Friday, March 07, 2014

In which the pond expresses concern for Gina Rinehart's welfare ...

(Above: First Dog ending discussion on one of the issues of the day. The rest of the cartoon here, paywall affected).

So just to rub salt in the pond's wounds, Lenore Taylor scribbles a piece proposing that it isn't Qantas that's picked up the carbon tax bill, it's the mug punters who fork over a special levy at somewhere between $1.93 and $7.25 a flight.

Qantas carbon tax bill has been covered by ticket surcharge, she says, putting all the whining and howling in a different light:

Zero! It was like the emperor's Joycean clothes all over again, except who'd be so cruel as to drag James Joyce into this net of befuddlement and lies ...

And then Clark and Dawe deemed it funny to have a parrot parrot over and over again "carbon tax" like a bloody great macaw with its beak stuck in a cracked 78. Welcome to contemporary Australia, they said cheerfully, presumably planning to work their way up to being door bitches for Satan's hell ...

Enough already.

The pond would, for a change of pace, like to get Friday into gear by proposing a great read on another matter altogether, the attempt to catch a star's fusion in an ITER bottle on earth and by a bit of luck, Raffi Khatchadourian's lengthy piece, A Star in a Bottle, is outside The New Yorker paywall.

It's either a gigantic folly or the salvation of humanity, but either way a marvel and a wonder to read about ...

Okay, okay, any stray reader of the pond knows that there's many exciting and engaging things to read out there in the real world. Head off to The New Yorker and you'll be stepping outside the tent for qute a while, but then that's no matter, because there's bugger all to see here...

Sadly, the pond's night beat for the daily is the demented world of the commentariat, the ones who believe in Noah's ark but call climate science a religion ...

What's that mean? Well for starters there's always the hagiographers and knob polishers doing their daily rounds of bowing and scraping:

Sheesh, how much can a possum bear? Now there's a very model of a model bouffant Pooh-Bah.

You mean we should celebrate Abbott's long held and consistent view that climate change is crap and that the carbon tax is responsible for Qantas's misfortunes?

Meanwhile, somehow the pond is meant to work out, on the fly, a discordant notion which proposes exactly the opposite:

Ah well, read Tony Abbott's plan is to have no plan at all if you must, but the pond settled for Simon Letch's illustration of a treeless vista populated by mining 'roos and a banana republic plane overhead ...

And over at the Daily Terror, the least trusted newspaper in Australia, the loudest macaw of them all, the one with a beak that cracks 78s in a single blow, was at it again:

So Akker Dakker has swallowed the Joycean pup. But given what else he's swallowed and sniffed in his useless career of idle abuse, who's surprised by that?

What else?

Well the woman who inherited a fortune, and has held it fast to herself, no matter the grasping fingers of her family, is at it again.

Naturally the Daily Terror - did we mention it's the least trusted newspaper in Australia? - gave it a hearty splash:

But you can get the gist of it by reading Australians living beyond our means says Gina Rinehart:

"I can already hear the left boiling with rage that I dare challenge their ‘bottomless pit’ and the belief that money doesn’t have to be earned before it is spent mentality. 

Actually the pond doesn't consider itself on the left, and it rarely boils with rage - the comedy of life is simply too rich for that - but it does enjoy a suppurating, festering dose of paranoia:

 "More nasty twisted articles will appear, forests and splinters of them. But every day Australia goes further into debt with no clear planning operation to get back even close to where we were. 

And exactly where were we back in the 1930s?

Happily there are many interesting features on Australia in the old days, not least this piece offered up by the NSW parliament, 1930 to 1939 - depression and crisis. Jack Lang was a funny old bugger and a curmudgeon but his plan was a good one. It was the Rineharts of the day that ruined it ...

It's always hard to pin down the "where we were" days. Are we talking about the great depression of the 1890s? Or the credit squeeze recession that Ming the Merciless produced with Holt's jolt in 1961-62 (ADB Holt here). Or the mess in the 1970s which can be shared amongst the Whitlam and the Fraser government?

Or is Rinehart hoping that Australia will get back to the glory days of a Hawke/Keating government? Well it can't be the mess that John Howard produced as treasurer ...

As always when the fatuous go in search of stereotypes, they land on Margaret Thatcher, and naturally she's a Baroness:

Ms Rinehart paid tribute to the late Baroness Thatcher, saying Australian politicians needed to follow her example. 
''Thatcher steered through a lack of courage in her own political party, which had become riddled with lefties or 'non-courageous wets' and self-interested power mongrels, who didn't grasp or didn't want to grasp what was needed for their own country,'' Rinehart said. 
''What Thatcher did for Britain our own leaders should do for us - cut spending, cut waste, cut the shackles and back hard work.''

Uh huh, Well if someone can arrange for the pond to inherit a stray billion or two, by golly we'll get right down the business of cutting spending and waste, cutting the shackles and backing hard work. Why there'll be stacks of work for the butler, the chauffeur, the cook, the maid, the pool boy, the gardener and a dozen more.

Of course you don't have to head off to Alex Pareene's hatchet job The woman who wrecked Great Britain to get an understanding of what Thatcher actually accomplished and what were her limitations.

You can head off to the UK Telegraph - hardly a hotbed of seething leftist radicals and read Ten myths about Margaret Thatcher exploded, and get to Number 7:

7. She restored the values of thrift to the UK economy. At best arguable. What she certainly did do though was begin some of the reforms that ended up undermining Britain’s once enviable private sector final salary pension system. She taxed surpluses in a manner which encouraged contribution holidays and corporate raiders such as Hanson, some of whose takeovers were more motivated by the opportunity for realising pension fund money than any real interest in the underlying company. Even the introduction of personal pensions was very much a double edged thing, since it ended up in a huge mis-selling scandal. 

And in a bizarre recounting of twenty ways Thatcher changed Britain - power dressing and shoulder pads anyone? - you might stumble on this:

Thatcher said that privatisation was a chance to give "power back to the people". In fact, as Robert Philpot, director of the Progress pressure group, wrote last week: "Now, in 2012, it's clear that the result of electricity privatisation was to take power away from the people. Small British shareholders have no influence over the overwhelmingly non-British owners of the firms that generate and distribute power in Britain."

Of course the rich don't have to worry that much about power bills, or the ruining of the town of Morwell for that matter, and frankly once that inherited billion or two lands in the pond's bank account, it's likely we'll become fiercely Thatcherite, because it's a certainty the family will be off to court demanding a share ...

So what's the real reason for all the frothing and foaming and resentment that regularly features in Rinehart's tracts, which on its more absurd days results in headlines like World's richest woman calls for Australians to take a pay cut - 'because African workers are willing to earn just $2 a day'?

When in doubt, the pond always goes Freudian.

You see all those jokes about being an heiress is what really gets the Rinehart goat, and really gets her going.

For all her efforts to have her late father venerated, however, Rinehart has also been at pains to point out that she deserves the credit for rescuing the company after his death in 1992. In an email to Tim Treadgold, she spoke of the “the mess and debts and liabilities I was left with”. Lang might have been the discoverer, but Rinehart has been the company’s developer. Her hatred of being labelled an ‘iron ore heiress’ is well known, precisely because she regards herself as a self-made businesswoman. Similarly, she never describes her father as the ‘King of the Pilbara’, because it would imply hers is a privileged inheritance. She is nobody’s princess. (Nick Bryant, What Gina Wants)

How absurd and desperate, and in its own way tragic and pathetic can this become?

It clearly needles Rinehart that her personal role in transforming Hancock Prospecting has not been recognised more widely. Her corporate website tries strenuously to advertise her achievements. The logos of recent awards, such as the 2009 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year, are displayed prominently in a kind of online trophy cabinet on the homepage. Her biography on the site also features a long list of lesser gongs, including her induction into the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels (a curious who’s who that embraces Bill Clinton, Pope John Paul II, Winston Churchill and Barry Manilow). More impressive to the ear is her 2011 Global Leadership Award for Masterclass CEO of the Year. She travelled to Kuala Lumpur to receive it in person, even though its sponsor was a bi-monthly Malaysian business magazine with a circulation of just 15,000. The website also links to a speech delivered by Tony Abbott that appears to be there because, in a room packed with her peers, he singled Rinehart out for special praise. (Bryant, ibid)

And so we come to the Freudian bit, courtesy again of Nick Bryant:

The company website, of course, shines little light on Rinehart’s vexed private life. In any event, a linear timeline could not adequately do it justice. It requires something much more elaborate: a graphic showing shifting Venn diagrams, perhaps, to illustrate her overlapping feuds at any given moment. Over the years, adversaries have included her father, her Filipino stepmother, her first husband, the children of Peter Wright (her father’s business partner), former employees, and a long line of sacked lawyers. In the late 1990s, she also settled out of court with a former security guard, Bob Thompson, who had filed a sexual harassment suit against her. “She’s just incredibly lonely and isolated,” Thompson told Woman’s Day. 
 Another acquaintance tells me she lacks emotional logic. Conflict is the recurring theme of her life. “People who spend time with her end up falling out with her,” says a former colleague. “Writing a cheque is her only way to advance things.”

And so to the current family feud, and the endless court cases, and bizarrely a poem engraved on a 30 tonne boulder in a shopping centre which repeats Rinehart standard lines in a way that soils both poetry and her intelligence.

But then the rich can do things differently while the rest of us are borne along by the tide, beating on, boats against the current ...

It's vainglorious stuff, as much a plea for recognition and attention as any actual nostrum as to how to run the economy and the government. It springs from the same alienation, the rootless and restless hollow ambition of that hollow man the Bolter ...

Every so often Rinehart will bless the world with her views, and the media will pay attention because she's filthy rich, and when she has a mind to it, she can help destroy a government's policies or help elevate a worshipful group thinker ...

Australia hasn't yet reached the peak of crazed billionaires or rich people American Koch style, but Rinehart is helping us get there, and yet not for the moment would it occur to her that it's because she's in reality deeply unhappy ...

The pond hopes by this point most have fled to The New Yorker, but if you've stuck around, here's your delusional, paranoid just desserts, wherein you'll discover all  that's been reported as news today was said long ago, and in a really inept and silly way.

And so to the poem. The pond fancies it's best said in a tremulous schoolgirl voice, trying to make rhythmic sense of the doggerel attempts at rhyme:

(And more on British comics here)

Our Future 

The globe is sadly groaning with debt, poverty and strife 
And billions now are pleading to enjoy a better life 
Their hope lies with resources buried deep within the earth 
And the enterprise and capital which give each project worth 
Is our future threatened with massive debts run up by political hacks 
Who dig themselves out by unleashing rampant tax 
The end result is sending Australian investment, growth and jobs offshore 
This type of direction is harmful to our core 
Some envious unthinking people have been conned 
To think prosperity is created by waving a magic wand 
Through such unfortunate ignorance, too much abuse is hurled 
Against miners, workers and related industries who strive to build the world 
Develop North Australia, embrace multiculturalism and welcome short term foreign workers to our shores 
To benefit from the export of our minerals and ores 
The world's poor need our resources: do not leave them to their fate 
Our nation needs special economic zones and wiser government, before it is too late.

What a shocker and strangely, how sad ... so much money, and yet, so little self-understanding or awareness ... so much anger, hostility, paranoia and conflict, so little tranquility ...

And if that's the future of poetry, the country is well and truly fucked. Put everyone on welfare, the pond says, and help them learn how to write ...

(Below: the pond wouldn't want you to go away empty-handed without a souvenir)

Put it another way:


  1. Re Shanahan's piece Dot, if Abbott's views are consistent, I ask myself, what are they consistent with??

  2. I actually thought that some breaches of the criminal code emerged at the family squabble over the vesting of the
    ‘King of the Pilbaras" deed to the grandchildren.. I always thought a judge at such a trial was expected to bring it to the attention of the DPP.. I guess not if your Gina..

  3. Yeah, you tell’em Gina. The Coalition should pay welfare recipients no more than $5 per day which should be well above the International Poverty Line. If they complain the government can offer a bowl of gruel.

  4. Thanks, DP, for recommending Raffi Khatchadourian's, A Star in a Bottle. It’s an engrossing read. If ITER can be constructed and function to its design man will have taken the second step out of the cave.

    By the way, Abbott and many of his cohorts, in politics and business, have yet to take that first step.

    1. How many more years do you have to live, d'you reckon Higgs B ? According to the expectancy tabulations I supposedly have 13 to go.

      What kind of bet would you like to place that ITER will be doing anything but chewing up large amounts of money by the time I go (I can leave you winnings in my will, and vice versa).
      Face it mate, our saviour is solar photovoltaic + good batteries and/or solar thermal (already delivering 24/7 power in Spain - yes, that's Spain mate. not some overfunded joint in France) and photo fuel (ie a breakdown/combustion cycle based on ammonia as developed many years ago by the ANU).
      Please to not get too carried away by the kind of optimism that has taken us 60 years since Thodemann and Thomson to get to a still decades - yes, that many more than one twn year period - from actually delivering any usable energy at all.

    2. GrueBleen, I made the simple comment if "ITER can be constructed and function to its design man will have taken the second step out of the cave". How you interpret that as me getting carried away is beyond me.

    3. From "Star in a Bottle" the usual neolib negative spin about renewables not being up to it, and the role of increasing energy efficiency not mentioned once, not even by the German boss! "Star in a Bottle" and any spin offs will be weaponised - already has been. It's the space all round between the outer bomb casing and the tertiary and secondary stages of a two stage thermonuclear bomb, (or a Teller-Ulam three stage bomb). The space in that bottle contains the gamma and X-rays emitted by the primary stage that lead to implosion and triggering of the inner secondary fusion stage (which in turn triggers any fissionable third stage). "Star in a bottle" is about power remaining highly concentrated, in the hands of the 'worthy', and filling the coffers of the one percent. If the public funds develop anything, ever, it will in a flash be privatised into the one percent owned hands of big armament and big energy. We know what to do and how to do it already. What a fat lot of good that is. Meanwhile,

    4. Hmmm, that's a very defensive response Higgs B. I was simply proposing a friendly wager to test your level of belief that whether "ITER can be constructed and function to its design" is actually a question justifying your preceding "If".

      But then, how I could interpret your "man will have taken the second step out of the cave" as other than getting carried away is beyond me.

      Incidentally, do you have any idea who the Thomson and Thonemann I referred to are ?

    5. It seems to me you have misconstrued my use of the word “if”. I do not think it unreasonable to say that from even a cursory reading of my comment the word “if” was employed to denote any of the following three:

      a : in the event that
      b : allowing that
      c : on the assumption that

      if ITER were successful then my second statement “a man will have taken the second step out of the cave”, would hold true.

      Mine was not a definitive statement that the project was workable or achievable. I only expressed hope IF it were successful it would be one of man’s greatest, if not the greatest, achievement.

      Immediately your response to this was the following:

      “How many more years do you have to live, d'you reckon Higgs B ? … What kind of bet would you like to place that ITER will be doing anything but chewing up large amounts of money by the time I go”.

      Surely you do not measure your life in coffee spoons, GrueBleen. Even though we are here for just a fleeting moment isn’t it far better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all?

    6. Well thank you Higgs B for taking the time to show that we are both using the same language, and that, unlike Humpty Dumpty, we are both using the conventional meaning of the word "if". Yes indeed, we are both plainly agreed that the word "if" denotes a conditional state: "If ITER succeeds ..."

      So I was wondering how you interpret my statement that I want - via my proposd wager - to test "... your level of belief that "ITER can ..." is a question" as some kind of attribution that you believe it is not a question but a certainty that ITER will succeed.

      So let me forego the opportunity to confuse you any further and attempt to state what I am saying:
      1. that you do not believe that it is a certainty that ITER will succeed, but a question as to whether it will.
      2. that I am saying that it is a foregone conclusion that ITER will NOT deliver anything in my remaining lifetime other than being a money suckhole and sheltered workshop for otherwise indigent physics doctors.

      And to help illustrate my thesis, I introduced a reference to just a little bit of the history of the power from nuclear fusion effort over its 60+ years of repeated failure and 'jam tomorrow" promises. Do you know who the Thomson and Thonemann I referred to are ?

      And no, I don't measure my life in coffee spoons; as I thought I'd plainly indicated, I measure my life in calendat years. But each to his own, eh mate ?

      Is it better to have tried and failed than never to have tried ? Well actually, Higgs B, no it isn't. There's this thing, you know, that is beloved of econorats, called "opportunity cost". Mayhap you have heard of it ? While the human race is facing disaster from climate change, our answer is to throw even more $billions into the ever expanding ITER suckhole. I take it you don't have children or grandchildren.

      But if you could expound a little more, I'd appreciate it: you aver that a successful ITER would be "man's second step out of the cave". I shan't ask you what mythical cave you think humanity once lived in - it can't be Plato's since we haven't even taken the beginnings of a step out of that - but I am curious as to what you consider to have been man's first step out of the cave.

  5. Here’s a sharp-worded twitter exchange yesterday between Chris Kenny and Senator Ludlum after the latter’s dununciatory speech on Tony Abbot at 10pm Monday night.

    • Chris Kenny ‏@chriskkenny 5h
    @SenatorLudlam Senator I wonder if you might follow me so I can DM you? thanks CK

    • Scott Ludlam ‏@SenatorLudlam 5h
    .@chriskkenny er. why would i want you to be able to do that..?

    • Chris Kenny ‏@chriskkenny 5h
    . @SenatorLudlam Because as a Senator for WA I thought you might want to engage in a television discussion about your speech.

    • Scott Ludlam ‏@SenatorLudlam 5h
    .@chriskkenny "engage" in a "discussion". i see.

    • Chris Kenny ‏@chriskkenny 5h
    “@SenatorLudlam: .@chriskkenny "engage" in a "discussion". i see.” Not your style? Why not?

    • Scott Ludlam ‏@SenatorLudlam 4h
    .@chriskkenny m8 i don't want this to sound harsh but the reason i won't be going on your show is that *nobody watches it*

  6. Australians are entitled to a welfare safety net and better poetry than Rinehart can provide.

    1. ".. Australia, embrace multiculturalism and welcome short term foreign workers to our shores
      To benefit from the export of our minerals and ores" -

      Skilled workers and their family members on 457 visas 190,000
      New Zealanders 630,000
      International students 330,000
      Student graduates on post-study visas 41,000
      Migrants on bridging visas 118,000
      Working holiday-makers 170,000
      Total to do the locals out of jobs and conditions 1479000

    2. "Develop North Australia," by welfare safety nets extended, for business as usual, for business Gina's way. And burn those fossil fuels, baby, let increasingly well watered fat Kimberly cows burp.

      But, 15 more Queensland shires were today added to those already drought-declared. It's an all time record now covering 80% of Queensland, and extends into the south east coastal regions!

  7. And today Bolt tries to slime Bill Shorten by using a domain name registry entry. And what is his?


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