Friday, December 31, 2010

Piers "Addled Akker Dakker" Akerman strikes for the last time in 2010, and then it's farewell to all that, only to say hello to all that ...

(Above: if you survived 2010, you deserve a merit badge. Go on, stitch it up according to this ancient tribal pattern, and wear it with pride).

What better way to leave the old year than a read of wacky, zany Piers "Akker Dakker" Akerman proposing Why Labor is a no-brainer.

Neuroscientists may have helped us understand why conservative voters have more common sense than left-wingers.

The research, sparked by an off-hand remark by actor Colin Firth, shows that the brains of conservatives are a different shape to those from the Left.

“I just decided to find out what was biologically wrong with people who don’t agree with me and see what scientists had to say about it and they actually came up with something,” he said.

He may be regretting setting that challenge now. On the face of it, people who think as he does may suffer from a weak survival instinct.

Nota bene the clever Akker Dakker disclaimer: on the face of it.

Then it's on with the science:

Scans of 90 students’ brains at University College London, revealed a strong correlation between the thickness of two particular areas of “grey matter” and an individual’s political views.

Those who identified their views as right-wing has a more pronounced amygdala, a “very old, very ancient” part of the brain associated with emotion - particularly fear - while left-wingers had thicker anterior cingulates.

Phew, enough already with the science, surely it's time to get on with some standard Akker Dakker abuse?

Researcher and UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience director Geraint Rees said he was “very surprised” by the findings.

Why so? Conservatives are by nature innately concerned by threats posed to their survival and now the researchers have found evidence of their brains being hard-wired to accentuate those threats.

Surely it didn’t take a neuroscientist to work this out. Australian voting patterns acutely reflect the difference between those who care deeply about their fate and those who do not.

That's right Akker Dakker, there are people who don't care deeply about their fate, unlike those who stand like rabbits frozen in the spotlight of time, or like lemmings ready to jump off a cliff and head off to times of war for the joys of the killing fields ...

Well never mind the mixed metaphors, you get the drift, but how wondrous to see Akker Dakker turning to science for solutions. Who knows, at some point he might even begin - assuming he cares deeply enough about his fate - to contemplate climate science.

Akker Dakker is also bold enough to assay his own scientific theory:

It is possible that Labor voters might be able to be helped develop a greater awareness of the dangers inherent in their failure to assess the threats posed by their diminished survival instinct, but whether a remedy can be found is uncertain.

A lot of work has been done on rats and other rodents but if the emotional processing features of the amygdala have been damaged, the fear conditioning responses suffer.

While the research inspired by Firth’s flippant remark may point the way to understanding the neurology behind political choice, there is no guarantee that those who have a diminished sense of self-preservation will respond differently in the future.

Rats learn how to avoid electrical shocks but there is a core of Labor voters incapable of learning new behaviour when exposed to the same threat stimuli.

The commonsense gene favours conservatives.

On the other hand, proving that science can be twisted to suit any purpose - and as a way of explaining the exact context and tone of Akker Dakker's remarks, perhaps the News Copr header A thick brain means you're right wing might suit theorists of a different bent.

Self-proclaimed right-wingers had a more pronounced amygdala - a primitive part of the brain associated with emotion - while their political opponents from the opposite end of the spectrum had thicker anterior cingulates - the section in the middle of the brain.

Thick brain, primitive, associated with emotion, quick to blinding rage, reeling rhetoric, and myopic stone age views worthy of a giant woolly mammoth, clustered around the camp fire chewing on gut fear?

Why that's Akker Dakker to a T.

It turns out that the story wasn't actually the result of an idle remark by Colin Firth - Akker Dakker can't be relied upon even on such simple matters when it comes to ripping off a story - so much as Firth commissioning the exercise as part of a guest turn editing a BBC Radio 4 program, Today (Brain 'link to political views' ) and it's been given a bit of a run in the silly season because of the way scribblers can throw in a reference to The King's Speech to prove their currency.

Naturally Akker Dakker throws in a reference to The King's Speech, and so will we - it's worth seeing if you're of the kind of demographic that enjoyed The Queen and The Madness of King George, though less well wrought than either of those films - and we also feel the need to throw in the irony that Colin Firth is by inclination in the unemotional school of political science.

Mr Firth – who recently declared he had ended public support for the Liberal Democrats – said he would like to have party leader and now Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg subjected to the tests. “I think we should have him scanned,” he said.

Indeed, but not before we can get Akker Dakker scanned. We have a large wager that the size of his fear mongering, pandering amygdala will be ginormous, perhaps even humongous.

Meanwhile, in astonishing and late breaking news, it seems that amygdala volume correlates with the size and complexity of social networks in adult humans. That's right, it turns out that if you have a lot of friends on Facebook, you'll have a big amygdala volume, and so be a conservative.

You can find the results of that absorbing study in Amygdala volume and social network size in humans.

Here's a short summary so you can compare scientific notes with Akker Dakker:

Using 58 adults with varying sizes of Facebook friends, the scientists figured out how many people each individual involved in the study regularly interacted with. Then, they determined how many different groups of Facebook friends the person was in contacted with. Those two data points were compared to the volume of the amygdala and hippocampus, the later of which should not change in size depending on the size of the social network. The results showed that the size of a person's amygdala increased with more friends and more complex social networks. (more here).

Yep, Facebook friends = raging political conservative. QED.

Well it wouldn't be the silly season without people being silly, and poor old Akker Dakker is always unfailingly silly when he's not being stupid, and his attempt at year end humour would surely add tone and elevation to a university rag like Honi Soit.

Never mind, for even purer comedy, there's always the punch drunk Punch's list of its top 25 reads, Punch list: Another 25 top reads, New Year's Eve edition. Talk about a tautological repetition, or should that be an oxymoronic observation, seeing as how Punch and top read are somehow run together in the one sentence.

Oh roll me down the aisle like a jaffa at a Colin Firth movie, it's surely time to go and get pissed in the Australian way - not that any conservative with a well honed sense of fear would indulge in such a dangerous anti-survival strategy - and wish any stray reader the best for 2011, though no assurances regarding apoplexy can be made while reading the likes of Akker Dakker ...

As always, readers must enter such turf at their own risk, of brain damage or perhaps an enlarged pronounced hysteria laden amygdala.

Meanwhile, the tireless pond has been attempting to find out what it all means, what the year ahead might portend:

Like every numerological divination, there are good and bad sides to every prediction, one that is readily apparent if 2011 is treated as a UY13. One of the most notoriously unlucky numbers in any custom, ‘13’ can be read by many numerology experts as a sign that someone will succumb to the overpowering influence of dark forces in 2011, and the negative forces are indeed all-consuming in that particular year. With 4 and 13 being related (1+3 = 4), it’s easy to see how numerologists predict that any business with a ‘4’ prominently in their numerological conversion will be greatly effected one way or the other by 2011. Depending on which side of the “extreme revolution”- coin a 4-centric business lands, they could see financial profits or ruin at the hands of the New Year. (more bizarre nonsense here).

So many loons, on the full to overflowing intertubes, so little time.

Yep, it's boom or bust, or we wait for the world's end in 2012, thanks to brain deformed leftists, unlike remarkably addled columnists like Akker Dakker.

Still, take comfort. If you scrambled Akker Dakker's brain - please, try to scramble his brain even more than it's already scrambled - you might end up with a decent egg nog, and won't that the drink of choice on January 1st, 2011?

Well no, it's not, here, but if you do want some suggestions regarding your hang over why not head here? And we repeat our warning ... there is no known scientific cure at this moment for any damage incurred to the brain while reading Akker Dakker ...

(Below: there are many appropriate bits of loon memorabilia available for the new year - calendars, mugs, carry bags - but perhaps a T with the spirit of forgiveness is right for the season. Sure you might feel physically sick while thinking of Akker Dakker but it's the Confucian thing to do).

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chris Patten, and Christians getting down with Confucius in much the same way as The Australian's anon is down with Mark Latham ...

(Above: bow down Christians, say hello to your new god).

Chris Patten will long be remembered as the man who handed over Hong Kong to the mainland Chinese government - earning such sobriquets as 'whore of the East', 'serpent' and 'criminal who would be condemned for a thousand generations' in the process (here at his wiki) - but those days are long gone ...

These days he turns up in The Australian furiously scribbling Let's forget the fire and brimstone, defending Christianity against the unseemly assault of the likes of Dawkins and Hitchens.

It seems these robust warriors are unfair and pick on easy targets - a man with a long beard watching over us, a rough equivalent to Father Christmas, Lapland reindeers and sacks of presents - while ignoring the atrocities of atheist totalitarians in the twentieth century.

Not Patten, who is firm but fair celebrating the Xmas myth while wailing about the failure of Christian right wing fundamentalist dogma - driving peculiar behaviour by the United States in the world - or Jewish fundamentalists obstructing peace in the middle east, or Islamic fundamentalists calling for a world caliphate ...

By golly, by the time you get to the middle of Patten's piece it's a litany of despair:

The strident and damaging dogmatism of fundamentalists of every stripe has a common feature: a truculent sense of grievance, rooted in fear and resentment of modernity. Christian fundamentalism in the US harks back to 19th-century populism and anti-intellectualism. Members of evangelical churches associate their beliefs with the rugged individualism of the early pioneers. They are contemptuous of the establishment.

Jewish fundamentalists believe Israel's critics are anti-Semitic or, in the case of Jewish opponents of Israel's harder-line policies, "self-hating Jews". Islamic fundamentalists reckon what the rest of us regard as the liberalising influence of technological progress and globalisation is a brash rerun of Western colonialism.

Yessiree Bob, I reckon with that assessment, Patten could fairly take his place alongside Dawkins and Hitchens. Not to put too fine a point on it, fundamentalism is fucked, and it's fucking the world ...

But hang on, what's this, late breaking bias in favour of religion?

For a happier New Year, we should listen to the core messages of all these great religions, above all the Confucian golden rule that we should never do to others what we would not like to be done to us. What religion should teach us is not how to hate, but to borrow again from Confucius how to develop societies that look after and welcome the poor, the stranger, and the oppressed.

Confucius? Forget Christ and follow Confucius? Is Confucianism an actual religion?

And if it is - and I'd love to see the reasoning - hang on, hang on, how on earth did Confucius get involved in a defence of Christianity and the other major religions?

Why bother with those other religions at all? Especially the stuff emanating from that wretched socialist Jesus ...

Why not just go with Confucianism, here, though it might involve a tad of ancestor worship and more than a dash of patriarchal thinking of the old school?

Confucius didn't give a toss in general about religion - the few concepts on view in the Analects are included in a peripheral way (you can get the nineteenth century translation by James Legge for free at Project Gutenberg here) - with the emphasis being on ethics and a kind of early humanism.

Confucius's moral system was based upon empathy and understanding others, rather than divinely ordained rules. To develop one's spontaneous responses of rén so that these could guide action intuitively was even better than living by the rules of yì. To cultivate one's attentiveness to rén one used another Confucian version of the Golden Rule: one must always treat others just as one would want others to treat oneself. Virtue, in this Confucian view, is based upon harmony with other people, produced through this type of ethical practice by a growing identification of the interests of self and other.

So let's get this right. According to Patten, religions should borrow from Confucius, who cared not a whit nor a toss for the likes of Jesus or Muhammad as a way of moving forward.

And an ancient Chinese ethical philosopher provides us with the best example of the core message of all the major religions?

Oops, can we just turn that around a little:

That is the most important message for everyone, atheists included, to take from the Christian story of Christmas.

The most important message for everyone, atheists included, to take from the Christian story of Christmas is to borrow from Confucius?

Well for befuddled thinking and lax metaphor thank the dear absent lord they're not borrowing from Patten.

Is this the result of too much time in the hot humid Hong Kong air and extensive abuse by the Chinese government?

Meanwhile, in another section of The Australian, the anonymous editorialist strikes again, and shows why the rag's deep 'anonymous' thinker hands down won the top loon pond award for the year.

If Patten lacks any logic, what to make of Those in agreement say aye?

First the anonymous scribbler boasts about how the rag turned down Mark Latham when it came to covering the election campaign, leaving the lad to do his work for the Nine network.

Uh huh. It also records his use of abusive private emails, and his notion that large parts of the electorate have low IQs. And who could fail to mention Latham's contribution to democracy, with his suggestion that a wasted vote is a sensible vote? Well The Australian might, because they discover the silk within the sandpaper, the pearl within the oyster:

Those familiar with Latham's style will know, however, that behind the invective there sometimes lurk pearls of wisdom. He acknowledges the crisis in political journalism and shares our amazement that the Fairfax broadsheets are reduced to quoting ancient US diplomatic cables from WikiLeaks to give an inside account of the Rudd government's collapse that their own staff reporters should have written.

Well said.

Oh dear. The crisis in political journalism? With Murdoch holding some 70% of the market share in Australia? WikiLeaks is suddenly an ancient source? But why then oh anal retentive rag do you spend so much time pouring over the tea leaves yourself?

If there was a psychiatrist's couch available for the media, The Australian would surely be revealed as having a deep Freudian complex, including Oedipal brooding, perhaps tending towards the sociopathic, and surely beyond the normal realm of bitterness at missing out on a few bits of the WikiLeaks scoop.

Sheesh, they'll even drag in Mark Latham, like a cat with a wayward bloodied rat, and triumphantly drop him on the mat for all to admire ...

Meanwhile, the rag currently has on the front page of its digital edition a little splash for WikiLeaks, "in depth latest news and analysis", but WikiLeaks gave Fairfax the heads up on some of its documents, leading to incredible continuing bile from The Australian, sprayed in the general direction of Fairfax, and not WikiLeaks, because after all who knows where your next story might be coming from.

That's how The Australian's editorialist can find comfort in having Mark Latham as a bedfellow, in much the same way as a Patten Christian can share a double bed with Confucius.

If you want curious examples of what is verging on the psychotic, why not have a read of Po-mo-mo! The Herald's editorial writer deconstructs Christmas, yet another part of Cut & Paste's ongoing war with Fairfax, or this bizarre piece Couldn't have put it any better ourselves, Mr Latham (except the bit about ancient Greece), which gives the world a gobbet of Latham from behind the paywall (and now we know how to behave when The Australian institutes its paywall, all in the name of fair dealing and criticism of course), and so on and so forth, which all invariably boil down to the way the Oz didn't get dished the dirt, and so must bray about Fairfax.

The internecine war has attracted the attention of others - More Fairfax-News Limited tension over WikiLeaks provides a couple of key links, along with a link to James Massola's extremely strange piece WikiLeaks revelations about Kevin Rudd put journalist back into the fray.

Massola will be remembered as the righteous crusade who unmasked the anon blogger Grog, as he boasted in Why I unmasked blogger Grog. His piece about Philip Dorling is extraordinary, not for what it reveals about Dorling but for what it reveals about Massola, The Australian and the state of paranoid fortifications within the rag ...

So isn't it about time that Massola unmasked the anonymous editorialist at The Australian, so we might discover who thinks the rag should lie down with that lamb Mark Latham on the matter of Fairfax?

Or does Christ Mitchell scribble all the bizarre musings of 'anonymous' himself?

And in much the same way as the Christian must become a Confucian to find the way forward, is The Australian joining with the hacktivists and anarchists of Anonymous to spread the one true, enlightened, and righteous interpretation of WikiLeaks? That it's ancient, and no substitute for The Australian's brand of bilious journalism?

Who knows, but surely, even if it's good for therapeutic purposes, helping emotional needs, the tone of The Australian's anonymous editorial needs to change ...

Or do they want to make 2011 another glorious year, winning the loon pond award for peculiar scribbling by Australia day?

Hmm, must consult Confucius ...

(Below: pick The Australian's anonymous editorialist?)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kryger, Daintree, and Kristians unite and eat your Krispy Kremes ...

(Above: Janus, found here).

Things have reached a truly dire nadir at The Punch.

Clearly those willing to scribble for free over the holiday break can only be found at the bottom of the barrel, and so we're offered up Steve Kryger's What do you think happens when we die?, which reminded me of the days when Christian Union cadres used to stalk the campus looking for converts and a bible reading. (And what do you know, it seems CUs still haunt the hallowed halls).

You could invariably pick them by dress and hair and speech, and a fondness for C. S. Lewis, and the books of Narnia, and a rather droobish devotion to the bible (in contrast to the Catholics, who had a pagan devotion to drink and sex).

Invariably when a CU got around to the pitch, they always had a revelatory anecdote to hand which could be tied back to the need to repent, convert or suffer eternal damnation.

So it is with Kryger. He takes a ride with a Muslim cab driver, and asks him where he'll be after he's taken his last breath, and is pleased when the cabbie answers it'll probably be heaven.

Well there's a wrong note for starters. Kryger should have admonished him straight away - seeing he's a Muslim, it's the duty of any Christian to advise the man that he's off to eternal hellfire for worshipping the right god in totally the wrong way, using a perfidious false messenger, and failing to understand that there's only one way to eternal bliss, and that via Christ.

Perhaps the taxi driver gets off lightly all the same because it seems Kryger persecutes everyone he meets by asking them how ready they are to meet their maker, as if studying for a bit part in the first season of Deadwood. Naturally he makes use of the simple-minded metaphors beloved of CU types, this time driving and doughnuts:

If life is like driving down a straight road, most people would consider death to be a sharp right-hand turn at the end of the road. Everyone goes around the corner eventually - but what is around that corner? Is it good news or bad news?

Sure, you can use your imagination and hope that there’s a Krispy Kreme store selling delicious jam-filled, dentist-delighting donuts, but that store won’t be there just because you want it to be. It’s either there, or it’s not. And so surely, before you come around the corner, you want to be sure of what will be there - so you can prepare yourself appropriately.

Sure, spend your life preparing for death. Now there's a handy routine for wasting a life, and getting to the end in a state of paranoid, jumbled fear.

If it’s a donut store, you want to prepare yourself by not having lunch. If it’s a flooded roadway, you want to start slowing down. If it’s a cliff, you want to slam on the brakes. So the next question is - is it possible to know what is around that corner before we get there?

Actually it's death, and it's got bugger all to do with driving or doughnuts - yes the Australian spelling thank you very much - or other simple minded metaphors.

I believe a course in Monty Python films is the best preparation, but to each their own. Naturally, after the inducement - an eternity eating krappy Kristian Krispy Kremes - comes the pitch:

As a Christian, I believe it is possible. The Bible is both the authority and road-sign that I place my hope and confidence in. In the Bible we read that all people who have ever lived will experience a day of judgement. For some people, the result of this judgement will be to continue to experience relationship with God in heaven, for eternity.

Dear sweet absent lord, is this the best The Punch, allegedly Australia's best conversation, can offer in the holiday season? It's like opening the door and finding a couple of Mormons on the verandah, looking solemn and earnest and totally wet behind and between the ears. All you can do is take the broom to them, and shoo them away ...

But of course the pitch usually comes with an implicit threat. No point holding out the Kristian Krispy Kremes if you don't have a kudgel hidden in the other hand. Watch out, here it comes:

However, the Bible is also very clear in explaining that there is an alternative - a place called hell - where all who desire to continue to live separate to God and his rule will be permitted to do just that. Their destiny will be a place where God, the source of all goodness, will be absent. There are two alternatives, the Bible explains, and everyone makes the choice.

Hell is just a place where god is absent? So that explains why there's sundry forms of hell on earth ...

Well after the requisite quote from C. S. Lewsi reminding us of the dangers of hell, we get a final desperate warning:

Don’t go round that last corner blind-folded. The consequences are simply too great to just cross your fingers and hope for the best.

Yep, it's god as the big bad boogeyman, holding a big stick, and reminding the sheep they'd better hang around to be tithed, lest they end up in the other place.

Ah well, it made for a more nostalgic read - oh the pleasure of student days ravaging the flock of the faithful - than David Daintree's plaintive pitiful scribble about how the Christians were being done down in the national curriculum, in Christianity has role in learning.

The draft modern history curriculum is 30 pages long. Christianity is simply never mentioned, at least not explicitly. The word religion appears twice, the first occurrence in the context of Indian history, the second in the context of Asian and African decolonisation. However the precise phrase in which it is found discloses the agenda of the compilers: "The effect of racism, religion and European cultures."

This, surely, is an oblique mention of Christianity and a judgment upon it at the same time.

Yes, your point?

Well naturally Daintree has a tedious point, which he expounds on at length, though this time shifting the emphasis from Kristian Krispy Kremes to Roger Scruton's revisionist use of the word oikophobia, now fashionable amongst right wing American ratbags as another way to lambast liberals (cf James Taranto's Oikophobia,Why the liberal elite finds Americans revolting, in the WSJ naturally, who has much fun with the concept of oiks).

Daintree's point is that history should be taught as ideology, or more to the point, as an introduction to theology, and the role of Christianity weighed in the balance, and naturally found to come out triumphant.

Sure there are a few downsides for the Christians - like the Crusades and the Inquisition and the Albigensians and the treatment of Jews and the Thirty Years war and Northern Island and thousands of other wretched excesses he doesn't name - but then there are the upsides, like the self-sacrificing saintliness of many clergy, the prohibition of slavery, and the improvement of the lot of women. Yes even now the Catholics are planning a female Pope ...

Yet the draft curriculum in history avoids all of this. It is almost completely silent on the whole matter of Christianity. It chooses to ignore a worldwide religious movement that has marched with civilisation for 2000 years, infusing it with a morality that has shaped the thinking of the whole of society, including the minds of those who lost the faith but clung to the moral view.

Of course the same claim could be made for the Greeks and the Romans:

Yet the draft curriculum in history avoids all of this. It is almost completely silent on the whole matter of the Greeks and the Romans. It chooses to ignore a worldwide religious movement shaped by the gods that has marched with civilisation for 2000 years, infusing it with a calendar celebrating Janus, Februus, Mars, Maiesta and Juno, a legal system and system of governance that has shaped the thinking of the whole of society, including the minds of those who lost the faith in the gods but clung to their moral view, a bit like Caligula.

But that's the problem with special pleading, and with viewing the acquisition of historical method as a way of copping an indoctrination about the splendours and joys and contributions of Christianity to civilisation ... given that history is a vast field, those who romp through it above all need a sense of historical method, a historiography that will guide them through the prejudices and preferences of the various narrators they'll encounter in their wanders ...

By golly, do they need that in spades when it comes to Daintree. Here's his classic whinge and his classic solution:

This omission is not just careless, it is staggeringly inept and profoundly dishonest.

What would an honest and inclusive curriculum look like?

It would recognise the enormous influence of religion in the world since late antiquity.

Uh huh, but why since late antiquity? Well of course that's when Christianity turns from a remote middle eastern cult into a powerhouse within the Roman empire. But surely an honest and inclusive curriculum would start much earlier, and place religions of all kinds within their social and cultural context.

No, no, no, and here comes the special pleading bit:

Moreover, being an Australian curriculum, intended for students in Australian schools, it would not pretend to the possibly laudable but utterly impossible task of giving all the world's cultures and religions equal coverage, but will acknowledge that, like it or loathe it, Christianity has been the dominant faith and moral mentor for our nation since white settlement began, that many indigenous people have embraced it too, and that the more recent waves of settlers - including Muslims and Hindus - have scarcely been unaffected by it.

Uh huh, so forget about a study of the histories of various cultures and sundry religions, no time for any of that, might is right.

It's on with the blinkers and back to a world where Christianity is all the go ... oh and did we forget to mention, bugger off the dreaming, we all know that Australia was terra nullius theologica ...

It would be good to see our society honestly facing up to the implications of its own heritage, and mature enough to recognise the good alongside the bad, and wise enough to see that amid the imperfections of any human organisation there is much to take pride in.

Which is of course utterly to mistake the purpose of history, in Daintree's peculiar mind a weighing of the good and the bad, and then just like the Krispy Kreme Kryger resulting in the same epic payoff:

For believers, though, the reality is that the incarnation of Christ was and is the greatest event in human history, and that this greatness is not simply a matter of degree, but it is a kind of an absolute and ultimate truth by which alone the significance of all other events must be judged.

Yes, but history is not the path to redemption, nor should it be blind sided by peculiar prejudices and one sided perspectives, not even by those who want to return to the safety and certainty of a nineteen fifties world view.

Many unbelievers cannot but be angered by such assurance, and we should not be surprised or disappointed by a savage response to such claims.

Actually, there's no need for a savage response. The notion that history is a kind of outreach of bible studies is such a blithely stupid one that laughter is by far the best medicine, especially when the advocate produces a hearty dose of paranoia and rage:

Many of those most bitterly opposed to Christianity have perhaps sensed that we are on the ropes, utterly nonplussed by this apathy, and are determined to continue to wage that kind of war of attrition in the hope that we shall simply and finally melt away. My suspicion is that some of the framers of the curriculum are driven by such a plan, perhaps consciously, perhaps by instinct.

Lordy, it's a conspiracy, wouldn't you know, consciously and instinctively.

Or perhaps the framers are determined to provide students with analytical skills that allow them to dissect Daintree's blather, amongst the blather to be found everywhere in the world when it comes to viewing history through the wrong end of whatever prejudicial telescope they bring to the task, be they Christians or hippies.

Many other people of goodwill, non or anti-Christian in their orientation, are willing enough to face us on the field of debate and controversy. Such people may indeed admire and respect aspects of Christianity, while rejecting all or most of its metaphysical tenets.

In many such men and women I think I can see - excuse the presumption - the characteristics of the unconverted St Augustine: all too often they bark against a faith they have not troubled (or have not been able, through the scandal of our failings and our own poor example) to understand.

Yep, it's the usual claptrap, and once more we revert to the recent survey that suggested atheists and agnostics know more about religion than the religious (here). Why do people like Daintree always assume ignorance in the other, and not the self, and bugger the excuse of excusing the presumptuous, since that's just another way for a buffoon to be presumptuous and try to get away with it ...

Sure he goes on the dress the notion up in the usual piety - somehow it's the scandal of failings or poor example and we're all a bunch of unconverted St Augustine's waiting to be converted, but what, you might ask, has all this to do with the study of history in all its forms and many guises?

Sweet fuck all, it turns out, because instead history must become a new front in the culture wars, a new killing field where Christians can boldly slaughter disbelief:

Clearly it is the best interest of the Christian religion boldly and confidently to face the challenge of those who would with equal confidence contest the veracity and integrity of our claims.

To take the battle vigorously to the critic's gates, to emerge thus from the slough of indifference that now threatens to swallow us, is our best hope.

It turns out that Daintree is president of Campion College, a Catholic institution offering a bachelor of arts in the liberal arts, offering students a variety of perspectives in the same period so that the realities of life can be viewed through different lenses. Provided it's a standard 55mm Catholic lens ...

And his piece is appearing in a critique published by the Institute of Public Affairs and a mob called the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation ... which as well as peddling books, peddles a lot of pro mining free market alarmist guff.

What curious company to keep.

Why in that bag of broken eggs alone there's rich turf for a student of history interested in exposing the curious connections between rampant Christianity, Catholicism, the IPA and Mannkal ... not to mention The Australian, and its links to Murdochism ...

Not to worry, we're only a couple of days away from the arrival of Janus, god of gates, doors and beginnings, with one face looking forward and the other looking backward, and it's time to get together branches from sacred trees, perhaps a gold-covered nut or a coin bearing the image of Janus, as presents for like minded devotees of the gods.

Of course when the Catholic church got going it vigorously denounced the Roman new year as a pagan celebration, before deciding since they couldn't get rid of it, they might as well go with the flow and make it the feast of Christ's circumcision. It wasn't until the late fifteen hundreds that the church gave up the ghost and the first day of the new year became a public holiday in many places ...

How do I know about these things? Well I looked them up, thanks to having a series of excellent history teachers who managed to introduce me to ways of looking at the world without the specious claptrap of Daintree and chums ...

Long may it continue, and to hell with special pleading ... and while Daintree's at it, he can take the tortured treatment of school students during religious studies classes and shove that too where it belongs ... somewhere in the basement with dusty Krispy Kreme metaphors ... because there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in his narrow world view ...

(Below: time for a course in Roman sexual history at Campion college?)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gerard Henderson, and the year in which the smug inner city elites almost ruined the world ...

(Above: Gerard Henderson prattling at the Sydney Institute, and boy do they need to fix up the podcast section of their site. No link, it'll send your browser into the spinning wheel of death, or at least despair).

It was only last January that Gerard Henderson was explaining why John Howard was in select company when it came to the matter of royalty and republics, as he brooded about:

... the luvvies' (then) hero, Justice Michael Kirby. When it comes to the royals and all that, Kirby is every bit as much a monarchist as John Howard.

Yes, it was the days of the luvvies. It was also the month that Henderson outed Obama:

The President was unequivocal in declaring last week: "We are at war. We are at war against al-Qaeda … and we will do whatever it takes to defeat them." He also spoke about al-Qaeda's "murder of fellow Muslims". Sounds a bit like George Bush, or perhaps even Dick Cheney.

Except of course he's a Kenyan Muslim.

But that didn't stop our prattling Polonius from finding former chairman Rudd just like John Howard in the matter of terrorism ... only to steer a wrong course in relation to India, where Henderson used street violence in Melbourne to berate Rudd for not selling uranium to India. What's the link, you ask? Well none really, except it allowed Henderson to promote the notion that Australia was practising a kind of apartheid:

Some prominent Indians have vented their displeasure in public. Shashi Tharoor, the minister of state in the external affairs department, knows Australia well. During a visit to Australia in 2008, before he took up his present position, he accused Rudd Labor of practising a type of apartheid. He complained "there isn't a rational reason for the Australian position because Australia does sell uranium to nuclear-weapon-producing states, including China".

Still uncertain of the link between a non-racist Australia, in Henderson's mind, given to street violence against Indians, and international apartheid practiser? Never mind ...

February: Gerard Henderson discovers a favourite theme for the year:

The interests of the left are easily identifiable. They invariably involve anything but what were once referred to as "bread and butter" issues. The inner-city radical middle class has moved beyond bread and butter - and even focaccia and caviar - to such issues as international and national security, nuclear power and the environment.

Oh how he and The Australian could rant and rail at the well-off professionals who live and work in the inner city and enjoy tenured employment, most notably at the Sydney Institute. At the same time, Henderson feared for small business:

The Prime Minister and his colleagues are busy bagging the opposition finance spokesman, Barnaby Joyce. They should listen to Peter Walsh, the successful finance minister in the Hawke government, who warned last week the MUA's recent industrial victory could lead to a wages breakout of a kind that devastated Gough Whitlam's Labor government in 1974.

Still wondering when the wages breakout will devastate the Gillard government? What's the chance it'll be Peter Walsh, Gary Punch, Michael Costa, Mark Latham and Graham Richardson that will the ones to devastate it?

March: In March Henderson was devastated to be overlooked by the ABC:

After almost four years as managing director, Scott has still not found one conservative or right-of-centre personality to present any of the ABC's most influential programs.

If only they'd given him a gig, so he could have announced to the world the truth about Tony Abbott:

It's unclear how the year will work out. But Rudd's decision to cancel an important trip to the US indicates he acknowledges Abbott really does have some people skills.

Also in March Henderson discovered a threat that was almost a match for dangerous inner suburban radicals:

No community is responsible for individuals within it. But it is disturbing that the response from Muslim spokesmen in the Elomar case has been to deny or play down the matter.

Making, of course the Muslim community responsible for the terrorist individuals within it.

April: This was the month when Henderson discovered that kicking the Bill Henson can was appropriate, and Malcolm Turnbull revealed himself as a political hero ... to David Marr:

In a sense, Turnbull emerged as the political hero of Marr's book. That might have won him support in Wentworth. But Rudd's condemnation would have had majority support in suburban and regional Australia where most marginal seats are. There is no reason to question Rudd's sincerity on this issue. It's just that his stand also made political sense.

Dammit, it also turns out that Joe Hockey is the wrong kind of hero:

Once again, Hockey's position may have appeal on the lower north shore. Yet it is unlikely to engender support in the outer suburbs and regional centres. The same is true of Hockey's criticism of the attempt by the Communication Minister, Stephen Conroy, to stop child pornography on the internet.

Damn those lower north shore types. For a true hero, we need Barnaby Joyce:

The National Party is never likely to again dominate the Coalition. However, there should be room for Joyce's economic and social philosophy and his message is likely to have some appeal to regional and rural Australia. Hence the Nationals' advertising campaign some six months out from the election.

May: In this month, it was the damned inner city types who came back to haunt the world, in the form of Peter Carey, Catherine Deveny, Jill Singer, Judith Brett, and John Faine:

From New York to Sydney and on to Melbourne, many an inner-city intellectual is full of contempt for their fellow men and women. It's just that not many 'fess up to what they really think.

Gerard's solution? Well of course he has a hearty contempt for inner city intellectuals, and is always ready to 'fess up what he really thinks.

Let the young read Dan Brown and discover the Catholic plot to rule the world ... and beware blondes ...

The opinion polls suggest Barry O'Farrell is heading for a comfortable victory. However, the sassy Kristina Keneally is popular.

Sassy! Oh yes, how we chuckled over that sassy sally.

Then Henderson decided to tap former Chairman Rudd on the shoulder:

Rudd is much more responsible than Whitlam.

From that moment former Chairman Rudd was doomed.

It seems Kevin Rudd has become a significant disappointment to many members of the parliamentary press gallery. Quite a few environmentally conscious journalists agreed with the Prime Minister that human-induced climate change was the greatest moral challenge of our time - and they expected him to put Australia in the front line of those nations wanting to take action to save the planet.

Strange. So it was the press gallery that did Rudd down, and not his lack of affinity with the outer suburbs?

If Gillard prevails, this will be the most significant reform of Rudd's inaugural term.

Well you have to hand it to Gerard, he called it in one.

June: A new variant on the evils besetting us:

The Greens are essentially the party of the affluent inner-city professional class, many of whom work in the public sector or who enjoy generous taxpayer-subsidised superannuation.

.... The Greens might win House of Representative seats and just might have a role to play in a hung parliament. But it is unlikely Bob Brown and his colleagues will be anything other than influential senators.

July: dammit, more of the same:

... middle-class radicals who control the inner-city greens ... inner-city left-wing political activists, left-wing socialist-style party ... lifelong members of the pro-Stalinist Socialist party ...ex-communists and socialists trying to take over the inner-city branches of the Greens ... and middle class radicalism

Talk about a one note prattling Polonius.

The well educated and well off will invariably obtain jobs. Which explains why, in parts of inner Sydney and inner Melbourne, there is what used to be called over-employment. But it is different in some outer-suburban and regional areas, where increasingly the rich and tertiary educated get jobs while the poor and less educated line up for Centrelink payments.

Yes, there's over-employment at the Sydney Institute which is why we need to bring back Work Choices so more people can get rich and rewarding jobs preparing hamburgers ...

Also in July Henderson bravely tackled the matter of New Zealand cowardice when it came to Afghanistan:

If the new Netherlands government takes any notice of Key's assessment, it is unlikely to recommit forces to Afghanistan. His comments are at best indiscreet. If New Zealand does not want to pull its weight in NATO and the Western Alliance, that's New Zealand's business. But Key does not need to rationalise his country's isolationist tendency by criticising a commitment in which his country has played only a scant role.

Damn you, fickle cowardly Kiwis, damn you and your white feather inner suburban isolationist ways. Just think of Hamid Karzai as uncle Joe:

Certainly there are concerns about corruption in the government in Kabul led by Hamid Karzai. But the Karzai government is the only viable administration that Afghanistan has right now. There are many instances where the Allies have supported flawed governments during times of conflict - most notably Joseph Stalin's communist dictatorship in Moscow when the priority was to defeat Adolf Hitler and Nazism.

Who could imagine a better geo-political metaphor to explain the quagmire?

August: there was a month, with the headmaster flaying his pupils. Allow me to summarise:

There's a "series of errors", "a number of self-inflicted errors", "the dumbest political strategy ever", "incompetent behaviour", a failure to "act professionally", a wasting of "time and money", "errors on the National Party side", and a need for "both the Liberals and Nationals" to examine "their acts of folly and self-indulgence" which cost a "clear, albeit narrow, victory."

But how could it have happened? Well it wasn't the doing of women. After all, we know that they were rooting for Tony in Rooty Hill when not rooting for conservative views of the world:

Then there was Paul Murphy, a small businessman from Illawong. Responding to claims that Abbott worried feminists, Murphy wrote to the Herald about the young women he has employed for more than two decades. He said they were primarily "concerned with conceiving, managing work and kids and running households". Murphy wrote that most of the women in the outer suburbs of his acquaintance "have strong circles of friends and generally hold 'old-fashioned views' ".

Naturally our prattling Polonius was at one with this:

The left-wing community action group Get Up! ran advertisements against Abbott advising women not to vote for the Coalition. Millions of women rejected this advice. And millions of men and women failed to respond to warnings from the likes of Professor Robert Manne and the author Paul Collins that Abbott did not deserve support because he is a conservative Catholic. This used to be called sectarianism.

Yes, when we all know that Gillard didn't deserve support because she's an atheist with a hairdresser boyfriend ... but this used to be called sensible conservative Catholic thinking ...

Still, the key issue of the decade, of the millenia continued to be clear:

The view that Abbott is unelectable reflects the mindset of the secular inner-city intelligentsia and finds expression among some journalists.

... the evidence suggests Abbott has a certain appeal among lower-socio-economic groups in the outer suburbs and regional centres where life is quite tough and long-term and youth unemployment disturbingly high. Outside the inner city, Abbott's social conservatism is not a reason for sneering - since most Australians are conservatively inclined.

Oh dear. Please forgive them lord, for they know not what they did, and somehow lo and behold a Labor Green alliance came into being ...

September: By now the bee in the bonnet was buzzing with weekly monotony:

Turnbull, on a good day, is a plus for the opposition. Yet his policies on climate change - and his socially progressive beliefs documented in Annabel Crabb's essay Stop At Nothing - are far from popular in the outer suburbs and regional areas where most marginal seats are located.

... Turnbull may become a team player. Or he may become yet another Liberal who spends much time criticising the party he once led - in the tradition of the late John Gorton, Malcolm Fraser and John Hewson. They are the kind of Liberals whom Tim Costello loves.

Oh no, anybody, anything, anyone other than Tim Costello. Why that's as bad as the ABC (and please tell, why isn't Gerard Henderson fronting his own show yet?)

This follows a parliamentary term in which the policies and practices of Labor and the Coalition were held to account, while the Greens leader Bob Brown got by with soft questions from interviewers, especially on the ABC.

Yes Gerard for the tough questions!

October: It was the same mob refusing to ask the hard questions this month too:

During his incarceration, Hicks had many vocal supporters among left-wing professionals. They have been quiet following the publication of his memoirs and his apparent refusal to do as he promised and fully account for his terrorist training and his relationship with al-Qaeda.

Yep, it's once again with the 'left-wing professionals'. Or should that be the professional left wing? Or could that be Henderson confusing the issue of imprisonment with a condoning of Hicks' folly?

But then, in the usual way, it was deja vu all over again:

It was the classic disconnect between the inner-city, well-educated professional with a secure job and guaranteed superannuation and the less-educated small business operator or employee in the regional centres or outer suburbs.

... The growing disparity in Australia is not so much between rich and poor but between the well-educated in secure employment and the less educated in small business and uncertain employment or on pensions. Any change which does not take this division into account is doomed for political failure.

Dammit, the secure employment of the Sydney Institute strikes again. Or is fund raising this year a little tougher?

The disconnection between those who backed the guide's thesis and those who might experience its recommendations was dramatic. The supporters were public servants along with the likes of Professor Richard Kingsford - academics who work at publicly funded universities. Support was also evident among journalists who have rarely worked outside the public broadcasters or big media companies.

Unlike Henderson of course who has worked in a wide range of fields, from the public service through to working for Liberal politicians to scribbling for that very small media company Fairfax, when not ensconced in the belly of a private institute situated in the heart of Sydney.

Did we mention that one trick pony routine?

If the divide prevails, the next election will probably be decided in the suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, in the seats now held by Oakeshott and Windsor in northern NSW, on the NSW central coast and in northern Tasmania. This is where there is likely to be a greater concern about rising power bills than the Greens' climate change agenda, which is popular among the party's radical middle-class base of inner-city professionals, academics, public servants and superannuants.

Uh huh, that was the prattling Polonius getting agitated about the ALP Green alliance, haunted as usual in a mind numbing, repetition by rote way, by the endless rattling chains of the radical inner city elite.

November: Happily the month saw a change of tack - a chance to prove that World War 1 was a just war, and a tremendous romp, and a chance for Australians to move away from fiendish left wing historians and into the welcoming arms of Gerard Henderson, so that they might clasp a manly bosom. It was also the time to reflect and think back on what might have happened if ASIO hadn't caught the Petrovs:

And it (ASIO) kept a watch on communists, who, as Eric Aarons acknowledged in his 1993 book What's Left?, would have "executed people" if they had come to power.

So that's what happens when a paranoid accepts the thoughts of the delusional ....

December: and so we come to the finest month of all, and a set of stunning predictions:

It is too early to make even a vague prediction. But Abbott has a reasonable chance of winning the next election. He needs to improve the Coalition's vote in suburban Melbourne, western Sydney and on the NSW central coast. The Coalition has a chance of winning the seats held by Oakeshott and Windsor. And it may be able to do even better in Queensland and make inroads in northern Tasmania.

As the Victorian election demonstrated, the Greens are not as influential as many of their supporters imply.

What news from the front Master Polonius?

Well it seems that the devilish inner suburban elites are actually a mirage, an illusion, a delusion, and they have no support at all, and victory will be there for the taking ...

But meanwhile, how about a little paranoia on behalf of the Catholic church? Sure thing:

As Francis Fukuyama pointed out in a lecture in Sydney in 2008, the huge increases in world population are taking place in sub-Saharan Africa where the Pope has little influence. If Adams was truly concerned about the need for condom advocacy as a form of birth control, he would take his cause to the Islamic nations - or, indeed, to Islamic settlements within Western societies. It's just that it is easier to ridicule Christians in the West than Muslims anywhere.

Actually it's easier to ridicule Gerard Henderson, the prattling Polonius who gives desiccated coconut a good name. Just add water, and you end up with a kind of creamy predictability, but whatever you do, don't put the cream in coffee, or you might end up part of an inner suburban elite ... like Henderson ...

But that you have it. Just a short skim milk survey of the thoughts of Comrade Gerard.

Oh and the reason for this little trip down Gerard Henderson memory lane? Well this week in Year's dish was hyperbole, with a dash of exaggeration, Henderson berates 2010 and asks whether this is the year in which exaggeration and false prophecy reached a nadir ...

He suggests you be the judge. And I think we can say that the ayes have it, which is to say, the inner suburban elitist conspiracy to defeat all good thinking well meaning outer suburban and country folk, including of course the upstanding members of the Sydney Institute who march shoulder to shoulder with them.

After all, no harm done celebrating World War One (so long ago), savaging the kiwis (so preening as they pose with their haka) or saving Afghanistan in much the same way as we helped out Joe Stalin ...

(Below: instead of the light on the hill, could we settle for the light on the desk?)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Paul Sheehan, and the cacophony of cicadas are as nothing against the sounds of a solitary scribbler ...

(Above: Bare island fort doing a Paul Sheehan impression. Eek, instead of the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming, it's Rob Oakeshott is here, Rob Oakeshott is here).

It wouldn't be the holiday season if the cicadas didn't come out for a relentless throbbing and pulsating crescendo of lust, or perhaps despair, and sure enough, while sensible and sane minds are away on a break, that leaves the land free for the din of Paul Sheehan in A blunder to top all the others.

In what might well be a classic of "we'll all be rooned before the year is out" Sheehan actually starts by celebrating black cicadas, not thinking that perhaps he's only emulating one.

Method? Take one Liberal party press release, stir vigorously, purport it's an equal opportunity memo by addressing it to both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott, and then blame all Australia's woes on Canberra and the federal government.

While passing go, make sure to collect every form of abuse possible, starting with Canberra's "shockingly lacklustre public architecture, which itself represents a poverty of imagination."

What this might have to do with any current predicament should immediately be passed over in silence. It's merely mood and scene setting, an excuse to go on and talk about an "imperial power within Australia, constantly expanding its reach into the rest of the nation", and bemoaning the government's "dreadful combination of basic mediocrity and soaring ambition."

Then along with the usual favourites - pink batts, this time in South Australia for example -comes a reference to the Christmas island tragedy and detention camps, and at that point it's clear that in his usual rhetorical fashion, Sheehan has decided to jump the shark and nuke the fridge all in one go:

The Labor-Greens alliance seems impervious to the reality that Canberra's track record of delivering services is not intrinsically better than that of the states, which have done the hard work of delivering health, transport, energy and education for more than 100 years.

Yep, when you read that sentence, following on immediately as it does after Christmas Island, and detention camps, you get the impression that Sheehan is fervently in favour of putting the NSW Labor government in charge of border protection and the defence of the country, as it was so valiantly when it prepared for the imminent arrival of the Russians back in the old days (and wouldn't you know it, the building of Bare island fort to save Botany Bay sounds eerily familiar, in the 'same as it ever was' mould, when it came to NSW government supervision of spending and control of costs, as its wiki celebrates here).

Yep, it's monstrously stupid to suggest the federal government should just bugger off and instead we should expect the Northern Territory government to shoulder the burden of border defence, along with the WA and Queensland governments, but that's what Sheehan seems to be saying.

And if that doesn't boggle the mind, Sheehan suddenly goes all sandgroper:

This is Labor's handling of the once-in-a-century resource boom, its suctioning away of revenue to pay for political debts in south-eastern Australia. Western Australia is crying out for revenue to invest in the infrastructure needed to expand and sustain its boom.

Yep, never mind the years where WA and Queensland got more than fair share to help them out, and what a tragedy they've never been allowed to abandon the union.

So who's to blame for all this? Surely it's the kind of process - the entrenching of imperial power in Canberra - that would take well over a decade to design and implement? The kind of thing you might expect arising from the long reign of the Howard government?

Don't be silly, as usual it's all the fault of one man, who has incredibly immense and broad and hugely responsible shoulders:

Rudd was the architect of this period of imperial overstretch by Canberra. He thought he could transform the federal bureaucracy, within months, into a major service provider. It was not and is not.

Within months! Yep, the country fell apart within months.

Well it's easy to understand the process. No, not the country falling apart, the silly column getting written.

Grab yourself a favourite brew - whether it be a strong black coffee or a single malt whiskey - sit down at the keyboard and lather yourself into an hysterical foaming frothing frenzy of righteous indignation.

And then, since there's bugger all else to do, and it seems Australian men who identify their masculinity with the fate of Australian cricket are shortly to be completely emasculated, blame it all on the independents and poor old Rob Oakeshott:

Rudd failed spectacularly and was sacked by his colleagues. His successor government was sacked by the public. The only reason it remains in power, as dysfunctional now as it was before the election, is that Labor was bailed out by the poseur from Port Macquarie, Rob Oakeshott, even as his electorate, in both the House and Senate votes, provided the second-largest anti-Labor vote in the nation. Oakeshott can take credit for every stuff-up by this government because he, more than any other, manufactured its now non-existent mandate for Canberra's expanding imperialism.

That's right, it's all Rob Oakeshott's fault.

The reductio ad absurdum quality of Sheehan's piece reminds us once again of the sheer stupidity and banality of his scribblings, and the way he can become easily distracted by something like magic water.

The man might be a professional grump of the finest water, but his words are just the sort of noises you expect from a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal, or perhaps a cicada.

If you followed his thought process, and ended up re-balancing the federal state relationship, you might end up with the NSW Labor government even more empowered.

Next week? Why naturally there'll be a column from Paul Sheehan about the dangers of the NSW Labor government and the way it's ruined the state. No doubt Rob Oakeshott can carry the can for that one too ...

Men always allege that women are too prone to emotion and irrationality in their writing, the sort of stereotype that's easily disproved by taking a look at Sheehan's emotive scribbling. So he does serve a usual purpose - the destruction of masculine stereotypes regarding women - but for the life of me, I can't see much use beyond that.

Never mind, having once suffered through several years of economic history, it's possible to enjoy good writing about the economies in general when you find it - and no we don't mean Sir Lewis Namier - but you can find a sample in John Cassidy's review of several books, Enter the Dragon, which sadly is behind The New Yorker's paywall.

Still, perhaps from now on, when confronted with an epic bout of twaddle of the Sheehan kind, the pond should reference some counterbalancing bit of sensible writing.

Cassidy's thesis involves the role that national - which is to say federal - which is to say Canberra - governments play in western economies, and Why 'state capitalism' is China's biggest knockoff.

Cassidy starts with the outrageous Opium Wards conducted by the British - which too few know about these days - then tracks the role of imperial and industrial policy in western economies over the past few centuries, and the key role that government plays in the process, and so ends up giving the lie to quaint notions of free trade and free markets.

Unfortunately, in policy circles - and among much of the general public - the old mantras about the free market and private enterprise continue to dominate. In seeking to broaden access to private health insurance, the Obama administration was accused of plotting a takeover of the entire health-care industry. In cutting taxes and boosting federal spending to avoid a depression, it was accused of embracing socialism. Even supposedly serious economists lend support to these views, arguing that the dysfunctional health-care industry is best left to its own devices, or that the eight-hundred-billion-dollar stimulus program has had virtually no impact on jobs and on G.D.P. This is what comes of forgetting the critical role that states have played in nurturing, protecting, and financing their industries, as well as taxing and taming them. The greatest danger that Western prosperity now faces isn't posed by any Beijing consensus; it's posed by the myth of the free market.

Actually Sheehan's just added a new one. The greatest danger that Australian prosperity now faces is the myth of Rob Oakeshott.

What a mug punter scribbler Sheehan is, even if it's just free holiday reading designed to provoke cackles of disbelief ... and a feeling of relief knowing he'll never get his paws on the levers of government, and will always remain on the sidelines like a grumpy old man abusing the umpire ...

(Below: stunning visual evidence that Rob Oakeshott is the man responsible for everything wrong in Canberra, including Canberra itself, found here. And worse, he seems somehow triumphant, posing like a poseur).

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The anonymous Australian editorialist strikes again, and please will someone pick up the dog turd droppings ...

(Above: if you're a reader of The Australian, remember Je ne ramasse pas!)

The Australian, the paranoid schizophrenic winner of the loon pond award for loonacy in 2010, never disappoints, and so it is with its tremendous editorial, a sermon titled Spare us the Christmas sermon, thoughtfully penned on Christmas Eve and full of the spiteful malice which currently marks the meditations of the rag, and therefore deserving of notice, even if it is on Boxing Day, because the desire of the rag to cuff the ears of all and sundry surely is in the spirit of the boxing day season.

After bemoaning Earth Hour, the anonymous editorialist berates Fairfax for another assault on the spirit of Christmas, in much the same childish spirit as the Cut and Paste section refers to The Age as the Yarra anarcho-syndicalist collective:

They are busy greening Santa's suit with vegetable dye, replacing Turkey and French champagne with tofu and Fairtrade iced tea and The Sydney Morning Herald has even suggested buying a sack of cow manure for the Third World as a choice gift for a loved one. The Age is also urging us along the path of righteousness, pondering whether presents should not be wrapped to save paper, canvassing the relative environmental merits of recycled or electronic cards, reporting which light bulbs use the least energy and advocating "social awareness" in gift-giving. By Boxing Day, African villages will be overrun with goats, donkeys and pigs, courtesy of inner-city sophisticates assuaging their anti-consumerist consciences.

Sob. It's yet another reference to inner-city sophisticates. The rant, the rage, is so palpable and perverted, you have to wonder why any inner-city sophisticate in Australia would ever be so full of self-loathing as to buy the rag.

The Australian's own pious sermon from the mount?

Thankfully, hardly anyone listens these days to the progressive paragons preaching the revised, new age commandments with a fervour that would make Billy Graham blush. They are welcome to recycle everything but the kitchen sink, clean up their dogs' droppings and agonise over the morality of keeping a pet. The rest of us will be celebrating with traditional excess with family and friends.

Uh huh. Well here's hoping that this anonymous editorialist has the pleasure of stepping in dog shit left smelling on the pavement by someone who didn't worry about the business of cleaning up their dog shit. With a bit of luck, the smell of the shit will ruin their holiday season.

Sheesh, there's traditional excess, and then there's just sheer humbug. No doubt The Australian approves of littering and dirtying up the countryside just to make a point that it's a good ol' boy with not a hint of political correctness.

Well, in the spirit of traditional excess, fuck them and the horse that they rode in on, and can someone remind them to pick up all the bottles they left behind in their orgy of traditional excess, and put them in a recycling bin.

It's the sheer monstrous offensive stupidity of the rant which is the mark of the new tone over at the rag, which sees the paper as some kind of regressive retro supporter of the values of nineteen fifties Australia. Litter the country, forget the dog shit, and make sure you get on the grog, and then drive home as pissed as a parrot. Remember, a nun is worth a hundred points, a cripple in a wheelchair two hundred ...

It says much for the resilience of this mid-winter festival that it survived transportation to a sunnier hemisphere and is celebrated by Australians of all faiths or none. It has burned bright this year in the unabashed joy of 100,000 Sydneysiders belting out Christmas carols in the Domain watched by a large national audience, and in homes, workplaces, shops and churches as a sign of renewal and a celebration of love, friendship and generosity. So important is Christmas that had Emperor Constantine and the early church not harnessed the trimmings of the winter festival of mithra in the 4th century to mark the birth of Jesus, mankind would have needed to create a similar celebration.

Um, and in the generous spirit The Australian offers to its Fairfax competitors?

As for the ersatz history lesson, forget it. As noted before on these pages by a kind reader, mankind had already created a similar celebration to Xmas, the Roman festival Saturnalia, somewhere around 217BC, so there was no need to create a similar celebration in the fourth century AD. But you have to admit, pig headed ignorance of history and the lack of generosity of spirit rather suits the tone of the rest of the piece ...

Naturally this abusive bah humbugging Scrooge with the flinty attitude to Fairfax and do gooders is also willing to purloin the thoughts of Scrooge:

To those intent on a low-carbon Christmas, we offer these words from Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol: "Darkness is cheap. Scrooge liked the dark."

Dickens would be rolling in his do gooder grave.

The rest of us will light up a dazzling tree, spread the good champers, give with joy, take pleasure in visiting the crib and smiling or laughing at a grinch. The Australian wishes readers a Happy Christmas and a safe, prosperous 2011.

Actually, as an inner city sophisticate, in the spirit of laughing at grinches, can I just tell the overindulgent, extravagant, profligate, debauched, dissipated, intemperate, prodigal, immoderate, unrestrained, undisciplined, superabundant anonymous editorialist to get fucked, and may The Australian's 2011 be filled with the smell of dog shit in their nostrils, delivered fresh from the soiled inner city pavement on which they tread ... assuming of course that they work at the sophisticated inner city elite address of 2 Holt Street, Surry Hills ...

Oh that feels better, now all that remains is for inner city sophisticates such as myself to walk past the offices of these retrograde dissidents armed with an array of pampered, well fed pooches.

Then it's just a matter of instruct our traditionally excessive hounds to deposit a steaming pile in Holt street ... and not to pick up, as is the custom of the French in Paris, who rigorously refuse to follow the signs entreating them to 'ramasse'.

Verily, I say unto you it will be easier for a rich man or The Australian's editorialist to pass through the eye of a needle than to get into a dog shit free heaven. And now for a little socialist cant from the man god at the eye of The Australian's editorialist:

The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

Indeed. I wonder if The Australian's traditional excess will get a guernsey?

But at least this piece of clap trap proves the rag and its anonymous editorialist are a worthy winner of loon pond's 2010 award as the most intemperate, useless piece of paranoid schizophrenic dog turd wrapping doing the rounds. I mean, if you're going to scribble nonsense, at least make it humorous nonsense ...

It reminds me of the spirit of Christmas on view in Fox News's Christmas card:

That's right, foxes playing chess with sheep. No doubt the Fox Team saw it - in the peculiar Murdoch land spirit of Christmas - as a jab in the eye for their sheepish competitors, failing to understand that the lack of generosity in their accompanying rhyme meant a few might take the sheep for Fox viewers, pawns of Chairman Murdoch and his cruel wild foxes:

Some of the other networks,
Tried to beat us with silly games.
As FNC continued to dominate,
Their attempts all went down in flames. (and for the rest of the offensive jingle, go here).

Yep, that's the spirit of Christmas in Murdoch land. Not a moment when you can't be beating up on rivals, Fairfax media, and sophisticated inner city elites.

Talk about the spirit of Xmas. Waiter, pass me another Bundaberg rum, I'm going to get as pissed as a parrot, and mad as hell, and walk out in the street and bash up some passing wanker ... only in the way of celebrating traditional Australian excess of course ...

And now a reminder that Don't Shoot Your Eye Out! is currently available as a two minute time waster for the holiday season ... You might, if you were an editorialist for The Australian, take this as a bit of advice, but as the rag regularly shoots its eye out, they shouldn't play the game at all.

Actually it's just a chance to score a few points in a commercial flash game, and waste a couple of minutes of your life, which will never come back. I gave up after scoring seven and a half million. Not boasting, just saying ...

Update: meanwhile, over at Fairfax, they chose National Leftovers day aka Boxing Day to run Wasteland: the $7.8b of food Aussies throw away. Of course if you thought about the efficiencies involved, in a free market system, you might invest in just in time ordering, efficient usage, and sensible, efficient and useful waste disposal. But apparently that's not the schtick of the gluttonous, debauched, excessive, indulged, conspicuous consumers at The Australian ...

(Below: aw, aren't the critters in this Virginia anti-litter poster cute. Bet they're actually part of a sophisticated inner city elite, with an inclination to read Fairfax rags, and maintain a stout-hearted anti-dog turd attitude).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

And now before the ghost of christmas yet to come arrives, farewell to the ghosts of scribbling columnists past ...

Well it's time. After a year of plum pudding, it's time for the choicest raisins, sultanas and related fruits to celebrate.

There's no way the results can be altered by latecomers trying a mad dash in the few remaining days before the new year begins.

Silence please. A cliched drum roll to get things going, shift that follow spot to the centre of the stage, and judges bring forth your envelopes.

It almost goes without saying, so hotly contested, so highly prized are the loon pond 'award of awards for commentariat commentators', that to ensure the integrity of the proceedings the results have been stored this last week in a vat of boiling acid in the offices of KPMG, the results unknown to the contestants and the organisers, despite one recalcitrant hiring Jason Bourne to attempt to retrieve them for some WikiLeaks boasting.

Well on we go to the first category, a vital and compelling one, and the short list sees Peter Costello vying with Michael Costa and Mark Latham for recognition as the most potent former politicians currently contributing to the art of journalism.

The Smirk has turned into a steady Fairfax stayer, always ready for a snidely stupid line, but after fading from the limelight at The Australian, Michael Costa made a comeback as a major literary figure, scoring the front page of the Australian Literary Review, thus becoming a veritable Patrick White of former pollies. Yes, we know this leaves John Howard out in the cold, but he only scribbled a memoir, did a media blitz and dodged a shoe ...

As for Mark Latham, his incisive insights into journalism prepared him well for the role of a journalist:

Perversely, the only press gallery specialists who have survived are the so-called sketch writers, frustrated comedians who, more often than not, are as funny as a burning orphanage.

And the winner is ... Mark Latham, who with his funny coverage of the election campaign managed to turn it into a circus, while helping burn down the orphanage that was once known as Sixty Minutes.

Oh yes, we saved the best Xmas stamp for him. How surreal. And yes late breaking entry Kristy Sheridan, with Lost words: the death of meaning in language, if you can't see the surreal in the ordinary you shouldn't be scribbling about language. Disqualified! Try again next year for the awards.

Moving along, the next category belongs to practising politicians, and the judges decided to rule out Kevin Andrews, because he kept on writing about bicycles. There's simply no place - thanks to Miranda the Devine - for lycra clad louts in the modern world, and so Tony Abbot also bites the dust. Thanks be to the Devine.

That left Sophie Mirabella, and the judges found her cockatiel capacity for reciting slogans from her dear leader - "great big tax, awk" positively entrancing. But she had fierce competition throughout the year from Bronnie Bishop, herself a rather elegant cockatoo, with splendid plumage and with a wide ranging vocabulary - some eighty words - so that she could deal with climate change thus: "Don't talk to me about global warming, it's snowing in Britain, awk." At one point Barnaby Joyce was thought to be a shoo-in, always a dab hand with a reference to black stumps and tying kangaroos down, but he faded towards the end.

And the winner is ... Barnaby Joyce for linking Mark Arbib with Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now.

Hang on, hang on, I see the stewards have come out in force and are swabbing the judges. It seems Barnaby's Tamworth connection is way too close to home, and he's been ruled out. Bronnie gets the nod, and so the mad aunt can continue the work of mad uncle Wilson "ironbar" Tuckey, clutching her well deserved loon pond award as she recites the talking points of dear leader. (Sadly Mr Tuckey's fitful blogging and petulant outbursts simply didn't score enough points through the year for either the active political or forcibly retired political category).

Next we move on to the most baleful grumpy scribbler for Fairfax award.

Tragically, the judges have decided that Miranda the Devine is not in line for this award, jumping ship as she did to join News Corp, and descending into tabloid hell, with no sign of rising again. While it would be fitting to reward a rat in the ranks - loons and rats unite and stand together forever - the judges looked elsewhere.

At first it seemed as if Gerard Henderson might get a gong, but there being no category for the dullest, most tedious scribbler doing the rounds - not even a special prize for the most able to sound like a prattling Polonius - the judges went on a desperate search. Chris Berg was considered, but he showed flashes of rationality, and while other Institute of Public Affairs types made appearances, they simply lacked consistency.

I'm afraid this is one where the punters and the critics have already guessed the result. Open the envelope and it's confirmed. With the Devine gone, Paul Sheehan is by far the grumpiest, most meretricious waste of space on view anywhere in Fairfax land, especially as the doings of Mark Latham are hidden from view behind the AFR paywall, except for the business elites who can afford to pay more for his special insights ...

Each Monday throughout the year Sheehan could be relied on to shriek and squawk about the sky falling in, and while the judges pretended it was a tough call, it was actually a lay down misère of misery. Give that man a commie star so he spends Xmas in fear.

But the mention of Miranda the Devine brings us to the special category of tabloid commentariat scribbling.

The Devine might have thought that moving back to her roots would mean she's a shoo-in for a gong, but let's face it, the Murdoch tabloids are the heart of ratbaggery. Indeed Andrew Bolt has had to be forcibly removed from the competition, and elevated to Olympus, and given a lifetime achievement award just to satisfy his monumental ego.

Last we heard Zeus was reduced to living in an outhouse, doing the washing for Bolt, but at least that saved the displaced god from listening to Bolt squawk "I'm right, I'm always right, I'm the bearer of 100% solid gold plated truth to the unwashed masses."

As part of getting the awards on a more even tilt, Tim Blair was also sent to Olympus, not for any achievements, but because someone has to hold the mirror up to the preening Bolt, and Blair always does an excellent job of it. Oh he's got his buddy's back, let's not ask what he does with it.

But that left only a few nominees, with the Devine up against the cunning old stager Piers 'Akker Dakker' Akerman, lovingly celebrated as the Billy Bunter, fat owl of the remove of tabloid scribblers.

And the envelope please, and sure enough the winner is Akker Dakker, the most relentless right wing writing machine to be found anywhere in the land. To say he's one eyed would be to slander the breadth and vision of cyclops, when truth to tell Akker Dakker would rather poke out his one eye than say anything in favour of a Leftie. The result means completely blind enraged scribbling, but hey it's a living, and like a broken clock, it's possible to agree with Akker Dakker twice a day, or when he writes about the NSW Labor government ...

The judges refused to nominate any one particular Akker Dakker piece. It was more like a one year and a lifetime award all rolled in to one, for singular dedicated prejudice and bile at least three times a week ... Give the man a red star so he spends the season in fear under the bed searching for a commie leftie can to kick.
Well our hearts go out to Ms Devine - her rage against greens and feminists and trendies will surely guide her safely to many stunning journalistic achievements in the next year.

Moving right along - we haven't got all day people, this isn't the AFI awards - the judges now shift to the elevated upper sphere of News Corp and the broadsheet The Australian.

Frankly it's impossible to count the many superior contributors to the rag, with the likes of Gary Johns (a sore loser in the ex-pollie contest) and Michael Costa and a host of in house punters ready to scribble at the drop of their master's hat how climate change happens all the time - look, it's snowing in Britain - and how the NBN is a waste of time and money, eek it's a mortal threat to Foxtel, and how there's only one shining beacon in the land, telling the truth and scooping the scoops and that's the journalists of The Australian, but in the end, it came down to a close tussle between Janet Albrechtsen and the anonymous writers of editorials for the rag and Latin-loving 'give that child a musical instrument' conservative Catholic scribbler Christopher Pearson.

Sadly David Burchell was ruled out by the judges on the grounds that the complete incomprehensibility, arcane historical references and opaque language on view in his columns simply indicated a vindictive desire on the part of the editors of The Australian to prove how remote and out of touch tertiary educated elites were with the western suburbs, and readers in general.

And the envelope please, and oh sweet joy, it's the editorialists, with their constant references to educated tertiary elites.

Well we don't know who to give the award to, so perhaps we'll just post it care of the editor in chief Chris Mitchell, and hope he doesn't sue the pond for defamation, in the usual way he likes to deal with tweets and tweeters and tertiary educated 'leets.

I know, I know, it's bitterly disappointing to the likes of Caroline Overington, and Dennis Shanahan and sundry other in-house hacks - how could the judges fail to mention in desptaches Henry Ergas's splendid imitation of desiccated coconut for the entire year - but let's face it, there's nothing like an anonymous writer winning, seeing as how The Australian routinely reviles and outs people for daring to scribble anonymous blogs ...

And now we come to perhaps the most prized crown of all, the special religious award for writing nonsense about religion and society. The judges ruled out Rachael Kohn, who is happy to talk to any passing loon about their metaphysical inclinations or rolfing or wicca or whatever else gets them through the day, on the grounds that this would open up the contest to all sorts of religionistas.

Next thing you know the Pellist heretics would be demanding a nomination, or the nepotic Jensenist heretics, or the Exclusive Brethren, or the scientologists, and then where would we be, but handing out a special award to Hillsong, or perhaps to media mad, there's 'signs of a satanist black mass on Mount Ainslie' Danny Nalliah of the Catch the Fire Ministries.

To narrow the field, the judges decided it should simply be a family feud, between veteran scribbler for The Age Barney Zwartz, who always manages to write queasy condescending back handed paeans of tolerance to unbelievers and dissidents bound for the flames of hellfire, and his partner Morag Zwartz.

Pass the envelope please, and oh what a tremendous win for women, Morag wins for her wonderful attack on the Victorian government's tourism campaign, more particularly a set of spots featuring a young woman with sapphic inclinations. They befouled the very concept of a civilised and decent society, and which offended in the most egregious way possible a couple of completely eccentric Victorians ... not for their aesthetic value, but for their vile sensuality, which made viewers hot to trot off to Hepburn for immersion in water and mud.

Give her the jingle bell award, which has bugger all to do with Christmas, but plenty to do with that heretic Santa and his sleigh and Xmas and singing the splendid hit from 1857 Jingle Bells ...

Finally the judges decided to indulge themselves by awarding a jury prize for the best contribution to the decline of editorial standards in the digital age. There were a few hot to trot contenders, none better than the punch drunk The Punch, home of many stars in the competition, like Bronnie and Sophie and Barners, and who can forget the lightweight babbling of the likes of bubble headed booby Tory Maguire, for at least five minutes after reading them ...

Despite intense lobbying, the majority of the simple minded judges decided that simply not paying for people to wank in public was a concept invented many years before by the blogging community, and so there wasn't sufficient reason to reward News Corp for heading back to the future.

Sure there's a nice tidy hypocrisy in News Corp CEO Hartigan's berating of bloggers as a pack of scum, and then showing how it's done by introducing a blog featuring a pack of 'scribble for free' ratbags, as capper to its ratbag bloggers Bolt and the aspirational, tragic, wannabe, lesser Bolt, Tim Blair, but despite the irony, most of the judges thought there were bigger fish to fry.

A few lobbied hard for Fairfax, but let's face it, the main paranoia there concerns declining market and profit share.

No, for true paranoia, mixed with a dash of schizophrenia as it spends most days abusing its AB demographic for their tertiary educated remoteness from the meaning of life, the judges decided that The Australian wins hands down as the paper most frequently certain to reference its brave start in life back in 1964 as a way of proving that it is right now but a shadow, a ghost of itself.

The judges made special mention of Paul Kelly's valiant role as the chief ghost in the machine, a man who routinely makes Gerard Henderson read like a bon vivant and wild eyed raging man about town ... even Henry Ergas hails him as the master of tedium, and who can argue with Henry, unless of course they have a business plan tediously proving that tedium is a viable way forward.

Yep, give them a big wreath of holly, which has as much to do with Christmas as a pine tree ... but a heck of a lot going for it if you're a lover of Xmas.

Naturally earlier in the evening, before the actual awards ceremony began, the judges also considered an international award, as a form of soft soap to the loons of the world, keen to confirm that antipodean loons are just a shadow of stout hearted internationalist loons keenly aware of the role of black helicopters in world affairs.

Their conclusion? It's all too hard. So many loons and so little time. Why at any one moment there's an American, often southern and frequently Christian, either mouthing off some demented conspiracy theory, or looking forward to the rapture. Indeed there's every evidence that a crazed conservative in America is about as crazed as the president of Iran, who is also a firm believer in the rapture ...

Confronted by this kind of abundance, the judges simply threw their hands in the air, and settled on the obvious choice, namely Sarah Palin. Yep, because she can see Russia, give her a star:

Yes, yes, of course the judges considered social networking, yes they considered Hal Colebatch, doing his best to make Australia famous in the American Spectator, yes they considered the whole host of loons available thanks to Fox News, but it seemed unadventurous to nominate Glenn Beck for his dedication to sheer astonishing loonacy and a wonderful bewildering range of demented conspiracy theories ... just as it seemed unimaginative to credit Rupert Murdoch for establishing a vast evil empire, when Darth Vader had managed that in a galaxy far far away ...

Instead the judges decided on an encouragement award, and looked to the future. They cited the way people in the United States are still talking about Palin as a potential presidential candidate, forcing pundits to contemplate the likes of Governor Haley Barbour as an alternative.

The judges singled out a remark by Sarah Palin in 2008 for her lifetime achievement award:

"You guys have heard some of the examples of where those dollars go," the fun Alaska governor said to the guys in the audience, acknowledging their media savvy about Congress members, who sometimes acquire public money for frivolous projects. "You've heard about the bridges. And some of these pet projects. They really don't make a whole lot of sense."

A troubled look crossed her face. "And sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good, things like ..." she grinned, shaking her head side to side, her voice rising to a facetious pitch "... fruit fly research in Paris, France." Feeling in tune with the guys in her audience, she added, "I kid you not." (Sarah Palin's latest swat at science).

From the point of view of the confident governor, who reportedly once remarked that "dinosaurs and humans walked the Earth at the same time," contradicting 200 years of paleontology, you can see how spending public money to study fruit flies seems so dumb.

Yep, in one little parable, Palin manages to summarise the aim of the conservative commentariat, which is to dumb down the planet, using whatever tools there are to hand - religion, prejudice, fear, ignorance, hatred, stupidity - so that it's very hard to pick the difference between Farmer Jones, Napoleon the pig and Rupert Murdoch ...

Well played all, and may the new year bring fresh new assaults on reason and science and the arts and anything else that gets up the noses of the conservative herd mentality, which naturally features conservative herd bleating about the herd mentality of others ...

And so that brings us to the end of the pond's awards season, and looking forward to a couple of days of rest, because after all it's Xmas and even the most agile and tenacious of loon followers and fellow travellers must take a little rest every so often ...

Oh yes, there were many good writers and many insightful pieces scribbled through the year, good films, good books, good magazines, all intelligent, sensitive and reasonable, not hard to find if you like the New Yorker or the New York Review of Books, or dozens of other homes to calm, incisive, measured thinking, but that's not the business of the pond, not when the hounds are baying and the loons are squawking and the hunt, dear Watson, the hunt is on ...

And so a happy Xmas or Christmas if that's your choice, or happy holidays or even holy days, whatever lights your fire, and a jolly good new year to all, and now it's time for the judges to retire to enjoy a few oysters and crayfish, Australia's pride and joy.

What's that you say?

These you may eat, of all that are in the waters. Everything in the waters that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers, you may eat. But anything in the seas or the rivers that has not fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is detestable to you. You shall regard them as detestable; you shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall detest their carcasses. Everything in the waters that has not fins and scales is detestable to you.

Poor Xians, how they miss out on the good things in life. But isn't that the conservative way, to detest the joys of life?

(Below: and now for a little rampant jingoism).