Sunday, November 20, 2011

And now, thanks to News Ltd., a series of idle Sunday speculations ...

Inspired by the nattering negativity of Dr. No, here's a couple of pieces the pond won't be reading this weekend, starting with Christopher Pearson on the death of cricket writer Peter Roebuck. In much the same way as the pond won't be reading Tim Blair ...

Indeed the Australian media has produced a fine flurry of ignorant, ill-informed speculation in relation to the matter, either for or against Roebuck.

When actual knowledge of the facts is absent, the first rule is to speculate away, and never mind the truth.

We might almost call it the Birmingham principle, in honour of the inventor of the concept that reading Janet Albrechtsen can only lead to tears, lamentations, misery and despair.

So here's another piece we won't be reading:

An important question no doubt, even a gold bar editor's choice ... which might lead you to wonder whether the facts are ever massaged in The Australian ...

... rather like the question surrounding the Pope turning Protestant next week. Will the Holy See's office massage the facts in their official report on the matter?

Or perhaps we should use the subject of the Queen stepping down in the coming months as a better example? Will Buckingham Palace massage the facts in their official report on the matter, to explain why Prince "Chuck" Windsor has been overlooked in favour of Prince William?

By golly, you can spend a lifetime contemplating the massage of idle facts before they've actually come to pass. You might even call it the Cassandra principle.

Sure it might be simpler just to await the arrival of the official IPCC report, and then examine the way it treats the facts, but that would be overly complex and devious, while simply not allowing room for juicy speculation.

Where would journalism be if idle alarmist speculation wasn't allowed in the Murdoch press?

Speaking of idle speculation and meaningless abuse, Miranda the Devine excelled herself recently in a piece on the media inquiry:

When sandal-wearing freelance journalist and prolific tweeter Margaret Simons told the print media inquiry newspapers had “hundreds” of journalists sitting around in their newsrooms, smirks and discreet eye rolls swept the ranks of working reporters. (The truth can be sweet as a nut graf).

If being a prolific tweeter is a crime - roll your eyes now - then the Devine is a first rate criminal, as shown by her prolific tweeting at her tweet spot for twitterers and twits.

Without any sense of irony - having abused Simons for being a sandal-wearer - in her next piece the Devine celebrated the heroic work of Kathy Jackson at the Health Services Union, in Women warriors blowing the whistle:

So what is it about women that makes them willing to risk all to do the right thing?

You mean write offensively abusive, insufferable tripe, like the Devine does on a regular basis? About women willing to risk all up against the collective wrath of the hive mind at News Ltd?

It can’t be that women are more ethical than men.

Indeed. There's simply no evidence to suggest that the Devine is in any way more ethical than her colleague Piers 'Acca Dacca' Akerman.

But do they possess a special intuition to detect wrongdoing before their male colleagues?

Uh huh. It's another of those meaningless questions. Like is Miranda the Devine completely clueless all the time, or only some of the time?

This from a columnist who regularly writes on scientific matters, from climate change to the plasticity of the brain affected by screens, back in the day when she mistook Susan Greenfield for the Messiah.

Ye rambling cats and dogs, now we return to the days of special intuition in women, and a wrongdoing detector.

Where did it go when the Devine scribbled her bit of malign wrong doing about sandals?

Has she ever worn sandals, or are they too hippie for her? How about thongs in Penrith? Does her special intuition detect that thongs are too much a part of the common herd? Wouldn't they come in handy when she flip flops on topics such as Susan Greenfield?

Or is it the fact that in male-dominated workplaces they are less likely to be “team players” because they are excluded from the mates’ network and thus are able to judge ethical breaches dispassionately?

Strange, this doesn't seem to have happened in the male dominated culture that infests News Limited. Go on name one female editor in charge of a News Ltd newspaper.

Could it be that no one in News Limited is inclined to judge ethical breaches dispassionately?

Are they less greedy for power and wealth, and therefore less afraid to rock the boat?

But, but, greed for power and wealth is what makes the capitalist merry go round work so well.

Or are they more in touch with the real world because they are used to running households.

But, but, by that account, Tony Abbott is completely out of touch with the real world:

"What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it's going to go up in price, and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up."

Thanks Tone, we're getting our ironing done commercially right this minute. Ah, the pond feels so much more in touch with the real world ... of Vietnamese laundries.

But we digress from Miranda the Devine:

Whatever the reason, the crucial role of whistleblower seems to be a burden women have long shouldered, from the tragic prophetic heroine of Greek mythology, Cassandra, to the triumphant Brockovich.

But, but Cassanda wasn't actually a whistleblower.

You could call her any number of things. A seer, a clairvoyant, a prophet, a visionary, an anticipator, a diviner, a forecaster, a predictor, a soothsayer, a perceiver, or dear sweet absent lord forgive me, even a futurist ...

From Aeschylus' Agamemnon, it appears that she has made a promise to Apollo to become his consort, but broke it, thus incurring his wrath: though she has retained the power of foresight, no one will believe her predictions. (at Cassandra's wiki here).

Foresight, not whistle blowing. Predictions, not revealing hidden sordid facts locked up by manly conspirators.

Meanwhile, Gerard Henderson also excelled himself in the matter of sandals:

Unfortunately, Nancy has never been invited around to Margaret Simons’ inner-city Melbourne digs to check-out her compost. But, if, as the saying goes, she’s up for it – then Nancy would sure like an offer to get-down-and-dirty in the Simons’ compost.

In the meantime, Nancy fantasises that there was a scent of compost on the sandals that the sandal-wearer Simons wore to Ray Finkelstein QC’s inquiry in Sydney yesterday. (Media Watch Dog)

Why that sounds like:

An abnormal, often obsessive interest in excrement, especially the use of feces for sexual excitement.

Dear sweet absent lord, Henderson as a closet coprophiliac. Who'd have guessed ...

Or wait, is it a simple case of retifism? Are sandals a kind of shoe, and so a valid object for shoe fetishism?

Is Gerard Henderson a coprophiliac and a shoe fetishist?

Hang on, isn't this where we came in? Asking silly rhetorical questions in the name of cobbling together a piece full of inanity? But instead of the serious matter of climate change, somehow we've ended up with sandal fetishism.

Not to worry. Let's get serious.

Why there's Piers 'Acca Dacca' Akerman delivering up Julia can't handle truth without spin:

If you believe in fairies, Julia Gillard or Bob Brown, stop right here, this is a column for grown-ups who can handle the truth.

Oh dear 'Acca Dacca' Akerman imagining himself as Jack Nicholson. Can anyone handle that truth?

Yep, it's the start of yet another list of Acca Dacca adjectives:

Much-needed reality check, blizzard of spin, violent gastro attack, Stockholm syndrome, in love with their captors, serious wake up call, knifed, broken promises, billions lost, wasteful spending, sheer incompetence, trumped up media inquiry, national nightmare, implicit threat to free speech, extremist anti-business activists like Miranda the Devine who deplore power and wealth, prices skyrocketing, people smuggling, cack-handed, NBN disaster, media stunt, blow out here, blow out there, everywhere a blow out.

I could easily fill twice this space without listing all the failed programs, Acca Dacca says near the end of his piece.

Truth to tell, we could easily fill twice this space with a list of exuberant over the top Chicken Little, the sky is falling in, we'll all be rooned said Hanrahan adjectives. After a bowl of this kind of adjectival cornflakes, you begin to feel a deep-seated, the world is spinning out of control, gastro attack ...

Is it the unblemished, unvarnished truth? Is it possible to see the complete, total truth through one eye, and only the right one (after all any left-eyed or left-handed is sure to be cack handed)?

So what's to be done News Ltd?

Is it time to put Acca Dacca down, as you would any faithful hound dog now frail and weak, frothing at the mouth from some rabies-like disease?

Or should he be sent into Margaret Simons' garden with Gerard Henderson, so they can run wild and free, sniffing at the sandals and the compost in their dotage?

Or is it past time to stick him behind a paywall with Christopher Pearson, because we simply can't handle the truth any more?

So many idle rhetorical questions. Perhaps it comes from spending too much time with News Ltd, and too little time in the real world ...

And as for climate change, who would actually pay for speculation about a report that hasn't yet been published? When you might read the preliminary interim report here, and wait for the full report in February 2012? Or read the ABC's report on the report, here, with the only apparent spin the whirl of wind in extreme weather events?

(Below: Ajax drags Cassandra from the Palladium. More details on Cassandra here).


  1. Front page of the paper edition of "The Australian" was banging on about the NBN again, yesterday. It's like a broken record.

  2. The first job facing Kim Williams to give the paywall any chance of success is tackle the Chris Mitchell culture now rampant at The Australian, so the rag can reach out to the middle and a non-ideologically obsessed readership.

    Will he have the ticker?

  3. I doubt it. There comes a time when corporate culture gets to strong, and it tends to chew up those who would reform it


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