Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dog whistling and denialism as the entertainment for the day ...

(Above: not that we've got anything against dogs, it's more the dog owners and their whistles).

Then She said, Mother, forgive them, for they know not what they write.

Scientology flack Vicki Dunstan scribbling furiously in mUmBRELLA under the header Stop vilifying Scientology, complaining about the cult being picked on and explaining all the good work that it does:

Scientologists donate hours of their time educating young people of the dangers of illicit drugs, standing on street corners in the rain; attending music festivals in blistering heat, handing out booklets that warn of the perils of drugs like cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy.

Attending music festivals in blistering heat?! Oh the suffering, oh the humanity, oh the horror.

Worse still, Jews and Christians are bigoted, while the ever so 'umble Scientologists, inspired by their fearless founder L. Ron, exude peace and forgiveness and love and light, except when bitching about everybody in mUmBRELLA, which if it doesn't stop this sort of thing, won't be seen as the definitive place for people interested in advertising, but as a kind of kooksville for crazed religious copy.

Never mind, the good news is that there are Jewish Scientologists.

Well that's the entertainment out of the way, now it's time to move on to the entertainment, and who better to provide it than Cardinal Pell.

Showing all the style and grace of a rugger bugger boofhead, Pell sank the slipper into the pope emeritus, such that the ABC's Roman correspondent, one Robert Mickens, compared his departure and the sense of failure and cowardice surrounding it to the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Tricky Dick!

Here's hoping Pell gets elevated, because if the departing pope lacked administrative skill, then the incoming Pellists would surely be berated for a lack of diplomacy (Pell critical of Pope as he bids farewell - forced video at end of link).

And is there any day of the week when the vile Scott Morrison won't descend into the gutter to vilify asylum seekers?

It was too much for Victorian Russell Broadbent and good on him for speaking up, as reported in 'Behaviour' rules vilify asylum seekers - Lib.

Morrison has jibber jabbered about the need for "behaviour protocols" for those released into the community:

Mr Morrison also said there should be mandatory notification of asylum seekers to local police and residents in the areas where they are housed.

But is this a sufficient solution?

After all, how will it be done? People going from door to door? A flier dropped in the letter box?

But what's the use of a written notification, even if a photograph is attached?

What if the pond were to stumble across an alien, walking as boldy as brass in the neighbourhood? The cheeky insolent sods, the filthy evil swine, no doubt casing the joint as they pretend to take their daily exercise.

There is of course an eminently sound solution, one no doubt that Morrison will reach in due course. Let the pond help him bring it forward quickly.

It's simple. Get the aliens to wear something on their person that will immediately identify them. Something like this, though with a slightly different text of course, perhaps "alien" or "intruding foreign swine":

Or perhaps this, tasteful and discreet, with tattooing of the number on the forearm - purely as a helpful identifying device - an optional extra:

That'd sort out the problem, and ensure we could identify those we need to fear and distrust and revile and loath.

The pond also wouldn't mind if politicians of the Scott Morrison kind were forced to wear some identifying badge. Something like this:

Because when a professional dog whistler lands in the neighbourhood, all sorts of dogs are likely to roam the streets. And you know what they say about Scott Morrison dogs. Lie down with them, and you'll end up thick with fleas.

What's that you say? There's a fine payable to the Godwin's Law swear jar?

Surely not, surely there's an exception when we're simply carrying Scott Morrison's logic to a sensible, responsible conclusion.

The pond has already picked out some fancy clothing and a couple of snappy hounds, and once we've been forewarned and an alien moves into the area, we'll be ready to go, to preserve law and order and truth and justice and the Scott Morrison way:

Okay that's the entertainment for the day - unless you happen to be a human bean demonised as an evil alien - so let's move on to the entertainment.

Well for starters, Paul Sheehan writes an entire column about the dangers of concussion, without once discussing the concussion the pond has suffered reading Paul Sheehan columns.

And not once has Fairfax deemed it necessary to put a health warning at the start of his rants in favour of Lord Monckton. (Concussion a concern from elite to schools)

Oh where are you now, Lord Monckton?

My commentariat, my commentariat, why have you forsaken me?

And it seems not just the commentariat. A sharp-eyed Crikey reader noticed this Facebook update. One day friends:

The next day, who?

Et tu Greg?

Oh no, not Greg Hunt, the man completely at a loss to explain how direct action will work over market-based forces, and why socialist government interventions are better than market forces.

Truly it's a strange world.

It's probably time to design a fancy badge for his Lordship to wear on his tour down under so Liberal politicians and the commentariat will treat him in the correct Scott Morrison way ...

And finally, as we're still in the fourteen days of Oscar season, there has to be a winner for the most inventive explanation of why the Labor party should plunge itself into chaos, and the winner - please, pass the envelope and the column - is Greg Sheridan, with Rudd's proven defence best yet. (behind the paywall, the same way they lock mad men in lunatic asylums).

The best chance for reviving the Australian Defence Force may lie in the return of Kevin Rudd to the prime ministership.

Yes, it might lie in the return of Kevin Rudd. Or it might not. Tweedledum and Tweedle diddly dee.

The spin meister weaves a web of magical charm, even if he himself admits it sounds a little strange.

Here's how I reach this perhaps counter-intuitive conclusion.

Indeed. Here's Sheridan today:

Enter Rudd. As prime minister, Rudd was intimately involved in shaping the 2009 defence white paper. It wasn't a particularly well written document, but its strategic assumptions were hard headed and sound, and it provided a highly credible force structure - 100 Joint Strike Fighters, 12 capable, long-range subs, an eight battalion army - and a sensible funding commitment of a 3 per cent real increase a year out towards the end of the decade. Had the government stuck to that commitment it still would have been hard put to realise the white paper's ambitions, but it would have had a chance. Some extra money may have been necessary, some time lines may have been extended, but we would be on the road to a good, though not extravagant, defence capability.

Here's Sheridan in 2009 on the very same hard-headed and sound document:

The defence white paper is an almost incoherent blancmange of oddly unharmonised flavours. 
It reads like a biblical commentary in which 50 Talmudic scholars, each representing an alternative school of thought, have been allowed to write alternative sentences. 
The internal contradictions in the document are so staggering it looks like sentences have been bolted on almost at random, like pieces in a Meccano set manipulated by a two-year-old. (A battle of words).

Yep, that sounds like the inspirational former chairman Rudd.

We've missed that level of obfuscation and befuddlement. It took the pond back down memory acronym lane (that's MAL to you, often known on the intertubes as malware) to Baden Eunson's Rudd needs to stop diplo-babble:

A telling exchange occurred between Kevin Rudd and an ABC journalist, Louise Yaxley, at the NATO summit in Bucharest in April. Yaxley asked Rudd if NATO leaders had changed the rules of engagement that applied to NATO soldiers. Rudd responded, "You mean RoEs." Yaxley replied, in a tone dripping with sarcasm, "Yes, I mean rules of engagement."

Yes, a telling exchange, and how sensible and proper of Sheridan to urge us to return to those days, when satirical copy about the Ruddster flooded the pages of Murdoch rags.

It must be wonderful to be paid to build sandcastles in the press each day, and not worry about the waves or the tides ...

But is there something odd about a Murdoch hack complaining about the attention being paid to Julia Gillard heading out to Rooty Hill (oh go on, admit it, you want to do a Mark Hunter and make a joke and check into the Penrith Panthers instead) ... when it's the Murdoch rags who've spent the past week demonising her for daring to step out into the wilds of the west,  because everyone knows there are dragons everywhere out past Ashfield ...

What on earth will they do next time Tony Abbott heads west? Why celebrate the arrival of the messiah of course ...

By golly, there must be a huge market for dog whistles.

Forget dog owners ... every Murdoch hack and politician needs one ...

(Below: a tad harsh perhaps, surely it should say when Scott Morrison uses a dog whistle, he's not a jihadist, he's a medieval, perhaps thirteenth century, fearless crusader, cruising for a bruising with any nearby Jihadist).

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Romeo and Juliet, or how Bill Shakspere was a vile smut merchant ...

(Above: can someone explain how Nureyev and Fonteyn ended up on the pond?)

But saying o'er what I have said before:
My child is yet a stranger in the world;
She hath not seen the change of fourteen years,
Let two more summers wither in their pride,
Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.

Not seen the change of fourteen years?

Oh dear, don't say that famous Willm Shakspere was a pornographer, with pedophiliac tendencies. And worse still he lowered Juliet's age by a couple of years from the 16 years given to her in Arthur Brooke's 1562 poem The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet.

The pond got to brooding about this after Geert Wilders began running around denouncing the prophet as a pedophile, without allowing for historical context or the behaviour of Catholic priests, or worse, the church covering up the behaviour of priests who needed help arising from the institutional expectations and abuse surrounding them

Now you probably won't hear Geert Wilders running around denouncing Bill as a vile filthy pervert and smut monger, because that sort of easy rhetoric comes in handy for his ideological war with the prophet's followers. But he could, if so inclined, claim Bill wasn't the foundation of English drama, but rather the foundation of all that's wrong on the full to overflowing intertubes.

You see it wasn't just a passing reference by Bill - he really hammers the plot point home:

 I'll lay fourteen of my teeth,-- 
And yet, to my teeth be it spoken, I have but four-- 
She is not fourteen. 
How long is it now To Lammas-tide? 
Lady Capulet: 
A fortnight and odd days. 
 Even or odd, of all days in the year, 
Come Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen. 
Susan and she--God rest all Christian souls!-- 
Were of an age: well, Susan is with God; 
She was too good for me: but, as I said, 
On Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen; 
That shall she, marry; I remember it well. 
'Tis since the earthquake now eleven years; 
And she was wean'd,--I never shall forget it,-- 
Of all the days of the year, upon that day: 
For I had then laid wormwood to my dug, 
Sitting in the sun under the dove-house wall; 
My lord and you were then at Mantua:-- 
Nay, I do bear a brain:--but, as I said, 
When it did taste the wormwood on the nipple 
Of my dug and felt it bitter, pretty fool, 
To see it tetchy and fall out with the dug! 

Okay, enough of the nipple and the dug and the wormwood already, you know the rest of the story.

While you have to read the text in a certain way to suggest that the couple went all the way, the silly girl's an EMO and ups and kills herself, and at such a young age too. So it's better to die young in love than spend a dull life occasionally rutting.

It seems a pretty important plot point to Bill. Perhaps he already had decided to make things easier for Franco Zeffirelli, who got around to casting Olivia Hussey when she was 17 (by golly Clare Danes was 17 too - remember the rule when casting a soap like Neighbours, cast up in age so a 17 year old can appeal to the aspirational 12-13 year olds. Which makes Bill's target audience ...?).

Of course it might not be a case of pedophilia, merely a celebration of the joys of underage sex. Since he doesn't have a beard, Romeo might well only be 15-17, and thus would escape the technical definition of pedophilia in its wiki here.

So let's hear it for Bill establishing the golden rule that if you fuck while young, you'll die young.

In the scheme of things, it's no big deal.  If you were an adult male in Elizabethan times, you were likely not to beat the average age of 47, and if you lived in London, you might hope for 35 if you were rich and could afford to avoid the rabble, or 25 years or so for the one penny groundlings loafing around in the pit. (here's a wiki for you on the subject).

The more interesting point is that a lot of people show an almost astonishing ignorance of past expressions of human sexuality, from the ancient Greeks (sssh, don't mention the Spartans or the island of Lesbos) right through to the present, and Wilders is just one of a tribe of knee-jerk in love with cant.

Which presents the perfect climate for a climate of hysteria to develop around sex.

Surely there's no better example of that hysteria than the views of Steven Biddulph, summarised exactly in Sexualisation of the young is becoming society's cancer, and if you don't get the message from that, try the sub-header, Our overtly sexual environment is generating depressed, lonely people.

Sexualisation is a cancer? Yep, it's Bill all over again. You're going to die young.

This was possibly written by a person who's never experienced cancer.

Truth to tell, the pond generally only feels depressed and lonely when reading Biddulph, who spends an inordinate amount of time explaining how we're all rooned, and we're all fucked, and twenty years ago it was different, and lordy lordy, let me do my chicken little imitation, and the sky is falling in, and what's that you say, Apulieus wrote a notorious book containing a story a woman having a fuck with an ass somewhere around 160 AD.

Well the ass is actually a man, Lucius who buggers up the witchcraft, and there's plenty of other naughtiness in the book (the wiki for The Golden Ass is here) ... but still ..

But let's not get into bestiality because the next thing you know Wilders and Biddulph will be having an anxiety attack about the way Titania really gets herself excited about Bottom and his ass head in A Midsummer Night's Dream. 

Go donkeys! Donkeys 1!

I guess the ultimate point is when you read the kind of desperate oneiric tirade that Biddulph delivers, you feel like saying to him, oh for the love of the long absent lord, why don't you just settle down and take a long shower (or maybe he's thinking the solution is that Spartan one, of dropping the weak child off on the slope of Mount Taygetus, and leaving them to die of exposure, and here's another wiki for you).

Here's how you know Biddulph is playing verbal games and dog-whistling to his base (got to sell those books, did we mention Finch Publishing?):

It's not just the young. Porn use is very high among adult men, including married men. It's possible that porn is filling a gap in our closeness and lovingness generally. We live in a society that is often too rushed for affection, for attunement between husband and wife, or parent and child. We are a cold culture. Consumer goods and food have replaced intimacy in our lives. 

Yes, there's the clue. It's possible that porn is filling a gap ...

Note the possible, then run with it and take it a mile (or a kilometre if you feel like pandering to the French).

It's also possible that people use porn responsibly and sensibly and in moderation and with due awareness of the silliness of the fake moans and artificiality of commercial porn, which is more than you can say for those addicted to alcohol, gambling (thanks channel 9 and the clubs of Australia), and the harder kinds of drugs.

As for consumer goods and food replacing intimacy in our lives, can we just scrub the ours?

It might be true of Biddulph, or it might be that he fancies himself and his partner as a glorious exception to his own rule, but who gave him the right to speak for the pond?

By golly if we want to read a racy story about a young girl making out with a young man, we'll keep on getting Bill off the shelf.

And what's this talk of food replacing intimacy? The pond can guarantee that a steady diet of gruel plays havoc with intimacy, while a decent dose of oysters (or lobsters, or anything else Henry Fielding proposed for Tom Jones can do wonders, especially if washed down with a fine French champagne with nicely refined beads for bubbles).

Is he proposing that if you live a life of poverty, without decent food, or the odd labour-saving device you'll have a rip-snorting sex life? Sorry, been there, done that. Doesn't work for the pond ...

Our earn-and-spend culture edges us towards seeing ourselves as a product.

And there's more half-baked equivocations. See how edges creeps into the game and wolf-whistles to the base?

Edges us towards seeing ourselves as a product.

Hmm, earn and spend on consumer goods and food. Is the pond seeing itself as nice things like garlic, or chilli, or are fruits, vegetables, fish and meat ruled out, and all we can do is see ourselves as a plasma screen? Or perhaps a toaster or a kettle?

Actually it's Biddulph that's edging us towards seeing ourselves as a product, because he needs that for his thesis.

We modify our bodies to compete better in the marketplace. 

Oh for the long absent lord's sake, go take a look at the jewellery and decorations on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

How's this for some pieces of Etruscan jewellery from early in the fifth century B.C., featuring gold and glass?

By golly I bet that original Etruscan owner was well-placed to compete in the marketplace.

Actually I shouldn't have mentioned that. The Metropolitan is totally addictive, way worse than porn and you can spend hours and hours looking at tasty ancient jewellery and stunning dresses. Go on, give it a go, here. If you dial up Egyptian jewellery, you only get near 10k hits in the results.

Sadly the sort of tosh that Biddulph delivers is the sort of stuff puritans have been rabbiting on about since, well since the Puritans headed off to the United States, and invented the internet so they could look at porn in the privacy of their dens (like a lot of Republicans and Christians seem to do).

You can pick it from the comments he attracted, all the cluck clucking and tut tutting from the wowsers and the Mother Grundys, with some recommending that parents pick up their children and flee to the nearest church, rather than helping them to cope with the perils of the modern world.

Advertising teaches our young to evaluate themselves merely by their looks. 

Uh huh. So only advertising teaches us that? Pity the poor pond, always a wallflower (as they used to say in Tamworth). If only someone had explained it was all the fault of advertising.

So what's the solution?

Unless we redirect ourselves to inner value - kindness, creativity, patience, loyalty, and passion - then we will have nothing to offer our young apart from our credit cards. 

Why it's sanctimonious meretricious meaningless jibber jabber.

Creativity? So what do we do about the likes of Francis Bacon, and his searing images? Or Nabokov's Lolita? Or that Shakspere chappie?

And so on and so forth through the list of "inner values", as if you can't display values in any other way.

What about paranoia and hysteria about sex and the sexualisation of the young, and what about tirades about how we're all doomed and we're all lonely and lost, and by the way here's a bonus pack of razorblades?

Surely we can offer those things along with our credit cards?

Now the pond doesn't want to diminish the significance of power imbalances, and the exploitation of the young by adults for their own vile purposes, whether in an institutional or domestic context. A tour of duty with Dominican nuns will help you understand that.

After all, these days people live a long time, and there's plenty of time for children to develop and understand the world, even if Biddulph seems to see everything through the lens of first world problems (yes, at last the pond has been able to mention first world problems!)

If we were talking about children down mines, or in sweatshops, as in Victorian days, or being encouraged to die in the mud of Flanders before coming of age, or performing tricks for Victorian gentlemen (or these days making sneakers for fat Australians or trawling over a garbage dump or living in a slum or being made to service Australian tourists off exploring the Thai sex industry), then we might talk about real depression.

A miserable life and an early death certainly tends to focus the mind.

In support of Biddulph's thesis, it's certainly true that members of the Hitler Youth - like the pope emeritus - weren't depressed and lonely. They were bright eyed and bushy tailed and beavered away to bring about a thousand year Reich (what, the pond has to pay how much into the Godwin's Law swear jar? And all we wanted to do was make a joke about the pope emeritus?)

Of course if any young person asks, the pond will always advise them to avoid priests of any kind, but especially those who think it's right to try to get through life without exploring and enjoying the intimacy with another person that comes through human sexuality in all its diverse and wondrous forms ...

There are many other things that the pond could pick a bone or a fight with Biddulph over, not least his tendency to sentimentalise and romanticise Victorian sexuality, as if we should all be back in the 1950s, enjoying only gentleness and softness and holding hands like a bunch of southern Baptist Christians (well it's certainly handy in tissue paper and toilet rolls).

But you know you can enjoy a hard fuck as well as a soft one, depending on the time, the place, the mood and the partner, and it might be handy if Biddulph could provide some detailed statistics for this kind of wild assertion: Little wonder we have one of the most depressed and lonely generations of young people ever.

Little wonder? You mean they read Biddulph regularly? Should we revive Hitler Youth, and give them a purpose? (oh okay here's the damn cash for the G'sL SJ)

It's one of the wonders of the ages that each older generation judges the new generation as an incipient or a definite fail, yet the world keeps ticking over (at least until climate change sorts out the ones who can make it off the mountain slope and take out Mad max)

Oh dear, now the pond is having nightmarish visions of Mel Gibson.

Can someone just stick Biddulph on the slope of Mount Taygetus so others can get on with enjoying life for the little time left to us in this vale of tears?

The only upside?

Well it beats writing about Janet "Dame Slap" Albrechtsen, doing over the Labor party one more time...

(Below: if you understand this xkcd cartoon, you are definitively a pervert. Which means you'll go off and geek at more xkcd here).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The infallible one turns his attention to disloyalty ... with infallibly inerrant results ...

(Above: the feud about papal infallibility boxes on).

It being Tuesday, the tedious chore of tending to the neuroses of Gerard Henderson becomes the duty of every reader watching the decline and fall of the house of Fairfax.

So let's start with a joke, which happens to involve two Fairfaxians feuding.

For those who came in late - or for those in a galaxy far, far away - Peter FitzSimons cracked a joke about papal infallibility, which got a rise out of Henderson, who believes himself infallible (according to one pond reader, and who can argue), and who charged the Fitz with being ignorant of Catholic theology when Fitz's real crime was cracking a joke about crows warning about 'cahs', but not trucks.

So last Sunday the Fitz couldn't resist a return bout and a neat jab. After pleading guilty to being ignorant of the finer points of theology, and suffering under religious studies, he shoved it up Hendo:

I do love the line from the American intellectual Sam Harris, who once noted: ''Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance.'' Most amusing is those who defend theology most vociferously are those who have embraced just one theological belief, while totally rejecting all other theologies as complete nonsense. 
To use an old line, we're actually not that different - I have rejected just one more than them (here).

Ouch, but who can argue that accepting any form of papal or institutional infallibility, however nice or fine the theology, remains fundamentally absurd.

But that's Hendo, always willing to grasp the nettle of the fundamentally absurd.

Now today's duty calls. Those suffering mental health issues or  PTSD may leave the room, there's no need for needless suffering, and here's a cartoon for you before you leave:

(More First Dog here)

Now we must turn to contemplating Hendo's offering of Talk of dual-citizen disloyalty in Zygier affair simply irresponsible (Fairfax have switched off Hendo's comments section, so you know what that means)

Hendo opens with what chess experts have dubbed the Irish Catholic gambit:

The concept of dual loyalties in Australia has an unpleasant connotation since it invariably implies disloyalty. A century ago, some sectarians labelled Catholics as possessing a dual loyalty. This was cover for an imputation that their real loyalty was to the Pope or to the Irish nation, usually both.

Ah to be sure, to be sure, and let's not have any mention of the Fenians (or that attempt to knock off Australia's first British royal visitor Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh in 1868), or Ned Kelly or Daniel Mannix, may the long absent lord bless his anti-conscriptionist, anti-English heart.

And then Hendo moves on to the Jewish manoeuvre:

Today, the allegation tends to be made against Jewish Australians, whether or not they hold both Australian and Israeli nationalities. The imputation is some Australian Jews put their loyalty to Israel before that to Australia.

Actually the allegations tend to be made against Australians who head off to any war zone, be it Serbia or Lebanon or Syria, and you wouldn't want to be David Hicks heading off to a silly jihad before copping the wrath of Hendo for being disloyal.

But let's cut to the end game, the final par, which could save many a tedious trawl through much Hendo agitation about the ABC and fellow Fairfaxians.

Yes, it's the usual suspects, before the pious prattler draws himself to his full height:

The Jewish community in Australia spends considerable funds guarding its synagogues and schools from attack. Some costs are also borne by state and federal police. In such an environment, it is irresponsible in the extreme for prominent Australians to imply some of their fellow citizens are disloyal. 

It's irresponsible to note that someone might have collared some Australian passports for use by a foreign intelligence agency?

It's wrong to discuss such matters because somehow loose tongues will generate attacks on synagogues and schools?

We should all shut up, while Hendo spends an entire column discussing these very things, only so he can stick solidly by the Jewish lobby?

Merely discussing these notions are offensive, as in the burblings of Ben Saul, who dared to raise the matter?

Last Wednesday, Ben Saul wrote an article in The Age as a professor of international law at the University of Sydney. It was another rush to judgment, replete with such giveaways as ''may'', ''if'', ''would'' and ''could''. 
Yet, on the basis of virtually no known facts, Saul accused those whom he identified as ''Australian Jews'' of ''divided loyalties''. He went on to make the offensive claim that ''there comes a point where a Jewish person cannot faithfully be both Australian and Israeli''. Saul said ''the same goes for Australians who are also American or Chinese''. No reference was made to any other nation.

What? He should have listed every other nation that has nationals residing in Australia, including a few who've used Australia as a place for R&R before heading back to Africa to tackle the bad guys?

Now idle talk of disloyalty always makes the pond nervous - as an Irish Catholic with a dash of German blut, the pond has always been in the bad books of the Melbourne club.

But Saul phrased it quite neatly, because there comes a point where a dual citizen must make a choice, and there comes a point where it isn't possible to be true to both Australia and Israel, and that point surely comes when the Australian citizen might be involved in purloining Australian passports for illegal use by Israeli intelligence agencies.

And the notion that this form of illegality and criminality shouldn't be discussed, should be swept under the carpet, shows what a strange notion of freedom of speech the commentariat, and Hendo in particular have.

It's too easy to say that Israel is in mortal peril and it's a democracy surrounded by enemies determined on its destruction and so anything goes.

Here's how Hendo does it:

Australia is a remarkably tolerant and accepting society. Yet there has always been a degree of anti-Semitism within it. An accusation of dual loyalties against Jewish Australians from an anti-Semite is regrettable but not unexpected. When such claims are made by those who should know better, it is a matter for genuine concern. 

QED. If you talk of dual citizens favouring one nation over another, to the extent of performing illegal acts in one nation to aid another, you're just an anti-Semite, and you get Hendo all agitated and genuinely concerned.

Hendo spends a goodly amount of his column noting that the media has been reporting on matters related to the death of Ben Zygier without much information, and in the absence of hard information, all sorts of theories have flourished.

But rather than blaming the media, how about blaming the Israeli government for its secretive, furtive and sometimes outright deceptive behaviour in this and other matters, and its refusal to reveal anything at all about the Zygier matter, on the grounds that the security-related charges involving Zygier are between him and Israel, and his other nationality, Australia, can just bugger off.

It's the belated discovery of the matter, and the slow drip of information that's done the damage, along with the paranoid secretive ways of the Israeli government and its intelligence arm.

It's such a serious issue that the pond alarmingly finds some common ground with Bob Carr.

Now that's a crisis.

Yes last night the pond watched Q&A - oh it only takes one sip, even after years on the bandwagon and then you're gone - and as you can see here, both Bob Carr and big Mal Turnbull both raised questions and concerns in relating to conflicting loyalties in dual nationalities.

Now it's well known that these days Hendo suffers from long and short term memory loss, and so he's forgotten the many questions raised in relation to many nationalities in Australia, usually with problematic results.

The pond's mind drifts back to the story of the Croatian six, which was used to blacken the Croatian community in Australia, involved the Yugoslav government, and all sorts of nasty people, including a NSW police force that then had the likes of Roger Rogerson performing dramatic raids (you can read about it in Framed: the untold story about the Croatian six, forced video at end of link).

All sorts of ethnic groups and ethnic communities have copped charges of disloyalty and a lot them have suffered more damage at the hands of institutions than the Jewish community can claim, even in the days when neo-Nazis were more visible (now they just generally lurk online).

These days it's the Muslim community that cops charges of disloyalty, or loyalty to international forces that are foreign to, and damaging to Australia. The classic example is the demonising of Lebanese Muslims, and the riots in Cronulla. in which Alan Jones played a significant role.

Which perhaps helps explain why Henderson sometimes defends Jones, because he too has played his role in demonising particular ethnic or religious groups.

Here you go, and you only have to head back to February 2012, to read Threat from enemy within makes anti-terrorism laws indispensable:

Decisions have consequences, even if decision makers sometimes go into denial. In the weekend edition of the Herald, Debra Jopson provided case studies of the 21 men who have been convicted of terrorism-related charges following Operation Pendennis in Sydney and Melbourne and Operation Neath in Melbourne. A large number are of Lebanese Muslim descent. 
In his address to the Sydney Institute on January 24, the director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, David Irvine, pointed out that ''of the 38 people prosecuted for terrorism-related offences in Australia, 37 were Australian citizens and 34 were either born here or lived here since childhood''. Clearly home-grown terrorism is a threat in Australia.

Oh yes it's that old sweet song of divided loyalties, and since Lebanese folk can be called part of the grand Semitic tradition, it's often sung by anti-semites.

Oh Hendo was in fine righteous voice, howling about the disloyalty and criminality of Lebanese Muslims, and naturally it was all Malcolm Fraser's fault, and ASIO was top notch, and John Howard's anti-terrorist laws were excellent because there were many disloyal citizens amongst us intent on jihad for benefit of foreign religions and foreign forces.

And now we can't say boo to a goose about the behaviour of the Israeli government and Mossad, or talk about the possibility that dual nationality Jewish citizens might have the occasional bout of disloyalty?

Sssh, don't mention the unquenchable thirst for Australian passports, thereby bringing under suspicion anyone travelling on an Australian passport?

Oh shades of pickled Irish green, the pond is sounding like Bob Carr again.

Anyhoo, it's just another example of that splendid bible passage which the pond is forced to trot out at least once a day in relation to the commentariat:

...why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

In the world of Gerard Henderson, the way is clear.

Bashing Lebanese people is quite fine, asking questions of the Israeli government is jolly unsporting and a tad caddish, old chaps.

The ways of the infallible are truly inscrutable ...

(Below: and now since it's got too dull, pompous and serious in the usual dullard prattling Polonius way, here's a couple of cartoons for defiant fellow Fenians. Click to enlarge).

Monday, February 25, 2013

Inspired by the lizard oz and generally grumpy Paul Sheehan ...

(Above: now there's an easy survey question to answer. The pond is inspired to laughter every day of the week, or whenever reading The Australian).

The good news is that The Australian pissed its money up against the wall on a dud survey in relation to the ABC.

The headline that resulted must have shattered the hearts of the fearless crusaders. It was still dressed up as an exclusive, even if it was an exclusive about nothing much:

Well at least it allowed "ABC" and "bias" to be linked in the same header. 

But when you evade the paywall fickle finger of gold brick doom, the real story becomes quite dull, with a sadder if no wiser header Most people don't believe political bias widespread (paywall protected to save you wasting time on a useless survey):

Yep, they've discovered the aging, paranoid demographic that read the lizard Oz, the paper with a declining circulation and an absence of profit, are likely to take a view about the ABC, but that's not many up against the generally more sensible general citizenry.

Let's say it again ... most people don't believe political bias widespread. The lizard Oz subbie just couldn't find it in his or her heart to add ... in the ABC. 

But the killer diller, the real chiller, must have been the result that emerged in relation to climate science, which the lizard Oz dubs climate change, a term lovingly embraced by deniers of the science, because, well, because the climate changes all the time:

Now you might wonder why no one thought of including the lizard Oz in the survey, because the rag routinely, nakedly and blatantly displays bias in its climate science coverage.

But that would be to miss the point, which was to drum up a survey which would nail the ABC and justify the rag.

Instead the question reveals a profound inherent bias.

Yep, you see those rumours were true. They really did phrase the question as whether the ABC favoured "rejectors" or "favours believers".

It's an astonishingly ignorant way of phrasing it, and a classic example of the in-built bias at the lizard Oz, but even using this push-pull phrasing, they couldn't come up with a decent result. The 15% would be the lizard Oz readers and nutters who confuse science with religion, and natter on about believers.

Amazingly, so strong is the kool aid within the place these days that they wasted money on a meaningless survey designed to target the enemy, and for what?

... most do not believe there is any bias in ABC coverage of the parties, even among committed voters for the particular parties. 

All that for sweet bugger all.

The issue of political bias at the ABC came up again recently when managing director Mark Scott was forced to respond to a report in The Australian that a lack of objectivity was turning away the ABC's audience. 

Actually the issue of political bias at the ABC comes up on a daily basis at the lizard Oz, in its elite commentariat (oh we love calling them elitists), but also in what passes as objective news, and the poor, hapless possums must really have believed they were going to nail the ABC with their biased questions. 

That's what happens when you work inside the bell jar, in one of the most partisan, wretched and biased rags in the country. How it must have stuck in the craw to conclude with a quote from Mark Scott:

"And the truth is, unlike some of our partisan competitors, all voices are welcome at the ABC," Mr Scott said in a statement to staff.

For the record, the pond accepts the theory of gravity - it was the apple wot dun it, your lordship - and the theory of evolution - the pond's uncle was most definitely a monkey - and the current implications of climate science which are doing the rounds in refereed publications (which rules out The Australian, because they sacked the referee).

Belief or being a true believer has got nothing to do with it. If anybody, by weight of data or stunning insight, could contest and demolish the current science, well whoopy do, and it's time for that second air conditioner, and heaps of guilt-free international air travel, and pump up the coal-fired generators, and to hell with the acid seas and the little fishies.

The sheer ignorance, the unmitigated gall, the criminal folly and stupidity, and yet they still ran with it, true believers that they are ...

Anyhoo, it's just as well it turned up today, because it's a splendid distraction from the venerable generally grumpy Paul Sheehan, who is suffering from a severe, clear-cut bout of schizophrenia in today's piece, Overkill in the name of Islam threat.

The first half is dedicated to explaining how Sheehan went off to Bangladesh, and discovered he was wrong to call it a moderate Muslim nation, because it likes to style itself as a secular democracy. Even more astonishing to the grumpy one:

Islamist parties have failed to gain significant traction. The prime minister is a woman. The leader of the opposition is a woman.

Oh the copy could have been written by the Bangladesh Tourist Bureau (but there was no disclosure in relation to the piece, so presumably Sheehan paid for it himself, and the rapturous declaration of love is untarnished).

Yet for years Sheehan has entertained himself, if not his readers, by kicking the Islamist can down the road, and so it must have taken a considerable effort for him to type this par:

... as Bangladesh shows, and nearby Indonesia shows, there is no Muslim monolith. The problem is a strain of violent, mediaeval, repressive Islamic fundamentalism that exists within nearly every large Muslim community but does not define any large Muslim community.

Uh huh, that makes it a little tricky to deal with Geert Wilders, who fanatically preaches that there is a Muslim monolith, and that the fanatics define the larger community, and that the monolith is coming to get you. Right now!

How to claw it back, and get back on song with Geert warning that being girt by seas is no guarantee of safety?

Well it's tricky, but that's where the schizophrenia comes in handy, because Sheehan then trots out Wilders' message for the rest of the piece (and when you remember what the Dutch did in Indonesia, and why they attempted to re-assert their empire at the end of the second world war, you can understand why Indonesians might think anyone from the Nederlands talking about freedom and intolerance is a complete and utter tosser).

Anyhoo, by the end, after faithfully reproducing a typical Wilders rant, the best that Sheehan can muster is a gnomic question. a puzzling rhetorical flourish right up there with the riddle of the sphinx:

The room gave him (Wilders) a standing, cheering ovation. He departed, leaving behind a question: who holds the fringe view on the issue of Muslim immigration in Australia? Is it the Dutch visitor, or the political-media class that shunned him? 

Who knows, but it shows how a goose can in the one breath rant about the joys of Bangladesh, and in another breath kick the can on fringe views on the issue of Muslim immigration, as if it's the fault of the politicial-media class for shunning a man whom Sheehan proves is a paranoid irrelevance when it comes to silly chatter about a Muslim monolith.

Whatever, it's hard to sort out a winner today between The Australian and Paul Sheehan, but as always there are guaranteed losers ... anybody who wasted their time to read their surveys and their musings ...

(Below: and so to a few Monday cartoons. The last one is by Frank Cotham for the New Yorker, and seems to summarise how Paul Sheehan can remember what he thinks from day to day).

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sausages? Oysters and caviare for lent please ...

It's been a good week for the Sydney Anglicans because the papists, the Pellists and the Islamics have been doing all the heavy lifting.

With the pope going, a number of obvious points were made by all and sundry, including that loose Guardian canon, Giles Fraser, scribbling furiously that The pope's resignation has finally revealed that the papacy is simply a job:

The resignation of the pope, whatever the reason that motivated it, may well have a consequence far beyond that of its intended purpose. It reveals that the papacy is simply a job, an office. And by so doing, it rightly challenges some of the cult of personality that has built up around that office, as if the job affords the office holder some special proximity to God. It doesn't. 

The purposes of the almighty do not flow exclusively through the narrow weir of the papacy. But this news isn't really news to Protestants, nor indeed to the English. 

To balance affairs Fraser goes on to ravage Henry VIII as a cultural criminal, and it can also be said that at least he's not a Sydney Anglican.

But this astonishing news - that being pope is a job, and a sometimes onerous job at that, if you're of an age - will no doubt astonish Greg Sheridan, who, as already noted by the pond, made the astonishing remark, in Why George Pell is a 20-to-1 deserved favourite (behind the paywall because scientific research suggests that reading the brain dead can lead to brain death) that:

The Catholic Church and the papacy transcend Western civilisation. Their claims are universal. 

You see, in the second sentence, Sheridan tries to hedge his bets, and talks of "their claims". But in the first sentence he simply asserts that the papacy transcends Western civilisation. That way lies transcendental loonacy.

The pond is of course, along with Sheridan, rooting for Cardinal Pell to be made the pope in the coming conclave. Naturally Pell, like an aspiring C.E.O.  seized on the opportunity of Lent in his week-old Sunday Terror scribbles to repent, assess performance metrics, and promise to do better, put the old firm and shareholders into turnaround:

Every Christian has to subscribe to the "re" words of Lent: re-pent, re-turn, re-cover, re-pair, re-new, because everyone is called to repentance, not just great sinners. Jesus himself spent 40 days in the desert, fasting and praying, being put to the test by the "Evil One", the devil. So we have a good precedent for our efforts at renewal (although Jesus himself had no sins and therefore no need of repentance).

Indeed. Even re-tri anti wonti.

It helps explain why the pope wore a truly modest frock for the season, since you never know when you might end up in the desert, and why the frock Pell wore in 2008 for the very same season is the very model of a modern modest frock:

Remember to pack this sort of frock when heading out into the desert for forty days and forty nights.

But the pond is less sure that Christ died without sin and had no need of repentance. Apart from the way he was allegedly lugging every human sin, past, present and future off to his way too intimately related father, the reality is that he was born of a woman, and we all know what that means. Yes, every human born of an evil woman has been cursed by the fall, and the apple and the serpent, and if Christ used a special "get out of sin and go home with $500", why that's surely the sin of nepotism.

Ah well, theology was never the pond's strong suit, which is just as well, because that might have led to a career torturing small children, since the Dominican nuns surely taught the finer skills and arts of bullying and torture.

Still, we should be grateful the Pellists, on behalf of the rest of the mob, have promised to do better, and spend a heap of time on extra prayers, which will do wonders for the spiritually wounded and the mentally maimed and abused, in much the same way as prayers prevented the second world war and the holocaust, and we now live in an alternative dimension.

The kicker?

Catholics are also being asked not to eat meat on Fridays, an ancient tradition which the bishops in England have reintroduced for the whole year. 
This Lent reminds us of the need for purification in the Church, to review our past performances and improve our act.

Yes giving up meat on a Friday is a perfect solution. That'll fix everything. The meaningless gesture as ultimate redemption.

Back in the day, this folly almost saw the pond swear off fish for life, with yellow smoked cod or haddock saturated in a vile white sauce a regular Friday horror.

As usual, you can find a reminder on the vast tubes, along with a handy recipe for Catholics wondering how to maintain the tradition of torturing children, by heading off here, where you will find:

A friend called me the other night looking for a recipe for smoked fish, not salmon but smoked Cod or Haddock. She had eaten it in a trendy restaurant in Dublin recently and wanted to make it for some friends. My mum used to make smoked haddock in white sauce when I was a child. The vivid yellow of the fish made it look like junk food drowned in thick, glossy pure white sauce.

A trendy restaurant in Dublin? Say what?

Looked like junk food? Oh that hideous yellow. And it tasted like it, and even now, reading this, a Hungry Jacks' executive is seeing a new way forward. Thanks Val, but you can keep sending out that recipe to wayward Catholics, and it'll make them as wretched as the pond.

But let there be no residual yellow fish bitterness here.

We look forward to the church getting its act together, and getting purified. Perhaps a ritual burning of gum leaves instead of incense would help?

Meanwhile, Geert Wilders has been doing his level best to inflame everyone about the perils of the Islamics, but at 2% or so of the population the spinning sounds merely paranoid silly.

There's more bloody Buddhists in the country than Islamics (or so the wiki says here), and soon enough the Jedis will be moving beyond their humble .5% to take over the world. (Gesturing, the force can have a strong influence on weak-minded Pellists and Islamics).

All the same, the pond has been distraught at the level of argument surrounding the Nederlands natterer.

Over at New Matilda recently, one Nick Riemer, under the header Geert Wilders Is a Lighting Rod For Racists, spent the entire piece confusing and conflating racism with religion.

Now it might well be that Wilders attracts racists, along with a wider sampling of weirdos and loons (including the Bolter, natch), but the constant comparison of religion to race reached some kind of apocalyptic climax in the final par

Wilders uses classic liberal arguments as cover for the corrosive poison he disseminates. A society that cares about the equality of its members cannot sit on its hands while racist forces celebrate their high mass.

Ye ancient cats and dogs, how did we end up with a high mass?

It's a great pity that people like Reimer refuse to accept that it is classically liberal and appropriate to have a go at religion and true believers (and if not, the pond would be out of business in a week, for all that it routinely and even-handedly endeavours to offend Jews, Buddhists, Catholics, Pellists, Sydney Anglicans, Islamics, scientologists, and even those of the Jedi faith who simply can't bring themselves to say that the first three Star Wars given unto the world by the false messiah George Lucas suck hugely, enormously, unimaginably. When we want a film about the empire's trade wars and boring politicians carrying on about them, we'll watch a show about the Dutch tulip bubble).

The pond finds the word bigot perfectly acceptable, and without the confusing conflation involved in labelling people who object to religious beliefs as a kind of racism:

One who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ. (here)

It is of course the heavy burden and duty of every liberal to go around explaining how everyone and everything is fucked by their fanatical beliefs. Instead, sadly it falls to the pond to note that Nick Riemer's bio claims that he's a member of the English and Linguistics departments at the University of Sydney.

How can this be? Through his cheap rhetorical devices, he allowed any number of loons in the comments section to point out that race and religion are not one and the same thing ... and thereby damaged his argument against a man who doesn't deserve a free kick.

Finally, there was no way the pond was going to give the Jensenists a free kick, not when a couple of Jensists come out on parade.

First up was Michael Jensen, in More sausages anyone?, dissing Lent as a distraction, and proudly declaring his affiliation with fundamentalist Swiss ratbags like Ulrich Zwingli (Huldreich or Huldrych).

(There it is down on the right, with an imaginative illustration ... sausages).

Now Google Zwingli and follow his devious, furtive, secretive marriage, or his role in the suppression and execution of a bunch of Anabaptists, including the drowning of Felix Manz, as well as a tendency to resort to the sword and war mongering to settle theological disputes (and he who lived by the sword ...)

The pond would think twice about sharing a sausage with Zwingle. Jensen dresses the lad up as a freedom fighter, and naturally he dresses that other fundamentalist ratbag, Calvin, into the argument.

But it all gets a bit tortured by the time Jensen gets around to asserting that Christians in general are free-wheeling freedom lovers:

Have Lent, or, don’t have Lent. Eat sausages, or not. Give up Facebook, or not. Whatever: if I insist on it, or forbid it, I am adding to the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Take that, fish-munching Pellists, but what's the odds of Jensen breaching any of the following terms and conditions contained in the Bible, which is, if you believe the Swiss fundies, inerrant and to be followed on all matters?

Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you. 
And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. 
And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. 
Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you. 
Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.

Um, excuse me, that hare thing? Does that include rabbit done in a nice red wine sauce with onions, in the French style?

And so on and on, and on, an endless bunch of rules and statues and commandments. Oh I know that Leviticus is an oldie but it's a goodie, because it shows what a weird bunch of statutes are these days ignored, especially by those who eat their shellfish, lobster and bacon in private.

Still, it's good to know that Michael Jensen is a sausage-eater. Let's hope they contain no pork.

Meanwhile Phillip Jensen turns up to talk about advertising morality. The pond felt compelled to include a snapshot of Advertising Morality? to note  that right next to the piece are some job ads and a couple of splash ads, one of which proposes "gripping the heart" and "shaping the will". Godwin's Law forbids the pond from mentioning Triumph of the Will.

Anyhoo, the poor man has been watching too much telly, and worse still he's been watching too much commercial telly, because he just loves the creative world of advertising, which has so much more to offer than the ABC and The Midsomer Murders (perhaps because of the tendency of the vicars to get up to too much mischief).

You can read the whole piece, and only at the end do you realise that Jensen doesn't have the first clue about what to do about advertising, except wring his hands and blather.

Commercials are insidious, and are used by special interest groups (do the Anglicans and their terrible ads count as a special interest group?) But censorship is dangerous, and anyway no one knows if advertising is harmful. Except it could be harmful.

By the end, Jensen has got his knickers in a right old knot, and settles for taking out his frustrations on sex workers:

Prostitution is wrong. It is always wrong to pay for sex. It is an abuse to use power, expressed in money, to gain sexual favours that otherwise would not be given for sex. The spin doctors of the "adult services" industry cannot persuade parents to wish that their sons and daughters would grow up to become prostitutes. We know it's wrong. So why should the advertising industry be allowed to promote it? Is it because without God, our community is not able to make such moral judgments? (Romans 1:32)

Actually there's an argument used about cigarettes which also applies here, since prostitution has been around since long before Christians began appropriating the Jewish bible:

There may be a desire to have it (smoking) prohibited, but prohibition of substances and activities has been shown to be prohibitively expensive and difficult.

Indeed, thank you Phillip Jensen for your knock-down demolition of Phillip Jensen, and now can we conclude with a heart-rending howl of pain:

Censorship is always dangerous. It is always dangerous to give some people, especially those in authority, the power to control what is said, questioned or thought. Truth is very important and yet so hard to establish when information is suppressed. I hate the constant criticism of Christianity, but, because of it, I can discover the truth. Pity the poor Muslim, who is never allowed to hear criticism and so can never be told the truth. If I am not free to change my opinion or religion then I am not free to believe it either.

Poor old blind dudded Islamics everywhere, oh pity them, pity them, but it has to be said that there is absolutely no evidence that constantly criticising Christianity or Sydney Anglicans or Jensenists has ever helped them to discover the truth.

And with that, it's Sunday and time for a dozen rock oysters. Not all seafood is bad, and if it means breaking the statutes and risking hell, why what the hell. Toujours gai, Archie, toujours gai ...

i have had my ups and downs
but wotthehell wotthehell 
yesterday sceptres and crowns 
fried oysters and velvet gowns 
and today i herd with bums 
but wotthehell wotthehell 
i wake the world from sleep 
as i caper and sing and leap when i sing 
my wild free tune 
wotthehell wotthehell 
under the blear eyed moon 
i am pelted with cast off shoon 
but wotthehell wotthehell 

 do you think that i would change 
my present freedom to range 
for a castle or moated grange 
wotthehell wotthehell 
cage me and i d go frantic 
my life is so romantic 
capricious and corybantic 
and i m toujours gai toujours gai (the rest here)

(Below: and since the theme is fish ...)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Your choice: a pack of baying, slavering, slobbering hounds, or a sly, saturnine, sardonic view of things ...

This is the season that the pond tends to shut up the cultural shop, because indifferent, pandering American movies come out to play and be rewarded for their pandering.

It seems that the bookies have set the odds such that Argo is a hot very short odds contender for Best Picture, with Lincoln not far behind.

Lincoln is banal hagiography of the most meretricious and specious kind, and that's before we get on to the actual history it purports to represent, but Argo isn't much better.

Not satisfied with the story of Americans escaping from Iran, it dresses up the third act with devices that would sit comfortably with a silent movie comedy, not least a bunch of Iranian keystone cops driving along a runway in hot pursuit of an airliner.

It is of course an American feel good story - funny puffed up Iranians, the glories of Xerxes of Persia long gone (hang on, hang on, the Greeks laughed at him too) and failing yet again up against the cunning, clever, Americans, who escape to laugh another day (cultural leanings make benefit glorious nation).

It's a feel good story of a kind Americans love, and never mind the shredding of history for instant gratification. Would you like some upsized popcorn and soda with it?

The pond's personal taste goes more to American movies like Wag the Dog, which sets up a scenario where a Hollywood producer fakes a war in some remote place like Albania to take the electorate's mind off a juicy Washington sex scandal. It sent up everything in sight, and while it scored a couple of nominations - one for Dustin Hoffman as the producer who when confronted with a catastrophe would say "This is nothing" and recall a previous production disaster - the mainstream resolutely ignored it.

Of late the intertubes has been buzzing with a television production which purports to be about the cynical realm of politics, House of Cards, featuring Kevin Spacey, and while he's okay and director David Fincher is skilled, it didn't set the pond on fire.

Images of Ian Richardson as Francis Urquhart, Conservative aspirant to the PM's office, kept bobbing into the head.

Americans simply don't know how to do saturnine and sardonic in the way the British do. The face was saturnine and swarthy ... and the sensual lips twisted with disdain, wrote Oscar Wilde, and Richardson knew how to twist his lips and elevate an eyebrow and deliver a sardonic, ironic remark with aplomb.

Happily the 1990 version has been given a Blu-ray release, and while that's a dead format thanks to the grasping stupidity of Sony - the disc wars, now there's a mini-series - the restoration is remarkable, much better than the pond's battered DVD copy.

The show is of an age now, but all the same, some lines do produce a warm glow, as when conservative Richardson, yearning to be the new Maggie or the ultimate daddy, broods about his lust for power:

Playing with the hopes and dreams of a daughter, now gentle, now hard, rebuking and rewarding, chastising and forgiving, the pleasures of a father, of a father of daughters. What greater power is there than that, why should a man want more? Why should I yearn to be everybody's daddy?

Not being a Freudian, the pond couldn't comment on that, but at least it's helped avoid the tedium of reporting on today's scene of carnage at The Australian, where the hounds are in full cry.

The collective group-think mind set of the failed, unprofitable rag, which has been shedding readers in droves, is a remarkable, if deeply unattractive thing to see.

In the end, mastheads these days are distinguished by the variety, diversity and depth of their opinion makers and commenters, news being abundant to the point of tedium.

Not so in the lizard Oz's world where the starlings circle and even fart in unison.

Can they keep it up for the next six months? Of course they can. They kept pursuing Gillard over the union matter until exhaustion and the capacity to discover anything new was also exhausted - but it took tedious months to reach that point. The same with Craig Thompson and the Slipper affair, and sundry other fox sightings that sent the pack into a slavering, slobbering frenzy.

The latest hullaballoo concerns the urgent necessity of Gillard resigning, for the good of herself, and the good of the party.

The pond has little doubt that the frenzy will in due course see Gillard driven out, or crucified at the election, and then in due course after the blood lust is sated, and the stained corpse is dragged around a few times, there will be some guilt and sentimentality amongst the few in the rag who imagine they're more than robotic Murdochian automatons. (You have to step outside the cult before you can understand the reinforcing power and the oppressive atmosphere of a cult, especially if it's of a crusading kind).

First you need the blood and the political death, before you can feel the shame, unless of course Ian Richardson is your hero.

Here's how it works. On any given day - heck on every day - aggregate a bunch of things in an "exclusive" to establish and certify the air of crisis.

Today the middle class welfare spending beloved of John Howard is at crisis point:

The future is in peril!!

Next you let individual hounds off the leash to salivate and pant, led by the pompous, bloated, self-important, preening Paul Kelly:

Crisis!! Did we mention crisis!!!

Now Kelly didn't invent this line. 

Like the lame derivative ponce he is, he borrowed it from Fairfax, and the likes of Waleed Ali, whose column makes nervous nellie Jonathan Holmes having a breakdown over a tweet and the ABC's editiorial guidelines sound like a right old git.

Ali dragged in over eight hundred comments on the lost the plot, lost the narrative line, and other Fairfax hacks have been pounding out the same tune this past week, leading a bemused Bernard Keane to an ironic speculation, Does the Labor narrative narrative stand up?

Ah, the irony — Labor’s actual narrative can’t be heard over the clamour of leadership speculation and insistence it hasn’t got a narrative.

Keane also wondered aloud about how long the hounds could keep up the baying. Leadership long haul: can journos last three weeks? You bet.

The pond would bet on them lasting thirty three years.

The pond is willing to bet that within six months, should Abbott gain power and produce a series of blunders, that there will be an intense series of columns about leadership and challenges (but sssh, whatever you do, don't mention jolly Joe or big Mal right now).

You see it's what journos and the commentariat are paid to do, and if you're a conservative hack, leadership and blather about narrative and identity is the easiest, rubbery nonsense you can find doing the rounds.

It gets even easier if you're a member of the commentariat, like Ali, who can at the same time pretend not to be a part of the commentariat, and talk about the issues that preoccupy the commentariat as white noise, while generating as fine an amount of white noise as the pond has heard over its tinnitus these past few weeks.

Back to the follow-the-Fairfax-leader mob at the Oz.

Naturally, once the chief pontificator, the pompous Kelly, is on the run at number one in the rotating splash at the head of the digital page, with a hue and a cry and hunting horns and a view halloo, the other hounds join in the baying chorus.

Here you go, take a look at this fest of gabbing and gobbing, the top five stories in the opinion pages:

(above: click to enlarge, screen cap only, no links, if you want to rot your mind, you know where to go)

Wall to wall hysteria. You'd swear Australia was falling apart, or had a swimming team that took steroids or some such drug, yet the last time the pond looked outside, the sun was still rising and setting, the asteroid had missed its mark, markets were a bit bouncy, but inflation and interest rates were fine, the dollar strong if a little overvalued, or so the head banking honcho says, and the unemployment rate wasn't so bad.

But if you read the lizard Oz, you'd be reduced to an hysterical basket case within a week.

It's completely predictable, and not much different in tone or nature from the hysterical week before, or the week before that - Fox News down under - which is why the pond would like to make a couple of honourable mentions on completely different subjects.

First up is the eminently stupid Greg Sheridan hankering for George Pell to become Pope, which would be a disaster for the Catholic church, and would see Pell floundering out of his depth.

It almost goes without saying that Sheridan is a fool, and surely this opening line confirms it:

The Catholic Church and the papacy transcend Western civilisation. Their claims are universal.

But then either Sheridan or the subbie has warmed up the crowd with this one in the header Why George Pell is a 20-to-1 deserved favourite (you know about the paywall thingie, it's there to stop you paying to ruin your brain).

Newsflash. 20 to 1 odds don't spell out a favourite, and anyway, over at Paddy Power, Pell is only at 40/1, with some 37 or so contenders in front of him. But it gets even funnier when you read a little more, because apparently the subbie couldn't be stuffed reading Sheridan's blather, or trying to make sense of it:

George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, has a realistic chance. He's not one of the favourites, nor even at the top of the second tier. But he has a chance. And if not pope, perhaps secretary of state, the Vatican's prime minister and foreign minister combined.

He's a deserved 20/1 favourite, except he's not even at the top of the second tier.

Did we mention Sheridan is a clown?

The rest of Sheridan's ramble is equally bizarre - and up against all the other political nonsense, highly entertaining nonsense -with Pell celebrated for being controversial and conservative, and lambasting liberal Catholics for living in the real world (here's a definition of a liberal Catholic - someone who uses contraception rather than relying on Vatican routlette and camel herder theology while having sex. The long absent lord knows what Sheridan does, but if he's used contraception, welcome to a liberal world, and in due course to hell, you filthy sinner).

Personally the pond hopes Sheridan is right. With Pell in charge, the chances of highly entertaining press conferences like the recent one that set the local church to thinking they needed someone, anyone other than Pell to front the media will increase exponentially.

And maybe we were unkind to that subbie, because amongst many other rampant stupidities, Sheridan offers up this one:

How could Pell come from a long-odds outsider to the papacy? I put the chance at about 5 per cent, perhaps a bit less. But a 5 per cent chance of becoming pope is an enormous chance.

Ginormous perhaps, especially up against the 95% chance the Pellists will miss out.

The pond would also like to make a special commendation to Chris Kenny for his piece:

Kenny is one of the thickest planks in the Murdoch stable, so it's natural he's the one given the job of celebrating a ripping tabloid yarn in Lighting a candle under bureaucratic bombast (behind the paywall  so you'll hare off to read the original Daily Terror beat up for free).

Kenny spends his time blathering on about the nanny state and useless regulations, and celebrating "good tabloid reporting", and unfortunately it means that the pond must demand a recount by Jonathan Holmes and the team at Media Watch.

You will recall that they delivered a sound spanking to the Murdoch tabloids in A lot of hot air over a non story, describing the pathetic cupcake beat up, and yet they delivered their new Rhino award the next week to an admittedly egregious and dumb NT reporter (The Rhino Hide Award).

Yet here - a week after Media Watch nailed the cupcake matter story as an inept beat up - is Chris Kenny blowing more hot air, and beating his eggs into a fine old froth. 

It's Rhino Hide award time, not to as top end type - it's well known they're like that in the top end - but as an encouragement to slow learners like Kenny. Keep being stupid, because it's great fun, and a great break from politics, and thank the long absent lord we have a nanny state to take care of the slow learners, who think that cupcakes need to toughen up and enjoy their preventable illnesses. (Would Kenny think a condom too nanny state when risking an STD? Just wondering).

And very finally, a special mention to the amazingly stupid Mike Quigley, whose attempts at politics and a discussion of the nature of the NBN allowed The Australian to run the story with this angle.

The NBN is one of the few Labor policies that pleases geeks and the public alike - a few of the pond's extended family have just got connected and they love it. Originally they were suspicious but when you  live in a rural area, online speed is a remarkable thing to behold.

Now Quigley has thrown the whole pack of cards into the air. He might not have meant to do it, that might not be what he meant to say, but as a politician he's woefully inept. He has effectively trashed Conroy and his own estate, and smoothed the path for Malcolm Turnbull

In any sensible world he'd be sacked - after all, poor Warbo was made to take the fall for the foolishness of a Murdoch driven board at Ten.

Likely Quigley will survive, because it's an election year, but the hare he's let out of the gate will continue to simmer for the next six months, and he's given the green light to the coalition to fuck over the NBN in fine style. Not only is the NBN being run ineptly by Quigley, he's in the process of ruining its future. 

It's been rolling out for a year and now he wants a debate. More likely he wants continued employment. Pick me, pick me big Mal ...

After all that, you can see why the pond is now retiring to watch the second series of House of Cards ...  because reality is much worse and in the end, despite the best endeavours of Chris Kenny and Greg Sheridan, much less entertaining than fiction.

(Below: the pond never did show off Tony Abbott's Xmas card. Not that we received one, but we did admire it so, and it's never too late).