Sunday, December 30, 2012

A little good news for Welshers keen to start the new year with a gloat or three ...

(Above:  the header kind of says it all because Victoria the place is in turmoil).

 The good news from Victoria is that Victoria is a quivering mess, a jelly of a state ...

That's from the perspective of a New South Welsh person, tired of perennial boasting and inflated self-esteem of a kind frequently associated with a short person trying to compensate for a lack of height. A more kindly, empathetic and compassionate approach might be to wonder how the mighty V got itself into such a mess.

As noted before on these pages, it was the state of the roads that announced to the pond that Victoria had retreated to third world ways, or perhaps to the outlook and maintenance habits of a bankrupt American state like California.

They now have permanent signs advising motorists to be wary of "rough surfaces", an understated way of saying we can't be buggered fixing this, but here's a sign to read.

 And the pond got caught up in a gigantic Carmageddon, a traffic jam which developed because a few lanes on the West Gate Bridge and which eventually stretched back to Malvern and beyond - critics were left to argue fiercely whether it was a 20 or a 28 km traffic jam.

The pond luckily escaped the bulk of the Carmageddon by getting off at Toorak, only to be engulfed by a mini-Carmageddon which proved others had also used the same exit to escape … (the story is here, with forced video attached).

Meanwhile, the public transport system is a mess. The pond was in town the very moment that the old Metcard system was abandoned and Myki forced on a reluctant citizenry. It is now no longer possible to buy a ticket on a tram, the first time since trams were introduced way back when in the late nineteenth century.

(screen cap only, no hot links)

Tourists, country folk and interstate visitors are now obliged to support the cost of installing this system, which is a perfect example of the way governments, bureaucrats and systems govern, organise and implement for benefit of themselves, and not their customers, and certainly not for wayward eccentricities and exceptions like casual users, or tourists who just want to get around for a few days. 

How many times in the years ahead can we look forward to delightful tales of security staff roughing up Myki-less folk? (as you can read here, with the above forced video attached).

Soon enough there will be tall tales of how you might go to New York or Tokyo and find an easy to use train system - yes, even Japanese symbols are more elegant and easier to follow than an attempt to purchase a Myki card.

And meanwhile the press is full of stories of how trains don't run on time, signs on boards give false clues as to destination, and how a brave soul might set off hoping to reach one suburb, only to land in another …

And for this bliss, you pay extra, not just in cash but in time and convenience, because your main point is to help the government and the bureaucrats and the system, such as it is.

One of the problems the state faces is the way Melbourne is turning into a gigantic, sprawling megalopolis of monstrous McMansions. In the pond's day, Berwick was reckoned to be an outer suburb for retirees.

These days it's regarded as a kind of inner city commute, while a country town like Drouin is regarded as the coming thing, with developers rampant and estates on the march. The wretched place is some 40ks beyond Pakenham and Nar Nar Goon (yes, you can imagine the despair of Nar Nar Goon), too far out for the pond to even think of checking out.

But then the same thing is happening to the north and to the west, and naturally there's not enough in the budget to provide transport, or facilities or infrastructure, nor even the kind of geographic limit to the folly provided by the Sydney basin.

As a result, the car remains king, and Carmageddon its inevitable consequence. There's talk of a second crossing to ease pressure on the West Gate bridge, just as there's idle natter about the urgent need for a fast train connection to the airport (and we all know why that hasn't happened - the short explanation is VI, which is vested interests to you, and let's not get started on taxi reform).

Now not all this is the fault of the Baillieu government, but it's generally recognised that this lazy government isn't helping. All it knows how to do, in a reflexive way, is to cut budgets and fight with unions, which beats the hell out of doing anything coherent, constructive and positive.

It's also true that Victoria started down this path a long time ago. The rule of the car can be traced to that pontificating, self-aggrandising blowhard Jeff Kennett, who can still be found around the traps blathering on about anything that will keep him in the media spotlight.

But it's also a reminder that in a state government, the least useful things are ideology and theology of the Baillieu kind, especially if they can be replaced by managerial skills and the vision thing. What Baiallieu's team offers is the delusion that privatisation will fix everything, including schools and hospitals, as opposed to an even easier way for the private sector to fort government and punters.

A good example of the deliberate lack of vision is the antipathy to wind energy, based on a few hysterical cranks who seem to think it's the cause of illness, when the best you can say is that windmills mostly seem to introduce a kind of mass delusion.

As it now is, Victoria is on the move, but it doesn't have a clue where it's going. Myer is trying to turn itself into an emporium, as if that will hold back the internet tide, while poor old Dimmeys of Richmond is now about to be turned into a set of "heritage" apartments. "Heritage" is squatting in a room over a store which once sold cheap clothes to working class families? Only in Victoria … (with the staff farewelling the building by trashing it at an unofficial Xmas party).

And in the y'arts it doesn't sound much better. The Age's theatre critic lamented that it had been the worst year ever for the Melbourne Theatre company, and the infamous black clad Northcote trendies seem in disarray.

Perhaps the best indication of how dire the Victorian straits are is that the pond even heard talk of the AFL organising an international test match against New Zealand. It seems the ersatz silliness of the occasional round ball game with the Irish in an "international" test match based on Rafferty's rules has been recognised as the eccentricity it is, and the dream of conquering the United States has finally slid into the too hard basket.

But  the lack of international recognition clutches at the stomach, and so there's talk of the nascent game in New Zealand getting its shit together and providing an international joust … yep, rugby union obsessed Kiwis are where Victorians turn for hope in these gloomy days.

Meanwhile the cricket finished early, which was good, but also bad, because the Boxing day ritual was ruined, and now Sydney is talking of stealing the cricket. The fiends ...

Never mind that on New Year's Eve Melburnians now shamelessly drop a bucket load of moola on fireworks in an attempt to compete with Sydney, even if the town lacks the natural environment (bridge and harbour) to mount an aesthetically pleasing display.

They could stay at home and watch the telecast of Sydney's event, and turn the cash to good works in the community, but such is the competitive spirit in the dismal city, that now they want to emulate the mindlessness of the vacuous emerald city. Oh the sweet irony …

(no hot links, just dreams of deluded Victorians)

For long suffering easy going New South Welsh people, accustomed to sneers and jibes, it's joyously easy pickings.

And after that's done we could leave the Vics in hapless disarray, and turn on the natural enemy … Queenslanders.

But then that target turns into an equally tragic vision, as Campbell Newman and his posse of clowns run the state into the ground.

And before hubris gets to first staters, then it's time to remember that the state is being run by Bazza O'Farrell, who's as short on the vision thing as Newman and Baillieu, and who might just propose that Sydney's second airport be based outside Brisbane … or perhaps at Avalon in Victoria, once they organise a fast train to the aerodrome.

While Bazza's dreams of bands of shooters roaming the parks in Mad Max style and B-triples tearing up the Hume Highway comes to pass.

Yes, in the parochial world of state politics, the entire east coast seems to be sliding into the Pacific, at a time when management skills and the vision thing are what's most needed. (That and an ability to resist developers developing willynilly without regard for a coherent, functioning community …)

Not that Labor governments of the past have been any better. The credit for Myki - or more to the point the shame - can be shared around, and there's every odds that the system introduced into New South Wales, after a gestation period longer than an elephant, will be just as much in the grip of the needs of government and bureaucrat, and to hell with actual customers (or clients or plebs or however you like to call the unwashed masses and pond dwellers).

This is just a superficial survey - who's got time to go into the state of roads in the Geelong area if you never travel to Geelong - but it's all good news for Welshers in search of a gloat or two if they meet their southern cousins over the break ...

Talk to them about the state of the state, and there'll be downcast eyes and furtive looks and such a whimpering and a sighing that you'll feel good for a week, or even more ...

Monday, December 24, 2012

A holyday letter to a Victorian minister ...

(Above: the Olympia at Bombala, Victoria, click to enlarge)

The pond breaks its holiday silence for
an open letter
to Her Majesty's right honourable Victorian government

His - or her - right honourable right royal Minister for roads
(or whomever goose bears similar title and function)
c/- Department of Roads
(or whichever geese bear similar bureaucratic title and function)
in the grand and glorious state of Victoria
(commonly known as the place to be or the garden state)

Dear right honourable right royal Minister
(if the pond may be so bold)

First may the pond congratulate you and the people of Victoria on some of the picturesque towns you can encounter wandering the back roads of your fine state.

The Olympia theatre at Bombala, for example, is a fine example of a rural structure surviving into the modern age.

As you might guess, the pond's tour of the backroads took it through this fine hamlet, and others like it.

Along the way we also saw some strange, surreal and wonderful sights. Like a water tanker in the middle of nowhere hosing down a road, with no sign of oil, sand, dirt, gravel or other spillage to explain what it was doing, except to calm down a hundred metres of tar experiencing stress in the heat (and never mind the kilometres of heat-stressed tar before and after that little patch).

But we did find loads of gravel, heaped on top of an alleged interstate highway, as if carefully prepared for unwary holiday makers. A potential death trap, and guaranteed to ensure material damage to cars and possibly their occupants.

At this point, would it be unseemly, impolite, to ask if the Victorian government has entered into an arrangement with windscreen manufacturers or windscreen replacement services? Has the government entered into a scheme to boost insurance premiums?

We just ask in all innocence, because it seems the most likely explanation for tons of loose gravel to be flung across a main road like confetti.

It was about the point that my partner remarked that gravel like this was sure to cause mayhem and destruction and loss that ... the windscreen shattered.

Now the pond notices that you have a fine way of addressing wayward, recalcitrant motorists. Like "slow down stupid" or "drive safely you bloody idiot" and suchlike friendly modes of address. Like the whole state has turned into an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

The pond immediately warmed to these messages, and their tone and their intimacy. Please allow your scribe to imitate them.

You stupid bloody idiots, gravel on the roads in the holyday season? What were you thinking, you pathetic morons? You hopeless dingbats and drongos, an interstate highway shouldn't look like a war zone, especially when stupid Victorian drivers are moving at speed on the opposite lane.

You useless cretinous imbeciles, scattering gravel like confetti and you dare to address me as a stupid, idiotic driver?

Never mind, with broken windscreen (but no benefits to local windscreen services, we'll see to that) we reached the Prom. But what did we find? Why more potholes and warnings and derelict roads than you'd expect a bloody idiot to assemble in a month of stupid Sundays.

So this is how it ends in Victoria, lost in a gigantic pothole.

Oh and can it also be noted that if you attempt to join the vast world wide interrtubes in rural Victoria, the service is roughly equivalent to a wet wick on a firecracker in a sodden Melbourne rain storm.

Ever thought of enthusiastically embracing the NBN and all it might offer your dumb, stupid, idiotic citizenry as they try to join the twenty first century? Instead of spending all your time blaming the Federal government for your own policy failures?

Anyway, dear right honourable right royal minister, it''s been a splendid holyday thus far, and due thanks must be extended to your wonderful government, but engaging hours with Victorian rellies now loom.

Enjoy your holyday, and remember to instruct your department to spread more gravel on each interstate highway at appropriate intervals. It guarantees great fun, and the development of great survival skills, and ensures travellers in the state will return home with tall tales of how they narrowly escaped disaster, and thankfully only suffered a broken windscreen, smashed suspension, ruined duck, and such like.

And, it almost goes without saying, it's also the only proper way to prove to stupid, idiotic drivers that you can be just as stupid and idiotic.

With kind seasonal regards and happy holidays,

your humble servant
Dorothy (click your heels twice and you might be in Kansas looking at the fucked roads there)
c/- the garden pond
where loons assemble to vent their spleen

UPDATE: a kindly reader has pointed out that Bombala is actually in NSW, and accused the pond of inaccuracy worthy of a Murdoch hack.

Indeed, and all the pond can say is that there is not a Victorian town in all of Victoria, or all of Christendom for that matter, that could summon the charms of Bombala, and it's a kind of meta-irony that the pond should resort to a NSW town rather than the peculiar charm of Cann River or Bell Bird or poseur pretenders to be home of Bed of Roses, because it turns out that Victorian roads are like a meta-hell from Mad Max, and apparently locals protest to the Deputy Premier and nothing happens and life goes on, under the strict regime of a parsimonious incompetent cost-cutting dismal government.

So take Bombala as what Victoria might have been once, but is now in peril of losing forever, because once Victoria had it all over NSW in the matter of roads and maintenance. Not anymore, not that anyone from the Victorian government will ever read this rant ... much like it manages to ignore its actual constituents ... and more on the dismal state of the state anon ...)
(Below: another fine Bombala view)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Before declaring the war on Xmas lost, a few words on the NRA and the amplification-free singing of Angry Anglicans ...

(Above: a little mood-setting, because any war needs sidearms and long arms and machine guns and bazookas, and just maybe the pond will get a Glock for Xmas, thanks to Australian Customs).

That anybody thought the NRA would have anything useful to offer the current debate about guns in the United States is only useful as a way of measuring anybody's distance from reality and sanity.

The pond liked this header so well, it decided to preserve it in digital aspic:

The actual Huff story about the NRA press conference is here, complete with video link, but it's a measure of the madness that Wayne LaPierre would propose an armed guard in every school as a solution.

Because soon enough you'll need an armed guard on every train and bus, and an armed guard in every office and shop, and then an armed guard on every street corner every day and night ...

Oh heck, why not just make it compulsory that every citizen is required to open carry a gun (unless they want to hide their weapon), so America can get back to the good old days of the wild west and any varmint who crosses the line can be called out and shot down in the street and sent to boot hill (unless of course you prefer a dry gulching or a back shooting).

The NRA's vision for America is to see it as an armed encampment, fully locked and loaded, and they've moved heaven and earth to make it so.

Already the United States is arguably the most violent nation on earth, what with its routine resort to war these past few decades, its use of drones across borders, its high incarceration rate and the abuse prisoners suffer, its death penalty, its military industrial complex, the level of civilian armaments, the level of death and injury arising from said weaponry, and above all, the stranglehold the gun lobby, the gun culture and the gun business has on politics and the will to take meaningful action.

One of the reasons is that the United States is also one of the most insular, least travelled nations in the world. People are easily spooked by talk of decadent Europe or repressive England or foppish Canada, and how if the government comes to take away their guns they'll end up in a totalitarian regime like Nazi German with no way to fight back - what might be called the Red Dawn myth (though there are many in the gun culture who in fact bear more than a passing resemblance to the good old gun-wielding SS and yearn for its return).

It's about this point that the pond has to admit to being a gun-owner, but these days only an occasional gun user. You see, if you can't say that, you know nothing about guns.

But if you start to burble on about how you were taught to shoot in the bush, and were shown how to hunt using a single shot rifle, and did target shooting where the skill was accuracy, not spraying a hail of death (and the pond wasn't half bad at it), and yet still you can't see why anyone would need a military assault rifle which in essence and main purpose is only designed to kill people, a lot of people quickly and efficiently, then still you'll be dismissed as a traitor and a librul.

And the way that this is aided and abetted by high-capacity magazines and bullets that would ruin game if used in a hunt is remarkable. These add-ons only serve to assist the military in slaughtering people in the field ... unless you happen to be in the US, and the field turns out to be a primary school.

Which is why in the land of the NRA insanity rules, and why LaPierre has to come up with rhetorical absurdities to defend the absurd.

Naturally he takes to blaming video games, movies and music videos for the atrocities.

Which reminded the pond of one of the NRA's favourite rhetorical tricks. You see, video games don't kill people, people kill people (repeat for movies and music videos and guns).

And never no mind that in Britain or Australia, there are the same violent video games and movies (and ye ancient cats and dogs hideously violent assaults by Justin Bieber music videos), but not the same per capita killing by way of guns. Not even in the same statistical ballpark ...

Insular Americans never know, or if they do, they devise the most exotic, devious, and downright stupid explanations for the differences. A bit like Wayne LaPierre in full hypocritical rhetorical cry ...

Truth to tell, the last time the pond went on a homicidal rampage with a DVD, it took an awfully long time to kill people by slicing their throats with the sharp edge of the disc. But likely enough we'd manage quite well with a military grade AR-15 Bushmaster assault rifle ...

Anyhoo, it's up to the citizens of the United States to sort this one out, but so long as you have a goose like Wayne LaPierre in the NRA, you can bet they'll fight every initiative devised to maintain the right of US citizens to live in an armed encampment full of fear and slaughter.

Never mind, this is the pond's last piece for the year, and any notion of sorting out the USA in a blog would be the sign of terminal delusion.

But it is worth noting in passing, for all his pious tweets demanding political action, that there were reports that the Rupert Murdoch-owned, News-owned Fox News had already played their ideological part - as you can read in Fox News Execs Squashed Talk of Gun Control After Newtown Massacre: Report.

Why is the pond surprised? What a wretched, pious hypocrite he is ...

But that's the last time the pond will brood about the perfidious Murdoch this year.

And it's also farewell to the assorted religious fundamentalists we'd usually report on over the weekend break, as we contemplate the gap between religions and reality.

There's just one question to ask - if the secularists have won the war on Xmas, how is it that the pond is travelling to Melbourne to celebrate Xmas with assorted believers and non-believers? The dreaded Xmas family orgy ...

If this is victory, perhaps you could give the pond sweet smell of defeat.

Anyhoo, the Pellists have gone quiet, preparing for the storm ahead in the New Year - but can we just sign off by drawing your attention to a wondrous bit of angry fundamentalist Sydney Anglicanism.

It seems that Anglicans love singing and music, as you can read in Phillip Jensen's In Praise of Singing, but there are extremely strict guidelines to follow, which might well help rob any music of joy, spontaneity and happiness:

... it is sadly misguided when so called “worship leaders” try to utilise music to create or heighten such emotional states. We must not confuse intensity of emotions with spirituality or engage in our own private reverie with eyes shut and hands raised or see music as ‘the way to the Father’.

Indeed. No happiness or emotional states or heightened feelings or private reveries or eyes closed wide open or hands raised or using music to find your way to the Mother, Gaia bless her, please! And none of that bloody Hillsong muck!

It turns out that wily, wise Jensen is suspicious of technology:

Attempts to improve the music at church are usually counterproductive. New songs and louder amplification is often the death of congregational singing – it is to chorus singing what playing hymns too slowly, in a key beyond the range of the average voice, is to hymn singing.

A pox on the new, a pox on your amplification systems and your so-called sophisticated digital technologies.

Why, the Jensenists would be out the back of the stage with Pete Seeger and his axe the moment Bobbie Dylan plugged in his geetar at Newport. (We keed, we keed, maybe Pete didn't have an axe, maybe that's all apocryphal if you read the wiki here aright).

Anyhoo, it's a blessed relief that the aim isn't actually to improve the music, but to make it sound like all those godawful hymns and carols that have been fodder for satirists these past few centuries.

So having admitted defeat, acknowledged that the war on Xmas is a complete abysmal failure, please join in the singing, but remember, no amplification, no new songs, only White Christmas and Jingle Bells and Six White Boomers.

And if some bugger gives your child an amplification system, feel free to crush it, and you will be blessed by the Jensenists.

That's it, stomp, stomp hard, kill the music!

And now for any readers left out there - yes, we know all you public servants have buggered off, instead of wasting your office time surfing the intertubes and ruining the nation's productivity, unlike the valiant hacks at Fortress Murdoch - all that's left is to wish a happy Xmas, remembering that the X stands for the many and varied gods you might follow (as Dave Allen noted when raising a glass and saying may your god go with you ...)

Oh  and merry Holydays (oh yes we love the holyday joke) and a tremendous Saturnalia, and a sweet solstice - oh okay that happened yesterday so sweet solstice for 2013 - and a great new year, and if the pond survives, business will resume some time in that glorious new year, with lists of the best and worst of 2012 already wiped from the mind, along with any memory of making any new year's resolutions...

Or as father used to say in Tamworth, have a bloody grouse good one ... and my mother used to say, I think I'll have a little of that dry sherry now, and a slice of the rum-saturated Xmas cake, and a good  lie down ...

(Below: and now a test. Are you up to it, are you ready for that peculiar mix of family, and grog, and useless presents, and nausea and sunburn? Relax, if you can get past the first verse, you're Hulk strong and ready for anything).

Off with the cults and the kool aid ...

So this last Saturday before Xmas the pond came up with a brand new header - Climate lunacy rules at The Australian - in honour of the assorted lunatics who scribble for the rag, and most particularly and notably Christopher Pearson, friend of Tony Abbott, for his spectacular end of year effort, Climate lunacy rules at Aunty (behind the paywall because Rupert thinks you're stupid enough to pay for the thoughts of Pearson).

There's no point in being nuanced responding to Pearson - a fool's a fool in any language and a deluded one is especially dangerous. Here's how he starts his talking points, with fatuous irrelevance:

G. K. Chesterton famously remarked (and Person infamously imitated him) "Once people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing - they believe in anything."

Uh huh. You can see where this is heading - how you need a deep understanding of transubstantiation and the Latin mass to understand climate science. So what other relevant insights can we drag into the discussion?

Marxism and Nazism, the two totalitarian systems that wrought so much devastation in the last century, are compelling evidence of the truth of Chesterton's observation and they also call to mind George Orwell's line about ideas so stupid that only an intellectual could subscribe to them. 

Uh huh. Well Orwell might actually be apt, seeing as how Pearson is that peculiar breed, an intellectual commentariat scribbler, who subscribes to the concept of transubstantiation, the virgin birth, the Latin mass, miracles, the burning bush, walking on water, rising from the dead, purgatory, limbo and assorted other idiocies which possibly only stop short at a young earth (but then who knows, since really evolutionary theory is only a theory, and climate science only a UN world government black helicopter conspiracy).

Okay, the punters have been warmed up, now it's time for the boom tish:

These days it is the green movement and the apocalyptic anxiety about man-made global warming that have become the cults du jour, "the opiate of the masses". 

Yep, science is a cult, just like Catholicism, except if we'd relied on the theology of the Catholic church, we'd have been a long time getting into space.

Never mind, let's have a few unsubstantiated pieces of blather to move the argument forward:

However, Australians are generally rather pragmatic and, as the climate has failed to conform to most of the doomsayers' computer modelling, popular support for measures supposed to combat global warming has waned.

Okay, that's all the nay-saying Pearson you get for free. Now you either pay up, or you do the old google and pay nothing.

By golly, those who paid must be feeling pissed off right now.

You see, Pearson isn't a scientist and is incapable of rational, scientific discourse, which is why he's reduced to talk of doomsayers and the apocalypse and such like.

At heart he's a medieval Latin-mass loving mystic of the Catholic kind, and so when he gets to talking about climate science, he adopts the tone, assumes the posture, and uses the language he knows best.

Cults! That's right, he's a cultist who likes to frame science in the context of cults, and his target is true believers, who are completely unlike Pearson's own true believer mode of thinking:

These are people who are true believers. They have surrendered themselves to a cult and, in the process of turning into its public defenders, come to see themselves as prophets. Sociologically speaking, it's a safe bet that most of the significant others in their lives and their workmates share their convictions. Vain and ridiculous as it sounds, they really think that they're engaged in a battle to the death to save the planet and they tend to see sceptics of almost any hue as evil incarnate. Failing that, we are either dupes or paid stooges of Big Carbon.

There could be another option of course, which is to say that the likes of Pearson are scientifically illiterate and so always take refuge in rhetoric involving notions like cults and true believers and public defenders and so on and so forth.

But enough already, let's cut to the chase. Yep, the fatuous Pearson is intent on defending the fatuous James Delingpole and the fatuous rag The Australian for publishing a fatuous piece by Delingpole, in which he quoted a sheep farmer linking a wind farm business to pedophilia. And copped a spanking from the Press Council for his pains and his stupidity.

As part of the defence offered, Pearson proposes an assault on Robin Williams for mentioning on the ABC Science Show that Maurice Newman is in the same clueless camp as Pearson, and in particular for mentioning paedophilia, asbestos and smoking crack in the same sentence as Newman smoking anti-science crack.

Pearson promptly explains how he would have had Williams censured, dismissed, censored, and forced to offer an immediate, grovelling apology.

Which might help explain why SBS is so comprehensively fucked, thanks to Pearson's sinecure and others like him.

Anyhoo, back to Pearson, who you'd think might find better people to defend than Delingpole, and he comes up with a corker:

It's important to note that unlike Williams, Delingpole wasn't the person making the objectionable comparison. He simply reported it.

Which is of course to gild a most unsavoury lily, and to suggest that Pearson hasn't yet caught up with Delingpole's most important contribution to wind farms and climate science, in Australia you are so totally gay:

... I stand by every word of the piece – especially the bit about paedophiles. I would concede that the analogy may be somewhat offensive to the paedophile community. Nevertheless, like the anonymous sheep farmer I quoted, I feel that the "level of offensiveness" is entirely justified when applied in the context of perhaps the vilest, greediest, most corrupt, mendacious and wantonly destructive industries currently operating anywhere in the world. If Jimmy Savile were alive today he would definitely be heavily into wind farming.

Roll that one around in your mouth, Mr Pearson, and assess it for flavour and Robin Williams style texture:

If Jimmy Savile were alive today he would definitely be heavily into wind farming.

Yep, we look forward to Pearson indignantly demanding Delingpole be forthwith censured, dismissed, censored and forced offer an immediate, grovelling apology.

But don't expect anything until the next expiration of the Mayan calendar.

Meanwhile, how do we end up? Is there talk of actual science and its most recent observations and conclusions?

Of course not, there's talk of conspiracy and corporation capture, since that's the only language Pearson can understand, especially as he participated in the capture and demolition of SBS, reducing it to a shadow of its former feisty self, with SBS independent and any interesting views on almost anything despatched to the wilderness. Which is truly why he knows whereof he speaks:

Newman noted that, with the ABC, "like the BBC, there are signs that a small but powerful group has captured the corporation, at least on climate change. It is up to the board and management to rectify this." 
 In this column I've often talked about the issue of staff capture in the ABC, spurred on by personal experience serving on the board of SBS. 

Yes, board power is limited, which is why they've only managed to reduce SBS to a husk you wouldn't use for puffed wheat.

Climate change is by no means the only contentious area where there are problems in both broadcasters. Boards are quite limited in the extent to which they can intervene to change an unaccountable public broadcasting culture set on having its own way. The chairmen have a broader brief and more power, especially under a supportive minister, but it is senior management who set the tone and decide what is acceptable. In this case, the ABC may find to its discomfort it's gone a bit too far.

Hang on, hang on, it was the Press Council that made the ruling in relation to Delingpole, yet somehow Pearson manages to claim that it's the ABC's response which is disingenuous and self-serving, and it's all the fault of Robin Williams calling Maurice Newman a goose, when self-evidently it is the case that he is a goose, and a member of the delusionary cabal and conspiracy and unaccountable culture which festers in the Murdoch private corporation in the matter of climate science.

Or some such thing, because when in the company of a cultist, it's surprising how the conversation turns easily to cults.

Do you think that in this case Pearson and The Australian find to their discomfort that they've gone a bit too far, by supporting a man willing to propose that Jimmy Savile, if alive today, would be heavily into wind farming, even if it's offensive to the padeophile community?

Of course not. Cultists just take another hit of the kool aid, and keep moving, but remember if you paid to read this especially juicy and rich bit of blather from Pearson, you're part of the problem, not part of the solution ...

But wait, trouble always comes at the lizard Oz in pairs, or in an orgy of righteous sanctimonious crusaders all yammering away, harping on about the same thing.

See who's above the Pearson? Why it's Nick Cater, and he too is blathering on about the ABC too.

Yes, in Our cash pays for the ABC's comment, (behind the paywall because Chairman Rupert loves his cash), Cater - who styles himself as the Chief Opinion Editor at The Australian, which is actually true, because he's full of bloviating opinion - Cater is demanding your cash to read him rant and rail about the ABC.

And it's not just the ABC program The Insiders that gets his goat, though since Janet "Dame Slap" Albrechtsen declared war on the show, poor old Barry Cassidy and his format has been copping a relentless pounding from Fortress Murdoch.

No, Cater goes back to the days of the 1971 rugby union tour and the ABC's outrageous regime changing ways, when we all know that apartheid was a jolly fine system and Nelson Mandela a totalitarian and Billy McMahon one of the country's top PMs (well at least his wife knew how to wear a nice split above the knee dress).

This is arcane stuff of course, right up there with the pond mourning the long lost Australian of the Adrian Deamer days.

Deamer ould have reprimanded Cater for writing gibberish and he wouldn't have allowed Christopher Pearson in the door, and he certainly wouldn't have allowed the anti-scientific medievalism and crusading hypocrisy that now runs rampant through the broadsheet turned spiritual tabloid's pages.

But that was before Rupert Murdoch crossed the Rubicon and became rampantly conservative ...

You see, in 1971 Murdoch sacked Deamer for writing an editorial which criticised the Springbok tour of Australia ...

Talk about a conspiracy! Why back in those days The Australian shared the ABC's hideous liberal agenda.

Naturally Cater is also fully onside with the Vietnam war, and offside with the reprehensible ABC, and the way it covered the thing. It seems the war could have turned into a glorious victory, but for the white-anting of the cardigan wearers, who by reporting on all the negative things happening, turned a win into a palpable loss.

Thereafter, Cater rabbits on endlessly, in his bloviating way, about the ABC and opinion and the ABC's role, and Reithian ideals, and the ABC's Mark Scott daring to speak back to the goose-steppers at The Australian and defend the Corporation - how dare he be presumptuous and defend the indefensible - but perhaps the most ominous insight comes right at the end, when Cater celebrates John Howard's "comfortable and relaxed" lines to Liz Jackson in 1996 on Four Corners.

He also throws in Paul Keating, without seeming to understand that if the ABC manages to offend the Labor party, the Liberals, The Australian and Rupert Murdoch, it must be doing something right.

Bottom line?

The Australian and the Murdoch empire are salivating at the prospect of a Tony Abbott victory, and the chance to degut the ABC, reduce its funding, and keep it to a bland level of 'kool aid' comfortable and relaxed reporting. This is just another salvo in an ongoing campaign to reduce the ABC to the pathetic gormless level of a Pearson-preferred SBS ...

Somehow the rag and its kool-aid imbibing denizens see this as an essential survival strategy, a way out of their current fiscal wilderness.

A better strategy might be to terminate Pearson and Cater, and end up with a wider audience than crazed conservative letter writers who seem to spend their days in Gosford scribbling furious letters that send the likes of Cater into a righteous, indignant frenzy ...

But the moment you read that, you knew that the snake had slipped the pond a little kool-aid, and so the pond was expelled from the garden of eden ... and forced to roam the wilds of the intertubes ...

Thank god for the intertubes, currently outside the paw of the Murdoch apparatchiks ... each day the pond dances with delight on the grave of The Daily ...

(Below: from Murdoch taking over the Daily Mirror in 1960 to Murdoch taking over the intertubes in current times. Once a tabloid mind, always a tabloid mind and heart).

Friday, December 21, 2012

A spotlight on exclusive insights ...

You can imagine the pond's astonishment and delight on seeing For normal reading lean crazed right, and its opening pars:

The response by the chair of News Ltd, Rupert Murdoch and editor of The Australian, Chris Michell, to Janet Albrechtsen's piece on ABC bias, almost defies belief. 

It is not the first time they have argued that Albrechtsen isn't biased, even as she ranted on endlessly yet another time about the biased make-up of the panellists on Insiders, one of a series of endless rants about the ABC and public broadcasters to be found in the rag and its commentariat. Somehow, Murdoch and Mitchell trust their "outstanding" commentators, by claiming that they are "carrying no ideological badge and pushing no line". Well that settles it, doesn't it?

Don't they realise the woman is so batty - some might say bat-shit crazy - that she seriously entertained Lord Monckton's notion that climate science was being deployed as a stealthy way of the UN achieving world government, and that as a result, banning her from the ABC for all eternity was a public service and gesture towards public sanity that was beyond measure.

Oh wait, in its usual way, the pond deployed the wrong reading glasses.

The piece is actually titled For normal viewing lean left, and you guessed it, it's in The Australian, and placed behind a paywall so you never have to read it, and it starts this way:

The response by the managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Corp, Mark Scott, to Janet Albrechtsen's piece on ABC bias, almost defies belief. It is not the first time he has argued this case, even as he presented figures to a senate inquiry on the biased make-up of the panellists on Insiders. Somehow, Scott trusts his "outstanding" commentators, by claiming that they are "carrying no ideological badge and pushing no line". Well that settles it, doesn't it?

Oh yes and it was scribbled by one Andrew McIntyre, a well-known figure at the IPA, which of course carries no ideological baggage - except perhaps that smoking's good, climate science is bad, government totally useless, mining wonderful, Gina Rinehart a genius - and pushes no line, except perhaps that greenies are the tool of Satan, Laborites part of Lucifer's gang, and independents crazed blood-sucking vampire zombies. So that settles it, doesn'it it?

Yes, yes, the end of the world, which looks like it might be a tad delayed, will be a welcome relief from the sight of The Australian publishing yet another bout of complete and utter tosh - some might say bullshit - from the usual anal retentive suspects.

Naturally McIntyre builds up to the apocalyptic truth of what watching the ABC will do for you:

It also would explain why so many educated, generally mildly apolitical, well thinking middle class people with a regular diet of the ABC and Fairfax, simply are not aware that, for instance, the world has stopped warming for the past 16 years, that hurricanes and extreme weather events have declined and are not related to global warming, that Doha was a dismal failure, that the NBN has never had a cost benefit analysis, that Green jobs cost money ... and jobs, that growing the economic pie is not the same as redistributing tax revenue Bravo Tony Jones or that the Great Barrier Reef is not being destroyed.

Oh yes, the kool aid is thick on the ground at the IPA, where the blithe issuing of fact-free assertions is just a daily part of routine business.

Does McIntyre even begin to understand the asinine offensiveness of such condescension towards his audience, and his readers, and their alleged ignorance, which he's seemingly in the unique position to set right by making a string of unproven assertions?


As I explained 10 years ago on a panel at an ABC national staff conference in Melbourne; there is nothing more boring than a one-sided football match. Why doesn't the ABC be brave and challenge itself with controversial, mainstream ideas? It would be "most arresting, informative and effective", as the Dix report concluded more than 30 years ago.

Uh huh. Sciences is like, you know, a football match, and if you bribe the referee or play a good game, you'll get the right result, and give those greenies a damn good licking.

The same goes for tobacco and mining of course. Sure smoking might kill you, but remember, it's your right to die.

And those controversial mainstream ideas will naturally be sponsored by the IPA and its sponsors, who sponsor it to ensure that the right messages are sponsored.

Which is why the world is continually pounded by the sponsor-approved and paid for messages routinely blathered into the ether by lackeys of the IPA, spreading carnards for benefit of the mining, tobacco and other industries ...

And wouldn't you know it, because that was yesterday, today the rag runs a piece by James Delingpole, which they want to charge you for, but which you can find for free at the UK Daily Terror, and which consists of ... yes, you've guessed it, more ABC bashing, along with other stupidities, including a profoundly neurotic hatred of wind energy. Well the pond can understand a hatred of some kinds of wind energies, but let's not lower the jokes to the level of a Delingpole.

Naturally the piece starts with a childish, simple-minded provocation, and remember it's free at Australia you are so totally gay, because charging for it would be so totally het:

I mean "gay", of course, in the offensive, playground, politically incorrect sense of the word. As in: "Your Dad's car is totally gay." Or: "That shark was so gay he didn't even manage to take your whole leg off." This is the kind of usage that would you have you arrested in Australia these days, such is the gag-making political correctness of the land they once called the Lucky Country but which now ought more properly to be named the Haringey of the Southern Hemisphere.

Yes, today we're blessed with a dim-wit light bulb - fifteen watts if you're lucky - showing the usual abysmal, pathetic, condescending, fuck-witted colonialist Victorian mindset of the average British twat - replete with a host of equally fuck-witted stereotypes:

When I tell this to people who've never been to Oz they are usually surprised. Australia, they imagine, is a rugged, no-nonsense place where the men all look a bit like Crocodile Dundee (or, at least, the late Steve Irwin), and where their idea of a chat-up line to the Sheilas on Bondi beach is "Hey Sheila. Do you want a ****?" (to which they'll add, if Sheila is reluctant: "Well would you mind just lying there while I have one?")

What an imagination, fresh from the cinemah of 1986.

Stone the fucking crows eh James, and bet you got kicked in the crotch the last time you asked for a shag, and she said get off the fucking grass you pathetic Fosters-drinking pommie bastard, I'd rather shag a convict. Or a cane toad ...

Or some such thing. Because this is the level of stupidity and offensiveness that Delingpole offers the world:

If Jimmy Savile were alive today he would definitely be heavily into wind farming.

Yep, wind farms and pedophilia go together like a horse and carriage.

Of course at this point you realise that if you engage in this sort of discussion, you're just feeding the troll whose feeding his own bunch of chuckle-headed trolls, a right proper bunch of English gits, reading up on yet another twit's twattish impression of a tour down under.

A bigger question is why The Australian re-printed this particular bit of trolling, and then feels it can charge for it, when the UK Daily Terror offers this sort of tripe for free ...

But then the answer is obvious enough, because today the digital Oz became truly tabloid (screen cap, no hot links, click to enlarge):

Yes Delingpole is just there to fill up the space between the ads for Spotlight, and if you can find a mug punter who will pay for him and click on a Spotlight ad, why you've got the perfect lizard Oz reader.

A mug squared, a mug nonpareil, a mug of the first water, a mug who makes a squirrel sound like a rocket scientist. Squirrel!

But look the pond never likes to let a reader go away empty-handed and empty-minded, which happens all to often when News Ltd turns up on these pages. So here's a trade mark for you:

Yes the valiant attempts of Marsha Fox to trademark her chocolate lollipop logo have run into trouble at the US Patent and Trademark Office, as you can read in The law does not protect Cock Suckers. And here's the ruling that's behind the story in pdf form.

Oh okay, it's just a fowl little story about cock suckers, but it's more amusing than reading (and especially paying to read) Delingpole. Oh okay, that wouldn't be hard ...

So is there any story out there that can top cock suckers and James Delingpole and Andrew McIntyre?

No please don't mention Deadwood:

Al Swearengen: You can't cut the throat of every cocksucker whose character it would improve.

We're being serious here, and it's the end of the world as we know it. So let's just head over to the local Daily Terror for a moment:

Oh look it's a Spotlight Xmas there too, only a bit more subtle, nuanced, under-stated and tasteful. Eek, the Oz is more tabloid than the Terror ...

Seems it's hard to spot the difference in News Ltd rags these days. Remind us George:

... they had not gone twenty yards when they stopped short. An uproar of voices was coming from the company and its rags. They rushed back and looked through the window again. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, bangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that James and Andrew had each played an ace of spades simultaneously. 
Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

And so, speaking of those angry voices, the pond pauses to celebrate yet another extraordinary "exclusive" insight at the top of the page of the lizard Oz:

Amazing, astonishing exclusive.

Chinese power shifting the Pacific balance!

Who'd ever have guessed it, who'd ever have thunk it, and so many people not realising it was such an exclusive thought.

And just another way to add to the FUD of apocalypse day, so exclusive it pushes Swannie's budget betrayal into second spot! Amazing scenes ...

Oh okay, the pond just wanted to remind you of those great, great deals at Spotlight, before unveiling its very own exclusively exclusive, pretty unique header: Indian power 'shifting Indian Ocean balance', which is an update on that ancient header Cowboy power 'shifting Prairie balance' outside of Deadwood.

Yep, at last the pond understands the hunger for an apocalypse.

If all you've got is the Murdoch press for insight, it's like trying to survive on a diet of crackers and Monterey Jack cheese, aged a month if you're lucky ...

(Below: and now in honour of James and Andrew, including an oldie from First Dog. Click to enlarge)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Let the apocalypse begin, and if it befalls Tony Abbott, so much the better ...

(Above: has anything changed since 2009? Yes, Mal Brough would be included in Bill Leak's cartoon).

What an astonishing display of insouciance, not to mention hubris and arrogance on the part of Tony Abbott, when he advised - would announced or pronounce be better? - that he was doing too much important work for Australia to actually read the Federal Court judgement in the matter of Ashby v CofA and Slipper.

As if the behaviour and probity of his colleagues wasn't an essential part of important work for Australia, and as if an actual acquaintance with the details - before once more swearing blind loyalty to Mal Brough - wasn't important for a man with such grand visions.

This actually doesn't devolve into a Labor v coalition dispute, but goes directly to the character of Abbott, and to the way that the gormless media have given him a free ride and a free kick at every opportunity.

This morning there has been some comment, most notably Lenore Taylor's Silly, but Tony stands by his man, but the best she can do is call Abbott silly ...

It's actually reprehensible and insulting behaviour, as anybody will know who's sat through a meeting with some turkey, only to be told at a climactic moment in said meeting that the turkey hasn't bothered to actually read the key document that's the subject of the meeting.

Thereby wasting everybody's time as said turkey asks for a quick debrief, entirely misses the point, and ruins the business.

Taylor eventually lathers herself up enough to suggest that Brough still has questions to answer and that Abbott's "busy doing important things" answer is "insufficient", whether the Coalition leader has read the whole judgment or not.

But it's like spanked Abbott with a feather, when really he needs a decent going over with a decent Opus Dei cord-like whip:

(above: the very thing, and more ways to be a good disciplined Catholic here).

How hard would it have been for Abbott to have read the document, and said something like "yes, I've read the judgement, and while it raises a few matters, I have complete faith in my colleague, and it reflects my substantial unawareness of anything to do with anything about it."

And once again treatment of Abbott's blooper reverts to the question of media coverage, and the Murdoch rags, most notably The Australian, whipping themselves into a frenzy over union matters now almost two decades old, while right here, right now, Brough can get away with lies and dissembling, and Abbott can stand alongside him without a good tar and feathering.

Even more exasperating in all this is that Brough need not have involved himself with Ashby at all - he could have simply stood back, and likely won Slipper's seat in a canter.

And there's every probability that Abbott will win the next election, perhaps not by a landslide, but certainly by a comfortable majority. He needn't stand by Brough, because the coalition could probably stand a drover's dog against Slipper, and the dog would win.

And that's where the real arrogance and hubris comes in and why it gives the pond a chance to sound like the preacher in Ecclesiastes, "vanity, all is vanity."

Fewer and fewer people can remember or have experience of the dying days of the Whitlam government. There wasn't much to be said for it. Rex Connor was out of control, and in his madness turned to Tirath Khemlani, a con man with no class. Jim Cairns misled parliament in relation to a letter, and resigned, though it also emerged later to his undying shame that he'd sued a paper for suggesting he was fucking Junie Morosi, and won a settlement, so that he could enjoy the cash in the paw ... while fucking Junie Morosi.

There was a kind of madness and hysteria in the air - there were any number of other issues facing the government, what with Bjelke-Petersen and Pat Field and such like - and that's when Malcolm Fraser struck by withholding supply, the most contemptible political trick deployed by any Australian politician in the twentieth century.

Whitlam was caught between a dodgy drunk and a devious snake. Did he deserve the sack, the dismissal? Probably not, and maybe he could have traded his way out of the mess he was in, or maybe not.

But let's not worry about alternative history. He got the sack, and Fraser got legitimacy by winning the subsequent election.

But it wasn't a real and honest legitimacy, because many people loathed Fraser for what he'd done and the way he'd acquired power, and as they began to experience the leadership of the head prefect it got even worse.

The country spent years marking time, and when you review Fraser's record, there's not too many things you'd care to put into the positive basket. It took some time coming, but when it did, Fraser's punishment at the hands of Hawke (helped along by that drover's dog) was a beauty.

And now what do we see, since karma is a wonderful and mystical thing?

Why there's a fondness for Whitlam which transcends party lines, and amazingly Fraser has gone crazed leftie and irritant mosquito to his party in a way that not even the most fervent Whitlamite could manage. Is it partly a matter of guilt, or chiefly a matter of guilt, and a sense of the treachery, arrogance and greed for power which will always taint his legacy? (Not to mention the way his legacy of founding SBS has gone off the rails, with only NITV to hand to save the day).

Who knows, but some sentiments expressed in Geoff Kitney's It's all hung up in the Parliament (behind the paywall) reminded the pond of the relevance of the Whitlam years to the current circumstances of Abbott, his persistent negativity, and his insatiable greed for power and the "preciousss", as if he'd been born to rule, and it was only an illegitimate minority government that had prevented his ascendancy into the gods:

Abbott's promise to hold the government "ferociously to account" by uncompromising opposition at every level had made this Parliament especially unattractive to the public.
Some on the Coalition side who share Turnbull's disquiet about the longer-term damage of no-holds-barred parliamentary tactics fret that an Abbott government could pay a price for this. They warn Abbott has not learned the lesson of the Fraser government in the mid-1970s when, after winning power using the most brutal means, it came to office with seriously damaged public goodwill which weakened its effectiveness.

Indeed. But it wasn't just the lack of public good will that damaged Fraser and his government, it was their own internal disarray.

So it's likely to be with Abbott.

Abbott is loathed by many punters, and at best you could say a substantial majority of the Australian population are entirely indifferent and immune to his charms.

His rugger bugger boofhead 'in your face' antics and sanctimonious hypocrisy haven't served him well, at least when it comes to popularity ratings in opinion polls.

Well might big Mal fret, especially if he gets to play the Andrew Peacock role. Perhaps he should be packing his bags for some time in Washington.

The stench of Abbott hypocrisy comes with the notion of holding the government "ferociously to account" but when it comes to the matter of Mal Brough, going "ferociously to water", pleading he couldn't be fucked reading an important court judgement.

Which raises even bigger questions.

Climate science? Oh I couldn't be buggered reading that important document because I'm doing important work for Australia ...

The NBN, and the unimpeachable need for Australia to keep pace with China's rapid installation of FTTH?

Oh I left that important document next to the toilet, and I'll get around to it in the future, because meantime I'm doing important work for Australia ...

Naturally The Australian has given Abbott yet another free pass by hiding the story down the page, and instead highlighting yet another tedious "Exclusive" from Dennis "the tie and suit" Shanahan explaining how "Minority rule has 'failed to deliver" according to one in two voters, and never mind that one in two voters intends to vote for Tony Abbott.

Look, see, the pond doesn't make things up:

(screen cap only, no hot links, because we care for your sanity).

Which confirms the pond's own polling, that one in two readers of The Australian are terminally dumb.

Yes, it's such a comprehensively fatuous beat-up that the pond can only plead Xmas fatigue, and too much bubbly to attend to its rampant stupidity.

But that's okay. The pond believes that there's every likelihood that Mal Brough will win his seat and that Tony Abbott will win power, but the good news is that they'll do it with a taint.

And when they're in power, the intrigue and the intricacies of the Slipper affair won't go away, they'll come around to haunt the government, and anything that the delusionary Brough - who still thinks he was god's gift to indigenous people - attempts as a Minister.

The pond likes to imagine Abbott in his dotage, traumatised by guilt and bad conscience, going mad, and turning into an agrarian socialist of the peculiar B.A. Santamaria kind.

In the meantime, the pond hopes to be around to track his decline and fall, which is likely to be spectacular.

In the old days in the Fraser years, even with the oil shock and unemployment high and sundry other policy failures, the head prefect managed to wrangle his colleagues and stare down challengers like Andrew Peacock. In the end it left the old bull fatally gored, but it took time.

These days, things move more quickly - why you can send a defamatory tweet in a nanosecond around the world - and there are any number in the Liberal ranks who, if they smell blood, will step in for the kill, and a fine old time will be had by all, and there'll be bugger all the cheerleaders in the Murdoch rags can do about it.

The pond is torn between quoting Macbeth:

If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly: if the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With her surcease success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We'd jump the life to come. But in these cases
We still have judgement here; that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return,
To plague the inventor: this even-handed justice
Commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice
To our own lips.

Yes, when he's in the sear, the yellow leaf of life, gung ho Abbott will have time to reflect on his unwillingness to take a stand or read a court document:

Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hands? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incardine,
Making the green one red.

Or perhaps we should revert to Julius Caesar:

Let me have men about me that are fat,
Like jolly Joe Hockey,
Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o'nights;
Yond big Mal has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

But in the end we'll settle for Ecclesiastes:

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
What profit hath a man with a Brough as a companion when he hasn't the time to read a document under the sun?
One generation of leaders passeth away, and lo after the Abbott, another generation cometh, and the earth doesn't abideth forever thanks to climate change ...
All things are full of labor; but people cannot utter it speedily, because the NBN was privatised and reduced to FTTN
The eye is not satisfied with seeing, not at that bit rate, nor the ear filled with hearing, at least at 320 for an mp3
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that challenge to the Abbott which shall be done; and there is no new challenge or fall of a leader under the sun ...
Because there is no remembrance of former Fraser things; neither shall there be any remembrance of Abbott things that are to come with those that shall come after ...

By golly, and it's the 21st December tomorrow, when the sun will ariseth, and possibly goeth down, and perhaps not. Bring it on, the pond is in the mood for an apocalypse, and the day that the apocalypse has its way with the sanctimonious humbuggery and relentless negativity of Tony Abbott and his media acolytes.

In the meantime, at least Julia Gillard is a YouTube celebrity and her latest effort has gone right off the chart, at 2.752m hits as we count. And yay, just as she won't have to do Q&A again, no one will ever have to watch it!

But what about sensa huma Abbott? Sorry he's too busy doing important work for Australia, like the pompous negative ass he is.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Xmas dust bowl of ideas comes right on cue this year ...

May it please the chair, the pond would like to suspend standing orders, so that matters in relation to the commentariat may be dealt with after the 'other matters' listed in 'other matters' are dealt with ...

First up, can we take a moment to recommend the two part documentary by Ken Burns on the dust bowl, which conforms to all that the pond expects in a documentary.

Immaculately chosen images - some most likely coming from the WPA - an immaculate narration by Peter Coyote (Burns and PBS know no other narrator), some well-chosen interviews and talking heads, and an environmental crisis driven by greed and a land and a wheat bubble with awesome consequences for those living in the bowl. And absolutely no re-enactments.

The pond fears, loathes and despises alleged documentaries with re-enactments of purported events, which now - thanks to the baleful influence of the History Channel and other cable shows - litter Australian efforts.

In the Burns show, if you see FDR, it's a photo of FDR, not some pitiful Australian actor pretending to be FRD or Chifley or Menzies or Churchill or whoever else you've got. The most you get in Burns is a discreet reading of an historical text, or the use of a photo in a generic way to evoke visually the point being made ...

As for those who say humanity can't produce an environmental disaster, please get off the pot you've been sitting on for years ... and for those who yabber on about individual liberty and freedom and all the rest of the nanny state tosh, without the forceful intervention of the federal government, people would have suffered even more than they did, and that area of the United States would have continued being a disaster area ...

As for those wondering whether the show has been seen in Australia, talk to the ABC, or perhaps your hand ...

Now if it please the chair, may we move on to a reading, and a question to anyone who still has a credit card with HSBC. Yes, it's Matt Taibbi, under the header Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke. As we've provided a link, can we just settle for the opening pars?

If you've ever been arrested on a drug charge, if you've ever spent even a day in jail for having a stem of marijuana in your pocket or "drug paraphernalia" in your gym bag, Assistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Lanny Breuer has a message for you: Bite me. 
 Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who's ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a "record" financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which as one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank. 
 The banks' laundering transactions were so brazen that the NSA probably could have spotted them from space. Breuer admitted that drug dealers would sometimes come to HSBC's Mexican branches and "deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account, using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows."

Oh it's a fine rant, a worthy rant, and the bottom line is how if you're a bottom feeder, you'll cop the full force of the criminal law, but if you launder nine billion dollars of drug money, why you'll cop a smack on the wrist, a corporate fine, and no jail time at all ...

And now if it please the chair, can we pause for a cartoon?

May it please the chair, we propose holding over the punchline until later, because first we have the matter of gambling bets to be settled.

Will all those who took a bet with the pond in relation to Bob Carr please now step forward and hand over the cash. 

Cash only please, no cheques or HSBC credit cards here. 

If you recall, the bet was how soon before Bob Carr would unveil NSW Labor party accounting tricks to the world, and now that Carr has done it in the silly season just before Xmas (Bob Carr confirms aid budget shift - paywall affected), the pond is calling in the bet. 

While noting that hell might freeze over before it would contemplate voting for this government, even if it meant saving the world from Tony Abbott. Let the world endure Tony Abbott ... and let's see what accounting tricks he's got, along with the startling sight of Julie Bishop in full hypocritical flight pretending the coalition cares about UN relief programs ...

And now, if it please the chair, can we move to the usual business of the day, and contemplate what's obsessing one of the few members of the commentariat still standing in the silly season, which is to say Janet "Dame Slap" Albrechtsen ...

What's that you say, the topic is fat Danes and somehow it's all the fault of hypocritical Australian Greens?

Ye ancient cats and fishes, is that all she's got to write about? 

We all know it's the silly season, but does it have to be this silly, as if anyone apart from Albrechtsen gives a flying fuck what the Danes get up to, unless it happens to be Hamlet brooding and killing and going Freudian.

Hasn't she got a decent Lord Monckton conspiracy to unveil ... you know, Santa Claus in conspiracy with the UN to use climate science to instal a world government?

Oh okay, if we must, we must, because it seems the Danes put in a fat tax, and now they've taken it away, and this displays rigorous intellectual honesty, as opposed to rigorous intellectual stupidity by designing a tax that failed to do what it was designed to do ... and that because of a design flaw of the most obvious kind ...

It's all here, for what it's worth, in We should send nanny packing as Danes have done, but as it's behind the paywall for your seasonal cheer and good health, it's really not worth the price of an Xmas cracker.

It turns out that the problem with the tax is that punters ducked over European borders to avoid it, and got their choccies and fat elsewhere. D'oh Danes ...

Out of that gossamer thread Dame Slap builds a mountain of anti-regulatory righteousness and much blather about nannies and the nanny state, replete with all sorts of horror stories about the outrageous behaviour of the nannies ... and how Dame Slap will sit down this Xmas and eat too much rich food and drink too much wine and toast the end of the Danish nanny while yearning for her sister to vanish from Australia ...

While presumably those grinchy Greens will sit down to a salted cracker and a glass of water.  

Oh wait, make that a salt-reduced gluten-free cracker and a half glass of water, because if we're doing pathetic caricatures and stereotypes, may as well go the full Dame Slap Danish hog.

But did you notice the one thing that was missing in Dame Slap's diatribe about nannies and the evils of government regulation and the way John Stuart Mill and Liberty and precious rights and bodily fluids are being ruined?

Well yes there's the stupidity of Queensland in relation to fluoride and healthy teeth, but even more, there's the matter of government regulation in relation to the availability of military assault rifles (no use in hunting, and not good for target shooting, if you take either seriously, but bloody good if you want to kill a lot of people quickly because you think a school is a war zone).

Yep, Dame Slap goes on a standard libertarian cheap-ass tirade about Danes and a fat tax, and bike helmets and Bloomberg's super-sized drinks, and other trivial matters, and doesn't deliver a cheep or a peep about gun regulation. 

Instead she delivers her own version of super-sized waffle, which makes the pond think a nanny state intervention regarding the amount of meaningless waffle members of the commentariat might serve could be a good and needful thing:

How far we have travelled from John Stuart Mill's On Liberty. "No one pretends that actions should be as free as opinions," wrote Mill, before our busy-body Attorney-General decided that even opinions are not so free. But "in matters that do not primarily concern others, individuality should assert itself," Mill said.

Actually if you're fat and your fatness takes you to hospital and it deprives me of a bed, or generates more costs and more taxes and pressure on facilities and staff, it does concern me. 

And if you happen to crash into my car on your helmet-less bike because you ran a red light, it also concerns me, and rest assured my individuality will assert itself.

But that's to introduce complexity and other considerations into the discussion, and you must never ever expect that when in the company of a fatuous simple-minded member of the commentariat, ever ready to ferret out the Santa Claus conspiracy ...

... while failing to mention gun regulation, because that just might be too hard up against the parrot-like mantras about choccies and soft drinks and bike helmets and nanny states.

Which naturally brings us to the capper to our cartoon. 

Take it away First Dog, and you can find more First Dog here.

Never change Dame Slap, never change. Keep that anti-regulatory nanny state routine working for you. And remember, the king of the nanny staters was John Howard and his anti-gun ownership laws ...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

And so to Gerard Henderson in the grip of minority obsession ... or much ado about nothing ...

The pond loves a good conspiracy, and it seems that Tony Abbott, and/or his staff, computers, clocks, time stamps, servers and such like provide a jolly good one.

Bernard Keane mounts the case in Time discrepancies and the strange lack of interest in the Ashby affair, (behind the paywall), by wondering abut the lack of interest in the entirety of the Ashby matter:

... strangely, there’s been nothing. No acres of newsprint from that fine forensic mind of Hedley Thomas. No editorial from The Australian demanding Abbott and Brough allow themselves to be grilled at length. No columns in The Age from Mark Baker. No complaints from Jonathan Holmes about the ABC not following the story up. No interviews on 7.30 with discredited figures making wild allegations against Abbott and then refusing to detail them, let alone back them up.

Keane got to wondering after reading this post by Sortius, entitled 10 Hours of Bullshit, explaining exactly how Tony Abbott had been caught with his paw in the conspiracy cookie jar.

The pond was immediately suspicious of this blog - why the previous posts were wild-eyed enthusiastic pieces in favour of the NBN - do it once and do it with fibre (Rational minds need not apply) and You got AON all over my PON!, which speaks of the FUD of conservative politicians banking on the average punter not having a clue.

When I hear  ... from people claiming the NBN will be outdated by the time it's finished, I instantly assume they know nothing of communications both historic & research for future comms.

Which somehow reminded the pond of that line, Cars kill people and we don't ban cars, when of course regulators spend many, many hours regulating road rules, road behaviour, issue drivers' licenses, remove the right to drive cars, and so on and so forth, insisting on working brakes and seat belts, and employing all sorts of tricks to stop people driving cars from killing themselves and others, and the moment you hear an unthinking line like that you're dealing with a conservative parrot of the Major Mitchell kind.

Anyhoo, the pond was immediately suspicious of this blog, because it clearly knew too much, and in places sounded far too much like the pond in the grip of an NBN rant.

More to the point, the pond wondered why Keane wondered, when the answer is clear as mud. All the media needed in the matter of Abbott and his clock was plausible deniability, and there's an end of it.

It's as plain as the extended noses on many Liberal politicians' faces - their evasions, equivocations and lies - that in the course of the events going down - right up to the matter exploding in the Daily Terror - they chattered amongst themselves, and occasionally with others, and knew what was happening - parliamentary corridors are the world's best source of gossip, whispers, rumours, saucy fears and doubts and assassins' knives - and all that was needed to maintain the facade was plausible deniability.

As for it being a conspiracy, it was actually a plain as day assault, complete with fibs and denials, as exemplified by Mal Brough acting like a school kid when first caught out in a lie, paws still coated with cookie crumbs (I had nothing to do with it miss, here's my wife, she'll vouch for me).

And once the story broke, there were lines of trumpets and wanton newspaper strumpets ready to sound the alarums about Slipper, and then fall silent as the Aida-like procession finished and the judge spoke ... and no need for entombment alive here.

Is it possible to call The Australian's behaviour a conspiracy? When it's so naked, blatant, obvious and consistent?

On the other hand, you might go completely ga ga, and sound completely stupid, as does pompous prattling Gerard Henderson, by blaming the whole affair on the minority government and "minority obsession".

Yes Hendo truly jumps the seasonal holiday shark of silliness today in Minority rule makes fools of both sides of the house, and conclusively proves that minority rule has indeed sent the commentariat around the S-bend.

You have to start with this bizarre conclusion:

For more than two years, a number of poor political decisions and misjudged statements can be directly attributed to the minority obsession's prevalence. Most recently, some of the assessments of the Federal Court in Ashby v Commonwealth of Australia. 

Yes, muh learned judge got it all wrong, because apparently he's in the grip of "minority obsession", a strange new condition recorded and explained by hilarious Hendo, and almost certain to make it into the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

It helps enormously in understanding the condition, and its impact on the befuddled Henderson, if you can reconcile these two statements:

Contrary to some politics-inspired commentary, Justice Steven Rares did not make any findings against the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, or indeed the aspiring Liberal Mal Brough ... 

Indeed, and since the matter was actually James Hunter Ashby v C of A and Peter Slipper, that's hardly surprising (and remember the full judgement is here and much more fun than reading the hapless Henderson, while there's a truly inspired court collection of messages compiled here in a pdf which will provide endless holiday reading).

But when we get right down to the bottom of hapless Hendo's piece, what do we find?

Brough is also a victim of the minority obsession. Slipper was never likely to retain LNP preselection and there was not a remote possibility of him winning his seat as an independent. Brough did not need to involve himself in any way in Ashby's campaign against Slipper, which Justice Rares found was essentially motivated by Ashby's own desire for a job as an LNP aide.

Yep, the innocent Brough, who had no finding against him, was actually in it up to his neck, and was himself a victim of that strange new medical condition, "minority obsession" (which of course is much more serious than being in the grip of Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise and that dire, wretched movie "Minority Report")

And after that strangely contradictory diagnosis, hapless Hendo can't resist a "mrrraow" and a scratch:

It is not even clear why Ashby would qualify as a political aide. After all, he spells ''awe'' as ''ore'' and once believed the speaker did not need to be a parliamentarian. Ashby, too, was overcome by the minority obsession. Slipper was never as politically important as Ashby believed him to be.

Yep, it seems if you can't spell, you might be in the grip of minority obsession. Eek, young people and the entire intertubes is or are in the grip of minority obsession (apparently it affects grammar and grandma too).

It turns out that the entire affair was a complete fuss about nothing, and so much a nothing that the platitudinous pompous prattling Polonius felt the need to spend an entire column brooding about it, such that we might call his resulting work, much ado about nothing.

Still, now that minority obsession has such a grip on him, will his other majority obsessions - the wicked ABC, the reprehensible sectarian bias against Catholics, the joy of the outer suburbs v inner elitist luvvies, and so on and so forth endlessly - take a back seat?

No such luck.

In today's work you will naturally find quite a few of Hendo's age old obsessions and bete noirs - the wicked independents, the naughty and hateful Tony Windsor, and the impossible Rob Oakeshott, who both wasted the precious, valuable time of Tony Abbott, not to mention the wicked independents' wicked animosity, perversely directed at Tony Abbott, such a fine upstanding fellow (and pronounced innocent by the learned judge even though said judge was deeply mired in that strange condition "minority obsession"), and ... it almost goes without saying ... the complete irrelevance of Peter Slipper to anything.

It turns out that Slipper was of marginal importance to anybody, anything and everything, and so there has been a great to do about nothing, which means ... if we extend the analysis ... that Tony Abbott and the shadow government has spent an enormous, spectacular amount of time and energy wasting their time ... and ours.

Is that what Henderson meant by "minority obsession"? That Abbott and his team are fixated, deluded clowns in the grip of a negative force field of demonic proportions that has dangerously destabilised their ability to think logically and act sensibly?

That Brough, Abbott, poodle Pyne and the rest of them have been sent barking mad by "minority obsession".

Probably not, probably it was just a half-baked, truly stupid metaphor flung into the mix as a way of baking up the usual bunch of conservative memes ...

And as a way of diminishing the whole saga and flinging it into the bin, where not just Henderson but the entire conservative press would like it to stay ... lest the punters be reminded of Shakespeare:

Officers, what offence have these men done?

Marry, sir, they have committed false report; 
moreover, they have spoken untruths;
secondarily, they are slanders;
sixth and lastly, they have belied a lady;
thirdly, they have verified unjust things;
and, to conclude, they are lying knaves.

Indeed, but don't expect an analysis from Gerard Henderson soon inventing a new medical condition, lying knavery ... since soon enough every politician and lick spittle fellow travelling journalist and member of the commentariat would be lodged in the nearest asylum ...

(Below: a Gerard Henderson associate, in the grip of minority obsession, takes a stand).