Sunday, February 21, 2010

Piers Akerman, Stephen Conroy, and prestidigitation of a most remarkable kind ...

(Above: Harry Houdini going for a swim, Stephen Conroy armed with club of choice).

Piers Akerman performs an amazing, astonishing feat of trickery of a prestidigious kind, worthy of Houdini, in Why Conroy, not Garrett, is the Rudd government's problem.

But at least he's reminded me of my set of favourite preposterous words - presticogitation describes thinking so quick and dazzling it commands the assent of all who witness it, while prestidigious describes well-executed sleight of hand (a combination or portmanteau of prestigious and prestidigitation), and for a truly preposterous adjective, you can't go further than prestidigitorial.

Back to Akerman's prestidigitatory ways, as he spends his entire column berating Stephen Conroy.

Well we have no problem with that. We can in fact savour the many ways Akker Dakker bashes Conroy about the head, even the low blow of revealing a Conroy nickname - Passionfingers - that he doesn't enjoy. (the Urban dictionary knows all, here, but it also reminds us that this is a general term of abuse, in much the same way as cruel people sometimes use the word 'scrotum' to describe Akerman's scribbles).

The Akerman list of Conroy failings is long. There's Conroy's skiiing with Stokes and golfing with Packer, and his answering questions from his laptop, and the way even Conroy's right faction colleagues consider him the loosest of all wayward cannon, and then there's the NBN tendering process, and the recent generous hand out to the commercial broadcasters, and the handing out of plum jobs to mates by the NBN company.

Akker Dakker even takes a pot shot at Cate Cornick, Conroy's former advisor, who is now involved in the Institute for a Broadband-enabled Society, a bizarre University of Melbourne initiative which describes itself thus:

The Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES) is a cross-disciplinary research institute dedicated to products, services, and innovations that maximize the benefit of new broadband technologies to Australian society. The Institute’s activities cover a wide range of fields including content creation and delivery, delivery of remote health services and education, social networking, entertainment and broadband technology.

Akker Dakker delivers a rousing bit of brooding about the Rudd government's commitment to the principles of employment of former staffers, and then signs off with a rousing final metaphor which owes much to the rustic notion of shit shovelling, and unfortunately, it has to be said, a truly wretched evocation of coprophilia:

Members of the Rudd government have been told to get their photographs taken with shovels in their hands to indicate engagement in some sort of activity.

But as in the case of Senator Conroy last week, more and more people are now asking exactly what is being shovelled and how much more the public will be expected to swallow before the federal election.

Yet in this magnificent tirade, of mixed metaphors and brooding on the battlement, something is missing.

Notice it? Whatever could it be? What's the single biggest issue that's dominated public response to Conroy's public performance in the past twelve months?

Yep, it's Conroy's great big internet filter, and poor hapless Akker Dakker doesn't have it in his heart to berate Conroy for bringing on such a necessary thing, seeing as how it will bring Australia into line with China and Iran, and save the children.

Sure you can always get Akker Dakker stirred up about other kinds of censorship:

The Australian public, which the national broadcaster the ABC denied information about the censorship and manipulation of the data which went into the IPCC report, is now better informed thanks to a handful of publications and information freely available on the internet. (Camel gas and other warmist nonsense).

Though I'm not so sure you could get him as excited these days about people mucking up their quotations, and being less than accurate in their manipulation of quotations.

But damned if you'll get a bleat out of him about Conroy's filter.

And another remarkable omission? Poor Akker Dakker no longer seems to have his heart in an attack on the very idea of the NBN. These days he restricts himself to the tendering issue, but back in the good old days, he was devoted to all kinds of fear-mongering.

Who can forget Powerful arguments for Rudd to go underground, in which he brooded about the way the NBN network was likely to increase road deaths, be decimated by bushfires, and turn Australian suburbs into the visual equivalent of Asian, South and Central American slums?Hang the expense, he said at the time, we have to put everything underground.

But that was when little Sir Echo had picked up on Nick Minchin worrying about the beauty of Parramatta road, and never no mind that it seemed to fly directly in the face of Akker Dakker's other pet peeve, which is the way the NBN was totally unconcerned about 'hang the expense' thinking, and the cost was vast, ginormous and likely to produce bankruptcy of the Australian economy within a month. $47 billion to be flushed down a broadband pipe dream was the moan way back when.

But I digress. Expecting coherence and consistency in Akerman is like expecting solidity in a marshmallow, or spine in a jelly fish.

But by far the most surreal absurdity has to be a member of the commentariat columnist brigade trying to rough up Conroy, while holding one of his hands behind his back. And in that one hand happens to be Conroy's great big internet filter, for fear that something nasty should happen to befall Gollum's preciousssss, and then how could the children be saved, and Australia be brought into line with China.

Meanwhile in other news, it seems Hulu is in town, and trumpeting itself as the solution to everything, including piracy. Australian TV is in the sights of Hulu, the web untangler, shrieks the header.

The web untangler?

Hulu is a blot on the web landscape, a pathetic and futile attempt to turn the web into a fenced off garden full of territorial restrictions. So long as it maintains its activities in their current form, piracy of TV shows will continue to flourish.

What's the natural response to seeing a sign like the one below bob up on your screen? Yep, do a workaround, find an alternative, go somewhere else.

The days of effective territorial restrictions are over, as shown by DVD, and now as Sony and others are painfully beginning to realise, it's been a folly in the case of Blu-Ray, which will never amount to more than a niche before broadband delivery sweeps it away. Like DVD's territorial restrictions, Blu-Ray has also been cracked, and if Hulu thinks it can block content, then the content will find a way around the blockage. Amazon's the model for international shopping, and Hulu's territorial restrictions are the model for an old guard desperate to hold back the tide.

Bugger off Hulu. We've got Stephen Conroy on the case for a restricted web, and Akker Dakker apparently hoping, via a golden silence, that in this case Passionfingers and his great big filter carries the day:

(Below: just a screen cap, no click throughs, but for more information on the video library in question, consult your friendly pirate ripper).

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