(Above: do you want sarcasm onion rings and freedom fries and upsized pepsi swill with that?)
There's a fine example of what passes for political satire amongst Murdoch hacks over at the punch-drunk Punch, as it brings the very best conversation to the heart of Australia.
Political staffer: “Hey Rob I’m just going to the parliamentary canteen, did you want the pasta or the salad roll?”
Rob Oakeshott: “Well, look. I mean, yikes. I’m not pretending this is easy. It’s been line ball, a points decision, six to one half a dozen the other, it really could go either way, in fact it’s going right down to the wire. I mean, I like pasta. I like it a lot. Over the years I have eaten a lot of pasta, it’s, you know, it’s a carbohydrate, and you can have it with a variety of sauces.
Oh dear. Does it get any better in Day one of democracy's new dawn: Oakeshott gets lunch?
Nope, it just keeps on rolling along at the same level, and as a result Alexander Pope has just rolled over in his grave, though whether from envy or a simple writhing at the horror of it all is hard to say:
So if it’s going to be the pasta then the question has to be asked, is it just going to be the same sort of pasta that we’ve seen in the past, or a whole new pasta paradigm? And I find myself wondering if whether it’s the salad roll after all that can provide that – not just the usual ham cheese lettuce and tomato combo but something which also involves some grated carrot, alfalfa, maybe some Jarlsberg instead of the plain old Kraft single, some beetroot – a roll that’s more inclusive, that says a bit more about who we are and what we can be, a roll that…
You know, sometimes, in the remorseless world of journalism, which requires refreshment daily, it's better to spike drivel than to print it. Just leave a blank page and the ads.
But it reminds me that if The Punch is Australia's best conversation, then Australia is truly fucked, both on the level of conversation and any other which way you might care to cut it.
Oh but there's a lovely picture of a spam roll with gherkin along with it, as featured above. Yes, it's an actual gherkin, not the photo of author David Penberthy, who shouldn't be confused with the picture of the cherry tomato either.
Invigorated, I decided to avoid Penberthy's attempt at political analysis - after that kind of wit, what need of any deeper understanding - and anyway, surprise, surprise, his studied conclusion is that the new parliament will not last. Just like every other Murdoch hack singing along with Dusty wishing and hoping, and if it's as good as his August 15th prediction that the mad monk was going to win, it's one of the few positive signs for the new uneasy coalition. A scribbler who can get so much wrong might just get this wrong too ...
So instead I delved into Ian Wallace's splendid Nine sickies a year? Just one is too many.
I can't remember this level of conversation since stumbling drunk from a rural RSL club (no names, no pack drill).
About 2.7 per cent of the working population is on a sickie every day and employers claim that up to 25 per cent of sick leave is not genuine. Among the leading reasons why employees claim sickies are poor management, inflexible workplaces and job dissatisfaction. Stress, anxiety, and depression caused by the impact of the global financial crisis in 2009 was identified as the third biggest reason for taking days off last year.
Yes, I say, you there hippie with your malingering and your anxiety attacks and depressive nonsense, get a grip, grab a hold, pull yourself together. Why in my day your sort were taken out and shot at dawn. Stress? Why in my day we fired off the twenty five pounder twenty five times an hour for twenty five days in a row, and I can tell you there was no need for General Patton to turn up with his pearl handled pistols to give us a pistol whipping.
I suspect that women are to blame. You know how they always go on whingeing about having a headache.
A migraine headache is a popular excuse for a sickie. A media poll of 2,105 people found 15 per cent of workers who admitted to making up illness to get a day off, used migraine as their excuse. Faking migraines is doubly dishonest. It cheats the employer and puts real sufferers in a difficult position if they need to use sick leave.
Not tonight dear! Oh you naughty fakers, you haven't got a migraine, you've got an antipathy, now don't go blabbing on about stress and anxiety. Of course it's not just women. It's those indolent, ungrateful young pups.
The age factor also seems to play a part in sick leave decisions. The working attitude is different for the older generation who are grateful to have a job whereas the younger generation do not seem to care and regard sick leave as an entitlement to be expended annually.
What? You want some statistical evidence for that as well? Why you surly young pups, you ungrateful hounds, you boondoggling boon dogs, I've got a cure for you:
A doctor’s certificate should be a requirement for every sick day immediately before or after a public holiday, a weekend or any other special event such as the upcoming Melbourne Cup. Recovering from a head splitting disabling hangover is more likely the real problem and to claim to be sick is a lame excuse.
Yes indeed. I'm thinking of demanding a medical certificate for corpses before we lower them into the ground. Dead shouldn't be an easy excuse to avoid an honest day's work.
And perhaps we need a medical certificate to show that journalists turning up to work for Murdoch are mentally sound and stable, like the new parliament. Could bring the corporation to the ground within the week.
Never mind, you malingering lot. Turn up with your head splitting, disabling hangover, fuck up the coding or the accounting for the week so that several million go missing, and then head off home knowing you've done a wonderful job, turned up to do the hard yards, taken the ball up the middle, and even if you've spilled the pill, it's the thought that counts. The thought that you're not a slacker, you're a player, a grand contributor, no matter how much of a disabled alcoholic you might be ...
See, I can talk that RSL lingo like a ripper ...
Now how about a totally arbitrary, useless factoid to stir fear and loathing? Sure thing:
Many companies now use psychometric testing of potential employees. They claim the results can indicate which employees are most likely to take sick leave without actually being ill.
But is there a suitable psychometic test to detect gibberish being scribbled in The Punch?
Is it necessary to sit through Penberthy and Wallace? Is there a simple way to say "I don't like the concept of sickies or people who take sickies?" Why yes, there is:
Feeling perfectly well but phoning in sick is by any measure dishonest and just a case of bludging on the employer and fellow workers.
The rest? Blather, of a kind not paid for by The Punch, while Penberthy goes out to la la land with rolls for lunch.
Australia's best conversation?! We're doomed, doomed, I tells yar ...
Perhaps instead you might like to read our old mate Tim Dick putting it to the House of Murdoch in All the news that's fit to print?
Any worthy public service of exposing corruption in cricket or hypocrisy among politicians dissolves when the News of the Screws turns its attention from rooting out evil to performing it. It regularly does evil, often as The Economist pointed out this week, to ordinary people deemed newsworthy one Sunday before being left with their lives largely ruined.
Thank the lord there's no money in The Punch. The thought that it might turn into a crusading online Murdoch brand, and instead of scribbling about salad rolls and sickies, begin to do investigative journalism, Glenn Beck and Rupert Murdoch style, would be genuinely frightening.
So I guess we should thank the absent cruel lord it's only Australia's worst, most banal conversation ...
(Below: a singularly useless and irrelevant diagram of a 25 pounder. Please take this as a comical metaphor indicating (a) the size of a new burger, (b) the amount of spam in Penberthy's roll, (c) what should be deployed on sickie takers, or (d) what the pond would like to aim at futtocking conversationalists).