Monday, October 31, 2011

Gerard Henderson, Sophie Mirabella and David Penberthy feeding the sheep their early morning breakfast of hay ...

(Above: no, but they'd attack him if he was a Christian, the fiends).

What the world needs is more Gerard Hendersons, said David Burchell on Counterpoint the other day, and damn right he is, the world - or at least the pond - needs a flood of GHs ...

What with the Australia-wide shortage of squawkers, thanks to the Murdoch paywall, there's a gap in the free market, and Gerard Henderson is an eminently reliable member of the commentariat, with a touch of class you don't find in the tabloids or the sodden - here, write for the smell of this oily rag - Punch.

Mr. Henderson has been noticed in The Hamster Wheel, and surely this amounts to commentariat fame.

Oops, does he write letters of complaint to the ABC (in pdf)?

Not to worry, the pond was most anxious that Mr. Henderson deliver, and stop the pond sliding into a downward spiral of snake charming and Hillsong chanting.

We needed some meaty roast lamby red-blooded commentariat commentary, but oh dear what a massive disappointment, because unfortunately Mr Henderson today feels the need to yammer on about the Qantas dispute in Qantas workers must face global facts of life (warning, forced video at end of link).

Will anybody ever write a story titled Head of Sydney Institute must face global facts of life?

Will we ever be able to outsource Gerard Henderson, and get our thoughts and opinions fresh from the Hong Kong Institute?

Probably not, but will someone at least offer to pay a dollar to every reader who has read this sentence, written in one form or another endlessly over the years by Henderson?

Here the unfair dismissal laws provide a real disincentive for small business operators to give a long-term welfare recipient a job.

Truth to tell, no one could offer a dollar, because it would bankrupt them, such is the self-satisifed, enclosed, endlessly repetitive world view Henderson offers up on a weekly basis from his secure perch in the Sydney Institute (will someone, anyone, ever mount a Phillip street putsch?)

Having just watched my partner, involved in small business, dismiss a distressing number of people, and finding no significant disincentive to the process in the unfair dismissal laws, can someone explain if Henderson has ever actually worked in small business?

There are all the other usual Henderson talking points, including a snipe at the ABC, which apparently offers job security because it's taxpayer funded, never mind that in the real world of programming people come and go, and that in the support areas, the degree of job security is about what you might find in larger companies with relatively ossified work structures (yes Virginia large privately owned enterprises can be a marvel of bureaucratically organised activities, with more meetings than a group therapist).

Of course in his rant, Henderson never attempts to sort through the key question in the world of Qantas, which is whether the Alan Joyce's bid to turn Qantas into a low cost Asian carrier (with New Zealand and Asian lackeys) has the faintest chance of succeeding and turning the 'roo into a Rooryanair ... the reason for all the concern about jobs leaving the country.

What's the bet that having alienated staff, wrecked the brand and ruined the business model that this one amigo, sub-genus Irish, will back his bags and depart these shores, with a payout that will mean he never has to worry about job security again?

Ah Sol, what a role model you were, and what an inspiration for Gerard Henderson ... almost as much as Jonathan Shier and his demonstration of job security at work in the ABC ...

But enough of Hendo - the pond could have written his piece in a deep sleep, perhaps while enduring a nightmare - because everyone in the chattering classes is still chattering on about Qantas today, and there's no one more expert at idle chattering than Sophie Mirabella, in the bizarrely titled Hey sheep, Joyce is just a scapegoat.

Let's hope that a subbie wrote that header, because otherwise the amiable but natural response might be, Hey fuckwit, that's your constituency and the wider voting Australian public you're addressing and calling sheep ...

Second thoughts, even if it was a subbie, they've channelled the insulting arrogance, outrageous condescension and blithe indifference that marks the tone of Mirabella's chatter, starting with this backhander to the sheep, a little lost because the shepherd decided to leave them lost and alone in foreign pens, ripe for shearing by strangers:

The decision was understandably unpopular with those stranded travellers who had their plans thrown into disarray – and we can certainly all understand their anger and sympathise with them.

Oh yes it's empathy time, and much sympathy for the sheep and their pitiful bleats, but then the rest of the piece explains how it's abattoir time for them, and who better placed to organise the butchering than Alan Joyce and the board of Qantas.

Confronted with this kind of political provocation and agitation, the pond can only recommend one solution - Singapore Airlines, a government owned airline ... and dearie me, were they and Etihad sending out emails advising plenty of spare seats, or what ...

Hey sheep, there are alternatives. And once you've tried different brands of hay, you might find it hard to go back to the old hay ...

Oops, that endearing, ingratiating Mirabella style is catching ....

Meanwhile, who can we get to fill out a perfecttrifecta of dumb idle chattering sheeple?

Come on down David Penberthy punching on for the Punch, fitting like a wide comb blade with the sheep-shearing Sophie and Hendo, as he expounds on how The Qantas dispute is not about Alan Joyce's salary.

Now you might think from reading the header that David Penberthy's piece is all about how the Qantas dispute is not about Alan Joyce's salary, except that Penbo then goes on to explain how it is all about Joyce's salary, and his assorted tactical errors:

The first goes to Joyce’s salary. If Alan Joyce knew, as he obviously did, that the spectacular option of a staff lockout and a full grounding was on the cards, he could have managed the question of his own pay much more cleverly. Mr Joyce’s salary might be, as I said, the going rate for CEOs, but it does not alter the undeniable fact that many people regard the going rate as unjustifiable and obscene. His decision to accept a 71 per cent, $2 million payrise just days before escalating this dispute was tactically unintelligent.

Uh huh. Talk about tactically unintelligent ... which is to say putting up a header and then writing stuff that makes the header completely nonsensical.

Never mind, Penbo starts his piece by observing he's not an aviation writer (nor even a rocket scientist), and you can tell he's struggling by invoking the name of the "great" Lee Iacocca, who of course trotted off to Congress for loan guarantees in his Chrysler rescue.

Perhaps a better inspiration for Qantas might be John DeLorean and his gull-winged car, since there are plenty of squawking gulls around today, and it was made in Ireland ...

After cogently explaining all the tactical errors committed by Joyce, Penbo then solemnly goes on to explain:

What Sheldon fails to understand is that this brand has grown and been nurtured over 90 years and will probably survive a couple of days of chaos at the behest of a very combative CEO, who is playing a much longer game here than the unions are.

Yes off in Penbo's la la world, you can make grievous tactical errors which help blur your message and fail to bring the sheep (sorry, the public) with you, and that seems the basis for a much longer game .... of ruining the brand.

Which is part of an even longer game, to turn Qantas into an off-shore low cost Asian based airline run along the lines of the dreadful Aer Lingus ... (oh yes, I still flinch at the memory of flying Aer Lingus). Does any of this trouble Penbo?

Joyce is banking on the fact that, in modern and largely un-unionised Australia, he can ultimately bring the public and his staff with him in his determination to run the airline himself. That is what this dispute is about.

Just roll that one around on your tongue. His determination to run the airline himself ...

A one man band, and a one man wagon, with no need of staff, baggage handlers, pilots, stewards and the rest of the wastrels. He'll do it all by himself ...

Well I suppose it's the ultimate in job outsourcing, and thank the lord Qantas will flourish courtesy of one man running the show ...

Oh wait, they might need a board too, for the most important task at hand:

And in Alan Joyce’s case, that’s why they pay him the big bucks.

Yes indeed, they pay him the bucks in a way that allows Penbo to rabbit on about the payment as a major tactical error.

Come to think of it, that's why the Telstra board paid the three amigos big bucks too.

The end result? The pond with Optus (Singapore government owned) and now, if you'll allow me, rushing off to make a booking on Singapore Airlines (government owned) ...

But it all helps to explain why Australian businesses struggle, because the level of commentary to be found amongst the professional chattering classes is of a lower class than the hay we used to feed the sheeple on the farm ...

Perhaps that's why we also elect serial sheep abusers to parliament ....

At least there's an upside. Here we were worried about a shortage of loons on the pond, and the Qantas dispute has brought them out in full cry ...

(Below: and now, courtesy of Sophie Mirabella and her subbie, a few sheep jokes).

As Qantas totters a little bit of dinky di Aussie life-saving will fix what ails ya ...

(Above: when in doubt, always book the horse and cart).

Wonders never cease on the pond - the world is a wondrous place - and one of the wonders of the commentariat world this morning, right up there with the Taj Mahal, is Field Marshall Grumpy Paul Sheehan (known to some as trollumnist in chief of Fairfax) scribbling Spirit of Australia is faltering.

After a ritual bashing of pilots, and of Qantas International, and of Tony Sheldon, and of the Fair Work Act, Sheehan then discovers that in a domestic context Virgin is unionised and at industrial peace with its staff while paying relatively similar rates ...

Cognitive dissonance.

So Sheehan spends the rest of his column working out that Qantas management might have found a more subtle way to resolve its industrial issues than strand, without warning or suitably structured assistance, thousands of customers around the world.

It must have been some kind of Eureka moment ... and it leads Sheehan to compare and contrast the board decision to appoint the confrontational Alan Joyce, as opposed to John Borgetti, now heading up Virgin Blue, and to wonder if the board made the right call in appointing Joyce. Wonders will never cease ...

Sheehan even comprehends that amongst all the crimes by all involved, the worst belongs to Joyce. You can't call unions and unionists greedy - though they might well be - if you've just supped at the trough of greed yourself, and taken a mighty big slurp at that. It leaves you fatally compromised in negotiations.

Better to have righteously turned down the offer, made it known you'd turned down the offer, then bashed the unions around the head for their greed, then stick out your paw six months or a year down the track, or do a Dixon and take the cheque on the way out the door ...

So it's left to John Lloyd of the Institute of Public Affairs to carry the ideological can at Fairfax, in Airline fracas is IR blister waiting to burst, and blame it all on the government and unions and Fair Work, proving that wonders, like rainbows, only happen every so often, and zealotry and ideological blinkers usually reign supreme ...

In the process, proving you head off to the IPA if you don't have the first clue about management. Perhaps they could offer Joyce a gig as head of the place and so help out Qantas?

It takes a special kind of blindness to think that any party involved in the dispute can walk away heads held high, and think it's all the fault of the Federal Government ...

But enough of the Qantas dispute, which has produced an enormous media frenzy, of little interest to those who've who long ago made the long haul jump to the likes of Singapore Airlines, and the short haul jump to Virgin.

It's only an airline, not the spirit of Australia - unless Australia is totally fucked - and if Joyce wants to re-invent it as a low cost Asian carrier competing with other low cost Asian carriers, its days are already numbered ... especially as Joyce and the unions go about the business of trashing the brand with a ferocity even their competitors couldn't manage ...

No, with the news from Afghanistan bad yet again, as Australian soldiers go about the business of training locals in the business of killing them, the pond felt in need of a lighter moment to start the week, so come on down Rowan Dean's Islam soft-sell has got legs, but note the fine print.

It seems that local Muslims, courtesy of MyPeace, have embarked on an advertising campaign to overcome branding problems which are even bigger than Qantas.

If you watch the campaign, it seems Islam is as dinky di as vegemite and lifesavers (and once upon a time a comely Qantas hostie ...)

And across the aisle, the Christians are also mounting an advertising campaign, Jesus - All About Life.

Yep, it's advertising agencies at ten paces, and you couldn't get a better insight into the wretched level religion has fallen to in the community, but not to worry, the pond felt compelled and trotted off to the mypeace site, and the top ten misconceptions about Islam.

Sadly the top ten conception that religion doesn't care about typos or good grammar was quickly confirmed, but the misconceptions also proved to be a marvel:

A child is also not allowed to get hit in the face or hit by anything larger than a pencil.

Well that'll be a great relief to children everywhere. Jeeves bring me a pencil, so I can strike that child on its naughty buttocks. Even better:

Children are even permitted to take moderately from their parent?s wealth to sustain themselves if the parent declines to give them proper funds for living.

Yep kiddies, make sure you get the pin number, head off to the auto teller and claim your proper funds for living, if your parents fail in their duty of care ...

Meanwhile, the rulers of Saudi Arabia are in for a shock:

There is nothing in Islam that forbids a Muslim woman from exiting her house and is allowed to drive. Also in regards to education, a woman is obligated to seek knowledge and it is considered a sin if she refuses.

Wouldn't you know it, all those sinful women living in Saudi Arabia. Which is why a few might snigger at:

Islam has given women more rights than any other religion on the face of the planet which is the main reason why the majority of converts to Islam are women.

Well Islam might do it, but it's a damn shame that all those Islamic countries seem not to have realised that's what Islam does.

And as for that notion of jihad?

... it is believed that anyone doing anything for the sake of god and is killed becomes a martyr. A person who dies while performing pilgrimage in Mecca, a woman who dies while giving birth, or even someone who dies in a car crash while he was on his way to the mosque are all considered martyrs.

Hmm, is catching Sydney transport the stuff to turn a Sydney sider into a martyr? What about being stranded by Qantas? Is that the short cut to heaven?

And then there are the ten rules of warfare every Muslim army must obey, including:

7. Do not harm or burn trees
8. Do not destroy buildings
9. Do not destroy an enemy?s flock, unless you use it for your food

Tree huggers! An army of greens, though perhaps not as vegan as they should be .... who could have imagined an IED would be so discerning?

But it's the historical revisionism that most appeals. Contrast ...

Historian De lacey O?Leary states ?History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.? There is no record in history that shows people being forced by sword point to convert to Islam. When Islam spread through countries they would set up private churches and synagogues for the non Muslims they were governing and because of the good treatment they had received they themselves would convert.

with Steven Runciman's thoughts:

The first point to be made in defense of the Crusades is that they were initially a response to Islamic aggression. Islam, from its inception, had espoused the use of force. Where Jesus had died for his beliefs, the Prophet Mohammed had wielded a sword. Though Christianity was later to be exploited for political ends, the Christian religion as such had, in the first three centuries of its existence, spread peacefully--thriving, in fact, on the blood of its martyrs. I say this not to score a point in favor of Christianity but to emphasize an historical truth: The spread of Islam from the Arabian peninsula to southwestern France in the eighth century; and to the gates of Vienna in the seventeenth, came as a result of conquest by Islamic armies.

You see, there is a record of Islam sweeping through the world, especially in the early days and often at the point of a sword.

Perhaps it's a misconception of the pond, but it seems that first of all you need an army to take a territory before you can set up a privately funded mosque so that the locals can of their own free will convert, or find out what happens when you stay an unbeliever ...

Well there are other misconceptions, including the notion that all Muslims are Arabs and Muslims hate Jesus, and Muslims are terrorists, all dealt with in fine style, but truth to tell, if they'd sorted out the misconception that Muslims use ? instead of an ' or a ", things would have been a lot clearer ...

Sadly, after all these wonders, it was a tad disappointing to head off the Jesus. All About Life Campaign site, and read the following ...

Jesus didn't come to start an institution or an organisation ...

... followed by a list of the seventeen institutions, denominations and organisations supporting the campaign.

Ah well, it took our minds off the darker news of the day, and by slagging off Islam, it allow the pond a religious trifecta, and in this holiest of weeks, the feast of the Melbourne Cup, that's what counts ...

(Below: come on guys, get with the advertising campaign. First of all, you need to study lifesaving, add a touch of sun tanning lotion ...

and bingo, Bob's your uncle. The Alan Joyce of Aussie beaches).

Next thing you know, we could all become latter day Edie Kiefts ...

Edie Kieft?

Edie Kieft was possibly the first woman to qualify for the Surf Bronze Medallion in Australia. Although she passed the test with Tweed Heads and Coolangatta SLSC in 1923, and was given a bronze number, she was not awarded a medal because she was female.

By golly, it seems the Islamic tradition is strong in Australian lifesaving. And the dress is suitably modest too:

Keep it up MyPeace, I can feel the hunger of Australian males to return to the old ways and the good old days ...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

In which the pond deals with fraught matters of hospitality, vestments and the Sydney Anglicans ...

(Above: a text dealing with the issue of frocks way back when).

With Cardinal Pell dominating climate science, mixing theology, mythology and Monckton, the Sydney Anglicans almost escaped their Sunday notice, but really who could overlook Phillip Jensen's fine offering Hospitality for Heretics.

You see, the good Dean, confronted with conflicting messages in the bible, goes right for the jugular.

Sure God's commands in the New Testament might be unambiguous, urging hospitality and philoxenia - who knows, you might end up sheltering angels - but there has to be limits, lines drawn in the sand on this sort of do gooder nonsense, as John noted in his second letter:

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works (2 John 10-11).

In short, if say the heretic Cardinal Pell was to turn up at the Sydney Anglicans looking for a nice hot buttered scone and a cup of tea, perhaps even a lamington heaped with desiccated coconut, sad to say, he shouldn't be received, or given a greeting, because that would only be taking part in his wicked works. And we don't even include his mangling of climate science!

You should remember that Catholics are in grievous error, have no authority, and the lot of the Sydney Anglicans is to be in a permanent state of protest about this rabble and their misunderstandings in relation to the bible:

... we protest against Roman Catholic claims to authority. We object to the Pope claiming to be the Vicar of Christ. We reject all claims to authority that imply the insufficiency of scripture. We reject any implication that Jesus's work on the cross was insufficient or is received by more than faith or requires some other mediator.

This protest against Roman Catholicism is no small complaint. It goes to the very heart of God's central message to mankind - the way of salvation. The 39 articles of the Anglican Church state "the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith". (Church of Rome hath erred ...)

Yes, this is what we want on a Sunday, internecine disputation, and warfare at ten paces, thoroughly in keeping with John's message.

Hospitality? Bah humbug. Keep at 'em Dean...

That sentence was written in the 16th century. Since then the Roman Catholic Church has added to its errors - the Immaculate Conception (1854), the Infallibility of the Pope (1870), and the bodily Assumption of Mary (1950). There is nothing in modern Roman Catholicism that reduces our need to protest.

Why they're as quirky and as weird as a bunch of Mormons.

Sadly, the worthy Dean squibbed it back when he was scribbling that tirade, on the basis that the enemy of your enemy is your friend, and the damned secularists, heathens and atheists were clucking about government spending a pretty penny on World Youth Day and the papal parade.

But it seems these days the Dean is hardening the fug up (as Norman Mailer might say), so he spends a considerable amount of time boxing the ears of the Rev. C. H. Dodd, who dared to suggest that John might have being a little bit harsh, and so proposed the notion that his advice on hospitality was only to be followed in moments of extreme danger for the church.

It would follow that the Papal visit must not have been a moment of extreme danger, because the good Jensen found it in his heart to urge hospitality on Australians:

It is ... to the credit of our city that we are willing to be hospitable not only to people with whom we agree but also to those with whom we disagree.

Of course our hospitality is expensive. That is the nature of hospitality. Compared to the amount of tax our Roman Catholic neighbours contribute it is as nothing.

Hang on, hang on, now the pond is thoroughly confused.

It seems Catholics are thoroughly reprehensible heretics, fitting into John's explicit, written instructions as wretches deserving no hospitality whatsoever, and yet there was the good Jensen doing a Dodds - in a Fairfax rag no less - and urging governments and the public to be hospitable to them.

Please, clarification, please, explain:

Christians must be hospitable, but not naïve. We are not to let false teachers abuse our hospitality to promote false gospels. The creation of purported historical scenarios to re-contextualise the clear teaching of scripture is a false method that evangelicals must avoid. An evangelical is not one who professes belief in the Bible as the word of God, but one who, without twisting it, lives by what it says.

Uh huh. Yet we were hospitable to that damned heretic, false teacher, and promoter of false gospels, the alleged vicar of christ, the pope (some even hint that he might be the anti-Christ).

Guess that means the next time a Sydney Anglican bumps into a Catholic, or a Jensen into a Pell, the Jensenists will box the Pellists ears and send him, her, the lot of 'em on their way.

The alternative would be to lapse into fatal, false Doddsian error:

This method of dealing with politically incorrect scriptures enables people to maintain some degree of orthodox Christian standing while disagreeing with Bible. Yet this is exactly the kind of problem that 2 John is dealing with, people who come in the name of Jesus but teach a gospel different and even contradictory to his. A generation after C.H.Dodd argued against John’s boycott, British establishment scholars and churchmen published the scandalous books Honest to God and The Myth of God Incarnate. They were scandalous not only because they denied the very heart of Christianity, but also because they were written by men who were paid to profess the faith, not undermine it.

Indeed, not just scandalous but shocking, perhaps even outrageous, and we confess to be shocked and scandalised that Dean Jensen should urge hospitality to heretics one year, while pointing out how wrong hospitality might be in giving comfort to heretics another year ...

And at this point we must turn from hospitality to consider the vexing and vexatious issue of vestments.

Are they a matter of adiaphora, or res indifferentes (things indifferent), or are they, as the learned John Hooper argued on his return from Zurich in 1548 (where Zwingle and Bullinger and Calvin got on like a raging protestant fire), a matter of concern:

Hooper maintains that priestly garb distinguishing clergy from laity is not indicated by scripture; there is no mention of it in the New Testament as being in use in the early church, and the use of priestly clothing in the Old Testament is a Hebrew practice, a type or foreshadowing that finds its antitype in Christ, who abolishes the old order and recognises the spiritual equality, or priesthood, of all Christians. The historicity of these claims is further supported by Hooper with a reference to Polydore Vergil's De Inventoribus Rerum.

Well we could go on for hours about learned theologians counting the number of angels on a pin (and whether angels are more Catholic than Anglican), and arguing over the heated issue of vestments - an argument that continued down through the ages, to the point where my mother, when she turned up at a Catholic bash, would marvel at the frocks, and think about returning to her protestant roots.

But enough of memory lane, we're trying to work our way quickly to a conclusion, which is to propose that perhaps the good Dean urged hospitality on the Papists because he too is in scriptural error.

You see there's some evidence that Sydney Anglicans are keen to participate in a frock contest, a knock down fight in the octagon to see who will reign supreme.

Well we routinely feature a Pellist frock festival on a Sunday, frill and train city Catholic style, so it's time for some Brunswick street black and red (you can wear it in North Fitzroy, Carlton and Glebe too):

And when you take the fight up to the international champ'een contest, it can get quite heated.

For what it's worth, the pond fancies the black. It's chic in a subdued, stylish way, and what we recommend for Newtown in winter (and perhaps Unley). Though what we need as a capper is a nice pair of the pond's favourite Christian Louboutin shoes (with matching bag and accessories of course):

Oh the red and the black, and oh dear, once again the pond has moved away from theological niceties and gone quite silly ...

But it is a Sunday, and we always like to feature frocks on a Sunday, mindful that if one of our TG friends should land on site, we're always keen to streeetch the concept of gender just a little further ...

I guess the bottom line - trying to decipher the conclusions to be drawn from Sydney Anglican deeds as well as words - is that we should berate Dodds, but also remember to be hospitable in the Doddsian way, perhaps with cheese and cucumber sandwiches, like a traditional English Anglican vicar ...

And never mind that it doesn't say anything about vestments in the bible, we should argue strongly in favour of the right of Australian footballers, clerics and any other dinki di Oz man so inclined to wear frocks, provided they exhibit a sense of style and elegance ...

Above all, don't worry too much about theological hair splitting over the implications of the bible or else you might end up saying:

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity...
...I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.
That high heel which is broken cannot be fixed; and that argument about hospitality and its biblical meaning might lead to a punch up at the barbeque ... so share the chops and sausages around ...

And remember, you can never go wrong with black (unless you're Phillip Adams), especially if you mix it with a touch of red.

Go frocks:

Cardinal Pell, babbles from the tower of babel, and neighs about Noah's Ark, with a dash of incidental climate science ...

(Above: the tower of babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder 1563, and strong scientific evidence in the cartoon below that the long absent god didn't think through the societal implications properly).

And so, it being Sunday, we come to the thoughts of the religious leaders who inspire their flocks with deep insights ...

And lo and behold, the first insight this week comes from Cardinal Pell, with his revelation that climate science can't possibly be understood without an extensive preamble and ramble through the book of Genesis, heavily footnoted to assure us that all the appropriate research protocols have been fulfilled.

In the Book of Genesis we read that God “regretted having made human-beings”(1) , such was their wickedness and anarchy and decided to send an immense flood “to destroy them and the earth”.(2)

However God chose Noah “an upright man” (3) to build an ark and enter it with his wife and family and two animals of every kind. The ark survived the flood and Noah was commanded “to breed, multiply and fill the earth”, reassured by God’s promise that “never again shall all living things be destroyed by the waters of a flood”. (4)

(1) Gen. 6:5-8, (2) Gen. 6:13, (3) Gen. 6:9. (4) Gen. 9:7-11.

Now there are other footnotes as well, so we urge you to rush off to Cardinal George Pell: One Christian Perspective On Climate Change, or a direct pdf link to the full lecture here, but it's a great relief right up the front there to learn that there won't be a second holocaust by flood (since genocide is unseemly even for a deity), and that destruction will be limited to the odd tsunami. Not much fun for tsunami victims, but there you go, god's merciful but there have to be limits on mercy ...

For those in need of a reminder, we take an illustration from the book of Crumb, click to enlarge:

What joy to discover - from the horse's mouth - that Genesis provides all the insights we need in relation to climate science:

Not surprisingly Kass believes that in today’s Western world “the project of Babel has been making a comeback . . . . Science and technology are again in the ascendancy, defying political boundaries en route to a projected human imperium over nature”.(9) Kass asks “Can our new Babel succeed?”(10) We should ask whether our attempts at global climate control are within human capacity, (that is, the projected human imperium); or on the other hand, are likely to be as misdirected and ineffective as the construction of the famous tower in the temple of Marduk, Babylon’s chief god.

Enough already with the footnotes. And again from the book of Crumb:

By golly those Crumb illustrations are evoking cutting edge science, which is just as well, because now it's time to establish a vast international conspiracy:

Where does scientific striving become uneconomic, immoral or ineffectual and so lapse into hubris? Have scientists been co-opted onto a bigger, better advertised and more expensive bandwagon than the millennium bug fiasco?

Indeed. And is the Catholic church full of pious prattling hubristic priests, ready to join a cult bandwagon that imagines all would have been well if attention hadn't been paid to a defined, recognisable flaw in many computer systems (Microsoft of course)? Fixed so there was no fiasco ...

Now you might ask why a Catholic bishop might feel the need to comment on weighty matters of science, without any respectable credentials or peer reviewed research, and the pious Pell has a ready answer, as he proceeds to take a detour through great moments of science - the house arrest of vexatious, difficult, quarrelsome, troublesome Galileo, which might be taken as some kind of reflection on the church's reliance on the literal sense of Sacred Scripture.

Which naturally doesn't stop the geese from cackling about Genesis, and babbling about Babel, and neighing about Noah some four hundred years or so down the track after Galileo ...

And then there's the question of Darwinian evolution, as opposed to the theory of evolution proposed by, supported by and expanded by any number of scientists, because - well let's face it - because Darwin is still a little suspect, as in the ...

... celebrated debate between Bishop (Soapy Sam) Wilberforce and T. H. Huxley in 1860 at Oxford on the topic of Darwinian evolution, when the claim that man is made in God’s image was seen as contradicting evolution.

Sadly the notion that Wilberforce might once have asked Huxley about his simian ancestry being on his grand-mother's or his grand-father's side (pause here for knowing chuckles, perhaps a gale or gust of laughter) has been a boon for anti-religious forces for decades.

And indeed it might be that Cardinal Pell himself has been a boon for anti-religious forces for decades:

At a recent meeting of the priests' council in Sydney one parish priest asked me why I was commenting publicly on the role of carbon dioxide in the climate, (1) because in the past the Church had made a fool of herself on a number of occasions. (2)
Pond footnotes (1) Pell, George, recording of parish priest. (2) ibid, Pell, George, alone.

To which there could be only one reply:

I replied that I was well aware of at least some of these instances and that one reason why I was speaking out was to avoid having too many Christian leaders repeating these mistakes and to provide some balance to ecclesiastical offerings.

Yes, the pious Pell is standing up for science in the very same way the Church stood up for Galileo four hundred years down the track, and for jokes about simian evolutionists in the nineteenth century, and he's now avoiding mistakes and achieving scientific balance by going with the 1%.

But to make this scientific stand, first you need to become aware of a deep conspiracy involving deeply conspiratorial humanistic secularist atheist Greens:

I first became interested in the question in the 1990s when studying the anti-human claims of the “deep Greens”, so I had long suspected that those predicting dangerous and increasing anthropogenic global warming were overstating their case. During the years 2008-09 it was dangerous for an Australian politician to voice dissent unless he was from a country electorate. Opponents were silenced. As I was not up for re-election and I suspected the Emperor had few if any clothes, I made a few more small public statements, never from the pulpit, never at a large public meeting.

And so it came to pass that the pious Pell would become a scientific expert, and be invited to London to explain in depth his scientific expertise, which naturally proves, in ways that are replicable over and over again, that climate science is deeply linked with anti-human claims of the deep Greens.

Now you might think this is trivialising and politicising science in a most unseemly way, but at once, thanks to the pious Pell, I can spot that you're likely an atheist, and certainly involved in a gigantic international conspiracy nee bandwagon.

First, it's important to note that the reason Pell was invited to blather on about climate science in London has nothing to do with Pell donning the red of a conservative Cardinal. Why any common or garden priest could speak with similar authority:

Thomas Aquinas pointed this out long ago explaining that “the argument from authority based on human reason” is the weakest form of argument (17) , always liable to logical refutation. (17) Pell channeling St. Thomas Aquinas

Uh huh. Now you might think appealing to an authority like St. Thomas Aquinas and his Summa Theologica is a peculiarly authoritarian Catholic thing to do, and you might attempt some logical refutation of the notion that Pell is somehow an authority on science, but you see that would allow Pell to refute your logic by citing St. Thomas Aquinas ...

Well then it's on with the science, with such leading scientific authorities as Lord Monckton high in the lavish footnotes. Yep the pious Pell still rates Monckton highly ...

Naturally the accumulation of distortions and misunderstandings that followed - too many to dally with here - sent actual scientists into something of a frenzy, as you can read here in Climate scientists slam George Pell's 'utter rubbish' claims.

But we prefer this sideswipe in The Guardian:

"The cost of attempts to make global warming go away will be very heavy," said Cardinal Pell. Hardly worth the bother. "Efforts to offset the effects on the vulnerable are well-intentioned, but history tells us they can only ever be partially successful." He says climate change advocates take a "totalitarian approach". But does this include Pope Benedict? Recently, addressing the Bundestag, the pontiff said that "the importance of ecology is no longer disputed. We must listen to the language of nature and answer accordingly." Polar opposites, one might suggest. Expect the argument to rage for 40 days and 40 nights. Meanwhile, the Arctic ice still melts. (here)

Say what? Just what did the Pontiff say to the Bundestag?

… I would say that the emergence of the ecological movement in German politics since the 1970s, while it has not exactly flung open the windows, nevertheless was and continues to be a cry for fresh air which must not be ignored or pushed aside, just because too much of it is seen to be irrational. Young people had come to realise that something is wrong in our relationship with nature, that matter is not just raw material for us to shape at will, but that the Earth has a dignity of its own and that we must follow its directives.

Oh noes, the deep greenies have got the pope, the pontiff himself has gone across to the dark side, all is lost, all is ruined. Surely the only way for the church to be saved is for this international conspirator and bandwagoner to be pushed to the sidelines, and Cardinal Pell dragooned in to run the church, and save the world from greenies, anti-humans and bandwagon scientists bandwagoning with the pope ...

But actually, truth to tell, Pell's tirade hasn't generated much interest. Even Deltoid hasn't bothered to get himself into gear to address all the usual mish mash of nonsensical mis-statements, linking instead to Lord Monckton's guest appearance on The Hamster Wheel - like Pauline Hanson, he really will show up on anything without doing any research - but as compensation, why not read The Australian's War on Science 71: Mitchell Nadin misrepresents.

Phew, thank the absent lord this sort of stuff is now locked behind a Murdoch paywall, safe from the eyes and hands of prying children ...

Speaking of the war on science, let's go back to Cardinal Pell for a solution to the non-existent problem of climate science, because you see Pell doesn't believe climate change related to human activity is happening, but if it is happening for one reason or another - who can say - then we need to turn to the bible for a solution:

For this reason (among others) I support the recommendation of Bjorn Lomborg (55) and Bob Carter that, rather than spending money on meeting the Kyoto Protocol which would have produced an indiscernible effect on temperature rise, money should be used to raise living standards and reduce vulnerability to catastrophes and climate change (in whatever direction), so helping people to cope better with future challenges. We need to be able to afford to provide the Noahs of the future with the best arks science and technology can provide. (55) so many footnotes, it must be true, because I read it in that font of climate science, The Australian on 22nd July 2011.

Yep, in case the planet fucks up, we need to provide Noahs of the future with some decent arks.

Now the question is, should we concentrate on a fleet of Starships a la Star Trek, so that the future Noahs can get the fuck off the planet and roam the known and unknown universe? (so many starships, so many designs).

Or should we concentrate on orbiting earth colonies, lunar colonies, Martian colonies, or plan a settlement in the Asteroid Belt (yes you too can get involved in the International Space Settlement Design Competition).

For the moment, the pond favours the Silent Running approach, provided Bruce Dern and Joan Baez's song can be left behind, and the whole thing trimmed to half an hour.

By golly, the pious Pell has provoked some deep thinking, and so to the wrap up:

When Galileo was placed under house arrest primarily because of his claim that the earth moved around the sun, he is said to have muttered “Eppur’ si muove”; and yet it moves.

Yep and when climate scientists were mocked by Cardinal Pell in London primarily because of their claim that the weight of scientific evidence suggested that human activity was having an affect on the planet, the scientists were said to have muttered ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt (fate leads the willing, and drags the unwilling), or perhaps more to the point natura non contristatur (the natural world is not sentimental or compassionate) (and a hundred and one more handy Latin phrases here for those moments when religion meets science).

But wait, let's wrap up the wrap up, where the pious Pell wraps himself in the garb of Galileo, without a hint of irony or satire, as if the church's mis-treatment of science for several thousand years was but a momentary bit of nonsense, until the philosophical and theological Pell arrives on the scene to once more set scientists straight, because he knows what he's talking about and they don't:

As for Galileo so for us, the appeal must be to the evidence, not to any consensus, whatever the levels of confusion or self-interested coercion.

(That'd be the self-interested coercion from the mass of conspiratorial bandwagoners).

First of all we need adequate scientific explanations as a basis for our economic estimates. We also need history, philosophy, even theology and many will use, perhaps create, mythologies. But most importantly we need to distinguish which is which.

Indeed. And if there's one certainty in life, if you rely on Pell and Monckton for evidence of which is which, and what is what, and what is not, and who's up whom, and how science is actually just a giant bandwagon, and the millennium bug never actually existed, and how steps taken to limit the impact of fluorocarbons on the ozone layer were a complete waste of time, then you'll end up with plenty of blather about the Tower of Babel and Noah's Ark, and bugger all about actual science ...

All the same, it's true scientific truth lies in the length and breadth and depth of the footnotes, and footnotes to the bible count double, and Cardinal Pell is diligent in his footnotes ... in the same way that Ian Plimer convinced everybody by offering up 2,300 footnotes in Heaven and Earth ...

Never mind if a footnote directs you to Lord Monckton, just close your eyes, and mutter And yet it moves ...

(Below: chose your ark, the USS Excelsior in 2293 ...

Or the preferred model of prattling bible-referencing priests for 2050 ...)

In which the pond is blessed by Karl and Lisa and Flinty and Prince Chuck and Dr. No, and Christopher Pearson isn't missed at all ...

(Above: the reason Tony Abbott gets up, and out of bed each day, and you can catch their viral video on curling here. As if mocking wankers looks funny).

Today was always going to be the cruellest day.

The golden thoughts, the dulcet tones, the insidious insights of Christopher Pearson, locked away forever behind a golden bar, trapped in a golden cage like a tweety bird kept safe from any stray Sylvester cat.

But surely, you say, it's just as easy to go off and read Tony Abbott's press releases direct, without an intermediary.

Indeed, but the latest one on the web is dated 20th September, a strangely slack way to keep reminding us we're all doomed by the end of this weekend, unless there's an election now, today if possible.

Perhaps instead you should rush off to the interviews page where you can learn, in a chat with Karl Stefanovic, what motivates the Dr. No of negativity:

Karl, you know I’m always happy to get up early for you mate. You and Lisa always get me out of bed, mate.

It seems Mr. Abbott can be as sucky about Karl and Lisa as Christopher can be about Tony. And if you're a problem gambler with a poker machine addiction that's ruining your life and the life of your family, Mr. Abbott has a hot tip:

Well look, everyone says Americain is going to be hard to beat. It’s got a very heavy weight so it’s obviously a great horse but maybe it might be beaten by the handicap. There’s something else called Dunaden which I’m told is going to do very well. It won the Geelong Cup and it could be a very strong contender but as I said, I feel that I really shouldn’t say this without signing my life away first. (here).

Yes problem gamblers, demand an assurance written in blood, a blood oath so to speak, and then you can sue Mr. Abbott should his promise of Dunaden prove false, and you lose your shirt and possibly your house on the beast ...

Oh it was all very fine and dandy, but you know, I couldn't resist taking a peek at the lesser Abbott, use 'margarine if no butter available' Abbott, so to speak, and sure enough there was the fickle finger of fate, the gold bar of doom, blinking away at me like the cursed Ancient Mariner:

But surely it's some kind of surreal comedy, some existential nightmare, some ghastly cosmic fraud, some bizarre visual joke of the Salvadore Dali kind?

Pay to read the thoughts of Christopher Pearson on the monarchy and the republic?

Actually pay hard cash to read meretricious, repetitious maunderings of a most predictable kind?

Spank the black snake, Karl and Lisa style, turf it out of the purse, dig out the coins and send the cash to Chairman Rupert? For Christopher Pearson ....?

Why the pond could write that kind of column, and rehearse the dullard arguments while locked in a very deep sleep ...

Why bother, when you can go directly to Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, and get latherings and foamings about the Queen? With video highlights ...

Or read David Flint writhing in exasperation at the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group, who last March dared to warn the good Professor that:

"The Commonwealth is in danger of becoming irrelevant and unconvincing as a values-based association."

Not so, you eminently clownish clowns:

The Commonwealth may not be a perfect organisation. But in requiring compliance with standards, it is superior to most other international organisations. (Commonwealth not in danger).

Indeed. Each day when I think about the Commonwealth, I think about its heroic standards, and when the Commonwealth assembles once more in Glasgow, Scotland in 2014, how charming it will be to be reminded of that great bringing together of minds and bodies that took place in Delhi in 2010. What a triumph it was ...

Never mind, to make the pond's day complete, it was off to the sozzled Punch to be assured by Geoff Russell that carrots have no feelings, and we may devour them without compunction. (Plants do not have feelings), as he takes issue with Miranda the Devine and her claim that scientists have discovered plants have feelings:

...which diet reduces both plant and animal bereavement? It’s every kind of obvious. If suffering matters to you, then you should eat plants, even if the little darlings scream blue murder at every mouthful.

Which of course they don’t.

So the carrot argument is rubbish and wouldn’t cut jelly if it were true.

Cut jelly? Murder carrots? Listen to beans shriek as you munch on their corpses? What a fiend.

Well it's true that the wiki is inconclusive, and that even, as the wiki notes, Mythbusters is no sure guide ...

So inspired by thoughts of the good professor Flint (aaargh, me hearties) we turned to kindly Prince Charles and his desire for plants to be treated with respect:

"I just come and talk to the plants, really - very important to talk to them, they respond." (So Charles was right - you should talk to plants, scientists discover).

Yes, if you talk to your plants, the chances are good they will respond to you.

Take that, wretched Geoff Russell, and whatever you do, stick something other than tobacco in your pipe, then go smoke it ...

You see, plants have impeccable taste in classical music:

Researchers exposed rice plants to noise while they monitored levels of gene activity.
Using 14 pieces of classical music, they were astonished to discover the noise triggered a response in two genes, rbcS and Ald.

Classical music is noise? Oh wash out your mouth with soap:

Some frequencies made the genes more active, while others made them subdued.
Because the genes are known to be involved in the plant's response to light, the scientists repeated the experiments in the dark.
But the study, reported in today's New Scientist, found this made no difference to how the genes behaved.

Yep, plants groove on Mahler and Mozart and the beastly Russell wants to murder them, rather than consider Prince Chuck's poignant plea to for others to join in the chat. (More gardeners join Prince Charles in plant talk).

Speaking of plants, The Punch has a Laurie Oakes' story about former chairman Rudd and current chairwoman Gillard that assures us they have worked together as a team to make CHOGM a success.

It immediately became obvious that Oakes was a United Nations plant, or perhaps a Communist stooge, since this flies in the face of everything we used to learn when we read The Australian ... (Big guns down weapons for UN Security Council seat).

Hang on, the co-operation's only so Australia can win a Security Council seat so the former chairman can go off and grandstand in the world forum, which means he won't be resigning his seat by Friday and forcing an election that will bring down the government.

Sob, another Christopher Pearson prophecy bites the dust. Let's hope Mr. Abbott has more luck with Dunaden, and let's hope problem gamblers can continue to fill the coffers of the needy, vulnerable hapless James Packer, who after his futile forays into Vegas, is now down to his last billion or three ...

And let's hope we can all stay united under Prince Chuck in that great commonweal of nations, and talk to the plants.

Meanwhile, royalists unite, and delve even deeper into the thoughts of Prince Chuck at Charles, Prince of plants, is the talk of Chelsea, and before you rush out to talk to your trees - they do so love a chat and a bit of encouragement, and a deep Tolkien-esque hug - here's Prince Charles shaking hands and talking with a tree to show how it's done:

Oh yes, and they thought that the pond couldn't live without Christopher Pearson.

Hah, they didn't stop for a second to think of the good professor Flint, and Prince Chuck, and that nattering naboob of negativity, the real Christopher Pearson, Tony Abbott, and Karl and Lisa and the great commonwealth of nations and the Melbourne Cup and curling and tree hugging and ...

Okay, Mr. Zappa, the pond is feeling light hearted and light headed, in euphoric post-Pearson bliss, so take it away:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Miranda Devine, and off with the Samaritans, the splitters and the culturally condescending Christian pixies ...

(Above: it's almost the weekend. Time to drag out that frock, get down and have fun).

Pay for a display of News Ltd woeful ignorance, knee jerk exceptionalism, ethnocentric righteousness and remarkable silliness when you can still get it for free?

There's the problem of The Australian paywall, right there in a nutshell ...

Take Miranda the Devine - please someone, anyone take her, she's still going for free - only yesterday scribbling furiously in Better angels fall to brutal reality.

It just goes to show how dangerous the intertubes can be, as it seems the Devine is perfect proof that watching the occasional video the web can warp the plasticity of the brain (or so Susan Greenfield and the Devine used to assure us).

After watching the videos doing the rounds - the death of a child in China and the death of Gaddafi - the Devine comes to a set of stunningly confused set of cross cultural judgements on all manner of societies:

There’s no point expressing revulsion at the callous Chinese passers-by or the barbaric Libyan rebels and believing ourselves incapable of the same behaviour.

Yep indeedy, unless we can overlook a couple of world wars, the nuking of cities, the fire bombing of cities, the futile war in Vietnam, the contrived, calculated crusade in Iraq, the ongoing destruction of Afghanistan ...

We could go on and on, but back to the Devine for the important part of the message:

It is not that we in Australia and the West are intrinsically morally superior to the Chinese who walked past little Yue Yue, or the Libyans who delighted in killing an evil dictator.

It is that the Judeo-Christian basis of our society, with its tradition of the Good Samaritan, “Do unto others”, “Turn the other cheek,” and so on, for 2000 years has tempered and modulated the worst human tendencies.

Yep, the Judaic-Christian basis for society is responsible for the turn the other cheek tendency which saw the Devine demand that greenies be hung from the nearest lamp post.

But stay, what is this idle chatter about the Good Samaritan?

Even for non-believers, it has fostered social norms which honour the actions of a Good Samaritan like Xianmei, and create a society that reinforces qualities such as kindness and compassion.

Uh huh. Well never mind that the Devine clearly doesn't have the first clue about the meaning of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, other than the one she learned in primary school, nor the second clue about the tensions between the Samaritan brand of Judaism and mainstream Judaism, and the way that Jesus's parable - solely reported in Luke - makes use of tensions between the splitters and the splittees.

Rather than being a testament to the philosophy of "do unto others" the ongoing feuds between the Samaritans and mainstream Jews is a template for unrelenting warfare, a model carried out with exemplary good manners by Christian societies in the west these past few thousand years, and in the time of empires and colonies exported to all the far-flung reaches of the world ...

Both Jewish and Samaritan religious leaders taught that it was wrong to have any contact with the opposite group, and neither was to enter each other's territories or even to speak to one another. During the New Testament period, although the tensions went unrecognized by Roman authorities, Josephus reports numerous violent confrontations between Jews and Samaritans throughout the first half of the first century. (wiki)

Yep, there's a bloody good model for the start of the first world war. Of course Christians with short memories like to blame the Japanese, Hitler (a nominal Xian) and Stalin for the second world war, and never mind how the pope fellow travelled with Mussolini and the Catholic and Lutheran churches fell into line in Germany as the persecution of Jews began in earnest.

But there's no get out of jail clause of any kind for the start of the first world war, with the imperial ambitions and colonial outrages of the Christian European powers serving as the springboard, and with Russian Orthodox Russia ready to jump into the fray and help get things rolling ...

Still, what's the value of the deaths of thousands of children up against the ideological muck-raking value of a couple of deaths seen in videos on the web?

You have to have an astonishingly myopic view of history to parrot the sort of nonsense that the Devine parrots, and an even more jaundiced view of China, which is one of the few civilisations to keep itself running continuously as a unit since the three kingdoms were forced together ...

It's as if Confucianism and all the other great philosophies of a non-Christian kind that surged through the country - Buddhism anyone - counts for naught in the blinkered Devine world. If you want to have a go at China, have a go over Tibet, rather than use the death of a single child as a symbol for everything ...

Because otherwise, the next thing you know, people could be using the death of a single child in Australia to stand for the hedonistic barbarian aspects to the country, no thanks to the preachers and the do gooders (whether driving kids into a lake to drown them, or abusing them in any other number of refined ways, especially those altar boys so beloved of Catholic clerics)

So where are we heading?

Perhaps what scares us most is that the death of little Yue Yue and the barbaric end of Gaddafi give us a glimpse of a post-Christian world.

Yes, and perhaps the torture at Abu Ghraib gives us a vision of an ongoing Christian world.

The one thing you can say about the likes of the Devine is that they don't get out and about enough, preferring to cultivate a triumphalism about their own culture, a triumphalism recently echoed by Tony Abbott in his views about Malaysia, and heralding a man likely to set back Australia's position in the region by a good century or so ...

Perhaps he can get us back to the good old days of the Confrontation in 1963-66, yet another reminder that when it comes to a regional do, Australia is always ready to turn up and slap a few cheeks, and has been playing the cheek-slapping game since the days of the Boer War.

Never mind. Let's just tweak the Devine a little:

Perhaps what scares us most reading the Devine and her insular, insolent, ethnocentric, culturally superior and condescending musings, is that it give us a glimpse of how far we are from post-Christian world where mutual tolerance and respect and understanding are the dominant forces doing the rounds of the commentariat.

Okay, okay, you mutter, sure you've led with the Devine, but surely the supply of loons is dropping?

Well as a reader noted, so long as we have the likes of frock-loving (not that there's anything wrong with loving a frock) Cardinal Pell rabbiting on about climate change like a complete and utter goose in London, there'll always be riches in abundance. Once again Pell becomes an embarrassment to the church, as noted by hapless Catholics in Cardinal Pell tries to sow doubt on climate change.

Yep, with the Devine blathering on about Christ, and Pell scaremongering on climate change "as an individual", even if that only became clear after questioning, the pond will never want for loons.

But what about those daily polls always reported in News Ltd that foreshadow and predict the imminent decline and downfall of the Federal Government by close of business today? Aren't they locked away in the paywall and the ritual weekly scaremongering lost forever?

Not to worry. There's Mark Kenny punching on at the punch-drunk Punch with Labor points behind but finally kicking with the wind, but before you read yet another tedious bout of entrail examining and tea leaf reading, why not read Polls and pretenders at The Drum, the thoughts of a fellow sufferer ranting at emotional exhaustion by polling. Oh the horror, oh the humanity ...

Yes, these days the pond marches to a different drum, just in time to discover the previously mentioned drummer Tim Dunlop has now discovered rocket science, in Without balance that paywall will not stand:

... here's a prediction: The Australian's paywall will fail unless they change their editorial stance. When you are passing yourself off as a serious newspaper, you can't continue to insult half your potential (already small) audience and expect them to pay you. So until they offer more balanced news coverage, and leaven their ranks of rightwing commentators with some credible people from the left (and no, I don't mean disgruntled, failed and bitter former Labor politicians) they will struggle.

And only a few days before, he was urging the world to sign up to fair and balanced journalism behind The Australian paywall. Talk about a fickle, fair weather friend.

Well the pond would settle for fair and balanced rather than tired commentariat members ranting at each other across the ideological divide, but thanks for the outline of the bleeding obvious Mr. Dunlop ...

Dearie me, so many loons, so little time, but thankfully so long as we're blessed by Cardinal Pell and Miranda the Devine dropping in on the pond every so often like Daffy Duck dropping in on Porky Pig, all's well in the world ...

(Below: why does Daffy Duck and News Ltd inhabit the same brain space in the pond? Who knows, but you can see the episode in question, Cracked Quack, at Youtube, at least until the rights holders notice. And as a bonus, it takes less time and offers more pleasure than reading Miranda the Devine).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Paul Sheehan, and relax, it's just bait to generate a frenzy amongst the bitten ...

(Above: Power broker and media personality seen last night in The Hamster Wheel, and the pond keeps counting the costs of The Australian paywall. Sob. No more Richo).

Another relapse today, with the sickening realisation that Graham "Swiss Bank Account" Richardson, formerly a Labor party head kicker and balls cruncher, will no longer be accessible to the pond, thanks to The Australian's paywall, yet each week he seems to turn up on The Hamster Wheel dispensing wisdom over a fine meal ...

How did Tanya Plibersek put it in Q & A?

I hope when I retire I never make a buck trashing the Labor party ...

Miaow, and no way to build up wealth in a Swiss bank account for sure. And likely as not it won't get you a decent beer and a plate of gyoza ...

Never mind, today we have Paul Sheehan doing his Thursday tour of duty, and astonishingly he's just discovered that he has readers, and that they have views on what Sheehan writes, and now thanks to the intertubes share their thoughts, and that they're inclined to be as grumpy as Field Marshall Grumpy himself, as he explains in Haka, who groans there? Bile villains:

The overwhelming bulk of posted comments are anonymous, spontaneous and negative, with a heavy bias to vicious. So, you get a trifecta of ignorance. I'm not sure if this cheapening of the public discourse is what the media had in mind.

At this point, you have to remember that Sheehan's idea of elevating the public discourse is to rail at lazy Celts, cheating, thieving, drug-taking Greeks, and any other amount of ethic abuse he can mount on a weekly basis (want the weak and the helpless routinely abused? Sheehan's your commentariat man).

Comments often come from roughly 0.2 per cent of readers, so they are not even reliably representative. They are the home of a certain type of personality, encapsulated, for me, by one reader last week, ''JJ'', who wrote: ''I didn't even read any of the article. Just came straight down to the comments section to say that you are an idiot.''

Indeed. Now it turns out that JJ was in fact simply following Sheehan's very own advice:

My advice to people who do not like me or my columns is to stop reading them.

Indeed. So JJ was just following orders, while at the same time exercising his right to make accurate observations about the world. Like it's a bit muggy in Sydney, or Paul Sheehan's an idiot ...

We keed, we keed, because speaking like that would get us right down in the gutter, lowering the tone of the conversation, in the Sheehan way. You see, he admits he's a provocateur, a trawler and a troller, a dealer in insults, as a way of getting the gorge rising and his readers indignant:

Irrelevance is my enemy, not insult. Don't rise to the bait.

Tell that to hapless meeces deprived of their regular commentariat bait in The Australian!

The point about bait is that it's tempting - perhaps the bait is to offer an understanding, an insight into the world from well paid professional journalists able to indulge themselves with an opinion piece in a significant broadsheet - and the next thing you know there's the stomach cramps and the brain seizures and the moaning and the groaning ...

It's called bait and switch, Fairfax and Sheehan style ...

Besides, what's wrong with insults. It seems a few have even penetrated the Sheehan elephant skin, especially as he spent time in his last column insulting New Zealanders and the haka and rugby union (not that we care much for boofheads), and so scored a lot of comments.

The response was an outpouring of bile from hundreds of Kiwis. The column, they wrote, ''reeks of bitterness'', ''incoherent rubbish'', ''you are just bitter that you were beaten'', ''narrow minded'', ''trash'', ''racist stereotype'', ''narcissistic, culturally disrespectful'', ''racist slurs'', ''a horrifying article'', ''you want to take away the haka'', ''absolute garbage'', ''of such a low standard'', ''a good old-fashioned Kiwi-bash'', ''please tell me this isn't your day job!!'', ''nonsense'', ''little man reaction to getting beat'', ''embarrassing'', ''an ignorant, churlish racist'', ''self-deluded and out of touch with reality'', ''old, tired, xenophobic, ill-informed gutter journalism'', and a ''bitter and twisted load of drivel''.

All true and fair and accurate, but you see, the poor old Kiwis had just been taken by a master troller.

They'd taken the bait, so elaborately laid about by Sheehan, and so he gets to double down, increase the amount of slug and snail poisoning in the bait:

There is something wrong here: it was an outpouring of dog-in-the-manger, chip-on-the-shoulder, small-country-small-minded, defensive churlishness on an industrial scale.

Yep, it takes small-minded defensive churlishness on an industrial columnist scale to spot a gaggle of small-minded defensive churls ...

Now you might think that the something that was wrong here was the nasty, narrow-minded scribbling by Sheehan, who set the ball rolling with his routine slagging off, but then you wouldn't be inside the vast la la land inhabited by Sheehan's ego.

You see it's alright to slag off New Zealanders, but it's thoroughly alarming that the shrill sounds of unhappy Kiwis should penetrate the fog of self-regard that surrounds the elevated Sheehan.

Fortunately, Sheehan has a solution. It turns out the outrage generated by his outrageous musings are actually just the work of a few online ratbags:

If the reaction to my column last week was any guide to the underlying truth of what New Zealanders really think of Australians, we would have a problem. But the problem, fortunately, is much narrower. The problem is the subculture of online ''comments'', which have evolved in a way that the newspapers have not intended. This forum is becoming dominated by a certain type of reader.

Will Sheehan ever come to an understanding that the problem is even narrower than that? The problem is the subculture of the commentariat commentator prowling the opinion pages like a stirrer and a troller, with these types having evolved into idle-minded wind machines and empty clanging provocateurs in a way that newspapers quite possibly never intended.

The pages of Fairfax tends to be dominated a certain type of commentariat scribbler, exemplified by Sheehan, all outrage and bile when not offering doom and gloom, and ever ready to lash out at lazy Celts, thieving Greeks, and offensive throat-slitting, World Cup-wunning New Zealanders, or whatever other offensive group comes their way in the hours before deadline ...

Masters of bait-laying and bitterness and magic water the lot of them.

And - if we can quote Sheehan - the rationalisations he offers for this strategy are pathetic. Blaming his readers for reacting to his scribbling, as if there's a vast silent majority in accord with his ranting ...

Well D. H. Lawrence once said "Never trust the teller, trust the tale", and in this particular case, punters would do well not to trust Sheehan and his obfuscations and delusions, but to trust what they read in his columns.

And then triple the outpouring of rage in the comments section ....

(Below: relax, it's just bait).