Saturday, April 16, 2016

Day 26, and the pond prattles along with old favourite Polonius ...

Now the pond has a beef with the Shovel folk.

They didn't come up with a three day course for bloggers dealing with reptiles, and even worse they didn't manage to come up with a one day course for Polonius on the art of making a generous apology.

Polonius only knows how to do a grudging, reluctant apology, as offensive in its inimitable way as the original crime ...

Yes, Shovel folk, we urgently need a course on graciousness, so that we might bear it.

But then Polonius is such an ostentatious pedant, that perhaps it would take years to correct the sense of rectitudinous righteousness that emanates from the Polonial keyboard:

It is unwise?

Now there's a monstrous stupidity. Never mind that others had all sorts of fun with the pedant in his folly ...

(featured in the Graudian here, but a quick visit to Trove will produce headlines in abundance - over ten thousand before the pond started counting, and with more than a few of those relevant)

It is unwise?

It is unwise to refer to the referendums of 1916 and 1917 as they were commonly referred to? Will Polonius hop into a time machine and head back to the future to reprimand those erroneous ancients? Because somehow this confuse the plebs of today?

One of the great things is that the pond has another life, and reading Stephen Greenblatt's How Shakespeare Lives Now in the NYRB (outside the paywall for the moment) reminded the pond of one of the reasons it formed an early taste for the writer - the way he despatched the prattling humbug like a rat lurking behind the arras.

While we're on the NYRB, what a splendid catfight there is going down between shrinks up to their necks in CIA money and devious uses of their research to torture, and those who point out this is unseemly, and why not spare a moment to read Francine Prose on the Zombie wars.

Sure, the book's been out for awhile, and her review is behind the paywall, but it will get you ready for a weekend Zombie read ... which might come in handy when preparing to tackle Polonius (the pond particularly enjoyed the pitch by the student from Bosnia. Un Certain Regard here we come).

Oh okay, all this is by way of avoiding the subject at hand. You see, this week, the ponce prattles on about other ponces and it always unsettles the pond to see a blithely un-self-aware ponce tackle other ponces about their lack of awareness...

It's reflexivity cranked up to post-ironic, post-modern 11.

But that's the pond's mission ... and this Polonius outing could almost be a musical called Singin' in the Brain ...

Yes a pompous pedant incapable of a generous apology, always first up with some sort of grudging snarkiness shouldn't really start off a column talking about the awesomely pompous, especially when inclined to egregious errors himself, such as dismissing the way an entire generation talked about itself as "unwise":

Now around this point some pedant is probably going to ask what qualifications Polonius himself might have in the field of economics, since he seems to think this sort of qualification is essential, before anyone dares to blather out of turn.

Who knows - if the full to overflowing intertubes is any guide, Polonius studied arts and law and has a Ph.D in political history, and possibly at some point, like the pond, was forced to study the economic history of Britain during the nineteenth century, a sure way to establish complete irrelevance to the matter at hand.

Of course back in the day when qualifications became an issue, Polonius was always ready to trot out his own:

GERARD HENDERSON: I have a PhD in political history, I have two substantial books on history - which were very well reviewed when they were published - I have numerous publications in journals. Mr Della Bosca seems to be saying that if you're not a tenured academic sitting at a taxpayer-subsidised university, you can't make a contribution to the history debate. (on AM here).

And yet here's Polonius devoting his time and energy explaining how people shouldn't make a contribution to the economics debate.

And so to more of Polonius blathering on in a way that turns belittling and condescending, Polonius never having had much regard for the rule about glass houses and stones...

What's notable about this is the way that Polonius deems it right to prattle "no reply is necessary", which is a very handy way to deal with the issues at hand.

"Wow", it seems, is enough.

Like, wow, like that must be where young people like, get their deep capacity for discussion from. Wow.

And then the old grumblebum lets it drop. Like, conservative isn't, well, hip, like wow daddy oh ...

It's like stumbling across an old episode of Gilligan's Island...

Besides, who in the known universe, apart from the most dimwitted of Catholics, would seek to perpetuate a simplistic dichotomy of good and bad, without even offering purgatory or limbo as a couple of handy alternatives?

Never mind, as always, "no reply is necessary" to what is just a rant of personal abuse, and so we can safely move on to the rest of the missive, mercifully brief as it is ...

Well the pond has to concede that Polonius is at least an expert in one area ... self-importance.

But let's be fair. As Polonius himself once remarked some time ago ...

There is no reason why men and women of a certain age should refrain from engaging in the public debate. The problem emerges when any group of signatories develops a sense of self-importance.

The pond looks forward to all Polonius's future postings in the lizard Oz being signed "Error-prone but Unapologetic Unimportant Anonymous Contributor to the Reptile Commentariat," rather than signing off in some self-important way ...

Yes, yes, executive directors are very important poo-bahs. The pond has them on a list ...


  1. When open letters to the government generate multiple columns highlighting how unimportant and unserious thy are, you know they are important and serious. The important thing is Gerard, don't panic, stay calm and ignore them because writing about them only brings more attention to them. Gerard, Gerard, are you listening to me?

    1. Heh, I don't think Polonius has ever heard of the Streisand Effect, AB.

      Also amusing that he studiously omitts any reference to John Quiggin as one of the 50 signatories (You can read Quiggin's comment, with links, here if you wish: )

  2. 'Like, conservative isn't, well, hip, like wow daddy oh ... Gilligan's Island'? Might you be thinking of Maynard J. Krebs, from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Krebs was the hippie played by Bob Denver, who went on to play Gilligan.

    1. Wisely noted Anon, and the pond stands chastened and corrected, and exceptionally pleased that there are still cultured people in the world ...

  3. Polonius points out that "What's missing from the Australia Institute's open letter is any recognition of self-interest. About 80 per cent of the signatories are employed by, or have had a career in, the public sector."

    Where's Polonius' own declaration of self interest in this piece? Where does he openly acknowledge his financial self-interest in fronting for his so far undisclosed, neoliberal, reactionary donors? He doesn't, yet as usual he let's slip where most of his revenue comes from. It's the big end of town, fat cat corporates, and one percenters:

    "The petition also opposed any decrease to company tax, despit the fact it is at uncompetitively high levels ... The Prime Minister and his Treasurer, Scott Morrison, know that high to relatively high income earners in Australia already pay a very large percentage of personal income tax."

    BTW, surely he's factually incorrect there, for which no doubt he shall later apologise. How is any company not paying tax rendered uncompetitive by taxation?

    One may also ask why it is Polonius thinks that so many low income earners use off shore tax havens and also negatively gear their last cent of income thus forcing one percenter high income earners to pay such very large amounts of personal income tax?

    1. While slagging off the membership of the Australia Institute, he never mentions the former chair of his own august body, good old Meredith Hellicar.

  4. DP - "While we're on the NYRB, what a splendid catfight there is going down between shrinks up to their necks in CIA money and devious uses of their research to torture, and those who point out this is unseemly.."

    Steven Pinker, in the third quarter now a running defense for SERE top torturer Seligman. FFS! Pinker melding with the spawn of Seligman?

    1. Thanks for that link Anon, it was exactly this and Shaw's article to which the pond was referring but was too lazy to look up. Now all might share in the fun ...

  5. So when Henderson pontificates that the Government won’t be interested in the AI’s proposal that “collecting more tax, more equitably, will make Australia a better place to live and work” he’s totally right! The concept of an equitable tax system that would ensure their company mates pay their fair share is totally unthinkable to the LNP.

    My question to master of the bleeding obvious Henderson is what "qualifications" does anybody need to suggest to a government that the tax burden should be fairly shared by all Australians?

    In regard to questioning the AI’s “qualifications” I suggest the only qualification needed would be a brain of the thoughtful mammalian persuasion rather than the reactionary reptilian version - that is the Reptilian Coping Brain as explained in the following paragraph from the very enlightening “Coping Skills for Kids” website.

    “Survival is the #1 job of our brain, and particularly the Reptilian Coping Brain. Coping is the ability to both protect our self from outside threats, and adjust or adapt to life changes and challenges. Because reptilian brain coping functions help to keep us alive we are all born with an instinctive or automatic survival coping behavior. Because it is an automatic response, we don’t even need to think before we act to protect our self when we feel threatened or injured.”

    That explains a lot about Henderson’s herpetological behaviour and his fear of “outside threats”, but the particular brain function that “adjust(s) and adapt to life’s changes” has obviously been removed at birth.

  6. "It would be unwise to refer to the 1916 and 1917 plebiscites as referendums."

    Well, indeed, anyone with a decent classical education would know that they would correctly be referred to as "referenda".

    Or not, you know, as if it really matters very much...


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