Thursday, July 18, 2013

In the grip of fear about various national emergencies ...

At first the pond couldn't believe the brazen cheekiness when told about it, but yep, there is was on the PUP's splendid site, and never mind the errant question mark in the top left hand corner that suggested the coding monkeys (oh we luvs ya coders, we really do) had gone home early.

It turns out, if you click on the above to enlarge, that Clive is the latest in a line of bold visionary leaders of his historic party, which inter alia include Bob 'Ming the Merciless' Menzies, Billy 'the little digger' Hughes, and Honest Joe Lyons.

The pond still couldn't believe the chutzpah, and checked out a little further, and at the bottom of the history page, came across this:
Now never mind that the PUP isn't the UAP, because Clive couldn't get his act together...

If ever you wanted a first class example of why the National Trust in NSW are braying geese, there it is, with Clive able to call himself a renowned Australian National Living Treasure, and in his own lunchtime, too ... and who on earth allowed the rhetorical flourish of the Professor and the three-barrelled name ...

Is Clive one of those dangerous radical elites Nick Cater warns us about all the time? An actual, gasp, professor? This could be the start of a national emergency ...

Oh it made the pond's day, because on a more serious note, the pond was shocked to discover the nation is in the grip of an actual real national emergency. Or so Tony Abbott told us ...

Here the pond was thinking that we were in the grip of some sad examples of human tragedy, but a national emergency ...?

Do we have other examples of national emergencies so we can understand the term?

Well yes, Syria seems a good example, in the grip of a brutal bloody civil war which has gone on for years, with thousands dead, and some 1.8 million, at last estimate, refugees leaving their homeland.

What's more, between 600,000 and 1.2 million have ended up inside Lebanon's borders, and yet the Lebanese have kept their border open, and continue to allow refugees to enter the country, thereby creating real stress and a national emergency for Lebanon.

You could say that Egypt has been through a national emergency or two in recent years, and so has Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, and Pakistan is also rarely short of a national crisis.

But Australia?

Does the ugly sight of grubby politicians using vile hysterical rhetoric for political gain constitute a national emergency?

Does the routine, pathetic superficial treatment of issues by the Australian media - which has always preferred ambulance chasing and now boat chasing - to substantive insights constitute a national emergency?

No, not even that. Not even the notion that brave plucky Australia will overturn the Refugee Convention and to hell with the people of Syria.

To lighten the mood a little, the pond proposes it might be a national emergency if Indonesia invaded Australia and it would certainly be a national folly if Australia attempted to invade Indonesia.

Maybe it would be a kind of mouse that roared national emergency if Tasmania joined forces with New Zealand to seize Melbourne, but  hey, in the end it's Melbourne. It might be okay if we draw a line at Euroa a bit like the Brisbane line (now those were the days of a real national emergency).

Back to the solemn side .... why do we all have to suffer this kind of exaggerated hysteria in the national debate?

It's a terrible thing that people die at sea, but self-satisifed lucky country Australians wouldn't have the first clue about a genuine national emergency, and no amount of frothing and foaming and pumping up the volume by Tony Abbott -  or the Ruddster attempting to match him - will turn a bicycle tube into a tyre suitable for a monster truck ...

Funnily enough, not one of the papers headed their tree killer editions with Abbott's words - though you'd think if we were in the grip of a national emergency rather than the grip of football and cricket, it would be top of the page.

Only the reptiles at the lizard Oz contrived an angle on the national emergency:

Other parochial rags focussed on the football, and Daily Terror managed to combine the football with a new angle. Fresh from their Stalinist satire, the thugby league boofheads have gone Hollywood:

Presumably no one saw the movie and came to understand that Ralph is a most sympathetic wrecker.

Daily Teror: What's your name?
Wreck-It Kevin: Kevin, Wreck-It Kevin.
Daily Terror: Why is your smile so freakishly weird?
Wreck-It Kevin: I don't know. Why are you so freakishly annoying? (more quotes here)

All the pond asks is that Hollywood agents interested in the property queue politely ...

But there was another upside. With the Terror's wreck-it paywall in action, it's been a very long time since the pond visited Miranda the Devine, and what a relief to discover that the Devine is in the grip of a national emergency, as she explains in Why virtual parenting raises virtual children.

Now readers with their memories intact - not always easy when you read the Devine - will recall that back in the day she was madly infatuated with the mad Susan Greenfield and her plasticity of the brain routine and her chatter about the evils of Twitter, and social media and computers and screens and so on and so forth ...

But at some point the Devine finally twigged that maybe Greenfield was off the planet, but that doesn't stop her gnashing her teeth and wringing her hands and furrowing her brow:

Reasons parents gave for neglecting family time included that "the children are watching TV" or "the children are playing computer games". 
Who is the parent here? It is a woeful tale with worrying implications for the future. 
A generation of children who are virtually bringing up themselves, with the help of whatever is beaming at them through their screens.

Ah yes, it's the screens, it's the screens, it's a national disaster and a national emergency:

...psychologists are warning we're raising a generation of "Tamagotchi Kids" - children brought up by computers and TVs and smart phones. 
With parents on their laptops while watching TV in one room and the children engrossed in their own digital entertainments in another, it can be easy to spend an entire evening communing less with your offspring than you did with the guy you bought your coffee from on the way to work.

Reminded of anything? Well those who grew up in the glory years of television will recall that it was the ruination of the young. And those who sat around listening to the radio - with silence an essential requirement - no doubt can remember how not a word passed between the family, not even when the obliging apron-clad martyred mother brought a cup of Bonox or hot chocolate or bedtime Milo into the lounge room.

And if you have vampiric tendencies, you might have been around enough centuries to remember the outcry at the way the printing press was going to ruin everything, with people burying their heads in their books, and not saying a word to anybody, locked away in a fantasy world, engrossed in frivolous entertainment like poems and novels.

Here's where Devine gives the game away:

You might be in the same house with your children but you are not doing your job as a parent. You're not imprinting your values, imparting their worth, setting boundaries and teaching them how to be a good person.

Imprint your values? That's the mission of a parent. To indoctrinate? Set boundaries? Teach them to be good?

The pond felt an immediate desire to smash up the joint, but the Devine was too quick, back to the wringing of the hands, and for that you can't have a smart phone in your hands (no, a stupid phone isn't any better):

Born roughly since the mid-1990s, Gen Z is born virtually with a smart phone in their hands. They are the first post-technological revolution generation and their default reality is radically different from anything before. 
But this teacher sees the dark side of her charges' facility with digital technology. So immersed are they in their screens that she fears they are losing the ability to read facial expressions, a prerequisite for empathy. 

Now the elderly might recall how flappers and the bobby soxers and the  baby boomers and Gen X and Gen Y and all the other pseudo-marketing gibberish were each the worst generation of their times, but what is the Devine really on about?

Well she's on about fear and the dark side and the lack of empathy and ruination:

Carr-Gregg predicts a "decline in civic connectedness and ... social capital" as a consequence. 

Yes, at a time in NSW where the ambulance chasers are brooding about children being murdered by derelict parents, the Devine is brooding about civic connectedness.

At the end of it all, the best the Devine can muster is that people should spend more time with their children, though even on an anecdotal level, she manages a level of comedy the pond finds wonderful:

A full-time mother of nine children I know always makes a point of having a cup of tea alone after her husband has gone to bed so that any child who wants a private chat knows where to find her.

What? The exhausted hubbie trots off to bed at 8 because the children want a chat, and as any strict parent knows, the chat has to end by 9 because that's lights out (and please make sure there is no artificial light pulsating beneath the sheets, providing the evidence the ruffians have smuggled an actual soul- and brain- and plasticity-destroying screen to bed). 

Remember, imprint your values. Remind the children they are worthless digital failures. Set boundaries, and make sure they're doomed, doomed, unless they learn to fear and loathe, like the Devine ...

The conclusion? Well one way or another it seems that politicians and the commentariat are determined to have this first world country in the grip of a crisis, a national emergency, though a lot of it seems to revolve around what can only be called first world problems ...

The common currency? Fear, fear of the unknown, fear of the future, fear of them, fear of the other, fear of the foreign, fear of each other, fear of parents, fear of children, fear of the screens, fear of the smart phones, fear of the digital.  

Heck, what have you got, because we's got the fear ... Doesn't in the end matter much what it is, provided you just fear ... 

Oh and take out a digital sub to read my column about fear, and buy their book about fear, and make sure to rush off to a friendly psychologist, who will charge  exceptionally modest rates to discuss and if possible heighten your fear ...

The pond wishes they'd stop it ... for fear, you know, that they might all go blind ...

(Below: and there are a zillion more, just google)


  1. Nine children? Isn't that Shanahan and Wife?

    Savvas Tzionis

  2. We had the Budget Emergency (though Tones doesn't seem to think it's still an emergency, as far as I can see), and now the National Emergency. It's beginning to seem as though the weekly meetings with News Ltd are now producing an emergency each time. Tune in to see what next week's emergency will be!


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