Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Punching on with the Punch until you're a little punch drunk ...

(Above: it's time to start banning everything! The ten principles of harmonious relationships as explained by thoughtful leader Stephen Conroy are a good starting point).

It seems that The Punch hasn't undergone a revivalist miracle during my time in China.

There's Tory Maguire, in Well that was excruciating, and she's recycling an ABC program AM, by building a few short pars around it and offering up a link.

It seems that the excellent Barnaby Joyce can't be silenced, and has many productivity commission reports usefully deployed in the dunny for wiping his bum, and naturally it's only appropriate to provide a link, Punch style, to the AM report here.

But what's a Murdoch rag doing referencing the ABC and its socialist ways?

Why aren't they out getting their own toilet paper quotes? Is this an example of how the Murdoch paywall might be breached in the future by cads who quote all the best bits of Murdochiana while staying within fair use limits? Or not even worry about fair use provisions, but simply set up a site holding all the best Murdoch copy and offering it up for free?

Sorry, I know there was an oxymoronic redundancy in 'best Murdoch copy' but hey, if Barners runs out of productivity commission reports, there's always The Australian. Wipe. Again.

Meanwhile, Paul Colgan suddenly manages to discover that the Catholic Church is a strange beast in How much abuse can you take from the Church?

It's times like these that you wished a militant atheist was handy so that Colgan's wishy washy half baked thinking could be taken to the cleaners.

Well reading it was excruciating, so they certainly know how to keep on song with Tory's header.

It gets even worse when free space is offered up to Michael Ronaldson to whine about the Labor party assaulting the foundations of democracy in South Australia, in Labor's nasty habit of polling booth rorts must end.

The allegation is that Family First voters were tricked into offering their preferences to Labor:

On election-day, polling booths were attended by political wolves-in-sheeps’-clothing in the form of Labor activists posing as Family First representatives.

Wearing T-Shirts bearing the slogan “Put Your Family First,” these impersonators handed out misleading how-to-vote cards designed to defraud unsuspecting South Australians out of the right to express their true political opinions at the ballot box.

That'd be right. If you're dumb enough to vote for Family First as your first preference, you'd certainly be dumb enough to put Labor second, not being aware of the Liberal party, or knowing how to make an 'X' against their candidates as a way of making use of your preferences. Stupid sheep.

Now here's my electoral reform proposal. Have wolves in sheeps' clothing standing by and handing out how to vote cards, and if a voter is dumb enough to take a "How to vote Family First" card, they should immediately be whisked off to the abattoir, where their woolly minds can immediately be flensed and used for mattress stuffing.

But never mind the quality, admire the quantity. There's Steve Wilkinson getting upset about Bear Grylls eating habits, in Man vs MasterChef, rather than Bear's name and his urine fetish, which has revived golden shower culture around the world. Does his use of of Grylls with a 'y' constitute unfair and deceptive trading? What a pity Lucky Grills isn't around to mount a case.

And then there's Mark Colvin escaping from the ABC to help out Chairman Rupert with more content under the header How Cameron and the good old boys could still lose. Okay, it's a good chance to recycle that notorious photo of David Cameron being a school toff, and trading off on a bit of Evelyn Waugh, but remember digital content is always best when it's free.

The Punch, showing all its mastery of digital content, uses an "artist's recreation" of the Bulllingdon photo, as a way of getting around the firm which took the picture withdrawing permission for republication more than two years ago (here).

Not to worry, a quick google image search will fix what ails ya. Meantime The Punch has no doubt deposited a handsome stipend for the artist - for the use of his recreation - in his bank account, marked Anon, care of Switzerland.

And then top all this joy up with Dennis Atkins getting excited about The boy who was better than the Beatles, a paean of praise for Alex Chilton which excitedly offers up some modest recognition for The Beatles:

This was why the Beatles deserve some recognition - they recorded two influential albums (Sergeant Pepper & Revolver) and almost everyone who used them to shape their music made something that was so much better.

Ain't that grand. The Beatles deserve some recognition!

I usually feel the same way about Mozart, since Beethoven was so much better. Not to mention Brahms who was so much better. Though not as better as Mahler. Not to mention Shostakovich who was so much better. As a result, I never have to listen to any of Mozart's scribblings, since everyone subsequently did things that were so much better.

Yep, that was excruciating reading too.

But at least it offered an opportunity for The Punch to recycle content in the shape of a YouTube clip of The Box Tops doing The Letter. Ain't free content a wonder and a marvel.

You have to scroll way down the page to finally get to Richard Marles brooding about John Curtin's drinking habits in Rehab 1916-style for a future Prime Minister, which sadly made no reference to Bob Hawke's more recent and public battle with the booze, with Marles preferring instead to get into his piece sundry plugs for Pirra Homestead as part of his electorate. Well there's history and drunks, and then there's local food and wine festivals - drink responsibly at your piss up by going gourmet - and then there's shoring up the votes.

By the time I'd reach Frank Zumbo on consumer law issues in Buyer beware cause business is getting its way, I was thinking I should be back in China where blogging is carefully regulated by the government. Mention any of the three T's - Taiwan, Tibet or US Trade - and suddenly a hole in the intertubes will whisk you into a vortex of blackness. At The Punch, it's surely Tiresomeness, Tediousness and Tendentiousness.

So where's Chairman Conroy, as he beavers away in a bid to bring us closer to China?

Could this be the way forward for valiant workers under Murdoch seeking to advance righteous causes?

In China, those that care (not that many do, whether through lack of means or desire) can easily "climb the wall" by using vpn's and such like, and the exotic and the unknown and the censored are like the fruit that tempted Eve and ruined the human race (damn women for their despicable ruination of paradise).

Could it be that The Punch might become exciting and tempting if it was forbidden?

I'm all for the experiment.

Let's ban The Punch - make it part of Conroy's black list which can't be named because well you know they're addresses - so that we can all climb the wall to read it.

Or not. Whatever. I'm feeling a little punch drunk now, and am off to spend the afternoon in rehab or drinking a few shots. My first return visit and Tory nailed it. Excruciating ...

(Below: the happy face of a well regulated intertubes - more here).

Peter Costello, and a hearty dose of moral condescension and sanctimonious claptrap ... redux.

(Above: an oldie, but a goodie, here).

Now where was I?

Straight from Shanghai to a Lyle Lovett concert, and a little discombobulated on the way. Sheesh, I thought I'd dropped into a conference for old farts, but it seems that's the target demographic for Lovett these days.

Never mind, it was an excellent concert, and if the young have no taste, then all the more fun to load up future generations with debt and an uncertain future. That'll learn 'em for not liking Lyle.

But while I was away, it seems the loons had an excellent time, what with Barners being sent to the second eleven and Tony Abbott showing he was an Olympian capable of doing a Pheidippides, and bringing news of the battle of Marathon to Athens (never mind if that fabulist Herodotus disputed the story). There's something moving about the notion of Abbott delivering the words "We have won" before collapsing and expiring.

But some things never change, and why is it unsurprising to see that ghost of the battlements, Peter Costello, blathering on yet again about climate change, in The greatest moral conundrum of our time ... until the next one.

Costello has form in this area, and being a snide person given to insinuating monumental smirking snidery, has splendid form when it comes to harping on about moral conundrums and challenges. As a lawyer turned politician turned columnist and noise maker, how do you deal with the science of climate change?

Write about anything else, usually in moral terms. Here he is back in April 2009 in How immoral, to hold the wrong views:

Take climate change. The way the argument is being presented you can be for aggressive targets to cut emissions or you are for rising tides, mass drownings, increased heat-related deaths, the destruction of the planet and the death of polar bears.

Characterising this as a moral question allows the high priests of emission targets to actually measure the morality of their opponents. Supporters of a 20 per cent cut are moral, 10 per cent morally inferior, supporters of 5 per cent are grossly immoral, and so on.

But what about the smug? Does that produce a combination of fog and smog to mist up the world with a kind of smoggily foggy argument about a policy which the coalition government took to the electorate as a firm proposal to deal with climate change as the great crisis of our time?

If anyone questions whether these targets will be met, if they will make a difference without the co-operation of major emitters, or what will happen to those who lose their jobs in industries affected, they can be dismissed as engaging in moral subterfuge. This is a moral argument, and such people are really in favour of destroying the planet.

While the postmodern world has lost faith in absolutes - rights and wrongs in relation to private behaviour - it has discovered absolutism about the views that are acceptable in modern political discourse. Take the wrong turn and you are not just mistaken, you are immoral. It's not that your views are immoral. You are immoral as a person for holding them.

By adopting the right views you get a wonderful release. There is not much you can do wrong at a personal level as long as you're in favour of a better planet.

This kind of guff suits Costello down to the ground. By forgetting about the science and shifting the terrain to a political and moral discourse, he can sound like a righteous fogey dispensing wisdom to the sceptics and the true believers. So once again this week it's back to the future:

I watched this issue elevated in the lead-up to the 2007 election, when it was used to illustrate how the Howard government was old, tired and out of touch. It was brought to fever pitch late last year to wedge the Coalition.

When you're a hammer all you can see is a nail. When you're a politician, all you can see is a political issue. Never mind the truth. Never mind the coalition's policies when Costello was at the helm:

Without any immediate political target, it lies dormant. But I expect it will be back for the election - probably in an attack on the Coalition's policy on direct abatement measures. Which is why the public is entitled to get a little cynical. You never hear Rudd arguing for an emission trading scheme as if he really believes it is ''the great moral and economic issue challenge of our time''. He raises it, he drops it, it comes and it goes - like all the other issues of the regular media cycle.

Oh dear, poor old Malcolm Turnbull. He actually believed in the policy. What a moralist.

But what about the science? Well apart from the poley bears issue - which surely should be elevated to a new Godwin's Law whenever discussing climate change - here's Costello's astute take:

Those scientists who made exaggerated claims about the Himalayan glaciers undermined trust in the science behind global warming.

You see! That's it. Done and dusted.

And those politicians who made exaggerated claims about their policy proposals have undermined trust on the political issue.

You mean like the coalition that led with the ETS as its preferred policy, and then retreated as soon as it knew it could make political hay out of a new stance? Yep, it's back to the land of kettle and pot.

It would have been better to be honest enough to admit the uncertainties, and acknowledge the downside of their policy. As it is, Earth Hour has become an apt metaphor for their tactical approach - a time to spread darkness, rather than illumination.

Oh for heaven's sake, as if Costello is intent on spreading anything other than moral humbuggery, pontificating pretentiousness, and smug smirking condescension. His entire piece is a series of non-sequiturs and bland evasions:

Can a momentous moral challenge fizzle out like this? Or are you beginning to suspect all the crisis was politically driven?

It's a politically driven crisis, and if the politics will go away, so will global warming?

As evidence, Costello offers up the way newspapers dealt with Earth Hour this year, and instead ran with pictures of a gas guzzling car race.

But what's his point? Earth Hour is a stupid idea, whose main point is to show that after an hour people turn on the lights and proceed on their energy guzzling ways. As a piece of symbolism, it's truly empty and meaningless, but does that mean that mean there are no alternatives?

What's Costello's solution? Is climate change not real? So we can forget about it and go on with our gas guzzling, plasma devouring ways? Then why not simply say it? Why not propose that we can simply go on consuming on into an eternally glorious future? With the supply of oil infinite, so that formula one petrol heads can have an eternity of pleasure ...

What amazes me is the way this greenhouse campaign can be switched on and switched off as quickly as the lights during Earth Hour. And for the moment the government has decided to switch it off so we can all get back to talking about health funding.

What amazes me is the way the likes of Costello can deride the greenhouse campaign, yet also switch off the discussion of the dud coalition policy designed to do something by way of 'direct action', in a way which will allow us to keep eating our cake while demonstrating care for the environment. Substituting feeble socialist initiatives sponsored by government in preference to the marketplace initiative they once championed.

But that's because, you see, the progressives are just lap dogs for the lick spittle government:

Our monthly Anglican newspaper broadly reflects the prevailing progressive left opinion. In the December issue, in the lead-up to the government's self imposed timetable for securing the emissions trading legislation, it ran four extensive articles on the need for action over climate change. It published no contrary views.

In fact, the Copenhagen summit was given more column inches than Christmas, which is quite an achievement for a religious newspaper. But the issue has hardly registered in the newspaper since. Even though nothing has happened, the urgency has gone out of the campaign.

Oh no, not more inches than Christmas! Not that we'd in any way question the sincerity of people who foolishly believe that the Himalayan glaciers are melting:

The activists from NGOs who flew to Copenhagen to get urgent action on carbon emissions have gone back to their previous causes. This doesn't mean they are insincere - on the contrary. It's just that their enthusiasm can be heightened or lessened with adroit management from the political professionals running the government's election year agenda.

WTF? What previous causes? Did everyone who believed the coalition offered up its ETS as a solution were simply mugs being fed prime quality wheat and corn just to vote Costello and co. back into the comfy chairs of office?

Why do I get the feeling that blather about the moral and political dimensions of climate change is, in the hands of Costello, just another way of spreading darkness, rather than illumination?

He should spend a little time in China, which currently has areas in deep drought, and cities with air that settles in the throat in the same way it must once have done in industrial Britain in the old days. And squillions of people devouring resources as if there was no tomorrow, thoughtfully provided by Australia.

The one joy? Costello continues to irritate his readers, or at least those sufficiently driven by rage to offer up a comment on his truly stunning moral pomposity. I particularly liked this one:

Exaggeration, trust, honesty, political expediency, climate Ouija Board of hypocrisy Peter?

Oh yes, pass me the ouija board. And bring back Barnaby so that we can have an even more informed debate on the moral dimensions of climate change.

(Below: another oldie).

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Jon Stewart, Glenn Beck and in the airport lounge thinking it's okay to laugh as the wings fall off ...

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A Little Housekeeping, but never fear, the loons are always everywhere

Contrary to popular rumours amongst tin-foil hat-wearing cultists who can be counted on one hand, this site is not generated by a horde of cockroaches, sitting at their typewriters, unable to hit the shift key when they reach the word god.

No, it's just one cockroach, proud of being a cockroach sitting on the side of the pond, watching the loons play and frolic and gambol and preen and fluff their feathers and enjoy life by the best means possible ... honking and whining and whingeing and squawking and cawing and crowing and carrying on.

But between blogging and a paid junket to the mysterious depths of Asia, to places where Google refuses to go, or at least do business, then I'm afraid blogging must take the hit. Never turn down a junket, even if it means Tim Blair will use it in an argument about global warming, as if it's some kind of offset for petrol-headed V-8 addiction ...

So while the cockroach is absent for a little while, have fun with the frolicking loons, always supplied with kindness and consideration by Fairfax, Chairman Rupert, and a swag of other sites, only too keen to ensure that looniness remains at the heart of civilisation, not least in matters to do with sex, religion and politics.

Loon pond will resume business in a week or so's time ...

Meantime, have fun, and remember, while enjoying your loon pie, don't forget the gravy!

Christopher Pearson in the market-place, and Noel Pearson on Piers Akerman re-dux ...

I spent hours and hours worrying about it.

What did it mean? Who were these funny <> families, and what was Tony Abbott's secret agenda in empowering them to have children?

I consulted books on cryptography, visited hacker sites, wondered if a password might be involved, tried my best split and concat techniques, even revisited historical precedents, such as the use of the Enigma machine to crack Nazi code and generate bad movies.

In the end, it turned out to be simple, almost banal. Turns out it's just a HTML tag:

This text contains (br)

a line break.

Definition and Usage

The (br) tag inserts a single line break.

The (br) tag is an empty tag which means that it has no end tag.

In HTML the (br) tag has no end tag.

In XHTML the (br) tag must be properly closed, like this:

Eek, and every time I tried to type it in, to illustrate the thing, the HTML on this site went mad with joy, and started shoving in line breaks all over the place. Christopher Pearson unleashes chaos and anarchy on the web!

And yet, and yet, because today is tin foil hat day at loon pond, I knew deep down there was more to it. Surely what it's really saying is that Christopher Pearson is an empty tag who has no end tag, like a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.

Whatever, if you want to read Pearson on Abbott, yet again, and how he, Pearson, speaks to power, here's the link to Abbott plan empowers families to have children, but don't be surprised if the header has changed in the interim.

What you get of course is a gushing, super-enthusiastic supercalifragilisticexpialidocious explanation and endorsement of Tony Abbott's wonderful paid parental leave plan, with a slaying and a smoting of its many and diverse critics.

This isn't just cheer-leading, this is running on to the field with an axe and cutting off the legs of any troublesome opponents.

And what it also produces are some wondrously agile and remarkable gyrations and contortions. Take this summary dismissal of the fiscally rectitudinous Peter Costello as a neophyte zealot (that's right, Peter Costello, one time much loved treasurer, is now amongst the beginners, the novices, or if you will the newly baptized, persons newly converted to a belief, as a heathen, heretic or non-believer comes to understand true ideology of the free market):

Last week Peter Costello, the former treasurer, felt compelled to join the fray, dismissing the plan as silly and wrong in principle. I suppose we should be grateful for these champions of fiscal rectitude, even if in most cases their conversion to the cause came unannounced, late in the day and, like most neophyte zeal, lacked a sense of proportion.

Costello, on the other hand, seems to have somehow forgotten that he introduced a series of comparable levies to pay for the gun-buyback scheme, the East Timor intervention and Medicare.

Egad, sir, you don't mean to say that in disguise, with sleight of hand and flourish, that damned cad Costello was actually a socialist, dragging in levies (wash out your mouth if you mentioned a tax on big business, and use soap please) to pay for all kinds of socialistic claptrap. Or indulging in middle class welfare as a way of buying votes, while the guv'nor John Howard had nothing to do with it!

But what then of Abbott's scheme, which is surely the same kind of outrageous socialist claptrap?

It is a market-based scheme for a market economy.

George Orwell would be proud. Normally I resent those Orwell Law infringers and ratbags who carry on about Orwellian language, but surely this is as good as it comes, up there with the sign at the start of Dr. Strangelove - Peace is our profession. Luckily we're not talking about taxes, or a little George Bernard Shaw might creep into the conversation:

Pothinus: "Is it possible that Caesar, the conqueror of the world, has time to occupy himself with such a trifle as our taxes?"
Caesar: "My friend, taxes are the chief business of a conqueror of the world."
"Caesar and Cleopatra"

There's plenty more rich pickings, but strange to say, I got bored, and instead wandered over to read Noel Pearson's It's uplifting to stand on ceremony, and blow me down if he hasn't broken with the likes of Piers Akerman.

Akker Dakker, you might recall, embarked on an unprecedented, unprovoked assault on the didgeridoo, in Sorry to say this but hypocrisy unwelcome, as part of his ongoing campaign to make sure there wasn't one element of aboriginal culture in the land worth celebrating. And especially not welcome to country ceremonies.

But Pearson and Akker Dakker usually sing from the same song sheet - there's endless occasions when Akker Dakker has quoted Pearson, and said he couldn't agree more (Aborigines trapped in Never-Never is just one of them).

Funnily enough, Pearson might still be reading from the same song sheet, but the lyrics somehow have started to sound different:

Anti-Aboriginal thinking is like anti-Semitism: a complex of irrational ideas that cannot be understood as a reaction informed by personal experience, facts or spurious information that is believed to be true.

Irrational contempt becomes the primary reason for its own continued existence. This is captured in the famous dictum on the ineradicability of anti-Semitism: "If the Jews did not exist, the anti-Semites would invent them."

The irrational nature of anti-Aboriginal thinking through history is obvious. No matter how decimated, powerless, removed to the fringe or distant reserves Aboriginal Australians have been, anti-Aboriginal thinking has been virulent.

Oops, guess that means Pearson is now one of the usual hand-wringers clogging the internet with their pathetic denunciations and accusations of racism.

Carry on Akker Dakker ...

... few, if any, can demonstrate any involvement in any practical attempts to alleviate the health, education and employment problems that beset many Aboriginal Australians.

Oh dear, that poor poseur Pearson. Hark at how he scribbles:

Tony Abbott's unexpected ignition of a debate on the acknowledgment of traditional owners through welcome to country ceremonies at official functions convinces me that it is necessary to bring the central figure of thought of Australian anti-Aboriginal thinking to the surface.

The figure of thought at the heart of contemporary anti-Aboriginal thinking is the sweeping generalisation that Aborigines have been given too much of something, which may be tangible or intangible.

It is legitimate - and often necessary - to severely criticise Aboriginal organisations, communities or individuals. It is legitimate to criticise policies in indigenous affairs and reconciliation. Even if such criticism is incorrect, it is not racist.

It is possible to discuss such specific criticisms with those who make them.

However, when I encounter the underlying, constantly shifting, ever mutating sentiment that "the pendulum has swung too far" and that Aborigines have been given too much, materially or symbolically, I know that I am up against irrational thinking that is not amenable to rational debate.

It is patently obvious that during the past 222 years, the pendulum has never swung too far in favour of Aboriginal Australians in any political, social, economic or cultural sector of society.

Sheesh, Pearson doing a Charlie Perkins. Who would have guessed, and who will Akker Dakker be citing now as an excuse for his ongoing campaign to denigrate the didgeridoo?

On and on Pearson rants:

It is not a bad development in Australian culture that traditional owners are acknowledged and that there is a welcome to country.

If you can't sit through those few minutes or few seconds it is unlikely that you are only annoyed with the occasional political correctness or silliness of it.

Oh no, Akker Dakker, your favourite is accusing you of an implicit, or explicit, or whatever and however you care to see it, kind of racism.

Well thankfully we already know what Akker Dakker thinks of Pearson's contemptible kind. Tell him Akker Dakker:

So, too, the welcome-to-country ceremony, unauthentic but embraced by the sanctimonious who feel the need to publicly display some tokenistic relationship with people they may never see, let alone meet and converse with.

... Let’s not pretend the welcome ceremony is more than a contrivance which allows some to play dress-up and others to don black armbands.

It would seem, if I read Akker Dakker right, that Pearson is a tokenistic sanctimonious git who doesn't know much about black people - hardly ever seeing, let alone meeting or conversing with them - and his interest in the welcome ceremony is just a cheap contrivance so he can play dress-ups while those watching can don black armbands.

So there you have it. A tax is a market-place solution, and Noel Pearson is a humbug do gooder black arm band wearing leftie.

If that's not enough for a day's shocking, astonishing revelations on loon pond, then I'm sorry not even Mary Mackillop could relieve your boredom and ennui with a miracle ... and thereby score a hat trick after a hundred years of solid bowling and Warnie type finger tweaking (or so I'm told - my partner tells me my interest in and knowledge of sport is improving daily, as I become aware that the cricket season is now over and men fighting over their balls is now the new flavour).

(Below: Republican president Calvin Coolidge, not afraid to wear a black arm band in memory of Republican president Warren G. Harding, whose death elevated him to the highest office. Back then they didn't know real men refuse to wear black arm bands or eat quiche. Thanks to the likes of Akker Dakker, those evil times have changed ...)

Miranda Devine, owl pellets, Julian McGauran, tin foil hats, and the truth is out there ...

(Above: First Dog on the Moon discovering the pleasure of owl pellets from Julian McGauran. More First Dog here).

You have to have a short-term memory to truly enjoy Miranda the Devine's column Navy vindicated over sinking.

In it she announces:

In the end, the inquest into the fatal explosion of the asylum seeker boat SIEV 36 off Ashmore Reef last year did not scapegoat our navy. In fact, the Northern Territory Coroner, Greg Cavanagh, this week made a point of praising the ''great efforts, professionalism and bravery'' of Australian Defence Force personnel involved in the rescue of the Afghan asylum seekers after their boat exploded on April 16. He said ''more passengers might have died but for the action they took''.

Deary me, who could have suggested an inquest would be set up in a way that would scapegoat our navy?

Well it took a little searching, since the original link seems to have "disappeared" into the bowels of the Fairfax vault - another loon pond link bites the dust - and the column now appears in the Fairfax news store, at the generous price of "no charge", but a little diligent hunting will reward you with ... Miranda the Devine's Scapegoat insanity for our navy.

As if the tragedy weren't traumatising enough, they now find themselves the scapegoats in a murky political drama. Several are said to be resigning from the service, and who could blame them?

....The inquest proceedings have been an insult to our armed forces at a time when they are expected to risk their lives in dangerous wars overseas. They are particularly galling in a week when we have honoured our finest fighters with awards for gallantry in Afghanistan and when Trooper Mark Donaldson was announced as Young Australian of the Year, after winning a VC for doing exactly what he was meant to do - rescue an Afghan interpreter who was working for the Australian armed forces - that is, rescuing one of his own.

What a remarkable sight. A columnist denouncing hysterical innuendo about the way truth is tested in an inquest. As provided by said hysterical innuendoist columnist.

But then that's the Devine's way. Make sustained, unsupported attacks, and when the attacks turn out to be unsustainable and unsupportable, well, it's just a never no mind.

Another flashback to January's outburst:

....Yet the inquest, which began in the Northern Territory this week, has focused on the supposed blunders of the navy personnel and, most egregiously, has accused them of callousness for rescuing their own people first, after the boat exploded, as every military person in the world is trained to do.

And now a flash forward, in best Back to the Future style:

...And, despite suggestions to the contrary, he found nothing wrong in the policy of ADF members ''rescuing their own'' first.

What's more, he singled out for commendation RAAF Corporal Sharon Jager, who almost drowned when her life vest failed to inflate - ''despite this trauma, after her rescue, with her specialist medical training, she attended to the survivors for the next 10 hours.'' Cavanagh also praised the ''frank and honest evidence of all ADF personnel who gave evidence to this inquest''.

Hallelujah. After all the innuendo and negative media, the truth about the men and women of the ADF has finally been told: that they did their courageous and competent best to save lives in extraordinarily difficult circumstances that tragic morning.

Hallelujah. At last the Devine seems to understand that an inquest must test the truth, look at what happened, weight the evidence and produce a finding.

Meanwhile, is there an apology for the extraordinary outburst in January wherein she accused the inquest of scapegoating the navy?

Of course not. The point of a bunger is to go off, not worry about the effect on the letter box.

The rest of the Devine's current column is just a standard regurgitation of her usual stuff about boat people, and the need to be tough, and how it isn't working and so on and so forth.

At least when an owl indulges in regurgitation, you get some decent fibre, even bones, solid materials worth taking a look at - that's what we used to do in the bush when we found an owl pellet. Sad to say, the Devine doesn't have the wisdom of owls, and her pellets are quite repellent.

And sometimes utterly tedious.

Which is why we are always on the look out for new suppliers of owl pellets, and this week it's been Julian McGauran, as he took exception to the way the CSIRO was doing its job:

Senator McGauran says the organisation has been stripped of its independence and is doing the bidding of the Minister for Science, Kim Carr.

"Minister Carr without doubt has wandered through the CSIRO offices, intimidating the scientists and the executive to do as they're told," he said.

"This is now a political organisation. The executive have become compliant to the minister, utterly." (here).

Thereby confirming what any true believer in UN domination by black helicopters knows already. The truth is out there, if only you've been wearing tin foil as a hat to deflect the evil mind manipulation rays.

It eventually dawned on Mike Carlton, after berating Richard Dawkins for lacking humour and being impossibly insufferably arch and deserving a cream pie in the face for giving atheism a bad name (here), that sometimes you can only find the tin foil hat routine amusing for so long:

There can be no arguing with fools like this. You might as well reason with a bowl of peanuts. Sometimes the Dawkins approach is the only way to go.

Yep indoody deedy. There we have the Devine raging at an inquest, and then backing down without a thought to what she'd written a couple of months before, except in the most oblique manner - no apology for her naked abuse of the privilege of written a column for a major newspaper - and there we have McGauran slandering an entire organisation, and the ethics and professional standards of the scientists and executive therein.

Well I was tempted by all this to put up a snap of an owl pellet as an illustration of more substantial insights - if only into the hunting habits of owls and the contents of their gullets - but a stray reader might have been coming off breakfast, so it seemed better to go with some handy advice for aluminium foil hats, which these days work just as well as tin (the confusion arises from Americans and Australians who think that tin means the same as aluminium, or aluminum - stop it, you'll all go blind).

I know showing a snap of some geezer wanting to pose on the intertubes is lower than showing a lolcat, but still, the good word should be spread, so here's how to make your own.

Then you can add yourself to the many tin foil hat wearing souls who can be found scribbling columns and/or strutting the halls of parliamentary power:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Piers Akerman, and say a prayer as the ditto heads have their picnic ...

(Above: an extract from the notebook of Lieutenant Dawes showing his attempts to learn the language of Sydney Aborigines. Gad sir, and in 1790. Enough of that black armband nonsense).

It was inevitable that the likes of Piers Akerman would hitch their wagon to Tony Abbott's bit of possum stirring about welcome-to-country ceremonies.

You don't have to wait long to find out where Akker Dakker stands in Sorry to say this but hypocrisy unwelcome, as he unleashes his full array of cretinist cliches:

Full marks to Tony Abbott for highlight the appalling paternalistic sanctimony of the welcome-to-country ceremonies that every kumbayah coffee klatch has now embraced.

Always with the coffee drinkers! I don't even drink coffee - I prefer tea - but lord how I feel sorry for the regularly, relentlessly caricatured coffee drinkers, as if they must still carry the burden of Regency dandies strutting about in eighteenth century England.

As usual these days, there's a tinge of paranoia about the intertubes in Akker Dakker's meanderings:

The usual hand-wringers will clog the internet with their pathetic denunciations and accusations of racism but few, if any, can demonstrate any involvement in any practical attempts to alleviate the health, education and employment problems that beset many Aboriginal Australians.

Sure, and I'm deeply moved by Akker Dakker's regular ongoing involvement in many practical attempts to alleviate the health, education and employment problems of Aboriginal Australians. Which usually involves writing helpful articles about how black Australians are stuffed.

My own feeling is that these modern ceremonies should be abandoned, and replaced by the original welcoming ceremonies:

Aboriginal warriors Bennelong and Coleby were captured in 1789, although Coleby later escaped. Bennelong succumbed to the customs of ‘civilisation’, and his band of Camaraigal people began visiting the town after Governor Phillip was speared in the shoulder at a whale feast in Manly Cove in May 1790. Phillip forbade reprisal and negotiations with the locals were made through Bennelong. He and others attempted to resolve some of the differences with a people who had totally different world views and were speaking a difficult language, with most not bothering to learn Aboriginal languages. (here)

A good spearing in the shoulder as Akker Dakker sits down to blubber over his whale meat and pronounce a pox of coffee drinkers in the land should set a handsome precedent.

Meanwhile, in his usual way, Akker Dakker makes hay with the origins of welcoming ceremonies, and even the harmless didgeridoo. Is nothing sacred? What next? Rolf Harris and the wobble board?

Of course it being the culture wars all over again, it wouldn't do to get it all down without a mention of black armbands:

Let’s not pretend the welcome ceremony is more than a contrivance which allows some to play dress-up and others to don black armbands.

Funnily enough, when Chris Gardiner was writing Token ceremony openings must be brought to an end, he whimsically suggested:

The idea that you must open your gathering and deliberations by paying lip-service through a ceremony or incantation demanded by vocal spokespersons for what amounts to sectional interests, should offend most citizens.

For many, when the ceremony invokes a cosmology or belief system that they consider anachronistic at best, or superstitious at worst, it is particularly galling.

What is surprising is that the “keepers” of the tradition involved are not themselves regularly offended by how meaningless the forced participation is, are not angered by the co-opting of a practice that means something to them but is being used and retained by others simply for political purposes.

So let’s be brave enough to call for an end to pretence: starting each day of Parliament with the Lord’s Prayer (or the Our Father as it is known to some) should be challenged and the practice ended.

Fair enough. If you're going to get rid of recent hollow shams introduced by coffee drinkers and blacks, how about getting rid of a ceremony which Gardiner suggests even Wilson Tuckey avoids.

So after he's had his fill of whale meat and black bashing, how does the mighty Akker Dakker, fearless fighter against coffee drinking hypocrisy stand?

I disagree Bendan T, the Lord’s Prayer stands as a valid reminder of the Christian influence on our Western civilisation.

Oh indeed, or as Xavier Herbert once put it, Poor Fellow, My Country.

You mean, you thought Akker Dakker would run up against his Christian fundie constituents who worship at the feet of the Christian influence on western civilisation, even if they've only been in country a couple of hundred years, up against the blacks being in country for forty thousand or more?

Clearly you have no clear definition of the true meaning of craven cowardly hypocritical coffee drinking.

And finally a big shout out to the Akker Dakker reader who managed to drag in other favourite targets for a good whipping, in the style of the ditto heads who haunt the comments section:

What’s next? Are gays going to get a mention in every preamble ?

Give me a break!

Do muslims in Briton have to thank the traditional owners (whitey) before they belt out a speech?

Oh indeed, that's so relevant, it made me sing with pleasure:

If you go down to the Akker Dakker comments section today
You're sure of a big surprise
If you coffee drinkers and blacks and gays and muslims go down to the woods today
You'd better go in disguise.

For every black basher and homophobe and muslim hater that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the black armbashing ditto heads have their picnic.

Every ditto head who's been good
Is sure of a treat today.
There's lots of marvelous things and people to bash
And wonderful games abusing coffee drinkers to play.

Beneath the trees where nobody sees
They'll hide and seek as long as they please
'Cause that's the way the ditto heads have their picnic.

If you coffee drinkers gays blacks and muslims go down to the woods today
You'd better not go alone
It's lovely down in the woods today
But safer to stay at home.

For every ditto head that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the ditto heads have their picnic.

(Below: will there ever be enough sorry ceremonies to explain to the world certain aspects of Australian culture. I keed, I keed, we loves ya Rolfie).

Ben Power, introverts need to be extroverts, and that's enough reason to get on the mandala I Ching mystic hippie gravy train ...

(Above: loon pond goes Buddhist and Jungian, and here for the mandala image).

There is nothing more dangerous than a brooding introvert who has been (apparently) badly treated and denied the spoils of commerce.

Actually there is. There's nothing more dangerous than a brooding journalist required to fill up space in the National Times for the Sydney Morning Herald, probably by an editor doling out bad treatment with a firm hand, as if it's the natural order of things, and denying anything but a pittance to the scribbler.

Or at least that's the message I took from Ben Power's Introverts, idleness and the beauty of solitude.

It's the business of the commentariat to blather on about what others blather on about, in much the same way as here at the pond, we blather on about the blathering blatherers (yes oh yes, pluralis majestatis strikes again).

So Power takes as his talking point Clive Hamilton's Kick back and endure being bored and uncomfortable, proving that intellectual incest is best kept in the Fairfax family.

Hamilton of course has long made a meal out of describing himself as an introvert and not very sociable (see Farah Forouque's Marh 2008 profile Culture warrior has plenty left in the think tank), but the notion of extraversion and introversion seems to have arrived only lately in Power's think tank, and he doesn't quite know what to do with the notions.

Except to write gibberish:

Perhaps this is the root of the problem. Are more and more introverts becoming bitter and railing against the world, rather than getting out there and seeking to engage and change it in a positive way – particularly business and capitalism – and to defend the things they appreciate? It may be against their character to take action, but maybe that’s what needs to happen.

Que? Introverts, become extroverts! Problem solved!

A little learning is a dangerous thing, and Power's method is to proceed by way of stealing a little from Carl Jung. before settling on Jonathan Rauch's Caring for Your Introvert.

Perhaps Power didn't provide the link because Rauch's article is better written, more amusing and insightful, and once you land there, you can follow the links to Introverts of the World, Unite! and The Introversy Continues.

Contrast Power:

Many introverted intellectuals combine the introvert skills of thinking and writing with a bitterness at having an emotional make up seemingly at odds with the harsh, capitalist world. The result often is left-wing diatribes and utopian dreams of a world where sensitive types could flourish.

Uh huh. Well there's only one thing that can make an introverted intellectual bitter, and that's reading the kind of foolishness offered up by Power, way worse than a left-wing diatribe, or a utopian dream.

There's always fun to be had when a shallow thinker in stereotypes gets lost at the deeper end of the pool, and is forced to embrace Whitman-esque contradictions in the quest for meaning:

... are introverts really oppressed, and are extroverts really taking over?

On the face of it, yes. Introverts have traditionally congregated in churches, universities, and the arts – all arguably under threat or in decline. Our fast-paced hyper-capitalist business world definitely appears increasingly introvert un-friendly. So too is politics. Could an introvert really survive in the 24-hour news machine that politics now is?

Unfortunately, reality doesn’t always back up this theory. According to some research, 40 per cent of corporate CEOs are introverts. In politics, Tony Abbott is definitely an extrovert, but Kevin Rudd displays introvert tendencies, as does US president Barack Obama.

So people with introvert tendencies get to push the levers, while the extroverts get to be opposition leader? With that kind of oppression, no wonder I feel oppressed.

There's plenty more Power for those who like their Powerade lite, but I began to think that I could do without my reading being isotonically charged.

But at least Power reminded me of Jung, who first articulated and popularised the concepts of extraversion and introversion.

Like any decent psychiatrist, Jung was as mad as a march hare at least some, if not all, of the time, and once you've passed through the anal retentiveness of Freud, Jung is the logical next spiritual, mystical step.

As usual, there's a lot more interesting to read about Jung on the intertubes than arises from Power's burblings, starting with the wiki here, but also allowing you to wander down some bizarre paths, as with Jung's interest in alchemy.

Here's Stephan Hoeller on C. G. Jung and the Alchemical Renewal:

Alchemical interest and perception permeate many of Jung's numerous writings in addition to those devoted primarily to the subject. His work Psychology and Religion: West and East, as well as numerous lectures delivered at the Eranos conferences, all utilize the alchemical model as a matrix for his teachings. Time and again he pointed out the affinities and contrasts between alchemical figures and those of Christianity, demonstrating a sort of mirror-like analogy not only between the stone of the philosophers and the image of Christ, but between alchemy and Christianity themselves. Alchemy, said Jung, stands in a compensatory relationship to mainstream Christianity, rather like a dream does to the conscious attitudes of the dreamer. The Stone of alchemy is in many respects the stone rejected by the builders of Christian culture, demanding recognition and reincorporation into the building itself.

Lordy, lordy, so it seems Power has entirely missed the point. The architect of extra and introversion was actually a dedicated gnostic with a fixation on alchemical imagery. Surely there can be only one outcome for civilisation:

Crying from the depths of the chaos of this world, the wisdom-woman Sophia calls out to the alchemists of our age. Depth-psychology has indeed served as one of the principal avenues through which this redemptive project has been made known. The time may be approaching, and may in fact have come already, when potential alchemists in various disciplines and spiritual traditions may address themselves to this universal task of alchemical liberation. In 1950 Jung was greatly encouraged when Pope Pius XII used several manifestly alchemical allusions, such as "heavenly marriage", in Apostolic Constitution, "Munificentissimus Deus", the official document declaring the dogma of the assumption of the Virgin Mary, (the Catholic Sophia). In our time alchemy has come into its own, and beginning with the most recent two decades Gnosticism has begun its return journey also. The stone that the builders rejected is moving ever closer to the structure of Western culture.

Rally, introverts, rally to Jung. Heed the call of Power. Take action, reclaim the night. Instead of becoming bitter and railing against the world, spend a lifetime trying to work out how to turn lead into gold.

After all, as Power himself noted:

Introverts also wield unseen power through their two great strengths – ideas and writing. Keynes said practical men are all slaves to a defunct economist, but they’re also slaves to the ideas of intellectual introverts.

This can be positive and negative. The ranks of introverts have provided some of the most dangerous ‘ideas’ people in history – Jung himself said the philosopher Nietzsche, whose ideas have inspired nasty people everywhere, was an introvert.

Which leads me to wonder if Power himself is an introvert? And then realised that someone who could issue a clarion call for introverts to turn themselves into extroverts and take over the world might be a goose, but hardly a deep thinker with dangerous ideas.

Never mind. I prescribe extensive periods of meditation for Power, perhaps contemplating mandalas, in approved Jungian style, or reading the I Ching:

I of course am thoroughly convinced of the value of self-knowledge, but is there any use in recommending such insight, when the wisest of men throughout the ages have preached the need of it without success? Even to the most biased eye it is obvious that this book (the I Ching) represents one long admonition to careful scrutiny of one's own character, attitude, and motives. (Foreword to the I Ching by Jung).

Or perhaps an admonition to careful scrutiny of one's scribbles?

In the meantime, if you're an introvert yearning for a post-Power Jungian sorbet, the best starting point surely remains Memories, Dreams, Reflections, whatever the fuss about censorship, since much of Jung's professional writing remains determinedly impenetrable and turgid. Recognising this, at the end of his life, Jung embarked on Man and his symbols, aimed at a general audience, but it's inclined to mystical fluff. If you've got a taste for some heavier going over the bog swamp of the mind, you can find teasers at google books, as with their sampling of The symbolic life.

The ultimate point being I suppose that you can start with shallow musings by Power, and thanks to the power of the cornucopia of the intertubes, end up somewhere more interesting. No wonder the tree destroyers fear its power ...

Om ... or should that be omg?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Melinda Tankard Reist, going gaga over Gaga, and a good, hearty frothing and foaming ...

Melinda Tankard Reist's fine outburst in The Australian under the header Going Gaga over raunch dressed up as liberation took me back to the grand old days of Andrea Dworkin.

Never was someone so angry and so agitated and frothing and foaming at the mouth as Reist is over pop upstart and juggernaut Lady Gaga. Indeed it reminded me of the wonderful small town morals of the great town of Tamworth, from where I hail, and my mother's beady eyed disapproval of loose girls with their loose ways (oh the joy of discovering the truly loose real Dorothy Parker).

What's needed for a simple-minded rant of the simple-minded Reist kind is a simple-minded symbol, and where better to look than pop music, which has constantly sought to epater the bourgeoisie as a way of generating a meal ticket. From the free love hippies to the punks, so it's always been.

Cue Reist going gaga over the way Gaga symbolises the decline and fall of western civilisation. Being of an age, I can't remember how many times I've read this kind of denunciation. It's way easier to write than an analysis of glass ceilings, or pondering whether women can actually enjoy pornography. No, no, no, just like sexual intercourse, Gaga is an invasive, upsetting thing.

First it's important to have a debate, ostensibly with others, but convenient, and handy for winning the point, with yourself:

The 24-year-old New Yorker, christened Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, has sold eight million albums. While she's here, we'll hear all about how she's avant-garde. Cutting edge. Risque. Experimental. Transgressive.

What? You mean like Schoenberg and Stockhausen? Or maybe Michael Jackson? Michael Jackson is cutting edge? Sheesh, then there's hope for kitchen sponges.

Silly you, of course she's not a radical, she's a conformist.

But Lady Gaga isn't pushing boundaries. She's a conformist. This is demonstrated in the nine-minute video clip for her new hit single, Telephone. It's revered by frenzied Gaga lovers across the globe as the next Thriller. Popular blogger Mia Freedman, recently lamenting the sexualisation of girls, "adores" it. It's filed under "cool clips" on her blog.

Astonishing news. A woman who sold 8 million albums, has a publishing deal with Sony, is handled by the likes of Interscope and others, isn't the new Varese. Thank the lord that's clear. But if she's a conformist, where's the shock, what's the problem? Ah for that, we have to cut to the real chase ...

... the clip endorses and entrenches some of the worst stereotypes about women and sexuality. And littering the film with a range of brands suggests Gaga and the media moguls who run her empire are more about profit than art.

Amazing. Product placement. Show me the money says Gaga and her capitalist gurus. Who would have guessed. More profit than art, when they should be starving in garrets like extras looking for a job in a Puccini opera (or perhaps lingering after a bullet to the head, Vincent van Gogh style).

Normally I'd skip over the next bit, the frothing and the foaming over the synopsis, the slavering over what's going down, and the whipping it up like cream ready to enrich the moral panic fruit salad, but it's just too tempting.

Instead of just linking to the video clip - Lady Gaga has her own official YouTube site with squillions of hits - it's much more fun to entertain you by helping you to understand fully the dangers of Gaga, as she riffs on the classic Z grade movie genre Women in Cages, Women in Prison, and Women in Chains.

So let's cut to the real real chase:

Her clip, viewed millions of times since last week's release, is set in a women's prison filled with prostitute-styled nasty girls. As one yells: "Gonna make you swim outta here in your own blood!" (how adorable), Gaga is thrown into a cell by two tough female guards and stripped. Naked, she throws herself against the cell bars. Her barely pixilated genitals and breasts are freeze-framed. Her boyfriend calls but she tells him she's "kinda busy right now", then cavorts with her sexy inmates in skimpy bra and knickers. Some argue this is the radical bit. She wants to be herself and have "fun with the girls" and not be bothered by a man.

Oh in your dreams you gherkin. Even Samuel Z. Arkoff knew it wasn't radical. Let alone Quentin Tarantino. Never mind, shock me some more, sock it to me, even hand out a spoiler or two:

This fun includes watching two jailbirds fight, one kicking in the other's head with her stilettos and punching her in the face as inmates cheer. It includes being submissive to a heavily tattooed butch lesbian (I hate to spoil the surprise, but she's in leather) in the prison yard, who touches Gaga up while pulling a mobile out of her pants. Cue lingering camera shot on Vodaphone.

Oh those bastards at Vodaphone. Cancel my subscription immediately.

If Gaga is so radically different, why is her clip one big advertisement? Vodaphone, Polaroid, LG, Diet Coke, some kind of fast-food something. Pro-Gaga cultural analysts respond that this is an ironic take on the power of capitalism and advertising. "Give us more irony!" say the corporations.

Oh those devious satanic capitalist corporate mills. Is there nothing they won't do to soil women and feminism and righteous leftist thinking? I'll brood about that each time I sit down to watch my LG screen and sip on my diet Coke. How dare they!

But hang on, who said Gaga was radically different? Could it be Reist, so she can win an argument with herself?

Lordy, it's just dress ups and acting out in a pop song, not the Marquis de Sade (and nothing wrong with that). A kind of updated Cindy Lauper, or even, hush my mouth, and wash it out with soap, Madonna. Remember when she was getting hot for Christ on the cross?

But still Reist rants:

Our heroine is then bailed out (by Beyonce, no less) who tells her: "You've been a bad bad girl, Gaga." Did you get the S & M reference? How daring.

What? You want more daring? You want Bettie Page?

They then go on a mass poisoning spree (Beyonce's breasts make a special appearance) before driving off Thelma and Louise style, although T and L didn't have "Pussy Wagon" sprayed across the back of their car, a yellow Chevrolet Silverado SS borrowed from Kill Bill: Volume 1. That's where all the cool Quentin Tarantino references come in. It really is one big Macy's parade mess of Midnight Express meets Kill Bill meets Thelma and Louise meets Zoo magazine meets Pulp Fiction meets Martha Stewart on crack. All these pop-culture references make it a masterpiece, apparently.

Sheesh, it's just a video clip. It isn't Chris Cunningham, doing Come to Daddy, though that thought might upset the 23 year old director Ryan James Yezak. As for masterpiece, how about a bit of pop fun? You know, in the way it wouldn't be a Quentin Tarantino movie if it didn't have a scalping scene in it. Along with lots of movie references.

But of course it isn't the art or the lack of it upsetting Reist. It's the sex, and people not thinking of the children.

Won't someone think of the children and the helpless young people tormented by pornographic male fantasies, never mind Gaga's sex, as she's just a helpless, hapless pawn in the capitalist system.

Unless of course she's not a pompous prude like Reist:

The clip is just one more thing catering to pornographic male fantasies, part of a broader cultural story being read by young people forming their understanding of relationships and sexuality.

Ah yes, reading the movies. Pardon me while I go outside and do a post-structuralist semiotic upchuck.

Phew, sorry about that. What I meant to say, was "shocking, now let's get down and really talk dirty".

Women, aka bitches, love being violent to other bitches. Girl-on-girl action, lesbian cliches. Nakedness. Voyerism. Exhibitionism. Objectification. It's a carnival of spread legs and pubes shaved to within an inch of the performer's life and inanimate objects as phallic symbols. Because, as we know, women can't help sucking things that have any distant resemblance to the male organ. And what's so counter-cultural about groin-emphasising costumes, shredded fishnet stockings and a leopard-skin body suit? That has never been done before?

Um, I'm getting the message Reist didn't like the clip. Perhaps doesn't like fellatio. Or carrots. Or cucumbers. Maybe cunnilingus. Who knows? It all seems problematic, but what you might think is wild... turns out it isn't edgy at all.

This is not about being edgy. It's about playing to sex industry-inspired scripts. Fetishising sexual violence isn't all that imaginative. It's standard fare.

You see! It's just standard porn fare, and as we know porn is at the heart of the American pie (keep your dick out of that pie, boy) picket fence family home. Why you could even make Blue Velvet as a homage to the happy picket fence home. Pity about the ants and the ear, but how about we have an advertisement for a plastic surgeon lying alongside it on the lawn?

But wait, Gaga has committed even more vile transgressions, a bit like snatching a wafer out of the hands of a Catholic priest and shoving it who knows where, as if she's in a Walerian Borowczyk movie. She's shamed feminism!

The film ends with the feminist symbol. Now this is audacious. In attaching this liberation symbol to her video, the film sends a deceptive message about what feminism is. Is not answering the phone to be seen as some radically defiant act? Does feminism mean violence is so democratised that women are free to hurt each other and men as well? Is baring your body the way you strike a blow for women? Is taking a ride on a disco stick a sign of true womanhood?

Oh indeed. The weight of ideological implications in a pop music video clip just overwhelm me. What a profound dialectic revolves around the question of taking a ride on a disco stick.

When they should have made the clip in the style of Carl Dreyer doing Joan of Arc.

That's what some women think the film is about. One wrote in an online forum about the clip: "What's wrong with a girl having her boobs out in a confident and completely sexy, self-assured way?" And another wrote: "Gaga's clip shouts girl power with its nakedness."

Gaga is contributing to the distorted, one-dimensional cultural script about girls and women that is spread with zeal under a veneer of liberation. It not only constricts their freedom but takes the focus off what needs to happen for true freedom to be realised.

But what the fuck is true freedom? The right to think, act, dress and look like a Catholic nun, or the wife of a Muslim fundamentalist locked into a burka?

Give me Gaga every day of the week. Sure I might dress like a dowdy suburbanite, but she's in showbiz. I expect her to flash her boobs, do drugs, flaunt herself like a pair of Elton John glasses in a Barry Humphries frock. Only kinda modern.

And not cop a backlash from conservative prudes, whining about how capitalism wants to get out and sell stuff, when really what gets their goat is the icky sex stuff.

With a bit of luck, Gaga might avoid becoming Courtney Love, and laugh all the way to the bank (not that Love can't manage the occasional throaty chuckle), but if not, who cares. It's the Californian way, and if you want to turn out young conservatives, give them Courtney Love as a mother.

Moral panic? Meh.

Funnily enough, I hadn't given Lady Gaga a thought until today, but prompted by Reist, I faithfully headed off to YouTube to check it out.

Naturally I watched the official explicit version, and as always in these things, I wondered what the Reistian fuss was all about. Turns out I can take Gaga, and I can just easily leave her, and no, the world didn't move for me.

But irony of irony, thanks to Reist, I added to the Gaga clickometer, and copped an ad for the latest Jennifer Aniston flick, The Bounty Hunter, featuring Gerard Butler handcuffed to the bed. Worse still, in the extended trailer, he tosses her like a wheat bag into the trunk of a car. All in the name of a meet cute romcom.

Sheesh, that Gaga influence is everywhere. Won't someone think of the children?

Then I thought hang on - watching the second half of the Gaga clip, which turns into a I Dream of Jeannie lush fantasy, I felt, in the manner of Peter Costello, like doing a Crocodile Dundee, and saying hey, that's not a video clip, this is a video clip.

Whatever, and to each their own, but while I might, or might not, watch another Gaga clip, please remind me never to read Reist again.

Suddenly I realised there was a good case for soma being distributed amongst the general population. Just to settle things down, and bring a bit of peace and quiet to the pond.

And so to the clip:

Paul Colgan, and a valiant Punch trying to prove drivel is what makes for the best conversation in Australia ...

(Above: damn statistics. More xkcd here).

Whenever I read Paul Colgan, I get the satisfying sense of being in company with a genial twit.

Here he is scribbling Great country, shame about the hoons for The Punch, Chairman Rupert's contribution to the great blogosphere of loons. Naturally it's statistically based:

At first it might seem staggering that 45.3 per cent of Australians say hooning is a problem in their neighbourhood but when you think about it, how surprising is it really? How often are phone conversations or the break-up line in Sex and The City drowned out by some tool gunning his Subaru down the street? And for every single person in the street who has settled in for the evening, the experience is exactly the same.

(While we’re at it can I add to that the guys noodling about on their Harleys, not just the bikies who have an excuse but the middle managers from accounting firms who take out the Chopper after a stressful day of Excel.)

I know, I know. Your immediate thought is what a pathetic, half-assed, narrow-minded suburban Pooter. I mean, throw him to Tim Blair, and let the pair sort it out on the street, with Blair kitted out in a mean machine. Shoving the hot pulsing chrome up the Colgan's woolly jumper.

This particular part of the Crime Victimisation report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggests that dangerous and noisy driving is the number one anti-social issue in the country today. Hoons are public enemy No.1.

And what are our main weapons in dealing with it? Traffic-calming measures from local councils - some speed bumps here, a mini-chicane there.

Noise is the number one anti-social issue in the country today, along with associated dangerous driving?

Just as well you don't get anxious watching Air Crash Investigations and wondering when the engine might land Donnie Darko style in the loungeroom. Or whinge about aircraft noise. Because Colgan can't stand whingers about noise.

Ain't it grand what a difference a few days will make, as Colgan proudly shouts to the heavens Let the aircraft noise roar:

Aircraft noise is a hot backyard political issue in many Australian towns and cities – notably Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane. It helped Kevin Rudd build his political profile in his Brisbane electorate. But the attention it gets is thanks to the efforts of coalitions of obsessives whose biggest problem, as far as I can see, is they cannot find the remote to turn up the volume on their TVs and forget about it.

Would that be the same remote Colgan couldn't find for the hoons?

On and on he rants, producing a fine flurry of floozies, to explain why noise is good, especially aircraft noise, but of the many tasty examples he lined up - tourism, an elderly couple dewy eyed at the sight of the Opera House, cats turning their heads upwards to improve their maths by counting the rivets on the underbelly of passing aeroplanes - I liked this one the best:

A recent story in the Adelaide Advertiser illustrated just how absurd and counter-productive the complaints of aircraft noise campaigners are becoming. A council mayor, Robert Bria, said he had started noticing more aircraft precisely because people had been complaining to him about it.

Huh? Say what? He never noticed that 747 thundering overhead until someone told him about it? What a deaf eared Adelaide gherkin.

Now it so happens that I live under the third runway, but once upon a time once lived within the airport surrounds - the old houses knocked down to make way for a taxi standing area - and I still remember with fondness the incredible whining of the Constellations as the engines warmed up.

And yes, I make use of the airport regularly - it's nice that it's handy - and I can live with the noise.

But when twits say that the airport was here first, they clearly can't remember that the third runway was the runway we had to have in lieu of a second airport back in the nineties, and they also probably haven't lived in areas newly stricken by aircraft noise as flight paths got tweaked away from the Bennelong funnel to make sure all might suffer more equally. And of course the smug never have to fear that Macquarie and aircraft operators will have their way and - under necessary pressure of tourism and gouging visitors and driving the economy forward - the current curfew will be lifted.

And what these twits never seem to notice - as they head off to the airport to have their pockets picked by Macquarie for coming and going - is that the current airport is an overgrown, unwieldy mess. Sensible planning would have seen a second airport, serviced by decent public transport, established decades ago, back when Gough Whitman first had a passing thought about it. The first airport would have remained - perhaps servicing domestic flights - while the second could have taken care of international flights and freight, or smaller aircraft movements.

But of course such talk is heresy to the ears of the Macquarie rip-off machine.

Naturally thought of a second airport has recently passed again, and so it has continued to pass every politician who's ever had anything to do with it, Liberal or Labor.

But then this is NSW, so what do you expect? The vision shown by Melburnians in 1970 when they decided to downscale Essendon, and set up Tullamarine?

19 fucking 70. Who'd have guessed that Ming the Merciless would have set the show in motion in 1962 by announcing a plan to give his local flock a handsome "jetport"? And bugger Sydney, while we're at it. Meanwhile, the talk of a Sydney solution? Expand Bankstown. Head out to Richmond, ruled in and out more times than Colgan changes his mind about noise.

So it goes, but the amiable twittering of Colgan, as he berates whingers about noise shows exactly why Sydney gets the infrastructure it deserves. Because we get the twit media we deserve.

Fuck the dear absent lord, I'm so over ignorant twits twittering on about enraged people in Petersham tucking into their cornflakes. Can't they even get their fucking useless stereotypes right? It's muesli and original genuine fruit flavoured Greek yoghurt, you useless dipsticks.

Meanwhile, as the red slowly slinks out of the cheeks, there's even worse nonsense going down in The Punch, and I cite What voters really think of Tony Abbott's religion.

I have some sympathy for the authors - apparently Nic Christensen is studying for a Masters in journalism at UTS, while Tina Tek is doing media and law at Macquarie - but really someone should tell them to stop writing this kind of stuff, or they'll go blind. Here's their pitch:

Religious epithets like the “mad monk” and “captain Catholic” are routinely applied - usually as negatives - to Tony Abbott in coverage of the alternative Prime Minister. So we wanted to find out if they resonated with voters.

A Punch poll of 100 voters across Sydney found that Labor and Green voters despise the way Abbott injects religion into his political campaign and policy. On the other hand, Liberal voters respect Abbott as a ‘conviction politician’ who is firm on his beliefs.

An abjectly, absolutely irrelevant, useless and meaningless poll of 100 voters? I tend to look askance at surveys conducted with 1,000 people claiming a variance of plus or minus three per cent, but one hundred names in the hat is simply tragic.

All it allows them to do is blit blat around the kind of stuff you'd normally write about Abbott and Rudd and religion, but under the guise that somehow the figures mean something:

A total of 11 people out of 100 said Abbott’s views on other social issues such as gay marriage, climate change and inequality against women were a negative. With the exception of two, these were all committed Labor or Greens voters.

Bugger me dead, I could get more sense out of the local cats if I herded them together and asked them about the percentage their arithmetic skills had improved by counting the rivets in low flying aeroplanes. 2 of the 11 said they still yearned for the good old days of Snappy Tom. Sharpened the mind, they said, made counting a breeze.

Well you can read more of the gibberish here, and its rigorous Punch-style quantitative scientific basis, with 64% here, 24% there, only six people here, and two over there, and 8% wondering what the fuck it was all about, since they knew little of Tony Abbott's religious views. Clearly demonstrating that the survey found a couple of ringers from Venus and Mars loitering in the streets of Sydney.

Enough already. I know The Punch is too stingy and tight-arsed to pay them, and way too tight-arsed to spring for the cost of a real survey, and it's a credit on their CVs in these tough times, but in the end we're left with this kind of absent-mindled doodling, which passes for journalism all too often on the pages of Chairman Rupert's contribution to over-filling the intertubes.

As a result, I decided to head outside with the cats, count the rivets, share their Snappy Tom and yowl at the moon. Living in Sydney can do that to you ...

And now it's time for your assignment. That's right, you don't get away without doing some homework. Please count the number of rivets on this plane, multiply by the number of cats in your neighbourhood, compare and contrast with Paul Colgan's wavering tolerance to noise (using extrapolation techniques), to arrive at a correct percentage of sense to be derived from The Punch. If you got over 50%, you've done it wrong. Please start again! And remember there's no dog nearby salivating over your homework and the cats to save you ...

Alternatively why not write a column for The Punch, and add to the burden on the tubes' sewerage system?