Sunday, September 30, 2012

Taking a stand against the girlies with all the usual suspects ...

(Above: that's the statistics out of the way for Sunday thanks to xkcd. Have no doubt that the pond is the fastest growing non-religion down under and likely the world and possibly the universe).

As always, it's hard to know where to start when celebrating pond denizens going about their loonish business. Who could forget the exemplary effort by one David Rouzer?

A Republican congressional nominee laid the blame for turmoil in the Middle East on “girly men” in the White House. 
 North Carolina State Sen. David Rouzer (R), the GOP nominee in the state’s 7th congressional district, levied the charge during a speech at a Tea Party Express rally in Wilmington on Sunday. If Romney is elected, Rouzer said, those perpetrating recent violence in the Middle East are going to “cut it out a little bit [...] because now we have real men in the White House.” An audience member shouted “No girly men!” prompting Rouzer’s approval: “That’s right, no girly men.”

No girlie men!

And what about the Catholic bishop who suggested that voting for Obama would jeopardise the voter's eternal soul?

... I am saying that you need to think and pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy. (here)

Sheesh, screw up your vote, and the malignant, malevolent god sends you off to hell for all eternity.

Now that's the sort of dire threat we need to sort out and save Australia. A vote for an angry Sydney Anglican sends you direct to hell. The Catholics swear it's true.

And if that's not enough the cartoon issue of The New Yorker - where would the world be without its civilising influence - has starkly illustrated the future we all face as Cory Bernardi's insightful prediction comes to pass (click to enlarge):

My wife! My best friend! Did you vote for Cory Bernardi? Do you realise you placed your soul in serious jeopardy in relation to eternal salvation? Or at least being able to look your gay friend in the eye ...

Which somehow brings us to what the Anglicans have been up to this week. And it really is amazing, as some of the most meaningful, hotly disputed cultural, social and theological issues of the day are canvassed in depth:

Oh you don't really want a link to when and how and why to use name tags, do you? 

Why not head off instead to reliably confused Michael Jensen furiously scribbling Blogmatics 19: Image is everything.

As usual Jensen feigns an awareness of modernity, only so he can plunge back deep into time to goat herder days, with a little Enlightenment bashing, as seems to be the form in luddite circles:

‘Man’ as the Enlightenment thought of him, is hopefully dying. This was a proud, independent being, self-made, self-defining and self-proclaiming. He was made only in his own image. He reflected no-one other than himself.

Yes, he even invented an abundance of gods, and has since spent an eternity arguing about which god is the best. Your god's vanilla, my god's ice cream, you're all wrong the gods are a rainbow of flavours.

More to the point, it's the usual yadda yadda about "man" and "he" and "him", perhaps because any talk of "woman" or "she" would simply be too girlie and see the angry Anglican outposts over run by submissive women, who should be seen but never heard, certainly not in a church or as a teacher.

As for the idle chatter about the Enlightenment - code for science - the pond does wish that angry Anglicans would go Amish. 

Give up your motor cars, give up your TVs, heck give up your radios and mobile phones, and hie thee back to the unenlightened days, carrying your superstitions around your neck and chanting your mantras of clericalism.

Enough already, for at this moment, the pond does its usual segue to meditate with Cardinal George Pell, who reprimands Muslims (and quite possibly angry Sydney Anglicans demanding that women submit:

The Prime Minister's comments on multiculturalism were important. It means respecting Australia's heritage, learning English, and accepting women as equals. These are non-negotiables. (Muslim Protests)

Women as equals? The next Pope is going to be a woman? The next Catholic Archbishop of Sydney a girlie? 

Perhaps, if you drop a little acid and enjoy the dream. What a stupid man, lecturing people about glass houses while residing in a crystal palace of non-negotiable delusions ...

But it does bring us in a circular way to Alan Jones. It will be recalled that Jones this year topped the 2012 Ernies with a Gold Ernie (and Media Silver Ernie) against a hot field of sexist pigs with this impeccable remark:

“Women are destroying the joint, Christine Nixon in Melbourne, Clover Moore here. Honestly. There's no chaff bag big enough for these people.”

Turns out that there's no chaff bag big enough to contain Alan Jones' ongoing shame. Jones is in the middle of an uproar over remarks he made to a packed room of Liberals:

"Every person in the caucus of the Labor Party knows that Julia Gillard is a liar, everybody. I will come to that in a moment. The old man recently died a few weeks ago of shame. To think that he has a daughter who told lies every time she stood for Parliament." 

That's about as dog low as a mongrel cur can get, even if presented in the guise of humour. (yes, the pond knows the import of cur, an inferior dog, a despicable or cowardly person).

Jones went on to claim the media had somehow brainwashed the federal Liberal Party to go easy on the Prime Minister because "she's a woman". 
"No, no look, hang on, this is where we are weak. This is where we are weak," Jones said. "Can you believe that they have gone, the federal party because they've been brainwashed by the media to 'oh back off, she's a woman, go easy'."  (Alan Jones says Julia Gillard's father died of shame)

Yes, what this country needs is tough men, who can be tough on girlies.

And the next day the Sydney University Liberal club had the cheek to tweet this:

 "Brilliant speech by Alan Jones last night. It's no wonder he's the nation's most influential broadcaster!" 

Influential if you happen to be looking for parrot seed for young Liberals.

Nauseating. Well today everyone is in retreat, with Liberals scattering left right and centre like a flock of denialists, doing the "no hear, no see, no speak monkey" routine, amidst calls for boycotts of 2GB and their advertisers.

It's not just Malcolm Turnbull giving the parrot a hard time. Even the Bolter has turned on him (Die of Shame). Even the feral Murdoch pack is astonished:

Happily the pond already boycotts 2GB - and you can too. Why not lean over from the back seat and say to your taxi driver, "I say driver, will you turn down or turn down that shitty squawking parrot" - but now is the time to maintain the rage in relation to the station's advertisers. Let them feel the heat.

They're all up to their necks in it, with the Anglicans' idle chatter about submissive women, and Catholics pretending they run an equal church, and Alan Jones going lower than an American politician sticking it to girlies.

Let them all die of shame, or at least go behind the bushes or into a Catholic confessional or off to a London toilet to do their idle girlie wanking ...

(Below: click to enlarge. It's been doing the rounds for awhile, but the pond is a mortein site, so on a Sunday let's hear it for Norway).

Saturday, September 29, 2012

If it wasn't for evil secularists, we could have had crocodiles for pets ...

(Above: Clara Bow, she had "It", just like Tony Abbott. Hang on, hang on, what's this?)

(Above: eek, she was a bloody redhead. Well that's not like Tony Abbott. And did you know Clarence Badger directed two movies in Australia? And can you name them?)

It's always fun to start with a guessing game. Who scribbled:

... my religious instruction did tell me to listen to the reasons given for conscientious conclusions, and on this Abbott, I'm afraid, does well. He's wrong about the boats, he's wrong about the debt, he's wrong about climate change. But he stands for something. 

Something? It, the X factor? He's Clara Bow?

Yes, it's terribly important to stand for something, and it seems that Peter Craven, "culture critic", stands for stupidity.

Wouldn't that sentence have read a little bit more sensibly if Craven could, in all seriousness, have scribbled Abbott's right about the boats, about debt and about climate change?

And another thing:

My heart does go out to him a bit, however, when he gets abused because Marr has unearthed stories about his denouncing poofs and deriding dykes and punching walls in the vicinity of women's heads. But that's partly because around the same time I was marching the streets singing songs in honour of the mass- murdering tyrant Mao Zedong. And what's a bit of wall pounding compared with a youthful enthusiasm morally equivalent to membership of the Hitler Youth? 

Moral equivalence? We should care that Craven was a Maoist nong? And that makes his current nongdom okay?

Moral? Once a political twit, always a political twit ...

Lordy lordy there's plenty more to bewitch and bemuse as Craven struggles to work out why he feels such a man love for Abbott while the red-headed vixen leaves him cold, and you too can enjoy his feats of ambivalence by haring off to The mystery of Abbott's appeal.

You might conclude there's an even deeper mystery, which involves wondering why Craven manages to write about politics in such a foppish way ...

But enough already, let's get on to the professional sycophants, and who better in his sycophantic ways than Christopher Pearson to start off a Saturday? Yep, there he is scribbling away furiously, explaining how Coalition has cred on defence (inside the paywall and aren't you glad).

Who'd have guessed defence is a real winner for the Coalition. Okay, it's hardly news or worth wading through Pearson's turgid worshipful prose, because in Pearson's eyes, Tony Abbott has cred everywhere.

He's Cred Man incarnate, higher than Duff man, right down to his Reg Grundies. Every week Pearson continues to amaze with his worship of Abbott, and every little move he makes, and every heart he breaks, and yet bizarrely he'd probably reject suggestions that he's an idle propagandist of the basest kind, preferring to imagine himself as a fiercely independent commentator with a mind of his own.

Which only goes to show how delusions are rampant in the modern world.

Speaking of delusions, the real winner this weekend is a delightful piece by Angela Shanahan explaining how religious fundamentalists have much in common, as they suffer blasphemy together and battle wicked secularists.

It's all there in If nothing's sacred then we are in trouble (behind the paywall to limit the impact of the toxix fundie fumes it gives off).

You see there's rioting on the streets, and then there's religious harmony:

In June I had the privilege of moderating the 10th Abrahamic faiths conference in Sydney. The theme of the conference was the family. We were a pretty mixed lot of Jews, Christians and Muslims, and, interestingly, all the speakers were women. 
 Naturally, as mothers and grandmothers we found some very strong unifying ideals. We all acknowledged the social function of the family; but because this was a conference based on our common faith heritage, we also strongly confirmed that for Christians, Muslims and Jews alike the family belongs not just in the realm of the everyday but in the realm of the sacred. It is the image of the eternal bond between God the Father and man, his creature. 

Yes, yes, but you all believe in a different god, with different notions of what makes a true believer, and according to your beliefs, one tribe's picked a winner and the other tribes are losers destined to go to hell (just ask an Angry Anglican).

Why there's even some who believe in the eternal bond between God the Mother and woman, her creature ... But do go on:

In the rush to condemn the violence and analyse its causes, not only have we ignored many of the things we have in common with Australians of the Islamic faith but some of the opinionated have started to condemn all faiths. Atheists and the superficial secularists have seen an opportunity to weigh in and condemn all religion, and particularly what sparked all this: the idea of blasphemy. 

Yes, yes, where would we be if we forgot the Catholic notion of persecuting the blasphemers and in particular those opinionated superficial secularists. Why it's ignorant and perverse!

We in Australia are used to ignorance about religion, but this reaction is almost as extreme as that of the Muslims in Hyde Park. It is a kind of reverse intolerance. It declares, by some perverse logic, such as that of US political scientist Emanuele Ottolenghi, that the shocking Muslim reaction to blasphemy justifies further trampling on the intimation of the sacred, an intimation that all religions, not just Muslims, have in common. 

Religious fundamentalists unite! If you lose the right to abuse the blasphemers, where will it all end? Piss Christ?

Accordingly we get the puerile and quite revolting notion that pornographic images and blasphemy are equated with freedom of speech. Liberty is not merely being unconstrained by blasphemy laws, as in Australia, but we must deliberately go out of our way to insult, to commit blasphemy, so that, to quote one correspondent, Islamists can "catch up with the rest of the world on freedom of speech and freedom of religion". 

Because deep down your average fundamentalist Catholic is at one with fundamentalist Islamics. If only they hand't abolished the Inquisition and the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

Does one need further proof that some commentators simply don't get the problem Islam has with the West at all? Another aspect of the fallout from the riots in Sydney is that although it has complex origins, we have fallen into two glib camps. You are either a proponent of "Western values" and secular "freedom" or else you are naively on the side of the "mad Islamists", a victim of "moral relativism". 
 By what right have the super-secularist opinion makers, who despise the sense of sacredness common to all religious people, elevated themselves to be the only spokespeople for "Western values"? Meanwhile, the religious traditions that attempt to put themselves into the public square on social issues with coherent, ancient, common philosophies are derided as irrelevant and narrowly religious. 

Oh those damned heathen, atheist, filthy, super-secularists, always out there in the streets rioting about the elevated sense of sacredness to be found in religious people, who have a set of simple coherent policies - like persecute teh gays and strip uppity women of their new-fangled notions of equality.

Submit, angry women, and if you find submitting to your current partner repugnant, make sure you find  an Angry Anglican. He will accept your submission, and offer you a set of nifty handcuffs for some jolly night games.

 Our understanding of our origins, particularly of the Judeo-Christian moral tradition, is so pathetically weak. How can we attempt to combat the real clash of cultures that Islamo-fascism presents to the West when we don't really understand or respect our own tradition? Hence we have no real yardstick to judge freedom of speech and freedom of religion. 
 Blasphemy? Who cares? That is the message from those for whom religion, the numinous, the spiritual in general, is a no-go area in the great democratic-values free-for-all. And what values would those be, exactly? The values that allow 100,000 abortions every year, the values that try to equate any sexual relationship with the sacred relationship that can of itself generate children, the very nucleus of the family? And what about that "value" of free speech? A great value, to be sure - unless you are Cory Bernardi. 

Yes, yes, because there are blasphemers everywhere. Stone them. These damned secularists just love abortions, why it's water off a duck, and nil emotional impact for a secularist woman to agonise over having an abortion. And as for those damned gays, they can't have children, they shouldn't have children, it's indecent, it's flagrant. Stone them, or next thing you know we'll be on the great slippery slope where everyone fucks everyone, and the animals scuttle inside in fear because Cory Bernardi couldn't save them and bestiality and zoophilia is rampant and we all live in William Burroughs' The Naked Lunch, with quivering and twitching boy spasms spreading jissom everywhere ...

And where do these values come from? The opinionistas usually identify them with great pomposity and certitude as Enlightenment values. Was that the Enlightenment that produced the United States of America, or the Enlightenment that produced the Terror and then the Directoire? What of the values that produced the Decalogue? They are beyond the ken of many of the opinionists. 

Those damned atheist opinionists, with their guillotines and their terror and all because Marie Antoniette cared to offer them cake and a cup of tea!

As if somehow they'd got their ideas of torture from the Jesuits! Don that cilice, you opinionated opinionists, and see real decalogue values at work. And make sure there's some blood, just to show you're serious.

 We will never understand the human in each other unless we understand what other human beings hold sacred. What is more, we cannot understand others' sense of the sacred unless we take the time and make the effort to understand what we should hold sacred. 

Yes, indeed. The pond holds deeply to the sacred notion of cannibalism, the munching of human flesh and the imbibing of human blood. And you too can get that notion of the sacred at your local Catholic church on any Sunday you like, unless you like to retreat to the Amazonian jungle because it feels more natural ...

The problem is we have lost that sense. We are completely cut off from our Judeo-Christian roots, so we know nothing about how to argue about religion. 

Completely cut off, I tells ya. The Pope disowned, the Angry Sydney Anglicans mocked, and yet they go on and on and on and John Howard talks up the history wars, and yet they snipped our roots ...

What relevance can Pakistani blasphemy laws have for us, even if they are abhorrent? We point the finger at others but it is partly an attempt to compensate for our own intolerances. Anti-blasphemy laws make more sense than the "hate speech" laws we have at present, which can cause a person to be quite arbitrarily hauled up before "human rights" tribunals, the secular equivalent of blasphemy tribunals. 

And so it pops out, like a little hoppity toad. It seems Shanahan would love to bring back blasphemy laws, instead of this secular nonsense about being polite and talking of human rights.

 I, for one, am fed up with having to put up with anti-Christian blasphemy. 

But never fed up with explaining how teh gays can't produce beebies.

I can't see how Enlightenment values are helped by this. Paul Kelly touched on this; it stems from the notion that there are no sacred domains. 
 Today's secularism is merely disdain for religion. In fact, there is a growing body of opinion that religion is dangerous. The voices of religion do have to compete in the same arena as every other idea - no matter how lacking in philosophical depth - but respect all around, especially for dearly held beliefs, is not such a bad thing. 
 I have lived among Jews in the eastern suburbs and Muslims in southwest Sydney. I have often sat with Muslims and Jews, intelligent people with strong religious and secular ideals, keen to co-operate with and understand one another. It is very wrong to characterise all Muslims as nutters. 

Yes indeed, but not so wrong to suggest that poor old Cory Bernardi was out of line. Or berate opinionated secularists, as if they're a vast herd of group thinkers all moving in the one direction like a flock of foolish unbelieving sheep.

Of course there are a few problems with the Muslims. They breed like crazy, they're dole bludgers and they're easily taken in by crazy fundies, but of course it would be wrong to characterise these fundies as nutters. They're just being misled by fomenting ratbag extremists, like a bunch of dumb goats and boofheads dragged by the nose into street riots:

 ... as some imams have pointed out, there are plenty of ignorant ones, and there are plenty of young and unemployed ones. The mean Muslim birthrate is four times the national average and, especially in southwest Sydney, Muslim unemployment rates are more than double the average. Surely this combination, as the English experience shows, leads to a drift towards crazy fundamentalist do-it-yourself garage mosques. Whether the drift continues is partly up to us. 
 The marginalisation of young Muslims is not the reason for the recent outbreak. It is being fomented by extremists taking advantage of the large numbers of Muslim youth. But neither is marginalising them the answer. We can't trivialise, insult and stamp on things that people hold sacred and, at the same time, expect to have our own vague ideas held sacred. 
 The only answer to this is for all the people who do still have some reverence for real values, not just of the Enlightenment but perhaps those contained in the Decalogue that preceded it by thousands of years, to speak out.

The Decalogue?

What, like not having carved images or any likeness of anything in heaven above or the earth and water beneath? Smash up those pagan Catholic temples.

How about serve the wrong god and false prophets like (take your pick) Jesus or Mahomet?

Take your break on a Saturday? Or is that a Sunday?

Not murder? Quick better whip up an excuse for a just war.

Not covet a donkey or an ox? But what about a Ferrari?

And so on and so forth. Truly it was a sublime read, and as always we can thank that bastion of fundie conservatism, the editor of the lizard Oz, for cultivating religious fundamentalism as a healthy corrective balance against the chattering, secularist, inner city, chardonnay-swilling, opinionated elitists. So many cliches, so many stereotypes, so little time ...

And the real tragedy? Trapped behind the paywall on grand final day, few will read it and understand the deep synergy between religious fundies of all stripes, because the real religion is football.

Now if you want to take a stand against that religion, be prepared to be caste into the wilderness. The anti-football league is torpid, Keith Dunstan long gone, and while a few valiant souls struggle on with a lunch, you could riot on the street in Melbourne today and no one would notice.

Naturally it's all the fault of opinionated secularists ...

(Answer to the riddle: Clarence Badger directed Rangle River with Victor Jory in 1936 and That Certain Something  in 1941. Never heard of them? With a bit of luck you'll be able to say that about the scribbles of Angela Shanahan in due course).

(An oldie but an always relevant goody)

(And now for a little comedy. Turns out that evil humans made dinosaurs go naughty. Naturally it's all the fault of militant, immoral, source of all evil, guillotine loving, anti-religious blaspheming, abortion-loving, bestially inclined, filthy, vile, opinionated secularists. Imagine! We could have had nice crocodiles for pets if it wasn't for them. Found here).

Friday, September 28, 2012

Yes, it's time for the culture and history wars, as the pond gets down wit the galahs and the bent bananas ...

(Above: Barners as a saint copping the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune for his china plate).

Speaking as a galah in a pet shop, how pleasantly distracting it was to read an actual report on the body blow recently suffered by former Tamworth lad Barnaby "Barners" Joyce.

As always, there are two sides to the story. On the one side, there's Michelle Grattan's Barnaby's rise hits bump in the road, noting how sitting member Bruce Scott has thwarted Barners push for the seat of Maranoa, leadership of the Nationals and in due course deputy PM:

While some Nationals are disappointed, there will be a few Liberals quietly clapping Scott's decision. The economic dries despise Joyce; the possibility of his one day being deputy PM appals them. Tony Abbott, though, might feel for him - the two are quite close. 

Hmm, how to spin this tragedy?

Come on down Dennis Shanahan, last heard on ABC radio explaining how the Labor party clutching to a surplus was a bad thing, even if a deficit would produce a feral howling from the pack of hounds in the Murdoch press, which would be a good thing even it was also a bad thing. Yes you can get them coming and going in Shanahan's world, and think nothing of the inherent absurdity and hypocrisy of the contradictions.

And you can elevate Barners to martyrdom, as Shanahan does in Decent Barnaby takes one for his mate (inside the paywall, but why should you care?)

Yes, amazingly, a feud over standing for a seat can be presented as a triumph for Barners. Tamworthites will surely shed tears at the sight of such an heroic lad:

...this week Joyce took a decision that defies the stereotype and shames some of his Liberal frontbench colleagues who suspiciously circle each other and have had self-indulgent outbursts that have seriously embarrassed the Opposition Leader without achieving any material or political gain. 
 Joyce also took the decision with a rightful eye on the likelihood the election will not be fought with such a disparity in the polls between the Gillard government and the Coalition. 
 Joyce's choice came down to this. He could pursue his ambitions to move to the House of Representatives and up the Nationals' leadership ladder and - being in the frontline of any Coalition government - create a damaging, destabilising and debilitating internal Nationals' fight all the way through to the election. Or he could put aside his ambition and help the Coalition and his "Reg Grundy" mate, Abbott. 

Positively heroic. It seems Toners and Barners share their undies (reg grundies to you mate).

Shanahan goes on and on and on in an ecstatic rapture about Barners decision to walk away from the fight, channeling Barners or perhaps just taking dictation.

It seems sophisticated Liberals must now learn the importance of xenophobia:

What is a self-evident truth for Queensland veterans - such as retiring senator Ron Boswell, who took on Pauline Hanson and won - is not appreciated by the Liberal sophisticates who don't have to ensure basic concerns and fears about foreign investment have to be listened to and considered. 
 The other error Liberals have been making is to think Joyce's voice is a lone one. When Joyce expressed concerns about the sale of Cubbie Station, those concerns were widely echoed and supported by Nationals MPs. Joyce may have been prepared to "pour oil on troubled waters" but he's not giving up stirring the pot.

Which is why the pond joins with Senator Joyce in demanding that the filthy British with their slanty eyes and slack-jawed poncy dialect be kicked out of Australia at once.

You see culmulatively those damned British swine own more of Queensland than anyone could possibly imagine, and way much more than the hopeless Chinese have managed to date:

Maintain the xenophobic rage!

Speaking of rage, The Australian is all in a lather today about a revival of the history wars, thanks to someone exhuming John Howard.

Naturally they put Howard's piece behind the paywall, even if the pond finds it hard to imagine anyone paying anything for the thoughts of Howard, especially when he allows himself to be positioned under  sublimely stupid header, Bizarre history curriculum studies Kylie not capitalism (behind the paywall and aren't you grateful).

It seems, bizarrely, that Howard is incapable of understanding how Kylie Minogue, and the international packaging and marketing of this product, is a prime example of capitalism at work. How would he get such a peculiar misunderstanding?

... as historian Greg Melleuish has pointed out, for some extraordinary reason, those who wrote this curriculum, in their infinite wisdom, believed that AC/DC and Kylie Minogue are more important to an understanding of the globalising world since 1945. And I say that with much respect to a talented entertainer.

Sigh, yep, from that valiant conservative dodo, that baleful pedant Greg Melleuish.

Why would John Howard pick on the few examples of successful Australian cultural exports to a globalised market? Could he be - the pond hesitates, but has to say it - un-Australian? And we say that with much respect to a talented and always entertaining politician.

The rest of Howard's piece is a standard bit of conservative rhetorical ranting, of the two legs good, four socialist legs bag kind, which boils down to a whine, a whinge about the way that the draft history curriculum is a deeply offensive socialist Marxist Leninist plot that stands for everything Australia, Australians and John Howard and Greg Melleuish are against.

It will not allow for analysis of the impact of other political and economic philosophies, or of other nations and their leaders, on the former Soviet system. But then that might have invited acknowledgment of the roles of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, and I get the impression that the draftsmen of this curriculum would not have wanted that.

Oh forget Maggie and the pious Pope and Ronnie and his wife consulting the tea leaves and the stars before senility set in, there's a more egregious slip to spot.


Yep, it's a dead giveaway that we're dealing here with a fossil, perhaps from the Paleolithic age (let's hope they include that period in the curriculum).

So it's goodbye and farewell to the likes of Louise Zarmati, valiantly arguing that the draft curriculum doesn't have a deliberate ideological bias, or doesn't discriminate against the foundations of Western civilisation and the Judeo-Christian ethic. (Here she is having a futile unwinnable debate with that prancing poodle and ideologue Christopher Pyne).

Draftsmen? It's such a small slip, but such a revealing slip.

By journey's end, we're back in the land of the xenophobe and Aussie oi oi oi.

Australian school students will not be required to learn, in detail, about the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia through the federation of the colonies in 1901, without question the most important event in our national history. Need I say more? 

Well yes actually. Some might argue that the invasion was the most important event in our national history, since it got the white fellas going. Where would the federation be if Napoleon had run the show?

Any course which can defeat the platitudes and certitudes of retired irrelevant gong-banging former politicians gets the pond's vote.

Debate and discuss and we'll have all papers in by Friday or it's an automatic fail!

My fear is that if this curriculum remains unamended, young Australians of the future will be denied a proper knowledge of our nation's history.

Yes, fear. It worked so well for you as a politician, no doubt it will also do the job in the history wars. Fear, fear, fear. Fear the Chinese, fear alternatives, fear draftswomen ...

It so happens that in a former life the pond once taught Australian history. The pond was bored, the students were bored, and it was a devil of a job to put life into the stump-jump plough. Or come to that federation. After all, it's a distinguishing and virtuous feature of Australian history - apart from the odd black massacre, Eureka Stockade, two world wars and lots of minor wars - that it's inclined to be dull.

So we used to do a little cultural history along the way, and where's the harm in that?

Roll on Kylie Minogue, incarnation of globalisation, branding and capitalism, the Margaret Thatcher of pop.

How stupid conservatives can sound.

And naturally right beside John Howard, whispering in to our ears, is Dennis Shanahan, celebrating the news Howard revives history wars (behind the paywall and aren't you lucky, lucky, lucky, you should be so lucky in love).

Talk about galahs.

And now I know you're looking for some more galahs nattering away in the pet shop. Yes, they're still not over Lindsay Tanner in Murdoch la la land, which is why you can hie yourself off to the punch-drunk Punch, and get yourself not just one, but two galahs this sunny morning.

Item one - galah Simon Benson delivering Labor's still got some serious bugs to work out, and item two - galah Mark Kenny with Roll up, roll up, for a peek inside the Labor circus.

Enough already with the galahs. As Barners already knows, the only way to eat a galah is to put it in a pot with a stone, and boil for hours. When the stone has softened,  throw away the galah and eat the sone.

The pond resolves this day to throw away the galahs, and eat John Howard's stone-age history. At least until tomorrow ...

(Below: the only positive thing that can be said about the Barners spin is the way the accompanying illustration by Eric Lobbecke takes the piss out of Barners, and Dennis Shanahan, with an evocative cane toad leaping towards Tony Abbott. Well played Mr. Lobbecke, how pleasing to see a few retain a bent banana sense of humour inside the home of the culture and history wars. Barner's demonic look and the collar hinting at sainthood is almost worth the price of admission. Almost).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Doing a gig with the internationalist world government conspiracists ...

(Above: the bearded one calls it).

Not only did The Chaser lads start off their new season of The Hamster Wheel with a truly dire lounge lizard song - dire beyond any satirical need or whim - they failed to deliver a single Gerard Henderson joke.

Now it's well known that the simple mention of the lads - or the age the lads are, which should stop them being called lads - is enough to send Dr. Henderson into an apocalyptic frenzy.

Come on lads, you know he's secretly, furtively watching for that joke that will send him into a frenzy. Please, oh please oblige ... you can still have your fun with bestiality and rioting Oz party goers.

Meanwhile, if the bearded one at the Oz is correct, then we should Forget the spin: the gig is in the bag. (behind the paywall, so don't forget how to google).

Greg Sheridan is somewhat downbeat in his prediction, loaded as it is with caveats:

The one consolation of winning is that we won't have to run again for another 25 years. 
 But the official assessment is we've already won. 
 If we lose from here, well, good grief.

Yes Charlie Brown, if we can't beat Luxembourg and Finland, we should give the game away, considering how we've wasted aid money and sucked up to Arab and African nations, as if building a wall right across a country is some kind of indication we might be in a Berlin situation.

Oh it's a scathing denunciation alright, of betrayal of hopes and dreams, and of distorting futility:

... the government believes it is already home on the pledges it has received. 
Of course, as it's a secret ballot, it is always possible that countries have lied to us, or will simply change their minds after they have given us commitments. 
This was a good year to enter this contest. 
 Entering late meant the process distorted our aid and diplomatic objectives for only a few years instead of a whole decade. 
 And it would be absolutely impossible to find weaker candidates to run against in the Western Europe and Others Group than Finland and Luxembourg. 
 We are 46 times as big as Luxembourg.

Yes, might is right, and size counts - oh how it counts - but how deluded and pathetic of this Labor government to pretend, to imagine, that a seat on the UN is anything but an ostentatious display of hubris and a complete waste of time.

It's quite likely that as a result of this nonsense, Australia will be involved in the black helicopter program and plans to introduce world government licketty-split to combat climate change, and there will be a nauseating display of preening self-congratulation:

You can just about write the stories now. They will go something like this . . 
The vote was going down to the wire, we were still behind coming into the home stretch, but Julia Gillard's magnificent speech to the UN General Assembly, and her personal diplomacy with African leaders, just got us over the wire.

And think of the cost, when we could be bribing Iraq to take our wheat and the world to take our bank notes!

Appalling, shocking, disgusting. Trust Piers "Akker Dakker" Akerman to finger the grotesque hypocrisy surrounding this wretched display of hubris:

Though our gallant leaderette was too ill to speak to a distinguished gathering of New York financiers and economists, leaving that to Foreign Minister Bob Carr, she did manage to pull herself together sufficiently to make it to an all gals gathering promoting gender equity. 
 Gender equity? she flew halfway around the world to promote women in the workforce? 
 That’s right. That’s what she did. 
 The draw card? St Hillary of Clinton. 
 Yes, folks. Our own Julia and Hillary on the same stage. How good does it get? 
 Kath and Kim aren’t in it. (Gillard's UN spin puts gender first)

Naturally the man who coins terms like 'leaderette' while anointing St Hillary and evoking Kath and Kim is deeply concerned about gender equity, and the way it's suffered under Labor while we pursue chimeras and pipe dreams at the UN - you know, like Mollie the horse in Animal Farm, always chasing sugar and wearing red ribbons in her white mane.

Yes, women of Australia, if you want someone who cares about you, abandon that red-headed dragon 'leaderette' and hop into bed with Akker Dakker.

The pond calls on Tony Abbott to immediately promote the virtues of splendid isolationism, where perhaps once a year Australia might tell the Indonesians that people smugglers are their problem, and we'll be turning back the boats for them to deal with.

Perhaps a biennial meeting with New Zealand might help, and a triennial get together with the Pacific islands, and there you go, diplomacy done and dusted.

How sensible of the Howard government to fail dismally in 1996, how good of John Howard to put a sock in Alexander Downer's pipe dreams in 2004, how shocking to realise that it's only under Labor that the UN has flourished, with seats in '46, '56, '73 and '85.

Oh sure you might quibble and propose that it was Billy McMahon that set the 1973 sitting in motion and that it was Bob Menzies who got us up in '56 - the pond always suspected he was a fake Liberal, a closet internationalist of the British kind.

Surely we should remember that it was that ratbag Doc Evatt who set these ostentatious displays in motion, and even got himself the nod as President of the General Assembly back in '48. (here). And so the international conspiracy of a world government began and continues to this very day.

And what good did any of this do us? Nadir, zip, when we could have lived in splendid isolation. Fancy imagining Australia might, or could or should have anything to contribute to world affairs if it's coming from the preening coxcombs of the Labor government.

Please excuse the pond if it trots off behind the bushes to have a dry retch in sympathy with Greg Sheridan.

Ah that's better, and surely the pond is now ripe for its very own column at the Oz?

What? This outing lacked the appropriate tone of condescending indignation and dismissal, and sneering snidery and pro-Israel banter?

Never mind, perhaps there's a gig handy at the Daily Terror, reporting on riotous incidents at Ray Hadley's home.

Yep, it turns out that you can do plenty of damage without associating with a single Islamic in the streets (Police probe Ray Hadley party).

Hadders is tough on rioters and tough on the soft marshmallows that want to go soft on property damage (ah remember the good old Media Watch days of Toasting the marshmallow) so let's hope someone gets to the bottom of this and puts it on the front page of the Terror, purely in the community interest of course.

It turns out that poor old Hadders is in the wars at the moment, what with Attorney-General Greg Smith suing him for defamation in the NSW Supreme Court today (Smith takes Hadley to court for defamation).

Occasionally the pond daydreams about taking columnists and shock jocks to court on a daily basis for defaming and distorting the truth, but sadly this is only a sign of incipient senility.

Let's just settle for Chris Willis of Channel Seven having a go at Hadders:

"Being accused of bias by Ray Hadley is like being accused of being overdressed by Lady Gaga," Willis said. (here)

Which in a serendipitous way brings the theme of shock jocks and world government conspiracies together.

Who can forget the way that Alan Jones talked to Lord Christopher Monckton about so-called global warming, the way the Copenhagen treaty is actually about creating an unelected world government and the way the carbon tax would - despite it being quite soft bit of gesturalism with a soft-feather touch - bankrupt the nation.

And now Australia wants to join the unelected world government with a seat on the UN!

Ah those were the days, when Jonesy and the good Lord called out the internationalist conspiracists.

Listen and weep here.

Or perhaps just weep, it'll be quicker ...

(Below: click to enlarge).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Doing a little tour of Australian Gothic ...

(Above: Grant Wood, American Gothic)

Is it cynical of the pond to suspect that Lindsay Tanner is as much interested in flogging his new collection of essays Politics with Purpose (let's mention it's published by Scribe), as he is in the future of the Labor party and the fate of former chairman Rudd?

There's not much else on view in a grumpy old man grumping about the world and his old GOP at Fairfax in A cynical Labor has lost its soul.

It seems it's all roon and doom and gloom, and naturally the hacks at The Australian were all over it like a rash (no links, screen cap):

Yes, it's another bloody Oz exclusive, featuring an exclusive bit of yammering by that exclusive editor at large. If Paul Kelly is an exclusive, can't he just sing about maiden aunts on the verandah in Adelaide?

Now you, the pond and the gatepost might have expected digital headlines about Tony Abbott's momentous presentation of Liberal defence policy, but lordy has that scuttled off the front page quick sticks.

Well it's possibly a tad hard to whip up much enthusiasm for 'we'll sort it out no later than eighteen months after being elected' and 'trust us to do the right thing, and save Australia'.

How juicy is that up against kicking the former chairman Rudd can down the road one more time?

Should do wonders for the book sales, and the pond looks forward to the next Lindsay Tanner insight. Here's a likely header: Trashing Labor damages Labor: Tanner.

Not to worry, today is Janet 'Dame Slap' Albrechtsen day, and she's in fine form, as she savages weak-kneed liberals, the ABC and sundry wet behind the ears apologists in Say it while you can, global blasphemy laws would be an abomination.

Global blasphemy laws? Are they going to be introduced at the same time the UN establishes a world government to deal with climate change and send the black helicopters around the world to establish the rule of Satan (thanks Janet and Lord Monckton for the warning).

What is it with the commentariat and the ABC?

Why do they always listen? Is it to get the heart rate pumping, to get themselves agitated? Gerard Henderson seems to spend his life glued to the radio, and amazingly Albrechtsen has been listening to Geraldine Doogue of a morning (the presence of the gormless Doogue on RN has led the pond to exploring the streaming of BBC radio in all its forms, as you can too by going here, at least until your cap expires under the pressure. Radio 3 will certainly please classical buffs in search of exotica and a more diverse playlist than ABC FM).

Anyhoo, here's Albrechtsen getting righteously indignant:

... ABC Radio National's breakfast radio host Geraldine Doogue fell into the now familiar morass of moral relativism found at our public broadcaster. Talking about the protesters here, she mentioned "warnings that we mustn't give oxygen to people who are consciously provocative". Then, pointing to the publication of the French cartoons, Doogue said, "It's the same thing, isn't it?" No, Geraldine, it's not the same thing. Not by a long shot. The protesters picked up planks of wood to beat our police. They brought violence to the streets of Sydney. The French cartoonist drew a picture. Doogue might instead have explored the irony, not to mention hypocrisy, of radical Muslims who bleat about their feelings being hurt by a film or a cartoon while expressing their own right to free speech, demanding death to infidels.

Uh huh. Well, while on the subject of moral relativism and bleating about feelings being hurt and irony, not to mention hypocrisy, bashing Islamics is always fun, especially when you can lead off with a story about a native-born Pakistani Catholic bishop blowing his brains out in a courthouse in Punjab.

But why is it that the commentariat only ever seems to get really liberal and righteous when it comes to the easy target of Islam-bashing?

There's no one the pond knows who goes around advocating the adoption world-wide of blasphemy laws to suit the Caliphate. Not in the west at least, and who cares what they think in Afghanistan and Pakistan as we keep bombing the shit out of them to bring them to their democratic senses.

It is of course a straw man, a straw dog if you will, so that Albrechtsen can club illiberal liberals, wet behind the ears soppy types from the ABC, wringing their hands and moaning 'why can't we all just get along'?

But do we ever get the same vitriol directed at fundamentalist Christians, especially of the American kind?

When was the last time you saw an Albrechtsen rant directed at the Republican party, introducing a Taliban-style policy that would prevent abortion even in the matter of rape or incest?

What about a rant in relation to the intolerant western Talibans always banging on about the evils of gay marriage, as if it will lead to polygamy, bestiality and the complete breakdown of western civilisation?

When will you see this in an Albrechtsen piece?

When will we learn that falling over ourselves to be polite, defaulting to lazy moral relativism, looks like appeasement to radical fundamentalist Christians, who will demand only more and more special rules, especially in relation to women's rights and gay rights and gay marriage? If the West accommodates demands for the world to look and sound like its being run by fundamentalist Republican tea party Christians, our appeasement inexorably will alter what it means to live in the West. It means surrendering long-cherished Enlightenment ideals and importing intolerably illiberal restrictions on free speech more at home in states such as Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas. That is precisely what radical fundamentalist Christians want. But it can't possibly be what we want.

Oh yes, heroic stuff, all the more so because it's an assault on the Republican base, and in particular the base that finds charm in Paul Ryan's fundamentalist Catholic ratbaggery, a fundamentalism which shares a helluva lot with fundamentalist Islamics (ask for a policy statement on women's and gay rights, then compare and see if you can find a contrast).

Locally Albrechtsen could have reasonably included a sideswipe at the bizarre, retrograde attitudes of angry Sydney Anglicans. Instead here's what you got as a wrap up to the column:

When will we learn that falling over ourselves to be polite, defaulting to lazy moral relativism, looks like appeasement to radical Muslims, who will demand only more and more special rules? If the West accommodates demands for blasphemy laws, our appeasement inexorably will alter what it means to live in the West. It means surrendering long-cherished Enlightenment ideals and importing intolerably illiberal restrictions on free speech more at home in countries such as Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. That is precisely what radical Muslims want. But it can't possibly be what we want.

Uh huh. Speaking of theocracies, funny how Israel got left off the list, but now please allow the pond to do a wrap by borrowing from Albrechtsen:

... Janet Albrechtsen, commentariat commentator for the tabloid rag The Australian fell into the now familiar morass of moral relativism found at Murdoch publications. Talking about the Muslim protesters here, she yammered on endlessly about how Islamic blasphemy laws posed an imminent danger to western civilisation, without once mentioning Christian fundamentalists, ratbag Catholics, deluded scientologists, gold-plated Mormons, sects like Hillsong, Ministry of Fire and John Howard covertly cultivating the favour of the Exclusive Brethren on the principal that any vote is a vote. 
Pointing to the ratbag fervour of Islamic fundamentalists, Albrechtsen said, "It's not the same thing, is it?" Yes, Janet, it's exactly the same thing. By a bullseye ...

For redress, the pond proposes that Albrechtsen devote a column berating the confusion of religion and state by the school chaplaincy program, and follow up with a tirade about the way state funding is now being used to promote private religious schools that can teach creationsim, Xenu or the Prophet all on the taxpayers' watch ...

Yes, yes, the pond is aware it's being fully delusional.

There's liberalism and the Enlightenment, and then there's the dog- and wolf-whistling of The Australian, the Murdoch press in general and commentariat commentators like Albrechtsen in particular, eager to assault Islamics in faraway countries or the ABC close at hand, without paying a jot or whit of attention to what's happening right down the road at their local school courtesy the taxpayer and Liberal party policies (and let's not get started on Cardinal Pell and Tony Abbott) ...

Finally, lovers of the art of dissembling and equivocation will be pleased by Peter "the smirk" Costello's most excellent Swan throwing stones at Romney from a fiscal glasshouse

Here's how he tackles Wayne Swan talking of cranks and crazies:

Those who sprang to his defence pointed out that John Howard criticised Obama when he was running for the Democratic nomination in 2007. I remember the comment well. It was a Sunday morning TV interview. Howard decided to go on the show to announce a new aged care initiative agreed by cabinet. Because Obama announced his candidature overnight, Howard was asked for a reaction, which he gave totally unscripted and in a huge surprise to the cabinet. It blew away the aged care announcement. Howard recognised it as a gaffe and later apologised to his colleagues. 
But Swan's remarks were not impulsive. They were part of a prepared speech.

Uh huh. An impulsive remark, even if it reflects accurately the mindset, and all is forgiven. Prepared, and it must be wrong and is unforgiveable.

Now that's the way to defend the religious cranks and crazies that currently set the tone of the Republican party. But they're our own cranks and crazies, and all they do is speak impulsively ...

Did we start all this by mentioning irony, hypocrisy, Costello's smug brand of singalong with Hillsong Christianity, moral relativism and righteousness? Oh every day's a fun day at the pond.

(Below: amen to that).

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

In which the pond takes a romp through the sinister, perverted, left liberal world view of the ABC ...

(Above: speaking of the dangerous left wing liberal bias that permeates western media, is the man in the middle can responsible? All Steve Bell and the pond can do is ask the question, name names, and identify the liberal perverts).

Before we get proceedings under way this Tuesday, can we just pause and pay our respects to the wondrous sight of Brendan O'Neill as a radio host on Radio National's Counterpoint.

There's no indication on the show's home page that O'Neill is the dude - the Google pointer suggests the show's hosted by Fran Kelly (no link, screen cap).

But sure enough first up was Frank Furedi delivering an epic intolerant rant about how lefties and leftism were ruinous and in ruins, and only he and Brendan remained true leftists. His latest book, funnily enough, is entitled On Tolerance, which seems likely to be an explanation of 101 ways of being intolerant.

Then came O'Neill delivering his own epic intolerant rant about the ways environmentalism was ruining the world and how foolish leftists were for thinking of saving the world, when surely the aim of any decent Marxist was to provide equality for all and wealth for all (yes, yes, let the pond run wild and free like the Mittster).

It was a splendid evocation of culture wars of yore, as O'Neill took the side of Marx up against Malthus and his evil ilk. Not once did he pause to look up from the nineteenth century and explain how the world might keep functioning smoothly with ten billion people on the planet.

In the process he confirmed he had a terrible radio voice and manner, which seems to be a prerequisite these days for Radio National.

And then as the cherry on top listeners were treated to Cassandra Wilkinson and Guy Rundle going toe to toe about "freedom".

Wilkinson, who kept insisting she was a member of the Labor party while sounding like a worshipper at the feet of Ron Paul, whined about the way schools these days were prevented from serving shitty food to students, and smokers these days could no longer blow smoke in the face of workers and other customers. It was all just so unfair and wrong and freedom-restricting.

Her other moan seemed to be that she could no longer go to gigs playing at volumes cranked up to twelve or thirteen, get as pissed as a parrot, and then burst out into the streets singing and dancing for joy. The fuddie duddies and kill joys and government lickspittles had taken away all the fun.

To make her feel more comfortable, Rundle started shouting at her, as if they were at a gig where the drummer thought he was Keith Moon, and naturally O'Neill interrupted occasionally to shout at Rundle and take sides.

Rundle thought that only he and fellow Marxist O'Neill really understood the way things were ...

Or some such thing. Frankly the pond has never listened to such a weakly presented pile of tosh on RN in a year of blue moons, and that's saying something (yes, it even beat the Religion report, or the show the previous week, which provided a dire explanation of why the state needs the church, like the pond needs a pounding from Angry Sydney Anglicans).

On the upside, probably no more than a thousand people made up the audience, and the chance of any of the participants ever moving outside public radio and the academy and journalism, and devising policies or managing the country is zilch. Which is a relief if you don't believe in shitty food, cigarette smoke in your lungs or Wilkinson as pissed as a parrot pissing in the street and ringing your doorbell for a lark ...

Still it was most excellent to get confirmation that O'Neill was firmly entrenched in the 47%, mooching and bludging in public radio, pissing taxpayer money against the wall.

Next week we're promised Amanda Vanstone, which should produce some kind of circus.

A couple of months ago, The Australian shrieked that the ABC had dumped the show - ABC dumps conservative radio program Counterpoint. (behind the paywall) 

But they didn't, they kept it on live support by feeding it the blood of squawking geese, and it now means that after you've got past Robbie Buck's excellent selection of interesting alternative and indie music (there's something to be said for these old JJJ hacks sent out to pasture), you can experience radio at its most awful.

Apparently they're announcing today a rejig and a reduction in RN programming - so that the wretched TV News 24 can be fed -  which makes the pond despair for the 47% of conservatives looking for a gig as they drift into public radio irrelevance.

Hey ho, hey nonny no, on we go as Tony Abbott advises we should stick to our own turf and consult extensively with Samoa and New Zealand, and announces a firm plan to have a firm plan in relation to defence within 18 months of assuming power. No doubt it will involve a report and a committee. Oh Australia is going to be in ever so safe hands ...

All this barely leaves time to mention the work of Gerard "prattling Polonius" Henderson, which is perhaps just as well, because he attempts to mount a valiant defence of the Mittster in Media response to inconvenient truths reveals hidden agenda.

Yes, it's all the fault of the meejia, which has a Hidden Agenda, that the Mittster made an ass of himself in a private gig that turned public.

Every so often reading Polonius there's the dread sense of incipient senility. The pond does hope he's okay, because the stress of defending the Mittster against the assault of all sorts of United States conservatives proves too much - it seems it's all just a question of fashion in the media and a culture of like minds and worldviews arising from gay marriage - and he has to resort to his usual parochial memes:

The worldview that Brisbane identified in The New York Times is also evident in the ABC, which does not have one conservative presenter or producer or editor on any of its key TV or radio or online publications. 

Indeed. That ruffian O'Neill is a rampant Marxist (of a most peculiar kind) while Amanda Vanstone has turned into a spaghetti-eating Euro lover. But do go on:

The ABC rolled out a host of American left-liberals and leftists to bag Romney's speech, including Bob Woodward (7.30), E.J. Dionne (RN Breakfast) and Bruce Shapiro (Late Night Live). All are exponents of what Brisbane has termed "political and cultural progressivism". 

It's similar with the gay marriage debate in Australia, which is embraced by the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster in much the same manner in which American Southern Baptists believe in the Second Coming.

Poor hapless Polonius. Did he really think a joke about gay marriage and southern Baptists and second comings would score?

It seems that the entire ABC marches to the sound and the beat of a single drummer, an awesome hive mind which is as uniform as a North Korean homage to the dear leader.

The Q&A program - and its audience - are a bellwether for the ABC's worldview. 

Phew that's a relief. It could have been clap happy managing director Mark Scott, who was once a prominent evangelical Christian before settling into an honorary gig for the Wesley Mission (Mark Scott's religious affiliation). Does that help explain the southern Baptist influence? But do go on:

In the final segment of the show on May 10, an audience member put it to the Coalition frontbencher Joe Hockey that he (unfairly) thought that he and his wife "make better parents" than Penny Wong and her partner Sophie Allouache. Hockey's response - that "in the best circumstances" it is appropriate for a child "to have a mother and a father" - was treated with disdain by the audience. 

That bloody outrageous disdainful audience, possibly with some young people in it! Who had all been brainwashed by the ABC into accepting the ABC's worldview!

It's a vast international conspiracy I tells ya, worldwide and utterly amazing, right up there with the Brain's attempts to rule the world.

Yet a similar view was expressed last week by the gay British actor Rupert Everett. 

Oh the injustice. Jolly Joe agrees with a gay man, and where's the justice?

On Q&A on June 14, 2010, a final comment by philosopher Peter Singer, in which he described sexual relations between a woman and a dog as "harmless", was treated with what presenter Tony Jones described as "hilarity". Not even animal rights activists expressed disdain. 
Hockey's problem is that he clashed with the ABC's prevailing worldview, whereas Singer did not. 

The amazing thing is the sense that Henderson genuinely, amazingly believes that there is a uniform "ABC" worldview, which turns up everywhere all the time, and that Hockey might have clashed with that, rather than people who actually advocate gay marriage.

Has anybody ever warned Henderson about the first signs and dangers of paranoia? It comes when you start talking of aliens and black helicopters and corporations with world views in search of global dominance ...

It is of course also a way to tidy up the column and return to the main theme, expressed in the opening pars:

Romney has many difficulties in early November, one of which is that he has to overcome the left-liberal worldview so prominent in the American media. As in Australia, sections of the American media do not want a genuine debate on economic, social or foreign policy.

Yes indeed. Every time the pond catches a glimpse of Fox News, it's time to be appalled by its left-liberal worldview and its deviant gay marriage agenda, so prominent in the American media that it routinely comes first in cable news.

But the real joke? Henderson thinking that calling for a genuine debate makes sense when he's so fixated on the totality of the ABC having a blinkered world view.

That's thinking beyond the valley of paranoid nonsense, a proposal that the ABC has no individuals or individuality in its mix, a corporate nightmare up there with the Stepford Wives.

Does he have any idea of how silly he sounds? Does he think this is the way to provide a robust defence of the Mittster, who let's face it, got caught out in a private session trying to sound like he was on side with the cranks and crazies in the Republican ranks?

Does Henderson fancy himself as a Tea Partier?

Who knows, but just when you thought it was the ABC that could deliver conservative comedy gold, that prattling Polonius shows them how it's done at Fairfax ...

Remember, thanks to The Australian, we're bitterly aware that the uniform Fairfax worldview is at one with the ABC, a mix of deviant leftism and rampant environmentalism and feel good inner-city elites.

Which means - if the logic holds - that Henderson must have a hidden agenda as he goes about the business of propping up Fairfax's, and by extension, the ABC's hideous left liberal world view ...

Oh sure, he pretends to be conservative, but we know better. He's part of that Fairfax worldview, sure thing.

Or some such thing.

(Below: and now a couple of cartoons from that dangerously subversive gay marriage orientated western media. Shame on you David Brooks, shame on you Billy Kristol, shame on you Peggy Noonan, you're all clearly in the grip of the ABC's worldview, as Romney rebuts conservative criticism of his campaign trajectory).

Monday, September 24, 2012

While grumpy Paul Sheehan berates NSW Liberals, the pond goes on a McMansion tour of ancient Athens with Chris Berg of the IPA ...

(Above: modern members of the polis thumbing their noses at Aristotle).

So what dire apocalyptic announcement of doom has Paul "generally grumphy" Sheehan got for the world this monday?

Well it turns out in Lid lifted on NSW black box that Sheehan is very specifically grumpy with the NSW Liberal party and its machinations, naming names, and comparing the Liberals to the state of state Labor not so long ago.

The piece even opens with a Nikita Khrushchev "we will bury you moment" in relation to Tony Abbott:

Last month Tony Abbott was given a blunt warning, by phone, from a senior member of the Liberal Party. According to notes of the conversation taken by an exceptionally reliable member of the Abbott inner circle (which is not a euphemism for Abbott), this was the warning:
''If you insist on supporting these motions there will be World War III. We will blow the division up from underneath you. You will lose the [next] election.'' 

World War III. So there's your apocalypse!

Sheehan seems to have invented a term - "black box politics" - to describe the phenomenon of feuding Liberals, because no amount of googling could turn up a similar use of the phrase.

It seems like a mash-up of the use of black box concepts in science and engineering (here), or perhaps an appropriation of black box theory or perhaps an appropriation of the black box in aviation.

Whatever, you can spend endless fun hours romping through wiki disambiguations for uses of "black box" and completely forget the navel-gazing of Sheehan as he contemplates the arcane world of warring Liberals.

This is a happy way to start the week, because reading Sheehan is usually a recipe for existential alienation and angst, and a brooding sense that everything is futile because disaster will land by Friday. Possibly even World War III ...

It also gives the pond a chance to do a little detour and explore the joys of Chris Berg's indignant celebration of McMansions in McMansions: why Aussies are lovin' it.

It's only a day old, but already the subbies at The Age have stripped it out of the National Times opinion pieces, and sent it off to the graveyard.

Which is a pity, because it opens with this memorable line:

Is there any more snobbish word in the Australian vocabulary than ''McMansion''?

Of course if you scurry off to the wiki on McMansions  it seems pretty clear cut that the word was coined in the United States, before drifting down under. In which case perhaps Berg should have opened with:

Is there any more a pathetic indication of the way the Australian vocabulary has been subject to American imperialism and American ideas, and the home building industry subject to tawdry, pathetic American building practices than in the concept of McMansions? Go home Uncle Sam, and tarry at the door of the IPA no longer as you traduce proud Aussie mateship with snobbish words and hideous inelegant vulgar buildings...

Happily Australian McMansions are a good ten per cent bigger than similar American attempts at conspicuous consumption, which leads Berg to another insight:

... The size of our houses is, by itself, evidence that Australia is well off.

Which leads the pond to await anxiously for Berg's next column:

The size of a man's penis is, by itself, certain evidence that a woman will be well off and well satisfied coupling with the beast.

Berg is distraught at the way smart-arse academics give McMansions and their occupants a hard time:

Terry Burke, a professor of urban studies at Swinburne University, wrote in The Conversation last year that McMansions breach the ''good principles'' of environmental sustainability. Fair enough. But Professor Burke doubled down: McMansions are very ugly and their occupants, who also apparently own four-wheel drives and send their children to private schools, are giving ''an 'up yours' message to the world''. That sort of sneering contempt is not uncommon. The word McMansion is usually deployed not to appraise a type of house, but an entire way of life. It is all about culture - the inner-city world trying to understand their strange, alien, suburban cousins.

Alien, strange? It so happens that the pond has a McMansion in the extended family. For reasons best known to themselves, the sister- and brother-in-law bought an old house, knocked it down and put up a classic example of the McMansion genre.

And that's why Berg has to shift ground, turning the conversation from environmental sustainability to lifestyle and culture questions.

Because however you look at them, McMansions - even ones "architect-designed" tend to make an inefficient mess of the internal spaces, and are a bitch to heat and cool (and help explain why electricity prices have soared in recent times to cope with peak air-conditioning demand). They also tend to be planted in small allotments so that backyards disappear, except of course for essential space for a pool.

Berg is so desperate to redeem McMansions that he conflates the building with lifestyle and the ACF Conservation Atlas ( eagerly seized on for the Residential Development Council in a report here in pdf form):

... suburban living in general is more environmentally friendly than inner-city living. A study conducted by the Australian Conservation Foundation (no fans of consumer capitalism) concluded that, even taking into account car use, ''inner-city households outstrip the rest of Australia in every other category of consumption''.

Uh huh. But that was a study in relation to greenhouse gas emissions, and it's necessary to ask which inner-city households in which suburbs. Of course Malcolm Turnbull conspicuously consumes in the eastern suburbs, and there's a fair bet that Tony Abbott's and Bronnie Bishop's mates on the lower north shore do the same.

And you can bet their houses will be large. It's just that they won't be McMansions, they'll be solidly built, and if inclined to pretension, with discreet Graeco-Roman facades, instead of the half-baked imitations of deluded provincials.

Anyhoo, a bit of this deft shuffling leads Berg to conclude:

Someone who lives in a big home can still take the train to work, can still conserve energy or water and can, if they choose, live a fashionably carbon-neutral life. 

Take the train to work? Clearly Berg doesn't live in Sydney ...

So why build a big house? The pond, like others, isn't immune to the notion of a billiards room, a table tennis room, a home cinema room, a television room, a games room, an indoor basketball and squash court, a spa and sauna room, a brats room, and storage for fifty vintage cars.

But it turns out it's simply because we can, and never mind that 99% trying to live like the 1% in Dubai or in the Hollywood hills might cause a little environmental damage along the way:

Why do we build our houses so big? Well, Australia has a lot of space. But more importantly: we can. 

Yep, we can, so just do it, do it for the Treasurer, do it for the IPA, do it for builders and developers, just do it. Flaunt your wealth in an ostentatious way, and never mind the snobs who label you a nouveau-riche yobbo:

Australia is probably the richest country in the world. We have the fastest-growing income in the world. We have the highest median wealth. Our only real competition in the rich stakes comes from city-states such as Singapore and Hong Kong or oil plutocracies such as Qatar. And many Australians have decided to spend their riches on nice new homes. 

Yep, never mind that Dubai is a monstrosity, remember that money is everything, and if you've got the cash, you have to go the splash. Wait a second, newsflash:

Prosperity is about more than GDP data. Money isn't everything. 

Ah wait, money isn't everything. So if money isn't everything, but you need the money to build, you have to mortgage yourself up to the hilt, to the point perhaps where you might lose the house to the bank, and or at least have a nervous breakdown each time an electricity bill arrives. That way you can truly enjoy the free-wheeling Australian suburban lifestyle.

Anybody who has lived crammed into too few rooms knows that living standards and adequate space are closely related.

Lordy, lordy, suddenly the pond is filled with anxiety over Chris Berg's past life. Was he a humble student crammed into a rathole while he studied hard to join the IPA, and is now suffused with resentment?

For what it's worth, the pond lives in a terrace. It's an ice box in winter, and it's a sauna in summer. With its gingerbread gothic wrought iron, it was the McMansion of its day. But here's the difference. It's currently 126 years young, and it'll outlive the pond and a few other occupants before it's done (the bombing of Iran permitting).

It's hard to imagine a lot of the tasteless, gaudy, gimcrack geegaws currently being flung up in the American ticky tack style lasting more than thirty years before they need either a major refit or demolition and replacement (in the American throwaway style).

In his desperate desire to justify urban sprawl and development of any kind, inappropriate or hideous, Berg doesn't pause for balance.

Instead, in an act of profound desperation, Berg resorts to archaeology and ancient Greece to provide the ultimate justification:

Antiquity had its share of sceptics about prosperity, too. Aristotle believed there was such a thing as too much wealth. The philosopher had determined what the ''good life'' was and argued any excess property was unnatural. 
It's easy to imagine Aristotle tut-tutting the big houses built by his fellow Athenians. 
But it's just as easy to imagine those Athenians ignoring his snobbery and enjoying the prosperity Greek society could afford.

Uh huh. So where's the prosperity of Greek society these days Mr. Berg? How much can it afford?

Come to think of it, where are the Greek mansions, excluding the ones that end up in British, American and German museums?

So what's the real point of the rant? Well as you'd expect from an IPA scribbler, it's that consumerism is most excellent, and conspicuous consumption is truly excellent, and don't worry about tomorrow when you can enter into a huge mortgage today, and moderate-income families can now live an ostentatious lifestyle out in the boondocks and as usual it's all the fault of sniggering, snickering inner-city elites for deriding bogans rather than celebrating their hair cuts ...

Or some such thing. It's so predictable and fatuous that it quite made the pond's day, and hopefully it will make your day as well as you set off on your two hour commute into the city as you live out your fashionable carbon-neutral life.

Though why you bother must remain a mystery, because in another column Chris Berg will be on hand to remind you that the IPA is a nest of climate science deniers, and there's no need to worry about any of that nonsense as you become a new Athenian in your wonderful polis poking your tongue out at the Aristotelian nattering misery guts who mock their relatives for living in a gigantic barn ...

But hang on a tic. Were those wretched Greeks as Chris Berg proposes. Or were they deviant perverted socialists at heart?

The peculiar laws and customs of the Greeks at the time of their greatest prosperity were not calculated to encourage display or luxury in private life, or the collection of sumptuous furniture. Their manners were simple and their discipline was very severe. Statuary, sculpture of the best kind, painting of the highest merit—in a word, the best that art could produce—were all dedicated to the national service in the enrichment of Temples and other public buildings, the State having indefinite and almost unlimited power over the property of all wealthy citizens. The public surroundings of an influential Athenian were therefore in direct contrast to the simplicity of his home, which contained the most meagre supply of chairs and tables, while the chef d'oeuvres of Phidias adorned the Senate House, the Theatre, and the Temple. (more here).

Sheesh, did they need the IPA or what? Because it's just so easy to imagine the Spartans in a McMansion...

(Below: vulgar ancient Greek housing thumbing its nose at Aristotle).