(Above: a W class tram).
Catching a Melbourne tram, our vaguely socially aware hosts advised us, is roughly equivalent to catching a dose of the bubonic plague, or perhaps pulling on a pair of extremely smelling socks.
Unreliable, uncomfortable, slow, dysfunctional, hopeless, and a terrible way to reach the heart of the city in search of a drinking session. Almost better to get caught drunk driving and lose the license.
End result? Catch tram and arrive on time, feeling vaguely European, and with an early love of trams revived. It wasn't a W-class tram, but it still throbbed and pulsed its way along the track ...
But the conversation with the hosts stuck in the mind, as they explained how a horse and cart might be a better way to travel, or a train, or certainly a taxi, or just drive and give up the drinking ...
Does this explain why the W-class tram is now doomed to go the way of the dodo? So that Melbourne can achieve the level of public transport achieved by superficial Sydney? So it seems, as This city has class, W-class, so let's keep it explains how the Victorian government is working towards removing an actual genuine tourist pleasure, on the basis that it should be plucked, stuffed and mounted in a glass case in a quest for modernism.
Returned to superficial Sydney to discover broadband is off. While unplugged, rather than do an MTV album, read actual newspapers acquired in Qantas lounge, as part of an abundance designed to sustain illusory circulation figures. Seems like they can't give away enough Weekend Australians to innocent punters, and so the lounge is full of dumped newsprint, like a pulp mill in process ...
That's when I read that Smart meters look dumb for users, and discover that connectivity isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Could such a dumb implementation of "wired" electricity be a foretaste of the "wired" NBN?
Not so, says Mark Day, who turns up with Let's focus on the big picture of the National Broadband Network.
Fall down in a dead faint. Cunning Murdoch journalist quotes Rupert Murdoch in favour of real broadband, and then suggests the NBN will deliver real connectivity.
The NBN, as a government initiative, will get the job done much more quickly, to the benefit of a far greater number. Some critics decry this as a return to socialism, but I say building infrastructure to advance and benefit everyone is the job of governments.
Astonished readers, fed The Australian kool aid for so long, react angrily, remembering that catching a Melbourne tram is roughly akin to Stalin's first five year plan, and that the NBN is likely to prove as useless as the telephone.
Still unplugged, so pick up a local rag, in the hope of discovering an even keel, a balanced way to return to the pond.
Sure enough, Paul Sheehan obliges with Our army is at war over the prosecution of commandos.
Within the text, dedicated to considering a military system devised by the Howard government, and run by a Howard appointee, Sheehan offers up this disclaimer:
Nothing in this column should be interpreted as a criticism, overt or implied, of Brigadier McDade. She, not I, has seen all the evidence from the incident in Afghanistan, and is a lawyer of long standing, and has spent 23 years in the military and military reserve. I do not question her judgment or credentials.
Sheehan then spends the rest of the column questioning her judgment and her credentials. Did you know, for instance, that she was a lover of the Taliban loving David Hicks?
Well it's one thing to have an opinion on Brigadier McDade, but it's surely another to deliver a spiteful malicious column full of judgments, questions, and criticisms, overt and implied, while at the same time washing hands Pontius Pilate style, and saying that all these criticisms and judgments are nothing to do with me.
As usual, for specious meretricious duplicitous humbug and breath-taking double talk, Sheehan takes the cake. Pontius Pilate would doff his lid to a genuine master of the art of complete and rank hypocrisy.
Phew, back on the pond at last, and all's well, as loons everywhere turn out to be squawking in the Sheehan style about the military justice system and/or the Murray Darling. The parrots alway wheel through the sky in unison ...
So what does Tuesday bring us? Can everything be back to well ordered squawking as connectivity reigns supreme, and ill advised nostalgic outings on despicable trams are forgotten?
Yes, indeed, as our very own prattling Polonius, Gerard Henderson, reminds us that Sheehan isn't alone in his capacity for double think hypocrisy. Out of touch bureaucrats fail to cross the river, Henderson shrieks - if a plodding Polonius can be said to shriek - and delivers up a lesson that will be familiar to all that fall asleep reading his dismal, dull, eminently predictable thoughts.
Scribbling about the recent fall out in relation to the Murray Darling, the result of a Howard government -established authority carrying out the brief instituted in the Water Act 2007 (Murray-Darling Basin Authority), Henderson concludes:
It was the classic disconnect between the inner-city, well-educated professional with a secure job and guaranteed superannuation and the less-educated small business operator or employee in the regional centres or outer suburbs.
Yet somehow Henderson, an inner city well educated professional running a well established institute which presumably offers guaranteed superannuation, can make the classic connect?
Naturally the ABC is involved, and so Henderson smotes mightily at Deborah Cameron making a few off the cuff remarks. One hopes that Henderson uses a media monitoring service for this kind of information. The revelation that he might listen to Cameron for his morning entertainment is too much to stand, though it surely would explain why he sometimes sounds like one of the dimmer bulbs in the commentariat pack.
The growing disparity in Australia is not so much between rich and poor but between the well-educated in secure employment and the less educated in small business and uncertain employment or on pensions. Any change which does not take this division into account is doomed for political failure.
You know, only someone in the grip of a classic disconnect between the inner city, well educated professional class, with a secure job and guaranteed superannuation, could assert that the growing disparity in Australia is not between the rich and the poor, but between the well educated and the less well educated.
Because of course the major point that the educational gap produces is a disparity in income. Show me the less well educated person who cares more about their failure to understand Shakespeare than about having some more cash in the paw.
On the other hand, it's quite easy to demonstrate that there's been a thirty year trend of rising inequality between the rich and the poor in Australia (Gap widens for mega rich). Could it be that the gap in education leads to a difference between incomes, which in turn leads to a growing disparity between comfort levels and well paid jobs, versus discomfort levels and poorly paid work?
But of course if you go down that path, you might start wondering why well paid members of the chattering commentariat get paid well to run handsome private institutes.
The indolent ways of the chattering inner urban elite represented by Henderson aside, there's no doubt that the Murray-Darling Authority has been woeful in the way it developed its findings, and even worse in the way it implemented its series of public consultations.
But to blame it all on well paid bureaucrats suffering a disconnect says more about Henderson than it does about reality. Because the Authority was always on a hiding to nothing, as has anybody who's ever proposed to do anything about the Murray in the last forty years.
The proof of that pudding? The way keen 'save the Murray' folk like Mike Rann and Nick Xenophon have suddenly gone to water, so to speak, when confronted by the size of proposed cuts for the South Australian side.
Rann says basin guide is unfair, which I guess in Henderson speak, means that suddenly Rann and Xenophon have become at one with the butchers and bakers and candestick makers, and abandoned their secure superannuated jobs as they whine and moan about the Authority getting it wrong and being unfair to dem poor cousin croweaters, and how bad behaviour only exists in the greedy and inefficient upstream states (translation: it's those durn furriner easterners up to their dirty tricks again).
Henderson of course is keenly aware that he might be heading down a socialist path when he starts talking about the poor, and the truth and justice of their thinking, juxtaposed with the well off.
After all, taking their side against the rich might indicate revolutionary tendencies.
Yet he constantly wants to interpret the world as being in a state of a certain kind of class warfare:
The disconnection between those who backed the guide's thesis and those who might experience its recommendations was dramatic. The supporters were public servants along with the likes of Professor Richard Kingsford - academics who work at publicly funded universities. Support was also evident among journalists who have rarely worked outside the public broadcasters or big media companies.
Uh huh. I guess that's a nice, safe tea party kind of class warfare, because it's all the usual suspects, academics at public universities, public broadcasters (or a grudging note about big media companies), and inner city sophisticated elites.
The extent of the silliness this kind of myopic thinking can produce is shown in Henderson's attempt to juxtapose reactions to the proposed Footscray tunnel in Melbourne - as if all opposition to it is coming from fashionable Yarraville, while Footscray residents would be gung ho for it, unless prodded to the contrary by condescending Greens candidates.
Apparently Footscray residents understand what their real interests are - which is to have a tollway built under the suburb, with the most significant surface impacts taking place in parts of West Footscray, Tottenham and Sunshine West.
It takes the most fatuous and ill-informed peddler of class conflict to think that opposition to the tunnel is somehow the work of deviant Yarraville ponces, and that decent Footscray folk are all in favour of the Brumby vision.
The trouble with attributing NIMBY positions on NIMBY issues to a kind of inner urban class divide is that come the revolution, the chattering Polonius would be the amongst the first of the dissemblers to be swept away.
Second thoughts, vive la revolution.
It'll save us a lot of nonsense about how educated well paid members of chattering class inner city elites like Henderson are at one with irrigators on the Murray ...
(Below: Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce, and the usual ill informed disconnected political elite wandering in the Coorong, and offering up threats, as in Tony Abbott threatens to hold referendum on Murray-Darling if states fail on water reforms. But that was in August, and the past, they say, is a different country, especially if you're running a tidily funded inner city elitist lobbying institute).