Sunday, June 29, 2014

In which an encounter with Qantas and the AFR leads to a most unhealthy Sunday meditation on all manner of religious matters ...

(Above: thanks to the AFR. Dead things sell!)

The pond has been gathering ongoing reports on the roll out of iPads on Qantas 767s with the same fascination as watching a train wreck unfold.

According to the latest report in the pond's hand - last Friday - there's still no fix for the sound and innocents still pluck the tablets from the seat pocket, and discover that unless they've got their own iPad friendly earbuds, or similar, they might occasionally be able to see (currently the odds are about 2 in 3 of that happening), but they certainly won't be able to hear ...

And so a mighty airline is laid to waste and ruin by a management who fail to understand how such simple irritations can be profoundly irritating. Better not to offer a bonus, than offer a bonus that's fucked.

But it did lead the pond on to a discussion of MH370 and the hapless Warren Truss and his most recent announcements in relation to the flight, and the discovery that the theories that were ruled out are now back in, along with these sorts of astonishing insights:

“It’s generally expected that if the autopilot is operational that’s a result of it being made operational,” he said. (here, with forced video)

In the meantime, devoted followers of Air Crash Investigations (May Day to some) will remember the eerie tale of Helios Airways Flight 522 (Greg Hunt it here), and understand nothing should be ruled in or ruled out, and much of what has been said to date about MH370 is idle, meaningless speculation, most notably by that grand speculator and speaker of drivel and misinformation, Tony Abbott, who back in April announced he was 'very confident' signals are from MH370 black boxes (forced video at end of link) ...

The pond can assert with an even greater level of confidence that Abbott is a very silly grand-standing man ... though he might have been angling for a post-politics career running Qantas ...

As a bonus, the pond was treated to a sampling of rags from the Qantas lounge - yes the reptiles still paper the lounge wall to wall with copies of the lizard Oz, because, while you might confront a paywall online, in various real world locations, the tree killer edition continues to be splashed around like toilet paper at a Tamworth street party ...

Which at last brings us to the point of this Sunday meditation, because the pond skipped over the AFR's celebration of wealth - what a tragically sad and light weight and skimpy thing the BRW Rich 200 liftout was. It turns out the AFR can't even do wealth porn in style any more, though this image caught the eye:

The pond will leave stray readers to guess the brand that peddled this image, but it was as one with the rest of the wealth porn that littered the glossy throwaway...

Because there's nothing so sexy as an anonymous women with her open legs stuck in the air, perhaps with her mouth over the gear stick ...

So throw it away the pond did, and moved on to reading Friday's The Age, and Paul Monk's There's no bigotry in challenging Islamic extremism, which might be taken by some as a retort to the monstrous folly of Valerie Wangnet's Honour killing talk: we should be allowed to hear it. (As if you can't hear extremist, fundamentalist chit chat any day of the week).

There had been other sensible responses to the nonsense that St James and Simon Longstaff had perpetrated, including this one by Matthew Beard in Honour killings: Crossing the line with a dangerous idea:

The desire to market Mr Badar's talk in the manner they did demonstrates a triumph of style over substance. Rather than a title that accurately represented the intellectual content of the talk, a title that was likely to set headlines, score retweets, and ultimately sell tickets was chosen. Then, when the tide of public opinion turned, instead of renaming the talk, adding a respondent or moderator to guarantee a balanced presentation, the talk was pulled altogether. Popularity motivated the ill-considered title to begin with, and popularity prompted the premature cancellation of the talk this morning. 
Ideas worth discussing are often difficult to market. Reducing a complex thought to a sexy, six-word title is difficult. It's also necessary if those worthwhile discussions are going to compete in the marketplace of ideas. However, substance cannot be allowed to give way to style. If Mr Badar was never intending on defending honour killings, he should not have been advertised to be doing so. It behoves institutions to respect the ideas they stand for enough to preserve them, even in the face of marketing imperatives or dwindling Twitter followers.

Indeed, but the pond liked the cut of Monk's jib even better:

It’s high time we got this Islamophobia thing sorted out. 
Islam is a religion with a long history, riddled with contradictions and conflicts. In recent decades some of its more wild-eyed proponents have been on the war path, determined to establish whole new caliphates. But even among those who are not jihadists in this sense, there are practices that are, to say the least, controversial. 
Neither of those two statements is itself controversial and neither is Islamophobic. But there is a fundamental point at issue that goes beyond them. Islam, merely because it is a religion, can no more claim immunity from criticism or rejection than any other religion, be it Catholicism, Orthodox Judaism, Mormonism or Jainism. It is, however, in our time, more violently resistant than most to both criticism and rejection. 
If I state that I am not a Muslim and that there is no possibility of my ever becoming one, that is not Islamophobia. It has exactly the same status as declaring it is unthinkable to me that I could ever become a Biblical literalist or a flat earther. If I am a Muslim already, however, and come out with the statement that I am renouncing Islam, I can find myself in deep doo-doo. 

Monk went on to recount a personal experience:

In between, there is the terrain on which non-Muslims or liberal Muslims criticise old practices and bigotry or violent jihad. These criticisms are too glibly dismissed as Islamophobia by the "politically correct" and can lead to threats of violence by Islamists. 
Some years ago I was asked by academics at the University of Melbourne to help draw up a list of speakers for a conference on Islam, Christianity and tolerance. 
I urged that Ibn Warraq be invited. He is a former Muslim who, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, has written courageously of the extraordinary threats that confront apostates from Islam. His books Why I am not a Muslim (1995), What the Koran Really Says (2002) and the edited volume of testimonies Leaving Islam (2003) are landmark studies in the debate over the nature and future of Islam in a multicultural world. 
What was the response? A staff member, who happened to be from an Islamic background, exclaimed heatedly: “Inviting him would be a disaster! That man is a fanatic!” 
I was stunned at the time and still remain incredulous. I would have thought that such a voice was indispensable to building a society in which people can freely choose whether or not Islam holds any appeal for them – under a secular law that constrains Islamic fervour in the same way and for the same reasons it has constrained Christian fervour. 

And so to Monk's final point:

Let Mr Badar speak, by all means, on behalf of Hizb ut-Tahrir. We would be all ears, I’m sure. 
No sensible person wants to inflame phobias; but no self-respecting citizen of a free society should bow to intimidation by self-styled "militants" or affect a craven piety in the face of unrepentant sectarian bigotry of the Hizb ut-Tahrir variety. 

Now some of this is personal. The pond has little doubt that in a fundamentalist Islamic state, pond and partner would be in prison, and might well attract the death penalty. This isn't personal melodrama, just an observation of what happens in fundamentalist Islamic and Christian countries in Africa (with the Christian countries egged on by fundamentalists of the pentecostal and angry Anglican kind).

And some of what Monk had to say is just common sense for your average secularist.

So what to do with a Michael Smith, who has once again attracted headlines by copping yet another sacking?

The trouble of course is that Smith just had to go with Monk's notions, and then double down on it:

He (Smith) compared the festival's invitation to Uthman Badar to asking the leader of the Ku Klux Klan to speak. 
Smith said the founder of Islam was "a man who promoted the idea that it was OK to marry a six-year-old and consummate the marriage when the little girl was nine." 
The broadcaster had been due to fill in for afternoons presenter, Chris Smith, from Monday for three weeks. 
On Saturday he wrote on his website that 2GB program director David Kidd had called and cancelled the booking, telling him he could not "call a deity a paedophile". 
Smith pointed out that he had made similar comments on 2UE in 2011, and had been acquitted of a complaint of inciting hatred and of factual inaccuracy by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). 
Mr Smith said on his website he stood by his comments. (Radio presenter Michael Smith dumped after comments about the Prophet Mohammed)

Smith's right of course, on a factual level - you can Greg Hunt Aisha here -  but he's also trolling.

It makes as much sense to talk about paedophilia in the way Smith does - in an historical context - as to talk about Shakespeare as a slavering slobbering paedophiliac writer because he wrote about Juliet - she hath not seen the change of fourteen years - wanting to get hitched (no one knows Romeo's age, but the Elizabethans wouldn't have had a problem with the young man having a bit of an age and a power imbalance).

They did things differently at different times in different ages, and all the more so when the average age might well not have exceeded 45.

It's much more fun to look at some of the other absurdities in the Quran, which are timeless, and the Skeptic's Bible provides lots of them, as in its list of Women in the Quran, and Sex and Homosexuality. So that's where the AFR's fashionistas got their ideas about women ...

But all the same Islamics have to learn to tolerate cheap Smith shots, just as anyone can have a laugh at David Kidd for saying it was wrong to call a deity a paedophile.

What are we to make of the matter of Mary then?

Let us take as our source the Catholic Encyclopaedia:

When she was fourteen, the high priest wished to send her home for marriage. Mary reminded him of her vow of virginity, and in his embarrassment the high priest consulted the Lord. Then he called all the young men of the family of David, and promised Mary in marriage to him whose rod should sprout and become the resting place of the Holy Ghost in form of a dove. It was Joseph who was privileged in this extraordinary way....

....Jewish maidens were considered marriageable at the age of twelve years and six months, though the actual age of the bride varied with circumstances. The marriage was preceded by the betrothal, after which the bride legally belonged to the bridegroom, though she did not live with him till about a year later, when the marriage used to be celebrated. All this agrees well with the language of the Evangelists. St. Luke (1:27) calls Mary "a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph"; St. Matthew (1:18) says, "when as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost". (and plenty more here)

So it turns out that the Christian god was indeed, likely enough, a paedophile mystically porking a young woman, and no doubt an inspiration for the many Catholic priests who followed in Her footsteps by doing an Uncle Ernie on their hapless victims...

You won't find the likes of Michael Smith banging on about this, which is the trouble with certain rabid forms of one-eyed shock jocks.

After all, they did things differently at different times in different ages, and all the more so when the average age might well not have exceeded 45, and deities dropped out of the sky to have sex with the mortals (well they'd been doing it long before the days of Greek mythology or Leda getting it on with a swan, and no one carried on about how doing it with a human would naturally led to swan-fucking).

Still, the bottom, Monkian line, is that Islamics have to tolerate cheap shots, just like Christians have to learn to accept a Piss Christ (actually the pond has a soft spot for that image, finding it quite beautiful, and evocative of time spent with Dominican nuns).

Just as the angry Sydney Anglicans, who do real harm with their demonising of gays and their mockery of women's rights, have to in return accept mockery with whatever grace they can muster.

Because they earn it, and they deserve it. Why there's the fatuous Phillip Jensen fatuously scribbling on Identity this week, and coming up with a hot contender for non sequitur of the year:

So I am fully a part of the humanity, made in God’s image to share in ruling and caring for God’s world. This is not accidental to me but essential to who I am. I am also part of the human family that rebelled against God and so became sinners living under the sentence of death. So, it is appropriate to say “I am a sinner”. For my sins come from my sinfulness, as Satan’s lies come from his deceitful nature (John 8:44). Similarly it’s appropriate for Christians to say “I am a Christian”, for to become a Christian requires rebirth by the Spirit of the risen Lord Jesus. Such a rebirth then reorients all of life and sets my personal identity in a completely new direction. (Colossians 3:1-4). 
So the Christian alcoholic says: “Hello, my name is Bill and I’m a Christian who has an addiction to Alcohol.”

As best the pond can work it out, this means god wasn't just a transgressive female who took on ghostly male form to give Mary a good paedophiliac fuck, but She was also a rampant alcoholic, perhaps because of Her guilt about her strange ways ...

So it goes in this vale of tears on this meditative Sunday ...

(Below: and now for some more dead animal porn, because that's the AFR way)


  1. On "wealth porn", DP, picture this, if you will. Reb's first task, on being installed in Oz by Roop, is to summon Joe Hockey to her office in Sydney. She produces a big, fat, unwrapped Havana cigar and offers it to Joe. What is Joe's response?
    Thanks for toying with Wazza. The image of the Deputy prodding at the map was most inspiring. There's a man who knows his way around, who can find his bum with one hand and without the aid of SatNav. He'd know what to do with that cigar.
    You'll have to forgive me, DP. On reading Secco's latest in the Saturday Paper, I had to fork out for a subscription to Morry. Minions in service to the cult at News will welcome the piece. It's hard-wired into any movement built on cognitive dissonance that one of the chief signs of its truthiness is attacks on its leaders and members. Pass that cigar, I know where to shove it.

  2. PS. Am thinking of buying AFR whenever it has an article by Mark Latham. The only problem with that is carting the rest of it back home. Perhaps I'll rip out the ML page and leave the bulk on a park bench. Would that be 'littering'?

  3. Salut, Free Will-o'-the-Wisp.

    1. Peace, there's no free will.


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