Saturday, April 18, 2015

In which the pond provides dress tips for men, remembers Kev's vouchers, celebrates the new jellyback, and joins ponderous, pompous Polonius in redeeming Ming the merciless, a victim of unintended consequences ...

So the pond has been asked for some fashion notes for men, and it being Saturday, the pond is feeling generous.

Let it be noted that the pond is a traditionalist and a conservative.

So a white collar atop a coloured shirt is a strict no no. The rule still applies that such monstrous apparel should only be worn if you want to look like Gordon Gekko:

Some are too young to remember Gordon, so let it just be said that he was a hustler, a vulgarian, an upstart, a social climber and arriviste, a parvenu of the first water. His complete lack of style and taste is only fitting for those of the lowest social orders, like real estate agents or merchant bankers.

Secondly, be careful with stripes. While it is true that in these revolutionary times men are keen to break away from the golden rule of not mixing stripes with stripes, it should be done with discretion. Two sets of loud stripes bespeak of vulgarity, and monstrous egotism, and perhaps a deformed and unseemly interest in power for the sake of power. This handy tip can be found on the intertubes:

The number one rule when it comes to matching stripes is that the stripes of your shirt and stripes of your tie should be different sizes: thick stripes go with thin stripes. What happens if you wear stripes of the same thickness? You will probably look like an optical illusion.

As for the tragic hustler posed above on the magazine cover? Clearly an optical illusion ...

Or perhaps some nonentity seeking fifteen minutes of fame, a wannabe Gekko, but it's safe to say that he shows precisely what not to wear and how not to pose, with the clenched fist showing the inner tension in the man. It's clear from that clenched fist what he's really thinking: "What inspired me to wear stripes and a Gekko collar? Oh dear sweet absent lord, I must look like a complete twit, or perhaps a striped twat".

What a pleasure it is to lash out at male dress sense, given the way any woman in the public eye is routinely catalogued, debated and demeaned, but now on to the rest of the day's orders.

First up is great news for the doddering old doofus to whom the Abbott government has entrust the nation's defence. Yes, there was great fun to be had, thanks Mr Moir, and more Moir here:

But then came a splendid coda, a left-over note arising from previous follies:

Now it would be wrong of the pond to steal all of Josh Taylor's story, so you should get the hot links and read the rest of it here, but it has a great punch line:

This means that for each AU$200 voucher, the government spent an additional AU$392.

And there you have the Abbott government in a nutshell.

A stupid minister with delusions of grandeur, and a bee in the old noggin about relationships and marriage and counselling and a personal connection in the field - never mind any conflicts of interest - puts together an immensely stupid proposal that no one's much interested in, and so no one makes much use of,  and finally, after the hurly burly and the hubbub's done, it's revealed that costs blew out, adding to the sense of innate futility that marked the whole buzzy bee exercise from the get go ...

And that, striped tie wearers, is what it means to have adults in charge of government ...

And so to the reptiles of the lizard Oz, and what a cornucopia, what a tempting smorgasbord of delights (the pond must at some point give tips on staging a smorgasbord and ways to relive the nineteen seventies by staging a proper Swiss cheese fondue, with bonus heart attack).

Here's just a sampling of the day's delicacies:

A socialist? Oh the shame. And what about this?

Yes, it's poor prattling Polonius still trying to redeem Ming the merciless all these decades later.

And something tells the pond that the right wing attack dogs are barking because the caravan hasn't moved on:

Ah the dog consorter is in retreat already, before the budget even takes on a phantom nightmarish form in reptile minds.

And then over at the Terror, Laurie Oakes, the only remotely sensible reptile on view in the Murdochian stables, whips himself into a lather:

Now Oakes can speak for himself here, but since the pond is in a something borrowed, something really vulgar blue, something really stripey mood, here we go:

...the likelihood is that little will change unless Abbott recovers some of the passion he displayed as a mere shadow minister when he authored Battlelines.  
And, to quote the book again, a no-change position is “essentially an argument for weak government”.

Ah the weak-kneed, wishy washy old jellyback is back ...

Are there any other quotes showing off a man who wrote one thing and now routinely does - or more to the point usually doesn't - do anything, except squib and dissemble?

...a key problem on this issue — as on many others — is the Prime Minister’s ­weathervane tendency. It makes it harder than it should to take what he says seriously. 
His current position that the states should take responsibility for schools and hospitals, as the Fathers of Federation intended, contrasts dramatically with a speech he gave just seven years ago on the subject “Australian Federalism — Rescue and Reform”. 
He said then: “Giving more authority and commensurate revenue powers back to the states is an option, but it is not a real one. It is an implausible one in the modern era. 
“The only real option, I ­suggest, is to give the national government the powers to match people’s expectations about who should really be in charge.” 
Having now junked the Battlelines thesis that the states are “a brake on good government” and Canberra must take responsibility on “the issues that matter”, ­Abbott has presumably abandoned another of his arguments in the book. 
This is that, when nothing else seems to have made a ­difference, voters expect the Commonwealth to “do something”. 
But that was true when he wrote it, and he is likely to find — whether he succeeds in ­­re-empowering the states or not — it remains true. 
In the meantime, the bickering and buck-passing goes on. And the Prime Minister cannot afford to be hands-off, on distribution of the GST or any other issue. 

It's cruel when someone reads and takes seriously what Abbott once wrote, but the joy and the reward is then to be able to quote it back at him, and Laurie Oakes does it in style ...

Which brings the pond back to prattling Polonius.

Yes of all the reptiles scribbling in today's rags - many more than the pond has time to note - the plaintive scribbling of the old dodderer is a guaranteed go to delight.

It will be remembered that Vietnam remains in communist hands. It will also be remembered that one of the key reasons sheep were herded into the Vietnam war involved the domino theory. The Vietnamese would cheerfully become a puppet of the Chinese communist regime, it was suggested, despite centuries of tension and points of difference between China and Vietnam, and soon enough the whole of south east Asia would be painted China red.

Now there's more than enough ironies at work at the moment, what with fishing and territorial disputes and the ongoing fuss over the Paracel and Spratly islands, and all the other tensions on view in Vietnam Has Much at Stake in S. China Sea.

What we urgently need is a conspiracy theory to explain everything:

Yes, yes, we know, we know. What a wicked, treacherous, traitorous man was Malcolm Fraser, but can we get to the conspiracy theory please ... and what a gung ho war monger was Gough ... but do go on ...

Uh huh. Now we've established Hendo is a little foggy in his recollections, and clearly has no memory of the marbles of death which made conscription so unpopular, can we please get on with the conspiracy theory that explains exactly why we lost the war and why Ming the merciless was entirely correct to join in a useless, losing war that sees the communists still in power, and now having a scuffle with those domino meisters, the Chinese ...

Uh huh. That'd be the communist inflicted atrocities in South Vietnam and Cambodia, as opposed to the peachy creamy bombing the shit out of them strategy that saw more ordnance dropped on Vietnam and other south-east Asian countries, including Laos, than was dropped in the second world war, and these countries are still living with the legacy, as described here. And what a legacy it was:

From 1964 to 1973, as part of the Secret War operation conducted during the Vietnam War, the US military dropped 260 million cluster bombs – about 2.5 million tons of munitions – on Laos over the course of 580,000 bombing missions. This is equivalent to a planeload of bombs being unloaded every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years – nearly seven bombs for every man, woman and child living in Laos. 
It is more than all the bombs dropped on Europe throughout World War II, leaving Laos, a country approximately the size of Utah, with the unfortunate distinction of being the most heavily bombed country in history.

And so on, and so it seems, it was in the interests of Australia to fuck over south-east Asia, and if it hadn't been for Nixon and Washington and "unintended consequences", we would have cheerfully kept doing it, and damn you leftie ratbags, we would have won, won Hendo tells ya ...

To be so consistently and persistently delusional, and indifferent to the circumstances of others, over so many years, is in its own way admirable ...

It certainly must feel comfortable to sit in the Sydney Institute and redeem the past on a weekly basis ...

Happily others seem to be able to do it too, and thereby set the reptiles into a frenzy of EXCLUSIVE agitation:

Say what? We lost? Allah was an unintended consequence?

And there was the pond looking forward to Polonius's conclusion , Joseph Cook's and Andrew Fisher's commitment of a century ago remains controversial. However, on balance, it was sound military strategy and a correct decision taken in the interests of Australia and it would have worked a treat except for a few unintended consequences. And now let's bring on a new crusade and a new holy war and take that you dog Turks, and hasn't the middle east turned out really well ...

(Below: and there's a very handy collection of middle east cartoons from Punch and the like here, the one below for Allenby entering Jerusalem December 11th 1917).

And now, thanks to a correspondent, the pond would like to take this little joke as a closer:

Yes, you can't make that sort of stuff up, and you can't stuff up like a veteran stuffer up stuffs up ... by golly the pond likes the cut of Marcin Szczepanski's jib ...


  1. Once again I admire your fortitude in reading all that stuff above. Like a crow you peck out the eyes and other squishy bits and place them before us to savour and/or choke upon.

    I have decided that most columnists could distil their jottings to one word: REFORM. It says it all. When the little curly cage is removed from 'reform', the word roams free. It struts and stamps and bellows. It is free from the shackles of being regarded as a possible change to being an absolute certainty. It Is the way to go. There is no other way.

    Reform is a word for zealots, for rote-learnt automatons. Two and two make four type of people when so does three plus one.

    I don't know. I have quite given up.

    And as for that pic of Malcolm dressed up like the zebra companion of Peppa Pig I can only ask demurely: WHAT WAS HE THINKING? I am reminded of Bob and Blanche in matching white towelling dressing gowns, Cheryl in satin and red feather boa and Julia knitting the kangaroo, although I liked that one.

    You are completely correct about the clerical white collar too Dot.

    Miss pp

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  3. Everyone seems to have forgotten to mention Brave, Brave, Sir Hendo's Vietnam service record: how he joined up at the first sign of Communist aggression; how he volunteered to go to Vietnam; how he bravely led his troops from the front; how he was always seen where the battle was thickest......

    Oh right: his war was fought penning furious letters to Left Wing University rivals who spelled his name incorrectly

    1. Good lord, man! Would you have had Australia's Greatest Historian and Literary Stylist ground to chum in the jungle of Vietnam? Deny the 21st century his incisive intellect?
      You are nothing but a,a, a LEFTIST!

    2. You forgot to add Hendo's go-to attack: "...anti catholic sectarianist"

    3. While on the subject of poor old Pelonius, what is his obsession with Tom Uren and Pol Pot? Doesn't he remember that he was a staffer for Campbell Newman's dad at the same time that the Fraser government recognised Pol Pot regime. Did he resign in protest?

    4. Uren would represent the reality, as opposed to the glory, of war: Facts have no place in a Conservative's narrative

  4. GQ? WTF? Anyway, DP, how about Michael Gordon trailing his coat for Abbott? A pathway to consensus on Indigenous recognition.
    The difference, this time, is that the Prime Minister says he is prepared to "sweat blood" for the cause and the two options, or even a combination of both, represent meaningful change. If motivation is needed, it can be found in a speech Abbott gave in opposition. "We shouldn't feel guilty about our past, but we should be determined to rise above that which now makes us embarrassed," he said. "We have that chance. Let us grasp it."
    Sucked in by the weathervane, I mean weathercock, I really mean the windsock!
    There's as much hope that Abbott will actually lead that change, as he will go to Jakarta to plead for Chan & Sukumaran.

  5. Hi Dorothy,

    As part of the aerial defoliation program Operation Ranch Hand, 75 million litres of chemical herbicides and defoliants were sprayed across Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia in an attempt to deprive the Viet Cong of food and cover.

    Much of it came in orange stripped barrels and was known as Agent Orange. The 2,4,5 T herbicide used to make Agent Orange was heavily contaminated with 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorobenzodioxin (TCCD), this is one of the most toxic compounds known to man with an LD50 in test animals as low as 1ug/kg. It is also a major carcinogen and has teratogenic effects (birth defects). TCCD is highly soluble in fat and is a bio-accumulator increasing in concentration as it passes up the food chain.

    Four million Vietnamese were exposed to Agent Orange and up to one million are now disabled or have health problems as a result. Still births and children with deformities and mental disabilities are even now, 50 years later, highly common in the areas where Agent Orange was heavily used.

    One of the companies tasked to produce Agent Orange was Union Carbide (a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow Chemical and a company with an appalling environmental record as shown by their utter disregard for the victims of Bhopal).

    One of the places Union Carbide manufactured Agent Orange was Homebush Bay and in typical style dumped their waste into the water or just buried it in landfill or left in drums. Even after the extensive clean up of the site in preparation for the Sydney Olympics the sediments in the bay are still heavily contaminated. Commercial fishing bans are now in place for most of Sydney Harbour due to findings that many of the fishermen and their families had massively elevated levels of TCCD in their bodies.

    So if Henderson wants to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of what he views as a highly successful war in Vietnam I suggest he do so with a slap up meal of Cha Ca Thang Long (seared fish with turmeric and dill) and I think we all know where he can get the fish from.


  6. Good comment Diddy.

    As a birdwatcher, almost but not quite a twitcher, I was a bit disappointed at the lack of bird species visible on a trip to Vietnam a few years ago and the paucity of the bird life in general.

    Most of the species I saw were those common to the wider S E Asian region and birds endemic to Vietnam were conspicuous by their absence.

    A serious hypothesis to account for this is the impact of Agent Orange type herbicides, and other weaponry, on the Vietnamese ecosystem which was subjected to short term destruction and long term destruction as the chemicals dissipated slowly over time through the natural systems.

    Particularly hard hit were the coastal mangrove forests which are still in a state of recovery and only because the Vietnamese have given an enormous amount of effort to artificial human rehabilitation.


  7. Hi Fred,

    The US sprayed a plethora of chemicals across Vietnam during the war. Agent Orange was only one of the so called Rainbow Herbicides which were named after the colour of the container they arrived in, together they sound like characters from a Tarantino film.

    The US also sprayed enormous quantities of insecticides around their bases of operation in order to minimise casualties from mosquito borne malaria. Of these DDT will be another major culprit in the destruction of Vietnam's bird life as it causes egg shell thinning. Just as Rachel Carson outlined in her book, Vietnam now experiences A Silent Spring.


  8. Julie Bishop in her la-dee-da, la-dee-da

  9. “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” H. L. Mencken

    SMH of today:

    "You can be confident that we are doing everything that we humanly can to keep people as safe as anyone can be," Mr Abbott said.
    "The best thing we can do to counter terrorism and the threat of terrorism as individuals is to lead normal lives."
    Mr Abbott noted that terrorists did not need "much more than a knife, a flag and a camera phone", however added they also needed "the will to commit a terrorist act".

  10. Hi DP, Miss PP, and all fabulous loons,
    Re jellybacking and weathervaning (too bad if these aren't real words; they are now):
    Sean Kelly offers a wonderful list of "things that don't go together", tax- and budget-wise specifically:


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