Friday, January 11, 2013

And now it's wag of the finger time ...

(Above: Click to enlarge, or discover the full story at the WSJ by googling so that another paywall can be evaded).

A kindly reader drew the pond's attention to this outbreak of scientific reporting in Murdoch la la land, in this case the Wall Street Journal.

What was also interesting to read was a sampling of the comments that accompanied the story, a fevered concoction of muddied waters and befuddled opinions, which suggests that Murdoch land remains the heartland of denialism, with faux bodies like the the Heartland Institute being referenced as authentic sources of unbiased scientific information (locally, you might as well cite shock jock Alan Jones as the source of your scientific advice).

Never, a modern day Churchill might remark, have so many indulged in such passionate beliefs with so little evidence and so little knowledge.

If you want the same experience locally, you only have to turn to befuddled Tory Shepherd's piece yesterday for The Punch headed Heated arguments on the need for a new politics.

Sure enough her blather about heated arguments was followed below by a set of heated, dill-headed arguments and opinions which confirmed that Murdoch la la land is downunder the heartland for befuddled climate scepticism.

Almost immediately a loon jumped into the water to advise that they had experienced the coldest day in December in China and then one of the coldest winters in decades, so stick that up your hottest woolly summer jumper.

No doubt Ms Shepherd thought she was doing a noble thing, and providing some balance to appearances by James Delingpole in The Australian, and then she promptly proceeds to defend Tony "climate science is absolute crap" Abbott against charges levelled at him by George Monbiot, here.

She simpers:

I hate to say this – Monbiot being somewhat of a journo crush of mine – but he has tunnel vision on this one. 
In the context of deadly fires and (deadlier) heatwaves, you can’t start pointing fingers at individuals.

Say what? Of course you can start pointing fingers at individuals and, courtesy of Crikey here's a bloody fine example of that fickle finger of fate finger-pointing:

Just love that man in yellow doing his thing. 

So if Tony "climate science is absolute crap" Abbott is off-limits and can be absolved of any fickle finger pointing of fate, what gives?

It’s not Mr Abbott’s fault we are so far from any sort of meaningful action on climate change that it’s unlikely we’ll be able to turn the ship around on time. 

No, no, it's absolutely certain Dr. No has had absolutely nothing to do with any bouts of nattering negativity, by nabobs or others, and any hint that he's a deliverer of dog or wolf whistles would be to deny that his chief of staff finds him positively feminist, and so green it seeds greenies into growling feral lust.

Care to modify the thought Tory?

Well, it’s not just Mr Abbott’s fault – even though he does tend to want things both ways; to have climate change policies while questioning the science. It’s not even just his party’s fault. This is a broad-spectrum blame situation.

Yes, why pick on an actual political leader expected to show leadership and insight when you can, with a wave of hand, turn it into a broad-spectrum situational blame sort of thingy.

So Ms. Shepherd proposes blaming the Labor party for the sop of the carbon tax, and the Greens and the independents for making it harder, and the general population addicted to their cars and their air conditioning and other "far more influential governments" for not doing the right thing.

Uh huh. That's spreading the manure far and wide.

Yet only this morning, if you happen to read The Australian because each day you need a solid purgative, you'll find Terry Barnes rabbiting on about how Bogan is not a dirty word (inside the paywall because chairman Rupert expects you to pay for your purgatives).

Yes there it is, at the top of the opinion pieces for the day:

... CUBs are decent mainstream people with decent mainstream values. People who fit the CUB profile are happy simply to concentrate on living their own lives, as long as the dead hand of government leaves them alone and the nanny state spares them its lectures. 

Ah the nanny state! Of course, bogans and cliches go together like a horse and cart.

Patterson Lakes's gloriously over-the-top Christmas pageants have long given pleasure to many, but the steeply rising cost of power bills, with Gillard's carbon tax the vile cherry on top, have turned them off. Their predicament illuminates the consequences to middle Australia of Labor's and the Greens' environmental zealotry gone mad.

Yes, such a tragic loss to the world, over-the-top bogans competing with one another to produce the most ostentatious set of Xmas lights, seemingly never having visited LA during the Xmas season, and realised how pathetic, sordid and tragic their feeble efforts are.

What a tragedy, how environmental zealotry and the vile carbon tax have turned the world mad as hell.

As for other values, it seems these CUBs are solid citizens in every way, shape and form:

... CUBs in communities like Patterson Lakes have traditional two-parent-family values - even when those parents go their separate ways, they strive to ensure that children have both a mum and a dad in their lives. 

Yes CUBs have absolutely plenty of time for fairy lights, but please never ever talk of a man and a man, because it does make them so uncomfortable.

In business, they are risk-takers whose risks generally pay off. In general, they are comfortable in their skins (tattooed or otherwise) and don't care about others' opinions of them. And they are big joiners too, supporting and participating in churches, lifesaving clubs and other community and sporting groups.

Well yes, they're great participants, at least in groups and clubs where you won't find any mano a mano action - unless of course there's a group formed to drive gays out of Patterson Lakes.

And their wrath will be mighty

It's working people like the CUBs of Patterson Lakes who are waiting for Gillard and Labor with their cricket bats. 

Yes, because if you can't do a glassing at the local pub, you'll always use a cricket bat. And please, no talk of baseball bats, why that's positively un-Australian and un-bogan.

If they believe that Tony Abbott and the Coalition are truly viable alternatives to the current omnishambles, they will be formidable "Abbott's Allies" in the coming electoral contest. The prime minister should be terrified of the anger she has unleashed from those who should be her natural supporters. 

Yes vulgar people into Xmas lights who hate gays are the natural supporters of the Labor party, but now it seems they are natural supporters of Dr. No. Who'd have guessed.

Oops, it seems however that there's a need for a mea culpa:

Should I have used the "b" word and CUB tag as convenient shorthand for the dominant demographic of my local community? Maybe not. If I have unfairly characterised my Patterson Lakes fellow residents, I willingly apologise. But I am absolutely and defiantly right to characterise Patterson Lakes residents as people who are hardworking, successful, aspirational and don't give a toss about what people say or think about them. These are honourable and respectable values, and it's great to be part of such a community. 

Uh huh. Guess that means Terry Barnes won the "best and brightest light bulbs in his Xmas lights" award in his street contest this year. Or perhaps he kicked a gay on his way to writing this column.

CUBs, or whatever else you want to call them, have earned the right to enjoy what they have earned by their own efforts, not by their dependency on government handouts. As the television series Kath & Kim (filmed in Patterson Lakes) affectionately satirises, they are the recognisable backbone, not just of their community but of our wider Australian society. If that is what being a bogan is about, shouldn't everyone aspire to be one too?

And there you have it, the best and brightest light bulb in The Australian's panoply of writers, the leading supplier of thoughts to this day's opinion pages, urging the world to turn bogan ...

Yes, forget culture, y'artz, sophistication, alternative lifestyles, just get out your flip flops and flip flap away, and remember, get the very biggest Xmas lights for your street, and turn it into LA, and the entire planet will thank you for your manly and womanly inclusive tolerant ways (oh and vote for Dr No and kick a gay if you see one).

Lordy, lordy, it was so engaging, we quite forgot about Ms. Shepherd and what she was on about. Remind us Tory:

Monbiot also has a crack at News Ltd., publisher of The Punch, but as someone whose only experience of this company has been as a pro-science writer and anti-climate change columnist it’s hard to know how to respond to that without sounding like a Murdochbot, so I’ll leave it at that.

Say what? She's an anti-climate change columnist? Does that mean she's anti-climate change, or she's anti- the notion of climate change and writes columns about it, or is she anti-anti-climate change columnists, or she's anti-anti-climate change? Or is she a pro-anti-climate change columnist?

The pond reeled away, befuddled by an existential crisis, but never mind, we know the reason she left it at that, and that's because the Murdoch press in Australia has been risible and pathetic in its coverage of climate science, and routinely deploys its commentariat to produce the sort of moronic level of ill-informed comments to be found below Ms. Shepherd's piece (start with Akker Dakker any day of the week if you want proof, but always remember the Bolter and the efforts of Graham Lloyd, The Australian's alleged environment editor).

Of course she can't respond in any way to this straightforward observation, and not because it would make her sound like a Murdochbot, but because it's an obvious and naked truth.

Perhaps to absolve herself of what sounds like a case of the guilts, Ms Shepherd should embrace her inner bogan and buy herself the biggest bestest bunch of Xmas lights the world has ever seen (but please, only men and women should assemble same, in the interests of a solid community of like bogan minds).

Ah well, let's wrap it up with Tory's final words:

Yes, we – everyone - should be doing more. But it rankles to have the finger pointed from afar when, so far, almost everyone is failing. Especially when, once again, Australia is burning and there are more immediate issues that demand attention. 

Yes indeed, it rankles when a vile cherry on the top gets in the way of rampant Xmas lights, And also because it's terribly upsetting for an upstart Pom to point out dinkum Aussie failings, when it's well known the addle brained down under can't keep more than one thought in the noggin at any one time, so it's simply impossible to think ahead when immediate issues demand attention.

Quick, everybody don a yellow suit and get out in the field, and let absolutely no one stay back at headquarters to indulge in a bit of future planning. It's why trench warfare in world war one worked so well.

 In this, though, he’s right – we do need to take note that worse weather is to come, that the science shows more extreme heatwaves and bushfires and droughts will hit this wide brown land. So we do need “a new politics; a politics capable of responding to an existential threat”. 
But maybe one with more constructive ways forward, and less finger pointing.

Uh huh. Which is perhaps no doubt why Ms Shepherd's readers then immediately embarked on an orgy of finger pointing and denialism.

As for the pond, there's no way Ms. Shepherd will stop the finger pointing.

When a prattling prat from the Murdoch press desperate not to sound like a Murdochbot demands that fingers not be pointed, why that's the very time that fingers must be pointed.

And what a fine tradition  of finger pointing there is:


  1. There's a Senate Inquiry Recent trends in and preparedness for extreme weather events due to report in March. The submission by Neville Nicholls is pretty good, and the others seem to be from scholarly & academic people. But, it's alarming to note there is no submission from Tory Shepherd. She'd better hurry up, closing date is Jan 18th.

  2. Patterson Lakes is in the Federal electorate of Isaacs, which Mark Dreyfus won by a wafer-thin margin of 22% in 2010.

    To be fair the Liberal candidate 'won' the Patterson Lakes booth, which represents a bit over 3% of the electorate, by about 12%. It was the only booth in the electorate, apart from pre-polls, which he won. (Sez the AEC.)

    But that's democracy for ya, with or without cricket bats and Limited News selective reporting.


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