Tuesday, March 11, 2014

You can see stupidity and cupidity in a grain of sand ...

(Above: can David Rowe get any crueller? Or more accurate? More Rowe here)

It takes a lot to shock the pond, but there, just for the moment, the pond was genuinely shocked, watching the Media Watch segment Sorry, John.

On one level it was merely absurd, involving as it did a letter from someone claiming Monarto as an address.

The pond fondly remembers Monarto as Don Dunstan's futurist dream city, where technology would rub shoulders with infinite promise to bathe croweaters in infinite glory.

These days it gets by as an open range zoo, and you won't find a word about Dunstan's dream in the zoo's online "about us".

You can find memories still lingering online - do a Greg Hunt and you can wiki the vision here, and be reminded that there were going to be 200,000 living in a thriving community by the arrival of the millennium.

But as usual, confronted by existential absurdity, the pond digresses. You see the lizards at the reptile Oz changed a few words in a letter, which, who knows, might have been written by a thumb-nail dipped in tar, and verbatim Media Watch did quote it:

Mark Scott, Stephen Conroy and John Howard may seem like strange bedfellows. But they share one characteristic, in common with many who combine soaring ambition with acute self-belief. All refuse to utter the word "sorry".

Now the sentiments are unexceptional.

Just another of those bland "a pox on all their houses" or at least "a pox on both major political party houses and you can have the ABC as a bonus".

Print it and move along. But not the reptiles. They deliberately deleted the reference to John Howard, with an obvious purpose - to reduce the letter to standard ideological drivel of The Australian kind, aimed only at the Labor party at the ABC.

It's only a couple of words - the mention of John Howard gone, and "all" changed to "both" - and when found out and the whistle blown, the excuse offered was risible and farcical and only added to the injury to meaning ...

It wasn't edited for length - the pond can understand shortening pompous correspondents who ramble on. It was edited for meaning ... ostensibly because John Howard is no longer around.

And that's why the pond was genuinely shocked - oh okay, the pond was genuinely shocked that Peter Ferrell was a subscriber to the lizard Oz while living in Monarto and hadn't yet announced with an harumph of indignation that he was terminating his subscription.

More to the point, it reminded the pond of how things had changed, how standards had slipped, what a post modernist bizarre world it now is.

In the old days, the letters editor, Graham Leech, if he'd done the deed on his own watch, would have surely been asked to resign, or if not, so consumed by personal guilt, he would have done the right thing and tottered off into the wilderness in sackcloth and ashes.

If he'd done the deed under the benign eye of the editor, the editor would have died of shame and been moved along.

People in newspapers of record once cared about such things. Newspapers like "The Times" made a fetish and a feature out of their correspondence, the first badger cull of spring wot wot and so on and so forth.

If you tried to fiddle with the letters page, it could have serious consequences - witness what happened when a Canadian, and Israeli politicians, used false names to troll the letters to the editor page (Greg Hunt it here)

Sure, changing a few words isn't as spectacular as a Troy Buswell flame-out, and Paul Barry was inclined to a little unseemly gloating in presenting the story ...

But then he had something to gloat about.

In the end, the trivial banality of the feat reminded the pond of William Blake and his Auguries of Innocence:

To see a world in a grain of sand 
And a heaven in a wild flower, 
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, 
And eternity in an hour.

You can see a world of corruption in a grain of sand. Please allow the pond to do a Graham Leech on Blake:

He who edits words of doubt 
Doth put the light of knowledge out.

And yet that tweak doesn't entirely leach Blake's original of truth and meaning ...

The fallout meant that the pond cast an even more jaundiced eye on the output of the reptiles at the lizard Oz this day ... and who could have imagined there was a darker shade of black than black?

Oh sure it was still delightfully jolly in the usual silly way.

Dennis 'the bouffant one' Shanahan was busy knob polishing in his usual hagiographic way:

This at a time when the Abbott government looks set for a dressing down in the Western Australian Senate re-run, with all that might mean for a majority in the Senate. But there's no point featuring one poll reality when you can knob polish another poll ...

And Nick 'the Caterist' Cater was on view providing another bout of fatuous, profoundly silly Caterism.

Developing a strain of Murdoch journalists who are receptive to the world might be more difficult than counting all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the world.

If you can summon the energy to get around the paywall and actually read Pity food fundamentalists starved of common sense, you will find the ineffably stupid Cater explains his own problem in a couple of sentences:

Humanity is mostly stupid, biochemist Arpad Pusztai told GeneWatch magazine in an extended interview. 
 “They only take something seriously once a disaster occurs. This is history. We’ll just wait for some sort of disaster to happen.” 
 That is history all right: history stripped of confidence and progress.

The ineffably stupid Cater is, on the other hand, full to overflowing with confidence and progress, as he smotes Brussels, the EU, the European Commission, and makes a joke about the Irish potato famine which saw the pond's ancestors decide to chase gold in Australia ...

How stupid can you get?

The trouble with avoiding risk is that ultimately it gets us nowhere. It is a sure bet that if Homo erectus had discovered the EU’s precautionary principle before he discovered fire, you wouldn’t be reading this on your iPad today. “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure,” said Theodore Roosevelt, than to “live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat”.

Out of that philosophy came the rabbit down under for recreational hunting ...

Came the Indian Mynah to control locust plagues, came the common starling, came the cane toad to control the cane beetle, came any number of invasive species, so many in fact that you can do a Greg Hunt on them here ...

And yes, speaking of invasive species, it has to be said that the Caterist is a truly alarming invasive species, its sturdy stupidity and folly posing all sorts of threats and difficulties to humanity ...

Is it worth a letter to the editor? Oh look, there's a handy guide:

The blight of over-regulation leaps borders in this kind of press release: How appalling that (fill in product), banned in (fill in country), is being openly sold in Australia. The government must act since we cannot risk the ­futures of our children and our children’s children. 

Yes, the pond can do something with that:

How appalling that Caterist columns - banned, or at least largely ignored almost everywhere in the world - are being openly sold in Australia. The government must act at once since we cannot risk the stunted minds which will pose a real danger to the ­futures of our children and our children’s children. 

Did anyone know? Did anyone realise? Could the spread have been limited? The threat reduced and controlled? Did we need to introduce a Caterist version of the Cactoblastis cactorum?

The funny thing? The irony? Sensible scientists are risk averse and try to work out the consequences, while bee in bonnet scientists - Australia has had plenty of them - always think they have the solution to various environmental problems produced by stupidity and folly, and the occasional accidental invasion. By producing yet another stupidity or folly ...

Call it paranoia, but Australia has spent enormous amounts of time and energy attempting to insulate the continent from assorted diseases, such as citrus canker. You can head off to the Australian Government and discover all the moola being spent on environmental biosecurity and government funding on invasive species national projects.

Some are old favourites, like the fight against invasive cacti. Or the pond's particular fear and loathing, onopordum acanthium, which no young person should be asked to chip ...

And there have been more than a few misfires and yet we keep trying:

Another example of a poorly researched introduced biological control is the sap sucking lantana bug (Aconophora compressa) also from South America that was introduced into Australia in the 1995 to eat the lantana. Unfortunately, the lantana bug also attacks other trees including fiddlewood trees which has caused distress to some gardeners. The lantana bug had been tested for six years on 62 different plants. Aconophora compressa was the 28th insect introduced to control lantana in about 80 years.

Does any of this have any impact at all on the average gung ho Caterist? Perhaps temper a little the idle abuse of Europeans who've gone around the block for a few thousand years, and who have as a consequence, seen all kinds of follies, including a couple of world wars, and who are therefore inclined to genuine conservatism?

Not a chance:

Creating a sturdy potato is the easy part. Developing a strain of bureaucrats resistant to the precautionary principle may take a little longer.

Indeed. Developing a strain of Caterism resistant to folly might take a few thousand years ...

But for once all the pond's usual jocularity was a little strained.

The pond is no ideologue, and is open to innovation, but it's also aware of what the carp has done to the environment. Try fishing in the Chaffey dam outside Tamworth and see what you catch ...

But last night it dawned on the pond that it was a truly slow learner. Humanity is mostly stupid, and the pond reading the reptiles is a prime example of it.

You see, at last it was incontrovertible. You can no longer trust a single word in a newspaper that once billed itself as the "heart of the nation".

Not even the letters to the editor, supposedly saying what the correspondent meant to say, as opposed to having editors shove meanings into the mouth of the correspondent.

A heart built on lies?  What a soul-destroying heart it was, it is, and will be, and thank heavens they stopped pretending that nonsense about the tin man having a heart would help them sell the rag.

Yep, looming over the pond was an image of a newspaper now so rabid and bent on ideology that it would change a few words in a letter to the editor in a bid to change the entire meaning of the letter.

The emmet's inch and eagle's mile 
Make lame philosophy to smile. 
He who doubts from what he sees 
Will ne'er believe, do what you please. 

 If the sun and moon should doubt, 
They'd immediately go out. 
To be in a passion you good may do, 
But no good if a passion is in you.

So the pond looked elsewhere for a little Tuesday fillip and as usual the cartoonists came to the rescue.

David Pope manages to join together the Angry Summer report - sssh, don't mention climate change, it might get you into a discussion of the precautionary principle with unprincipled fools - with a hint of the 2014 Canberra Balloon Spectacular:

Take one:

and mix with one or more balloons (no portrait of gung ho Caterists intended or implied):

And you get:

And you get more David Pope here.


  1. DP - interested in your views on this issue.


    It's complex.

  2. Cater:

    “Humanity is mostly stupid, biochemist Arpad Pusztai told GeneWatch magazine in an extended interview.
    “They only take something seriously once a disaster occurs. This is history. We’ll just wait for some sort of disaster to happen.”

    That is history all right: history stripped of confidence and progress.”

    That’s right, Cater, we’ll just wait for some sort of disaster to happen when, in reality, it is happening now, but who cares, that’s progress, right Cater?. In the meantime the Caterist will continue progressing rearward until the remaining 50% of the world’s forests are destroyed.


    1. Not sure what you're worried about, HB: According to IPA Fellow and ecological genius Aaron Lane (in the Sunday Age), all we have to do is privatise the forests and they'll be saved by Libertarian Free Market Pixie Dust, sprinkled (or is that trickled?) down upon us by the Great Invisible Hand

    2. Ah, yes, Tim Rust, the IPA friends of the common man.

      Our Lord said in Mark 16:16, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." Unfortunately forests can't be baptized, no soul I suppose.

    3. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bh67SyTCUAAAAhy.jpg

    4. More condmned biblical shit.. the moving morgan finger traced


    5. on pathetic reptilian catering - street Orwell


  3. A couple of years ago Bob Brown wrote a letter to the Oz, I vaguely recall it was something about mining leases in nth Qld. In the letter Bob referred to the price on carbon.
    The Oz changed it to carbon 'tax'.
    Somewhere in the intertubes there is a 'before' and 'after' version.


  4. You rock so hard. I too was sent into a reverie by the address of the letter writer....

  5. Sand worlds seen at 250x


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