Sunday, April 19, 2015

In which the pond mounts a splendid Sunday blockbuster edition of rabid denialism and rampant Colonel Blimp jingoism ...

The pond was shocked, shocked it has to be said, at a few correspondents wondering about Gerard Henderson's heroic war service, and his willingness to cast aside all personal concerns, enlist and trip through the Agent Orange liberally distributed over the jungles of Vietnam.

If you Greg Hunt the lad here, he would have been 19 or thereabouts when conscription was introduced - the right age for the song - but sadly the wiki people seem to have lost his war record, and focussed instead on his academic achievements.

No doubt there might be the same sort of response to the tub-thumping Colonel Blimp patriotism of an Akker Dakker, but before we get on to the fat owl of the remove, the pond usually likes to mention something which has some relevance, interest and usefulness to a wider world, because there's surely three fifths of fuck all of use in the average rabid demagogue scribbling of the Murdoch reptiles ...

First up, there's a compelling story in The New Yorker, which happily at this minute is outside the paywall and can be read under the header Weather Underground The arrival of man-made earthquakes:

Until 2008, Oklahoma experienced an average of one to two earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater each year. (Magnitude-3.0 earthquakes tend to be felt, while smaller earthquakes may be noticed only by scientific equipment or by people close to the epicenter.) In 2009, there were twenty. The next year, there were forty-two. In 2014, there were five hundred and eighty-five, nearly triple the rate of California. Including smaller earthquakes in the count, there were more than five thousand. This year, there has been an average of two earthquakes a day of magnitude 3.0 or greater. 
 William Ellsworth, a research geologist at the United States Geological Survey, told me, “We can say with virtual certainty that the increased seismicity in Oklahoma has to do with recent changes in the way that oil and gas are being produced.” Many of the larger earthquakes are caused by disposal wells, where the billions of barrels of brackish water brought up by drilling for oil and gas are pumped back into the ground. (Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking—in which chemically treated water is injected into the earth to fracture rocks in order to access oil and gas reserves—causes smaller earthquakes, almost always less than 3.0.) Disposal wells trigger earthquakes when they are dug too deep, near or into basement rock, or when the wells impinge on a fault line. Ellsworth said, “Scientifically, it’s really quite clear.”

The rest of the piece is about how many people, using the Tony Abbott mantra of greed and fear, have done their very best to make any discussion of the matter really quite unclear ...

And then came this, in Climate change: US agency says March hottest globally on record as Barack Obama urges action.

Rising temperatures across the planet have set more records as the US government announced the globe experienced its hottest month of March since record keeping began in 1880. 
The period of January to March was also the warmest on record, according to the monthly report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 
The latest data, which takes into account global averages across land and sea surfaces, follows announcements from the same US government scientists that 2014 was the hottest year in modern history...

And this:

...Also of concern was the finding that Arctic sea ice was the lowest on record for March. "The average Arctic sea ice extent for March was 430,000 square miles (1,113,699 square kilometres, 7.2 per cent) below the 1981-2010 average," the report said. "This was the smallest March extent since records began in 1979."

So what do we cop from that brave warrior, the pompous, preening, hilariously posed Akker Dakker today?

Yes, it's a kind of Murdochian guarantee. The one thing you won't find Akker Dakker dealing with is the realities of distant, or even closer, lands ...

Instead it's all the fault of lefties...

What have you got? Well there's your answer ... lefties ...

Which is why a luddite thinks that "luddite" is a clever term of abuse, coming as it does from a luddite ...

Well that's all pretty much as might be expected - never let it be said Akker Dakker would expect anyone to keep an election promise - but correspondents are invited to note the confused thinking at work in this bit of the rabid outburst:

Yes, there's the high comedy.

Start off by slagging off feminists and GLBTers, in best Taliban fashion, and then round on Iran and deplore its attitude to women and its misogynistic attitudes and its treatment of women's rights ...

You'd have to be brain dead to think that the readership might not notice the absurdity of the coming and the going ... the mocking of feminists interested in women's rights and the alphabet of minority sexual groups, and the deploring of similar Iranian attitudes, but remember this is the Daily and/or Sunday Terror, where such crocks of shit are routinely paraded ...

As for Akker Dakker's heroic war record ... well you can Greg Hunt it here, but warning, it'll be a bit like a hunting for the snark ...

But you will find a reference to an episode of Media Watch, and the mendacious misuse and abuse of a quotation, and Akker Dakker's appearance there, noble, brave, climate denialist that he is, which might help explain why he continually rants at the ABC ... for daring to suggest the fat owl is in urgent need of a few feathers, in the same way the emperor could have benefitted from some decent threads ...

But wait, this is pond super dooper Sunday, with bonus rabid ratbag patriotism in abundance.

You see it's Miranda the Devine day and she's in top notch "first refuge of the scoundrel" form:

Now anyone with a passing awareness of history might recognise the Devine. She's the sort that used to go around passing out white feathers to men.

And so to the text:

Yes, there's something deeply nauseating about that sort of jingoist hysteria, that rabid denunciation of people who take an alternative view, and perhaps even might think war is not a picnic, nor a jolly jape amongst chums, or a reason for a jolly junket by a bunch of chums who win a ballot to celebrate the spilling of blood.

But there you have it. Try being an Aboriginal soldier who came back to partake of a share of the glory :

Upon their return to Australia, instead of recognition and grace, Aboriginal Diggers received ignorance and racism, were not eligible for returned servicemen land grants or even membership of Returned Services League (RSL) clubs, and sometimes even found that the government had taken their children away while they defended their country ...

Yes, there's knockdown glory for you ...

Of course things haven't gone entirely the way of the war mongers in recent days. The lamentable film, The Water Diviner, received the lack of interest it deserved, the Gallipoli mini-series screened on Nine sank without a trace (Nine CEO admits Gallipoli audiences are a 'disappointment'), and then came news that Stars pulled as networks get cold feet on Gallipoli (with forced video).

Which won't stop all the tub-thumping and the jingoism, usually on offer from Colonel Blimps that never did a day in the armed forces ... while at the same time cheering on a government that attempted to stiff soldiers being paid too little for the honour of dying for their country ...

But back to those lucky ballot winners, which it turns out isn't quite the same as winning the ballot to die a conscript in Vietnam, or winning the lucky dip with the first prize death ... and perhaps the second prize being drowned in Murdochian jingoism:

More the usual tosh about 'leets? More blather in the Akker Dakker mode about feminists? Do they all think like the Taliban at News Corp?

And what's this about a civil religion, as if the concept has some sort of meaning? What next to be elevated to a civic religion? Surfing?

Uncivil nausea, more likely ... but here you go, have a white feather courtesy of a war monger ...

And so to a poem, one of many arising from the great war that failed to end war, which repeats a lie first phrased by Horace, but he wasn't the last to say it, not when there are Devines around to do their own variation:

Amen to that ...

Lest we forget ...


  1. For a minute there reading Devine's dot-pointed list of "anti-Anzac" quotes, I was slightly impressed that she'd done some actual research herself in collecting them.

    But no, she's just reciting bits from the latest cranky book from Quadrant.

    Anyway, thanks for putting up the Owen poem in response to that simple-minded patriotic boosterism.

    - Prawnda Devein

    1. 2015 dot-points.
      The same month (April) will see the 60th anniversary of another failure: Australia’s dishonestly justified commitment to the war in Vietnam. [6] Then, August will mark the 15th anniversary of the also dishonestly justified Australian commitment to Operation Desert Storm [7] and June will see the first anniversary of the ‘brazenly cynical’ initiatives by the Australian Government to increase the national commitment to the war against Islamic State. [8] ...

  2. My grandfather had his lungs damaged on the Western Front, and came to Australia for the cleaner air. He never talked about service but he was proud of it. And he never encouraged his boys to join up in the Pacific. Real servicemen know the cost, just read Sherman's famous speech to graduating cadets at a Michigan military academy:

    “I’ve been where you are now and I know just how you feel. It’s entirely natural that there should beat in the breast of every one of you a hope and desire that some day you can use the skill you have acquired here. Suppress it! You don’t know the horrible aspects of war. I’ve been through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is Hell!”

  3. Regarding Gerard Henderson, his birthday of Sept 10 1945 (according to Wikipedia) made him eligible for the second birthday ballot, drawn coincidentally on Sept 10 1965. (
    Unfortunately he didn't win the all-expenses-paid tour to Vietnam. He must have been gutted.
    Of course he always had the option to volunteer, but I guess he found other, more valuable ways to serve his country.

    1. All conscripts agreed to go to Vietnam. Of course there was an element of peer pressure but no conscript was ordered to go to Vietnam

    2. Before the Liberal Govt changed the law in May 1965, conscripts could not be sent overseas.
      As another participant in the second birthday ballot I can assure you none of us were under any illusions as to why we were compelled to enter the draw (even though we were not yet eligible to vote), - bodies (or boots on the ground if you prefer) were needed for Vietnam.

    3. Given his war-mongering from the comfort of Sydney, Gerard's admiration for Menzies is understandable. While not volunteering for the Great War himself, young Ming was a leading advocate of conscription while at Melbourne Uni and a leading persecutor of students and others who were critical of the war.

    4. I heard that Ming was an officer in the University Regiment but he resigned when war was declared.
      Don't know if it's true, but it sounds right.

    5. Commissions in the uni regiment were temporary, so he let his 'run out'. All the same, it shows a degree of hypocrisy if not cowardice for such a rabid supporter of the war in general and of conscription.

  4. My husband served 20 yrs in RAN including Vietnam.Many of our friends were also in Navy with him. We all live everyday with the effects of those years. His parents both served in WWII for Britain. His father was permanenty psychologically damaged by his war service. My cousin was a conscript in Vietnam and badly wounded physically and mentally.So I understand the need for us to remember and commemorate the sacrifice that so many of our servicemen and women made for their country. However I can't wait for this ANZAC day to be over. It has tainted my whole view of the day. It seems like it's mainly about glorifying and defending the wars or about getting some sort of commercial advantage. Aligned with our current military engagement In Iraq and Afghanistan I am deeply saddened that we have learned nothing from the sacrifice of our service people and the devastation of war on innocent civilians. When I go to the dawn service and the march in my small community this year I will be very deeply divided about the whole concept of ANZAC day.

    1. An excellent post, Anne. Thank you.

  5. Am I the only one to feel a bit of a chill at the term "8000 lucky ballot winners" ?

  6. Replies

  7. 'civic religion' - Devine/Bendle reactionaries, misappropriating, bullshitting.

    Ken Inglis was the first to understand that the Anzac legend functioned in Australia as a kind of ‘civic religion’. He made that observation in the 1960s. Anzac Day combined the solemn remembrance of Good Friday with the celebration of new life on Easter Sunday.

    The Anzac legend took root and thrived in early 20th century Australia. By recognising the martial baptism at Gallipoli, European Australians could restart their history at 1915. The convict phase and the possession of Aboriginal lands could be forgotten. As Marilyn Lake has shown, a casualty of this recasting of Australian history was the 13 years of progressive nation-making that had preceded the Great War.

    Anzac mornings were given over to grief and remembrance. Remember that from a population of just under five million people in 1914, 60 000 men never returned. That’s the equivalent of losing 300 000 of our population in today’s terms. But just as the death of Jesus gave new life to Christians, so the sacrifice of the young Anzac warriors gave life to the Australian nation.

    In traditional Anzac commemoration, grief and mourning were always combined with pride in the martial performance of the soldiers. The Anzacs’ good showing in battle had given birth to Australian nationhood. This is what Australians of the Great War generation believed.

    If Anzac commemoration in its first few decades had psychological resonance with institutional Christianity, I would argue that contemporary Anzac commemoration bears comparison with evangelism. It often seems too celebratory and unthinking, too detached from the emotions of the Great War and the moral lessons that arose from it...

    1. Fractured nation - Marilyn Lake

      ‘During World War 1 Australia lost its way. Its enmeshment in the European war fractured the nation’s soul.’

      Australia and New Zealand had pioneered industrial democracy and women’s political rights. ‘While the principles of democracy were first enunciated in the United States’, noted the historically-minded American suffragist, Carrie Chapman Catt, ‘Australia has carried them furthest to their logical conclusion’. Thus did we take our place on the world stage.

      In Australia, it was noted in overseas newspapers, the working man and the voting woman advanced together, during the first decade of the nation’s existence, seeing a steady increase in the Labor vote, until the Fisher Government was elected in 1910. By war’s end, however, the Labor Party had split, conservative forces had triumphed, the British Empire had gained a new lease of life in Australia, imperial servicemen were settled on Australian land and another Labor government would not be elected until 1929, on the eve of the Great Depression. Australian women, able to vote and stand for election to the national parliament from 1902, would not be elected to it until 1943. In World War 1 Australia lost its way. Its enmeshment in the European imperial war fractured the nation’s soul.

    2. "416,809 Australians enlisted from a population of fewer than five million" - Devine

      Oh yeah?

      Of those Australians actually eligible to fight in WW1 only 38% were interested enough to join in, and for a good proportion of those Australia was neither the country of their birth nor their 'home' country.

  8. The (deleted) subtitle for Dulce Et Decorum Est was: "to a certain poetess / Jessie Pope. How appropriate for the poisonous Devine. I remember some of the surviving WW1 diggers from my time at Concord Hospital as a med student and registrar in the 70s & 80s - they were much more Eric Bogle and John Schumann than Devine would have been comfortable with.

  9. I did actually get called up for "nam, but was rejected on medical grounds.

    1. By the shrink?

      ... And I walked in and sat down and they gave me a piece of paper, said, "Kid, see the psychiatrist, room 604." And I went up there, I said, "Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL." And I started jumping up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL," and he started jumping up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL."

  10. Menzies, Howard and, now, Abbott failed to enlist when they had the opportunity yet each felt the need to send Australians to war. My trip to Vietnam was courtesy of the first, with strong encouragement from the second spruiking support from the sidelines as leader of the Young Libs. The third of these vermin regards the other two as his heroes. Somewhere in that lot was Fraser as Minister for the Army who presided over the Vietnam War conscription program.

    Fortunately, I returned home unscarred, that is, apart from carrying an undying hatred for this group although, like many other Australians, my attitude towards Fraser softened a little towards the end of his life. Gough's "maintain the rage" came much later but I didn't, and still don't, need any encouragement. The half-life of my rage is longer than that of uranium!

    And, NO, service in Vietnam was NOT voluntary as Bruce, the goose, Ruxton said frequently.

    On a different topic Dorothy:

    Jon Stewart reveals why he really left the Daily Show, and his loathing for Fox News

    Quote: "Watching these channels all day is incredibly depressing," Stewart said, humourously exaggerating the effect of Fox News on his mental health. "I live in a constant state of depression. I think of us as turd miners. I put on my helmet, I go and mine turds, hopefully I don't get turd lung disease."

    Just you watch out Dorothy. Ensure that you practice "safe commentary" and maintain your rage


  11. LBJ: "The answer like the war itself is not an easy one"

    Lesson #11: You can't change human nature.

    Robert Strange McNamara, Secretary of Defense:

    What "the fog of war" means is: war is so complex it's beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend all the variables. Our judgment, our understanding, are not adequate. And we kill people unnecessarily.

    Wilson said: "We won the war to end all wars." I'm not so naive or simplistic to believe we can eliminate war. We're not going to change human nature anytime soon. It isn't that we aren't rational. We are rational. But reason has limits ...


    My earliest memory is of a city exploding with joy. It was November 11, 1918. I was two years old. You may not believe that I have the memory, but I do. I remember the tops of the streetcars being crowded with human beings cheering and kissing and screaming. End of World War I ? we'd won. But also celebrating the belief of many Americans ? particularly Woodrow Wilson — we'd fought a war to end all wars. His dream was that the world could avoid great wars in the future. Disputes among great nations would be resolved...

    EM: Do you feel in any way responsible for the War? Do you feel guilty?

    McNamara: I don't want to go any further with this discussion. It just opens up more controversy. I don't want to add anything to Vietnam. It is so complex that anything I say will require additions and qualifications.

  12. How the outraged right's mindset works, from video games to the lizards. And this is from of all things an article about the Hugo SF awards!

    "It works like this: if you worry that you might be accused of an -ism, get your defence in first by asserting that the accuser is an envoy of an ivory tower elite and you are merely a tribune of the people. As it works for Farage, so it does for Vox Day. Yes, you might have gone to private school, worked as a commodities trader and have been a member of the European parliament since 1999, but you are an outsider! Yes, you might have got nine titles from your own tiny Finland-based publishing house on the Hugos shortlists, but that’s only because you are trying to seize back science fiction from a self-serving clique!

    Over and over again, we see the mechanism by which power re-asserts itself when challenged. With a gymnastic leap, those on the defensive become the underdogs, cruelly repressed by the BBC, feminists, people from Islington, some nebulous “elite” or the suggestion that sometimes a female character in a videogame might wear a decently supportive bra....

    And once you notice, it’s downright eerie to hear the same arguments – about “out-of-touch elites” who don’t connect with the tastes of “real people” – coming from the leader of Ukip and a guy who wrote a book called Summa Elvetica: A Casuistry of the Elvish Controversy."

  13. "BLOG WITH PIERS" - what an unedifying spectre. And there, underneath, what's that? "Risk adverse?"

    1. 'Blog with Piers' sounds like something for sale in the classified ads!


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