Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Who needs four degrees, or even one, when we've got the Don from Downunder?

(Above: bring back the intermediate certificate, bring it back now!)

It should be way past the spring season, with the torpor of summer and the Xmas holidays well on the way, but truth to tell, there's never any way to keep the loons quiet on the pond.

There's Crikey gone bereft of its senses, publishing Adam Creighton, a "research fellow" at The Centre for Independent Studies, blathering away in Who needs four uni degrees or even one for that matter?

As if to prove his point, Creighton reveals by way of rant over rational argument that education can be a complete waste of time for some.

The resulting column could only be construed as a prime example of trolling for comments, but sadly for Crikey, they'd only managed to drum up 44 comments at time of writing.

It turns out that said Adam boasts a Master of Philosophy in the dismal science of economics, gained at Balliol College at Oxford, and paid for by way of a Commonwealth scholarship, so he knows whereof he speaks.

What a dismal waste of public funding. Has the man got some kind of misguided education fetish?

Why he could have been down at factory at 4 am to start work at mill, after healthy breakfast of gravel, instead of cultivating a false sense of social superiority (and we all know how Oxford dons are completly up themselves).

Well we presume it's the same man. The one who, according to his online CV, wrote for the finance and the arts pages of The Economist, and who has written for The Spectator, and even co-authored a chapter for Oxford University Press on funded retirement systems. (here he is).

Clearly what's most needed in the hive is plenty of worker bees, so the drones can go on droning.

Ah there's nothing like yearning for the good old Victorian days, when the peasants knew their place, and the lumpenproletariat lumped and the working class worked, and refined Oxford dons could concentrate on matters of high finance and high matters of y'arts.

Past generations got by perfectly well with three or four years of high school. And apart from the proliferation of computers and the internet (familiarity with which develops outside the classroom), how much has the range of available jobs really changed?

Yes indeed, please do not apply to the CIS, it's full. Instead go straight to street sweeping, or if liberally inclined, basket weaving.

The school leaving age should be dropped back to 12, and a whole sub-class of native Australians contracted out to make Nike shoes and iPads for the Oxford don class.

Anything rather than let the dumb and the useless and the hopeless waste money on education and imagine there might be some point to them becoming an informed citizen, when the fix is already in and the drones run the show.

What a complete waste of funds, what a capricious misuse of productivity it would be to cultivate delusional thinking in the lumpens. You there, get back into place, and keep that assembly line moving.

Besides, education is a proven complete waste of time:

... educational standards, at least the ones that matter to employers, have not improved commensurately. Australian productivity continues to decline. Indeed, some would argue that educational standards today are lower than they were 100 years ago, when hard work, discipline, and memorisation were the only tools in trade.

Yes, all the sheep need is a little rote learning and a little discipline, a little bit of spit and sweat and toil.

What else is required, especially when crafting generalisations designed to send people into a frenzy?

Universities are offering remedial writing courses for recent school leavers, who couldn’t parse a sentence in English to save themselves. The mathematical content of introductory economics and science courses, for example, has declined.

Indeed. And Mr. Creighton trots out an overwhelming array of data to confirm his innate intuitions and suspicions, and no doubt if you look elsewhere than his column, you might be able to find them.

You see, the very best way to call for a dropping of educational standards is to deplore a decline in educational standards ...

Why there's no one left who can parse ancient Greek, let alone Latin, and what's the point of teaching climate science to dumb bunnies, when they're so much better off listening to the wise words of the CIS?

Frankly the wheels fell off the west when they decided to ban kids under nine from working in textile factories, and proposed that nine to thirteen year olds might benefit from two hours of education a day.

To what avail? Have you seen the gibberish to be found on the internet? Who can make sense of it? Who can make sense of Adam Creighton?

Shame, Crikey, shame, and not a mention in Pure Poison, how Crikey has joined the ranks of the trolls, and gone punch-drunk like The Punch by featuring a glib, superficial rant.

Meanwhile, in another corner of the pond, we've only just caught up with Terry Barnes' splendid proposal that it's Abbott's time to occupy high moral ground.

When an arts reviewer - allowed for leave the assembly line for a two minute pee break - was invited to review the column, she suggested that rarely had readers been given the opportunity to read such quality slapstick since the Three Stooges retired.

How about this immortal line?

Cynics may scoff, but those who know Abbott also know that his claim that he would not have done as Gillard did is genuine

You there, stop pulling the other one. And that was followed by this:

By maintaining dignity in contrast to Labor's unscrupulousness, and adjusting quickly to its strategic consequences ...

Dr.No, the antipodean Vladimir Putin downunder, always ready to pose action man style, will maintain his dignity?

Well it sent the Fairfax punters into a frenzy - the amount of comments completely did over that desiccated coconut Gerard Henderson moaning about missing a flight - and it almost made us miss out - so many tears from the laughter - on the grand news of Rupert Murdoch, aka the Don from Downunder, doing his standover routine, as explained by Charlotte Church in Singer waived $160,000 Murdoch fee 'for good press' (warning, forced ad at other end of link):

Charlotte Church has told how she agreed to waive a £100,000 ($160,000) fee for singing at Rupert Murdoch's wedding in exchange for a promise of future favourable coverage in his papers.

Talk about a deal with the devil.

"Despite my teenage business head screaming, 'think how many Tamagotchis you could buy!', I was pressured into taking the latter option," she said in a witness statement.

Tamagotchis! Those were the days, at least until she realised she'd actually bought a Rupertgotchi, and by golly he and his rags gotchied her good.

Wait, there's more. By golly a whole line of hoppy toads and slithering snakes have snuck out of the Murdoch closet, as you can discover by reading The Guardian's live blogging of the event, here.

Hush, hush sweet Charlotte, there have been so many who followed you with whinges and moans about chairman Rupert and his mob, that you've already dropped down the list of people with grievances, as a multitude of other sordid stories crowd into the UK inquiry.

But never mind, you've still got a pretty good story, an immense comfort in old age, what with you as a thirteen year old being paid heaps to sing at Murdoch's 1999 marriage to Wendi Deng, and instead of cash in paw, you got the protection of the Don from Downunder:

Who was to know that the Don from Downunder would do you down, with the Sun carrying a clock counting down to your 16th birthday, along with the sexual innuendo that now you were then of legal age for some naughty hokey pokey.

Credit where credit is due, the News of the World topped that with the news that:

"Superstar Charlotte Church's mum tried to kill herself because her husband is a love rat hooked on cocaine and three in a bed orgies."

Oops, we didn't see where this was heading, because now we have to recant.

Clearly Adam Creighton is right.

There's not much need for a higher level of education in the western world, not while China's getting into the game, and especially not while Murdoch's minions deliver all the news that's fit to print and even fitter to read.

(Below: a question we should all be asking as supercilious education snobs proliferate around the land, and to what avail).

An urgent column from a stranded Gerard Henderson riddled with a sense of entitlement ...

It was one of those breathtakingly simple-minded generalisations - as most generalisations, including this one, are - and naturally it was to be found in a Gerard Henderson column, ushered into the world under the header European culture of entitlement is mercifully absent Down Under.

Speaking of entitlement, it seems the poor possum is having a terrible time:

I am currently in Jerusalem, wondering whether I will be able to make it to London later this week. There is a public-sector strike scheduled for Britain tomorrow, which is expected to close schools and hospitals and there is talk of up to 12-hour delays in getting through immigration at Heathrow.

Oh the suffering of the unentitled.

I must remember to sound similarly unentitled the next time I catch a train in Sydney ...

But back to that sweeping statement:

The concept of governments spending more than they obtain in revenue is common to social democratic and conservative administrations. Yet it is more a phenomenon of social democracy.

Note carefully the ostensibly even-handed first line, followed by the unsubstantiated second, but as evidence for the wild generalisation, Henderson offers up this:

For example, in Britain today the leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, and the shadow chancellor of the exchequer, Ed Balls, advocate greater spending and borrowing as the way of resolving current economic difficulties. The Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, with the support of coalition partners the Liberal Democrats, advocates long-running cuts to government spending and a clampdown on schemes and benefits as an entry to lifelong welfare.

Ye doddering cats and ancient suffering mice, Henderson seems to think that somehow it's Ed Miliband's fault - a man in opposition and without any levers to pull - that the planes are slow in Europe.

When he might have noted that the hapless Nick Clegg - the man who's slept with no more than thirty women - and his party are about as social democrat as they get, or at least so they say, if not their fearless leader:

While he (Clegg) sought to persuade his party that they were now at the centre of British politics, delegates had earlier passed a strategy paper that called for the Lib Dems to fight as a party of social democracy.

The motion that was passed said: "The UK Liberal Democrats are based firmly in the historical and global traditions of the liberal and social democratic philosophy and beliefs." (here, reporting on party voting to affirm commitment to social democracy).

In Henderson's myopic world, social democracy is in fact a stilted euphemism for leftist thinking, but we can now modify his bold generalisation a little:

The concept of governments spending more than they obtain in revenue is common to social democratic and conservative administrations. Yet it is more a phenomenon of conservative administrations because social democrats like Nick Clegg are happy to go along with the degutting Britain ...

In fact, if you wanted a social democrat comedy in three acts, you couldn't go past Nick Clegg, whose party is now in a polling slump of a first class kind - an Australian 'GST' Democrats of the motherland if you will - which helps explain why they're wanting to be seen as the social democrats of the nineteenth century, responsible for every radical reform there ever was:

The presentation, made by the party's marketing director Collette Dunkley, admitted that party had lost much of its public identity as a result of joining the coalition. The document called for more 'short-term political expediency' to boost the party's popularity and said the party should claim credit for momentous historic reforms in the past such as the abolition of slavery and the Great Reform Act.

Both episodes occured before the Liberal party was formed, but the brand advisers appear to believe the Lib Dems can take credit for the work of the Whig party, one of the precursors of the Liberal party in the 18th and early 19th centuries. (here).

The social democrats might be having an identity crisis, as they actively conspire to thwart Gerard Henderson's travel plans:

Last November his role as the number one hate figure for student protesters, who hit the streets shouting "Nick Clegg, we know you, you're a fucking Tory too," seemed to be getting him down. Clegg looked worn out by it all and appeared to be taking things personally. But not any more. (Nick Clegg insists Lib Dems will stop Britian repeating mistakes of the 1980s).

But enough of how those Nick Cleggian social democrats are in the vanguard of doing over students and pensioners in the noble cause of supporting the banks and the City, let's roam a little further abroad.

How about Silvio Berlusconi? Well while the world will fondly remember him for bunga bunga and bizarre attempts to make the Italian system of justice meaningless (as the Economist noted here in 2009), Berlusconi described himself as a conservative, fancied himself as one, and acted like one (it's a well known fact that in Vaucluse and Toorak toga parties have now been tossed away in favour of bunga bunga).

Of course during Berlusconi's conservative rule, the Italian economy developed a severe fit of the wobbles, so we might amend Henderson's rule as follows:

The concept of governments spending more than they obtain in revenue is common to social democratic and conservative administrations. Yet it is more a phenomenon of conservative administrations where bunga bunga rules ...

And then there's the case of Nicolas Sarkozy, another conservative swept into power way back in 2007, and therefore able to take full credit for the current state of the French economy. Perhaps we could amend Henderson's statement to take this phenomenon into account:

The concept of governments spending more than they obtain in revenue is common to social democratic and conservative administrations. Yet it is more a phenomenon of conservative administrations where conservative French presidents are required to have a trophy wife...

And now an aside for the thinking men who might have made it this far in the detailed consideration of the world of social democrats:

Apologies to social democrat feminists, and moving right along, astute political observers will remember that Iceland, the place where some of the economic madness started, has long been run by the Independence Party, a strongly individualist and anti-interventionist centre right party, with a strangehold on supplying Prime Ministers to the country.

Perhaps the Henderson rule needs another modification:

The concept of governments spending more than they obtain in revenue is common to social democratic and conservative administrations. Yet it is more a phenomenon of conservative administrations supported by wild-eyed fishermen and Icelandic big business. (What a pity Ian Parker's Letter from Reykjavik for The New Yorker is behind the paywall).

And so we come to the question of Greece, where in recent days one of the major conservative parties has refused to sign off on reform pledges in return for crucial loans (Greek conservatives reject signing reform pledge).

It turns out that these very same New Democracy chaps were the controlling force in Greece politics from 2004 to 2009, at the time when Greece's problems were brewing.

Of course nothing is but what is not in Greek politics, so there are "liberals" and solid rightists at war within the party (War in New Democracy due to splits), but I think we're now in a position to add another variation to Henderson's rule:

The concept of governments spending more than they obtain in revenue is common to social democratic and conservative administrations. Yet it is more a phenomenon of conservative administrations who think that staging the Olympic Games will bring vast prosperity, riches and tourists in droves.

Oh okay, the Greek conservatives won in March 2004, and the Athens games were only in August, and the deeply conservative Bob Carr government organised the Olympic games in Sydney, thereby depriving Sydney of much needed investment in infrastructure, but if we're in the business of silly generalisations, why not be silly.

It's surely better than making a cheap joke about Greek rural voters supporting the conservatives ...

It almost goes without saying that George W. Bush's administration was profoundly, prodigiously spendthrift, extravagant and recklessly wasteful (heck, let's not have one war, let's have a couple), and John Howard's regime showed an uncanny knack for buying votes by pandering with cash subsidies to voters.

By this time, you can amend Henderson's rule yourself to suit the circumstances, but that brings us back to Henderson, who spends much of the column harking back to former Chairman Rudd's now long ago piece for The Monthly, and berating social democracy, before delivering up further absurdities:

During his years as prime minister between December 1949 and January 1966, Robert Menzies was no economic reformer. But in the early 1950s, Menzies and his Coalition colleagues made a conscious decision not to take Australia down the road of from-cradle-to-grave social welfare.

Uh huh. I wonder what the biographer at the Australian Dictionary of Biography was taking when he scribbled:

In the years after 1958, when the minister for trade (and industry) (Sir) John McEwen was leader of the Country Party and deputy prime minister, promotion of Australian production and export through protection, tariff manipulation and aggressive international trade negotiations became characteristics of the Menzies era. McEwen's department was sometimes at odds with the Treasury, occasionally to Menzies' displeasure. This was the case in 1965, for example, when Menzies rejected—on Treasury's advice—the report by Sir James Vernon's committee of economic inquiry, a document understood to embody the views of McEwen's public service lieutenants, in particular his former departmental secretary Sir John Crawford. Nevertheless, though temperamentally different, Menzies and McEwen saw eye to eye on most matters. On the eve of one Federal election in the 1960s Menzies could write to McEwen: 'There never has been such a partnership as this in the political history of Australia'.

Yes, there's never been a better protectionist government of the old school, with splendid cradle to the grave policies for cockies and squatters.

Now back to Henderson for the rousing finale:

Consequently, Australia never adopted the ethos of entitlement which still affects western Europe and parts of North America. It is this concept which has bankrupted so many governments and which explains the public-sector strikes scheduled for this week in Britain.

Yes indeed. And let's not have any more talk of agrarian socialism, not even as Barnaby Joyce goes into full agrarian socialist mode to snatch the water from the Murray river and distribute it to the long suffering masses yearning for a drink or two.

Talk about a wondrous sense of entitlement. Right up there with Mr. (nee Dr.) Henderson's.

Ain't it grand how a single strike that affects Henderson's travel arrangements stands as an indictment of social democracy, and that in a country currently being run by conservatives and pseudo-Cleggian cons.

Meanwhile we just have Qantas lock outs in Australia, and naturally you can find Gerard Henderson explaining why it was only just and proper that thousands of Australian travellers be stranded by management, and why Qantas workers must face global facts of life.

Well as they used to say at Tamworth High, it seems it's now Gerard Henderson's turn to suck it and see ...

Unless, unless ... could it be that deep down Alan Joyce is a social democrat, at one with the strikers in Europe?

(Below: could this be Gerard Henderson's favourite cartoon this week?)

Monday, November 28, 2011

And now please judges, pass the envelope, and the Walkley award winner is ...

With Media Watch out for the count as the cardigan-wearers strip off their cardigans, and The Hamster Wheel now a fading memory - come back guys and do it again - it falls to the pond to report on the media reactions to the industry's night of nights.

Which is to say not the ARIA awards, full of gowns and glamour, but the dour honest Walkley Awards for toiling journos covering the day and night beats for the Daily.

As you might expect there was some unseemly posturing and indecent gloating, as at the ABC, where there was a big splash:

Oh well played Aunty, and you can read the story under the natural header - ABC wins big in journalism awards.

And there was a fair amount of coxcomb preening at Fairfax:

Oh well done Granny and Pravda of the Yarra, and you can find that story under the natural header Fairfax a big winner at Walkleys, along with a full list of 2011 Walkley Winners.

Even the Courier-Mail, where Murdochism battles with Queenslandism, had a nice little dignified splash:

And the Melbourne HUN had a dab splash featuring their winner:

When all else fails, and you have nothing else, that's also what you lead with over at Adelaide Now, the tattered remnants of the once proud Advertiser, before the minions took hold of it, under the header Jill Baker's tale of courage wins Walkley Award.

And over in the west you could find a discreet mention of a valiant win by a local in The West Australian:
Oh okay, it's beneath a story about Bankwest being sued by an ex-media manager, but at least one westie taught those vile easties what for.

And naturally over at the flagship of the media empire of Murdoch minions, the Mighty Lizard Oz, The Australian, if you looked very hard down, at the bottom of the page, tidily tucked away, you could find this:

Yes, there it is, locked away in the paywall, and quite rightly no boasting or unseemly posturing at all, what with WikiLeaks doing better than the lizard Oz.

But to be fair, at least a mention of the awards scored a a very low rent mention on the digital front page.

How about Sydney's pride and joy the Daily Terror?

Sorry, you might have to click to enlarge on the top right hand corner to find the search term Walkley, and the stern robotic rebuttal "Not found".

Not to worry.

After all News Ltd has its very own awards with its very own website, announcing the internal 2011 Winners, and it's most important in a post-capitalist world, to avoid any notion of competition and judgement, lest you be judged and found wanting.

Could it be that the Walkley judging was dominated by filthy commie pinko perverts who are biased towards Granny and Aunty, and who simply won't give the valiant journalists at Murdoch a fair shake of the raw prawn?

Or could it be that if you spend all your time printing propaganda rather than breaking news, you might miss out on the golden accolades?

We merely report and you decide.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's Sunday, and time for a roast chicken dinner, and Miranda the Devine, who deserves a decent roasting ...

(Above: feeling like a little dumpster diving? Have we got the factory for you).

First an aside.

Only the gigantic fertility Ponzi scheme known as the Catholic church could celebrate the arrival of seven billion people in the world with a column which has an anxiety attack about the world's declining birth rate, and the likely affect on materialist consumption and wealth that might produce.

Yep, it's Sunday, and so the week-old thoughts of Cardinal George Pell can be found at the Sunday Terror under the unseemly header Going Down.

Whatever will happen to the Catholic church if the faithful slow up their breeding? Could it be the front runner as the first Church to become old before it could accumulate even more riches?

Meanwhile the Sydney Anglicans are maintaining the rage about euthanasia in any form (What's voluntary about it?) just as Fairfax brings forward a story about the woes of the aged, in Assault claims in aged care double. Better get active Anglicans ...

But enough of religion, it's a Sunday, so it's on to the roast chicken dinner, and what better time to contemplate the state of the union, thanks to Miranda the Devine.

You see whenever there's something wrong in the world, it's the fault of the unions, and that's how you get a header As the supermarket battle rages, unions are behaving as if it's plunder time in the last days of Rome.

The last days of Rome? Well the Sunday Terror liked the Devine's thinking so well, they gave the piece a little digital splash:

Now there's a picture of someone worn down by constant honest toil and hard work.

The Devine takes an obligatory walk through the painful situation of the comfortable cozy supermarket duopoly that currently runs Australia, starting off with this rhetorical opener:

Who would want to run a legitimate small business in Australia at the moment - especially one that supplies food to Coles and Woolworths?

Legitimate small business? What are we talking about here? Perhaps the Baiada chicken dispute?

Baiada is run by BRW Rich-Lister John Camilleri with his family boasting a total wealth of $495 million (up from $372 million last year). In 2009, the company pulled off the landmark acquisition of Bartter-Steggles, leaving the firm with a massive 35% of the Australian poultry market. (Liberals exposed as kingmakers in bitter chicken spat)

Uh huh. Must be, that sounds like a really small business, and John Camilleri sounds like he's on struggle street, on his very last legs. By golly, already I'm deeply mired in sympathy for him and his suffering.

And so, of course, is the Devine:

After losing hundreds of thousands of dollars during the two-week picket, Baiada, the major supplier of chicken to Coles, capitulated to the National Union of Workers last week with a deal believed to include an 8 per cent wage increase, no contract staff and a doubling of redundancy entitlements. Victorian Farmers' Federation's poultry spokesman Mike Shaw fears further pressure on chicken farmers ahead. "We know the supermarkets have been screwing the processors," he said last week.

You see, it's the last days of Rome:

While workers in private industry just hope to keep their jobs in a grim economy, sitting on 3 per cent wage increases and moving to four day weeks to help cut costs, unions are behaving as if it's plunder time in the last days of Rome.

Uh huh. If it's the last days of Rome, what does that make John Camilleri and his family? Tin pot antipodeans of the Tiberius kind? How about Caligula and his horse?

Of course the workers are making out in a shocking and extravagant way:

Two months ago, Hua cut her finger to the bone when she was boning a chicken at work. Her friend Dao watched in horror as Hua tried to mask her pain and bandage the finger to keep it hidden, knowing the injury could deem her useless to her employer and get her sacked.
Hua is one of the workers at the Baiada chicken factory in Laverton North where, against the odds, striking workers won their campaign this week. On a number of visits to the picket line, I listened to numerous horror stories of workers who worked in brutal conditions and risked their lives for as little as $8 an hour.

Their union, the National Union of Workers, estimated that at any one time, at least 10 per cent of staff were absent due to work-related injury.

The Baiada workers won their demand for temporary staff to be paid the same rates as permanent staff and for an improvement in rights to redundancy and representation.
(Rare victory for workers whose dignity was cut to the bone).

Eight bucks an hour? How positively, indecently Roman of them.

But okay, let's forget the temp workers, the rock ins willing to work for a few shekels. What's the dispute actually about in monetary terms?

Baiada workers are on around $17-19 per hour for permanent employees, with those on casual or other contracts often doing the same work for less. Staff are asking for a 5 per cent pay increase, the company has offered 3 per cent. (here)

Uh huh. Well if you take nineteen bucks an hour, we're talking about 57 cents versus 95 cents an hour. There's a gap between offer and request of 38 cents. How shockingly Roman, how indulgently and debauchedly Roman, right up there with spa baths and running water. Soon enough we'll all be down to our last squillion.

But do go on:

... what the debate is really about is security of work and equal treatment for all employees. The increasing numbers of workers employed as cash in hand, contract or labour hire workers at the plant has undermined pay, conditions and safety for the permanent workforce.

As it so happens, the pond had an extended family member who worked in a chicken processing plant for awhile in recent times, and the pond has seen the work done by chicken processing workers up close. It's messy, ugly, tedious, smelly, and it can be dangerous, if plants prefer speed of processing to safety.

Of all the situations to talk about making out like luxurious Romans, chicken processing is about the last one the metaphor would fit, and it's a measure of the Devine's complacent, indulged, fat cat, sitting on a handsome salary package from Rupert Murdoch screech that she hasn't bothered to head off to the factory, and experience what the workers experience, before giving vent to her fury.

How about a week on the line Devine, and giving up the Murdoch package for the chicken plucker's weekly pluckings? Get down there with Dao and Hua (names changed to protect the innocent).

There had been funny goings on at the factory:

The Age also reported on graphic images taken from inside the Laverton North plant earlier this year and before the strike. Those images showed cockroaches, maggots and the inappropriate storage of raw chickens.

Oh and there's also this:

A worker, Sarel Singh, was decapitated at the Laverton North plant in 2010.

And this:

The National Union of Workers has said cash-in-hand workers were paid as little as $8 an hour at Baiada in Laverton North, and a mass meeting of workers yesterday welcomed the news of a two-year collective deal with cries of ''no more $10 [an hour]''. (here)

Thanks Wyndham Point Cook Weekly. It's nice to get a few other insights into the story rather than those on view in a fat cat Murdoch minion column written by a woman with only one eye.

Meanwhile, as is always, the Devine jumps the shark and nukes the fridge:

Former foreign minister Alexander Downer describes the government as a "wholly-owned subsidiary of the unions", and we will see the effects next weekend at Labor's annual conference, where unions still control 50 per cent of votes and will be pressing home the advantage.

Alexander bloody Downer. Lord Downer of Baghdad himself. Yes he's terribly close to the plight of Victorian chicken pluckers.

And then there's this rhetorical flourish for a closer:

They are like parasites so greedy they don't realise they are killing the host.

Uh huh. Well it's a fair guess as to who's being greedy in the matter of retailing, farming and food processing, and it's a fair bet that the last ones to be making out like bandits are the chicken workers' struggling along in the work environment and on the wages offered by Baiada.

But hey, nuking the rhetorical fridge is fun. Let's do it again:

So where does that leave the consumer? With cheaper milk, staler bread, and ultimately less choice, as your favourite brands disappear and you are left with home-brands, Soviet style, and prices still rising.

Uh huh. So those paragons of the capitalist system, Coles and Woolies, doing what capitalists do, are actually Soviet agencies at work to deliver staler bread ... but it's the workers at Baiada who cop the rap.

I swear to the long absent lord, each time you read the Devine you'll lose a few brain cells, or resolve never to pay a dime for a Murdoch publication again.

Meanwhile, if you want The Age's insight into conditions at the plant, head off to Inside Baiada, dire picture of health, safety (warning, forced video at other end of link).

Roman times indeed. Let 'em eat maggots and cockies.

Never had it so good.

Why in my day I was up at 4 am to start work, and glad of a meal of bitumen and cardboard to get the muscles flexing ... but that was when Romans was Romans ...

But we do thank the Devine for her offer of returning half her salary package to her struggling employer. That's the Roman spirit!

(Below: and now it's time for that roast chicken dinner, photos as featured in The Age, link above).

Saturday, November 26, 2011

And now a reminder to eat, sleep, think, imbibe, devour and enjoy a loon a day ... it'll help keep the doctor away ...

And another thing.

Here's how to run a test on your favourite columnist.

Take anyone who's written about the slippery Slipper sliding into the Speaker's chair, and if they run true to form, they'll mention that it's a cunning political ploy, and that it might backfire, and they'll mention Slipper's past form with expenses and taxi rides and other strange behaviour.

All fair enough, since Slipper is a prime example of a man who gives the deep north a bad name. After all, he was keen to get Joh Bjelke-Petersen into Canberra, and no fairer example of the vision of the man can be found.

Of course it's the fashion these days to deplore Bjelke-Petersen, who was in fact a conservative celebrated by conservatives around the land for his refusal to buckle to dissidents (remember the Springboks tour?), and his keen eye for the value of brown paper bags. Oh Brisbane, what a heartbreak village you were ...

Back when Slipper made the move to deputy speaker, it was one of the keener ironies to see the Spectator, in its local bizarre form, deplore the enthusiasm for Joh:

Readers should recall that, sitting in what is now a safe seat on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, Mr Slipper began his political career as a Nationals MP before embracing the bizarre, quixotic and ultimately discredited campaign to put Joh Bjelke-Petersen into the Lodge. (here)

Uh huh, what a pity these thinking conservatives weren't around at the time to do down Joh in Queensland. (We use the word 'thinking' loosely).

Just remember Robert nee Robin Askin was a conservative politician too, and conservatives under his regime made out like bandits, or at least like the gentry who could see an edge in the Rum rebellion. Oh Sydney what a heart break town you are.

And who can forget Sir Henry 'hang 'em high, hang 'em hard' Bolte, now immortalised by a kinda funny bridge, the conservative's conservative. Oh Victoria what a heartbreak state you are.

But back to the columnists.

If they have only one eye - Piers Akerman in the Daily Terror is the perfect example of vision through the right eye alone - they'll be scandalised at the Labor party's breach of all the noble rules of parliament and what an astonishing precedent the appointment sets. And not just Akker Dakker, but the Bolter and any other number of minions of Murdoch, who do their best to make cheerleading look respectable.

And in the process they'll fail to mention that Tony Abbott was also busy going about the business of setting an astonishing precedent.

What is surprising, however, is that Mr Abbott should pretend that what has happened is illegitimate. In Parliament on Thursday, the opposition accused the government of overturning Westminster tradition by not appointing a speaker from within its ranks. This is laughably false. Speakers of the House of Commons are not necessarily expected to be members of the party in power, and there are precedents in Australian state parliaments for the appointment of presiding officers from outside the government. (here)

And there are precedents involving Abbott, since if he'd been willing to compromise, he could have installed Rob Oakeshott after the election, if he'd accepted the notion that Oakeshott still be able to initiate motions and legislation on behalf of his constituents

Hang on, hang on, don't let little things like that stand in the way:

Around midday on Thursday, Abbott rang Oakeshott and offered to back him on the original terms. While Oakeshott says he politely declined, the approach took some of the edge off Abbott's claim yesterday that he would never do what Gillard did in this instance. (Bitter aftertaste ruins Abbott's toast to future)

Some of the edge?

The golden rule for columnists? If you're going to do over Gillard for hypocrisy, make sure you give Dr. No an equally good roasting. And if you're going to do over Slipper, remember most of his misdeeds occurred while he was a signed up member of the Liberal party, and they didn't do a thing about it, except to look the other way while he was a number in the tally.

And if you can't, you're just another cheerleader.

Well a recent pond correspondent pleaded that those who write with a view to all sides of an issue be given favourable mentions.

This of course flies in the face of everything the pond stands for.

Sure we could go on regurgitating the thoughts of others.

Laura Tingle has a considered column at the AFR, Now the Slipper's on the other foot, and now Tingle has slipped outside the AFR's fatally flawed paywall.

And today Michelle Grattan contributes a piece which considers the ups and downs and the ins and outs and the risks and rewards in Slippery slope for both parties. We used to call it a SWOT matrix, back before the matrix became Keanu Reeves.

Dear absent lord, how we used to hate the marketing team, and Powerpoint.

Sure there are some people within the Murdoch world who are sensible folk, perhaps Jack the Outsider (when he's not inside), or George Megalogenis, or Laurie Oakes scribbling for the Terror ...

But where's the fun in that?

What joy in a balanced, reasonable piece that seeks to explore all sides of an issue, as opposed to the sight of a loon in full cry, slavering and foaming and frothing in full-beaked, snapping fury?

The pond only covers the night beat for the Daily, the dark, dank world of members of the commentariat, who'd sooner smote an angel than be even-handed or admit they're wrong, or who refuse to accept scientific evidence, even when it hits them dab smack in the face like a haddock in a Monty Python fish dance.

While occasionally we dally with Gra Gra Richardson, or Michael Costa, or any of the other present or former members of the New South Wales Labor right, the true joy is provided by the minions of Murdoch, even if the paywall has curtailed the fun.

And so to an apology to said correspondent and other readers who occasionally feel inclined to send an email.

The pond doesn't do email, because this would reveal the IP address, and this is an anonymous blog, not least because its subject is the loon in full flight. (And if you don't know how to find an IP address in an email, why just look in the original full version, or look here for advice. And if you don't know how to track an IP address? Consider yourself blessed).

So it goes, and correspondence is gratefully received, but regretfully we must remain a one note Charlie, a one-trick pony tooting the one tune, a loon lost amongst loons ...

Did we say the paywall has curtailed things? Wrong, wrong, wrong

There are many other ways to have fun, ways we haven't even begun to explore. Why not start with Alexander Downer's diary?

The alarm wakes me, my wife and the dog at 4 a.m.

Too much information Lord Downer of Baghdad. As is this most asinine set of peculiar observations by the Lord:

American carriers are different from ours. I’m trying not to be judgemental but the cabin crew are quite, well, old. On average they are somewhere between my age and my mother’s age. Which is good, in a way. It means there are jobs in America for senior citizens. But it also means the union-dominated American operators are resistant to change. American carriers make very little money, if any, and are saddled with work practices which don’t reflect the modern world. Like Ansett. And Qantas.

What a prat. Like members of the Adelaide Club, no doubt. And just like Andrew Bolt, the Lord is a lover of opera:

Nabucco is on at the Met. Its Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves always brings tears to my eyes. The Jews were hated at the time of Nebuchadnezzar and many still hate them today. After thousands of years of persecution, they deserve a homeland which is secure and safe. But in today’s monde diplomatique, many don’t care about that. Attacking Israel is the fashion.

Beyond satire. Not even Private Eye could do as rich an impersonation of Lord Downer as Alexander Downer manages.

And speaking of doddering oldies in search of relevance, be assured, there's so much more at the Australian branch of the Spectator ...

So we've said it before and we'll say it again. While still relevant, the surrealists and Monty Python aren't as fresh as they used to be, so eat, sleep, drink and munch on loons around you right here, right now, so that you can have a fresh, balanced diet of loon-ness ...

Remember, too much can harm, and too little can lead to a loss of wonder at the absurdity of the world...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Of cannibalism, climate change, Italian opera, and a cheeky shiraz ...

(Above: the Xmas spirit at work outside St. Mary's Cathedral, Sydney).

According to the wiki on the subject of Catholicism in Australia, only 26% of the population toe the Catholic line (Roman Catholicism in Australia).

Put it another way. A whopping 74% of Australians have ignored the siren song of the church.

So what gives this minority church the right to blather on about anything and everything, and seek to impose their minority views on other minorities?

Well might you ask, especially if you can summon up the energy to read Chris Meney rabbiting on about gay marriage, conducting a rear guard action in Australia is not ready to say 'we do' to gay marriage.

Happily the majority of Australians aren't ready to say 'we do' to the doctrinal inflexibility of the church.

But here's how the bluster of the church works, courtesy of Meney:

Although fewer than one-third of Australians feel strongly about the issue, it does have the potential to change votes. If a major party advocates same-sex marriage, they could lose about 2.2 per cent of their total primary vote. Given the significant number of seats that are likely to be marginal in the next federal election it is unlikely that party strategists will fail to note the importance of this survey. Arguments on the basis of principle clearly matter.


That's boofhead lobbying, steel-capped boots applied to the electoral genitals, DLP style.

The funny thing is that Meney spends his entire column explaining how the majority of Australians aren't ready for gay marriage, without once mentioning how Australians aren't ready for the literal - not metaphorical or spiritual, but the actual, physical, incarnate - eating of human flesh and drinking of human blood.

How cheeky of a bunch of cannibals to lecture gays on the immorality of sundry forms of marriage.

Speaking of practitioners of and believers in cannibalism, the pond is most excited to report that Miranda the Devine now accepts climate science. Yes, climate change is happening, it's just that the effects are exaggerated, as you can read in Well fancy that? Climate alarmists exaggerate.

In her summary of the situation, the Devine quotes without any correction or refutation the following:

In the study ... the researchers found that while rising levels of CO2 would cause climate change, the most severe predictions - some of which were adopted by the UN’s peak climate body in its seminal 2007 report - had been significantly overstated.

So she's now on the slippery slope, having accepted the principle of climate change, and now left with only an argument about the impact. So it goes.

The Devine, at time of writing, had only got two comments, neither of them kindly, including this one:

So we are all agreed that ‘rising levels of CO2 would cause climate change’. Good - lets move on to the next question; how are we going to deal with it.

It's all part of the coverage we've come to expect from the minions of Murdoch, and you can of course find it in The Australian.

As the pond now languishes outside the paywall of the mothering bosom of the Murdochs, wailing in misery and despair, we recommend you trot off to Deltoid's The Australian's War on Science 74: Spinning the IPCC Extreme Weather report, which features this quote (from another source):

On climate change, The Australian is behaving like the media equivalent of a fog machine. Its unreliable reporting should be avoided by those with an interest in factual scientific information.

Pay to access a fog machine? Avoid its unreliable reporting? Say no more. Done and dusted.

Meanwhile, you might remember the righteous indignation relating to shock jock Kyle Sandilands being given space in the Murdoch media - which was immediately followed by righteous indignation about Sandilands acting like a dickhead.

And speaking of righteous indignation about shock jocks, the Daily Terror has found space as usual for shock jock Ray Hadley to maintain his ongoing war on Tim Flannery, in Crikey, it's time to set the record straight Tim.

The one bit of the record you won't find Hadley setting straight is that he took a cheap shot at Flannery for living close to water, thereby proving that Flannery didn't really believe in rising sea water levels, and never mind that Flannery dwelt at a point higher than the highest (no doubt alarmist and exaggerated) predictions of sea level rise.

It's an inconvenient starting point, and much more fun to rage about David said this and David said that ...

The most existentially absurd moment in Hadley's rant?

After the story was published, my motives and credibility were being questioned. I was angry and I was worried.

As a shock jock always venting his spleen, Hadley must be in a permanent state of anger, agitation and worry. Thank the absent lord 2GB only broadcasts on AM in Sydney, so people residing elsewhere in the world can feel a deep sense of relief at living in a Ray Hadley, Alan Jones, Chris Smith free zone .

What's that you say? People can rot their minds courtesy of the full to overflowing intertubes by listening live? The intertubes has a lot to answer for ...

And finally, as we near the end of November, it seems we're still in the final days of the Gillard government. You might recall that Murdoch minion Christian Kerr, given a podium on which to ponce and sneer, by Murdoch fellow traveller and expert in radio ennui and tedium Phillip Adams, announced that we were in the final days back on October 17th (and we invited people to listen here for the conclusive proof).

And thanks to Andrew Bolt, we can confirm it is still the final days, as he explains in Time to rewrite the script from fairytale to farce.

Now never mind that the header is bizarre and meaningless, because who on earth would consider Gillard's ascension to PM a fairytale, let's get down to the Boltian meat:

The media narrative of Gillard's recovery must be scrapped once more, with the Prime Minister ending the year right where she started - in deep trouble, with no recovery in sight.

It's a lonely business standing firm against the entire Murdoch empire cheering on the Gillard government (yes we all live in a yellow submarine in an alternative universe), and the pond was reminded once again that Bolt only manages to get through the day thanks to a love of Italian opera and refreshing sojourns in that vile pit of abject decadence, Europe ('I don't have to fear insulting people ...').

It turns out that the Bolt is an elitist of the most arty farty kind, something of a foodie and a wine buff. Does anyone in Sunshine know or care?

He turns up the volume on the CD player above the fridge to lift the mood. "This is one of the great albums," he says, closing his eyes and raising his hands momentarily to bask in the operatic splendour of the Greek singer Agnes Baltsa. "It's just great, just great." Then he pours the shiraz, takes a good sip, cocks his head, purses his lips and nods: not bad. There is no bitter aftertaste, at least not tonight.

Put it another way:

... his fans continue to regard him as one of theirs, valiantly railing against the "elites". By any stretch, it is quite extraordinary how a self-confessed loner, who resides in one of Melbourne's leafier suburbs and sends his three children to private schools, who finds solace in Italian opera and hankers for the high culture of Europe, who is adored by the mega-rich and courted by powerful politicians, has established himself as the frontline defender of common sense and the common man.

It turns out Australia almost lost the Bolt for good way back when, as he experienced the standard crisis of alienated antipodeans, which back in the nineteen seventies meant taking the boat to Britain/Europe and which led Tim Burstall to make an indulgent box office turkey, 2000 Weeks, with its hero anguished at the price of staying down under ...

He loved the seasons, the bustle, the history and found the sophistication he craved. He felt home. He packed flowers and dreamed of never going back. Even today, part of him rues heeding the call of his parents, and of university, to return after one year. "I just lacked that little bit of derring-do."

And so for a lack of derring-do, Australians continue to suffer.

But there is an upside. No doubt the Bolter will be tuning in - after a hard day's night excoriating the Gillard government, climate change, and dangerous shiraz sipping, coffee swilling, European disease worshipping elites - to ABC FM on Monday night at 7.30 pm to listen to Vladimir Ashkenazy conduct Mahler's Symphony No 2 in C minor (Resurrection), with Emma Matthews, soprano, and Michelle De Young, mezzo-soprano.

The Fairfax review was most kind (A rich and brooding farewell to majestic Mahler odyssey), and once again the pond salutes Vladimir Ashkenazy, for his energy and his attention to detail, and the way the SSO is cranking along on all cylinders. It was a great performance even if Emma Matthews was, as the review noted, a tad subdued in her opening moments ...

Yes, it's the sort of performance that makes everyone in Australia despair at the influence of Europe, and runaway Russians, and rail against dangerous elites, so at odds with the joy and delight of addicted gamblers shoving their year's wages down the throats of poker machines ...

.. in the past few months, he (Bolt) has come out swinging against proposed legislation to limit poker-machine losses for problem gamblers. Yet not so long ago, he thought pokies were "evil".
"We must ban them, as we banned them before, when we had moral gumption," he wrote in 2004. "Ban them. Help the weak. Ban them. Think of the children. Ban them. Protect the poor. Ban them. Show some heart. Some virtue. Just ban them."

Why has he changed his tune? "I still loathe pokies," he tells me. "But, ah, well, I suppose I support freedom of choice."

But seven years ago, I point out, he ridiculed this argument. "Banning pokies would indeed 'deny freedom of choice', " he wrote at the time. "That's the whole idea - to deny us all a mean pleasure for the sake of the weak and the poor it destroys."

Bolt smirks. "Let me guess, you're going to say [Channel Ten co-owner] James Packer put me up to it. Or [radio boss] John Singleton." (Both men profit greatly from pokies.)

Bah humbug. No wonder he resorts to opera. Perhaps some day he'll get to sing the role of Scarpia in some amateur outing.

Vissi d’arte, vissi d’amore,
non feci mai male ad anima viva!

Let Hoffnung have the final word on poncing poseurs:

Of sedatives and Sandilands and Slippers and Acca Dacca and Penbo the goose and no, no, no ...

(Above: click to enlarge, not that it has much to do with anything below, but it is a cartoon from the real Punch, the English magazine, and it was found here if you happen to be interested in modernism).

Just who is Stephen Harrington and why does he exist?

He's fast becoming the little sir echo and the Little Lord Fauntleroy of The Punch, as he too disappears down the Kyle Sandilands rabbit hole with A letter to the schoolyard bully who never grew up.

Kyle, I pity you because if you ever read this letter (and I know you almost certainly won’t) ...

Tragic. Enough already. At least as well as looking at the gutter, Richard Ackland has also taken a look at the other radio stars in Trolls of TV and radio would not last a day under print rules, and comes up with a zinger for a last par:

In all of this I can't shake out of my head the immortal remark of the famed American journalist A. J. Liebling: ''Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.'

Ackland notes that amongst the radio stars, Alan Jones and 2GB have finally been pinged by ACMA for getting it wrong and not making reasonable efforts to present significant alternative viewpoints (Fair go: Alan Jones breached broadcast code).

If you can stand the tedium, the entirety of the ACMA report is here in pdf form.

It's a heartbreaking read, not least because of the immense layering of bureaucratese and legalese larded throughout - in complete contrast to the punchy ways of Jones - but also because the offending material was first broadcast by Jones on the 8th and the 11th of February 2010, and here we are now with the findings first being presented in the media on November 23rd 2011.

Justice delayed isn't much by way of justice at all, and the whole thing has now receded with the tide into an apparent inconsequentiality, when day after day the shock jocks bend the truth, bend the reality, warp minds, get things wrong, and get away with it Scot free.

But there is a good laugh in it, as ACMA gravely contemplates what the courts have designated an ordinary, reasonable listener/viewer to be:

A person of fair average intelligence, who is neither perverse nor morbid or suspicious of mind, nor avid for scandal. That person does not live in an ivory tower, but can and does read between the lines in the light of that person's general knowledge and experience of worldly affairs.

Dear sweet lord, so the entire system is set around a bunyip, or perhaps a gryphon, because who can imagine a listener neither perverse nor morbid nor suspicious of mind nor avid for scandal who listens to Alan Jones on a daily basis? Whoever wrote the definition must surely live in an ivory tower ...

Never mind. At some point it might dawn on those scribbling furiously for The Punch and other media outlets about the hideous Kyle Sandilands that they are in fact doing a power of good for the case for media regulation - starting with ACMA getting off its bum, and resolving complaints within three months, and starting with more effective regulation of print outlets, courtesy of the current inquiry.

Speaking of perversity and morbidity, there's a splendid response to the Peter Slipper matter by Piers 'Acca Dacca' Akerman in No Labor MPs can speak for the government.

Once you've worked out the meaning of the header - up there with the riddle of the sphinx - you will understand that being the Speaker, who can't speak for the government or the opposition is exactly like being unable to speak for the government, except if you get to be Speaker you can't speak, but instead must order the world of the speakers ... and somehow this is a problem, never mind that's the way it's always been, and the game of Speakers has been played out over the years ...

With that conundrum sorted, you can proceed at a leisurely pace through Akerman's wailing and tearing of cloth and gnashing of teeth to arrive at this wondrous throwaway line ...

This government is no respecter of traditions (Gillard is the first prime minister publicly labelled a liar) ...

Roll that around on your tongue. Gillard is the first prime minister publicly labelled a liar ... in a country where the chief sport has been to label politicians as liars ever since the first politicians strutted the stage.

Here's Billy Hughes being labelled a liar by cartoonist Claude Marquet in 1917:

If Acca Dacca needs help in how to read a political cartoon, he can find it here. Click to activate the picture Acca Dacca!

You have to marvel at an allegedly senior columnist who can scribble historical (some might say historic) stupidities day in and day out.

Poor Acca Dacca is glum, no doubt as gob-smacked as Tony Abbott might be, and he ends his column thusly:

The future will only brighten when an election is called.

The dark clouds of gloom, the furrowed brow, the morbid sigh, and the years of screeching 'no, no, no' now stretch ahead.

But the raw prawn award for extracting the most bizarre conclusions from the Slipper affair goes to that regular pond standby David Penberthy, in Hokey-pokie over speaker may shaft problem gamblers.

Without a shred of evidence, Penberthy speculates that Andrew Wilkie will be done down, problem gamblers abandoned and gigantic clubs declared the winner in the pokie machine wars, and all because the self-interested Slipper slipped away from Tony Abbott.

If pokies reform becomes the first policy casualty of the vagaries of this minority government, and the horse-trading over the speakership, then democracy is in every bit as much trouble than Tony Abbott said it was yesterday, only not for the partisan reasons he gave.

Put it another way, if this is the level of understanding of government in the Murdoch press (for indeed the lowly 'Kyle Sandilands is a shit' The Punch is part of the Murdoch press), then democracy is indeed in deep doodah but not for the many and varied Slipper reasons the slippery Penberthy gives his readers.

But do go on:

It will confirm that the bleatings of a bunch of Les Paterson impersonators from the leagues clubs in Sydney’s west, with all their cant about the money they channel back into the community after first leeching it off the pokie-addicted working class, counts for more than the demands of a community who want something done on a genuinely shocking social problem.

Uh huh. So now it's all the fault of Slipper doing a bunk, when a much more likely suspect - rogue, fiend - call him what you will - is standing right in front of Penberthy, chanting no, no, no.

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is standing by his comments that if the Liberal Party wins government it will repeal any laws introduced by Labor to set pre-commitment limits on poker machine gambling. (here).

Sorry Mr. Slipper, Dr. No got in ahead of you.

ANDREW WILKIE, INDEPENDENT MP: I actually think he might have just gone too far last night. He's got a bit of a track record of saying different things to different groups of people. And maybe in the heat of the moment last night in an orchestrated rally by the poker machine industry - you know, I'm hoping he went a bit further than he intended to go.

JOHN STEWART: But today, Tony Abbott showed no sign of backing away.

TONY ABBOTT: If it comes before us, we will resolve to oppose it in opposition and rescind it in government.

The biggest problem in relation to poker machines and problem gamblers is Tony Abbott, but reading Penberthy - always anxious to show there's someone lower in the pecking order than geese - can only see Slipper slip-sliding away, and diddling Wilkie.

Speak to us, Nick Xenophon, as if a month ago was a lifetime away:

NICK XENOPHON, INDEPENDENT SENATR: If Tony Abbott walks away from these reforms, if he seeks to destroy reforms based on Productivity Commission recommendations, effectively you're abandoning hundreds of thousands of Australians whose lives have been ruined by poker machine addiction.

Slipper or no slipper, it is entirely within the power of Tony Abbott to assist problem gamblers and end the poker machine wars.

And now we look forward to a series of intense articles in The Punch, explaining why Dr. No couldn't arrive at a series of bi-partisan policies designed to assist these problem gamblers. Just don't hold your breath, or stay awake at night too long ...

There is a zinger of course:

JOHN STEWART: The Communications and Media Authority is investigating whether the comments were political and whether the (Nine) network should have acknowledged who wrote and authorised the message.

At first, Channel Nine said the commentators were expressing their own views, but Ray Warren later admitted the direction came from Channel Nine management.

It's now emerged that Nine's managing director wrote a letter to the Dragons rugby league club three months ago offering to highlight the threat to clubs from the pokies reforms during its rugby league commentary.

Uh huh. On ACMA's current form, that investigation, that inquiry, should after a slow and ponderous lollop through the evidence, arrive at a finding in perhaps eighteen months or so, perhaps even after the next general election.

Sometimes on a dark and soggy November day, it's hard to know what's worse.

The silliness of the media, as exemplified by David Penberthy, or the stodginess of the regulator ... because just as ACMA has now gone into a huddle with 2GB to determine the featherweight penalties to be applied in relation to the Alan Jones matter (perhaps ten strokes of a feather to a covered bum), so in due course Channel Nine will be stripped of its licence and prevented from operating its various channels in New South Wales because of its sordid, appalling politicisation of a rugby league broadcast ...

Hah, just slipped that in to see if you were still awake. Don't worry, Nine will be able to receive its lashing with a turkey feather of its choice, not very big and certainly no firmer than David Penberthy's loose grasp of reality...

And don't worry about nodding off. Talk of ACMA can lead to a deep slumber, about its only use in the world ... a handy sedative if you're of fair average intelligence, morbid, perverse, suspicious of mind, and avid for scandal in the way the pond is ...

(Below: speaking of morbid suspicious minds).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

And so off to The Punch for a most civil and illuminating standard of debate ... with bonus shock jock fever ...

(Above: Kyle Sandilands, the Daily Terror and a Daily Terror advertiser).

David Penberthy, writing as an introduction to The Punch way back when people were new to its alcohol, glass in the face ways:

One thing we ask - we strongly encourage readers to log on as themselves. We’re more interested in hearing from Ian Smith of Box Hill than Dingbat of Box Hill, as we suspect Ian might have something more interesting to say. We not only want to encourage a civil and illuminating standard of debate, we want to give every reader the opportunity to write for the site, under their own name.

Roll on the years, so we can come to a civil and illuminating standard of debate in A hole in his head where his brain should be:

It isn’t really a bombshell observation, but Kyle Sandilands is a dead-set, rolled-gold, card-carrying dickhead ...

Uh huh. Scintillating, and illuminating, even allowing that rolled gold is a pretty low rent form of gold, so the metaphor doesn't quite suit the image of a first water, state of the art dickhead. But do go on:

Why does anyone employ him? (who knows, ask the editor of the Sunday Telegraph perhaps?)

Why would any brand advertise itself on his shows? (not sure, does the digital advertisement for Medibank next to his digital mug at the Daily Terror count?)

The bloke is a piece of shit.

Ah, and so we come to the ultimate civil and illuminating standard of debate.

Naturally, Penbo did well, in his usual way, scoring well over three hundred comments before we stopped counting, mainly from the likes of Budz, Skip, Bobbo, Kika, B4Bear, Pedro, Punters Plan, Nathan Explosion, and so forth and etc. (Way more than the five poor old Georgia Waters copped for Kyle Sandilands' history of offence).

We didn't notice a comment from Ian Smith of Box Hill, but maybe he was lurking down the page ...

Now of course Penbo was writing about Kyle Sandilands, a certified brain dead zombie who stalks radio and television like the living dead, munching brains in the hope he might gain some intelligence, but sometimes you just have to wonder.

Does Penbo ever think back to his idyllic days of innocence, when he projected such a glow of optimistic hope, and now sees the ruins strewn before him?

But wait, I'm still feeling a little famished, the sweet tooth in need of a little more civil and illuminating debate. Come on down Tory Shepherd, and your subject - mindful of Penbo hit envy - is Kyle Sandilands, and your header is Sack bloody Kyle Sandilands. Lance the boil:

He’s a cretin, a hate-filled belligerent whose talent is in inverse proportion to his offensiveness.

Uh huh. Wouldn't be simpler to call him a fuckwit, and elevate the discourse even higher? But do go on, or perhaps we can summarise?

Toxic sludge leaking, dime a dozen dickhead given a voice, tepid giggling co-host Jackie O, arsehats will always be arsehats, but you can passively inhale arsehattery, and so on and so forth, including but not limited to, gibbering nasty insults and a list of Sandilands' past crimes.

Surely this puts you into a Penbo playoff. And sssh, we won't mention that The Punch gave Kyle Sandilands his very own spot in Girl's rape revelation stunned me. Anything for the hits and the faux controversy ...

And yet, and yet, in her list of everybody and everyone responsible, including listeners, Jackie O, big business, Austereo - how dare you remain silent Austereo - Tory failed to mention the daily Terror, the Sunday Terror, and its shock jock fellow travelling ways.

Tory did make one revealing remark:

It may be that you are revelling in all this controversy, as though it’s some confected outrage over a fashion malfunction or a naughty joke.

Indeed, and it might well be that The Punch is revelling in the controversy, whipping up confected outrage because the latest Sandilands outrage involved a stable mate.

But what about other - if we can keep the tone elevated - dickheads at work in talkback radio?

Would you think of Ray Hadley as a dickhead, caught up yet again in controversy, this time Hadley v Flannery: who's telling the truth?

Okay he has a regular column in the Terror, but is that any reason to let his ranting off the hook?

How about Michael Smith, who recently lived to rant another day, thanks to Julia Gillard giving him the Fair Work Act? (Talk about a stench of hypocrisy, given his ranting about Gillard and her deeds, like the Fair Work Act).

What about Chris Smith (no relation) who earned the Power Index award, Sydney's most shocking shock jock?

What about Alan Jones? Dear sweet absent lord, they're even talking of sharing Jones with Melbourne listeners (Mac Radio to share shock jock with Melbourne).

What have the innocents of Melbourne done to deserve this? Isn't it bad enough that they might, through some accidental moment of overhearing, have to suffer the thoughts of Neil Mitchell?

Compared to these megaphones, these cockroaches of the airwaves now spreading throughout the land, Kyle Sandilands is small, if offensive, beer.

Okay, he insulted a colleague in the great Murdoch hive mind, but how about a crusade against all that's wrong with radio in Australia, and a crusade against those lick spittle fellow travellers at the Daily/Sunday Terror who help spread their infamy further? If the pond can just paraphase your final thoughts:

You are culpable, and you must act.

Lance the boil, the Punch. Keep up the campaign to sack Kyle Sandilands, and while you're at it, maintain the rage about all the shock jocks on a daily basis, and especially the shock jocks who are routinely given a perch in the Terror.

Unless of course you're just in it for the hits and the comments, and the incisive, illuminating discourse.

Truly, if they ever want to re-brand the Punch, and give it a title true to the tone of its stories and its loopy demented commentators and commenters, "loon pond" is available for sale.

Then Penbo can write all he likes about pieces of shit, and Tory spit the dummy about lancing the boil, and not wonder where the Shakespearean tone went.

Meanwhile we've spent days agonising over this:
Thanks Fairfax subbie, I've still no idea what it means. Many of the few? Is that the same as fairly unique?

But it surely stands as an excellent segue into the gobbledegook we've come to expect from the commentariat at The Australian, and here's just a few columns at The Australian the pond won't be reading today:

Pay to read an apparatchik rabbiting on about apparatchiks, and how to fix the Labor party, without a whit or jot of irony. Surely they must be dreaming ...

Pay to read Gary Johns, seemingly incapable of reconciling two thoughts in one line, which is that it might be possible to recognise Aboriginal people in the constitution, and support them with a decent educational infrastructure (unless of course Johns wants them to get learning by way of hurricane lamp at midnight).

Now I know they're dreaming.

And then there was this typical outburst by the anonymous editorialist:

What's that you say? There's no gold bar, and it can be read by all who are lukewarm on gay marriage? Yes, and you could throw the pond in the briar patch if you like, but instead of wasting time reading a piece that will be predictable to the nth degree, isn't it time to ask, if you're gay, why you still subscribe to, or read this wretched newspaper?

Think. Again.

You might even be better off reading Paul Sheehan about bad sex writing, unless of course you prefer to revert to The Guardian's older story, Bad sex awards: the contenders for a night at the In and Out.

Being as shameless as Sheehan, the pond offers up The Guardian's Stephen King quote as an exemplary pleasure, and a counter-balance to the shocking sense of tawdriness derived from reading The Punch:

A scene from Stephen King's 11.22.63

"She said, "Don't make me wait, I've had enough of that," and so I kissed the sweaty hollow of her temple and moved my hips forward ... She gasped, retreated a little, then raised her hips to meet me. "Sadie? All right?"

"Ohmygodyes," she said and I laughed. She opened her eyes and looked up at me with curiosity and hopefulness. "Is it over, or is there more?"

"A little more," I said. "I don't know how much. I haven't been with a woman in a long time."

It turned out there was quite a bit more … At the end she began to gasp. "Oh dear, oh my dear, oh my dear dear God, oh sugar!"

(Below: yes, it's a photoshop, but perhaps someone could knock up a "Civil and Illuminating Standards of Debate for Dummies", which might also be of use to The Punch's writers and readers).