Saturday, October 25, 2014

In which the pond goes searching for a companion turtle and ends up with big Mal's Norwegian Blue ...

(Above: now there's an image to conjure with. See link below)

The pond was moved to tears by this letter.

To Whom It May Concern: 
RE: Patricia Marx 
Ms. Marx has been evaluated for and diagnosed with a mental health disorder as defined in the DSM-5. Her psychological condition affects daily life activities, ability to cope, and maintenance of psychological stability. It also can influence her physical status. 
Ms. Marx has a turtle that provides significant emotional support, and ameliorates the severity of symptoms that affect her daily ability to fulfill her responsibilities and goals. Without the companionship, support, and care-taking activities of her turtle, her mental health and daily living activities are compromised. In my opinion, it is a necessary component of treatment to foster improved psychological adjustment, support functional living activities, her well being, productivity in work and home responsibilities, and amelioration of the severity of psychological issues she experiences in some specific situations to have an Emotional Support Animal (ESA). 
She has registered her pet with the Emotional Support Animal Registration of America. This letter further supports her pet as an ESA, which entitles her to the rights and benefits legitimized by the Fair Housing Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It allows exceptions to housing, and transportation services that otherwise would limit her from being able to be accompanied by her emotional support animal.

But to work out why the pond was in tears of laughter, you'll have read Pets Allowed, by Patricia Marx, currently outside The New Yorker paywall.

Suffice to say that the pond likes the dialectical Marxian style of this Marx ...

Besides, it's Saturday and a diet consisting strictly of ratbags is unhealthy to mind and body, to the point where the pond might need a companion turtle.

You know how sick and silly it is when the Oz gets so desperate it calls on Brendan O'Neill to provide a character reference:

McCarthyite, Brendan """?

Now there's a stupid man, with a stupid wilful disregard for useful historical comparisons, but at least it avoids that other cliche, "Spurr-bashing is an old-fashioned, Orwellian hounding ..." or "Spurr-bashing is an old-fashioned, Stasi hounding ..."or "Spurr-bashing is an old-fashioned, Stalinist hounding ..." or "Spurr-bashing is an old-fashioned, Hitler Youth hounding ..." or "Spurr-bashing is an old-fashioned, Red Guard hounding ..." or even "Spurr-bashing is an old-fashioned, Murdochian News of the World hounding ..."

Meanwhile, over at McCarthyist central - what with New Matilda being armed with the full force and powers of the federal government-backed Senate Committee on Government, and its handy Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations - the McCarthyists were boasting of a Walkley nomination for a cartoonist, here:

Shocking. Now there's someone that's definitely not Australian, is quite possibly un-Australian, and perhaps shouldn't earn a place in Team Australia in its next fixture with Team Tasmania.

Meanwhile, thanks to Fairfax's loss and the Graudian's gain, you can always read Richard Ackland's Barry Spurr v New Matilda: the facts, the law and the porridge.

And student rag Honi Soit provided this tidy tidbit, here:

Honi understands that academics at the University are aware of the fact that ICT policy permits third parties, such as university administrators, to access emails sent from their university accounts. The policy also requires that users “not write anything in an email that they would not sign off in a memorandum”.

Did anyone as dumb as Spurr and as dumb as defenders like O'Neill and the reptiles of the lizard Oz front McCarthy? Possibly, but it'd be a close run thing ...

Meanwhile, the pond must credit Peter Hartcher for lightening the pond's weekend load, in a way Ms Marx herself would envy.

It was classic click-bait trolling of the old school, in two space-devouring guises. Got to keep that digital front page looking busy:

The trouble of course was, if - like the exceptionally dumb pond - you bothered to reward the click baiting troller by clicking on Could Turnbull be next Treasurer? while avoiding the attached forced video.

It turns out it was the sort of question all women dread, as dire and as useful as "did you come darling"?

And the answer came quickly enough, like a man shooting through like a Bondi tram:

"It'd be a game changer," one minister summarised. No one disagreed with the soundness of the idea. None of the ministers, incidentally, could be described as being members of the Turnbull fan club. 
On the minus? The ministers acknowledged that it will not happen.

It will not happen!

In the old days, this used to be known as straw man twaddle. Let the hare run loose, give it a sound beating, and then serve up a lavish dose of hare pie ...

So where does Hartcher end up with his twaddle?

Why it seems everything that's going on is a master plan orchestrated by a master politician:

Abbott doesn't mind the jockeying of his ministers. 
"He loves it," said a cabinet minister, "it helps keep everyone in line. 
"Do you think John Howard lost any sleep over the tensions between Peter Costello and Peter Reith? If there weren't any, Howard would create some. If they're squabbling over each other's jobs, they're not squabbling over the leader's job." 
Rapprochement on one hand and creative tension on the other, all part of the delicate business of a prime minister who intends remaining prime minister.

So in Hartcher's world, Tony Abbott is already up there with John Howard, a master schemer, an adept politician, manipulating his friends and his enemies, and possibly the entire world, bending and warping it and them to his overpowering intellect and masterful will ...

And this is the sort of tosh the Fairfaxians are supposed to pay to read with their Saturday breakfast?

Is it any wonder that the pond retreats to Fairfax cartoonists for genuine political insight and commentary?

Like David Rowe, and more Rowe here.

And David Pope, and more Pope here.

But back to Hartcher and Turnbull.

What's remarkable about that delusional Hartcher story is that somehow it presumes Turnbull is considered a success, presumably on the basis that polling shows he's less loathed than Tony Abbott, which is a bit like referencing a poll showing Abbott is preferred by punters to Hitler (sorry Brendan, that just slipped out, can't work out why, perhaps a phantom Joe McCarthy was sitting on the pond's shoulder).

But this is the man right here, right now, in the business of destroying community television; and the man busy maiming and scarring and reducing the ABC to the runt of the litter and so realising the fondest dreams of all the ratbag rightwing loons, from Crikey through the IPA to Sharri Markson and the reptiles at the lizard Oz; and this is the man busy reducing the NBN to a copper fiasco ...

And yet somehow the pond was expected to swallow the story that this is right man to replace jolly Joe Hockey as the national Treasurer?

Presumably on the basis that having fucked community television, the ABC and the NBN, he was now qualified to fuck the nation.

Well the pond has got a great routine for that one:

That's a clear enough metaphor. John Cleese plays big Mal and the Norwegian Blue are his policy outings ...

The fatuous eastern suburbs fop is now a routine jibe around the pond household.

Yesterday when Optus managed to reduce broadband speeds to a crawl - both download and upload - the pond does a fair amount of uploading of data on certain days - there were raised eyebrows, and many a smirk and a sigh.

You simply had to mention the name "Malcolm's Norwegian Blue" to get a hearty, cynical horse laugh.

The self-regarding fop, who has an ego to match the levels of delusion around him, is a constant wonder.

Take this little outburst a few weeks ago when the AFR made the obvious point that consumers want a faster internet.

If you've ever sat grimacing at the computer as data uploads to the cloud at a crawl (yes Virginia there's more to life than watching the whirling wheel of doom on a streaming application), you'll treasure this sort of guff:

The Financial Review got three things wrong: 
Firstly, this was not a ‘Government report’, it was a report written for the government not by the government – the study the paper is referring to was conducted by an independent expert panel, who themselves commissioned three supplementary studies as part of their work. 
Secondly, the report did not state that “Australians don’t need more than 15mbps". In fact, the study made a distinction between a bottom-up use case for bandwidth demand (as outlined in this study) and a market view of what speeds Australians will be willing to pay for. So it’s not contradictory for there to be a difference between what people will actually pay for and what speeds will be of utility to them in the sense of being necessary for them to be able to use the applications they need and value. 

Now there's a man spinning with self-regard on a hamster wheel.

Quintessential gobbledegook, and gratuitously silly to boot. What on earth does that last sentence say and mean?

But do go on:

Thirdly, as pointed out in numerous places (including on my blog), the report didn’t say that 15mbps will be enough to satisfy the use case of all Australians. It stated that 15mbps was the line speed required by the median user for the purpose of the applications and services they required. And so clearly many users will clearly want and be prepared to pay for higher speeds and the ABS figures themselves show that the median user is accessing 8mbps-24mbps speeds (one of the curious findings in the data is that there was a slight decline in the number of premises accessing speeds of 24mbps – no doubt a statistical glitch which goes against the long-term trend). And as the study itself notes (on p.6), you would not configure your network to suit the needs of the median user: 
“Note that in offering figures for median demand, we are not suggesting that access network capacity should be based on this metric – by definition, such a network would (to some extent) disappoint 50% of households. Rather, access capacity should be driven by higher end users. Whether this means the top 1% or the top 5% (or some other figure) is a matter of judgement.” (here)

Turnbull is busy supervising the roll out of a system which will be expensive to upgrade, and which, where copper is deployed, or where HFC is relied upon, is already wildly out of date.

This is known, and yet in that blather, at no point does Turnbull bother to explain how the horse's arse he's building will service future demands and needs.

Which is why the pond now deeply regrets rewarding Hartcher with a click.

Turnbull for Treasurer? Oh why not, let's fuck the nation even more ...

But hey, at least it allows the pond to drag a few useful memes out of the bottom drawer:

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Crikey The

The pond was waiting for the moment that Crikey would jump the shark and nuke the fridge in its war on the ABC.

It came today.

James Paterson? The IPA?

Truth to tell, the pond doesn't need Crikey anymore.

We have the IPA and The Australian.

It sent the rag's few remaining punters feral.

John B offered these thoughts:

Eric Beecher, as owner of Crikey, is of course free to adopt any business plan he wishes and to craft a suite of editorial policies accordingly. 

What I am struggling with is a business plan that boils down to: 
a. Declare public, no-holds-barred war on your imagined competition, which actually has a symbiotic relationship with Crikey. 
b. Insult readers’ intelligence by serving up unadulterated bias in the guise of starting a discussion (refer to (a) above). 
c. Pee off any remaining readers by suggesting repeatedly that the most trusted voice in this most important of marketplaces, ie ABC and news publishing, is actually a flock of misguided and untrustworthy individuals with a Leftist agenda. This, despite all evidence that is available to demonstrate the balance and reliability of the ABC’s content. 
d. To make sure that all remaining readers other than those who have become lost on their way to their home site as they return from the Limited News feedlots also leave Crikey due to the boring, repetitious, predictable nature of this particular campaign. 
What more can I say but “I.P.A WTF?” Even Dr Phillip Nitsche, noted pro-suicide campaigner, wouldn’t support public self-immolation on this scale. 

Indeed. Though no offence John B. if the pond prefers "pissed off" and Philip Nitschke ...

What's left?

Why the assembled headlines.

In due course, they should make for a tidy collage.

Like this one:

No doubt the pond will be able to pose a bold question: Crikey: what war on the ABC?

Not that the pond will be paying for anyone to do the collage.

They can buy the scissors and paste on their own time ...

Time to go Crikey. Fold your tent and steal into the night.

Remember this?

Once upon a time, you could gloat and point the finger at the ABC for recycling IPA hacks.

Now you've joined the club ...

Desperate, tragic, pathetic. Over and out.

In which the pond is wildly excited by the return of a Team Australia member, for a team which is playing way above its usual form ...

(Above: and more Moir here)

As usual, there are any number of things that might catch the pond's eye, and not just the demonic, crazed figure in the Moir above.

Jolly Joe Hockey has had a wonderful victory for aesthetics and the Australian landscape.

That story's at the Graudeian here, and what a triumph it represents for the cigar-smoker, who clearly doesn't mind fucking the world in the same way he doesn't mind fucking his lungs.

And then came this:

Here you go. Ah poodle, poodle, poodle, what spurred you on?

How the papers love his mug:

Surely after politics, he'll get a job in a Batman movie? Joker, Riddler, master Poodle villain?

And then knock the pond down with the feather, who's this clown arriving late to the scene of the crime?

That's top of the digital page of The Graudian here, but what's amusing is that Murdoch only seems to have discovered what was passed earlier in the month just in time for a talk honouring Keith Murdoch.

And the reptiles reduced the now irrelevant blather to a passing post in the rotating digital splash of doom at the top of the lizard Oz ...

They couldn't even find a photo of the poor bugger:

Lachlan who? Oh that's right Lachlan """ ...

There's not much point blathering about freedom of speech and freedom of the press, not when there's fear mongering and hysteria to be doled out for the day, and not when the legislation is done and dusted and it will take an egregious example to draw attention back to it - our very own Peter Greste - and in the meantime the Abbott government will go on talking about how they're freedom fighters, and the Labor party will go on being facilitators, while actual whistle-blowers will continue to be hung, drawn and quartered...

But hey, it's not the business of the pond to save the world, or wonder why the Murdoch rags are so hell bent on their rabid ideological clash of civilisation routine ...

Is there an irony in heading off to Faux Noise to discover this very week that at least two mortar shells landed inside Baghdad's Green Zone and that at least 30 people have been killed in a wave of bombing attacks in and near Baghdad? (here).

Well you won't find any hysteria about that, because that's what happens elsewhere and it doesn't suit the narrative or the agenda.

Never mind, it's none of that which caught the pond's eye, it was this, jostling alongside the thoughts of Lachlan in the revolving faraway tree of digital Oz doom:

Or if you will, with photo:

The pond, dedicated as it is to loons, felt a tremendous surge of relief and excitement.

The last the pond had heard of Tanveer Ahmed was way back when:

That was in the Oz on the 11th September 2012, and thanks to the full to overflowing intertubes, you can still see the story at Media Watch, as Foolish plagiarism in the digital age ...

And now he's been rehabilitated and might continue to turn up, like many a bent penny, in the Oz, and how symbolic that his first piece should demonstrate once again that patriotism is the first refuge of the scoundrel and the foolish.

Now before we get proceedings under way, let the pond make an admission.

Way back when, the pond refused to stand for God Save the Queen in the picture theatres when they played a foreign anthem for a foreign Queen, sporting a foreign flag in the corner of what was supposed to be an Australian flag ...

It was a confused sort of patriotism, no doubt about it, in that it seemed to the pond that the days of honouring colonial relics had passed, and Australia might stand on its own without the sneers and condescension of British tossers ...

And then came Tony Abbott and knights and dames ...

But it makes Tanveer Ahmed's opening remarks all the more to the point, and all the more poignant:

Indeed, indeed. So much nonsense, and in such a short, compressed space.

How shocking, how deluded, what a strange notion, that Britain could be shaped afresh, and that suddenly there'd be Islamics from remote parts of the empire jabbering away about this and that right in the heart of empire.

What an astonishing and disturbing trend ...

Yes, the kool aid and the fellow travelling and the forelock tugging runs deep in this one.

How deep?

Well further along, Ahmeed mangles Orwell:

Orwell made a clear distinction between nationalism and patriotism. 
He qualified nationalism as “the worst enemy of peace”, the belief one’s country was sup­erior to others while patriotism was an attachment to and admiration of a nation’s way of life and “of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally”.

Uh huh. But if anyone takes the time to wander through that piece by Orwell - available here and now somewhat dated and quaint - it will be seen that Orwell places the sort of cheap, flag-waving, T-shirt wearing nonsense beloved of Ahmed in the 'nationalist' turf:

Obsession. As nearly as possible, no nationalist ever thinks, talks, or writes about anything except the superiority of his own power unit. It is difficult if not impossible for any nationalist to conceal his allegiance. The smallest slur upon his own unit, or any implied praise of a rival organization, fills him with uneasiness which he can relieve only by making some sharp retort. If the chosen unit is an actual country, such as Ireland or India, he will generally claim superiority for it not only in military power and political virtue, but in art, literature, sport, structure of the language, the physical beauty of the inhabitants, and perhaps even in climate, scenery and cooking. He will show great sensitiveness about such things as the correct display of flags, relative size of headlines and the order in which different countries are named. Nomenclature plays a very important part in nationalist thought. Countries which have won their independence or gone through a nationalist revolution usually change their names, and any country or other unit round which strong feelings revolve is likely to have several names, each of them carrying a different implication. The two sides of the Spanish Civil War had between them nine or ten names expressing different degrees of love and hatred. Some of these names (e. g. ‘Patriots’ for Franco-supporters, or ‘Loyalists’ for Government-supporters) were frankly question-begging, and there was no single one of the which the two rival factions could have agreed to use. All nationalists consider it a duty to spread their own language to the detriment of rival languages, and among English-speakers this struggle reappears in subtler forms as a struggle between dialects. Anglophobe-Americans will refuse to use a slang phrase if they know it to be of British origin, and the conflict between Latinizers and Germanizers often has nationalists motives behind it. Scottish nationalists insist on the superiority of Lowland Scots, and socialists whose nationalism takes the form of class hatred tirade against the B.B.C. accent and even the often gives the impression of being tinged by belief in symphatetic magic — a belief which probably comes out in the widespread custom of burning political enemies in effigy, or using pictures of them as targets in shooting galleries.

Indeed. Some might even wear T-shirts saying love it or leave it. And we all know what that means and who it applies to ...

You see in his definition of patriotism, Orwell added an important caveat:

By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.

No wish to force on other people.

But that's exactly what a T-shirt saying 'love it or leave it' means and does.

Give yourself over to the kool aid, warts and all, swallow the Murdochian and Abottian cant, or piss off ...

Orwell offered a few other insights along the way:

Instability. The intensity with which they are held does not prevent nationalist loyalties from being transferable. To begin with, as I have pointed out already, they can be and often are fastened up on some foreign country. One quite commonly finds that great national leaders, or the founders of nationalist movements, do not even belong to the country they have glorified. Sometimes they are outright foreigners, or more often they come from peripheral areas where nationality is doubtful. Examples are Stalin, Hitler, Napoleon, de Valera, Disraeli, Poincare, Beaverbrook. The Pan-German movement was in part the creation of an Englishman, Houston Chamberlain. For the past fifty or a hundred years, transferred nationalism has been a common phenomenon among literary intellectuals. With Lafcadio Hearne the transference was to Japan, with Carlyle and many others of his time to Germany, and in our own age it is usually to Russia. But the peculiarly interesting fact is that re-transference is also possible. A country or other unit which has been worshipped for years may suddenly become detestable, and some other object of affection may take its place with almost no interval. In the first version of H. G. Wells's Outline of History, and others of his writings about that time, one finds the United States praised almost as extravagantly as Russia is praised by Communists today: yet within a few years this uncritical admiration had turned into hostility. The bigoted Communist who changes in a space of weeks, or even days, into an equally bigoted Trotskyist is a common spectacle. In continental Europe Fascist movements were largely recruited from among Communists, and the opposite process may well happen within the next few years. What remains constant in the nationalist is his state of mind: the object of his feelings is changeable, and may be imaginary. 
But for an intellectual, transference has an important function which I have already mentioned shortly in connection with Chesterton. It makes it possible for him to be much more nationalistic — more vulgar, more silly, more malignant, more dishonest — that he could ever be on behalf of his native country, or any unit of which he had real knowledge. When one sees the slavish or boastful rubbish that is written about Stalin, the Red Army, etc. by fairly intelligent and sensitive people, one realises that this is only possible because some kind of dislocation has taken place. In societies such as ours, it is unusual for anyone describable as an intellectual to feel a very deep attachment to his own country. Public opinion — that is, the section of public opinion of which he as an intellectual is aware — will not allow him to do so. Most of the people surrounding him are sceptical and disaffected, and he may adopt the same attitude from imitativeness or sheer cowardice: in that case he will have abandoned the form of nationalism that lies nearest to hand without getting any closer to a genuinely internationalist outlook. He still feels the need for a Fatherland, and it is natural to look for one somewhere abroad. Having found it, he can wallow unrestrainedly in exactly those emotions from which he believes that he has emancipated himself. God, the King, the Empire, the Union Jack — all the overthrown idols can reappear under different names, and because they are not recognised for what they are they can be worshipped with a good conscience. Transferred nationalism, like the use of scapegoats, is a way of attaining salvation without altering one's conduct.

Indeed, indeed. But that's enough of breaching Godwin's Law by extensively quoting from Orwell, as if - hallowed be his name - that was all that's needed to make a point (Orwellian 1984, Orwellian 1984, did we mention Orwellian 1984, there you go, debate done and dusted).

Instead, fortified by Orwell, let's return to Ahmed:

While Islamic terrorism is attractive to a very small proportion of the population, it highlights a weakness of liberal democracies in their lukewarm, sometimes conflicted promotion of a collective identity. 
The gap for Islamists is filled by the fierce transnational identity that the Islamic notion of the ummah can build, a piety so strong they are prepared to sacrifice their lives. Macabre, evil and disgusting the actions may be, but the intensity of belief is in stark contrast to the relative apathy of mild-mannered secular atheists. 
 French philosopher Michel Onfray said in an interview last year on the topic of the decline of the West: “Who is ready to die for the values of the West or the values of the Enlightenment?” Onfray questions the will of Westerners to fight for anything, believing we have been numbed by consumerism in a secular age that creates no attachment to God and country. 

Weak, relative apathy, mild-mannered secular atheists, get ready to die, numbed by consumerism, required an attachment to God and country?

Didn't they feed that horseshit to anyone who would listen during two world wars?

Fuck that tedious shit. And if necessary fuck Ahmed.

Ah, you say, that seems a trifle strong a reaction.

But yes, the last thing the pond wants is to suffer in silence while a French philosopher who espouses hedonism and anarchism and atheism is shoved down the throat like corn down the throat of a goose as a god and country lover (yes, he is typically weird and strange and French, and an atheist to boot, and you can Greg Hunt him here).

But do go on with the jingoism (in the Orwellian sense of the word). So let's jump from this:

The strong patriotism of the US that integrates its extremely diverse population so successfully may explain why so few American-Muslims, as a proportion of the population, have gone to fight in Syria, compared with many thousands from Europe. The several hundred estimated to have travelled from Australia, as a percentage of our Muslim population, are many multiples greater than in America. 

To this:

While an Australian republic is traditionally derided in conservative circles, there is a direct correlation with Tony Abbott’s Team Australia rhetoric and the intensification of patriotism a republic is likely to promote. It holds promise as a key plank in fostering a greater collective identity. Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane championed a greater patriotism for the Left in his 2009 book Reclaiming Patriotism: Nation-Building for Australian Progressives. The reaction to a harmless T-shirt promoting love of country suggests the task has a considerable way to go.

Say what? We need a republic to foster a greater collective identity so Islamics will stay at home like they do in the United States, and a harmless T-shirt is a way of promoting love of country, and sssh don't mention the actual implications of said T-shirt, and who it targets and why?

And Team Australia is a patriotic cry for a republic?

Can we have a side order of dames and knights with that?

Not a clue, and not a clue as to the actual meaning of the texts and the writers and the philosophers quoted from ...

Never mind, thanks to the reptiles, the pond could shortly have a new weekly distraction, a joyous example of fuzzy logic and fuzzy thinking and rabid neocon fundamentalism of the barking mad kind.

In the meantime, here's some further reading ...

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: 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: