Tuesday, November 04, 2014

In which the pond celebrates the finest flowerings of western culture ...

(Above: David Rowe showing he knows how to greet this special day here. What a lovely bit of headgear that man with the smokestack makes, what an elegant Carmen Miranda that man makes).

So here's a reminder of why there's ongoing bleating in the commercial media about the ABC:

1. Insiders (ABC  216,000 + 108,000 on News 24) — 324,000 
2. Weekend Sunrise (Seven)  —  305,000 
3. Landline (ABC) — 291,000 
4. Weekend Today (Nine)  —  237,000 
5. Offsiders (ABC) — 138,000 
6. The Bolt Report (Ten) — 131,000 
7. Financial Review Sunday (Nine) — 130,000 
8. The Bolt Report repeat (Ten)  — 84,000

Poor Bolter. It's a truth universally noted that once a program hits a level, it usually stays at that level.

So now that Gina has left the board, will Ten keep wasting its money,  or will Video Hits return to its natural place in the sun?

Of course the Bolter will stay, because Gina's only been replaced by a lackey, and in any case new platforms like Vevo mean that old commercial video shows would struggle, even in full sun.

But even so, the fawning was something to see, with Hamish McLennan announcing how he'd appreciated Rinehart's commitment, exemplified by her failure to turn up to any and all 11 board meetings prior to her resignation. "I look forward to her ongoing involvement", burbled McLennan (here), which presumably means he's looking forward to her ongoing absence.

It's a lovely effort by McLennan, but one of the problems for the commercial media is that they've never been able to attract the best comedians in the land.

No, not the Chaser lads or Shuan Micallef, but the likes of George "love a good bookcase" Brandis, whose comedy stylings were on display in a one man show on Q and A last night.

Now the pond can't stand the show, but the sight of a train wreck in motion has a kind of balletic Michael Bay charm ... (though what Bay did to those poor, helpless mutant turtles was shocking to see).

Brandis was in top form, with a stream of cascading gags:

Now in relation, Tony, to Team Australia, can I tell you, Team Australia, from the mouth of Tony Abbott is a word of inclusion, it is a word of inclusion (tittering building to guffaws),  no, just listen (more guffaws and titters) just, just bear with me, it is a word of unity, of bringing people together. The way in which Tony, and I've known Tony Abbott for thirty three years, okay, I think I know him pretty well, the way in which he collectively addresses his cabinet colleagues, is he'll sit down at a cabinet meeting in the morning and he'll say "Now team, team, we're going to do this and that" (more tittering) ... in the party room, the same, it's his favourite collective noun, to address a group of people as 'team'  ... it's a word of inclusion and it's a complimentary word, which is certainly what he meant on the occasion of that press conference to say 'we are all one with another, we are all Australians together '. That's what he meant, 'we're all on Team Australia, we're all Australians together  and we owe a loyalty and we have a commitment to one another'. (here, around the eight minute mark, rough transcript only)

Now you can tell when a comedian has hit on a good riff. It inspires others to free form with him:

Now the pond hates all the twittering on the show, but this time the comedy team was running hot. A startled Tony Jones attempted to move quickly ahead, and the pond retired to bed, content that the ABC was still home for top notch comedy.

How else to explain the ABC importing a Pom to handle Counterpoint while Amanda Vanstone disappears somewhere, up her fundament, for all the pond knows ...

Effectively what ABC radio was saying, by hiring Brendan O'Neill to interview that wayward incoherent fop Nick Cater, here, was that they were incapable of finding a single Australian-based conservative capable of hosting an hour of radio ...

Which leads to a pond challenge. Anybody who can make it to the end of O'Neill's child-like rant, Nannies and Nudgers, without running screaming from the room is made of stern stuff ... clearly you can find comedy gold at the bottom of the deepest tailing heaps ...

And if ever you wanted a first class display of irrational thinking, paranoia fear and loathing, you really couldn't look past the piece on the enlightenment, thriving or dying ...

Now the pond knows that the ratings for the show probably never disturb the *** beloved of RN shows, but this was an epic fail, and there will be three more weeks of this epic O'Neill comedy gold, proving that even now England is still shipping its wretched riff-raff from the hulks of London out to make a better life for themselves in the colonies ... yep, there was an academic from London, Frank Furedi from Kent, Nick Cater no doubt ready for a G and T after doing his expat routines, and O'Neill himself ...

For a nanosecond, the pond had a deep sympathy with local conservatives wondering what they had to do to get on the ABC ...

Only a nanosecond mind you. There's always the Bolter and there's always the reptiles at the lizard Oz ...

One of the incongruities of the rabid right wing cohort of crazed commentariat scribblers is their love of simple-minded slogans.

The Caterists are particularly addicted, with constant references to the likes of the "harmony industry".

What makes this particular asinine? Well presumably the unharmonious Caterists aren't part of Team Australia, and so in their disharmonious way, spend that entire column berating George Brandis for being a dog whistling member of the Team Australia harmony industry ...

In your dreams, or perhaps in your comedy nightmare, but after listening to the Caterists yesterday, the pond is as full as a goog with aggro hostility and disharmony and had no more need of a dose of Caterist addle-brained slogans...

The Fairfaxians also chanced their arm with a bit of comedy gold, and it too focussed on Team Australia. Yes, it's another poll driven bit of mischief, and it turns out that there are some good players on the Team and some godawful duds, who might as well be playing cricket for Australia:

Oh dear. Can they stick Jolly Joe behind the bowler?

Meanwhile, the pond has always fancied itself as one of those obnoxious members of the cultural 'leets that drive the lumpenproletariat into a frenzy.

So the pond was naturally intrigued by this effort by Stephanie Forrest, attempting a Barry Spurr with twist and pike and holding aloft the canon of the IPA:

Uh huh. Can we have a few examples?

The ­national curriculum for English almost completely neglects the Western canon. Instead, students study advertising and “digital texts”, and the curriculum is saturated with “social studies” content, which is irrelevant and inherently ideological. 
 It was not always so. In the 1950s and 60s, classic literature was at the core of school English education. David Copperfield, One Thousand and One Nights, The ­Odyssey, Black Beauty and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn appeared in readings for 12-year-old students.

Say what? Black Beauty?

Now the pond doesn't want to be ageist, but it would seem that young Stephanie is one of those mindless young things who yearn for a golden age, but don't really have a clue (you can can IPA young Stephanie here, once you get past the IPA paranoia).

You see, Black Beauty is only incidentally literature, in the way that My Friend Flicka  and dozens of other horse books aimed at young girls are literature, and for that matter, Harriet Beacher Stowe's protest novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin is literature.

Anna Sewell is an indifferent stylist, and the real intent of her inherently ideological novel was to be inherently ideological. Being slack, the pond did a Greg Hunt on the nature of this ideology:

Upon publication of the book, many readers related to the pain of the victimised horses, sympathised and ultimately wanted to see the introduction of reforms that would improve the well-being of horses. Two years after the release of the novel, one million copies of "Black Beauty" were in circulation in the United States. In addition, animal rights activists would habitually distribute copies of the novel to horse drivers and to people in stables. The depiction of the "bearing rein" in "Black Beauty", spurred so much outrage and empathy from readers that its use was not only abolished in Victorian England, but public interest in anti-cruelty legislation in the United States also grew significantly. The arguably detrimental social practices concerning the use of horses in "Black Beauty" inspired the development of legislation in various states that would condemn such abusive behaviours towards animals. The strong impact of the novel is still very much recognised today. Claudia Johnson and Vernon E Johnson, authors of "In the Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare", have referred to "Black Beauty" as being “the most influential anti-cruelty novel of all time”. They have also written that, while many works of literature have been drafted with the purpose of promoting a change of heart in the harsh treatment of animals, the most significant one, with the widest impact, is indisputably Anna Sewell's "Black Beauty". Comparisons have also been made between "Black Beauty" and the most important social protest novel in the United States, “Uncle Tom's Cabin”, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, on account of the strong degree of outrage and protest action that both novels triggered in society.

You see what you've started here, young Stephanie?

By recommending this inherently ideological novel, the next thing you know, impressionable young minds will be out and about attacking pig farmers and the caging of fowls, and the next thing you know agitated, irate farmers will be marching on the IPA for letting loose the animal liberationists ...

And that's before we get started on some of your other texts.

Did you realise that Charles Dickens was a dangerous agitator and provocateur, with an inherently radical and ideological - gasp, almost socialist - attitude to capitalism, merely because as a young lad he was asked to do a little character-building work as a child in a boot-blacking factory. He wanted to be a leaner rather than a lifter ...

Frankly after exposure at an early age to Dickens it took the pond years to get back on the Team Australia IPA track. You do realise, young Stephanie, that Dickens was inclined to talk of noble businessmen as villains and schemers and he was inclined to idolise malcontent leaners in the lower classes as heroes and martyrs ... no doubt all because of a brush with debtors' prison ...

What else? Well frankly all you get from A Thousand and One Nights is a dangerous orientalism and exoticism, and is there a place for this sort of stuff in Team Australia? And as for Huck, you do realise that its a scathing satire on racism, or maybe not, that uses naughty words and so is frequently wrenched from libraries in the United States? (Go on do a Greg Hunt here). Are you proposing that we study that version that substitutes "hipster" for "nigger"?

Oh okay, maybe the pond would allow The Odyssey, but couldn't we modernise it just a little? How about the Rock in the lead role - he does such an excellent job as Hercules ...

Meanwhile, do you have any idea of how silly you sound?

From Dickens’s satirical critiques of the cruelties of Victorian society, to the witty dialogues of Jane Austen, to the timeless plots and impassioned monologues of Shakespearean drama, there is something in classic literature that can appeal to anyone. 
These works are also useful as reflections of Western culture, as literary exemplars, and as a standard for “good” literature and writing. They should be a core part of English education. 
 If Australia must have a ­national curriculum, the federal government should remove the social studies content from Eng­lish, where it is irrelevant and detracts from English as a discipline.

But, but, billy goat, that's the entire point of reading Dickens' satirical socialist-inclined critiques, and Jane Austen's incisive portraits of the stupidities of men, much beloved by feminists. Eeek, not feminists ...

If you have no awareness of the society in which they were written, their social studies content, you won't have the first clue what they're about, what motivated the writers, and how those motivations turned up in the text. It'll just be another dose of literary gruel, untimely wrenched from the womb of its social context ...

The notion that there are classics that are somehow devoid of social content or ideology is one of the great chimeras ....

No doubt you will attract favourable comments from a bunch of old farts reminiscing about how in their day they were made to read the classics and it did them the world of good, which doesn't quite explain how in the United States - after all that piracy of Dickens in the nineteenth century - a decent minimum wage remains a matter of controversy while people are paid a pittance to do work way worse than that of a boot-blacking factory ...

No doubt the IPA will provide an explanation.

Look, the pond understands. After university you needed a job, and there was the IPA, but get out, get out quickly, before it ruins your mind, and you spend all your time blathering about western culture, while somehow dragooning A Thousand and One Nights into western culture.

Despite the very best efforts of Sir Richard Burton, that belongs to those bloody Arabs, Persians, Indians, Egyptians, and Mesopotamians, and worse, a lot of the folk tales came from the Caliphate era (Greg Hunt it here), and even with a decent sanitised English translation, and with European additions to the tales, how the hell are we going to fit it into Team Australia?

Never mind, today is one of the great days where western culture has its finest flowering, and the classics are remembered ...

Take it away David Pope, remind us, and more Pope here:


  1. Haven't read more than the first few paras and may comment further, but had to ask...is Hamish McLennan channelling Sandy Stone?

    At his retirement from employment, Sandy was presented with a Bakelite ashtray. Sandy wrote that he didn't smoke, but didn't like to mention it, since they'd obviously put a lot of thought into the present.

  2. Culture?? Did I hear Kultur? ...
    There is a fix for it, DP. Reach into Netflix and flick the safety off old episodes of Morse. Even the dialects are spoken at an even pace and there's enough time between plot shifts to iron a shirt.
    On the Brandis Show, it seems some of the locals of Western Sydney haven't been to Bogabilla, or bothered to watch The Code.

  3. Hi Dorothy,

    "he'll sit down at a cabinet meeting in the morning and he'll say "Now team, team, we're going to do this and that"

    So this is what being on Team Australia means, "Shut up and do what Tony (or more likely what Peta) wants you to do and no grumbling, how inclusive!

    I suspect this will also be a team where many are expected to make sacrifices but only a few of the elite players will reap any reward.

    Team Australia another puerile slogan from a government bereft of any sensible policy.


    1. If you keep on carrying on like that DW Peta will give you a dunce cap and send you to the corner until you come to your senses and re-join the team ... but at least you can profitably spend your time practising your salutes, your grovelling and your forelock tugging ...

  4. 1001 Nights - classic of the English literary canon? Sure Richard Burton translated it, he of Islamic sympathies and a magnificent collection of Victorian porn (which his puritanical wife burnt after his death). He also mastered eight middle-eastern and Indian languages, managed to get expelled from Oxford, investigated Karachi gay brothels in disguise and was probably the role model for Kipling's spymaster in Kim and was sympathetic to Mormon polygamy.

    Actually he is great fun to study. I'm all for more Burton in our schools.


    1. You can GHunt 1001 nights and find that it was written by the ancestors of those pesky boatpeople who we gaol on Manus and Nauru and don't allow them access to books.. Or you can have fun investigating more esoteric web sites for Burton's translations of The Karma Sutra, The Perfumed Garden and the naughty bits from 1001 Nights which so outraged the Victorians that it had to be published in secret by subscription only.

      You can find it here -


      Complete with Burton's footnotes about oriental sexual practices.

    2. Don't forget Project Gutenberg


      What's the bet that young Stephanie - the pond asserts the right to be ageist - hasn't actually read much of Burton or anything about him, just a sanitised version of the tales trotted out in junior high in a desperate bid to keep the students interested ...

  5. Funny to note that yesterday De heer Bolt wrote that the tide had turned for Team Blue Tie and that the Govt had the momentum. Most of his stumpy blue-tongued lizard's tail of commenters offered loud hurrahs.

    Oh dear!!! Oh dear!!!

    Today brings the grim tidings from Newspoll.

    1. Remember when handing out the kool aid to do the Jedi hand wave and other Jedi mind tricks

  6. Fairfax had a horsey theme on all their front pages, and Gail Kelly on the AFR.

  7. So ABC axes The Roast. Funny, biting and a bit too close to the bone for the righties?

    But is has US Fallon on 5 nights a week. Next they'll be getting rid of Clarke and Dawe.

    Gutless bastards.

    1. Yes! And double Yes! It's as if they want to turn their audiences ...

  8. Jonathan Holmes rips Brandis a new one.

    "Press Freedom: George Brandis is talking plain rubbish"



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