Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dorothy Parker is unwell

Jeffrey Bernard was inclined to be unwell, the real Dorothy Parker was also inclined to be unwell, and now the ersatz Dorothy Parker has decided to be unwell.

She will be stepping outside the tent for a while. It could be a couple of weeks before she returns. It is not serious but it is irritating and vexatious. In the interim, irritating and vexatious Angry Anglicans, Pellists, Myrmidon Murdochians and such like will have to take care of themselves.

To the occasional readers who drop by, be good, be bad, be wicked, but whatever, enjoy.

Dorothy will return in due course.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Oh just go away, disappear, going going gone, you goners,you cackling useless geese ...

(Above: a few soothing images to set the tone for what follows).

Just one more thing.

A few intertubes surfers might have been distressed to read the Fairfax piece Vogue deletes glamour story on Assad's wife.

Oh it's grand, with a splash and a nice beguiling chic photo ...

If you read the piece, you might have concluded Juliet Buck's profile of Syria's first lady has been scrubbed from the web, when in fact it only takes a couple of jumps to discover it in all its glory.

And then it followed the link thoughtfully provided, over to Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert (story by Joan Juliet Buck, photographed by James Nachtwey).

Who knows how long it will stay up - information just wants to be free - but at the moment, a quick pdf and it's yours to hold and love.

What it also does is act as a timely reminder that old-school Fairfax journalism, which consists of re-printing a story from The Washington Post, which yabbers on about how the Vogue story had disappeared, is redundant on so many levels, the pond found it hard to count them.

Worse still, when you head off to the original story, published April 26th on the Post site by Paul Farhi, you find a link to the Atlantic piece, and a link to the Rose in the Desert story on the aforesaid site (which happens to be maintained by a Syrian journalist).

Yet in the Fairfax version of a story about a disappeared story, their edited story disappears the links to the disappeared story which wouldn't have been so disappeared ... if they hadn't disappeared the links ...

Or some such thing.

The pond had to read a half dozen times the rubbish edit in Fairfax to confirm it was a bowdlerised, bastardised reprint of a half-baked kind, stripped of the only links that really mattered.

Will Fairfax ever discover the full to overflowing intertubes?

It seems not bloody likely ... and yet they had the cheek to make a splash out of their cheap, two bob rip-off ...

First it's the ABC printing the controversy when it comes to climate science, and now Fairfax performs the unique feat of disappearing up its fundament ...

(Below: glamourous, chic, and not so bloody gone after all, you cackling geese).

And now for a little nausea overhang on a Friday ...

(Above: remember this? Senator Nick Minchin praises smokers 'dying early')

There's a reason that the pond didn't watch the hoo-hah about climate change drummed up by the ABC in search of faux ratings.

And won't watch it even on catch-up TV. Not when one could catch up on episodes of Get Smart.

And it's summed up in Nick Minchin's subsequent bit of special pleading in the Fairfax press All can agree on green energy, but the rest is alarmist.

Here's the way Minchin presents his case:

I'm sure that I did not change her mind, but I hope she saw that not all sceptics are mad, bad and dangerous; that there remains a lively scientific debate about the drivers of climate change, and that scaremongering about global warming is backfiring on the warmists.

So it's not about science, it's about verbal abuse, scaremongering and warmists. That's about the sophisticated level of debate the pond adopts when delivering a homily about Angry Anglicans on a Sunday.

Okay for juvenilia fon a blog, risible when it comes to adult conversation about a matter of some scientific importance, and typical of a politician who only ever knew how to function as an attack dog.

Along the way you get the usual conflation of bits and pieces which amount to a world view, but do nothing to establish the truth of the matter:

Oddly, what he doesn't argue is exactly the science - and that is because reality has got in the way of the theory. Indeed, the absence of warming since 1998 - despite rising CO2 levels and contrary to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predictions - shakes the foundations of the alarmists' cause, as the Green icon James Lovelock, father of the Gaia theory, recognised this week.

Uh huh. So you might race off and read the New Scientist. Climate myths: Global warming stopped in 1998:

In fact, the planet as a whole has warmed since 1998, sometimes even in the years when surface temperatures have fallen.

But why bother? Why wonder why 1998 is always trotted out? Why give Minchin, a non-scientist if ever there was one, the time of day?

Why is James Lovelock trotted out these days? Back in his gaia-loving extremist days, sceptics would trot out Lovelock as a classic example of pure fruit and nutty muesli. Now he does a little a recanting, and suddenly everyone in the world of News Limited discovers he's a font of revelation. Does it ever occur to them that if he was a mad as a march hare extremist once upon a time, he might still be one today?

Minchin shows all the signs of having drunk the rhetorical kool-aid:

Despite the hype of the Al Gores and Tim Flannerys, the drought has ended, our cities aren't being submerged, we still have polar bears and neither polar ice cap is disappearing.

And so all's well in the world and no doubt it will get even better when the population hits nine billion. But did anyone who's sensible say that cities would be submerged by end of year, polar bears would be extinct by five o'clock today and the polar ice caps would melt by midnight? At least those outside the world of apocalyptic Hollywood movies and rapture-riddled Christians ...

An extremist functions best by deploring extremes, as a way of disguising their own fundamentalist extremism.

But here's the deepest logical flaw:

If there is to be any common ground between sceptics and warmists, this surely must be it. Let's work to make green energy a realistic, affordable alternative, instead of stupidly trying to make conventional energy so incredibly expensive that we'll stop using it.

Why? If global warming isn't occurring, and if carbon doesn't have an impact on the environment, why search for green energy? What's virtuous about green energy? Why not just keep digging coal out of the ground and shipping it off to China and India, and incidentally making a fucking fortune for a few billionaires who need the extra cash?

What's so virtuous about green energy if it's useless and irrelevant? Oh sure there might be a few smog clouds over Gippsland, but that disperses with a good wind, and then the world goes on, with nothing changing, and everything hunky dory.

And if you believe that chairman Rupert Murdoch has a tale or two about how a few bad apple lawyers ruined everything.

And there's another problem. Minchin presents himself as open-minded and willing to learn, but all you get in the piece is a repetition by rote of a few talking points, a mish-mash of ignorance and misinformation, all designed to reinforce the bee in Minchin's bonnet.

What I have learnt about science recently is that it is dynamic, that there are always unknowns and that there is in particular much that we don't know about the Earth's climate.
May the debate continue.

Uh huh. But isn't the debate over? Hasn't the debate been settled since 2007, by the court of public opinion, always a sure guide to matters of substance in science?

Anna and those of her persuasion need to recognise that public concern about global warming peaked in 2007 and has been in decline ever since, partly because the credibility of alarmists has sunk.

Alarmists! But the public isn't worried. They know the debate is over, settled, thanks to Minchin and his cohort of truth-tellers. Who all seem to dwell, at one time or another, in Fox News and The Australian.

Well in the same spirit, it can safely be said that Minchin isn't a debater or a learner or a considerer, he's a denialist. And a pretty thick one at that. Yeah, there's a knock-down argument, and let's not bother about the minutia of actual science.

Watch Minchin travel around debating climate science with his own preferred brand of loons?

Bah humbug, the pond would rather be watching chairman Rupert explain how it's all the fault of a couple of bad lawyers ...

The reality? Minchin is going through the usual symptoms involving the withdrawal of political relevancy, and somehow thinks this sort of posing is relevant, rather than nausea-inducing. There's nothing more tedious than an ex-politician trying hard not to be an ex.

But it's equally hard to blame him, when the ABC is the real bear with very little programming brain left these days ...

Bring on the block, the voice, the over-weight, the anorexic, the steam-cleaner sales people, the double-bladed saw sellers.

Anyone, anything, provided it doesn't feature the self-satisified, bloated self-regard and complacency of Nick Minchin ...

Why doesn't he just keep writing letters to the editor of The Australian?

(Below: speaking of nausea).

And now, goodbye to all that ...

Thanks to the Leveson inquiry, the pond is learning new things every day (or addled night, as the case may be).

The latest is that billionaires are easily misled and amazingly trusting. This will come in handy the next time a billionaire hoves to near the pond, and asks for help.

Don't you worry about that, the pond will say, likely enough your problems can be easily solved by the pond. If it's not just a few rogue journalists, but actually an endemic cultural issue, then likely enough that's just been hidden by a few rogue lawyers.

When in doubt, always blame the lawyers. After all, Shakespeare did. And what's good enough for Shakespeare, is good enough for chairman Rupe.

Now why don't you just toddle off and tend some other part of the empire that appeals to you, as chairman Rupert Murdoch did when he found the News of the World hard-going and amused himself with The Sun, which gave him tremendous political clout, though he never once used that political clout for any purpose whatsoever.

At this point, no doubt there'll be a few sceptical voices raised against the rose-coloured glasses vision that the pond has managed to sell to the willing, believing billionaire, but it's always the way isn't it. After all, knocking billionaires and chairman Rupert is something of an industry.

But why, they ask, did the same culture of corrupt practices fester away in The Sun, which resulted in a number of senior journalists being arrested? Seeing as how chairman Rupert allegedly had his eye on that particular favoured bauble? (Senior Sun journalists arrested in police payments probe).

We might never get an answer to that, since Mr. Jay never bothered to ask the question. In fact Mr. Jay never much laid a glove on chairman Rupert, as he presented his tale of being easily misled, and being ever so humble, so much more 'umble than Uriah Heep for his many errors and failings, which chiefly consisted of trusting a few deviant lawyers.

Instead the inquiry, by end of proceedings, had provided a handy platform for chairman Rupert to trot out his favourite bete noirs, amongst them the BBC (why the cads are even on the intertubes, no fair) and Google (why it links to pirated content) and the disruptive technology that delivers pornography right into the home, when it should be delivering the thoughts of chairman Rupert. Which are good and clean and pure, if a little old-fashioned. Rupert two legs good, Google four legs bad.

It turns out that chairman Rupert is a strong believer in government regulation, and he hasn't heard that Google provides a safe filter, if users care to use it.

He believes the intertubes needs regulation, but not newspapers, except that these days newspapers are on the intertubes, but oh never mind:

"I think you have a danger of regulating, putting regulations in place which will mean there will be no press in 10 years to regulate."

What? There'll be no more salacious tittle tattle about celebrities, except that Murdoch titles don't do salacious, except when they do salacious?

Naturally there were a few doomsayers and deniers who took exception to what chairman Rupert had to say, including Tom Crone, former legal manager of the News of the World:

His assertion that I 'took charge of a cover-up' in relation to phone-hacking is a shameful lie. The same applies to his assertions that I misinformed senior executives about what was going on and that I forbade people from reporting to Rebekah Brooks or to James Murdoch.

A shameful lie! Now there's a handy header, way better than "a fanciful concoction of special pleading by someone who believes in unicorns."

But the good news was that on the second night chairman Rupert did much better than he did on the first night, and the number of hackles that rose, and the cries of shame are testament to the way he insulted all and sundry, blamed others, and took full responsibility, while noting he'd been completely misled, so that this heavy burden was the singular failure of everybody else ... except the Murdochs ...

Already the wags are having great fun. Chairman Rupert spent a great deal of time explaining why he hadn't read so many seemingly relevant things - just tasted them, if you will - and the pond intuited that this was a tweeting child of the intertubes with the attention span of a gnat. Rupert Murdoch and the pond were one.

Some played childish games with this honest testimony, such as Helen Pidd compiling a list of the things chairman Rupert hadn't bothered to read - Just what hasn't Rupert Murdoch read?

But really, is it the business of the chairman to stay on top of detail?

Oh it's just too galling. Now if only the shareholders could understand that the most important thing about a chairman is that they must never pay attention, but must always delegate, and delegate in such a way that deniability can be turned into an art form.

Oh yes Allen Dulles, we do so love the notion of plausible deniability.

The two best moments for the pond, rich and redolent with irony? Well surely it was the moment when Murdoch complained about being the centre of attention:

"I would argue that when you've a pack of journalists and paparazzi in your face you are under duress."
There is stifled laughter in the room and Lord Justice Leveson says "I think we will revisit that later."

And then this moment:

"It's a common thing in life, way beyond journalism, for people to say, "I'll scratch your back if you scratch my back."
Robert Jay QC: "But it's interesting that you say that's no part of the implied deal in your relations with politicians over 30 years Mr Murdoch. Is that right?"
Murdoch: "Uh … yes. I don't ask any politician to scratch my back … that's a nice twist, but no, I'm not falling for it." (and there's a few other message issues outlined here)

Just for a moment, the performance mask slipped, and the presentation of an innocent billionaire took on the hint of a billionaire who knew exactly how he'd become a billionaire. Sometimes by scratching, and sometimes by clawing ...

Naturally at Pravda by the harbour sinister conclusions are being drawn, as you can read in Richard Ackland's Winds turn against Murdoch evidence:

The relentless attacks on the national broadband network in News Ltd's national daily The Australian and other of its capital city tabloids is not without an eye on protecting the patch of Foxtel, SkyNews and Fox Sports...

... It is notable that Tony Abbott's Coalition is in step with News Ltd in its opposition to a statutory media regulator, a privacy law and the broadband network in its current proposed form.

Oh dear. Look, it's very simple Mr. Ackland, the intertubes deliver pornography inside the home at blinding speed - likely enough it's all the fault of Google, if not the BBC - and the NBN will just make it worse. All the Murdoch family cares about is trust and public good.

What's that you say?

We have seen over the past 12 months or so evidence of News International's ever-spreading stain on British institutions and democracy - on the police, on the public service, on politics and on the media itself.

Oh really. A stain? A blight? A press in connivance with Tony Abbott to destroy the world for futurists?

Surely we're just talking about a few bad apples, and a couple of rotten law firms, and a few naughty people indulging in a cover-up? By the way, didn't you train as a lawyer Mr. Ackland?QED?

Can it all be so bad, when Rupert Murdoch has produced a wondrous media diversity? You know, the diversity of feral right-wing thought that infests such great products as Fox News and The Australian.

Diversity and plurality, and only a cynic would suggest that if you swallow that particular brand of kool-aid, you're sounding as gullible as the average extremely gullible billionaire.

After it was done, the pond immediately felt withdrawal symptoms, but with a bit of luck, the ripples from this little splash in the pond will continue out until they reach David Cameron, and then they'll continue on into the United States, and then what fun.

Just one point of order. In case you bought the chairman's latest boot-kicking of the BBC - carrying on where his son left off - it's worth reading Murdoch and the Cameron entourage: a shameful tale laid out for all to see:

Sky's dominance over the BBC is already looming: now past its investment phase, Sky's income is multiplying fast at £5.5bn a year, against the BBC's static £3.5bn. Sky's growing billions can buy everything, not only sports and movies, but every best series: the BBC trains and develops talent, predatory Sky will snatch it. Nor is Sky that good for the Treasury: for every £1 in Sky subscriptions, 90p flees the country, straight to News Corp and Hollywood in the US.

The BBC is remarkable value for money: Sky subscribers can pay £500 a year, the licence fee is £145 for masses more content. Sky is parasitic, as its own subscribers watch many more hours of BBC than Sky, so Sky would collapse if the BBC denied it its channels. Yet the BBC still pays £5m a year for appearing on its platform, a deal struck by Thatcher to help Murdoch.

Except of course that chairman Rupert never asked a single thing of any Prime Minister.

Well it made for great on-line viewing. Oh sure we could have watched it live on ABC24, but it felt right to watch it online, on the feared and reviled intertubes, courtesy of The Guardian, which had set the whole circus rolling, via a medium that undermines everything Rupert Murdoch and his company stands for. Locked content, and information that can never be free ...

What was it Lord Acton said? Power tends to corrupt, and there's nothing more bizarre than watching billionaires explain how they believe in unicorns? While a few cynical lawyers and bad apples make life hard for unicorns ...

And if you believe that, have we got a unicorn that's just right for you, at a handy knock-down price befitting a billionaire ...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

And remember, fairy floss doesn't rot the teeth ...

(Above: the demented Steve Bell. Always worth a look, here).

What a bitter disappointment, what an existential crisis.

The pond has long harboured an ambition to inherit a modest fortune - a newspaper in Adelaide would do - and build it up into a media empire with far-ranging political influence and power. Politicians would tremble as the pond rumbled past, and running scurrilous, loss-making rags like The Australian would be more than an indulgence, they would be sharp-edged scythes of savagery capable of reducing PMs to quivering policy wrecks.

But after enduring the Leveson inquiry for yet another night - damn you Guardian, damn you ITN, with your beguiling live coverage of paint drying - it turns out that the life of a media mogul is just sweetness and light.

There's no power, there's no influence, there's no lobbying, there's absolutely nothing happening at lunches, politicians don't get enraged at your devious machinations, and if they do, like Gordon Brown, chances are they're simply "unbalanced".

Revelatory shock after revelatory shock reverberated around the pond's rapidly addled brain. There was simply no reason to be a media mogul, unless being an innocent harried and harassed by all and sundry is your idea of fun.

The only news to emerge from the Leveson inquiry? Tabloid newspapers are better than ever in Britain, and it's all thanks to News Corp. And by extension, if you think about it, things have never been better in the United States thanks to Fox News, and in Australia thanks to the noble band of myrmidon minions, the Daily Terror, the HUN, and dozens of other rags, things are simply awesome.

It seems a life of prayer might produce more of an impact on the world, so the pond is now forced to contemplate retiring to a monastery. What chance that Chairman Rupert will also head off to one after his life of impotent powerlessness?

Meanwhile, the Daily Terror shows how to elevate the discussion of climate science to astonishing levels of insight.

Yes, it's a Murdoch-funded story about a tax-payer funded TV program, and if you head off to the story, here, you can do your bit for climate science by joining in a poll. Well at least you can if you follow the link 'Alarmist' warnings all hot air.

Yep, that leads to a story about James Lovelock recanting, and a poll (spoiler alert):

A real threat? Yes, that's called framing a question in a neutral way to obtain an objective, considered, insightful and useful response.

The recommended coverage? Is it a link to an incisive insight into the state of climate science at the moment?

Don't be silly, it leads you to Miranda the Devine, expert climate scientist, back in March, here, starting off her piece by referring to climate scientists as wise monkeys, and explaining how a wet, cold summer has changed everything.

It's truly amazing, with the weight of evidence presented, that the poll managed to drum up some 18% delusional folk who thought climate science might be worth taking seriously.

It turns out, thanks to the Devine channeling Geoffrey Blainey, that we can now understand that science is an alternative religion:

Research into his new book, A Short History of Christianity, leads him to think our attitude towards science in an era of technological advances is akin to religious faith, with gods to worship, vehemence of belief, good and evil, heretics and saints. He says alternative religions have taken the place of Christianity, including communism, and nature worship.

Oh no, not the bloody pinko commie perverts, the wiccans and the pagans.

But wait, it gets worse because the scientists are now the high priests of the new religion of science, and worse, reason is a god:

The third alternative religion is "science, its cousin technology and its god, reason. Science has become incredibly powerful and influential which is understandable. So much of our increased standard of living in the last 150 years has come from science and technology and understandably science is worshipped by a large number of people."

Now why would that be? Could it be that when the pond turns on its electricity-powered plasma screen, it gets an image, whereas when the Devine trots off to mass on Sunday, she slurps actual blood and chomps into the actual body of Christ, New Guinea highlands cannibal-style? (sorry New Guinea cannibals)

Bow down before your plasma screens.

It is of course mere meaningless gibberish:

While stressing that he is a great champion of science, he believes it is now "given the benefit of the doubt which is given to all the dominant religions in their heyday".

Yes, it's the old on the one hand - great champion - and on the other hand - dominant religion - routine.


Actually if the plasma stops working, the pond doesn't give it any benefit of the doubt at all. you can treat it like a 2001-style black monolith if you like, but it's out in the street if it doesn't produce the pictures.

But there's good news. If you clicked on that particular path into the labyrinth, the chances of clicking on another piece by a simpering, sickening Tim Blair is much reduced, and so you might never get to read Will Nick Minchin and Anna Rose ever find true love?

Blair likes to think of himself as something of a humorist, but he's about as funny as a jab in the eye with a sharp stick:

Talk about carbon dating; these two have completely redefined the term.

Blair gets anxious about the amount of jet fuel burned in the making of the program, and yet confesses he'd cheerfully head off to New York with Christine Milne if someone would dish up the funds.

It seems if you take climate science seriously, you must never again catch an aeroplane, or use coal-fired power. You have to head off to a monastery, and make do with candle light, since that's the only way to green purity.

Likely enough, it's the only way you can avoid this sort of tabloid header - the one at the top of Holly Byrnes' relentlessly insightful story I Can Change Your Mind About Climate = 65,000km trip = 60 tonnes of carbon = 60 minutes of hot air.

Lordy, lordy, and there we were shocked to discover that Nationwide News employs over 1,500 and in 2007 its carbon footprint was 32,127 tonnes of CO2 eq.

2007? Ah yes those were the days, when you could read about News Limited - A Carbon Neutral Company, and all they were doing to help identify energy efficiency and cultivate savings. The latest entry on the site made mention of the Pride of Australia national medal 2011 ... in November 2011.

Well you have to admire News. The stench of hypocrisy is now lifted, and there's no need for any more pretence. No need to worry about the recycling bins, or the amount of carbon involved in the hot air that emanates from Holt street on a daily basis.

Punters will be relieved to know that in Holly's story, the rag put out an urgent call for scientific expertise, and the wording was astonishingly neutral, scientific and objective:

Do you believe climate change is mainly man made? Or are the climate doomsayers now discredited? Tell us below.

Put it another way.

Do you believe tabloid newspapers are mainly put together by doomsayser-denying fuckwits? Or do you think that intelligent people are involved? Don't bother to tell us below, unless you have the first clue as to what you might be yabbering about.

Put it another way.

Do you believe tabloid newspapers are mainly person made? Or are the yabbering simpletons now discredited? Don't bother to tell us below, we already know, we're just pretending to get your opinion because we really want to get our hands on your purse.

Oh okay, it's just another day romping through a tabloid, and really, The Australian is way worse because it purports to be serious as opposed to being merely yet another pandering form of mindless fairy floss.

Butof course the real culprit is the ABC, which is going further and further down the tabloid path, and will tonight air a program and follow it up with a Q&A which will likely produce some heat, but will also definitively produce no light or understanding.

And that's the heart of the problem, and why the Murdoch tabloids, and its stable of snarks, is so indignant, and yet obsessed and titillated and trading off, because a taxpayer-funded show and the ABC have stolen their thunder, and sunk below even their level. And that's saying something.

Well, tonight the pond has a clear choice, and yes it'll be back to the Guardian and ITN to watch Chairman Rupert wrap up his evidence.

It might be like watching paint dry, but the news that the pitiful Murdoch empire has no political influence is the sort of fairy story that appeals to the pond ... in much the same way as the news that the religious 'doomsayers' have got it all wrong ... in much the same way the pond once believed fairy floss didn't rot teeth.

If only ...

(Below: Steve Bell. Always worth a look, here).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Murdoch in London, and don't forget to mention rosebud ...

(Above: James Murdoch).

In the old days it was possible to go to bed with the stocking under the tree (actually the pond preferred a hefty pillow case to cope with all situations) and dream of waking the next morning with a vast array of gifts.

The time zone meant that Santa set off in good time from the North Pole, and was well away by morning, leaving the usual stuff, toys, popcorn and chocolates.

It was only later that the pond dreamed of getting a copy of Citizen Kane, and watching William Randolph Hearst in the shape of Charles Foster Kane in the body of George Orson Welles show what it was to be a larger than life media mogul.

These days, the wretched internet has ruined it all. There's chairman Rupert twittering away in a frenzy, damning the British government and Europe to hell. Imagine, instead of Charles Foster Kane heading off to the opera to write a scathing review of the performance of his beloved, we get Rupe twittering like a twit:

Tough on tax avoiders, soft on hard-up Britain. What a man. Sure it might just be a kind of chaff - the aluminium detritus dropped by aircraft to fool radar turned into verbiage to fool inquiries and politicians - but never retreat, never surrender.

All the same, could anyone imagine Hearst as a first class twittering tweet?

And if that's not enough, you can plug into the intertubes, and get a direct feed of the Leveson inquiry and young James Murdoch being put through another round of interrogations.

That's when it stopped feeling like Xmas, and boredom, if not a profound ennui began to creep in.

What could Orson Welles have done with a script with dialogue like "At the time I had no reason to believe otherwise", "I think I would have had a reasonable expectation that having a legal manager so close to the newsroom was a protection that it ultimately proved not to provide", "... at the time I didn't have the view whether they (the controls) were insufficient or not" ...

It was the Bart Simpson defence writ large. I didn't do anything, and you have no proof. Why I might have tried to familiarise myself with the Sun and even read the News of the World, but not all of it, but so what, it was the pawns and the minions and the politicians what did it, or didn't do it, according to what you think should or shouldn't have been done

What on earth is the point of an emperor or a sun king if they don't know what's happening in their patch of the world? On and on and on, yadda yadda, a most impressive impersonation of the three monkeys in one man, a trinitarian feat, no doubt about it.

Oh he tried and he struggled, while being paid millions, but would the myrmidon minions listen? No way!

That is my understanding that is something I have struggled with as well. Why wouldn't they tell me? They didn't. I don't want to conjecture but I think that must be it, that I would say 'cut out the cancer' and there was some desire not to do that.

A helpless, hapless patsy, a mushroom kept in the dark, and fed nothing but cancer-inducing manure. Nobody would tell him anything:

The fact it suggested other people might have been involved in phone hacking – that part of its importance was not imparted to me that day.

I don't remember words like that, I don't remember taking notes, I don't think so, and so on and on.

It turns out, thanks to ITN and The Guardian, that live blogging and live coverage can be a bit like watching paint dry.

By the time the inquiry had reached lunch-time, the pond was done and dusted, sated.

By end of day, the only news to emerge was even more evidence of the ongoing intimacy of politicians and the Murdoch press. What's one person's idea of "legitimate advocacy" might be another's vision of a lap dog taken for a walk in the park.

While David Cameron seems to have dodged the flack (though he supped with the devil often enough), it's hapless alleged cheerleader Jeremy Hunt that's copped a pounding, what with furtive mobile calls and a desire to avoid strong legal advice not to meet James Murdoch and discuss the BSkyB takeover bid. Ah the life of a lap dog, just wanting to do the bidding of others, and people always getting in the way ...

By mid-afternoon, it was clear where it was heading, with Ladbrokes suspending betting on Hunt being the first Minister to leave the cabinet. Then Paddy Power suspended betting as well. And others were tweeting:

There was some other collateral damage - it turns out Alex Salmond was doing his bit for Scotland by doing his bit for Murdoch - and amazingly Murdoch junior seems to have mounted a strong case for government regulation of the press in Australia:

The things to weigh up are a stronger enshrining of speech rights, coupled with a stronger set of consequences ... just as one of the great learnings for us has been not to allow an operating company to investigate itself without absolute transparency to the corporate centre, it is also difficult to allow an industry to control itself on a voluntary basis given the concerns we obviously all have.

Oh indeed. Who could argue, especially when you consider the creepy crawly way that The Australian conducts itself.

But the best action happened outside and after the inquiry, as when Simon Kelner, one time editor of the Independent, provided his version of James Murdoch at large in the rag's office in April 2010:

I sat on a sofa, Brooks perched on the arm of another sofa, and Murdoch walked and talked. He was excitable and angry. "You've impugned the reputation of my family," he said at one point. He called me "a fucking fuckwit" and became furious at my bemusement that he should find our campaign so upsetting, given that one of his newspapers famously claimed that it did indeed decide elections.

Brooks said very little, but, when her boss's rage blew itself out, chipped in with: "We thought you were our friend". Their use of language and the threatening nature of their approach came straight from the "Mafioso for Beginners" handbook.

Sorry Mr Kelner, that's hard cop soft cop, as any Sydney copper could tell you, and remember they didn't produce a telephone book, which hurts but minimises bruising.

There was only one way it was going to end, and the angle for the day was set, with Hunt now turning from lap dog to looking a bit like a fox in a hunt. Lord Sugar looked like the master of the hounds:

Naturally Tom Watson was off in print, Now Jeremy Hunt must resign (Jeremy Hunt's cosy relations with News Corp executives shocked even cynical Leveson watchers), and the dear sweet persecuted Hunt wanted to move forward his appearance at Leveson to defend himself, but the headlines suggest which way the wind is blowing:
In the end it was the pollies that copped the pounding, revealing in the process how it always goes for the rich and the powerful, with the divvying up of goods and services conducted in private over well-heeled meals. A tidy facade, and under the water the duck's webbed feet in overdrive in search of tasty treats.

All that said, the pond was shattered, or at least despondent. Did it have to be so dull for so long? Is the internet designed mainly to show what it's like to sit in a committee room all day? Couldn't there have been close ups of chewed pens and broken paper clips?

It showed how far Citizen Kane was from reality. Instead of Orson Welles, it was hour upon hour of emails, minutes, notes, and phone calls pored over, scrutinised and discussed, and at the centre of it was a kind of bespectacled banality, given to all sorts of righteousness, and not a hint that this was the mouth that at one time might have given vent to words like fucking fuckwit ...

Except for an instant disqualification for breaching Godwin's Law, the pond might have invoked Hannah Arendt's phrase the "banality of evil".

Never mind. It means an even heavier burden now falls on Chairman Rupert. It's left to him to show the defiance of the mogul, to roar like an ageing lion, and drive these feral jackals into a quivering heap of despair. Murdoch senior understands show business, so let the show begin. If it's good enough, it might even make an opera, like Nixon in China.

Murdoch in London.

Unless there's a mention of rosebud and perhaps even a sled being fed in to a basement burner, the pond is not certain it can do another day at the Leveson inquiry ...

Beware, too much media watching, and you might well go blind ...

(Above: a parade of likely media rogues).

There's not many television programs that call to the pond these days, but Media Watch is always fun, and what fine form it was in last night.

First up was a piece about the reprehensible, distorting, shameless lizard Oz doing a beat-up on climate change (Lost in conversion), which had a great pay-off when that buffoonish member of the chattering classes, Alan Jones, got on to a rant about carbon dioxide but somehow lost his ruler. Or disremembered his arithmetic and its various branches. Ambition, distraction, uglification and derision. Never heard of uglifying as deployed by Alan Jones? Why it's higher than a studio ceiling ...

And then there was a nice sorbet about a South Australian government instrumentality paying celebrity twitters seven hundred and fifty bucks to tweet about the joys of Kangaroo Island (Nice tweets if you can get 'em). A classic case of cash for comments.

Then blow the pond down, but wouldn't you know, there was Anthony 'the Ant' Sharwood over at The Punch going into a kind of ecstatic rapturous meltdown, not just about Kangaroo Island itself, but a lame, wretched advertisement that was concocted off the back of an Eddie Vedder song.

This might be the best tourism ad ever made, declaims the Ant (some might wonder why the Pea isn't a better nick), embarking on a rave that is as astonishing as Morag Zwartz's rant about a Daylesford advertising campaign in Government's moral compass gone awry in tawdry, offensive ad campaign.

The pond wants whatever they supplied the Ant with on KI, at least until he gets to his final par:

This ad has really struck a chord, even if in reality not every KI experience is as windswept and moody as the tourism folk would have you believe.

Well it surely is windswept, and if you're on the wrong side of the island at the wrong time of day it's fly-blown as well, but to each their own. Let's just leave cash for comment social media aside, and judge The Punch for the freebie plugs it publishes in the guise of journalism. Wouldn't a tweet have paid more?

Speaking of Media Watch, it's well known that Gerard Henderson suffers from the delusion that he'd make an ideal host of the program, but it's likely the world will forever be denied his first revelatory scoop.

What might that be? Well no doubt he could provide startling new evidence of the sources of funding for the Sydney Institute, a lobbying body that means each Tuesday Henderson lands in the Fairfax letter box to plug the conservative dause.

This week Henderson seems to have taken some kind of vow of verbal chastity, because the pond notes, with some sadness, that in Gillard the ace negotiator deals Labor into trouble again, there's not one mention of how deviant and perverted the cardigan wearers at the ABC are, nor a celebration of the wonders of western Sydney McMansion dwellers, nor even a blaming of public servants for everything that's wrong in the world.

As a result, the column is exceedingly dull, a kind of coulda woulda shoulda explanation of what Henderson would have done if he was Julia Gillard (sorry, now there's a shuddering image).

Not to worry, there's always a villain in Henderson's world, and this week it seems it's the independents - Windsor, Oakeshott and Wilkie - who are likely responsible for everything that's wrong in the world, at least in the world of Julia Gillard, though of course the Greens are also always responsible for everything that's wrong in the world.

You have to admire Henderson's capacity for sustaining madly buzzing bees in the bonnet.

Take this throwaway line:

Oakeshott declared on the day Abbott became Liberal leader that he was concerned that a Catholic like Abbott might become prime minister.

Now you have to get into a little forensics to track down this particular hare, by haring off to Henderson's Media Watch Dog of the 1st of October 2010, wherein Henderson impersonates a dog sniffing out media bones.

A hapless punter by name of Noelle Kebby wrote an email to Henderson about a column he wrote:

I am writing to tell you how disappointed I am in your article in today’s Herald. I have always had a lot of respect for the integrity of your reporting but today I am afraid that respect has disappeared. For you to paint Rob Oakeshott as anti-Catholic is, in my view, totally inaccurate. I have lived in Port Macquarie all my life, I am a Catholic and work in the Catholic school system. Rob Oakeshott has always been totally dedicated to his community and a champion of the Catholic school system here in Port Macquarie. Why you would wish to join in this disgraceful campaign against a man who stood up for his principles is completely beyond me.

Naturally this got Henderson agitated, and he referred to a piece on 2nd December 2009 in the Port Macquarie News, and quoted a piece of it:

“I know Tony Abbott personally having ridden on the very first Pollie Pedal with him way back in 1996,” Mr Oakeshott said. “He is a good man who listens when allowed. However, his natural starting point is of concern for Australian politics, where no separation of church and state exists in principle, and language is inflammatory by design.”

Uh huh. Now if you were reading this literally, you might conclude that Oakeshott had actually not said a single word about Catholicism or Abbott being a Catholic. He's talking about a separation of church and state, which might equally apply to an Islamic politician, or former chairman Rudd preening in front of a church, or Peter Costello standing up in front of the Hillsong mob and baying for rapture.

But from this slender thread, the paranoid Henderson weaves and wafts a vast wave of anti-Catholic sectarianism embodied in the hapless Oakeshott:

In other words, Mr Oakeshott said that Australians should be concerned if a Catholic like Mr Abbott became prime minister.

Actually in other words, Henderson said that what's Oakeshott said. What Oakeshott said is that church and state should be kept separate, and who can argue with that? Except perhaps Abbott, Kevin Rudd's sister, and other Christians, always ready to explain their views on why gay marriage is a handy political issue for drum-beating ...

And then Henderson delivers this one, and it's hard to let it go through to the keeper:

The fact is that Tony Abbott held senior cabinet roles in the Howard Government – and there is no evidence that his private religious views determined his administration of public policy. If there is any evidence to the contrary – then, surely, it is up to Mr Oakeshott and others who have engaged in anti-Catholic sectarianism over the past year with respect to Mr Abbott to provide it.

Which naturally takes us back to the RU486 controversy where Abbott used his ministerial power, and misused medical advice to maintain a ban on the drug, an issue which prompted John Howard to allow a conscience vote:

The devout Catholic minister, who appears to take a devilish glee in doing what he thinks is God's work, has been left looking rather foolish. And it is impossible to believe him when he argues that he is denying women access to RU486 out of concern for their health. (Mr. Abbott, minister for meddling).

So Oakeshott is hung for a throwaway line that's little more than a bleating lamb, while the drug-banning Abbott is excused the theft of a rather large sheep.

The evidence suggests that Tony Abbott regards his religious beliefs as essentially private.

So private they have nothing to do with his ongoing desire to ensure that his sister can't get married ...

So private he can't even remember meeting with Cardinal Pell. Who can forget that memorable moment on Lateline when Abbott gave Tony Jones his famous death stare, which gave the Chaser lads a moment of comedy (still alive on YouTube here)?

TONY JONES: Tony Abbott on another matter, have you met Archbishop Pell during the election campaign?
TONY ABBOTT: Not that I can recall.
TONY JONES: Not that you can recall, because we believe that you've had at least one meeting with him quite recently? You don't recall that?
TONY ABBOTT: Well, when? Where?
TONY JONES: At the presbytery in Sydney.
TONY ABBOTT: Ah, actually now that you do mention it, I did met with Cardinal Pell. So what? Why shouldn't I meet with Cardinal Pell?
TONY JONES: Why couldn't you recall meeting him, I think, 10 days ago?
TONY ABBOTT: Look, whenever it was, so what? Why shouldn't I meet Cardinal Pell. Cardinal Pell is a fine man. He made a very good statement the other day about the Labor Party's policy, why shouldn't I meet with him? (here)

Now that's a truly private belief set. And indeed why shouldn't he meet with Cardinal Pell? Not only does Pell have wise words about climate science and Labor party policy to deliver, he's always up for a jab at the Greens:

In an opinion piece in the Sunday Telegraph, Cardinal Pell labelled the Greens "anti-Christian" and "sweet-camouflaged poison". (here)

It would have been a lot simpler for Henderson to acknowledge that Abbott routinely delivers thoughts and policies inspired by his religion, and acknowledge that separating the secular from the religious is an ongoing job for politicians of all persuasions, but he's simply incapable of admitting it, just as he seems incapable of admitting how a closeted Catholicism informs his own scribbles ...

Every time he takes a swipe at Rob Oakeshott, while blindly delivering Abbott an exemption, or an absolution, he merely reveals the bees that keep buzzing around in his brain.

Here's hoping that Abbott has grown up a little since his time as a Minister ... because there's no sign that Henderson has got a better grasp on reality.

Instead he sounds a little like Anthony Sharwood doing a commercial for Kangaroo Island ...

What's that you say?

Update: last night on the ABC’s Media Watch it was revealed that celebrities were paid $750 to Tweet positively about KI. This article was posted hours before that, purely by coincidence, and we weren’t paid a cent. So there,

You mean you did it for free? What cackling geese ...

(Below: the famous death stare in action).

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A pot pourri of Monday treats ...

(Above: $139 worth of repairs! No expense spared, and by golly that Alan Joyce knows how to cut corners and contain costs. At last peace of mind for weary travellers, thanks to the SMH - no click, it's a screen cap).

And speaking of Alan Joyce and Qantas, who'd have thought he'd have the capacity for stating the bleeding obvious in the Daily Terror, in End holding pattern and land this baby.

As for dazzling Bazza O'Farrell's proposal that people in Canberra wanting to catch a plane to Sydney will in future settle for a VFT, Joyce is a cold water man, and when it comes to pressure on peak slots for domestic traffic, he's a glass of water man:

With a quarter of Qantas's departures leaving from Sydney, there is no escaping the consequences of bottlenecks at our main airport hub.

It isn't simply about Kingsford Smith being "full", like a glass of water. It's about the pressure at busy times of day growing: more time wasted on the tarmac, longer taxi queues, more aircraft circling.

Will dazzling Bazza listen, or will he maintain the proud standards of NSW Labor when it comes to infrastructure?

... we agree with the report's verdict that by around 2030 a new airport in the Sydney region will be needed.
We also agree that Badgerys Creek remains the best site. Since the late 1980s, this land has been reserved for a new airport.

Whistling in the dark Mr. Joyce. Let them eat cake, and catch VFTs or taxis from woop woop.

Meanwhile, the antics of slippery Slipper are all the go, and is it any wonder that the slavering, slobbering Paul Sheehan slips into rhetorical overdrive in Gillard treading water as ALP continues its slippery slide?

He (Slipper) is taking the Gillard government down a slippery slope to a level of illegitimacy I have not seen before in my years of covering politics. Not even the Whitlam government, and the constitutional coup in 1975 engineered by a reckless Malcolm Fraser, matched the impression of illegitimacy that now hangs over this government.

Suddenly we're in a constitutional crisis worse than 1975?

Sheesh. That's the problem with Sheehan. He's an hysteric, an overblown motor-mouth, a nervous nelly, and you can suddenly see why he got into so much trouble over magic water. When he gets a run on, it's worse than a trot to an outback dunny.

Shouldn't he just settle down, take an aspirin and have a good long lie down? In the end, the Slipper affair is really just an excuse for Sheehan to run through the standard litany of complaints about the current Federal government, but wouldn't it be simpler for Fairfax to bring in Tony Abbott or perhaps "Poodle" Pyne to write the columns? Employing a ghost writer seems a little ... well unseemly ...

But I suppose the pollies might find it hard to follow the Sheehan tactic, which is reminiscent of Mother Grundy standing in the town square clucking and scratching.

First there's an extended quote from a text message, and then this pious bit of poncery: "Oh indeed. Unguarded private texts make for queasy reading ..."

Indeed, almost as queasy, verging on the nauseous as reading Sheehan in full righteous flight.

Where was he the eighteen years the slippery Slipper was representing the Liberal party? You remember. Back in 2010 when the slippery Slipper was still on-side, and Abbott defends Slipper's travel.

That's when news that Slipper preferred to catch taxis at around $290 a trip so he could catch flights to Canberra through Sydney rather than flying from Sunshine Coast airport, clocking up more than $6,000 in 15 days in July and early August 2009.

Lordy, lordy, and all he was doing was carrying out dazzling Bazza's preferred solution to Sydney's second airport needs. Yes, who needs to worry about a second Sydney airport when the punters can just catch taxis from Newcastle or Canberra ...

A pox on all their houses.

There's much more fun to be had reading Rudd's latest game of Chinese whispers: join Weibo.

The former chairman is seeking to re-establish his revolutionary credentials with the Chinese people:

''Lao Lu, the Chinese people support you to start another coup d'etat and bring down that old woman.''

Oh yes Lao Lu, the Chinese people love you. How about starting a coup d'etat and bringing down the Communist overlords?

Meanwhile, there was another statement of the bleeding obvious on view this morning in Stilgherrian's Blockbuster trial for a movie and TV industry in decline.

The pond usually supports the film industry via the local DVD store - how long they'll last is another question - but last night we decided to celebrate by watching a video given to us on a USB drive. Oh that Apple TV, it's just too tempting ...

The victory we were belatedly celebrating?

The High Court sending the major studios packing in relation to iiNet, and the proposal that ISPs act as de facto digital coppers, persecuting and prosecuting their clients on behalf of the major studios, as a way of the major studios avoiding the nasty publicity associated with taking individuals to court for breaches of copyright.

Anyway, as Stilgherrian points out, the real problem isn't the piracy, it's the business model, and the delusional way that the majors go about the business of protecting their domain - with lawyers and with sledgehammers and with territorial restrictions, all in the name of outrageous pricing, when as your local video store will tell you, the price for a back catalogue disc - or even a new catalogue disc on a happy hour or slack Tuesday - is no more than a couple of bucks, or a buckeroo.

That's the price pressure introduced by the intertubes, at a time when the majors should have been re-thinking their distribution models to arrive at on line delivery, with the example of the music industry right before them. Instead, like book publishers and retailers in general, they stuck their heads in the hardly normal sand.

The propaganda emanating from the studios has been as poorly written as a piece of Paul Sheehan hysteria. The notion that piracy is affecting the Australian film industry is the worst example. The federal and state governments largely fund Australian feature films and high end television, and the product is expected to make a loss ...

They talk about the industry being in decline, but that's because they only count themselves. As a totality, people probably spend more on entertainment than they ever have done.

It's like Myer and David Jones and Harvey Norman whinging about the decline of retail. No, retail overall is doing just fine. The bit that's failing is them -- the people doing things the same old way and not adapting to the change.

Sharpen up or ship out majors. It's the capitalist way.

That's why the pond would never pay for a Fairfax product - let alone a News Ltd one. Pay for a foaming Paul Sheehan on an otherwise pleasant Monday morning? Does it come with bonus free eye gouging?

And likely enough, after enduring four years of scandal, ineptitude and leadership challenges, why voting out Tony Abbott - unless jolly Joe Hockey or big Mal arranges it earlier - in four or five years time will be yet another enduring joy of the parliamentary system infested by rogues and knaves that we know and love ...

(Below: but we download bears all the time, there's nothing wrong with bears).

And so to a Sunday homily involving angry Anglicans and wayward Catholics ...

(Above: oh yes, that old routine is back).

According to a stat at the back of Harpers magazine currently residing in the pond's bathroom, only 52% of Americans approve of god's job performance.

And sure enough when you check on the intertubes, you find Only 52% of Americans Approve of God's Job Performance.

Now this is a better figure than Obama, John Boehner, Congress, and Rupert Murdoch, and way better than Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, but really it's not much more than a bare pass, when most deities might expect a distinction, or even a high distinction, or perhaps a perfect 100%. After all, if you're all-knowing and all-powerful, anything less is showing disrespect.

And if god herself is doing so poorly in the polls, is it any wonder that her representatives are such a feeble lot? Take the angry Anglicans for example. It turns out that they like having angry atheists to argue with:

Yep, there it is, in black and white in Goodbye atheists, y'all come back. As well as faux Americanisms, angry Sydney Anglicans like an argument:

The opportunities for gospel conversations always open up whenever Richard Dawkins is around and the atheist lobby hasn't twigged to the fact that for Christians, the only thing worse than being argued with, is not being argued with.

Yep, next time you meet an angry Sydney Anglican argue with them. And if it dissolves into a shouting match, so much the better. Seems like they love it.

Forget harmony, love, sweetness and light and the whole damn thing, Sydney Anglicans hate being ignored most of all. If you argue, it just makes them stronger and madder. Like Nietzsche ...

All the same, the pond is placing an interdict on them, until Michael Jensen gets his act together and produces his fifth homily on the sins of Sydney. The town's falling apart, the centre isn't holding, mere anarchy and petrol is loosed upon paddy wagons outside tattoo parlours in Newtown, and while they talk of bikie gang warfare, it seems the cops are doing most of the killings ... and while it all erupts, and the apocalypse, doomsday and the rapture are just around the corner - perhaps as early as tomorrow - Jensen is silent ...

Instead all that's left for the pond is an argument with angry Pellists.

It seems that Cardinal Pell is still brooding about his televisual encounter with Richard Dawkins, the "notorious atheist from Oxford."

You can always tell when people think they've had the raw end of a pineapple or an argument when they come back for a second serve, and the notorious Pellist from Sydney holds out his plate in the Sunday Terror with Debate.

And wouldn't you know it, Pell is an intelligent designer:

The universe was either created or evolved by chance. The odds against the random production of a human brain or eye are impossibly high; like producing a card house in a gale and by chance!

Now it's true that he didn't mention irreducible complexity and the bacterial flagellum of E. Coli, but that's probably because it's too scientifically complex for him.

But as usual he does commit a great faux pas, which is to think that the theory of evolution involves mere randomness and chance.

He should talk to a horse breeder some time. The whole point of natural variations and mutations is to arrive at a better adjustment to environmental changes or improve the chances of survival or provide defences against predation. Perhaps he should talk to a dinosaur about that one. And maybe he could discuss the impact of random meteors while he's at it.

But so far as evolution goes, randomness isn't the point at all, rather the point is that the human brain and eye have evolved, and owe more than a little to other forms of brains and eyes which were part of the evolutionary process, and now we have the DNA evidence to confirm it. If a high school science class can get this, why can't Pell? And why is he spluttering about intelligent design, which has always been an ersatz form of creationism?

And to think the man fancies himself as a climate scientist.

Even more alarming, Pell seems to celebrate the growth in Islamics, heretics, dissidents, and believers who don't believe in the Catholic church:

The number of people in the world belonging to the four biggest religious traditions is increasing in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the world's growing population.

Any belief in a storm, eh? So it's alright to celebrate the increase in absolute numbers of people who believe in the flying spaghetti monster, Scientology or the 70,000 people who in the 2001 Australian census declared themselves members of the Jedi order? The growth in Jedi knights and Jedi-ism around the world shows belief is on the march, and the Darth Vadars of the world are doomed, and so why not believe in a religious tradition, pick one, anyone you like?

But let's get back to the science:

Every animal in the world has the same body plan, except the jelly fish!

Oh dear sweet absent lord, is he still banging on about intelligent design?

The speed of light, the gravitational constant, the mass of a proton or electron are the same throughout the universe.
These patterns, this order are not an illusion.
The fantastic spiritual Intelligence outside space and time responsible for this fine, minute calibration is what we call God.

Yep, he is, and if he keeps going that way, he'll end up a deist or a theist, with god a remote watch-maker sent to a remote corner of the universe to light the fuse, and stand well clear. And all the gibberish about a personal god of the kind celebrated in the old testament, keen to perform genocides with floods, will seem like a nice hoary old myth.

But wait, there's more, and yes, it seems that god's main point has been as the producer of a set of checks and balances:

Most scientists believe the universe began with the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. Some scientists e.g. Einstein were reluctant to accept this because it was compatible with the idea of Godly creation.
If the explosion was one millionth of one per cent faster the universe would have exploded into a spray; no stars or planets.
If it diminished by a similar tiny amount the universe would have collapsed.
A 2 per cent change in our distance from the sun would destroy human life. Life is only possible through a succession of unbelievably fine balances.

Yep, it's as if being a watch-maker is too sophisticated, so god must be reduced to a risk manager and the maker and manager of a finely balanced scale set, or perhaps a politician intent on a finely developed set of checks and balances, or perhaps a clown doing a performance on a unicycle. So when that meteor wiped out the dinosaurs, it was because he dropped a ball while juggling on the unicycle ...

No wonder the humourless Dawkins (he once had a sense of humour) found it hard to argue with Pell, who completely fails to understand that an argument about the mechanistic systems of the universe isn't an argument for the Catholic god.

It's typical of Pell that he would avoid the spiritual or the mystical, and attempt to grapple with science. The man is way too worldly, and a reflection of the kind of politician that gets rewarded by the Vatican on his way to power in his own patch of Pellist turf ...

And by the way, you might be asking, why did Einstein actually object to the notion of the big bang? Was it because, as Pell proposes, because somehow it allowed for the existence of god?

Tosh and piffle:

...Einstein absolutely rejected Big Bang and Black Hole singularities throughout his lifetime. He insisted that observational facts must be the foundation of any physical theory, including his General theory of Relativity. His scientific philosophy was absolutely opposed to non-physical concepts like Black Holes and Dark Energy. (here)

Religion had nothing to do with it. But even if religion were in the mix, Pell, in his usual garbled, gobbled way, gets the wrong end of the telescope. He doesn't even keep up with the propaganda being put out at UNIV, coming to him from Rome:

In January 1933, the Belgian mathematician and Catholic priest Georges Lemaitre traveled with Albert Einsteinn to California for a series of seminars. After the Belgian detailed his Big Bang theory, Einstein stood up, applauded, and said, "This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened." (here in pdf form)

So how does that square with Pell's bald statement?

The irony is of course, that Einstein left room for the kind of clock-making, scales-wielding absentee landlord god who infests Pell's column:

I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being. (more here)

Humility? Weakness of intellectual understanding?

How decidedly un-Pellist ....

(Below: a simple visual explanation of Pellist theory?)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The gnomic utterances of Chairman Rupert and his minions ...

Why is it that the word 'gnomic' looms large when reading chairman Rupert's tweets? (Never read one? Do yourself a favour here).

'Gnomic utterances' has a long and proud provenance. And while gnomic, the tweets have a certain haiku quality about them.

They call to mind some of the works of Basho:

Summer grass:
all that remains
of warriors' dreams ( a few more here showing how hard haiku is to translate).

Put it another way:

Summer tweets:
all that remains
of proprietor's dreams

Could chairman Rupert have been introduced to the art by Harold Stewart's fine book A Net of Fireflies?

Here's the pond's translation of another one:

Newspapers not so rich:
All struggling
Amazon hurting, etc.

Now we could argue about the use of 'etc' but it adds a certain poignancy. And then there's:

Crappy blogs available
Crappy newspapers unsaleable
Tweeters don't have to buy

You can see why the gnomic Murdoch has at last count some 220,549 followers, and counting. He's the Basho of our times:

Now then, let's go out
To enjoy the snow until
I slip and fall.

And speaking of thousands of crappy blogs, how nice of chairman Rupert to remind us that down under in the twilight glow, it is News Limited that dominates the field.

Where would we, the world, or News be without the crappy blogs provided by Tim Blair, Andrew 'the Bolter' Bolt, Miranda the Devine, Piers 'Akker Dakker' Akerman, or other exponents of the art of crappy blogging etc etc - including the crappiest blog of all, The Punch?

Yes there are thousands of crappy blogs available, and News Ltd provides, as a free community service, the crappiest, most feral, most mindless, most brainless and most offensive of all.

Which is why chairman Rupert's haiku is a sorbet of the spirit and the soul. Make of this one what you will:

HVA first graduation class
Entry by lottery
tragedy for majority losers.

Yes, chairman Rupert has discovered a conscience, and is deeply interested in the Harlem Village Academy.

Will this help get him off the hook next week, when he returns to the Leveson inquiry?

Who knows, but there's sure to be gnomic utterances in abundance as we contemplate Rupert Murdoch and sons: Leveson inquiry becomes a family affair.

Oh okay, it's Saturday, and the pond would do anything, well almost anything, to avoid reading a News Ltd blog. There's Tory Shepherd elevating the tone of the debate at The Punch by calling bullshit all around her - ICB: Freedom of religion vs. freedom from religion - as if the hard-hitting, fearless use of the word 'bullshit' was some kind of QED knockdown argument or proof. When actually all it captures is the tone of argument in a public bar in a Sydney pub ...

Still with my one remaining tooth I bite
My frozen writing-brush that will not write (Buson)

And then there's Miranda the Devine, frothing and foaming and raging away, as in Highway robbery:

What arrogance makes politicians think they have the right to close the busiest road in Sydney for a bike race?

Indeed. One of the most interesting things about schizophrenia is the way someone can rant on endlessly, for hour upon hour about the evils of bicycles, while worshipping at the feet of Tony Abbott, an enthusiastic cyclist. But back to slamming Barry O'Farrell for daring to allow triathetes to use the Harbour Bridge:

Anyway, “The bridge belongs to everybody, not just to motorists.”
New government. Same old war against cars.

Amazingly when a reader told her to get off her bike, that produced this rant:

Seriously what is it with leftards and lies?
Leftards and violence?
Leftards and groupthink?
Leftards and parasiting on others?
Leftards and poor personal hygiene?
Leftards and mind altering substances?
Whats wrong with being a normal clean tidy upright independant truth telling human being?
I believe Anne Coulter has it nailed when she says the demonic left are possesed by the same evil spirit, its all that fits.

You can see how weird it gets in the world of chairman Rupert's blogs, as they begin the campaign to keep Sydney's streets clear of pedestrians, prams, jay walkers, joggers, runners and everyone else engaged in the war against cars. The sort of war that brings New York to its knees for its completely useless marathon ...

Thousands of crappy blogs, carrying messages of stultifying stupidity by obsessives out of touch with any sense of community, angry, harping and bitter, warriors of the keyboard.

It's enough to drive you back to Basho. Here's Stewart's interpretation:

Over the warriors summer grasses wave:
The aftermath of dreams, however brave.

Put it another way:

Over the Devine's blog summer grasses wave:
The aftermath of delusions, however silly.

Oh enough already, we were going to end with an image of a classic lycra-clad lout, the sort that must infest the worst nightmares of Miranda the Devine's dreaming:

Eek, a warrior in the war against cars.

Enough of the nightmare world of crappy Murdoch blogs.

Let's end instead with a plug for Harold Stewart. It shows its age these days, but since it might well have helped give the world Chairman Rupert, champion tweeting haiku poet, it deserves its place in the setting sun.

Between the washing-bowls at birth and death,
All that I uttered: what a waste of breath! (Issa)