Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Powerful images of something ...

I know, I know, the pond is on a break, but while the mouse is away, the cats do play, and these powerful images of goodwill in the least trusted newspaper in Australia ...*


... really caught the eye. 

But was it wise for Cardinal Pell to write so evocatively about Lara, Ruby and Charlotte at this time of year?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

And so this is Xmas, another year over ...

It's that time of year when the pond travels, like a loon, to Melbourne, and walks amongst Victorians, not knowing if they're aliens, Thetans, zombies, or the living dead. 

It's a perilous journey and all that provides a sense of safety is the garlic water we carry at all times.

Yes, for the moment, it's time to give the game away, though wonders never cease, and loonishness will continue rampant.

Last night for example the pond witnessed an ABC news service on the main channel at 7 pm which was astonishing, and vastly comic. 

Cues were routinely off, stories misplaced (yes that story about the cricket wasn't a story about the Sudan or Clive Palmer or even the ghost who walks), inserts weren't trimmed, there was dead air, dead vision, a hopeless mash-up that even an eleventh eleven on a concrete wicket would consider an epic failure (the pond is studying cricket in detail. It remains a bizarre, mysterious and inexplicable ritual, but some things are sticking, like a sticky wicket, so that cricketing metaphors can continue in the new year). 

This was the national broadcaster in prime time, and what a sorry sight it was, yet the pond wouldn't exchange Aunty with all its foibles and flops for a lifetime subscription to Foxtel and every Murdoch rag in the land...

The hapless presenter had the decency to look embarrassed, but it wasn't her fault, it was the fact that they'd put a set of loons in charge of the computers that was the real problem ...

It was beyond satire, beyond irony, and the pond now profoundly regrets not running the PVR over it. We could have taken it down and given it a play whenever gloom or depression threatened.

So the loonishness will go on, but without the pond, lost in the wilds of Victoria.

All that's left is to round up a few resident loons to wish loonish readers with a love of loonery a merry Xmas, a happy Xmas, joyous holydays, or just plain common or garden happy holidays. Whatever lights your crazy religious wick or floats your secular boat ...

And if you happen to be working this Xmas, well done. Somebody has to take care of the country, what with Tony Abbott in France and the Bolter bludging in Tasmania scoffing down ponce pistachio rose water meringues ...

Pistachio fucking rose water meringues! 

Remember that the next time he has a go at the sandal or the cardigan wearers, or the hippies or the luvvies or the greenies or the ponces or the inner urban elites, or pretends to be a man of the people, rather than an opera loving Grange drinker, or spews out all the rest of the Murdochian cant and bullshit about how he's at one with your average Joe or Josephine Blow. Like the rest of the reptiles bunkered down in Sydney and Melbourne ...

With a bit of luck, the pond will return in the New Year, providing Victorian roads don't do the dirty on us - there's short odds on that one - and in the interim remember to have a drink on the pond, but always drink in moderation, unless you really want to get pissed as a parrot and forget for a moment that you live in Chairman Rupert's and the Bolter's and Tony Abbott's Australia.

As for the New Year, it doesn't - of course - fall when foolish gweilo think it does, so let's all go shopping in the right sort of supermarket in the new year. 

Well it has to be better than reading the crony commentariat for fun, but someone has to do it, and so next year we look forward to reading the tea leaves, checking the entrails, casting the runes and coming to understand the intricacies of hagiography as a highly developed form of art ...

Because next year will be a time for more laughs and games:

'Tis the season for the ostensibly chaste and the jolly ...

It turns out that virgin births are a dime a dozen. Happens all the time.

Nearly 1 percent of young women in a U.S. study who have become pregnant claim to have done so as virgins, according to a report in the Christmas edition of Britain's BMJ medical journal. 
The authors of "Like a virgin (mother)" - whose prose is devoid of irony - say such scientifically impossible claims show researchers must use care in interpreting self-reported behavior. Fallible memory, beliefs and wishes can cause people to err in what they tell scientists. 
Based on interviews with 7,870 women and girls ages 15 to 28, 45 of the 5,340 pregnancies in this group through the years - 0.8 percent - occurred in women who reported that they conceived independent of men. The figure does not include pregnancies that result from in vitro fertilization or other assisted reproductive technology. (here, but if you want the BMJ press release go here)

It made the pond wonder what Michael Jensen was on about, or what he was on, in scribbling Sex and Christmas:

Why was Jesus ‘born of a virgin’? Isn’t this the unnecessary miracle, simply coming from an embarrassment at - ahem, let’s face it - sex? Couldn’t theologians simply discount at least this one as a pious invention of the gospel authors who were simply too shocked by the thought that ordinary human bedroom activity could have been involved? 

What on earth is he on about? Turns out that for one in a hundred or so no ordinary human bedroom activity is required.

Some critics of Christianity, Anglicanism’s very own Bishop Spong among them, have said that, blinded by his blushes, Matthew simply mis-translated or over-translated the Hebrew word from the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 which can mean either ‘virgin’ or ‘young woman’. This fails to see how the NT’s reading of Old Testament prophecy works. It doesn’t treat the Old Testament as a dot-to-dot picture which it is simply colouring in. In addition, it is likely that ‘virgin’ and ‘young woman’ were so closely associated in the ancient mind as to be tantamount to the same thing.

Yes, because young woman and virgin are like peas in a pod - haven't you heard, women don't like a good fuck ... and for gays it's even naughtier.

Anyway, it seems odd that Jensen should get himself into such a lather about virgin births, when clearly, in the United States, it's going on all the time. Who would have guessed that god is a serial fornicator, spreading his seed all over the place, like a cosmic wanker doing his bit for artificial insemination ...

Jensen contributes his own form of onanism, by mentioning, with an airy wave of his hand, DNA, as if that somehow makes the discussion scientific. Here's how you play that trick:

...Jesus is not a development from anything or anyone who has gone before. He is an intrusion of God into our affairs. He is an eruption of God into the plight of humankind. Sure, humankind is involved, in that Jesus inherits the substance of flesh - the DNA etc - from Mary, but only in the most passive and receptive way “not by a husband’s will” as John says in his gospel, ‘but by the will of God’. 

I know, I know, a Freudian could have a field day with all that's packed into those few sentences. The cuckolding, the Vesuvian eruption, the passive and the receptive, the filling, oh the filling ...

... third, the virgin birth is a sign of God’s judgement on human nature. As the Swiss theologian Karl Barth said: ‘human nature possesses no capacity for becoming the human nature of Jesus Christ’. Not education, not decision or desire, not civilisation, not evolution - nothing could procure from among our own ranks a worthy saviour. Our plight was desperate. In our very bones we carried about our own doom. 

Oh dear long absent lord, the gloomy Calvinists, joyless and unhappy, and at it yet again.

The virgin birth also tells us, fourth, that Jesus is the true Son of God. The angel says to Mary: ‘he will be called Son of God’. We must be careful, how we think of this. This is not the pagan model of divine parenting, with Zeus turning into a swan to have his way with Leda and so give birth to the beautiful Helen (of Troy). What is not being suggested by the Bible is some kind of paternity of the Holy Spirit, or that Jesus was conceived through some sexual union between Mary and the deity. The human nature of Jesus was created by the Holy Spirit – in parallel with the creation of the world. It is an of creation, not of reproduction.

I know, I know, a Freudian could have a field day unpacking all that.

I mean, it's not pagan in any way shape or form, even though, as any average historian would know, the mythology of virgin births turns up in Assyrian and Babylonian mythologies, and can also be found in Egyptian mythology, not to mention the Buddhists, Hindus and a whole lot more (even though it has multiple issues, no doubt Greg Hunt will be happy to wiki Miraculous births).

And heaven forfend that anyone would suggest that the Holy Spirit gave Mary a good going over. Why that would be simply unseemly and shocking, there's absolutely no evidence god's into a good rogering.

Never mind, there are many more shoals to navigate in this little thought bubble:

And so, fifth: Jesus comes in the likeness of sinful flesh, but does not share in our sinfulness. “Therefore the child to be born will be holy” says Gabriel. Jesus had no part in the terrible inheritance of sinfulness passed down from generation to generation since Adam. 

Indeed. Sure he might get angry and toss the moneylenders out of the temple, but when has anger and violence been a sin?

...I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca, ' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Oh go away Matthew. And take with you all those people rabbiting on about Jesus being a passive aggressive Emo suicidal Goth type (did he like black lipstick?) who knew he was going to be killed, but did nothing about it, invited it, and so became yet another victim of a murderous vengeful pathological genocidal god ... a suicidal chappie who taunted god the way some unhinged people taunt the coppers to blow them away. Is this really a role model?

He avoids human sin not because Mary was sinless; in fact, Mary was as sinful as any human being. Any glory given to her only detracts from that given to the only truly worthy object of our worship - the one to whom she gave birth! Thank her indeed, but to adore her is problematic to put it mildly, whatever the good intentions of those that do so.

Oh yes you bloody tykes with your bloody Mary idolatry you get the pond and the Jensenists really bloody angry, yes you do ...

Oh dear, how did he get into an Anglican treatise? Enough with this mother fixation, and Jesus as a white child, or will sool the Freudians on to you.

As for sex? Well of course there's no such thing as a good free and willing fun fuck. It's tainted by sin and guilt and sticky semen on the sheets:

Nor does he escape sin because sex was avoided, as if sex was somehow a contaminating factor itself. It is because Jesus’ humanity is a creation of God by the Holy Spirit, and not a product of human sexual intercourse. It wasn’t the sex that was the problem in itself - it was that it was human and thus, like all human activity, tainted by sin. 

Yes, everything in every way everywhere on every day is tainted by sin, that's how much sin there is doing the rounds.

In Jesus God performed a true miracle: he made possible the impossible rescue of sinful humanity. Jesus’ very birth - a virgin birth - shows us the power of the Most High God at work to make holy unholy humanity. Only from outside fallen human life could our redemption come; only from outside our sphere could the guilt of sin be made good; only from outside human existence could victory over death be won; only with God could these impossible things be gloriously done. The circumstances of his birth are indeed no skeleton in the family closet - but an indication of the glory of what occurred in Him.

Uh huh. Of course when it came to those miracle virgin births discovered in the United States, the main take home point was that you simply can't trust anyone when it comes to them spouting nonsense and asserting gibberish:

Although the study used carefully designed questions and state of the art self interview technology, the authors point out that self reported measures of potentially sensitive topics are subject to some degree of respondent bias and misclassification.

Indeed. And that level of self reporting of self-delusions has implications. As per the official press release:

“Reporting dates of pregnancy and sexual initiation consistent with virgin pregnancy was associated with cultural mores highly valuing virginity, specifically signing chastity pledges, and with parental endorsement of items indicative of lower levels of communication about sex and birth control.” 

Or to put it in lay speak, like the report on the report:

The 45 self-described virgins who reported having become pregnant and the 36 who gave birth were also more likely than nonvirgins to say their parents never or rarely talked to them about sex and birth control. About 28 percent of the "virgin" mothers' parents (who were also interviewed) indicated they didn't have enough knowledge to discuss sex and contraception with their daughters, compared to 5 percent of the parents of girls who became pregnant and said they had had intercourse. 
The ostensibly chaste mothers were also less likely to know how to use condoms, according to the report. UNC biostatistician Amy Herring and public health expert Carolyn Halpern led the group.
The researchers found that although the mothers in question were more likely to have boys than girls, and to be pregnant during the weeks leading up to Christmas, neither similarity to the Virgin Mary was statistically significant.

Ostensibly chaste ... oh that's a goody.

But it does make you wonder: do Sydney Anglicans place too much value on chastity pledges and ignorance of sex, which just so happens to be inherently wicked and sinful ...

Finally, you might think that all this is a little unseasonal and snide.

But consider this.

Just yesterday news came of yet another step by the Ugandan parliament to persecute gays - Ugandan MPs pass life in jail anti-homosexual law.

The MP behind the bill, David Bahati, is an Anglican. Along with American evangelicals, the Sydney Anglicans have been extremely active, via GAFCON, and missionary work, in promoting the causes and activities of fundamentalist African Christians (Why Uganda made me cry, The future of evangelicalism, Anglican Aid, and so on and so forth).

Have they been vociferous in their opposition to Bahati and his bill? Outspoken, outraged? Shocked and disturbed? Given over their site to denouncing Bahati? In your dreams.

This complicity and fellow travelling goes a long way back - like this report on Ugandan archbishop Henry Luke Orombi turning up in Sydney in 2005 as a guest of the diocese, and celebrating his friendship with the Jensenists by indulging in a bit of fundamentalist gay bashing:

Homosexuality, the archbishop says, contravenes Biblical teachings that go back to the first God-sanctified man-and-woman union of Adam and Eve, and are reinforced in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and the words of the apostle Paul. It was a "misuse of sexual organs" as God designed them, and society's "stamp of approval doesn't make it normal". (here)

And so onwards and ever downwards to the latest bout of gay bashing, and the complicit Sydney Anglicans and their Ugandan mission should stand in the dock alongside the rest of their fundamentalist brethren. Yet what do we cop, here?

The first thing to point out is that, and I dearly wish the British media would read the bill before they speak about it (as I have done) there is no mention at all of a death sentence. So automatically, when you find articles that talk about killing gays, you should discount them as uninformed and hyperbolic.

Because, you know, a life sentence to a Ugandan jail simply for being gay is a mere doddle, and absolutely no reason for hyperbole.

Come on now, don't exaggerate, where's the harm in a life sentence?

Um, second thoughts that might be a bit of a worry:

...for the sake of Ugandan homosexuals, Ugandan Christians, and missionaries in Uganda, please don’t let this nasty, secularist, hate-filled narrative of Christianity in Uganda go unchallenged. Your future heavenly Ugandan co-worshippers around the throne will be grateful that you didn’t.

Yep, somehow the hate-filled narrative is all the fault of secularists or the cultural traditions of the Ugandans, and all that hate-filled angry Anglican blather about the evils of homosexuality and the Garden of Eden has absolutely nothing to do with it, and certainly nothing to do with idle chatter about idle sowers reaping what they've helped sow ...

That's why the pond needs the odd amiable distraction, like idle chatter about virgin births and silly Jensenist superstitions. To take away the sense of anger and rage.

William Blake put it in a nutshell:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand 
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, 
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour. 
A Robin Redbreast in a Cage 
Puts all Heaven in a Rage. 
A dove house fill’d with doves and pigeons 
Shudders Hell thro’ all its regions. 
A Dog starv’d at his Master’s Gate 
Predicts the ruin of the State. 
A Horse misus’d upon the Road 
Calls to Heaven for Human blood. 
Each outcry of the hunted Hare 
A fiber from the Brain does tear. 
 He who shall train the Horse to War 
Shall never pass the Polar Bar. 
The Beggar’s Dog and Widow’s Cat, 
Feed them and thou wilt grow fat. 
The Gnat that sings his Summer song 
 Poison gets from Slander’s tongue. 
The poison of the Snake and Newt 
Is the sweat of Envy’s Foot. 
 A truth that’s told with bad intent 
Beats all the Lies you can invent. 
It is right it should be so; 
Man was made for Joy and Woe; 
And when this we rightly know 
Thro’ the World we safely go. 
 Every Night and every Morn 
Some to Misery are Born. 
Every Morn and every Night 
Some are Born to sweet delight. 
Some are Born to sweet delight, 
Some are Born to Endless Night.

The Sydney Anglicans are born to endless night, and they have helped the gays of Uganda to experience that endless night.The sight of homosexuality in a parliamentary cage should put all heaven, or at least Anglicans, in a rage, yet there's barely a bo beep because these sheep long ago flung in their lot with fundamentalists in Africa.

Which is why, to end on a lighter note, we need to revert to the superstitions surrounding virgin births.

Take it away, Spong, smite the Jensenists mightily:

Say what? Try telling that to the angry Sydney Anglicans, laden with trauma, guilt and wickedness, damned sinners and persecutors of gays and women that they are ...

Fresh to you from the least trusted newspaper in Australia ...

(Above: with thanks to the graphic artist at Mama Mia, here).

As the season wound down, it was time to visit the least trusted newspaper in Australia, the Terror, and cop a seasonal message:

Say what? The man who routinely scribbles bile etched in acid and has done more to spread fear and loathing than any other columnists in the land, is now blathering on about a time for love and joy?

It is, as usual, a bizarre and garbled piece, and as usual Akker Dakker can't help taking a swipe at the luvvies, and at Buddhism, and at the persecution of Christians, but sssh, no mention of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, followed by a consideration of the persecution of children as revealed by the ongoing Royal Commission:

It would be easy, as some have raced to do, to blame religion and particularly Christianity for the wretched life he has endured, but it would be wrong to do so. 
The message Christians share is one of hope, whether they are being persecuted in another country or brutalised by someone professing to be a Christian here.

Actually the message Akker Dakker routinely shares is one of hate the greenies, hate the lefties, hate the luvvies, hate, hate, hate, so when he talks of the message of peace and joy spreading through the world, all the pond can do is snicker.

... though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed, 
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter, 
I am no prophet - and here's no great matter; 
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, 
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, 
And in short, I was afraid.

It turns out that Akker Dakker's bizarre hate speech has attracted the attention of Lenore Taylor, in a fine piece Attacks on the ABC expose News Corp's hidden agenda:

For weeks News Corp papers have been running a barrage of opinion pieces, often several on a single day, alleging a lack of diversity in the opinions available at the ABC. 
The generally agreed thesis advanced by these opinion writers – most of whom live in Sydney and Melbourne – is that too many ABC opinion-makers live in Sydney and Melbourne, and that this contributes to their “green-left” worldview.
This “green-left” worldview, News Corp writers contend, contributes to “biased” reporting and political interviewing on the ABC and infuses its wider programming as well, including – according to Piers Akerman at least – the “weird feminism” evident in Peppa Pig and the “left sludge” he hears when he tunes in the Triple J. (Does Akerman really tune into Triple J?)

Peppa Pig? Yep, shit don't get weirder than that. Even the New Zealanders had a great laugh, as you can read in Peppa Pig: propaganda tool for weird feminists.

Yep for a brief moment Akker Dakker achieved international fame as a paranoid clown right up there with the worst clowns at Fox News.

Sadly no one alerted the Daily Mail, usually so adept at sniffing out lefties and feminists, and they hailed the stage tour as Oinking good fun!, and if you want more Akker Dakker porcine pleasures, just google him and Peppa, and you'll see he was a seven day social media wonder.

Never mind, once a senile paranoid fool, so they say, always a senile paranoid fool, but it was just one of a number of grists in Taylor's mill:

Bias is, by definition, in the eye of the beholder, but to my eye it’s more evident when I tune in to, say, Ray Hadley and hear him ask “questions” like this one during a conversation with prime minister Tony Abbott about how to handle the Palmer United party when the new Senate sits from next July: 
 ... and you’re going to have to be even better than you were at the beginning of the election. You won’t be taking my advice and saying listen Clive, stick it up your jumper. You’ll have to be even more diplomatic than you were in Indonesia.” 
 Or this one, in a television interview with Abbott by Andrew Bolt: 
 The attacks on you are astonishing. Have they forced you to change your media strategy, which until a week or two ago was to say little and let your deeds speak for themselves?”

Well played Ms Taylor, but did you really listen to Ray Hadley and watch the Bolter, or sensibly just settle for the transcripts at the PM's site?

If the former, the pond fears for your mind and your soul, though we need brave hearts to report from the front line. Sadly, the pond has to confess to being a coward skulking in the bunker. We'd no more listen to Hadley or watch the Bolter than fly to a moon made of green cheese and feminist cartoon pigs ...

By story's end, Taylor had confessed to enjoying the five episodes of the ABC's music talent quest, Exhumed, a cheerful celebration of regionally based talent, which was studiously ignored by the Sydney and Melbourne based hacks in News Corp ...

So what other Xmas messages does the Terror have to offer? Yep, the Pellists are back at the top of the digital splash:

Unfortunately, Blessed are the grandparents is full of a suppurating, festering, mawkish sentimentality which presents grandparents as a covert source of propaganda and superstition:

A 2006 study found that grandparents who attend church regularly significantly increase the likelihood of a child becoming a regular churchgoer in adulthood. 
In the beautiful words of Pope Francis, grandparents and the elderly "are those who carry history, who carry doctrine, who carry the faith and give it to us as an inheritance. They are like a good vintage wine who have this strength from within to give us a noble heritage."

Indeed. The pond fondly remembers one grandmother as the carrier of peppermints rather than plonk, and as a singularly superstitious soul who regularly read tea leaves and explained how the hoot of an owl in the bush foretold of a death in the morning ... no wonder Pellist devotees of superstition and their own version of a Ponzi scheme loves the grannies ...

And if that wasn't enough, also top of the digital splash was the skulking Greg Hunt.

The pond was astonished to see the man come out of his cave, but then the presumption he would stay hidden contained within it a presumption he has a sense of shame.

Even the lizards at the reptile Oz were forced to note the covert way Minister Hunt announced approval for the Galilee Basin Clive Palmer project:

Environment Minister Greg Hunt's department published a notification on its website yesterday showing the environmental impact statement of Mr Palmer's Waratah Coal as "approved with conditions". Mr Hunt did not release a statement. 
While Mr Palmer sits in the House of Representatives as the sole representative of his Palmer United Party, he will yield significantly more influence next year, when his party could control the balance of power in the Senate. (here, paywall affected)

30 million tonnes of coal a year, yet Hunt didn't have the guts to front his approval, just dumped it on the website ... because he knows with a stroke of the pen, he's become the sell out king of the year, and perhaps there is a lingering sense of shame.

Yet here he is with more front than Melbourne Myers, rabbiting on just a few days later in the Terror:

It turns out that Hunt is a bear of very little brain, and the entirety of ALP Grinch steals families' Christmas bonus is about how the ALP has ruined everything, including Christmas.

How long does the new government expect to get away with this routine?

The pond looks forward to Hunt explaining how dumping 30 million tonnes of coal a year into the international market is going to be offset and redeemed by his new-fangled ERF.

Erf erf, as the performing seal said to the dolphin ... and keep looking for that notification on the department website. It might well arrive before the twelfth of never, or it might not.

Whenever the pond contemplates Hunt, who surely is still in the race with Christopher Pyne and Scott Morrison for the most flamboyantly and publicly inept minister of the first year in the Abbott government, words like stooge and sell-out come to mind first, but then on reflection, bear with little brain seems to cover it, especially if mentioned in tandem with a capacity for much huffing and puffing, and much jumping up and down in a bid to imply movement, when it's all about standing still.

Hunt will preside over the pissing of billions against the wall to solve the carbon matter, yet whatever is done domestically will be absolutely meaningless up against the efforts of Clive Palmer and the other coal miners, and yet Hunt has the cheek to call others grinches... and it'll be the taxpayers who will pay for Hunt's folly, and Abbott's willingness to gild the lily.

How is that the fault of the ALP? Please explain, Mr. Hunt, please explain ...

Is there any joy in this? Well at least the cartoonists had a fun time ...

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Looking at the world through pistachio and rose water meringue glasses ...

Having done the 'it's just not bloody fair' riff, it's time for the pond to move on to 'it's just not bloody right'.

You can see the problem right there at the top of the page. No, not the intrusion into the private lives of people who have nothing better to do than appear in front of and behind the cameras, it's that story on the left.

The Fairfaxian warmists and alarmists are in full flight, as you can read in Records melt in our hottest year.

It's a crisis, and the canny, cunning Fairfaxians know how to exploit it to the full.

You see, now that Alan Kohler has packed up his graphs for the year, and departed from ABC News, Australia is in a graphs crisis, a graphs shortage unknown since the beginning of graphs and crosswords. (What's a 9-Letter Word for a 100-Year-Old Puzzle?)

So what do the fiendish alarmist warmists do? Why they roll out an interactive graph, which simply can't be replicated here:

Lordy, lordy, they've out-Kohlered Kohler ...

And then there was all sorts of accompanying jibber jabber:

2013 will go down as the year that registered Australia's hottest day, month, season, 12-month period - and, by December 31, the hottest calendar year. 
Weather geeks have watched records tumble. These tallies include obscure ones, such as the latest autumn day above 45C (Western Australia's Onslow Airport at 45.6C on March 21), the hottest winter's day nationally (29.92C , August 31), and even Wednesday this week, with the hottest-ever 9am reading (44.6C, at Eyre weather station near the WA-South Australian border). 
''We're smashing the records,'' says Professor Andy Pitman, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of NSW. 
''We're not tinkering away at them - they're being absolutely blitzed.'' 
Global interest in Australia's extraordinary year of heat flared early on. In January, when models started predicting heat that was literally off the charts, the Bureau of Meteorology added new colours to the heat maps - deep purple and pink - to accommodate maximum temperatures of 50-54 degrees. Moomba fell a shade short, reaching 49.6C on January 12. 

And so on and so forth, with January ridiculous and September pretty crook, and Sydney in the frying pan, and global temperatures on the march, what with November being the hottest on record since records began in the 1880s, and then wouldn't you know, all the usual alarmist chit chat came out at the end of the piece:

''If you actually look at the amount of heat that the earth's absorbing, it's tracking up almost monotonically,'' Jones says.
Pitman says 2013's likely global ranking of fourth-hottest year ever is exceptional not least because the most significant driver of climate variation - the El Nino-Southern Oscillation in the Pacific - remains in neutral mode. He likens this to the surprise when an athlete at sea-level breaks a record that had been set at high altitude. '
'We shouldn't be breaking records in any years other than an intense El Nino,'' he says. ''Quite why the globe is as warm as it appears to be is worrisome.'' 
By extension, the next El Nino - in which the central and eastern Pacific Ocean usually warms up and eastern Australia gets drier conditions - has the potential to exceed this year's record-breaking Australian heat. ''If we get that additional anomaly, it might even be enough to trigger an awakening in the eyes of some of our leaders,'' Pitman says. 

The pond knew at once that this was a job for the world's greatest climate scientist and immediately put in a call.

And here's where it's just not bloody right. 

While the alarmist warmists have their fun, where's the bloody Bolter?

He's in Tasmania.


He's fled south to escape the heat!

And worst of all, he's sounding like a right git, like an effete, 'kerchief waving, snuff-sniffing regency ponce:

As you can read here.

- Daci and Daci is a most excellent bakery and cake shop. I recommend the pistachio and rose water meringue. 
 - if I had to hide myself somewhere beautiful to write a book or flee the madness of contemporary culture I would probably choose the Tasman Peninsula. I just wish I knew more about boat engines. But that would bore me.

Most excellent?

Rose fucking water meringue?

And he's bored by boat engines?

Why that sounds dangerously un-Australian, and certainly a clue that he might be a member of the worst elite of all, the inner city elite (note to Gerard Hendeson, have you considered the thought that the Bolter might be an alien elitist, a Grange-sipping opera loving cuckoo in the nest, maintaining the rage so he can maintain the lifestyle?)

Of course the Bolter is so tone-deaf, so clunky in the head, he can't get the irony of simpering about a pistachio and rose water meringue, and sniffing at boat engines, and being evah so bored, and so perhaps sounding evah so boring, and then trying on this as a bit of dog whistling:

- a lot of people are out of work on this island. Most of the place has been turned into a national park. That is great for artists wanting to hobble around the bush naked, with just a few feathers glued to their hide. It is less good for people wanting to cut down some trees to make furniture, houses and paper.

Yes, it's also great for wanker members of the commentariat roaming around seeking refuge from the madness of contemporary culture - like reading the Bolter in the HUN - but let's thank the long absent lord the Bolter isn't the one doing the boat engine maintenance for the people wanting to ship old growth forests to Japan so they can use the paper on ever more elaborate and bizarre wrappings for their shopping and their presents ...

And then there's the question of extinction:

- there is a nice display on the Tasmanian tiger. I am sad it’s extinct but am less sure why it really matters. If Tasmanians worried less about such things, would the state have done a lot better? It has the oldest surviving Catholic church in Australia and the oldest stone bridge. Its colony was something when Melbourne was nothing. Now it is our poorest state. Memo to Greens: you can’t eat scenery.

No, you can't eat scenery, unless it happens to contain berries and fruits, and yams and the rest of it, unless you happen to be a Bolter determined to die like Burke and Wills, but it seems you can persuade a mug ponce of the Regency kind to drop their snuff box and stick their snout in a pistachio and rose water meringue.

Why it reminded the pond of that great send-up of Look Back in Hunger by Tony Hancock and his writers:

Mother: Would you like a meringue, Jimmy? 
Jim: Meringue? Meringue?! Is that your answer to it all? All the warmists and the alarmists? Meringue? The panacea of the middle class! The answer to all the problems facing mankind today? Have a meringue, Jim! You both make me sick. You're dead, both of you. You're both mentally dead. Your souls are drowned in meringue. Your minds are clogged up with Xmas pavlovas. You're like two slop bowls swimming around in a sea of sugar! Just like this country, the whole rotten system, stained in a meringue of apathy! 
Father: What's he mean, Mum? 
Mother: I don't think he wants a meringue. Would you like a lamington, then? 
Jim: Lamington? Lamington?! Is that your only alternative to the stagnant mess of climate science that's slowly choking you, a lamington? 
Mother: No. We've got some scones, I think.

Oh okay, the original skit was about tea and coffee drinkers, but you get the drift, and happily you can right at the moment  listen to the East Cheam repertory company doing it on YouTube here.

But look, let's forgive and forget the petty snobbery of a jumped up tabloid tart, the world needs the greatest climate scientist back in action.

It's too much work for the pond alone. We need graphs, we need pure distilled essence of meringue science, we need extinctions, not that we give a stuff about the Tasmanian tiger, and we need yet another snide aside to remind ourselves of the way the Bolter routinely lathers himself up about matters of race, and indigenous people and whites:

- the art work in the Tasmanian art gallery that best sums up a gorgeous state led astray by its elite is an illuminated photograph of an artist who, having shaken the hand of a token Aboriginal then hangs himself apparently for being white.

Yep, that'd be the very same elite that snacks on bloody pistachio and rose water meringue! As if a plain old bloody meringue wasn't good enough for them ...

Above all we need a convict-led recovery.

Never mind the tasty meringues, Tasmania was a go-ahead place when the Port Arthur penal settlement was all the go.

Back then, Tasmania could have amounted to something, they could have been contenders. Why they could have invited the Corrections Corporation of America down under and turned the whole state into a mega prison, a giant Port Arthur, just like they did to New York in Escape from New York.

Instead it's full of artists and ponce meringues and wretched wanker tourists like the Bolter.

Never mind, 'tis the season to be jolly, and it's up to other denialists to maintain the rage:

It's just not bloody fair, but a monograph provides the clue ...

The pond has always found that the best way to respond to life is to stamp the foot, pout, grimace, whirl the locks, and announce "it's just not fair".

A few petulant souls have remarked that this is behaviour more suited to a fairy princess or a kindergarten student, but dammit, that's just not fair.

Think of all the outrageous times, events, and circumstances where you've had to shout into the ether "it's just not fair";

The perfidious tomato versus the lugubrious avocado! It's just not fair!

What other quintessential unfairness have we got?

Uh huh. The bouffant one understands. It's just not fair.

Who'd have thought the bouffant one was a pouting fairy princess, clicking his heels three times and yearning to be in Paris, and at his late age discovering that life is inherently unfair?

Despite this inherent unfairness, there's work to be done, and when the going gets tough, the most expert hagiographers and knob polishers get going. They love the heat in the kitchen:

As Tony Abbott prepares to jet away to France for his first real, personal and private holiday in years, it's possible to think he almost regrets going. Of course he doesn't, and going was an oath written in blood but, just the same, it is a measure of Abbott's fulfilled ambition in becoming Prime Minister and his calm confidence in the job that it would be possible to think he'd rather stay and work. 
The quiet calmness he exudes, even in crisis, impresses and influences many who have come into contact with him for the first time as Australia's newest Prime Minister. (it starts that way here, but you'll need to evade the paywall to get the rest)

What? No immortal Paul Keating line? The best way to see Darwin is from  40,000 feet up in the air on the way to Paris?

Who knows if Keating actually said the line? As always, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend ...

Never mind, the point surely is to commend the bouffant one for an epic howl of pain, a cry into the wilderness.

It's just not fair.

Even those who are politically opposed or at odds over funding, such as the premiers at last week's Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra, come away impressed by his respectful and courteous demeanour behind closed doors. There is no shouting or bullying, last-minute agenda changes or long-winded lectures about him or his philosophy. 
There is also the clear impression that Abbott is having such fun he'd do the job for nothing. 
Yet, as we approach the first 100 days of the Abbott government since the swearing-in, which falls on Boxing Day, a sense of calm, competence or serenity in the Prime Minister's suite in Parliament House is the last image presented to the public. 
 Instead, there is continual talk of chaos, a "chaotic government", a blundering Prime Minister damaging foreign relations, a "rocky start", a cruel and uncaring government, a Liberal leadership that wants to "destroy jobs" and hates workers. 
It's a government that keeps changing its mind and breaks its election promises, led by a foreign-policy klutz and an economic troglodyte who harks back to the social and economic policies and theories of BA Santamaria and the 1950s.

It's just not bloody fair. I mean the man's an absolute bloody saint, a serene centre point while all around him are whirling dervishes, meanie and schoolyard bullies, taunting and berating him.

Why the bloody opposition's acting like a bloody opposition and giving him a hard time, as if Tony Abbott had given them some kind of hard time. And yet what's all the bloody unfair fuss about?

It is of course the fault of all the vile, filthy Fairfaxians and the cardigan-wearers at the ABC. The pond, and the Bouffant One spits on them from a height for their contemptible unfair ways:

Network Ten's Paul Bongiorno, on the ABC, described the government's handling of the Holden decision as a political hash that looked as if it were "chasing Holden from the country"; The Age-The Sydney Morning Herald Canberra correspondent Mark Kenny described the decision as "heartless"; while Laura Tingle, political editor of The Australian Financial Review, picked up on the ideological debate, saying the government was promoting an "ugly ideological divide that is escalating by the day in federal politics". 

Shocking, outrageous and just so unfair, and likely to send any bouffant one into a spin. You see there have been no mistakes, not really:

These are the government's mistakes: thinking the public recognised and accepted Labor's $1.2bn cut to school funding; attempting to get Holden to make public a decision that had already been taken in Detroit; refusing to hand further taxpayer subsidies to Holden; sticking by longstanding protocols on intelligence gathering over the Indonesian crisis; getting the debt ceiling lifted; and warning of the potential for a decade of budget deficits. Were they the equivalent of the "chaotic dysfunction" of the Rudd government, the uncertainty of the minority Gillard government and the failed undertaking of the Rudd-Gillard era?

Oh it's just so bloody unfair. But to be fair, the pond won't quote any more of the bouffant one. Not when people can have the pleasure of reading his Ginsbergian howl of pain. All we can do is commend it, commend it from the bottom of our heart, as yet another princess discovers life wasn't meant to be fair. You'll find it under the wonderfully hagiographic title Tony Abbott: model of a cool, calm and collected PM. On his way to Paris, just like Paul Keating.

But you know what? Some of these meanies and school yard bullies enjoy their very unfair work! Yes, they do, they do:

Eek, it's Prattling Polonius, and it looks as if he's spent way too long in a solarium or taken time out for a youthful, restorative spray tan ...

By now, of course, the faithful don't actually need to read Polonius. They can regurgitate everything he's got to say by rote. Yes, it's all there in Pragmatic Tony Abbott no man's acolyte - what an intrepid knob polisher our Polonius is - but could anyone be bothered lifting a finger to get behind the paywall to read this?

As the 2010 and 2013 elections demonstrated, the Prime Minister's appeal is based on suburban and regional Australia. However, most of Abbott's vocal critics come from the inner-city tertiary-educated class, plus quite a few like-minded types in the Canberra press gallery. Many in this group dislike the Prime Minister's views because they regard him as a socially conservative Catholic - an acolyte of the Catholic activist BA Santamaria (1915-98) and an agent of Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican's man Down Under. 
 In fact, Abbott is a mainstream Catholic in the Australian tradition. He is not overly religious and not at all pious. Yet, to many inner-city types, the Prime Minister's opposition to same-sex marriage and his support for the long-established secular and religious view that marriage is a union between man and a woman makes him some kind of fundamentalist.

Yep, it's those dastardly inner city types yet again, for the squillionth time. And they're just so bloody unfair.

This time it's the bloody AFR and that wretched Lara Tingle, who just get it wrong all the bloody time, they're so bloody unfair.

I have documented the re-regulation of Australia's industrial relations system over the past six years in my monograph The return of the Industrial Relations Club, which is published by the Minerals Council of Australia and available on its website.

His monograph? Does that portentous, pretentious reference remind you of anyone?

I have made a special study of cigar ashes—in fact, I have written a monograph upon the subject. I flatter myself that I can distinguish at a glance the ash of any known brand, either of cigar or of tobacco.

At last it can be revealed. Polonius is in fact Sherlock Holmes!

As for the rest, we can leave readers to read the brooding Polonius, who remains tormented by B. A. Santamaria, and his influence on Tony Abbott, and life and politics and the whole damn thing, because it's all just so bloody unfair. Why Tony Abbott's a saint, and he's an empirical one at that:

Unbeknown to many of his critics, the Prime Minister is a practical and pragmatic politician. 
His test will be whether such empiricism is sufficient to handle Australia's economic problems over the next three years.

Yes, let's not talk all that Catholic mumbo jumbo and jive, about hell and heaven and purgatory, not when we have an empirical saint in our midst ...

Knob polishers and hagiographers of the world uniteL

Oh we just had to bathe in the visionary hagiographic words of the bouffant one, just one more time ...

The very model of a cool, calm, collected, empirical modern major general ... and he sings along to Gilbert and Sullivan too ...

Meanwhile, the fuss around Tim Wilson continues, and it's just so unfair.

You see, Peter van Onselen would have been an ideal appointment, level-headed, and balanced and able to dish it out to both sides and the fact no one can see this is just so unfair, even when he pointedly heads his piece Brandis and Drefus take hypocrisy to a new level (but you'll have to dodge the paywall to read it).

For some bizarre reason, van Onselen seems to think the cool, calm, empirical Abbott government made an ideological appointment:

...for the most part finding senior practitioners to fill AHRC roles is increasingly hard to do now the functions of the commission centre around a glorified form of lobbying and public advocacy. And with this shift the likes of Soutphommasane and Wilson become ideally suited to becoming commissioners: able to hit the airwaves to mount arguments in the policy areas they have been assigned. 
The question for taxpayers is: why are we now paying for them to do pretty much what they already had been doing, at a cheaper price, when they were paid by their ideologically driven organisations? A new conservative government was always likely to counterbalance years of left-wing appointments to the AHRC with right-wing appointments of its own. 

Oh dear, is there a solution?

A strong conservative government, however, would simply have abolished the commission and saved the money. 

Ah the IPA solution!

Hang on Watson, I think the pond once scribbled a monograph on that subject.

There is nothing the AHRC does that can't be done by advocacy groups within academia, the non-government sector or even government departments. Equally, the toothless reports the AHRC produces could just as easily be done by the Ombudsman, only with much greater powers to investigate before publishing findings. 
If the AHRC has to exist at all, Wilson's appointment at least starts the process of balancing up the organisation. Were it a truly quasi-judicial body such ideological thinking wouldn't much matter, but as a body for public advocacy it certainly does.

Quick Watson, the game's afoot, we must hie off to our very model of a cool, calm, collected, empirical fearless leader ...

We'll abolish the HRC, sack Tim Wilson, and teach those bloody fools at the IPA a lesson.

What's that? That's exactly what they want?

What's that? He's on his way to France? And might soon be 40,000 feet above Darwin?

Oh sheesh, as Marie Antoinette observed, it's just not bloody fair. Give 'em bread and all they can do is yammer on about cake. Those bloody inner urban elites.

Let's hope he returns with a bloody good French clock. Just to balance all that unfairness.

And now for that monograph, as recorded in the Boscombe Valley Mystery:

Now note the eerie, uncanny resemblance, and our work here today is done Watson ...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Dancing with disco delight to the Australian Hustle ...

(Above: because everything's a laugh just before Xmas, here)

The best thing about David O. Russell's American Hustle is that it provides viewers with a reason for having lived through the 1970s.

Usually that's completely inexplicable, but when Mayssa Karaa turns up singing a version of Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit in Arabic (Starship only if you're into wretchedness), it's quintessentially funny.

And the rest of the musical samples are littered with equally good humour and bad taste (and more on the compiling of the soundtrack here).

Oh sure the story is only loosely connected to reality (The Real Story and Lesson of the Abscam Sting in 'American Hustle'), and it's not really a comedy so much as a parable - replete with endlessly exploited shaggy dog ice story - which celebrates a particular American mythology, the hustler on the make. (And more on that interaction between reality and dream in How much of American Hustle Actually Happened?)

Never mind, the cast is great, even if you fear for Christian Bale, and the way he tortures his body into various shapes for his movies, while Amy Adams is a perfect mix of neurosis and lasciviousness, and Jennifer Lawrence is the perfect evocation of a certain kind of blonde-ness. In later years she could have gone on to a sterling career on Fox News or the Nine network, but instead her character prefers to go off with a Mafia mobster - which come to think of it, amounts to much the same thing.

Bradley Cooper also delivers the goods as a crazy undercover agent, and thank the long absent lord Jeremy Renner gives up being a lightweight stand-in action man to play a corrupt mayor willing to do anything for the people of Camden New Jersey.

Sure the movie plays out slowly in patches, and the relentless plotting of scam and counter-scam results in an overlong 138 minute run time that tests even Russell's visual inventiveness, but the pleasures are abundant, especially if you lived through the era, and took your culture from American movies.

And especially if earlier in the 1970s, you'd enjoyed all the ripples and wrinkles of the Whitlam government's Tirath Khemlani affair, which also featured mysterious oil-rich sheiks with oodles of money (How the loans scandal became an affair to remember).

So how come the Americans can make a film about hustling and shakedowns and no one in Australia has done Khemlani and Rex Connor and Jim Cairns fucking Junie Morosi and Gough and the rest of the Australian 1970s circus, perhaps with a never resolved shaggy dog story of an Australian outback kind?

Why you could throw in a gag about breaking shop windows in Newtown to keep the glass business afloat and you'd tap every level of absurdity in this wondrous land ...

Well the industry here is fucked and wouldn't know what to do with it, how to celebrate it and have fun with it, and that's the real tragedy of Australia. No feeding of our cultural heads here ...

What's that you say? The pond's beat is the crazy crony commentariat and we should get back to pounding the pavement?

Oh okay, we don't do film reviews, so you can always revert to The New Yorker and David Denby celebrating the film under the header Grand Scam (outside the paywall for the moment)

Sheesh, it's Xmas, and everybody's got the right to walk down memory lane, even if it means the hideousness of the 1970s.

And as a bonus, everything that's happening right now in the awful 20teens will look just as hideous in a few decades time - Britney Spears has produced a new album and one of the songs is Work Bitch? Well there you go, there's the soundtrack for our current times, right there ...

You could hum it while reading Akker Dakker, furiously scribbling Tony Abbott keeping his enemies far too close for comfort:

Far from presenting as the arch-conservative he was made out to be by Labor and its media arms, the ABC and Fairfax, before the September election, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is beginning to appear weak and vacillating 
The first rule of conservatism is simple. Stick to your guns.

With friends like that, who needs enemies? Oh have a snort of cocaine Akker Dakker, it'll help you get through the Xmas period.

Akker Dakker is of course outraged that lickspittle fellow travelling Natasha Stott Despoja was given a job - what were they thinking, seeing how Miranda the Devine would have been the perfect person to wear the jackboots in style - and then there's Greg Combet invited to look at SPC, and as for Brendan Nelson, why the man is just a fop and a fool and he was never a true conservative, and some might say he wasn't actually a Liberal, which makes his leading of said party truly wondrous, a bit like virgin births and all the rest of the Xmas nonsense.

You see this is the way it goes with the haters. They just love to hate, and it doesn't matter who you've got they'll knock them down. It's classic, enclosed, windowless, airless ideology of the kind practised by institutions like the Stalinist Communist party, the Catholic church, and yes it has to be said, Hitler's Nazi party, not least on the night of the long knives.

First you need an airtight theology come ideology come faith, and then you can spot and expose and revile the splitters, the deviants, the perverts, the heretics, anyone outside the walled garden of righteousness. No compromises, no surrender as the Buzz Lightyears go about their business of exiling the wicked ...

It's a truly weird psychology, one long on view in fundamentalist Christians in the southern United States, and latterly in the walled bunker known as Fox News, and now routinely visible in the worst excesses of the lizards at the reptile Oz and in the Daily Terror.

The key motifs are rage and paranoia, and an urging on to an even greater fundamentalism:

Attempts to appease such people with token appointments look stupid and waste opportunities to provide better alternatives. 
The Abbott team needs to recalibrate over the holiday season, abandon the tortuous contrivances of spin, and go back to basic conservative principles that speak for themselves.

Inclusive? You mean appeasement.
Someone with a different worldview? You mean heretic.
Basic conservative principles? You mean tar and feather them, and cast them into the wilderness, hanging's too good for 'em.

And yet nobody seems to be at home at the Daily Terror, able to wonder why their circulation is in death spiral mode, and why they'll be eaten alive by the click bait of the Daily Mail when it lands on these shores ...

Dear sweet absent lord ...  it takes exceptional skill to become the least trusted newspaper in the land (and yes in another part of that survey, the ABC scores a total of 73%, daily newspapers a humbling 48%, commercial TV a lowly 44%, commercial radio talkback a mortifying 32%, and internet blogs a very accurate 23% - well if you believe what you read in the pond, by definition you're barking mad - more here, inside the Crikey paywall).

It's much like the Ten network and their general fumbling and their bizarre desire to keep the Bolter as window dressing on a Sunday, which helped turn the network into the basket case of 2013.

And it's much like the problem the lizards face at fortress Oz. Here's Crikey on Chris Kenny's woeful efforts this year:

Worst columnist of the year: Chris Kenny 
No, it’s not Andrew Bolt. While many readers despise his views, Bolt is the Right’s most effective communicator. By contrast, Piers Akerman looked like a goose for decrying the “weirdly feminist” Peppa Pig and Gerard Henderson never got the blood pumping with his columns. If only Hendo would unleash the wry humour and cheekiness he shows in Media Watch Dog. The Australian’s Chris Kenny is a former senior staffer to Alexander Downer and Malcolm Turnbull, but instead of insider insights he seems to reheat a predictable attack on the “love media” every other week. Slogans may make for effective political campaigning, but not great column writing. C’mon Chris, show us a bit more variety in 2014! (here, behind the paywall)

So what do we cop at the top of the fickle digital splash?

Chris Kenny praising Tim Wilson?

Oh sheesh Tim, the pond is so sorry, so very sorry. With friends like these, you really do need some decent enemies ...

And when you look a little deeper, the header says it all: Paranoid disdain of the digital Left at work.
(the rest is thoughtfully locked behind the paywall to keep the rest of the paranoia hidden from prying eyes).

What was that Crikey said about a mind that could only deliver simple minded slogans?

And the opening par provides more in the same vein:

When Tim Wilson arrived in Sydney for his introductory meeting with the Human Rights Commission yesterday, we caught up for coffee. Minutes after our friendly chat, I saw firsthand on Twitter how his appointment as the new "freedom" commissioner has made him a prime target for the paranoid disdain of the digital Left. Someone had surreptitiously snapped a picture of us and tweeted it with the comment: " 'Freedom Commissioner' briefing News Corp just now. Easier to bypass the middleman I suppose."

But here's the rub for Tim Wilson and his coffee-drinking buddy.

Kenny has recently taken legal action against the Chaser lads, as you can read here, and here (paywalled because you have to pay to read about legal actions).

Here's Wilson blathering on:

...in broad principle, defamation law comes from a direct conflict between free speech and people's ownership over their earned reputation - essentially a property right. Defamation law makes it justifiable to limit speech when it unjustly harms that reputation and the right for an individual to earn from it. 
The question for government is: where do you set the bar? If the defamation bar is set too low free speech is curtailed. Too high, then people can destroy other's reputation without recourse. I think it's clear that, right now, the bar is too low. 

Uh huh. Well in due course we might we might witness the poignant sight of a valiant Tim Wilson defending the freedom of speech rights of the Chaser lads ... against Chris Kenny.

Meanwhile, for a smack down of Wilson's vague verbal heroics, try out a dose of Richard Ackland in Tim Wilson's appointment to Human Rights Commission has nothing to do with 'rebalancing':

... I was ... struck by a confusion inherent in one of his tweets: ''Free speech and a free media are interchangeable and essential for a free society.'' 
Are they interchangeable? For me, free speech is an individual interest, but a free media is very much a corporate interest. Individual and corporate interests are not ''interchangeable'', and it's a massive leap of faith to say they are ''essential for a free society''. 
We saw this eliding of quite different interests at the time of the overindulged outrage and misinformation about press standards and how they might best be self-regulated. Media law guru Associate Professor David Rolph pointed out recently the real work to be done on freedom of expression is not with s.18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, but with its defences and with the Defamation Act. 
Australia's largely uniform defamation acts are an affront to a civilised society, but that has gone largely unremarked by the institute and the new commissioner. Britain has recently overhauled and modernised its libel legislation to such an extent that ours looks like a 19th-century relic. There is a new serious-harm test, a single-publication rule and a new defence for websites that contain defamatory comments from readers. 

If nothing else, 2014 promises to be an exciting year, if only to see the result of Kenny v Chaser v Wilson v Abbott v Murdochians, and the outraged howls about the Bolter matter turned to equally outraged concern about the matter of the Chaser lads ... and the right of all to do obscene jokes and tell shaggy dog stories of all shaggy kinds ...

Speaking of bars, the pond always remembers that it was the lizards and Bill Leak in particular who set the bar, and they set it pretty low:

As for Kenny?

“The ABC has refused to apologise or make amends, leaving me with no option but to take this action. We all value robust debate, but disgusting, fabricated and offensive attacks aimed at silencing fair criticism are intolerable.”

Silence Kenny? Now that's a good one, a bit like that one about silencing the Bolter ...

Oh yes, it's going to be a good year, and by golly the Australian Hustle, as played out by the whole gang of cacophonous voices is likely to make an excellent comedy ... please, put on Britney, and let's boogie the year away ...

(Below: and speaking of comedy, who better than David Rowe, and as always more Rowe here. Rowe has, for the pond, now nailed the coalition's key figures in a way that would leave David O. Russell gasping in admiration, if only Russell knew that Australia was one gigantic Atlantic City).