Saturday, July 14, 2012

Late Night Snoring ...

(Above: a Catholic logo doing the Facebook rounds. No provenance, but the reader who contributed it assures the pond it's genuine).

Now that a recent unpleasantness is done and dusted, the pond can turn to other matters.

Well not entirely other matters because ars technica has an interesting post up under the header MPAA/RIAA lose big as US backs copyright "limitations", which tracks recent changes in the state of copyright negotiations, and the recent blows suffered by copyright maximalists.

There are already significant limitations and exceptions, most notably the concept of Fair Use and the First Sale Doctrine, and the piece by Harold Feld spends a goodly amount of time on the impact of the anti-SOPA campaign.

Feld does it better than the pond could ever do, and it's well worth a read.

This is another front in the war on internet censorship and giant filters to monitor everything, and what joy to find the United States suffering a few setbacks.

Meanwhile, haring off down another track, the pond would like to celebrate the work of former priest Chris Geraghty, who so beguiled Phillip Adams that the interview proceeded without too many interruptions, and without Adams constantly talking over his guest (and then apologising for completely breaking his chain of thought), and without Adams otherwise acting as a petty gauleiter of his little radio show.

This was in complete contrast to Adams' performance in relation to the Elgin marbles, where he introduced a patsy by the name of Professor Felpe Fernandez-Armesto to maintain that the marbles belonged in Britain.

It was a hoot of ineptness, cross-talk and Adams interrupting, as you can discover by listening at Is it time to return the Parthenon marbles?.

But fortunately one of the comments below the audio link draws attention to a live debate between MP Andrew George and Stephen Fry (send them back) and MP Tristram Hunt, and said Fernandez-Armesto (keep them in Britain).

Bizarrely Fernandez-Armesto has his home at the Notre Dame University in the USA, but is more fervently British than Rudyard Kipling.

It's well worth heading off to the debate to see Fernandez-Armesto shoot himself and his argument in the foot. By the end George and Fry had shifted a straw poll from a majority against the motion to a substantial majority in favour of sending the marbles back to Greece, 384 to 125.

You can catch the debate on YouTube here (it runs a hearty 46 and a half minutes, and in classic YouTube way the damn thing's out of synch), and you can also catch report on the debate here at a site dedicated to Elginism, which is to say cultural vandalism and purloining a national heritage.

The debate was terribly British, but it came out the right way, and it does show how much better off you are finding other sources on the web than relying on Adams.

He gets interesting subjects and guests, and then he doesn't know what to do with them. (And thanks to Belinda, who as well as providing the link, also posted about the debate at her blog here).

To see Fernandez-Armesto in action is one of the pond's most treasured moments in recent times.

But back to Chris Geraghty.

Inspired by his good-humoured defanging of Adams, available here at Crises of the Catholic Church, the pond went in search of other signs of life on the web, and stumbled across a review of his latest book here, which contained these choice quotes:

I felt at that time that the religious leaders I had paid so much notice to were the whitened sepulchres of the new covenant, like the breed of vipers of messianic times. However, over time, my assessment of them has softened a little. I see them now as old frogs, thrashing about in an evaporating pool, full of wind, croaking out the same old message in the night — obedience, submission, conformity in all things.

Bizarrely Adams cut off Geraghty just when he was poised and ready to get juicy about that old croaking frog, full of wind, Cardinal Pell, who was notoriously kicked out of Melbourne and foisted on Sydney.

As usual, a great guest, cut off as he got interesting, and a hopeless interviewer.

And then there was this choice quote:

My Church was like the Commonwealth Bank, like BHP or the Murdoch press. There was one boss, a cohort of sycophantic middle managers and a tribe of little Indians. Like the other institutions, my system cynically mixed fact and fiction together until it was unable to separate truth from horse dung. The CEO in the Vatican governed the international organization by threats and secrecy. The Jesus message was lost in the theological drain, in the interminable reports and internal memos ... the company employed right-wing, reactionary spin doctors and advertising gurus to relate to the masses and waste their money.

By golly the gay priest in the pond family and Geraghty would have a fine old natter together.

And as for explaining how the institutional Catholic church and the institutional Murdoch press can't tell the difference between truth and horse dung ... Magic.

Nor does Geraghty skip around the issue of pedophilia, and what he did when confronted by a tearful student who confessed he'd been molested by Father Vincent Kiss:

... what I should have done was go straight to the village police station at Springwood and report the criminal offences. But my visitor told me later that had I proposed that course, he would never have told me his story. In truth, I didn't know what to do. I was way out of my depth... I suspected that this charismatic character who had gone through the system with me, was some seriously sick priest, but it did not enter my head that he was also a criminal. I was not living in the wide, open, secular world of New South Wales. I had only ever functioned in the ecclesiastical world – the parish, the Catholic school system, the seminary, the priesthood...

So there you go. Geraghty was at his eloquent best explaining how the people he encountered within the institution seemed repressed, and unhappy, or sour or bitter or miserable, and without human company and love that mingled the physical with the spiritual, and immediately images of unhappy Dominican nuns sweltering in Tamworth summer heat and lashing out at the students flashed before the pond's eyes.

In short, the upside of these late night snoring radio adventures?

Some great guests discussing interesting issues.

And the downside? Phillip Adams mangling radio techniques after twenty years attempting to learn how to do it. What a strange world it is ...

So the Elgin marbles should go back to Greece, and Cardinal Pell should stay in Rome, and for a perfect trifecta, Phillip Adams should join them ...

(Below: Geraghty's latest book).


  1. I thought that was a result of special ABC training. I particularly remember Peter Ross in the day and of course Margaret Throsby. I've never listened to Adams but those two would give him a serious run in the Interruption Stakes.

  2. Peter Ross! Now there's a name to conjure with ... but you're wise not to listen to Adams, because even with Throsby and Ross in the race you might do your dough on the Interruption Stakes and storm Radio National demanding the stewards reverse the decision as a result of Adams' constant interference ...


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