trust me, I should know, because I'm profoundly ignorant?

Depending on your point of view, it's either high or low comedy of the finest water ...

As for not knowing that Grange is the most expensive domestic red wine in the land - the pond can never afford to be tickled by its cheeky presumption - how does a plea of profound ignorance help O'Farrell or maintain Henderson's status as the vaguely sophisticated head of an inner city elitist Sydney Institute?

As for the rest, the pond refers you to a transcript here, along with the rolled gold moving pictures (and please remember the true meaning of rolled gold), but surely Sam Beckett is rolling in his grave:

KATE MCCLYMONT: Gerard - Gerard, that's what the note is all about. 
GERARD HENDERSON: No, it's not; he may have forgotten. 
KATE MCCLYMONT: No. Gerard, ... 
GERARD HENDERSON: You're confused. 
KATE MCCLYMONT: OK. No, no, no, no, Gerard, I think I was listening to the evidence; you may not have been. 
GERARD HENDERSON: But he never said he didn't tell the truth. 
KATE MCCLYMONT: No, Gerard, listen to me. Gerard, listen, listen, listen. 
GERARD HENDERSON: Well you're pretty confused about this. 
KATE MCCLYMONT: No, no, no. 
GERARD HENDERSON: Yes, you are. 
KATE MCCLYMONT: No, no. Gerard. 

Then out of this fog of babble came McClymont making a bleeding obvious point which put paid to at least one aspect of Henderson's specious pleading defence:

KATE MCCLYMONT: ...when he says, "If I had received this bottle of wine, not only would I remember because it was a vintage Penfolds Grange Hermitage, I would have also entered it into my pecuniary interest declaration."

The pond has a passing sympathy for O'Farrell, who left the gig more gracefully than some and certainly with more style than the wretchedly corrupt spivs of the Labor party who continue to deny they had their snouts in the trough, and still parade shamelessly, while John Robertson struts about, hardly able to believe his luck, babbling on about what a fierce corruption fighter he is ...

Well at least until the pond remembers that O'Farrell handed Barangaroo to James Packer on a silver platter ...

But with friends like Hendo, who needs enemies?

At least O'Farrell didn't claim the ignorance defence - he knew the value of a bottle of Grange, and who knows whether he drank it or not?

These casual defamations, in the name of mounting a defence and attacking ICAC were simply bizarre ...

And then it got even weirder.

GERARD HENDERSON: ... I'll just make my point. 
GERARD HENDERSON: Eddie Obeid was sacked by the Labor premier before ICAC got involved.

What sort of point is that? That sacking is all a corrupt politician need fear? That there should be no investigation of gross corruption?

So it seems:

GERARD HENDERSON: Hang on. Let me finish. Eddie Obeid was sacked by the Labor premier. ICAC didn't get Obeid; Labor got Obeid. 
KATE MCCLYMONT: That's not correct. 
GERARD HENDERSON: Ian Macdonald was sacked by the Labor premier too. 
KATE MCCLYMONT: That is not correct. I'm sorry, that's not ... 
GERARD HENDERSON: But they were not in government at that stage. 
KATE MCCLYMONT: That is not correct. 
GERARD HENDERSON: That is correct.

The pond understands that at the time of a passing of a friend, at the time of personal stress and unhappiness, things can be said that perhaps shouldn't have been said, that points are made that on reflection shouldn't have been made, but at that point, really, appearing on the ABC should be considered the wrong option ... as opposed to mourning in private, or doing a little bonsai or origami until the stress has passed.

Because, near the end, Henderson's still maintaining the "it's all a flagon of piss, this plonk" defence:

If someone gave me a bottle of Grange, I would have no idea. I would certainly drink it. I would have no idea what it was worth. And according to the Sydney Morning Herald, the authoritative Sydney Morning Herald, the wine's no good any rate. It was like drinking old rags, according to someone.

Please, enough of Hendo's personal ignorance. Even Bazza knew the value of a bottle of Grange plonk.

Eventually, after all Polonius's pleading about memory failure and media attention, he made a lunge for the metaphor of the week:'s like walking into the library and all the books suddenly fall on you

And then came the wrap up:

GERARD HENDERSON: Well that's consistent with having a bad memory, that's what it is. So the Premier's gone and he's got a bad memory. Well there you go. Over something that happened to him at a very, very busy time in his life three years ago. 

KATE MCCLYMONT: But you can give that evidence. You can say exactly what you just said. STEVE CANNANE: Alright. We've run out of time. Thanks very much to both of you. 
GERARD HENDERSON: It's an absolute pleasure.

An absolute pleasure?

After that performance, the pond was in need of a very rough red ...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The splendid vision shattered, but hey, have a flagon of claret ... from the days when a red was a claret ...

Oh dear.

The chattering classes are having a field day, and the mice of Sydney are in an uproar.

No, not about Grange-gate, though it does seem odd to be careless about a bottle of Grange.

Rather, it seems as if the dream might be dead. The header says it all:

New Sydney airport should be in Canberra: O'Farrell

Oh it was a dream, a vision, with grand plans:

57 minutes to Sydney ... and less than a decade away

Canberra Airport will today unveil plans for a $140 million high speed rail (HSR) facility to be constructed adjacent to the new airport terminal. 
“We have long been advocates of a high speed rail link between Canberra and Sydney, and that reality is getting closer with strong support from NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and the ongoing stalemate over where to build Sydney’s second airport,” Canberra Airport Managing Director, Stephen Byron said. “Today Canberra Airport is proud to present plans for a superb, multi-modal, transport facility to underline the high speed rail’s integration into Canberra Airport, in accordance with Premier O’Farrell’s vision. 
“This terminal will provide a seamless interface for passengers arriving in Canberra by air ready for their 57minute train trip to Sydney. “The facility will cost $140 million (in 2012 dollars) and take two years to build.

Courier, a bottle of Grange and be quick about it, we need to drown the sorrow at the dying of the dream, but sssh, hide it behind the pot plant on the front verandah,

Meanwhile, the comparisons of Tony Abbott to Stephen Conroy have begun:

Within weeks of taking office Treasurer Joe Hockey commissioned a Productivity Commission inquiry into the funding of infrastructure. 
Its draft report released in March identified what it said was a classic example of how not to do it. “The National Broadband Network, Australia’s largest public infrastructure project, was commenced without a cost-benefit analysis having been done,” it said. 
“It also appears that detailed analysis of the project was focused, from a relatively early stage, on how best to implement the government’s policy objectives, rather than considering the merits of different options.” 
It sounds like Badgerys Creek. (here)

Oh indeed. Now with Sydney airport quite possibly the worst capital city airport in the western world - a gouging, inefficient monstrosity of useless delays in air and on ground, and consequent unnecessary costs - the pond has always thought a supplementary airport would be handy.

But Tony Abbott has done a classic policy on the run manoeuvre - most notably promising endless spending on roads, with nary a jot or a whistle about trains, with the matter of the curfew unresolved, proposed flight paths not specified, environmental assessments a decade old, and with the current owners of Sydney Airport having first right of refusal on any new build - and Max 'the axe' 'shit happens' Moore Wilton already having made his views on the need for a second airport very clear - a complete and utter waste of money, ex-ALP activists looking for new ways of wasting the people's money, and so on, here.

So jolly Joe and MAMIL Tony are just ex-ALP activists looking to piss money against the wall?

Perhaps the most fateful dodging and weaving came with the refusal to announce a very fast train service.

The theory, according to the Abbottians, is that there won't be enough business to justify a train in the early years, but if that's the case, why spend zillions on roads?

Is it not so much a case of Mr Infrastructure Man as Mr Stupid Infrastructure Man running so fast he doesn't realise he's rotated and heading towards the ground?

The pond was completely unnerved at the sight of the Daily Terror's Photoshopping:

Already a new episode of Air Crash Investigations?

One thing's certain. The pond has never read a more empty, blather laden piece of rhetoric than that supplied to the Daily Terror under Abbott's name, with the header Badgerys Creek airport will take Sydney to new heights.

The lack of specifics is only matched by the unctuous, smarmy forelock tugging in the direction of the Terror:

For many years, The Daily Telegraph has consistently argued for more infrastructure and better services in Western Sydney. 
I thank The Telegraph for its campaign to deliver more jobs and infrastructure in Western Sydney.

And they think Mark Scott doing it with a hamster is funny? Is it as funny as Tony Abbott doing it with a newspaper?

As for the grand vision, it's back to the 1950s, and roads, roads, roads:

Building a new airport also means major road and transport upgrades in Western Sydney. The government has committed $1.5 billion towards WestConnex and will be making ­announcements in the coming days about the infrastructure that will accompany the airport. 
Road and transport links must be ready and operating long before the airport is complete. Roads first, airport second, is our approach.

And with all of that, the first flight is still a decade away, at a minimum, which leaves plenty of time for Abbott's lack of vision to be given a slow roast and grind ...

In particular, the absence of vision in relation to rail (which is currently a mess in western Sydney), and with rubbery figures that sees only 130,000 people allegedly affected by aircraft noise from Sydney airport, and only 4,000 at Badgerys.

And then there's all the idle talk of an economic bonanza, and a gold rush, and employment opportunities, and 60,000 new jobs (4,000 initially, increasing over time to 60,000, here with forced video).

This presumably means -  if you take the ACI's figure of 1000 jobs for every million passengers per annum (mppa it in a pdf here) - that Badgerys should over time be delivering 60 million passengers a year.

That would put it up in the top ten of aircraft and passenger movements, at least if you do a Greg Hunt on passenger movements at large airports here, with Dallas-Fort Worth clocking in at 60,436,266 in 2013.

It's rubbery figures all over again.

Is it possible for a politician to fuck up a sensible idea?

Of course it is. Have a look at the grand Malaise fucking up the NBN ...

Or take a look at David Rowe, and more Rowe here.

Point of order Mr Rowe.

Did you consider using a unicorn?

Abbott should have been in a position to present a coherent plan, and a logical case, and instead he's exposed his flank to rabid former allies, such as Jackie Kelly (Badgerys Creek: Jackie Kelly launches attack on PM Abbott over second airport plan).

What should have been a lay down misere promises to be a decade of lay down misery ...

Does the pond care? Not much. The pond will be long gone before the second airport is working, and likely enough, Abbott will also be just a dream ...

And the reality has always been that the new airport would struggle in its early days, and it would never reduce the operations at Mascot, and so the pond's friendly, reliable alarm clock - the first plane came in today on the third runway a few minutes before six today - will keep on working ...

Meanwhile the vision, the dream is dead, and it seems that the pond will have to crack open a flagon of claret.

ICAC heard evidence that the precious bottle was sent by courier to O'Farrell's home. Under oath Di Girolamo said O'Farrell even called him to thank him for it. O'Farrell insists, also under oath, he never received it. Who to believe? The Premier's problem is that we are asked to accept that the bottle was stolen or otherwise disappeared from outside his home in Roseville, which he describes as a ''friendly'' neighbourhood. That alone stretches the bounds of credibility. 
His inability to recall the contents of a 30-second phone call to Di Girolamo the evening the bottle was purchased compounds the suspicion we are not getting the full story. The episode has exposed O'Farrell's lack of candour about his relationship with Di Girolamo. Rather than barely knowing each other as he has previously implied, it has emerged the pair had each other's private mobile numbers and were in frequent contact. (and the rest, with forced video, here)

Oh yes, the dream is well and truly dead. And it turns out it might not have been much of a drop in the first place - Penfolds Grange 1959: A little past its best.

Here you go Bazza - it's so good to share - and remember to look behind the pot plant.

Ah yes, the Sydney Morning Herald 10th December 1970, when men drove on roads and drank flagons of claret and Tony Abbott had his infrastructure insights by heading out on that highway, looking for adventure and whatever came his way ...

UPDATE: well the dream is now even longer gone, with Bazza biting the dust, as recorded in NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell to resign over evidence he gave to ICAC.