Thursday, April 16, 2015

In which the pond is beguiled by dinkum digger GG beer, the Bolter, sundry conspiracy theories, and the new jellyback PM ...

Silly Woolworths. Not a clue. 

Well the pond's available for your next campaign. Here's the pitch. Get one GG, show him holding a glass with the Woollies logo on it, fill it full of a generous serve of fruit-laden hypocrisy, and for the log line? 

How about This April raise a glass of healthy Woollies fruit juice to those who serve ...?

Okay, it lacks the cut through message of getting totally blotto and pissed as a parrot in the grand Australian way, and nobody thinks your produce is that fresh, but it's worth a go ...

Of course the hashtag Fresh in our memories has already run out of steam, though the pond did like the cat, but it provided a distraction from the reptiles.

But as a correspondent noted to the pond, it's just the latest of many commercial outings, many of which are on view in a tumbler, Poppies for Profit.

Naturally the reptiles are well represented:

And so on, and tediously on.

Patriotism, the first refuge of Murdochian reptilian scoundrels ...

Desperate people using any desperate device to flog failing newspapers, beer, thugby league and all sorts of other stuff, and Woollies were the ones that copped the flak. Couldn't happen to a nicer duopoly, which is why the pond now heads off to Coles and Aldi, but how marvellously selective is social media ...

Meanwhile, the pond has concluded that keeping up with the recalcitrant reptiles is a Sisyphean, Herculean, which is to say, never ending task.

For example, a few days ago, the pond read this in the Bolter:

The “first Australians” may not be Aborigines. Is the law now to be used to rule out further academic debate? Moreover, the “first Australians” never considered themselves as Australians. And most importantly, the only first “Australians” are those who were literally first to arrive.

Now the pond has always understood that the Bolter has racist tendencies, but it was only a few days later, discussing the line The “first Australians” may not be Aborigines with a few other people, that the pond became aware of a favourite, long-standing conspiracy theory doing the rounds of the conservative commentariat.

It turns out that this was a line also used by Senator David Leyonhjelm, when he explained that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people shouldn't be recognised in legislation (never mind the many existing references in legislation) because the evidence of them being first was only conjecture:

This is conjecture. Archaeologists make extraordinary discoveries all the time, and one of those discoveries could be that someone made it to Australia before the Aborigines.

And this was the same line as that epic drone and fundamentalist - barking mad left and then barking mad right - Keith Windschuttle deployed, which led to this lovely put down:

Writing in the magazine Quadrant, the historian Keith Windschuttle claimed that Indigenous Australians should not have Native Title rights because they were not the first to occupy Australia. He claimed that over most of the continent they had wiped out an earlier group, the sole survivors being represented by pygmies of northern Queensland. 
 He employed an outdated theory known as the trihybrid model for Aboriginal origins, developed initially in the 1930s, to support his claims. He wrote: 
 […] the fact that the Australian pygmies have been so thoroughly expunged from public memory suggests an indecent concurrence between scholarly and political interests. 
In addition to this hint of conspiracy theory, there was at least one major problem with his argument: there is no evidence that pygmies ever lived in Australia. (The pond is indebted to Michael Westaway and Joe Dortch in The Conversation here).

In the end, there's a petulance and peevishness to the proposition, if not outright conspiracy theory, and as Westaway and Dortch note, it misses the point:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be recognised in the constitution not just because they go back to the beginning of human occupation. They should be recognised because this land was theirs before it became Australia the nation. That’s something we should all be able to appreciate.

Well no, not if you're a barking mad fundamentalist like the Bolter. You'll never let science or empathy get in the way of irrational, determined bigotry, and so you'll toss away lines like The “first Australians” may not be Aborigines.

What a singular lack of generosity, what spitefulness ...

But along the way the pond caught up with stories such as DNA confirms Aboriginal culture one of Earth's oldest, in the Australian Geographic, and commentary on the study in Australian Science, Aboriginal Genome Reveals New Insights into Early Humans.

And so on.

It also led the pond to a pdf of a piece by Robin Hanbury-Tenison, in the TLS, Evidence of pre-aboriginal Australians?, which provided a reminder of why the pond gave up on the TLS years ago.

Hanbury-Tenison starts out this way:

Could Australia be the cradle of global culture? It seems a surprising idea, but recently a controversy has been raging about whether a sophisticated people may have lived in the remote and inaccessible Kimberley region of NW Australia as long as 60,000 years ago, before being wiped out by the aborigines. It has all been sparked off by a popular book written by Ian Wilson, author of more than twenty other books, including The Turin Shroud, Jesus: The Evidence, and Before the Flood.

Yes, if you want all sorts of stuff about the flood, sans Rusty, and the truth of the shroud, and so on and so forth, Ian Wilson is the author for you, and you can do a Greg Hunt on him here.

Now there are other delights in the piece by Hanbury-Tenison, including such insights as this:

Some of Wilson’s hypotheses are rather bizarre, such as the links he sees with Artemis of Ephesus and European Earth Mother myths, and he has been slated for them in the Australian press. One criticism, however, did not ring true for me. Rothwell ridicules him for claiming to have found representations of “reindeer” and for speculating on whether this illustrated a folk memory from earlier migrations. Wilson himself finds no evidence of deer, which are of course not found in Australia, anywhere to the east of Wallace’s Line, the hypothetical divide between hooved animals and marsupials. But I recalled seeing a large antlered deer in the remote interior of Sulawesi on an expedition in 1974. Further research revealed that mammals have indeed crossed Wallace’s Line either accidentally or with human help in the quite distant past. For instance, pigs may have been introduced to New Guinea as long as 10,000 years ago, and deer are certainly now common there. And so the idea that people who had migrated only a relatively short distance further should remember and paint pictures of them is not as far-fetched as it originally seemed.

Indeed, indeed, and the pond recalls seeing a large antlered deer in the remote vastness of the University of New England on an expedition to Armidale in 1974, and that surely must amount to some sort of scientific research ... especially as pigs and deer are well known to have four legs in common.

And all this research came about by reading the Bolter's idle throwaway line The “first Australians” may not be Aborigines.

For perhaps the first, but possibly not the last time, the pond began to doubt the Bolter's credentials as the world's leading climate scientist, but what a wealth of fanciful thinking lives under the same rock as he does ...

Sadly, this distraction has moved the pond closer to conspiracy theorists and away from the usual reptile beat.

But it would be remiss of the pond not to note Roger Corbett's splendid intervention into the body politic. Having supervised the disintegration of Fairfax, Rodger the dodger offered splendid advice to Tony Abbott last night, here.

ROGER CORBETT: If I'd been the Prime Minister I'd be very inclined to call a double dissolution and say, "People of Australia, you've elected me. I can't govern."

Yes, people of Australia, I can't negotiate with others, I can't come up with a decent set of policies I can sell to you and my fellow parliamentarians, I'm a totally useless doofus, and I can't govern, so here you go, vote for me in a DD ...

Corbett, the man who's supervised the reduction of Fairfax, next took to blaming the people:

...if we've got a split Senate, we cannot hold our government responsible to act as we voted them. And I think the voting people of Australia, all of us, are responsible for the split Senate we've had that really makes government in Australia almost impossible.

But minority government is possible - Gillard and others have shown that - and minority government has always been a feature of the Australian landscape, and in any case, it's unlikely that a DD would remove the need to negotiate with an upper house. 

The main reason why it is unlikely that a double dissolution would be held is that it would be likely to make it even harder for the Coalition to negotiate bills through the Senate. Because 12 Senators would be elected in a State, rather than six, the quota for winning a seat would be lower. This makes it much easier for micro parties and independents to win seats. It is also more difficult for a major party to win six out of twelve Senate seats in a State than it is to win three out of six. (Twomey, here).

But at least now the pond understands why Fairfax is in such a dismal position. What's even sillier is that the ABC has been leading with this all morning ... but at least the pond now understands why ABC news is in such a dismal situation ...

It would have all been much simpler if Corbett had urged Abbott to say "People of Australia, you've elected a completely  useless loser. I can't govern, so let the electoral slaughter begin".

And finally, the pond should pay tribute to Niki Savva. Today she does the standard reptile thing - nay obligatory duty - of waxing lyrical about Peter Walsh and Peter Costello, but towards the end she drags out the stick, and once again gives the new jellyback PM a fine old lashing:

Oh indeed, indeed, the jellyback squirms and wriggles, but at least some of the reptiles still look on the slithering with disdain ...

Which brings the pond back to another matter, the folly of Dr. Karl, which coincidentally brings conspiracy theories back into play.

As usual, Pope has a nice cartoon, and more Pope here.

Pope is of course trading off on one of the pond's all-time favourite bad conspiracy films, Capricorn One ...

... though having just seen Michael Mann's truly, stupendously awful Blackhat, New Yorker review here, the pond has a new favourite. 

The pond got some great advice from the film, up there with Bolter archaeology, which is,  when heading to a shoot out, always take a small bottle of Betadine. There's nothing surer to fix a slug in the belly than a little Betadine and a bandage ...

Oh and we should also note that the Bill Leak tragedy continues. It's cruel to hold Leak up against Pope, but it should be done:

The weather!? Just another climate denialist twist from the reptiles, but it reminds the pond what a sad, sad case Bill Leak has become.

Not funny, and worse, not clever. Perhaps a little Betadine would help ...


  1. Some kind person yesterday pointed us in the direction of VodLocker. I've just caught up with Ambassadors, a 3-part UK series about life in the diplomatic service. It's very good - like a cross between Yes Minister and Spooks. Watch it for a laugh. Stars David Mitchell and Robert Webb.

    1. You can also feast on all 6 episodes of Wolf Hall - one of the best BBC historical dramas for a long time.

  2. Micallef last night ran a skit on a clapped-out "cartoonist" named Bill. Splendid. I'm pretty sure there were some insights on idiosyncrasies, like the cheese sticks and the 'portrait' at the end. Watch it on replay or iView. Funny as, unlike the "real thing".

  3. Bill Leak's change in direction to "reliably unfunny" is one of the myriad mysteries of Holt St.

    I clearly recall during the Howard years, he was reliably progressive in outlook, and often gut-bustingly funny. Since Pickering has blazed the trail into curmudgeonly lunatic in retirement, the trail seems to have some broader appeal.

    Popey has really made Leak redundant anyway. Still sad.

  4. A decent report for once from a News Corps paper, although it is the NT News.

    Guards used ‘excessive force’ to restrain asylum seekers, transfer to Nauru rescheduled for Thursday night

    The riot was sparked by a proposed transfer of asylum seekers to Nauru that was scheduled for early Thursday morning.

    The NT News understands the transfer has now been rescheduled to Thursday night.

    At least 25 detainees were self harming after learning that a family with a young child and a five-month pregnant woman were due to be sent to Nauru.

    The pregnant woman had previously attempted suicide on Tuesday.

    Of course Dickhead Dutton denies it all.

  5. Here's a great idea for Abbott and Morrison. I'm sure they and their IPA masters would approve.


    Backlash as Belarus imposes ‘social parasite’ law to fine unemployed

    The new rules, signed into law by Belarus’ authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko earlier this month, aim to “stimulate able-bodied citizens to engage in labour activity and fulfil their constitutional obligation to participate in financing state expenditures.”

    Adults who have not paid income tax covering at least 183 days of employment per year will be fined. Failure to pay will be punishable by additional fines and ultimately by detention, followed by community service.

  6. since his fall Leak has obviously been brain damaged....


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