Saturday, November 20, 2010

Loon pond takes a break ...

The time has come to abandon the pond, and jump out into a bigger pond, the Pacific ocean.

Thank the absent lord it won't be by Qantas, not the airline it used to be. But rest assured, it isn't a cruise either. The day I go cruising, you have my permission to follow me and toss me into the water ...

In the meantime, since the pond specialises in exotica, esoterica and meaningless data quoted by ranting loons, why not head off to worldometers for a brisk gin and tonic of statistics whirling around faster than ever.

Once you see the data ceaselessly whirring and ticking, you'll realise it's easy enough to understand the dangers of fornication, and its impact on statistics, but how on earth does the grim reaper keep up the required pace? Memo to Christopher Pearson: don't worry about the world being underpopulated because of gay marriage ...

Not to your taste, but feeling frisky as a film-maker? In its constant quest for world domination, Amazon studios have set up a kind of universal world-wide Tropfest, under the name amazonstudios. Sheesh, as if the world wasn't already flooded with crap movies and half-baked ideas ...

This is what happens when a company gets too much money and time on its hands ...

And finally, something for the anxious conservative male, disturbed at the way women are getting uppity. Time for a Japanese android ... and she's ever so polite, as you might expect of a Japanese woman of any construction ...

Sssh, don't mention her existence to Christopher Pearson, we wouldn't want an unseemly infatuation to develop ... and next thing you know he'll be scribbling about android marriage ...

Yep, there are a billion stories on the intertubes, and the information superhighway is here and now, which is why it's such joy to see the Liberal party and the coalition wanting to keep it to the rutting, bumping, juddering, unpaved roads of the nineteen fifties ...

Ah the good old nineteen fifties, when radio was the major entertainment. My name is Randy Stone ... I cover the night beat for the daily ... Stories start in many different ways.

This one began with Malcolm Turnbull making a fortune out of dial up, and then whacking everybody else over the head so hard they saw stars and everything went black, and so they stayed with ... dial up ...

Don't know what I'm talking about? Well here's a dose of OTR nostalgia from New Zealand and over at the Internet Archive there are abundant copies of Randy Stone doing the radio show Night Beat, saved from the junk heap of OTR, and made available on the intertubes ...

As everything from the past, from the smallest bees' droppings to the beeswax of Christopher Pearson, begins to reside in the cloud ... and the Liberal party want access to the cloud to be at a pedestrian pace so that the sheep can be clipped, not just by speed, but by price and by cap ...

So it goes ...

Meanwhile, thanks for dropping in on the pond.

If you clicked on the worldometer, depending on the time and the hour, you'll see that blog posts posted today are well into the hundreds of thousand and zooming past the half million mark, and this was just one of them.

Feel exhausted? Well that's why we're off to explore the Pacific in regions where broadband matches the concept of the Her Majesty's Loyal Luddite Australian oppostion.

Business - the long absent lord willing - will resume in a week or so and in the meantime enjoy ...

Christopher Pearson, and fine examples of shallow arguments sinking in the shallow end of the pond ...

(Above: More links to cartoons here).

First of all a group think hug.

This is crunch time ...The onus is on the government to supply the information. Or the network plan ... will collapse. And Labor's credibility will collapse with it. (Peter Hartcher, Strike up the broadband).

The broadband network has become a make-or-break test for Gillard Labor.

While the idea of a National Broadband Network retains popular appeal, this issue is undermining the economic reputation, financial credibility and governance standards of Gillard Labor. (Paul Kelly, NBN heat is on and it'll keep rising).

The dogs are barking - well Kelly is baying in the true style of a minion of Murdoch - and once again hysterical denunciation and theatrical exaggeration becomes the tone of the debate. Once again Barnaby Joyce wins, and what a splendidly empty, shallow, hollow victory it might turn out to be ...

Meanwhile, speaking of shallow hysterics and denunciations, each Saturday we can always rely on Christopher Pearson to set the tone, and his Gay marriage demands should be left on the shelf is yet another splendid of example of ways to save the Latin mass from the liberal mob ...

The tag runs The most obvious thing about arguments for same-sex marriage is their shallowness.

Pearson then obliges by showing how the arguments against can be equally shallow.

It is of course couched in a way that shows a deep concern for the Labor party:

Running the risk of alienating so much of your traditional support base, at this stage in federal Labor's history, is daylight madness. At least Gillard seems to have grasped that fact.

Yes, the principled Pearson is deeply concerned by the attitudes of voters in western Sydney, some parts of suburban Melbourne, and the north Tasmanian seats of Bass and Lyons, though it seems the inner suburbs might have to be written off as a dead loss.

Yes polling as principle strikes again. Next week? Look forward to a column about cynical poll driven politicians lacking principle ...

As well as the polls, there's also religion:

There is another core constituency, sometimes overlapping, who have been critical to Labor's victories in the past two elections. I'm talking about not just the Christian vote but the votes of people who are adherents of all the main, organised religions.

Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists all take the institution of marriage very seriously. As things stand, Labor can normally count on a fair share of those people's votes. However, the electoral implications of giving them a faith-based reason for voting for the Coalition are obvious.

Yes principled Pearson is deeply concerned, not just about Christians - why he astutely fails to mention his Catholic fundamentalism throughout his piece - but religions of all shades and hues.

It reminds me that we don't live in a secular state but rather should kowtow to all the religious and their various views, and if we were deeply serious about not offending anyone on the matter of homosexuality, perhaps it's time to revert to the laws that govern such wise countries as Malaysia - where the laws against sodomy prove very handy when it comes to dealing with political opposition - or perhaps Uganda, where fundie Christians have taken fundamental steps ...

And perhaps once we're done with that, we can move on to adopt the - admittedly conflicting - religious attitudes to dress, to eating habits, to circumcision, and to pork that will prevent various religions getting upset about the wicked ways of the world ...

Then of course there are the blue collar workers, regularly cited by the commentariat as reasons to do nothing, except perhaps drink beer and indulge in a glassing or two as an expression of tribal rituals:

The blue-collar social conservatives of the outer suburbs inhabit a less theoretical world. They are often unapologetically tribal in outlook and their best hopes are often invested in their children.

Most parents on low wages routinely make sacrifices on their kids' behalf in ways middle-class couples seldom do these days. There is also still something self-sacrificial among many of them on marriage: the notion that it's hard work much of the time but worth the effort.

Yes, as a summary of a bunch of unsubstantiated prejudices about self-sacrificing tribalism, that surely wins the blue collar wanker of the week award.

But you know, in true paranoid Glenn Beck style, there's surely something much deeper at work here, perhaps a UN conspiracy which subverts the entire basis of western civilisation, and perhaps even involves black helicopters:

Speaking of dead ends, some American bishops have recently given a persuasive account of why same-sex marriage has come to look like a modest reform. They put it down to a culture where contraception and abortion are so widely practised that the crucial differences between a fertile couple, a couple childless by choice and a gay couple have been largely obscured and each partnership is seen as morally equivalent. They also lay some of the blame on a UN version of entitlement, in which marriage could be reduced to an unqualified abstract right.

Sob, yes, it's not just selfish couples it's the UN. On the other hand, you might find linking contraception, abortion, fertility and gay rights, not so much shallow, but actually utterly bizarre, the kind of thing only the paranoid or the religious might manage ...

But hang on, Christians didn't invent marriage, so how come they get to determine what is a qualified un-abstract right? Frankly I blame all of it on the Christian version of entitlement ...

Steady, clearly I'm not fully aware of the deeper paranoid perspective, which explains why, along with the UN, the Greens are so active. It has nothing to do with principles of fairness or equality, but part of their shocking deep secret furtive agenda to undermine western civilisation as we know it:

Among the reasons the Greens are so keen on same-sex marriage is that they want to reduce the population and drive down national fertility. Their refusal to discriminate positively in favour of heterosexuality and uphold the distinctive value of normal marriage shows their political project yet again for what it is: a dead end.

Uh huh. Yes, same sex marriage will surely drive down national fertility, as people swap the desire to breed for the bliss of a homosexual union.

What a deeply unshallow sensible argument. But hang on a second, who scribbled this?

It should be obvious to unprejudiced observers that, while there are plenty of well-adjusted gays who manage to lead satisfying and productive lives, rational people do not of their own volition choose to be homosexual.

Say what? There'll still be a few breeders left to help drive up national fertility? And they'll be rational?

Then of course there are the splendid arguments in favour of traditional marriage, as propounded by a sentimentalist who, to my knowledge, has never been married.

What this set of cliches and stereotypes has to do with whether same sex marriage is a goer is hard to determine, but never mind, here they are:

... the few remaining privileges reserved for matrimony are there for sound, practical reasons.

Men and women tend to have different needs and priorities when they enter a mature sexual relationship.

Most men are not naturally disposed to be monogamous, for example. One of the purposes of marriage is to bind them to their spouses and children for the long haul and to give the state's approval to those who enter such a contract and abide by its terms.

Uh huh. So marriage is after all, just a legal contract, and it turns out, a pretty shoddy one, often not worth the paper it's printed on:

In Australia, every third marriage ends in divorce;
About 29% of Australians never marry;
During the past two decades, Australians started to marry less and divorce more;
About one-third of children today are born outside the traditional marriage ...

So much for the long haul, and abiding by contractual terms. Perhaps what we need is an oral contract, which is certainly not worth the paper it's written on ...

Another of the purposes of marriage is to affirm that parenthood is a big, and in most cases the primary, contribution a couple can make, both to their own fulfilment and the public good.

Yes, but what about gay couples who are making an affirmation of parenthood, and doing the best they can by the children in their care, and wanting to make a primary, contribution to these children? Should they continue to have the status of bastard outcasts?

It follows that societies which want to sustain their population size, let alone increase their fertility level, should positively discriminate in favour of stable, heterosexual relationships and assert the preferability of adolescents making a normal transition to heterosexual adulthood.

Uh huh. Or else we'll be swamped by hordes of fertile people descending from the north. Not that we're paranoid, nor ready to do our duty by the country by getting out and breeding, when typing columns sounding the alarm is a kind of duty ...

It seems, if you happen to be a paranoid believer in normality, if you hang around gays, why it could well be impossible to make a normal transition to heterosexual adulthood. That's the way it is with homosexuals. Once they get their hands on the children, the next thing you know they're grooming them for a life of sin, far removed from the stable heterosexual relationships that exist in Pearson's principled mind, but which seem a little more remote in the real world ...

Well there you have it, a set of arguments so deeply shallow that it shows exactly why Pearson is such a fine thinker, and would be at home in Catholic Spain or Argentina ...

But we should also note his deep thinking by way of rebuttal, the kind of thing you need in the last frenetic moments of any debate:

She (Michelle Grattan) told ABC Radio National's Breakfast show this week that Julia Gillard would have to change tack on the subject, preferably sooner rather than later.

Mind you, she was talking to the show's presenter, Fran Kelly, whose agenda on same-sex issues is well known, and to some extent may have been framing her remarks accordingly.

Uh huh. So now it's the pink mafia pursuing their notorious agenda within the ABC, in consort with the Fairfax press. Yes, it's not just the Greens and the UN, it's Fairfax and the lesbian Kelly in cohorts:

Grattan's argument is the same sort of vulgar inevitabilism that she, Paul Kelly and the press gallery at large displayed on the outcome of the republican referendum. But Kelly at least has more of a feel for the values of blue-collar workers in the outer suburbs. As he says, Arbib's push to change the law on marriage "testifies to how politicians can be fooled by opinion polls and miss the bigger picture".

And what is Paul Kelly's principled stand, deeply concerned as he is too for the values of blue-collar workers, in what might be dubbed the vulgar triumphalism of the blue collar?

"Why is it time?" Kelly asked. "Because the Greens are stealing Labor's votes, that's why. So Labor should cynically abandon its support for the foundational social institution, a move that will trigger a deeply polarising debate and brand Labor indelibly as a libertarian personal rights party ready to ditch any institution or principle. In the process, Labor will alienate permanently an important section of its base."

Lordy, lordy, how shocking, to become branded as a libertarian personal rights party, and shockingly ready to ditch any institution or principle ... by allowing more people to participate in it.

Well enough already from the conservative commentariat deeply concerned about Labor alienating an important section of its base.

It's sufficient that it alienates the likes of Paul Kelly, Christopher Pearson, and of course humbugs who've resolutely avoided the state of marriage, to get hitched to Christ and run, in true George Pell style, retrograde religions determined to do whatever they can to give gay people a hard time ...

Having tried it several times, I'm in a handy position to recommend the institution of marriage to everyone, and let anyone who wants to, give it a go ... And the more times the better, even if there are a few doubters or a few punters, like Pearson, unwilling to line up at the crease for a bat ...

Marriage is a fine institution - but I'm not ready for an institution - Mae West.

There isn't a single argument in Pearson's piece which isn't in its own way, a simple minded appeal to current and past prejudices ...

Yep, whenever we want to go for a swim in the shallow end of the pond, Pearson is always there to oblige ...

Can someone find the funds to send him off to Catholic Spain to see how the blue collar worker values he so piously espouses have been seriously undermined by recent legislation?

Only a one way ticket of course, and cheap at half the price ... and sssh, don't tell him, if he finds a nice boy, he can get married and settle down there ... permanently ...

(Below: a few more cartoons to suit the stereotypical days of our lives).

Friday, November 19, 2010

Henry Ergas, Ross Cameron, and a stunning, stupefying diversity and abundance ...

(Above: three fifty seven channels and nothing on).

Time to seek out some more of that independent thinking that's such a regular feature of The Australian's opinion pages - just love the singularly diverse thinking that always seems to arrive at a hive singularity - and wouldn't you know it, there's good old Henry Ergas at the top of the page Blowing the final whistle on Australian TV rules.

For those who came in late, some time ago, The Australian spent months in a state of shock at the way the Federal Government had gifted some $250 million to FTA operators by rebating licence fees, and in a state of outrage at the shocking way the current sports anti-siphoning regime helps position free to air over pay.

None of this had anything to do with the way that The Australian and Foxtel share a stable. It was just the way a noble independent rag could display its intrinsic sense of justice and fair play ...

Poor old Henry follows that line so closely that they felt the need to put up a disclaimer:

Henry Ergas has been a consultant on other matters to Telstra, which owns 50 per cent of Foxtel. The views expressed here are strictly his own.

Put it another way:

The rag publishing Henry Ergas's wise thoughts is owned by News Corp, which happens to own 25% of Foxtel, along with Consolidated Media Holdings Limited (25%) and Telstra (25%) (News Corporation Foxtel) and while the views expressed by Henry are strictly his own, they are enthusiastically endorsed by News Corp and the management of Foxtel ...

Yep, Henry delivers up in reliable style all the Foxtel current talking points, though is strangely silent about their current argument that government funding for programming should end up in their pockets, serving 33% of taxpayers, while the free to airs whistle dixie.

Perhaps that's because Foxtel is most interested in sport, especially in the new multi-channel environment where consumers have started to wonder about the need to pay for televisual crap in abundance when there's a plethora of free crap readily to hand.

Anyway, no need to canvas Henry's arguments. They're simple: sports bodies suffer, viewers suffer, give sport to Foxtel so consumers can pay for it, and by the way free to airs are bad ...

But then he delivers himself a doozy:

In the longer term, this entire edifice will collapse as internet TV eliminates the distinction between FTA and subscription TV services, with all operators deriving revenues both from advertising and from payments by viewers. Repealing the anti-siphoning rules would facilitate this transition, while removing distortions well past their use-by date.

Oh dear, the elephant in the bedroom, or is that the News Corp board room. Eliminate the distinction between FTA and subscription TV?

But Henry for internet TV to truly flourish and achieve the technical standards currently managed by broadcasting through the ether, the NBN would have to arrive, to deliver the kind of streaming required for bulk HD programming. And as we all know News Corp is mounting a fierce campaign against the very notion of the NBN - a totally useless concept - and you yourself have scribbled freely and endlessly about the futility of having the NBN.

Henry is one of those deluded free marketeers who think that the media will somehow escape government regulation and involvement and ultimately turn into an unblighted, splendidly pure system delivering value to consumers. It's a vision which reduces me to tears, especially when delivered by The Australian, part of News Corp, one of the largest and most offensive aspirants to monopoly status in the Australian media ...

I guess at least they're tears of laughter ...

Speaking of laughs, if you want a truly splendid laugh, look no further than the euphoric state of nature-loving ecstasy on view in Ross Cameron's Amid the climate gloom life goes on and nature thrives.

Cameron spends an excessive amount of words proving that no glass need be so half empty than that some moron can somehow imagine it completely full to the point of overflowing.

Everything's for the best in the best of all possible worlds, we are full to the brim with Wordsworthian wonder about nature, scientists are discovering new creatures, there's a riot of species, the starfish are on the retreat, the seas are in good shape - sure they might rise a little bit but that will only produce great opportunities for surfing - and the wild birds are back in Sydney town:

The lorikeets and kookaburras are back on balconies of Meriton Apartments, eating seed meal from Woolworths. It is no Arcadian idyll but it is successful adaptation.

Oh nature sublime, oh vision splendid.

Meanwhile, China is doing top notch environmental work - no need for Australia to embark on same - and Tokyo has adapted to subsidence, and it's going to cost the Dutch diddly squat to combat the rising seas, because they're not going to rise so much, and the Dutch are awfully clever.

Hmmn, why did I return from Shanghai with my throat constricted with a kind of black soot disease?

Not to worry, the Murray is flowing again, springing back to life with death-defying audacity:

Inflows in October were the highest in a decade. Shellfish middens dotting the dunes attest that this special place has sustained human and marine life throughout droughts and floods for 30,000 years.

Oh life giving midden, oh vision surreal. Thank the lord Australians can dine out on Murray basin shellfish ...

Sure, sure there are a few minor problems. What's that you say? The nine billion people anticipated to infest the planet like Sydney cockies might be a bit tricky? The effects of climate change might not be entirely sanguine?

What are you, some kind of Al gore type alarmist eco warrior? Don't you understand that climate change is going to be jolly good for everyone. Along with a minor rise in seas, we'll get a spiffing reduction in energy costs, and life will grow even more feral and abundant, and with greater diversity ...

Back to those minor problems which people have blithely overlooked while worrying about the big picture:

... we risk failing to respond adequately to soluble problems like why marine mammals beach or how to repel the European carp from Australian rivers and arrest the southern march of the cane toad. We can and must tackle the boring but important challenges of noxious weeds and feral cats. All are responsive to effort, ingenuity and leadership.

What? No mention of bunny rabbits and wild dogs and camels and pigs and water buffalo and pigeons. Or the way the cockies were due to be culled in Broadway?

Just the cat, the toad and the carp and a few noxious weeds? Oh and won't someone think of the whales, won't someone save the beached whales ...

Phew that's a total relief. Now since everything's so spiffing, if only someone can get Cameron to indulge in a diet of fish fresh from Sydney harbour ... he sounds like he needs a hearty dose of heavy metals, with some bonus mercury, to slow him down ...

Time now for an exhortatory wrap up complete with a wild eyed hysteria and a tendency towards sociopathic megalomania ...

Humankind must be accountable for its ability to affect the quality of life of all species on the planet we share but let's admit it is not possible for 6 billion humans to live anywhere in a ''steady state''. Nature doesn't. We mustn't get depressed by the hellfire gloom of those trying to scare us into submission. The story of life on earth is one of stunning resilience, abundance and diversity.

And of course stunning stupidity, and we thank Cameron for further evidence of same. The byline notes that he's a former federal Liberal MP, proving once again that a little culling of feral species is a good thing, even if it means the newspapers are soon littered with their droppings as they take up new nests in a display of stunning resilience, abundance and single minded cheeriness ...

Cameron is of course a Christian, of the kind that loves to confess their infidelities, and during his career, while following the standard line on abortion, gay marriage, single parents, and such like matters, also found the time to double deal his wife. Something to do with attention spans and memory perhaps:

Our lack of perspective derives in part from shortness of memory. It is not possible to recall the five mass extinction events that have, independent of man, wiped out more than 90 per cent of all species that ever lived - only to be followed, in each case, by an explosion of new life. Virtually no large land animals survived the end Cretaceous mass extinction 65 million years ago. As global temperatures rose six to 14 degrees higher than current levels, most plants and tropical marine life were decimated but all life on earth today is descended from the 10 to 15 per cent of species that survived that terrible wipeout.

Oh come on Mr Cameron, we all know the world started precisely - as best can now be verified - at nine am on October 23rd 4004 BC. What is this Cretaceous crap whereof you speak? And if this was god's work, need humanity emulate god?

Day by day, loon pond grows stronger, its wildlife showing stunning resilience and abundance, and soon enough, the pond will take over the world.

Now since it's been awhile since we've had a reading, how about a little Wordsworth, lines written in early spring:

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:---
But the least motion which they made,
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

And just so Henry Ergas doesn't feel left out by all this talk of nature, a little Bruce Springsteen:

I bought a bourgeois house in the Hollywood hills
With a trunkload of hundred thousand dollar bills
Man came by to hook up my cable TV
We settled in for the night my baby and me
We switched ’round and ’round ’til half-past down
There was fifty-seven channels and notin’ on

Well now home entertainment was my baby’s wish
So I hopped into town for a satellite dish
I tied it to the top of my Japanese car
I came home and I pointed it out into the stars
A message came back from the great beyond
There’s fifty-seven channnels and nothin’ on

Well we might’ a made some friends with some billionaires
We might’ a got all nice and friendly
If we’d made it upstairs
All I got was a note that said "Bye-bye John
Our love is fifty-seven channels and nothin’ on"

So I bought a .44 magnum it was solid steel cast
And in the blessed name of Elvis well I just let it blast
’Til my TV lay in pieces there at my feet
And they busted me for disturbin’ the almighty peace
Judge said "What you got in your defense son ?"
"Fifty-seven channels and nothin’ on"
I can see by your eyes friend you’re just about gone
Fifty-seven channels and nothin’ on
Fifty-seven channels and nothin’...

This is dedicated to the man who used his shotgun to take out his TV, enraged as he was by the sight of a Palin dancing. Enjoy the wobbly cam coverage:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Miranda Devine, Paul Sheehan, and more tweets from the twitterati ...

(Above: can someone please explain why this twitter account is full of images of Fairfax rags? Has anyone caught up with the news that the Devine is a minion of Murdoch? Though the horse featured on the front page of the Fin is nice. Splendid mane).

There's nothing like a royal wedding to get the commentariat foaming with excitement.

Paul Sheehan rushed into print with Memories of Diana in wedding to buoy a gloomy nation, and burbled:

Diana may have been beautiful, beloved, photogenic, warm and shrewd, but she could never be mistaken for clever. She was also neurotic.

But Middleton is smart. Beautiful in an understated way, with a glorious and unashamed mane.

Mane? Glorious and unashamed?

By golly, don't let him near the filly, or next thing you know, he'll be patting her on the rump and checking her teeth, before remarking how she looks like fine breeding stock and worth a canter or even a gallop around the paddock. Silly old goose.

Naturally when there's nothing much to scribble about - once the fine mane on the fetching filly, the media, and the commemorative kitsch is covered - then it's time for Sheehan to draw up a significant sociological conclusion:

This process is proving as painless as the arrival of Australia's first de facto first couple, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Tim Mathieson, a former hairdresser and hair products salesman, now the occupants of The Lodge.

Oh yes, the times are a changing, but the banality of the observations remains eternal. What a relief to know that this will be a "modern, working marriage" and that Middleton has a fine job for Party Pieces "All of which limits, rather than magnifies, the perception of the royals as being 'different'".

Sure, and she'll only be marrying into a family where grandma is worth a three hundred million pounds or so, and cops a hundred million pounds a year from the Crown Estate before expenses ... so they can do bugger all except hang around having emotional crises and go deer hunting and provide fodder for magazines and such splendid movies as The Queen. How quaintly lumpenproletariat ...

Over at the Daily Terror, Miranda the Devine seizes the moment in Royals better off with Charles bypass to talk treason, and suggest it's off with his head time for Charles the Third, in much the same way as King Charles the First had a brush with the executioner:

After all his public agonies, Charles should now take the many heavy hints that have piled up over the years and sail off into the sunset with his mistress-turned-wife Camilla, leaving his far more formidable 28-year-old son to be king, and the far more appropriate Kate Middleton as queen.

Yes bugger off Charlie, you're not the Devine's darling, because you're out of date, and out of touch:

The Queen announced the news of her grandson's engagement yesterday with the following tweet - yes, tweet - on the social networking site Twitter:

"The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are absolutely delighted at the news of Prince William and Catherine Middleton's engagement."

It was a sign, not just that that the monarchy has arrived in the 21st century, but that it belongs to William's generation.

Hang on, hang on, what's that you say? Tweeting is now and cool and perhaps even fully sick wicked?

Twitter and Facebook, after all, are as alien to fusty 62-year-old Prince Charles as faithfulness was in his first marriage.

Oh dear, long gone are the memories of the potent destructive impacts of technology, perhaps more extreme than twenty Hiroshimas, a veritable tsunami of catastrophe on the plastic human brain, as celebrated by Miranda the Devine when she had a serious flirtation with the thoughts of Susan Greenfield:

... she points out anyone in the 1950s who suggested a link between cancer and smoking would have been howled down. And she remains unconvinced that Twitter, with its 140-character demand for brevity, is giving rise to a new literacy.

There was a guilty silence during the lunch as Greenfield looked around at the assembled journalists and business people and said, "I'm sure no one in this room has Twitter." The closet twitterati kept their mouths shut, and text messages went unanswered.

Oh you dumbo Greenfield, the Queen has twittered and that's what makes her the monarch, long may she rule over us.

But hang on, hang on, what was that tweet reported in the Washington Post here doing in the digital ether?

Yep, poor old fuddy duddy Charlie no longer our darling is twittering on as best he can, and it was his tweet that made the formal announcement, as was right and proper - after all the dad has a role to play - but it counts for nought with the Devine, who is clearly as couth as a cut black snake.

These days everybody tweets. If you want more mindless tweets, you can of course tweet away with the Devine, here, or you might join Clarence House here for such splendid gobbets and bon mots as:

The Duchess of Cornwall travels on a Routemaster bus with schoolchildren to a reception held by @Literacy_Trust
about 6 hours ago via Twitpic
Statement from Prince Harry: “I am delighted that my brother has popped the question! It means I get a sister, which I have always wanted.”

For those too lazy to click on the twit pic link, here's the actual twit pic:

So the twittering tweeter can't even keep up with who's tweeting what. Surely this is first class evidence of the impact of social media on the plastic human brain, especially as in Miranda the Devine there's a heck of a lot of plastic to impact ...

The picture of Camilla is relevant to the story, because Miranda the Devine cheerfully regurgitates abusive comments directed at The Rottweiler on the royal family Facebook site ...

The comments are petty and cruel ...

But hey, I'm Miranda the Devine, very much inclined to the petty and cruel, so here's a few jokes about floating turds and staff Christmas party maids ... and so on ...

Never mind, it's all splendid news, and likely to save Britain, and even though there might be the odd loser royal, surely this has cemented our warm relationship with the monarchy:

The couple appeared to be so lovely and genuinely in love, it's no wonder their news has delighted their economically troubled nation, with the Prime Minister David Cameron and his Cabinet reportedly pounding fists on their desks with happiness.

In Australia, meanwhile, can't you just hear the sound of republicans gnashing their teeth?

Actually m'dear I'm chortling so hard at your column I don't have time to grind and gnash my teeth. Let's leave that to Dick Dastardly ...

"The fact that in 2010, a wedding announcement to the other side of the world between two young English people stands to impact on our own constitutional arrangements is simply absurd," the Australian Republican Movement's chairman Mike Keating said in a statement yesterday.

Ah, but it's not just the tweeting or Camilla that's an issue. You see Charlie is kooky and flawed, a crazed greenie.

In fact, it's time to remember that the extreme secret agenda outlined by Janet Albrechtsen yesterday in Extreme secret agenda aims to change our society has its tentacles deeply embedded within the British monarchy. You see, Charlie is worse than a Mason, a scientologist, a stone cutter or a Rosicrucian. He's a greenie, part of a vast international conspiracy with an extreme secret agenda to change our society ...

As a result, if Charlie were ever to come to power - oh save us Prince Willy, save us - there'd need to be a Cromwellian revolution. Off with his head:

William's engagement announcement also couldn't have come at a better time to eclipse the bad publicity that is sure to come from Charles' greenie documentary Harmony.

To be broadcast this week in the US, it is reportedly an attempt by Charles to pitch himself as a British Al Gore.

It could also be seen as his last-ditch pitch for what Diana called the "top job".

Oh the outrageous kooky cad, suffering as he is from delusions of green grandeur:

Charles says in the program, "I can only somehow imagine that I find myself being born into this position for a purpose" - to save the planet.

Billed as a "call to action on climate change", the project was his idea, and comes with a book and children's version.

Not the children! Won't someone think of the children in the clutch of this monster!

"He felt there were a lot of urgent issues to be discussed," his co-producer Stuart Sender told Reuters.

"He is very involved in the movie as a narrator, and on camera. Some of the Prince's projects are also featured in the film."

Uh huh. But it's not only Charlie who's kooky. What could you make of a kook who thinks this kind of catty comment is a killer closer?

... his (Prince Charles') first response to reporters' questions yesterday was abrasive.

"They've been practising for long enough," he said. Camilla said the news was "wicked".

Admittedly she had just come out of the musical of the same name, but why would Camilla employ a slang word used by people 40 years her junior, which has such an obvious double meaning?

Diana wins again.

Is there any clearer sign of the abrasive effect of twitter on Miranda the Devine's plastic fully sick wicked paranoid brain? Even when she indulges in idle gossip, she manages to sound demented ...

Meanwhile, the Australians for Constitutional Monarchy are fully sick excited at the prospect of a wedding ... wicked ... and naturally the nauseatingly supine, obsequious, servile, complaisant, deferential, fawning, and dutiful Tony Abbott announced in his lickspittle obedient way that he was the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition ...

Oh yes, it's way past time to bring back Cromwell ...

Behead the lot of them, starting with Paul Sheehan and Miranda the Devine, but why not include David Flint and Tony Abbott just for the fun of it ...

(Below: a few more splendid, glorious, unashamed manes to keep you going).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Janet Albrecthsen, and wise words to Tootles who want to leave the tracks ...

(Above: the shocking, secret, ultimately revealing story of Tootle and his hidden agenda).

There's a dreary predictability and familiarity that infests the squawking of the pond.

I guess if you have a one track mind, with hints of bee hive group think, and a hefty dose of Anthony Perkins' paranoia - take that, mixed metaphors - it's important to always stay on the track.

Lately I've been thinking of the commentariat as little Tootles. For those who came in late, Tootle was a train who was told he couldn't become a big engine - a flyer like the Flying Scotsman - unless he scored A+ in the most important course, Staying on the Rails.

But the wayward young vagrant showed a distressing pleasure in abandoning the rails and frolicking in the meadow, looking at flowers and playing with butterflies. Sure he felt guilt - what decent Catholic little train wouldn't feel guilt, playing and having fun - but guilt wasn't enough to get him back on the tracks.

(Oh you wretched naughty fun-loving frivolous hippie Tootle).

Naturally the Mayor got mad as hell when he saw Tootle playing with butterflies. He organised the villagers with a bunch of red flags and set them up in a meadows stake out. Since no train could ever defy a red flag, when Tootle left the rails yet again, he was stopped by the red flag the villagers waved at him. Every which way he turned, there was a red flag. He cried, he moaned, but then a green flag got him back on the one true track, and everyone was happy. At Golden Books' end, young Tootle has turned into yet another boring, hectoring, conservative old fart, telling young locomotives to Stay on the Rails No Matter What ...

Uh huh. So yesterday we had our esteemed Polonius, Gerard Henderson, positively dancing for joy - well as much as a sombre old hidebound conservative can dance for joy - at the Victorian Liberals tactical decision to re-install a Labor government rather than do a dalliance with the Greens (Coalition generals plan to fight them on the outskirts). Naturally it was all the fault of the professional tertiary educated elite, with job security and secure superannuation ... you know, like Gerard Henderson ...

Still at least no one would leave the rails, no matter what, and thus Victoria could be guaranteed either Tweedle Dum, John Brumby, or Dee, the hapless Ted Baillieu ...

Phew, take that damn butterfly liberal leets.

Today, we have Dame Slap, the always alarmist Janet Albrechtsen, issuing dire paranoid warnings to young trains everywhere. Extreme secret agenda aims to change our society, she shrieks, and we know who are the usual suspects. That's right it's those damn young comfortably middle class inner city dwellers and their smug ways ... a bit like Janet Albrechtsen really, but they happen to have left the tracks ...

Naturally in order to expose the highly secret covert agenda of the Greens - more covert and secret than the Masons, the Rosicrucians, the Stone Cutters and the Scientologists - Dame Slap turns to that devastating source of good sense, and enlightenment philosophy, Kevin Andrews, for some hard hitting advice to young Tootles:

Last week, Liberal frontbencher Kevin Andrews gave an address exposing the history and the philosophical roots behind the rise of the Greens.

Had someone such as Malcolm Turnbull given this speech, the media would have lauded it as a brilliant treatise demolishing the Greens as anything but a moderate force for good. Instead, the speech by a more conservative Liberal is buried. That's a shame.

Well it's true if Turnbull had given it, the Tootles might not have nodded off into a deep restful sleep. The monomaniacal obsessive compulsive Andrews has found his true calling and home at the punch drunk Punch, celebrating the drug infested world of cycling ... (and Mary MacKillop, who didn't mind the odd lash of fermented liquid herself).

In all his columns, he shows the depth and diversity of a lawyer very much given to staying on the tracks ... No off road cycling, puh-lease ...

Now some inner city elites might think that Andrews is on a career long path to achieving a minor role as a dry as dust character in an Anthony Powell novel, but truth to tell not even Powell could be so dull.

Andrews traces the values that underpin our liberal democracy, ideas such as the intrinsic human dignity where the individual is paramount.

He juxtaposes our Judeo-Christian heritage and the ideas of the Enlightenment with the very different historical roots of the Greens, where the subordination of the individual has become the driving ideology to effect radical economic and social change.

Yep, it seems he continues to show his capacity for the usual conservative ahistorical twaddle we've come to expect in this country, in this case somehow managing to conflate a Judeo-Christian heritage (and never mind those sordid gods-worshipping Athenian Greeks) with the Enlightenment, which just happened to be the time when intellectuals, often of a rising middle class disposition, took the stick to some of the more eminent superstitions and nonsense emanating from the stench of a Judeo-Christian heritage. Oh yes, it was back to the real Romans in enlightenment times ...

Back to Andrews and his insights for young Tootles:

"Unless we understand the ideological foundations of the Greens, we will fail to effectively address the challenge of their revolution . . . What the Greens present is the cutting edge of a clash within Western civilisation itself," Andrews said. By looking closely at Greens policies, he has uncovered what he calls the new coercive utopianism.

Coercive utopianism? Why that sounds very alarming, and so unlike the Liberal medicine - you know, the one that says off to the factory to work for rich master, until you drop dead and they send your corpse off to glue factory, since waste not, want not should always be the go. And if they don't like that sort of thing in the docks, why send in the dogs ... How's that for an old kind of coercive utopianism?

Yes, young Tootles, hearken to the drumbeat of paranoia:

It becomes clear that behind every stated purpose - and an increasing number of anodyne motherhood statements - set out in Greens policies through the years is a secret agenda that, at its core, is anti-free trade, anti-capitalism, anti-wealth, anti-consumption and anti-growth.

Why they must swagger around, like rebels without a cause, like that Marlon Brando in that bikie film.

"What're you rebelling against Bobby Brown", they ask, and he gives the interrogator a cool, steely glance, as he replies "Whaddya got?"

Bob Brown as an off the rails bikie ... who'd have thunk it?

The Greens' latest bill to stop banks raising interest rates beyond the Reserve Bank's official cash rate is just the latest example. It fits the Greens' agenda to reduce the flow of credit in an effort to reduce consumption.

Actually, stupid idea that it is, it perfectly fits the idle wretched rhetoric of bank bashing these past few weeks by jolly Joe Hockey, and that's why it's clever politics by Brown, showing that Hockey is willing to walk the walk, and blather about levers and regulations, but when it comes to the crunch, incapable of doing anything about it ...

That's what irritates the crap out of the commentariat, but of course all the opprobrium has to be heaped on Brown, rather than the irresponsible yet impotent squawkings of jolly Joe.

But wait, there's more insights into the devastating and secret Greens agenda:

Drawing on the Greens de facto think tank, the Australia Institute, new Greens member Adam Bandt wants us to work less, too, presumably so we earn less money and consume less material goods.

Work less? What, you mean frolic in the fields, looking at the flowers and playing with the butterflies? What a shocking, reprehensible idea. Back to factory lad, work hard, consume and die ... It's called life ...

Yes, this is the kind of dangerous laid back extremism that could turn Australia into a quagmire of slacker dudes:

Maude Lebowski: What do you do for recreation?
The Dude: Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.

Why if this kind of extremism came to pass, Janet Albrechtsen might end up writing only one conservative ranting column a fortnight, and still be handsomely paid for that onerous task.

Now there's a commitment to hard work ... and on the upside, it would leave her more time to go shopping for that plasma screen she desperately needs for the second bathroom ...

Okay young Tootles, it's time for the wrap up:

For too long, Greens extremism has been hidden from the Australian public under a cuddly shroud of green goodwill.

Yes indeed so hidden that people have actually voted for them, without understanding that they are in fact cannibals, and eat the body of Christ on a regular weekly basis (let's not get into the drinking of the blood). The damn Satanists, is there no end to their trickery and perversions ...

Cuddly shroud? Better talk of the Turin shroud than all this nonsense about living with regard to the environment when it's so much more jolly to dig it up and ship it to China ...

As success brings more scrutiny, the Greens may well go the way of earlier "new forces" in Australian politics. But just as the Greens would be foolish to take their continuing success for granted, we would be unwise to treat their demise as a given.

Yes, young Tootles, remember everywhere there's a Green waiting to turn you into a mindless willing slave to servitude. Better get out that job application, and start punching the clock to serve your time.

Once again it's time to remind you of the importance of staying on the tracks. Sure the tracks might take you to Iraq via Afghanistan, but what a picturesque and successful ride, as we valiantly fight to preserve our Judeo-Christian ethics by bombing the shit out of people ... and then making sure any refugees arising are given a damn hard time for their insolence ...

Just another day in Tootle land, and as usual, the Mayors are at it again ...

(Below: oh pull yourself together Tootle, and stop that mamby pamby cry baby stuff. Get back on the rails, and fight for individuality and independence and the Enlightenment by becoming a conservative conforming sheep bahhing and bleating three bags full all day long as the bee hive buzzes its united chorus of fear and loathing and dammit, mixed metaphors).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

David Penberthy and why the LCD and the prejudiced should hold sway in the land of Murdoch's minions ...

(Above: the tabloid imagination at work).

You have to hand it to the subbies in the tabloids.

See above how the header So why should we be gay swiftly turns into an even more succinct Why should we be gay inside the page. Not a question mark to be seen, of course, because it's a statement of intent ...

It is also of course, in the context of gay marriage, a completely gratuitous and irrelevant question that's not really a question. Supporting the right for gays to marry isn't a matter of being gay, but anything for an eye catching header. Meaning? Isn't that the lyrics for a song, Words without meening ...

Of course when you actually get to body of the piece, inside the digital front page, the header turns out to be Labor can't make us happy, so why should we be gay, which is even more mystifying and meaningless.

A bit like the whole Penberthy piece. Over at the punch-drunk Punch, the subbies tried a different tack in a bid for clarity, by peddling the addled thinking under the header Besieged Gillard can't afford to act on gay marriage.

When you get past this thicket of confusion, you will, as usual, find a thicket of offensive confusion running through the Penbo bear brain, as he valiantly explains how nothing can be done, and therefore nothing should be done. Lest the bears in the cave are disturbed, and come out growling ...

At the start of his piece, Penbo leads out with old news of poll results that have found a majority of people in Australia are comfortable with the idea of same sex marriage.

Uh huh. But steady, let's not assume that attention should be paid to a majority, not when attention should be paid to bigots and the prejudiced. You know, between Pauline Hanson - the world is full of wogs and Muslims and so is Britain - and anyone else, always pay due, considered, and thoughtful attention to Pauline ... lest her feelings be hurt, by all those wogs and Muslims daring to infest the world ...

Yep, let's not have any unseemly haste, or any sense of urgency. Because taking some actual positive steps would be profoundly problematic:

The irony is that those, such as Arbib, who are now pushing the issue could have the undesired effect – presuming it’s undesired that is – of setting Julia Gillard on a deeply unpopular political course.

Uh huh. You see it might be okay with the majority. But following majority views would of course be deeply unpopular.

And why would the likes of Mark Arbib push such a deeply unpopular political course, seeing as how the polls are generally favourable to such a reasonably popular political course, thereby making it deeply unpopular?

It is difficult to work out the logic behind the likes of NSW Right powerbroker Mark Arbib in suddenly championing this issue.

Sheesh. Penberthy has trouble working out the logic? Try working out the logic of Penberthy:

My personal view is that it’s got nothing to do with politics and is more about being liked. Arbib is one of the most genial and easy-going people in politics but out there in voter-land he’s regarded as a flint-hearted faceless executioner who has Kevin Rudd’s blood on his hands. His conversion to the cause is I suspect more about a very human desire not to be hated by absolutely everybody.

He wants to be liked? Isn't saying that about a politician a bit like saying a used car salesman wants to sell you a used car?

Or perhaps Penberthy is just peddling a deeply cynical, some might say profoundly despicable, view of a politician supporting a policy it seems a majority of Australians have no problem with. Without a shred of evidence as to Arbib's motives, but laden with a ton of wretched personal prejudice ...

Well I guess it's what passes for insight in the tabloid mind. Heaven help the politician who actually thinks an issue deserves an airing, attention, discussion, debate, and lordy perhaps even some action ...

Of course in the mind of Penbo all this finally devolves down to a matter of macho posturing:

The Prime Minister is walking a tightrope where she has to placate both the rural independents and inner-city Greens. If she reverses her stand on this issue and allows a conscience vote, as many within the party are urging her to do, she will look even weaker. Not only will she look weaker, she’ll end up pursuing an issue which many voters regard as an irrelevance.

Yep, she'll look weaker for pursuing a policy which allows politicians to speak their minds, because after all, it's only a minority, and who cares about a minority? Irrelevant buggers ...

Next time a farmer comes by whining about something, remind him or her that only some 320,000 people were directly employed in the Australian farm sector in November 2008. So as an irrelevant minority, they can just sod off ...

After all, it has nothing to do with prejudice, nor a matter of principle, nor even a matter of quieting down an active lobby, it's just a matter of wanting to be liked.

Hang on, hang on a second, this just in. It seems that it's got everything to do with prejudice:

There’s a casual view in some sections of the party that the only people who would be outraged by gay marriage are all rusted-on Liberal enthusiasts who would only ever vote for Tony Abbott anyway.

This flawed analysis not only ignores the many thousands of Catholics who traditionally back the ALP. It also dismisses the views of those voters in marginal seats who might not be prejudiced, but simply want their government to be focussed on issues which affect their lives.

Uh huh. Remind me next time not to give a toss about interest rates and mortgages and wheat prices and the rabbit plague. This isn't a commonwealth, it's my wealth that matters and the rest of you with your petty personal issues that affect your lives, not mine, can all get stuffed.

But apart from showing a total lack of generosity of spirit, what to be done about those who might be prejudiced?

Indeed, it also dismisses the views of those voters in regional areas and poorer suburbs who are prejudiced. Another poll published yesterday showed that in 10 of the nation’s federal electorates, three of them held by the ALP, around 40 per cent of all voters agreed with the fairly unpleasant assertion that “homosexuality is immoral”. Conversely, in 10 of the most affluent inner-city electorates, the same assertion was supported by around 15 per cent of people.

Well as a scribbler of a mealy mouthed, weasel worded, fairly unpleasant column, full of fairly unpleasant assertions, perhaps Penberthy should pack his bags and head out to the bayou so he can feel at home with Pauline ...

Why should we be gay? No reason at all, really, and how irritating that a few of them came out of the closet way back in the seventies, CAMPING away, and made life unpleasant for everyone ever since ...

The end result of reading this tossed up salad of prejudice mongering? Well forget principle and purpose as cynicism reigns supreme.

Was it a good thing that Kevin Rudd managed an apology to the stolen generation? Not really, according to Penberthy, because he lost power ...

Just as Kevin Rudd was “proud of the fact” that he’d said sorry to the stolen generation and, ummmmm, a couple of other things, Ms Gillard could find herself giving a similarly regretful one-term goodbye speech where the symbolic gesture of legalising gay marriage is the one thing she actually managed to do this term.

Using this logic, any politician who does anything will find themselves on sorry street. Because in the end, they lose power ...

Still I guess John Howard could always give a regretful goodbye speech where the symbolic gesture of locking up boat people could be mentioned as the one solid way of torturing people that he managed to achieve in his term of power ... (or was it helping out in a couple of bloody wars?)

How deeply cynical can a Murdoch hack get in his approach to policies and politics? Well behind it all lies a deep and dark threat, a boojum to scare the bejesus out of faint hearted Labor party, Green and inner city leet liberals:

In addition of course to making way for a prime minister who makes the Pope look progressive on a number of issues.

Yep, children, if anyone makes a stand on gay rights, the boogeyman will get you. Or perhaps Tony Abbott. Who makes the Pope look progressive ...

Well I guess that's the end of social justice issues in Australia. Penberthy has spoken. Politics isn't about holding matters of principle to heart, it's just about being liked, and it isn't about fairness towards minorities. Who gives a flying fuck about them.

Which reminds me, why do I give a flying fuck what a minority of scribblers, minions of Murdoch all, think about the issues du jour?

Sadly, because they use the same kind of logic that has been deployed for years by conservatives in search of reasons to do nothing. And if their thoughts stand unchallenged, strangely, nothing happens ...

Yep, in a world where Catholic (nominally 94% of the population) Spain has had gay marriage since 2005, here, and Catholic (nominally 89% of the population) Argentina since July 201o, here, all Penberthy can see is the need to pander to prejudices, and do nothing. Pathetic really ... Catholic countries with a wider view of the world than the blinkered Penberthy ...

It will of course happen in due course, and all that is required is that somebody hire a metaphysical steamroller and drive it over the craven, backward looking, musings of minions of Murdoch ...

Strangely, Penberthy's pronouncements - cowardly, expedient, and inert as they are - and based on notions of politics as merely a matter of being liked - reminded me of all those pontificating experts who once offered up reasons to do nothing: it'll never fly, no, the world will only ever need five computers, and so on.

And so to a few readings from those backward looking folk:

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."
-- Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
-- Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
-- Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"
-- David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

Why should we be gay
David Penberthy, 2010.

And plenty more here.

(Below: now get yourself a decent T shirt and wear it with pride).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Paul Sheehan, and time to get out the cilice as the darker humours surround the hive ...

(Above: it's been awhile since we promoted the beneficial effects of the cilice, and the drawing of blood. A full tasteful range of devices - some allegedly made by Italian nuns - can be found available for purchase here, but please remember to read the safety warning at the bottom of the page. It seems the damn things might inflict harm on body as well as mind).

There's never a dull moment on the pond.

On the way to reading Paul Sheehan's weekly rant, I stopped by Mark Davis's The tricky political topography of same-sex marriage, which is all about the politics of the issue, and nothing to do with whether it might be appropriate and right.

Amongst the comments came a bit of bible bashing nonsense with this capper:


I think it was a typo, and Nick of Oz of Bankstown was actually referring to paying the Gipper when the college footie game reaches a climatic point and everybody yells "here's one for the gipper" (though these days the urban dictionary has discovered many new meanings, way beyond Ronald Reagan, for gipper). Meanwhile, inspired by the Ivanhoe school fuss, Leon Gettler in Same-sex face-off asks if homophobia is still around in Australia.

Just read the comments published on a daily basis in the Herald Leon. Read the comments ...

But finally there was no way around it, the siren song of the grumpiest man in Australia was calling out to me. I got in the mood by humming a favourite tune

Call Mr. Grump,
That's my name,
That name again
Is Mr. Grump.

I'm Mr. Grump, and I'm here to say,
I'm the Grumpiest guy in Oztraya.
I got a big grump and I'll move a lot of things,
Like your cow if you have one...

Apologies to Home and The Simpsons - we luvs ya Mr Plough - but's just as well I had the rap running through my head, because what a bummer Paul Sheehan's Faceless Libs should step aside turned out to be.

Oh it's incredibly grumpy, but it's also incredibly parochial, a bit like seeing the way the Victorian Labor party has discovered it's green to the gills. So green indeed that the Liberal party prefers to keep them in power by preferencing them, for fear that the other greens might get a leg up. Must keep that cosy duopoly going guys ...

What's more amazing is that Sheehan can manage to scribble an entire column about faceless state Liberals, berating three 'largely faceless' men who in reality have their large faces freely available on the intertubes - namely Nick Campbell, Alex Hawke and Michael Photios - and yet in the most extraordinary and singular manner fail to mention that legendary in fighter and right wing Opus Dei ratbag David Clarke.

Not once does Clarke get a guernsey or an honourable mention as a factional warlord, which means Sheehan either doesn't have a clue, or does have a clue, and doesn't want to acknowledge which side of the laugh he's on.

Naturally, since reading about Liberal party in-fighting, given an astonishing skew by Sheehan, is as dull as dishwater, or billiards played on an uneven table, I turned to the comments, and the second cab off the rank also noted Sheehan's amazing capacity for bias while refusing to reveal what actually might be going down:

Messrs Campbell, Hawke and Photios have been outed as Faceless Men but Paul omitted to tell us what faction they belong to. Are they from the Moderates or the Religious Right? In New South Wales we appear certain to vote in Barry O'Farrell as our next Premier whose party is heavily influenced by the Extreme Right. The Liberal Party in fighting over a decade or more has been between the Moderates and the Extreme Right. Nowhere in the article does Paul mention the Rights Leader David Clark so I assume those outed are Moderates.

Indeed. It turns out that David Clarke, that faceless factional warrior, has his own wiki here, wherein you can read of his Opus Dei inclinations (waiter, hand me that cilice, I think a little blood will improve the appetite) and his factional warrior ways. The wiki will also lead you to coverage of Clarke's war with Alex Hawke (Factional war over as top Liberals declare a truce):

During the 2007 federal election campaign his views on no-fault divorce and abortion prompted Kevin Rudd to call on prime minister John Howard to dump him for his ''extremist views''.

Last week, Mr Hawke said his values had always been ''consistent'' but conceded becoming an MP had made him more moderate.

There was also the jolly fun of the Adolf Hitler affair, covered by the ABC here.

How lucky for NSW that David Clarke doesn't seem to have felt the need to moderate his views. Well who knows. If you rely on Sheehan you wouldn't have a clue ...

As for Nick Campbell, you might want to catch up on his moves by reading Crikey's Nick Campbell resigns, leaving unfinished business behind:

Campbell, a key ally of Federal MP Alex Hawke, has been engaged in an extended battle with forces aligned with Liberal powerbroker David Clarke over the last two years. In February, Clarke defeated an attempt by Campbell and Hawke to unseat him in NSW Upper House preselections.

Oh dear, and what do you know, Nick Campbell upped and resigned from the presidency of the Liberal party in June. I can feel that cilice growing a little tighter around the lean thigh of NSW - or is that the neck?

As for Michael Photios, he distinguished himself by turning up in the Daily Terror, under the header Photos show love rat's 'fantastic' life. Yep, Photios is also on the left of the Liberal party, and a bit of a good time boy. The damned love rat. By golly I know where we should strap a cilice on him ...

All of this festers away in a subterranean stew, below the surface of Sheehan's most deceptive and disingenuous column, where he purports that it's just a choice between Abbott, O'Farrell and Sinodinos, or Campell, Hawke and Photious ... with never a mention of Clarke, and his power broking ways.

Sorry, but we have to borrow a nautical term. Sheehan, as always, is a complete futtock ...

Meanwhile, it being a jolly Monday, we thought we'd check back into The Australian, to see how its opinion pages were showing its proudly independent ways.

At the top of the page? Blueprint exposes flaws in NBN plan by Michael Stutchbury. Yep, these days the scribes at the Oz treat scribbling about the NBN like a tag team wrestling match ... today it's Stutchbury's turn ... I wonder if he imagines himself as Gorgeous George or Mario Milano (now there's a joke Nick Xenophon would appreciate).

Don't make me read it, throw me in the briar patch instead. Because you see over at the Daily Terror, why there's Piers Akerman, the always unreadable ranting Akker Dakker, scribbling furiously Headed for big tumble in high wire act, about the Not Bloody Needed broadband scheme. Yep, the bees all live in the one hive, and have the same collective bee mind, but they're proudly independent about it all ...

You can imagine my astonishment when I picked up a hard copy of the Saturday Terror (for free, always for free) and discovered in the business section a feel good story about how the NBN was helping the productivity and turnover of a Tasmanian business ... because of the speed and the capacity to send large photographic files. How on earth did that rogue bee escape the hive?

Well I guess there's just time to catch up on the latest on the Greens from David Burchell. Ah the young David feels the force of the bee hive, and is at one with others in their fear of these fiendish fiends, the Greens, though he dresses up Political pragmatism would put Greens in shade with an incredibly splendid feather show of academic verbiage, starting this way:

Those prudent, chastened political thinkers of the latter 18th century first invented our modern conception of representative democracy.

We have forever been trying to un-invent it ever since.

Yes, a vote for the greens is a dangerous attempt to un-invent democracy. Thank the lord that those pesky Greeks had nothing to do with it ...

What's always astonishing - as Burchell becomes increasingly impenetrable in his prose - is the sight of an academic assailing academics:

It's a peculiarity of Western polities since mass democracy that those in possession of high levels of formal education are prone to imagining themselves the unacknowledged legislators of society, and to asserting the same kind of moral leadership through advocacy and influence that their pre-democratic ancestors may have exercised by more direct means.

Actually Mr Buchell, the peculiarity is that they become the pompous preening purveyors of pretentious drivel for the lizard Oz, filled with an inordinate lather of blather. What on earth could any reasonable human being make of this kind of nonsense?

Good government still requires respecting the moderate intuitions of the great bulk of Australians, while drawing upon the electorate's lighter rather than darker humours.

In order to achieve some part of your fondly held goals, it is still necessary to respect both the desire for personal independence, and the instinct towards mutual help, which together have animated Australian political culture since federation.

Stick to reading Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, good sir, and may the humours be with you ...

Surely now there's just a moment to learn about the latest in climate change. Oh no, it's the wretched Bjorn Lomborg, offering up A rational take on warming, and himself as the supreme rationalist, caught between alarmists and deniers, and ... oh I see he has a book to sell, and a film to promote, and thank the lord The Australian, as always, is there to help ...

Is there any wonder on some days the pond turns Sheehan, and calls for a personal cilice, one that might draw the blood?

Oh and if you're wondering about gay marriage under a NSW Liberal government, give Opus Dei a call, and see what they're thinking ... tell them Paul Sheehan sent you, and that David Burchell seems to think a party in favour of gay marriage is one of the darker humours ...

(Below: oh for a laugh about the fundies. But hang on the fundies are in charge of the opinion pages of the national media ... Sorry, not much of a laugh, is it).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Australian, and paranoia at the barricades as the minions stand guard at the paywall ...

(Above: nothing like a little agitprop to set the right tone for a debate).

(Above: oops, that's more the kind of crude agitprop we were thinking of).

You have to hand it to The Australian ...

The lizard Oz is splendidly boastful, defiant and splenetic, and its abuse of other media outlets continues apace.

There was Laura Tingle getting them agitated by talking to Phillip Adams about the soon to be announced anti-siphoning decision, and suggesting that the minions of Murdoch might have more than a passing interest in what happens, because of its relevance to Foxtel.

Could you please keep your voices down? We're trying to cook up a conspiracy in here, came the retort to Tingle, and if you wonder what the paranoid fuss was all about, you can hear the inept Adams go at it with Tingle by way of download or stream here.

Like a dog with a bone, and nowhere to chew or bury it, the agitated Oz couldn't let the insult go, and so came up with Independence above all else as a further editorial response.

The notion that the crusading Oz is independent of the News Corp agenda is so splendid, surreal, and fanciful that it offers a guaranteed laugh for all.

Naturally, the lizard Oz, stablemate with that most splendid of all conspiracy theorist hysterics, Fox News, contends that conspiracy theories are a function of being left:

Sociologist Frank Furedi describes it as a "crisis of causality", a growing tendency to see a hidden agenda behind important events.

In The Weekend Australian last month he wrote that conspiracy theory had migrated from crackpot fringe to the mainstream and its most vociferous supporters belonged to the cultural Left.

Suddenly Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and Fox News are on the cultural Left? Golly, count me a right winger ...

As usual, the lizard Oz makes a sweeping generalisation of the kind only a genuine cultural paranoid could make. Perhaps because it's in bed with the crackpot fringe (and provides plenty of space in their opinion pages for same) ...

Oh there's dark mutterings about grassy-knoll explanations, and talk of the progressive green tint, which colours the news judgement of those two Satanic news organisations, the ABC and Fairfax.

The Australian stands by the promise it made to readers in its first edition, on July 15, 1964, that it would be tied to no party.

Uh huh, except of course the party of Murdoch. And tied by such a Gordian Knot that no bold stroke could sever it:

The outcome is that Fairfax and the ABC lose credibility and customers. While the economy improves, the circulation of the AFR continues to fall, down 4.9 per cent on last year. But perhaps this is all part of the conspiracy.

Or could it be that it's all part of the downturn in newspaper sales, no matter how they litter The Australian like cocky cage lining through the Qantas lounge? Lordy what a supply there was this weekend past, such that jaded travellers couldn't even find the heart or the energy to steal the rag and take it with them.

Unless of course The Australian is talking about the biggest loser of all, the Sunday Mail in Queensland, which dropped nearly 5.7% in the latest figures? Was this because the rag continued to lose credibility and customers as a result of its inept editorial policies, generally of a right wing Murdoch minion kind? The Monday to Saturday editions didn't do much better, dropping 4.8% through the week, and 5.4% on Saturday.

The Herald Sun has also dropped 3.4% through the week, and even managed to lose 3.1% on Sunday.

Sure the Fairfax rags are in relative free fall, especially the Australian Financial Review, which has found its paywall inept, and its habit of picking up international features for the Friday and Saturday rags no longer attractive in a world where the originals are a click away.

But you have to be careful about throwing rotten eggs on the basis of editorial skills, for fear that some of the egg might stick to the thrower.

You see, before The Australian gets to chortling about its own 1.6% increase from July-September 2009 to July-September 2010 - gee that papering the halls with holly and the Oz must be working well - it should contemplate the reality. That's a simply stupendous increase from 134,100 copies to 136,268. And I could find that extra two thousand in the Qantas lounge on the weekend ...

And don't go flinging around the bonuses for unflinching independent journalism just yet, especially as the Weekend Oz managed a 0.7% drop to just a tad over 300,000 copies in the same period.

And we could do the same for other Murdoch rags - with the Advertiser/Mail in South Australia dropping over 3% on each of its editions and the West Australian joining the slide. (And there's more figures than any media junkie might require, with readership data also confirming the slide, in Latest newspaper circulation figures: not a nice set of numbers, by Margaret Simons, who also mentions the dumping scandal that figures in current circulation calculations).

For The Australian to think this all has to do with ideological values, and that its own much self-esteemed and vaunted 'independence' means its riding the wave, produces only a snicker, or fond memories of the snake in Snakes and Ladders, wherein pride came before a fall.

Meanwhile Foxtel is suffering in the current cold multi-channel, 18 channels and nothing on, climate, and has been forced to make unseemly offers like six bucks a month for six months, but beware the six buck a month routine somehow transmutes into $396 bucks over twelve months. Well there's a knockdown way to turn around churn ...

And in the week ending November 8th 2010, the cardigan wearers at the ABC were delivering healthy ratings figures, from 19.9 on Saturday (knocking Ten into fourth with 18.8) and hovering at respectable 14-17 through the week. And the macrame fiends and knitters aren't doing too badly in radio either ... and The Drum is doing nicely enough to get Crikey agitated and moan along with Murdoch's minions about state-funded competition ...

Well the deeper question is how well the paranoid crusaders at the Oz will do behind the approaching paywall ...

Bring it on, so that paranoid rhetoric about conspiracy theories most vociferous supporters belonging to the cultural Left can be hidden from general view. But it does say a lot about the political bias at work at the rag, and its capacity to see the world through a glass darkly ...

Poor old Mark Day can't tweak the ball and impart any decent spin on this sticky wicket (oh we luvs our sporting metaphors for jocks) in Online pay puzzle far from being solved. Noting the 2% annual fall across the board in newspaper sales, he worries:

Clearly, there's life and profits left in printed newspapers, but it would be a folly to suggest our slow rate of decline is a reason to ignore the big questions about the transition to digital delivery and how to monetise the new formats.

Day refuses to call the recent News Corp figures for The Times' paywall rubbery, and instead dubs them "opaque". Talk about a glass darkly, in a kind of opaque way.

And then he quotes Clay Shirky's analysis suggesting that the reduction in The Times web audience seems to be in the order of 97 per cent :

Put another way, that means just 3 per cent of past readers are paying. Ouch. That, to me, does not suggest a strong and vibrant base for growth. Those quick to jump to conclusions might even say it's a case of "What's plan B?".

But Shirky says the pay wall does more than simply shrink an audience. He argues it fundamentally changes the nature of the organisation behind the wall.

"One way to think of this transition is that, online, The Times has stopped being a newspaper, in the sense of a generally available and omnibus account of the news of the day, broadly read in the community," he says. "Instead, it is becoming a newsletter, an outlet supported by, and speaking to, a specific and relatively coherent and compact audience.

"This re-engineering suggests that pay walls don't and can't rescue current organisational forms. They offer instead yet another transformed alternative to it."

I guess that must be part of the conspiracy formed by the ABC, BBC, and others, to do poor Chairman Rupert down.

Well it's all enough to make Mark Day jump ship and hastily dub The Times paywall an experiment. Just that: an experiment!

Instead he seeks refuge in the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times models, and the porous wall being planned for the New York Times, and hope beyond hope, The Daily, a tabloid newspaper designed for Apple's iPad, targeted at US consumers, which will need 800k app buyers to break even.

A tabloid! That's what the world needs, another tabloid. Did I detect a quiver, a shiver in the lizard Oz's broadsheet format?

Poor old Day jumps ship so far that he even begins to talk about alternative sources of revenue:

Murdoch has been on something of an education crusade recently. He sees education as the key to lifelong opportunity, and perhaps he sees it as a business opportunity, too.

The owner of Fox Noise is suddenly a crusader for education? What, so we can all understand Glenn Beck a little better, and buy gold in case his conspiracy theories turn out to be correct?

In 1984 The Washington Post purchased a small company called Kaplan, providing services in the education sector. It is now by far the biggest division of the Post's business, a point not lost on readers of Murdoch's tea leaves.

Shouldn't that have read, a point entirely lost on Tea Party followers?

Well it's amiable fun to start the week by watching the minions of Murdoch caught up in and bemused by the Internet threshing machine. And the more they talk of their circulation figures as a corollary of their editorial 'independence', the more deluded they sound ...

Because like The Times, The Australian is already a newsletter, an outlet supported by, and speaking to a specific and relatively coherent and compact audience. Who are welcome to it ...

And as we used to say in Tamworth, they can put that in their paranoid pipe, and smoke it ...

(Below: surely they could have found room for the lizard Oz on the blackboard? Seeing as how they're such keen spotters of conspiracies).