Thursday, October 23, 2014

In which the pond discovers Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own ...



(Above: and then came the reality of Tony Abbott. More memorabilia here)


So, as a kindly correspondent noted, Crikey doubled down with another contribution to The ABC Debate, by one Geoff Heriot, who boasts of a onetime connection to the broadcaster, and is no doubt a legend in his own lunch time.

The ABC's charter, opines Heriot - or at least the splash suggests he does - nowhere says the ABC must air drama, comedy, sport or game shows ....

Indeed, indeed, and it possibly doesn't mention The Argonauts, The Goons, Tony Hancock, cabbages, sealing wax or string.

Now the pond has absolutely no interest in what Heriot has to say, and even less interest in providing a link, but what was interesting is that, by time of writing this morning, the latest outing in the great Crikey debate had attracted just four comments.

One contributor offered two comments, both seemingly in favour of the ABC, another wrote in fond memory of the ABC with the note While your entitled to your opinion the blatant commercial conflict of interest is obvious, while the fourth comment ran Blah blah blah - yet another Crikey article about the ABC. Boring!.

Now let's not brood about the role of the apostrophe in modern life, let's simply note that as a great debate, that's a dead website walking and talking and getting close to expiring.

No wonder Eric is feeling the heat. If he thinks there's any mileage in sounding like Rupert Murdoch, (or commercial advantage in positioning his digital rag this way), then delusion really does stalk the land ...

Meanwhile, over at New Matilda, the joint is cooking.

Plausible deniability was all the go for the poodle Pyne, as Barry Spurr's Curriculum Wage Revealed, while the valiant warriors contemplated New Matilda To Appear In Federal Court Tomorrow.

It's easy to tell that the story has legs - the reptiles even ran a letter from Barry Humphries in support of the Prof, which led to some consternation in Barry Humphries and Barry Spurr are a comedy double act no one needs.

And why not, when you see the sort of case mounted by the exile:


Yep, he's banning the fuck word, yet he loves his darkie jokes ...

And today the reptiles felt the need to trot out a character reference for the prof.



It was a remarkable effort, an heroic tribute, a paean of prose, in which the prof seemed to emerge as a cross between Socrates, Jesus Christ, Dean Swift and Voltaire.

Lily Yuan Wang certainly learned how to over-egg, and never mind which end you opened:

All I know for sure is Spurr’s personal linguistic choices are none of our business. None of the emails prove him guilty of any sin other than a sardonic sense of humour and childlike whimsicality — the common vices of a poet.

Childlike whimsicality?

That's a note of praise? In the pond's world that's about the most vicious form of verbal abuse known, a kind of Dickens traducing Leigh Hunt in a Harold Skimpole routine ...

But it wasn't actually all Wang knew for sure.

Somehow making off-colour jokes of a dubious kind transmuted into heroic insights:

We are all entitled to our beliefs (however antiquated, unpopular or prejudiced) and to say things we may or may not believe — sometimes merely for social purposes. Our growth as a person and as a society terminates when we allow pride to triumph over our thirst for knowledge and truth. If an opinion offends us, we should respect the right of expression but beg to differ. The aim of education is not to silence people into kind whispers and innocuous small talk but to provoke thought. It’s all part of an ongoing discussion, without which learning is impossible. 
The exaggerated outrage at Spurr’s emails is centred on his role in the reform of the English school curriculum, insinuating his judgment on the dominance of indigenous literature in Australian textbooks is coloured by a racist antagonism towards Aborigines. Yet Spurr spent more time in his emails criticising the hypocrisy of the political establishment in its endless gestures towards the Aboriginal community than diminishing the Aboriginal contribution to Australian literature.


It dawned on the pond at about that point that Wang surely hadn't actually read what Spurr had to say about the Aboriginal contribution to Australian literature:

DATE: April 19, 2014 
FROM: Barry Spurr TO: Friend, Friend 
Subject: Churchill in California The Californian high school English curriculum has arrived (as Pyne wants me to compare ours with other countries). Another 300 pages of reading! Amongst the senior year texts for study are Churchill's wartime speeches. Imagine setting that for the NSW HSC English. And whereas the local curriculuim has the phrase 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander' on virtually every one of its 300 pages, the Californian curriculum does not ONCE mention native Americans and has only a very slight representation of African-American literature (which, unlike Abo literature, actually exists and has some distinguished productions).


As for the notion that Spurr's emails were all about hypocrisy, rather than abuse of said Aboriginal people, the pond awards Wang A+ for diligent inventiveness in mounting an argument.

The rest is equally astonishing, but it would seem that Wang missed the class on hyperbole and its dangers.

It is a strange thing, to note the excess of this passion, and how it braves the nature, and value of things, by this; that the speaking in a perpetual hyperbole, is comely in nothing but in love. (Francis Bacon, here)

Enough already. If this were just a momentary disturbance in the force, Humphries wouldn't be chipping in, the reptiles wouldn't be running defensive cover, and New Matilda wouldn't be in court defending its right to publish as a matter of public interest and its right not to reveal its sources.

Meanwhile, attention has at last started to be paid, as can be found in Questions over curriculum experts' links to Coalition.

It turns out that plausible deniability was all the go:


The leaked emails have sparked accusations from Labor and the Greens that the appointment process for the subject experts – many of whom are quoted at length in the review to justify changes to the curriculum – lacked transparency and rigour. 
Education Department officials told Senate estimates hearings on Wednesday that they did not scrutinise the qualifications of the subject specialists, who were paid $8250 each for their input, before they were appointed.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the subject experts were chosen by the two reviewers, Kevin Donnelly and Kenneth Wiltshire, with no input from him or his office. 

Yes, it was nothing to do with the poodle, yet the poodle charges on blindly in the firm belief that everything is the best in the best of all possible worlds:

Several of the 14 subject specialists chosen by Dr Donnelly and Professor Wiltshire had close links to the Coalition and conservative think tanks. These include: 
  • Griffith University professor Alex Robson, a former senior adviser to Coalition frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull, who was chosen to review the economics curriculum 
  • Griffith University professor Tony Makin, a strong critic of the Rudd government's response to the global financial crisis, was also chosen to review the economics curriculum 
  • University of Wollongong professor Greg Melleuish, a member of the academic advisory council for the Liberal Party-aligned Menzies Research Centre, was chosen to review the history curriculum Australian National University English teacher Fiona Mueller, a delegate at the 2012 National Party federal conference, was chosen to review the English curriculum. 
Professors Robson, Makin and Melleuish are regular contributors to the free market Institute of Public Affairs and Centre for Independent Studies think tanks. 

Uh huh. Jobs for the mates (and yes, the pond is aware that if you've ever done any work for the previous governments as a consultant, don't bother to apply to Canberra. The black bans are in).

Australian Education Union Deputy Federal President Correna Haythorpe said there was a lack of political and ideological diversity among the subject specialists. 
She also criticised the appointment of four subject reviewers from the private school sector and three from the Catholic education sector. The only subject reviewer from the public school sector was Michele Chigwidden, a primary school arts teacher from Mr Pyne's electorate. "
The selection of the specialist curriculum reviewers has damaged any credibility or value that the review might have had," Ms Haythorpe said. "Donnelly and Wiltshire have been allowed unfettered control and have picked a biased panel with clear links to right-wing think tanks, an imbalance towards private schools, and a lack of any relevant expertise in curriculum design." 

Uh huh. So how feeble is the case for the defence?

A spokesman for Education Minister Christopher Pyne said the subject reviewers' credentials were "impeccable" and accused Labor and the Greens of political point scoring. 
 "The Review of the National Curriculum has been welcomed by almost everyone," the spokesman said. "It is not remotely an ideological document and that has been widely recognised. Questioning the bona fides of highly qualified individuals who weren't even appointed by the government is offensive."

Pretty feeble.

Almost everyone? Not remotely ideological, except in a Judeo-Christian way? Questioning is highly offensive? What happened to freedom of expression and freedom of opinion and thought?

Now just asking a question is offensive?

Ah, where's Lily Yuan Wang to wax indignant about oppression and repression under the header Spurr a scapegoat of those who would shut down free expression?

Why here she is:

Freedom of expression is fundamental to academe and democracy. Deprived of it, Australia is headed down the perilous path towards totalitarianism. At Sydney University students and staff enjoy, as well as suffer from, the great freedom using or abusing their languages to express their views. When it is acceptable to use the most vulgar language in student campaigns, on T-shirts, pavements, when f. k and bitch are used throughout the student newspaper, Honi Soit, and the groups campaigning for its editorial control last year were named Sex and Evil, how could politically insensitive terms in personal correspondence cause offence?

Indeed, indeed, so how could wondering about how a dummy like Greg Melleuish ended up as the 'go to' man for history cause offence?

Melleuish routinely graced the pond's pages before he headed off to the smaller cult magazines and activities as befits an IPA fellow traveller ...

Oh dear, and then there's the hyperbole and the gilding of a not particularly attractive lily:

To me he is someone who dedicates himself to the noble cause of restoring the beauty of a civilisation that people have too lightly cast away: good manners, respect for the elderly, a sound knowledge of English, modesty of dressing in public. His intentions are honourable, even if they make him unpopular with opponents.


Respect for the elderly? You mean he likes old farts? Well that's hardly in the tradition of Dean Swift is it?

Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own ...

If you're going to offend everybody, make sure it is everybody ...

Anything else?

Well there's the bizarre sight of Peter Hartcher suffering from buyer's remorse, sounding like a teacher in the poodle Pyne style:


Must try harder, naughty boys lacking in diligence and application.

You can read Abbott government must work harder to instil confidence, but it's the quintessential definition of silliness and futility.

You see, as any reader of romance novels knows, once trust is broken, once trust is lost, it can never return. Abbott lied his way to power, and when in power, routinely lied. How is it possible to restore trust in a a proven, regular, reliable liar?

Hartcher, who has never been the sharpest Fairfaxian in the tool shed, has suddenly discovered that consumer confidence is in the toilet, yet somehow magically it's within the government's power to restore it ...

How stupid can Hartcher sound?

Pretty stupid:

Could the two be connected? Could disappointment with the government, dating from the beginning of budget speculation season a couple of months before the budget itself, be depressing consumer confidence? 

Could a journalist sound any sillier?

Meanwhile, as we head towards the end of the week, how's the war going?

Time for a report from the field from war correspondent Moir, and more Moir here.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In which Eric helps keep the dream alive ... or is it a nightmare?


(Above: just to put the pond in a good mood, and more Wilcox here, if you want some gay images, you've probably already Gawkered The Gayest Images from Michaelangelo's Most Famous Painting, but never mind, the pond is trying to explain the intertubes to Eric Beecher).


The last thing the pond wants to contemplate, or hear,  right at the moment, are the likes of Malcolm Fraser, Tony Abbott, John Howard, Greg Sheridan, Andrew Bolt, Gerard Henderson, or Malcolm Turnbull talking about the vision thing while displaying the vision of a gnat, or Bill Shorten simply talking ... that last one is just too depressing ...

And that way also lies madness, and so instead it's off to Crikey, and its joining forces with the Murdochian reptiles.

Naturally the reptiles were delighted to have the company:


Eric Beecher has been down this path before, but his recent effort, simply in terms of logical thinking, was pathetic, and the supplementary and complementary woeful forelock tugging supplied by Bernard Keane did the usually rational Keane a great disservice.

It was like Crikey had obtained its own special brand of kool aid, and Keane had swallowed a great gulp.

How Beecher imagines that attacking the ABC is going to fix the dismal position of Crikey in the marketplace boggles the imagination.

The financial pain must be getting deep.

The trouble is, Crikey is no longer at the centre of any conversation. Nor is it the home to any notable set of 'exclusives' to attract attention.

This can't be blamed on the ABC.

You don't find New Matilda whining and moping about the ABC, though it has lurched along precariously from fiscal crisis to crisis, not having funding from Gina Rinehart or a coal baron conveniently to hand.

It hasn't been easy for the indie rag - top of the digital page was a story about the sentencing of Freya Newman, and it looks like its about to have the depths of its pockets tested, with the mainstream media like the Graudian watching on as Barry Spurr takes legal action to compel New Matilda to reveal source of emails. 

Or, if you like to upset Eric Beecher, at the ABC in Professor Barry Spurr mounts legal fight over publication of racist emails in New Matilda.

But they've just got on with the business of being an alternative independent source of news and opinion and doing their best to attract subscribers.

Meanwhile, Beecher has been moaning since the twelfth of never - and that's a long long time - about the ABC being responsible for dudding his business.

You can head back to October 2010 and cop Beecher in mUmBRELLA moaning about the competition in Crikey's Eric Beecher: ABC should not have launched The Drum.

And that's just one of dozens of examples that litter the full to overflowing intertubes.

It seems, if you pay a nanosecond's attention to Eric, the ABC shouldn't be much involved in the digital space or in experimentation in its attempts to engage with its customers, and somehow, by the ABC abstaining from such naughtiness, suddenly everyone will flock to Beecher's baby.

Now in the usual way of 'print the controversy', Crikey managed to get a little more out of the controversy - keeping the debate alive - by publishing David Salter mounting a defence of the ABC with The ABC debate: why Beecher and Crikey fear the ABC (inside the paywall).

The trouble was, all Salter could do was point to the naked self-interest that had sparked what he rightly called a puffed up rhetorical pose:

...Every one of the first six dot-point questions Beecher proposes in his quest for an answer to the ABC’s existence turns in some way on the assumption that the national broadcaster is a threat to existing commercial media, or should at least be prevented from becoming a threat. 
 He summarises his position thus: “Should the ABC use its formidable public resources to disrupt or compete with opportunities available to commercial media?” And in case you missed what this might mean for Beecher’s own Crikey-based online business, he asks: “Should the ABC have carte blanche to create whatever digital content it likes, even if similar or identical content is already being produced by commercial or other content creators?” 
 We get your point, but it’s nonsense. For decades, media commentators and editorialists have been seduced by the specious argument that taxpayers should not have to fund ABC services that, they assert, commercial rivals could deliver just as well, or more cheaply. Yet none of those pundits go on to nominate specific examples. If commercial outlets could produce the same programming or internet content as the ABC at the same level of quality but for less money and for larger audiences, then they would already be doing it. 
Why don’t they? Because most of that content isn’t populist. It requires the investment of experienced staff and high production values, and will rarely attract enough viewers, listeners or internet eyeballs to be commercially viable. 
What really sticks in the craw of Beecher and his ilk is that while traditional media markets have contracted, the ABC has managed to hold and even expand its audience. Aunty’s consumers clearly don’t need the “legislative direction from government” Keane thinks necessary to articulate the public broadcaster’s role. They’ve already voted with their remotes and browsers.

Now the pond isn't a big user of the ABC, and there are any number of moments - provided by the likes of Emma Alberici and Chris Uhlmann - when the pond is likely to run shrieking from the room.

But on the other hand, the pond can't imagine, in a month of pink fits, Eric Beecher funding RN and an FM music service, the two main points of contact the pond has with the ABC - yes, the pond usually goes elsewhere for its online content, because there's a mighty wide world online, and no thanks to Malcolm Turnbull's vision thing.

So here's the sort of company Beecher finds himself keeping with his ABC bashing:


By golly Eric couldn't get yourself much lower in the gutter, could you?

Well actually you could, as you yourself ironically noted by running this cover:


Now is there an irony in the Bolter, working for the monopolistic Murdochians, who control much of the media wasteland in Australia, berating the ABC for crowding out other voices, so that the Murdochians can complete their monopoly, maintain Foxtel, degut the NBN, and run their newspapers into the ground with a host of shrill right wing ratbag zealots and commentators?

You betcha, the irony is so thick on the ground, it glitters like iron pyrite ... or as it was known in Tamworth, fool's gold, but as always, the Bolter is an irony free, self-aware free zone ...

Well the pond has been getting begging letters from "the Crikey crew" for months now, offering trinkets and trivia and publications the pond doesn't want, to rejoin the subscription list.

But this latest effort, right when the ABC is in its hour of need, is the last straw, especially when - in terms of future proofing - any budget cuts shouldn't come at the expense of serving the ABC's diverse programming  via the digital platform.

That's the way of the future, even allowing for big Mal's attempts to service the demands of the Murdochians by degutting broadband.

The notion that the ABC should restrict itself to radio and to television, and not play in the same space as Crikey is both pathetic and absurd.

Below: an artist's impressions of Eric Beecher's ABC:

(more artistic impressions here)

And so the pond bids farewell to Eric Beecher and his crew.

If the pond wants the thoughts of Rupert, it's much easier to read the output of his minions.

Why this very day the pond could be reading the special insights of that person empowered to recommend ABC board positions:



Or maybe not. There has to a limit to the amount of hagiographic excess and rabid cheer-leading absorbed in any one day.

Maybe instead the pond might head off and watch John Oliver doing the Supreme Court as LOLdogs,



And you can find your fake paws at the same location, and you can find Rachel Maddow having an early crack at the new meme at Salon, here.

Sorry Eric, sorry Murdochians, there's more to life on the full to overflowing intertubes than brooding about the hypocrisy of Eric, or the follies of the Murdochian commentariat as they join forces to feather their nests ...

As usual, that dissident treacherous all Blacks loving Moir had a cartoon just for Eric and Dame Slap and the Bolter, and as usual, there's more Moir here:




Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It's million dollar month at the pond ... or at least a pennyworth of Caterists ...


In the spirit of The West Australian, the pond has decided on a million dollar month promotion.

All that's needed to enter is the certifiable hair from a yeti discovered on the south slope of Mount Everest - the pond only requires entrants to supply a DNA test from three reputable labs - with photographs showing the yeti in conversation with a verifiable Martian, and all rights to the story signed over to the pond.

And they say blogging lacks the integrity of mainstream journalism.

Yes, this morning the pond was catching up on last night's Media Watch,  as you can also do by heading off here, but the best bit came with the subsequent story about Fairfax and regional downsizing staff, and sackings, and an assurances that quality wouldn't be affected, which you can see in Fairfax swings the axe again.

And knock the pond down with a feather, after finishing that segment and the patented pond corn flakes and muesli mix, what was the sight that greeted the pond, on shifting over to see the Fairfaxians quality assurance control at work this very same minute, right at the top of the digital page?


Carsy! The pond can't remember playing that game since primary school. What a weird and wacky time it is at Fairfax.

It didn't take long for the Fairfaxians to right the ship:


Still, that sort of wacky, zany humour always puts the pond in a good mood, though it's a pity it came at the expense of a number of people trapped in cars ...

What else?

Well it's old news that Francis was rolled by the Pellists and the rest of the conservatives, and yet barking mad trendies still think he's bringing a fresh approach to the church ... proving that a belief in transubstantiation is a sure sign of delusion ...

And Bronnie was rolled by the bastard love child she produced with John Howard, and by golly it's going to get ugly as she broods ...

And Bruce Hawker has penned a piece for Fairfax bemoaning how the political club missed a chance for true reform of the Labor party, and apparently the following week they'll be publishing a refreshing apology from Genghis Khan regretting his failure to be more inclusive ... though admittedly that'll be of more use and insight than anything Hawker has to say ...

But enough of the light comedy. As always, the pond yearns for the truly thick, or as your average Kiwi would say, thuck as a bruck ...

Now it would be simple enough to stray north of the border, where the tabloid shows how the Daily Terror is just a bread and water show up against the fine art work of the re-born toads:


Ah the good old 'you're just a bunch of gutless headless chooks with a yellow streak a mile wide' Tamworth ploy, preferably with flapping wings and clucking noises ...

Speaking of northern images, how about Gary Johns shedding crocodile tears:


Sitting in his comfortably padded institute inspecting his parliamentary super, Johns probably hasn't noticed that the cost of power has already risen, and it had sweet bugger all to do with hysterical fear mongering about divestment campaigns or the reality that many countries are trying to move away from coal or that China has in effect dumped a carbon tax on Australian coal ...

Then there's the reptiles clamouring for a thriller, a chiller, as the gorillas go at it in Manila - or Brisbane - but what rhymes with that name, except that the town contains a plain insane profane reign worthy of disdain ...


That demand for a punch up and a shirt front in Brissie made it to the front page of the tree killer edition, and it produced an astonishingly complex piece from Phillip Hudson, brooding in depth on the art of diplomacy and the options open to Tony Abbott to achieve a masterstroke by bringing Putin into the light.


Actually if you wasted a click on Hudson's astonishingly short and pathetic effort, what you'd learn most about is the art of click-bait trolling ... down there with the poll itself ... and all the worse because the punchline comes right at the end of the 9 par 10 short sentences outing and had already been seen in the click baiting, trolling splash:

That also means Abbott has raised expectations that he will get something more from Putin than a grumpy photo for the album in the Prime Minister’s Department.

And then?

Well there's no "and then" in reptile macho Abbott worshipping la la land ...

Raised expectations? You expected Hudson to write something of interest?

Meanwhile, Julie Bishop ...

But hey, news that Bishop had button-holed Putin is days old ...

Toujours gai Archy, toujours gai, and on this frivolous day, the pond is looking for a truly stupid man, an elephantine man who can reduce complex matters to ideological blather, and who can blame it all on the ABC on which he routinely appears to the pond's benefit, since it rarely wastes any time watching the ABC any more ...

Yes, please sound trumpets and alarums, it's Caterist Day.

Now sadly the pond can't provide a link to Time for cooler heads to prevail, because all it would lead to is a begging demand for a subscription from the paupers of the press, featuring a low bait and switch offer which would in due course see a reader's credit card nobbled for nothing much but a very expensive large barrel of kool aid.

But could we have an illustration to set the tone?


Yes, the world is relieved to learn once again that climate science is all about the ABC.

It has absolutely nothing to do with NASA (news here) or the Pentagon releasing a report on climate science, Pentagon Signals Security Risks of  Climate Change, (you'll find a link to the report in pdf form here).

Never mind that across the ideological divide the Chinese government is also taking the science seriously - as per The Graudian's China pledges to cut emissions at UN climate summit or the AFR's China shifts stance on climate change.

Never mind that hapless Adam Morton, forced to double by the Fairfaxians as society and science editor, can produce an overview you'd never find in the midst of the Murdochians ...

No, none of that, the Caterists idea of a rigorous discussion of climate science and issues arising therefrom is Dr Karl having a chat with Tony Delroy on ABC Local, and even worse, Dr Karl dared to question the credentials of the world's greatest climate science, a man who has single-handedly revolutionised the science, but yet a prophet in the wilderness in his lonely tabloid eerie:

A slowing in the rate of global warming, or even a modest ­cooling, should be a welcome ­development. Perhaps we can carry on mining coal after all and help bring electricity to the 300 million Indians squatting in the darkness. Plastic bags could be restored to South Australian supermarket check-outs and the ugly word sustainability could be removed from the lexicon. 
If there’s a downside, however, you can trust the ABC to find it. 
“You’ve got to say that it is, for the climate change deniers, a window of opportunity. There’s a lot of high-profile people out there pushing the line, people like And­rew Bolt are out there every night.” 
Dr Karl snapped back. “Ah, which university is he a professor of climate science at?”

Well indeed, but that's like asking for the scientific credentials of the Caterists, which somehow sees plastic bags dropped into the conversation when they might be better dropped into a conversation on sustainability and best use of resources ...

But being determinedly obtuse is just an incitement to verbal violence in the Caterists, who like to get their science in gobbets from Catalyst.

The pond has an affectionate image of your average Caterist nodding off in front of the telly, glass of port in hand, dry sherry if you prefer, coal fire blazing in the spring snap, slippers warming chilled feet - where is this damned warming they keep promising - and perking up to hear a single comment by the narrator about a pause, before nodding off again and missing the final remark in the show, here:

Dr Kevin Trenberth: The whole of the climate system is really warming - it's just that the warming can be manifested in different ways. 
 Professor Matthew England: For some people, it's very easy for them to get this, but there are other people who are just absolutely obsessed with derailing the basic physics of climate change, and for them this poses a great little story that global warming's paused. I wish they were right but unfortunately they're wrong.

Being Caterists, bears with very few brains, they're content to recycle old saws.

What's most astonishing is the parochial nature of the parade of names: Bob Carter was right, Robyn Williams was wrong, and so was Robert Manne, and as for The Drum, and how poor Nick Minchin was traduced, yet it's clear he's not just an expert on tobacco but a major climate scientist,  and shame Q and A, shame, and wait, here's a few statistics flung about to conclusively prove that the IPCC was, is and will be conclusively wrong about everything, and then this:

If science worked as purely as Francis Bacon suggested it should, by the application of induction and observation, climate science would have moved on by now. Experts, however, are only human. Too many professional reputations have been invested in a fixed idea for it to be simply abandoned. 
The heating has not stopped, we are told, it has simply “paused”. The word bristles with presumption. Despite their appalling track record in the past 20 years, climate scientists still believe they can predict how temperatures will move in the future. 
“The ocean is absorbing huge amounts of heat energy and then will toss it back on us further along,” Dr Karl told Delroy. 
Nobody suggested that temperatures should rise in a straight line, he said. “It’s much more complicated than that … there are so many factors involved, El Nino, La Nina, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, etc, that suggests that you need a 17-year window to able to look past the noise. 
“And here they are saying we’re looking at a nine-year window and it looks sort of not as uppity as before. Well that’s easy, it’s not a 17-year window.” 

And there you have it. Climate science is wrong because the heating has stopped cold dead in its tracks, and there have been no observable changes to the planet in the last decade, not in the caps, not in the acidification of the oceans, not in the temperatures, and never mind 2014 in contention for being the hottest on record, and all because the likes of Dr Karl, NASA, the Pentagon, the Chinese government, and thousands of others have a reputation to protect.

Unlike the Caterists, who are such dumb fucks, they have no reputation to protect at all.

Every so often a bemused pond wonders what's in it for the reptiles. What's the point of the insistent, incessant denialism, the routine featuring of dead heads like the Caterists and business advisor Maurice Newman, who wouldn't recognise science if it bit them on the bum?

Why publish bizarre notions that science will be ruined for centuries simply because scientists want to know how the planet's climate works, and whether it's being threatened by human activities? Do they really think 9 billion people on the surface of the earth will be a 'tread lightly' load?

Do they really think all is well, and all will continue to be well, whatever the signs and portents, not to mention the science?

Well for blithe insouciance, you can't do better than a Caterist.

How insouciant does it get?

 In 1997 Christopher Pearson, sceptic extraordinaire, wrote a column pondering what would happen when the news finally filtered through that greenhouse forecasts had been vastly exaggerated. “Perhaps, having safely neg­otiated the millennium, which is a major cause of all this anxiety, we may collectively surrender to a bout of unqualified optimism,” Pearson wrote. “I doubt it.” 
 There would be fresh catastrophes on offer, Pearson predicted, since “the appetite for catastrophe is now highly developed and mass media delight in pandering to it”.

That's right. The Caterists dig up the corpulent high church Latin-loving Christopher Pearson, a scientific horse's ass when alive, and not much more use in death.

Perhaps Pearson will come down from heaven to provide us with a bout of unqualified optimism about how we're all going to be able to get our share of pie in the sweet bye and bye ... you know, star in his own Amityville show ... but somehow the pond doubts it ...

But he's right about one thing. The massively dumb Murdochian media have a highly developed taste for catastrophe and Photoshop, which is why they're pandering to the blood lust of the mob and demanding a thriller in Brisbane, a chiller from the gorillas that will make Manila seem tame ...

As for the world? Let it burn ...

Toujours gai Archy, toujours gai, there's some good news, and it comes with the return of David Pope. Please Dave, the pond knows you must get tired and run down, but never leave home again without letting the pond know. We started to fret so, and as always a trip to old Pope here could only do so much to settle frayed nerves.

This routine is never going to get old. Jolly Joe might own Shrek but now Arnie owns Mattie:





Monday, October 20, 2014

Henry and his bucket ...


(Above: with poetry front and centre, a Horacek poem to get the juices flowing. More Horacek here)

The pond is shocked and outraged.

That girlie man Christopher Pyne has refused to stand up for Mathias Cormann:

Also on Sky News, Education Minister Christopher Pyne declined to defend the language of his cabinet colleague. 
 "I think Mathias Cormann used a colourful phrase and I have to say it is unusual for Mathias to use a colourful phrase". (here)

What a girlie man!

Caveat: it should be clearly understood this is in no way intended as a reflection on girls, it is entirely intended as a reflection on Christopher Pyne. Further, it is entirely clear that the pond is not talking about girls, but girlies, which is very different, and means the "not a sexist misogynist remark" clause immediately kicks in ...

There's nothing gender specific here people, and so we leave Christopher Pyne where we found him, and the pond refuses here and now, and for the foreseeable future, to enter into the shocking and outrageous controversy as to whether it's better to deploy the dictionary approved spelling of "girlie" or the remarkably non-sexist descriptions of "girly" in the Urban Dictionary here.

Both are accepted, and both are strictly non-sexist, as any girlie fool could see:

girl·ie also girl·y (gûrl) adj. 
Often Offensive 
1. Featuring minimally clothed or naked women, typically in pornography: girlie magazines. 
2. Weak, timid, or effeminate. Used of men.
girlie (ˈɡɜːlɪ) or girly n 
1. a little girl adj 
2. displaying or featuring nude or scantily dressed women: a girlie magazine. 
3. suited to or designed to appeal to young women: a girlie night out. 
girl•ie (ˈgɜr li) Slang. adj. 
1. featuring nude or scantily clad young women: a girlie show; girlie magazines. n. 
2. Offensive. a girl or woman (often used as a term of address).

Enough already, because that paragon of desiccated coconut Henry Ergas is also shocked today, scribbling in white heat and blind fury at the outrageous treatment of Sydney academic, Prof Spurr.

Now the pond must leave aside some awareness of rumours of behind the doors thinking at the University of Sydney - that Spurr's attitudes and opinions and behaviour was already known within the University and they were of some concern, and that the current public controversy was therefore seized upon as a useful trigger for a long running sore.

Instead we must contemplate Henry's vigorous defence of a man silly enough to put allegedly private thoughts and private banter into the University email system:

One more time, for the record. The information technology policy of the University of Sydney – of which all staff are explicitly warned – is that their university emails are not private. It is a public institution.

You'll find that in a follow up story at New Matilda, Professor Barry Spurr Is The Smoking Gun Of Institutional Racism - which interalia refutes the stupidities of a Sharri Markson story - now there's a nanosecond wasted - while also providing an exchange of emails, in relation to a sexual assault:

The email reads as follows (and some names and details have been redacted to protect the privacy of the victim of the assault). 
TO: Barry Spur 
FROM: (CLOSE FRIEND) Goodness, what different times. Today, (A COLLEAGUE) told me of a problem at (A COMPANY). Some harlot (A WOMAN) went back to a room party when her key would not work and waiting, went to sleep on the bed. Another (PERSON AT THAT COMPANY) put his penis in her mouth, as you do, and she called the police. I told (MY COLLEAGUE) she was a worthless slut who will now cause this poor chap, who certainly did not adhere to Debretts, years of imprisonment with big black chaps because she is a worthless slut who should not have been there. In Dubai, she would be locked up as well. The muzzies are not all wrong about this.” 
Professor Spurr replied to the email the following day.  
Reeling from that story. Ye Gods. I think she needs a lot put in her mouth, permanently, and then stitched up. 
Professor Spurr then casually discusses a proposed lunch date, before relating a story which mocks a transgender person.

New Matilda addressed the 'out of context' issue  by offering up The Transcripts: The Partial Works Of Professor Barry Spurr. Poet, Racist, Misogynist, and what a fine body of linguistic word games it is ...

Screen Australia must be exceptionally pleased too.

Their channel gets a plug with views of Perth (here it is so you can see the catalogue of old government documentaries back in the days when the socialist Ming the merciless financed docs!), with the Australian government doc producing this Spurr comment:

Barry Spurr replies: 
No Abos, Chinky-poos, Mussies, graffiti, piercings, jeans, tattoos. BCP in all Anglican chruches (sic, possibly a NM transcription error?); Latin Mass in all Roman ones. Not a woman to be seen in a sanctuary anywhere. And no obese fatsoes. All the kiddies slim and bright eyed. Now utterly gone with the wind. 
 A delight, until things turn sour around 4.00 with the emergence of the darkies.

Now in reading the material,  to any commonsense reader with any ancient memories of Tamworth, it immediately becomes clear that these are not linguistic word games, in the sense of an author exploring dark material and dark views of the world.

They read instead as the expression of common prejudices in a frequently common way, and undoubtedly worthy of Tamworth in the 1950s.

There are others, but the pond almost forgot that other prof's valiant defence of the prof:


So let's return to that game.

Now the pond can't offer a link - that only leads to begging letters of demand from the paupers of the press - but you can google this:

...it is a scandal that the University of Sydney has suspended Spurr despite there being no claim, much less evidence, that his teaching, supervision and research have been anything but exemplary.
To make matters worse, the university has set aside Spurr’s explanation that the emails were parodies without according Spurr the prior opportunity to have that explanation tested. Whatever one may think of his emails, that explanation is scarcely implausible: parodies, satires and burlesques, often in poor taste, have peppered the correspondence of literary figures since time immemorial. 
Indeed, some of the English language’s earliest comedies were private communications making fun of religious services in terms then considered blasphemous. And one does not need to dig deep in our language’s treasure chest to savour such politically incorrect gems as Paul Dehm’s parody of Robert Herrick (‘‘Whereas in jeans my Julia crams/her vasty hips and … diaphragms’’); Cyril Connolly dispatching James Bond in drag to seduce General Apraxin (‘‘one of those’’, warns M, listing the general’s hobbies as nerve gas, germ warfare and sodomy); or Alan Bennett’s brilliant spoof of James Buchan (in which Hannay decries the possibility of ‘‘a div­orced woman on the throne of the house of Windsor’’ as a ‘‘feather in the cap of that bunch of rootless intellectuals, Jews and pederasts who call themselves the Labour Party’’).

Now there's someone living in an alternative universe when it comes to literary criticism.

It only takes a couple of minutes actually reading the missives to realise Ergas is spouting defensive nonsense like a gargoyle on one of the university buildings ...

Good old Henry realises there's a hole in that bucket, so he brings forth another bucket:

It scarcely takes much imagination to think a professor of poet­ics might similarly revel in using off-colour, if not frankly offensive, language in intimate communic­ation. But assume Spurr’s claim is a sham; that far from being banter between old friends, the emails reflected his innermost views. So long as those views do not intrude on the way he exercises his academic responsibilities, they are no more relevant to his role than the fact that TS Elliot (on whom Spurr is a world authority) (but sic so and thus, clearly not good old Henry) was an anti-Semite. 

Indeed, indeed, and if the pond may be so bold, noting the provisions of Godwin's Law, provided his views do not intrude on the way he exercises his political responsibilities, Herr Hitler's views on the Semites are no more relevant than those of T. S. Eliot (sic, so and thus).

It seems we must take the views of the likes of Ezra Pound, William Butler Yeats, T. S. Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, Knut Hamsun, Paul de Man, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Filippo Marinetti, Martin Heidegger, Robert Brasillach, Gertrude Stein (a committed supporter of Philippe Pétain), and others as we find them (and more on Stein here). Teach the joys of fascism and celebrate it when it's found in the y'artz.

To believe otherwise is to discard the distinction between vice and crime that is at the heart of a free society. Aquinas, although no liberal, put it well when he argued that rather than forcing men to be virtuous, laws exist to enforce the rules of justice; they should therefore not condemn mere vice but conduct ‘‘without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained’’. 
Locke then made that distinction central to the philosophy of liberty, when he noted that ‘‘many things are sins which no man ever said were to be punished’’, for while objectionable, they were neither ‘‘prejudicial to other men’s rights, nor break the public peace’’. And Adam Smith, in terms familiar to JS Mill, emphasised that it was therefore crucial to ‘‘carefully distinguish what is only blamable from what force may be employed to punish or prevent’’. 
In other words, Spurr is entitled to his private vices, even if repre­hensible, so long as they do not inflict public harms. Instead, the real question is how Australia’s oldest university could believe otherwise. 

This is desperate, pathetic twaddle, relying on a a parade of philosophical names, which falls at the first hurdle.

It seems the wayward prof. broke a simple, obvious rule on emails, of the kind almost everyone who has ever worked for any kind of institution, private or public, academic or corporate knows applies.

Indeed one of the many pleasures of Patrick Radden Keefe's excellent piece for The New Yorker, The Empire of Edge How a doctor, a trader, and the billionaire Steven A. Cohen got entangled in a vast financial scandal - quick, outside the paywall at the moment -  know that their phones and emails and other communications are open slather for investigators and regulators and do their level best to find ways to disguise their insider trading.

It's only in academic la la land that people seem to believe they're immune from scrutiny and they have a right to privacy.

Is there an irony in that Australia's federal government is right at the moment passing laws intending to heighten Australian inspection of private lives, while good old Henry blathers on about Adam Smith?

Of course there is, but you won't find Henry head-butting Tony Abbott.

Instead all you'll cop is blather about the authoritarian left, because apparently there is no authoritarian right.

At the most immediate level, the answer lies in what Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a great scholar and long-time Democratic senator for New York, diagnosed as the ‘‘authoritarian Left’’ spreading throughout academe. Ignorant, intolerant and incapable of contesting ideas, its only weapon is the ad hominem attack. 

Wondrous stuff.

Yes, if it's proving difficult to defend your man, attack others:

Sydney’s conduct, coming after the ANU’s witch-hunt against fossil fuels, is a disturbing sign of how far the spread Moynihan feared has gone. The university’s support of Jake Lynch’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, whose anti-Zionism verges on anti-Semitism, only leavens with hypocrisy its disregard for justice. 
But there are also deeper forces at work. Historically, intellectual elites had every interest in freedom of expression: no matter how strongly they favoured regulating other markets, they gained from freedom in their own. Now, reduced to mere wards of the state, they clamour for restrictions on competition that enforce conformity, protect mediocrity and entrench their claim on the public purse. And they find in the similarly placed ABC, as well as in publications such as New Matilda, plenty of fellow travellers to speak on their behalf. 

Even more wondrous, because New Matilda is subscriber supported.

But how wildly and wonderfully and in what a woolly way dear old desiccated Henry carries his bucket far from the well ...

Paranoid, hysterical, you name it, it's way out there ...

And now we come to the crunch, and the pond suspects it's the real reason the reptiles have reacted with such vigour and defensiveness, sending out their third rate hacks like Markson but also enlisting their frontline academic fortifications like Henry and his bucket.

You see, no matter how you cut it, the controversy reflects badly on Christopher Pyne and his education review.

It confirms what many suspected all along, that the fix was in, and some of the fix was particularly nasty. The culture wars was always part of the game.

So we cop this from Henry's bucket:

Set against that milieu, Spurr stood no chance. By collaborating in the Abbott government’s review of the national curriculum he signed his own death warrant. From that moment on, it was only a matter of time before he paid the price. 

Which brings us back to what New Matilda said about the hows and whys of the correspondence becoming public (link above):

... Professor Spurr has expressed outrage that his privacy has been breached, and that it has been done so illegally. 
One more time, for the record. The information technology policy of the University of Sydney – of which all staff are explicitly warned – is that their university emails are not private. It is a public institution. 
Generally speaking, New Matilda does not comment on issues related to sources and leaked documents. 
However, Ms Markson’s story – and the allegations leveled within it - are demonstrably false, and the public record requires correction. 
The first error is a suggestion that Professor Spurr’s email account was ‘hacked’. This is false. It did not occur. Neither New Matilda nor the source in the story hacked Professor Spurr’s account. 
The second error relates to a suggestion in Ms Markson’s article that the source was motivated by “payback” for Professor Spurr’s involvement in the National School Curriculum review. This is also false. 
While the source was broadly aware of Professor Spurr’s involvement in the review, the source was unaware of the contents of Professor Spurr’s submissions. 
What motivated the source to come forward was two specific email exchanges.

Uh huh.

Cut it how you will, there's a discordant note there, between Henry's frothing and foaming, and the reasons offered by New Matilda.

Now one of those two specific email exchanges was reproduced above, and for all Henry's bucket of whimsical word games, they make for a problematic read, and at the end of the day, the desiccated coconut knows it:

None of that is to give Spurr the seal of approval. He may, for all I know, hold beliefs I find abhorrent. 

Uh huh:

But universities need scholars, not saints; and if integrity, in Rawls’s words, means ‘‘defending the principles of morality even when to one’s disadvantage’’, his treatment is not merely a shame: it is a disgrace. 
Reversing it should be an oblig­ation, as well as a priority.

Which is as weird a bit of special pleading as the pond has read in many a long year, but no doubt racists, homophobes, sexists, fundamentalists and rabid ratbags of the extreme right and extreme left will be pleased to have old Henry and his bucket sitting in the corner ready to duke it out with the Bolter next time he attacks an academic for holding views different to those of the Bolter and the kool aid drinkers in the Murdoch empire ...

Especially if they happen to be lefties routinely savaged by the Bolter ...

In your dreams ...

Now the pond pre-emptively apologises for talking of desiccated Henry and his bucket. It seems that sort of informality can send some academics into a rage and off on their high horse:

DATE: April 5, 2013 
FROM: Barry Spurr 
TO: University colleague, Friend, University colleague, University colleague, University colleague, Friend, Friend 
SUBJECT: The latest indignity and my response below it. 
 Professor Spurr forwards on an email from a disability services administrative assistant to his friends and colleagues. The email is address to a student with disability needs, and is CCed to Professor Spurr. It includes the student’s name and identifying information, and reads: 
 Dear [Student], 
 Barry has been in contact with Disability Services regarding your assessment adjustment request; subsequently, Barry has approved a one week extension instead of the standard extension period [which new Matilda understands is two weeks]. Please find attached an updated copy of your asssement adjustment notice reflecting this. Kind regards [Name Redacted]. 
Professor Spurr then responds to the administrative assistant – this below and the email above is what he shares with colleagues and friends, under the subject heading ‘The latest indignity and my response below it’. 
 Dear [administrative assistant], 
 Thank you for this but would please note in future that when referring to me in correspondence with undergraduates my title and surname are to be used – Professor Spurr. I have not given permission for my first name to be used and I do not want wish it to be so used in official communications with students. 
Yours sincerely Barry Spurr

You go em Bazza. That's how to win friends and influence people and get your assistants on side ...

Meanwhile, with the two Davids absent, it seemed the right time to dive into the First Dog archives here, for cartoons that might help Henry fill his bucket. These are from 2009, a reminder that things change only so they can stay the same:





Sunday, October 19, 2014

An important message from a dickhead economic robot ...

An important message from a man the pond hopes will someday become a sponsor. 

Here he is on the left:


Now for a little whimsical word game of the kind loved by university professors:



(And plenty more here)

And now for an abject apology.

The pond and its potential sponsor meant absolutely no harm, none at all, and would like to issue a clarification about all this idle talk about girlies:

 "I am not talking about girls. I am talking about economic girlie men.
I don’t think there’s anything gender specific here. 
Not girls, girlies, it’s very different. 
I hope you are not going to say I am a sexist misogynist." (here)

Now it has come to the pond's attention that somehow, mysteriously and inexplicably, the word "dickhead" appeared in the pond's header above.

The pond is full of abject remorse, and in the manner of that wonderful example (hey Matthias, have you considered sponsoring blogs to get your message out), the pond would like to present an explanation. It might be tricky to follow, but here we go:

We weren't talking about dicks.  We were talking about economic macho robot dickheads.
It should be remembered that unless the rare and largely unknown Terminator T-800a with penal attachment is ordered, the average robot comes without a penis.
We don’t think there’s anything gender specific there. 
Not terminators with penises, or if you will penes, but dickhead terminators, it’s very different. 
The pond hopes no one is going to say its a sexist or a misanthrope or worst of all a misandrist ...

Now remember, girlies are weak, pathetic, snivelling, difficult creatures, cry babies and dobbers, spoilsports and losers, put on the planet to make life hard for men. Oh they like ribbons and lipstick and pink, and the funniest insult you can round up to insult a man is to call him a girlie. But it's not gender specific.

Just like the pond isn't making Terminator jokes about economic robots ...

Afterthought: now you might think it would just be simpler for the pond to admit to a cheap sexist jibe, and move on. But how would that work as a role model for a site dedicated to loons?

And they keep saying only blondes are clueless ...


Risk management? Would you like some coal with that?




It's about time that someone in the mainstream media called out Tony Abbott for his luddite blinkered approach to the future, and Tom Allard does a tidy job of it in Why Abbott's faith in coal could be wrong - very wrong.

Who knows if the futurist celebrated by Allard - the indefatigable Elon Musk - will pull it off, but one thing is guaranteed, if he does manage to cut the cost of batteries, the imitative forces at work in Asia will do their best to produce cheap knock offs.

And that's just one of the futurist games in play in the United States.

These days Musk is a human headline machine, whether solar power, here, or driverless cars there.

Now the pond maintains a healthy scepticism about futurists - for every one called, 99 get left behind. On the other hand, for every product that worked and swept the world by storm, you can rustle up a hundred neighsayers who now contemplate their ass's arse.

And there's no doubt that there's a mood for change, and not just at the divestment level of small investors making a point about banks. (Climate change activists take aim at Australia's banks)

There was also John Hewson pointing out the enormous stupidity of sundry Liberals in relation to the ANU, proposing to offer academic institutions more freedom, then upset when freedom meant that they didn't form a conga line of dancers with jolly Joe (John Hewson and Malcolm Fraser blast Liberals over ANU divestment backlash). If a university can't be prudent and manage its future risks as it sees fit, what's the point of freedom?

One thing does seem likely however, and that's the way Abbott's praise for coal will come back to haunt him.

There were others that shared his blinkered vision, his expectation of business as usual, summarised by the blinkered Mark Kenny announcing Nothing to see here (and you can see that fop scribbling nothing here).

That piece was a reminder what Fairfax lost when Lenore Taylor skipped over to the Graudian and now pens pieces such as Tony Abbott's 'coal is good' line is familiar, and troubling.

Taylor took the time to put Kenny back in his box while putting Abbott in his place, by making the point he didn't have to sound quite so effusive, so uxorious about coal, so infatuated by its future:

... he is in direct disagreement with Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, who warned this week that “the vast majority of reserves are unburnable” if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate change. 
No, he seems to be arguing that no transition is necessary – on the grounds that coal is “vital” for the future energy needs of the world. “Let’s have no demonisation of coal. Coal is good for humanity,” he says. 
Some commentators have actually claimed there was nothing else the prime minister could have said at the opening of a coalmine. Well, he could have started by explaining how a coal trajectory going “up and up and up” for decades can possibly be compatible with domestic and international climate goals.

Taylor had a few other points to make which suggested that there was in fact something to see here, and that there was indeed something going on:

He is certainly not arguing, as the World Bank chief, Jim Yong Kim, did recently, that inaction on climate change is “killing people”. The World Bank board has said it will no longer fund coal-fired power stations in developing countries, except in rare circumstances where there are no feasible alternatives.


Now a further twist in this tale is that like John Howard, Abbott himself has looked towards technological and scientific solutions. Howard provided exactly the sort of fuzzy logic that motivates Abbott:

Howard promised to introduce an emissions trading scheme if re-elected in 2007. Even so, he tells me he has never been convinced of the dangers of climate change. Oh, he knows the scientists' predictions are dire, but surely they can come up with a technological solution. "Technology has solved so many things," he says. 
Anyway, can we believe the scientists? "I have an instinctive feeling that some of the claims about the planet warming are exaggerated." (Unbidden, an image comes into my mind of Menzies dismissing the risks of smoking.) (here)

So scientists can fix things, except scientists don't know what they're talking about ...

That's about on a par with the Abbott government saying they accept the importance of science, and then refusing to appoint a science minister, and instead appointing a gravel-voiced minister stuck in a wading pool and even then out of his depth ...

Or saying they understand the importance of a wired and technologically advanced clever country, and then sending out Malcolm Turnbull undercover to destroy the NBN.

Well for what it's worth, here's Allard on Abbott, and it's not just the greenies that got agitated:

...the remarks also produced gasps of incredulity among financial analysts. Markets have already let their views be known on coal's prospects - driving down prices by 60 per cent since their highs of 2011. 
While the government has been dismantling climate-change mitigation policies, acting as boosters for the mining industry and wreaking havoc among renewable energy firms, investors worldwide have been flocking to clean energy companies. 
As one writer observed, the investment banks now "sound like green NGOs". 
Citigroup believes coal demand is in structural decline. 
HSBC says traditional power plants will never see profitability "anything near" that of the past decade. 
Deutsche Bank won't finance polluting industries. 
"Australians have been sold the myth that the world has an insatiable and everlasting desire to buy our coal," says Kobad Bhavnagri, head of the Australian operation of Bloomberg New Energy finance. 
"The reality is demand for coal in the developed world is declining, and the developing world is turning as fast as it can to other sources of power. 
"At some stage coal is destined to become a low-value commodity, probably at a faster pace than many appreciate or are willing to admit. 
"Meanwhile, Australia's policymakers are doubling down on tying the economy to a fuel source of the past." 

And so on.

The pond has always thought that one of the weaknesses in certain strands of conservatism is the inherent incapacity to imagine alternate futures - that's the business of entrepreneurs - and it's a particular weakness when it comes to government.

There was little reason to expect a medievalist more in touch with transubstantiation than science or the intertubes to have much a grasp of how the world might turn. Yet turn it does.


Who in the 1950s could have imagined the social changes in western societies in the 1960s, yet the beat generation foreshadowed it. It's just that conservatives didn't want to know about it ... and then the hippies thought they'd inherit the earth. So it goes.

And ditto many of the other changes, social, economic, political and cultural in just the last fifty years, yet there's Abbott - despite the many changes it's already created in any number of industries - dismissing the intertubes as just an enhanced entertainment system.

Abbott has of late taken to sounding more like a fundamentalist preacher - blathering on about evil in the world as if he's trying out for a role in Elmer Gantry - when the real question is how well he is able to divine future trends, and provide a buffer for Australia against the changes that will inevitably come ...

In that context he is likely to prove an epic failure, and Malcolm Turnbull with him,  with the latter's dreams of leading the party and the country evaporating like dry ice each day he helps degut the clever country ...

As Allard notes, when confronted by home truths, the best the coalition can do is resort to shameless, blatant, outrageous lies of the denialist Joe Hockey kind, which suggest Hockey would have been better off selling used cars.

News Corp did their best to resist pointing out the length of Pinocchio's nose in Joe Hockey gets confused about Australia's gas emissions on BBC's Hardtalk show.

Gets confused? Bungled?

He knowingly and willingly lied, as is clear enough in Joe Hockey denies Australia one of the the dirtiest emitters of greenhouse gases (Fairfax forced video at end of link) and if it wasn't knowing, then he's clearly such a misinformed and ignorant hater of wind power that he should have resigned on the spot.

In the end, this isn't about ideology, or it shouldn't be, nor should it be party political. Especially as Bill Shorten daily offers signs that he's as clueless as your average Liberal.

It should be about managerial abilities, and institutional foresight. It should be about positioning and buffering and managing risks and warding off shocks.

So how are things shaping up amongst the Hockey and Abbott-led denialists in the risk management department? Cue Allard:

According to Erwin Jackson from the Climate Institute, the government's policies are "exposing communities and industries to massive shocks in the future".
"We are seeing a myopic view of the energy system which is entirely inconsistent with that of financial markets and policy developments in our trading partners," he says. "Where is the risk management?" 

To be sure, there are uncertainties with technologies like Tesla's lithium-ion batteries. The transformative impact many predict may fail to eventuate, or take much longer to come to pass. 
At the moment though, global investors are placing their bets firmly on clean energy and the coming "revolution" in power storage, as UBS has dubbed it. 

Meanwhile, Abbott is backing roads and mines and cars of the old fashioned kind and copper wire and coal, and possibly also cabbages and sealing wax and tin cans with string ...

It could turn out to be a rough ride ...

Yet no one could say they're surprised. Nicholson noted likely trends years ago:



Nothing to see here, except for the usual fundamentalists ...


After reading George Pell: Catholic church is not going to change its views on sexuality, you might wonder what was the point of the huge chin wag conducted by elderly unmarried men and about to be concluded with sundry announcements and pronouncements (well you can't count marriage to Christ as anything but weird and let's not talk about men getting married to men for the moment, even if one man carked it a couple of thousand years ago).

But there is a point, and it's a good one, and that's to provide a reminder to anyone interested that the repressive fundamentalist conservative activists in charge of the Roman church aren't going to give an inch, or if they do give an inch, it'll only be after they're dragged, shrieking and howling, to the precipice.

And it is these conservatives, these fundamentalists, who still carry clout in Australian society, unlike the very very small bunch of Islamic fundies running around rabbiting on about a caliphate and contributing to the fucking up of the middle east.

Pell was, maybe still is, the spiritual mentor to Abbott, a duplicitous politician who would sneak in behind closed doors to get advice on who knows what from the Pellists and then lie about it - maybe he wanted to avoid admitting he was getting a goodly dose of the Pellists' world acclaimed climate science insights, which amazingly still haven't attracted a Nobel prize.

There's been a lot of glitz and glamour surrounding Francis, but Pell is a bovver boy, knuckleheaded in-fighter of the old school, and he's clearly leading the rear guard action against all this nonsense about a more liberal stance emanating from Francis or the church in general. Hence all the chatter to cut any talk of change off at the pass.

Pell won't allow modest reforms in relation to actual Catholics, lest any kind of moderate stance lead to a domino effect. It's the usual slippery slope routine argument:

Cardinal Pell, the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, said that only three out of 10 small groups of synod members accepted Cardinal Kasper’s controversial proposals. 
“Communion for the divorced and remarried is for some – very few, certainly not the majority of synod fathers – it’s only the tip of the iceberg, it’s a stalking horse. They want wider changes, recognition of civil unions, recognition of homosexual unions,” he said. 
“The Church cannot go in that direction.” (here)

Ah yes, those wretched homosexual unions.

Which reminds the pond. Come on down Mia Freedman, why not compare love amongst consenting adult gay people to paedophiles? (forced video at end of link).

Must do better next time Mia. Have you thought of comparing gay love to the sort of love a rubber fetishist has for rain coats, or perhaps the love of a diaper fetishist for nappies? How about linking it to Szilvester Matuska, who derailed trains and managed an orgasm watching them crash?

Back with the Pellists, you can bet the same sort of argument applies to allowing priests to get married rather than to burn.

Allow priests to form an emotional and romantic attachment to a woman and learn that having an enjoyable fuck isn't a trip to hell, as opposed to fiddling with young boys and girls, which is some sort of weird, perverse trip to an alternate Catholic heaven?

Oh no, the church cannot go in that Henry VIII direction, it's going so spiffingly well right now ...

Remember the press getting all excited about the new liberalism?

Remember the likes of The World Today doing excited interviews like Australian couple address Vatican bishops on why sex is important?

Remember the likes of the Huff huffing about stories like Vatican Proposes Dramatic Shift In Attitude Towards Gays, Same Sex Couples?

All a nonsense. The conservatives and the Pellists aren't going to have a bar of the Kasperite heretics, as is clear in stories like Cardinal Pell: "We're not giving in to the secular agenda; we're not collapsing in a heap."

Cardinal George Pell said working-group reports from the Synod of Bishops on the family finally give a true picture of the assembly's views, counteracting what he characterized as a misleading midterm report. 
"We wanted the Catholic people around the world to know actually what was going on in talking about marriage and the family and, by and large, I think people will be immensely reassured," Cardinal Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, told Catholic News Service Oct. 16, the day the reports were published. 
 "We're not giving in to the secular agenda; we're not collapsing in a heap. We've got no intention of following those radical elements in all the Christian churches, according to the Catholic churches in one or two countries, and going out of business," he said. ... 
 The midterm report was "tendentious, skewed; it didn't represent accurately the feelings of the synod fathers," said Cardinal Pell. "In the immediate reaction to it, when there was an hour, an hour-and-a-half of discussion, three-quarters of those who spoke had some problems with the document."

By speaking out, before matters are finalised, Pell has knocked the wind out of the sails of Francis and all the ersatz liberals who've been running around pretending times are changing in the church.

The hard men, the head kickers, still get to speak out, and assure the world that the Catholic church is at one with rabid ratbags of the fundie Islamic kind ... at least when it comes to the status of women and the position of gays in the world (some Islamic societies tend to more relaxed about divorce, provided it's decently patriarchal in tone and outcome).

This shouldn't come as a surprise. The Pellists fired off a warning shot back in September, full of the rhetoric you'd expect from a jihadist cultural warrior, as he took arms against the Kasperites:

On the opposite side, Cardinal Pell, Prefect for the Economy of the Holy See (Vatican Treasurer) has penned a foreword to a book challenging Cardinal Kasper. In The Gospel of the Family, by American and Spanish theologians, Cardinal Pell argues “indissolubility of marriage is one of the rich truths of divine revelation’’. 
Two thousand years of teaching based on Christ’s words “what God has formed together let no man put asunder’’ was an “insurmountable barrier’’ against change. “Were the decisions which followed Henry VIII’s divorce totally unnecessary?’’ Every opponent of Christianity wanted the church to capitulate, Cardinal Pell said. In reality, “the number of divorced and remarried Catholics who feel they should be allowed to receive Communion is very small indeed’’. 
The pressure for change was from Europe, where increasing numbers of divorcees were not remarrying. “The issue is seen by both friends and foes of the Catholic tradition as a symbol; a prize in the clash between what remains of Christendom in Europe and an aggressive neo-paganism,’’ he writes. 
He concedes hurt and wounding were “inevitable’’ and calls for action to avoid widespread protests like those that followed Pope Paul VI’s affirmation of the church’s ban on contraception in 1968. “We should speak clearly, ­because the sooner the wounded, the lukewarm and outsiders realise that substantial doctrinal and pastoral changes are impossible, the more the hostile disappointment (which must follow the reassertion of doctrine) will be anticipated and dissipated,’’ ­Cardinal Pell says. Mercy and forgiveness were important, but so were the “essential links between mercy and fidelity, between truth and grace’’. “Jesus did not condemn the adulterous woman who was threatened with death by stoning, but he did not tell her to keep up her good work, to continue unchanged in her ways. He told her to sin no more.” (the reptiles reporting on their favourite Catholic jihadist - google the text because a link only leads to a frame filling begging letter from the paupers of the press)

Much of this is nonsense - the Church has never been a monolith of conservatism, and in reality when it has made profoundly stupid stands - like its attitude to contraception - it has simply lost its way with its flock, who note that individual conscience is paramount, and if they want to avoid a pregnancy, they will, and not in the stupid ways approved by a church which can be as fundamentalist and as patriarchal and as conservative as your average barking mad Islamic fundie ...

But the Pellists haven't left Francis with much room to move. It's likely the best he can do will be a little window dressing and fiddling at the edges, as the conservatives win the day. We'll know soon enough ...

It's the same sort of barking mad conservatism that infests the angry Sydney Anglicans. The pond is still marvelling at the Jensenists opening line for The view from the top, still featured on the front page of the angry Anglican site:

In an age of tolerance poisoned by relativism, inclusive multi-culturalism, and cultural sovereignty which is still coping with the guilt of colonialism, any exclusive claim to truth, salvation or God has to be challenged.

Poisoned by tolerance and inclusion.

Because intolerance and exclusion is the angry Anglican way ...

Now that's worthy of a barking mad mullah.

Speaking of the point of much of this jihadism - which is not just religious, so much as social, cultural, political and patriarchal in intent, and speaking of barking mad mullahs and speaking of the need to offend all the major religions in an even-handed way - the pond was reminded of a recent piece in The New Yorker about a garbage man in Cairo.

Inter alia, reading Peter Hessler's Tales of the Trash - hurry, it's outside the paywall right now - the pond learned more about garbage and ordinary lives in Cairo than was immediately relevant, but the story when it came to women was all too familiar:

Sayyid and most of his siblings were born in Cairo, but like many residents of the capital they maintain strong links to their ancestral village, which is the source of most ideas about family. In Sayyid’s extended family, most women wear the niqab, but the reason seems to be more cultural than strictly religious. It’s a point of pride and possession for the men—Sayyid says that his wife wears it because she’s beautiful, and if she shows her face in the street she’ll be coveted by strangers and harassed. And other traditions serve to control women in more explicit ways. One evening, Sayyid and I were watching my twin daughters play in the garden, and he asked casually if I planned to have them circumcised. I looked at the girls—they were all of three years old—and said no, this wasn’t something we intended to do. The majority of Egyptian women have undergone the surgery, which opponents describe as genital mutilation. Since 2008, it’s been illegal, but many people continue to have it performed on daughters, usually when they’re between the ages of nine and twelve. In Egypt, Islamists are the biggest supporters of the procedure, which, among other effects, makes intercourse less pleasurable for a woman. But in fact this tradition is not mentioned in the Koran, and Muslims in most parts of the world don’t practice it. Originally, it was a tribal custom native to many parts of Africa. 
 I asked Sayyid if he planned to have the surgery performed on his daughter, and he nodded. “Otherwise, women are crazy for dakar,” he said, using a word that means “male.” “They’ll be running around outside the house, chasing men.” 
 For traditionally minded Egyptians, this is a common view: desire should be limited to males, who do what they can to heighten it. All those sex drugs in the garbage of Zamalek aren’t an anomaly—in Egypt, I’ve had a number of casual conversations in which the topic turns to sex, and a man reaches into his pocket and pulls out a pill, to show that he’s prepared. Usually, it’s some version of Viagra, but for Sayyid’s class the drug of choice is often tramadol, a prescription painkiller. Cheap versions are manufactured in China and India, and in 2012 the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that there were five billion tramadol pills in Egypt, a staggering number in a country of eighty-four million.

Islamic, angry Anglican and Pellist fundamentalists - not so different under the skin.

Oh sure, these days it's only boys who cop genital mutilation in Australia, and there the Jews can take the credit, but the ritual downplaying, humiliation and exclusion of gays and women is still the work of church men as deeply disturbed and as fearful of certain kinds of sexuality as that Cairo garbage man ...

And you can throw in Liberal politicians as a bonus. Girly man? A man who fucked up California and his marriage is a role model for macho Mathias? (Mathias Cormann channels Arnie)

Yep, as deeply disturbed and as fearful as that Cairo garbage man, but no doubt grateful Julie Bishop keeps bailing out Abbott's flailing, failing government of he men ...

And so to a few cartoons.