Thursday, January 31, 2013

Baying at the moon ...

(Above: the dynamic Chidley, who even scored his own biography at the ADB here).


The pond always fancied itself on its knowledge of legendary loons.

Everyone's heard of strange cases like John Harvey Kellogg, and the Eternity Man is now a down under cliche, what with Martin Sharp, an opera and sundry docs under his belt, and the pond has always had a soft spot - it must be soft - for William Chidley, a true dinki di proponent of the flaccid penis downunder (there's a paper on William Chidley and his eccentricities here, may be slow to load).

Then blow the pond down if someone comes along and introduces Dr. William Whitby, an eccentric in the pond's home town who somehow had escaped the pond's notice.

Well as always a little googling will fix it, and here's Simon Chapman on "one of the more memorable characters in the Australian tobacco control landscape".

As well as the link provided yesterday, you can download one of Whitby's books here in pdf form - might take time to load.

The pond doesn't spend enough time amongst the cranks and the weirdos and the UFOlogists, which is wrong, even if the mainstream media is full of cranks and weirdos parading their obsessions for all the world to see.

Speaking of weirdos, how fitting that  Paul Sheehan should come along and distract us, just as the pond was starting to get excited all over again by Chidley and his flaccid penis theory.

Sheehan spends his entire column today proposing that Queen Elizzabeth should retire because Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has decided to make way for younger blue blood (Elizabeth must follow Beatrix and bring in new generation).

Along the way, it what is a totally tedious and tepid exercise in royal mania, Sheehan offers up this observation:

If the Queen stays on until she is 90 it will be a vote of no-confidence in her eldest son ...

No confidence in the talking tampon?

We love Chuck dearly at the pond, he's to royalty what Chidley is to sex, but ain't it grand that blather merchant Paul Sheehan has just realised that nobody much relishes the prospect of Chuck ascending to the throne, and many would dearly love to find a way to skip a generation.

Chuck is an ongoing source of comedy, as when The Guardian noted that he'd updated his website with FAQs about his views on architecture, boiled eggs and alternative medicine (oh okay it was Stephen Moss channeling Chuck, but you get the drift).

On a more serious note, last year ended badly for Chuck with a fuss about the non-disclosure of sundry letters sent to ministers explaining some of Chuck's finer insights into the world. (The Prince Charles letters cover-up only makes his views seem weirder).

Grieve admitted yesterday in the House of Commons that the letters contain the prince's "particularly frank" and "most deeply held personal views and beliefs". We have an idea what those might include: the prince has reactionary views on architecture, is keen on homeopathy and has often displayed a woeful incomprehension of science. But I'm now wondering what else he has sounded off on in 27 letters to seven government departments. 
 Since the letters cover only a seven-month period in 2004 and 2005 – which shows how long the Guardian has been trying to have them published – I'm wondering how many more of the prince's wacky opinions are nestling in files and drawers all over Whitehall. The fact that even a tiny fraction of this correspondence is deemed too controversial to be released speaks volumes about the problems this busybody royal has created for ministers.

While The Guardian was the rag that got its nickers in the biggest knot about the absent letters, others had their fun, and the UK Terror dug up Nigel Farndale to write up The secret letters Prince Charles sent to Tony Blair's government:

Dear Mr Blair, 
Please forgive my intrusion upon your time, but I gather that as part of your bid to “rebrand” Britain as a “young country” you have been hosting “Cool Britannia” parties for “pop stars” and “Brit artists” at Number 10 Downing Street. 
Now I know that I do not enjoy a reputation for being terribly “with it”, but I do feel strongly that we in this country are in danger of placing too much emphasis on popular culture, “Brit Art”, “Brit Pop” and so on, and not enough on the glories of our cultural past: the paintings of Gainsborough and Turner, for example, or the music of Elgar, Vaughan Williams and, my personal favourite, Sir Hubert Parry. 
If you wanted someone more “up to date” at your parties, you might consider inviting my friend Sir John Tavener. He may not be “cool”, but at least his music does not make one’s ears bleed. 
I don’t want you to think of me as a “stick in the mud” — one is quite partial to the music of Leonard Cohen and The Three Degrees — and I have, as part of my royal duties, been obliged to sit through a number of “gigs”. Phil Collins. He was one. And The Duran Duran. And that fellow Chris de Burgh caterwauling about some lady in red. Ghastly, ghastly, ghastly. I could never understand why my former wife insisted on playing his records at full volume all the time at Highgrove.

And so on and on, with one exasperated reader below the piece commenting King Charles III: The republican movement's secret weapon.

Poor old generally grumpy Sheehan never seems to have heard about the rumblings, proposing that the Queen's desire to stay on and prevent Ministers being inundated with letters from Chuck will:

...invite infirmity into the image of the monarchy, and confirm a sense of insecurity around the royal succession.

What a silly goose. So long as Chuck hovers in the wings, that's always going to be the case.

Sheehan proposes a date of February 6th, 2017, the 65th anniversary of her reign and a few months before her ninetieth birthday, as the time for Lizzie to step aside.

What makes him a royal courtier capable of dispensing sensible advice must remain a mystery, perhaps only understood by the few Fairfaxians who bother to read him.

Chuck would be 68, and by the reckoning of any commoner, already three years into being an old age pensioner, and presumably even dottier than he is now, and yet somehow Sheehan thinks his plan will avoid inviting infirmity into the image of the monarchy.

Has he not the slightest clue about Chuck?

Has he the slightest clue about himself?

Meanwhile, it's a little late in the week for Hendo spotting, but the pond feels the need to draw attention to Mark Latham's latest excoriation of Gerard Henderson in Crikey - Latham's Henderson Watch: 54 mistakes and counting. (behind the paywall)

Some might think there are few reasons for Latham to exist, but Hendo bashing, which Latham conducts with the vigour of an eel-bashing with an axe handle, must be one of them, as he too urges that Hendo, aged 67, hang up his clippings file and video replay button, and retire to a suitable, DLP-funded nursing home for a life of carpet bowls, letter writing, parlour games, more letter writing, origami and the odd spot of correspondence:

Can you bear it? In a single paragraph, Henderson made not one, not two, not three, not four, but five errors. He had the wrong date (November 24), the wrong interview (a “door-stop”), the wrong Tony (“Abbot”), the wrong quote (“would appear to be”) and the wrong conclusion (implying that Abbott’s accusation was the equivalent of a traffic infringement when, in fact, the alleged breach of the law was of a criminal nature). The only thing he got right was the Prime Minister’s surname — as the saying goes, a case of small mercies.

It's essential reading for Hendo watchers, though the pond is distraught that Latham prefers to call the Derryn Hinch-loving Hendo Australia's most notorious pedant, living in Hendoland ... will the world ever recognise Hendo as the perfect incarnation of a modern day pompous, preening, prattling Polonius?

And finally the pond must make note of the announcement that has sent the commentariat into a tizz, into hysteria and fainting fits, and sent all the warrior ants rattling around the nest.

Poodle Pyne was up in arms, shocked and outraged, and refusing to dance to anyone's tune, not the media, not the Labor party, not even a kindly pensioner offering a poodle a bone, while poor jolly Joe Hockey was sent into a frenzy this morning on RN, such that the pond feared it might be the first example of a heart attack recorded live on radio in lieu of a political announcement.

Naturally the pond turned to  the Panpa newspaper of the year, the one time heart of the nation, the rag that helps you Think. Again, for a fair and balanced view of the PM's punt.

Troy Bramston was aghast:

Gra Gra was appalled and rushed off to check the state of any Swiss bank accounts he might have:


The token academic naturally made the only choice possible:


And Dennis 'the tie' Shanahan thought Gillard was dead wrong:


You have to admire The Australian, such a well-oiled machine, always with a ready phalanx of the commentariat, standing by to wheel and soar and turn on a dime, and always with such a remarkable unanimity of opinion, like a sky full of starlings, or sparrows farting ...

But for some reason, the editors determined that Shanahan's piece didn't deserve a photo. So please allow the pond to remedy the deficiency, with a shot of the grey haired one wearing a fine tie and elegant if broad pinstripe suit.


How outraged and shocked they all were that Gillard had stripped them of at least a six month supply of columns speculating about when the election might be called ...

It won't stop Abbott from maintaining the election campaign that he's been running - and started running again this week, and intended to keep running until the date when the election was called, when he'd start all over again. Nothing will stop Dr No saying 'No'.

Nor will it stop the Ruddster if he thinks he sees an opening, though the news that Robert McClelland was going for good sent a surge of joy through the pond (Rudd heaps praise on Robert McClelland as PM remains silent).

But watching the commentariat sob and moan and snivel and cry as one of their very favourite toys was snatched away from them - ending the possibility of endless wanking and non-stop speculation - is a joyous thing, whatever it implies for Gillard and the Labor party.

Now they'll have to do something completely foreign and utterly alien and extremely difficult ... take a look at Tony Abbott's actual policies assembled by his bedraggled team ...

Meanwhile, the news about the election date will be a one week wonder.

Oh and don't worry about an enduring, anything other than superficial analysis of Abbott. The commentariat will always find something else to write about - and what's the bet it will feature the impending apocalypse for the Labor party ...

Look, see how they whirl through the air, in perfect unison ... though perhaps they could consider a new tie ...

And now, because it's time to get back to life, and enjoy a little quiet time, how about this astronomy picture of the day, an animation of the rising moon.

You can find it here, and it runs 3'45". A little meditation and reminder that there's more to life than the commentariat baying at the moon ...




Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Welcome to those coming from a good, well meaning place* ... (*certain exclusions, banishments and ostracisms apply)

(Above: mainly because we haven't tipped the hat to Steve Bell in recent times. Found here)


The pond's heart sank at the opening declamatory line from Janet 'Dame Slap' Albrechtsen's Eurozone a group of nations divided by a common currency (behind the paywall, so you can instead spend your money on that treat you've been eyeing off).

I make no apologies for using valuable space on the page today to extensively quote others. 

Oh dear. And here's the pond thinking it should routinely apologise for wasting totally inexpensive and completely useless space on this page to extensively quote others, like Dame Slap advising us to note well Lord Monckton's theory that climate science is just the first convenient step to implementing a world government (black helicopters a bonus extra in your part of the world).

The remarks deserve airing. They must not be edited. They must not be paraphrased. The remarks below, from prime ministers and chancellors to EU commissioners and central bank supremos, reveal the extent to which people have been misled about the so-called European project.

Yep. In the very first par, there's an excellent tone of sanctimoniousness, righteousness, and paranoid conspiracy theory. With a "so-called" thrown in for "so-called" good measure ...

Followed, it has to be said, by abject tedium, as Dame Slap does indeed quote from anyone and everyone.

It is of course in the end just a damp squib, just another sop to that fop David Cameron, who has all the charm of a wet sock, and ironically the tirade about how Europe's all rooned comes on the very same day as reports filter in that Europe's Banks to Repay Aid Early (WSJ, may be paywall affected)

This is of course the problem when fear and fear-mongering is your stock in trade. What to do when there's a shred of light amidst the gloom?

Why go on creating panic ...

(Martin Rowson, found here)

Or perhaps just ignore it, and carry on regardless, and take the side of the wet sock:

As Cameron said, national parliaments instil respect, even fear, into national leaders.

Ah yes, fear. That must mean the fear the pond feels for Nick Clegg. Hang on, hang on, can boisterous laughter at another wet sock be the same as quivering, quavering fear?

He might have added that, by contrast, EU institutions encourage isolation from and contempt for the people. 

Which must be completely unlike the pond's intimacy with, and profound affection for, the likes of Sophie Mirabella, desiccated coconut Eric Abetz (competing fiercely with Kevin Andrews and George Brandis for the title of chief coconut), poodle Pyne, jolly Joe, and storming Barners, Barnaby Joyce.

Yes, the pond feels no isolation from, or contempt for such a wondrous leadership team (and there's even more waiting a mention, as you can find here).

So how to end this bit of Cameron worship? You've guessed it, in a flurry of cliches:

So far most European leaders have offered a haughty sniff at Cameron's European vision for the people for Britain. The longer-term test is for the people of Europe: will Eurocrats correct the con they perpetrated on their people so that old-fashioned democracy - and accountability - can flourish? Let us hope the answer is ja, oui, si, rather than nein, non, no.

Oh dear, this "say nein to Dr. No" stuff is catchy, almost viral.

Well the pond makes no apologies for using this useless, inexpensive space today to note the unravelling of yet another commentariat mind, by the simple expedient of quoting a little of the thoughts of Dame Slap.

It has done its British duty, warned the world of Eurocrats, and slashed a few more billion from the entitlement lifestyles of those whinging Poms who thought putting wet socks like David Cameron and Nick Clegg in power was a good idea.

Meanwhile, the pond has noted a sudden upsurge in urgent articles addressing vital matters of censorship and freedom of speech in this tortured, unhappy land down under.

It seems everyone is suffering excruciating torment at the way that shortly they're going to be hamstrung, and incapable of an abusive word or three.

No longer will the pond be able to call the Sydney Anglicans a bunch of ning nongs.

We will all have to walk around on tippy toe in socks or stockings, so as not to make a noise.

Latest in the line of these frenetic bouts of fear-mongering comes from one Kellie Connolly, whom the pond is assured was once a significant figure on Channel 9, and who finds political correctness and censorship everywhere you look, in Don't mention the war on freedom of speech,

Sadly, the pond looked high and low, and even under the bed, disturbing the cookie monster, but couldn't find a way to shut Ms Connolly up, or even indulge in a war with her blather.

Now the pond is in favour of freedom of speech as much as the next person, provided the next person doesn't happen to be Alan Jones or Andrew Bolt, but did Ms Connolly jump the shark and nuke the fridge or what, with this line:

“A step towards totalitarianism” is how Cardinal George Pell has described the proposed laws.

Um, that'd be the same Cardinal George Pell who's a key apparatchik figure in an institution which long ago reached the sublime condition of total totalitarianism? (No, not even a dime will the pond offer  to the Godwin's Law swear jar).

But okay fair dibs.

The pond cackled and laughed and snorted for minutes on end at the notion that this leader of a secretive, dissembling, punitive, lying, cheating, disgraced institution should be quoted as a proponent of free speech. It was especially rich, and it meant the pond didn't have to take seriously another word Ms Connolly scribbled.

Still, the pond accepted it in good spirit, and perhaps in the spirit with which was intended, as Connolly goes through a predictable set of outrages, from poor Tim's Asian joke (if only he hadn't mentioned the Asian and just kept it to women!) through Nova Peris (though how her situation connects to the proposed new laws is entirely arcane) to Fawlty Towers (and what the proposed new laws has to do with the stupidities of the BBC is even more arcane, and in any case the pond has the uncensored DVD).

But do go on:

A friend of mine started “politically incorrect Fridays” at work. The idea is that on that day you don’t worry about offending anyone. You say what’s on your mind. Be cheeky. Anything goes, provided it comes from a good place. It has to be well meaning. And that’s the real message here. When comments come from love, from celebration, form humour (sic), they can be taken in good measure. 

Never mind the typo, roll your tongue around the wondrous politically correct notion that Connolly inserted into her pantheistic cry for freedom:

Anything goes, provided it comes from a good place. It has to be well meaning.

What a complete goose.

The point about freedom of speech is that sometimes it comes from a bad place, and sometimes it isn't well meaning, and some times it's a form of double speak, like a totalitarian such as Pell decrying totalitarianism.

Connolly has just committed the very same thought crime she spent the entire column decrying.

Let's apply it to her penultimate sentence:

Debate shouldn’t be stifled, it should be encouraged. Anything goes, provided it comes from a good place. It has to be well meaning. And if it's not from a good place and it isn't well meaning, why present yourself to the office where Ms. Connolly will give you six of the best.

And now perhaps we could re-work her last sentence:

Freedom is lost one day.. one word at a time. Especially if it doesn't come from a good place and it isn't well meaning and Ms Connolly has taken a view about it.

There is of course an alternative wording to hand:

Intelligence is lost one day ... one minute at a time, sitting and watching the fear mongers do their business on commercial television. They never seem to come from a good place, and they don't often seem to be well meaning, but sure enough, they send the pond to a bad place where the pond likes to be really mean ...

Can anyone explain why The Punch continues to exist? Apart from giving the chance for the pond to waste useless, inexpensive, technologically bankrupt, hopelessly stuffed RSS failing, space quoting the vacuous thoughts of others ...

(Below: if we simply must talk about totalitarianism)




Tuesday, January 29, 2013

This the pond pledges ...

(Above: found here).

It seems the best way to remember history is to forget it, and Gerard Henderson is an adept practitioner of the art.

In Howard's popularity key asset in Abbott's push for The Lodge, he elides over Bob Menzies' record in the run up to the second world war by asserting that everyone was an appeaser in those days, saving only eccentric Billy Hughes from the slur.

It seems that there's been an ongoing stoush in the Australian Jewish News about Bob Menzies, and somehow the stoush has been part of a debate about Palestine, though what appeasement has got to do do with the current Israeli government's land-grabbing, wall-dividing, apartheid-proposing, ghetto-running lurch to the far, far right is something of a mystery to the pond.

Anyhoo, in his usual way, Henderson throws up an his standard line:

World War II commenced after the signing of what is best termed the Hitler-Stalin Pact under which Germany and the Soviet Union divided Eastern Europe. The Communist Party of Australia, at the instruction of Moscow, supported the Nazi-Soviet Pact and there were communists active in both the ALP and the trade union movement with which it was aligned. 
Needless to say, this inconvenient truth is not mentioned in Kelly's article.

Indeed. And it's an inconvenient truth that talk of the Pact shouldn't obscure the reality that the war began because of Hitler's activities elsewhere, and it's an even more inconvenient truth that it was the trade union movement that gave Bob Menzies a title - Pig Iron Bob -  which continues to stick, long after the original reason has been forgotten.

You won't find that inconvenient nickname in Henderson's rant, or the inconvenient truth behind it - such an inconvenient truth - but Menzies himself stuck by his decision to force waterside workers to load scrap iron to ship to Japan, at a time when the Japanese were ravaging China in the vilest ways.

Here he is in the Hobart Mercury on 14th May 1949 (click to enlarge or follow the link):


Once you get started on this sort of thing, you can find all sorts of amusing headlines, because some in the conservative side saw unions as worse than Hitler (found here):


One cartoon says it all about Mr. Menzies and his track record up to 1943, and it helps explain why the Labor party was given carriage of the war:


But the pond's favourite memory of Ming the merciless is best summarised by these two images:



(found here, thanks to Stampboards)

Needless to say, a lot of the conservative sheep are still milling around the Queen and the Union Jack.

But enough already. Henderson is merely distorting and dismembering history for his usual purpose, which is to praise the infallibility of conservatism (erasing any blemishes from the mirror, or asserting that everyone had warts in those days), and naturally to praise Tony Abbott as the inheritor of that infallibility, as the living, walking, infallible impersonation of that greatest politician of all time, the ultimate champ'een, John Howard ...

The reality of course is that politicians are human, and fraught with frailty and pander to what is perceived as the needs of the times, and Howard's stubborn refusal to arrange for his succession is what plunged the Liberal party into crisis, and into the second rate leadership it enjoys today.

It doesn't matter whether Abbott wins the next election, he's a second rate leader, with a top notch attitude to negativity, and he'll have to do a lot of growing if he's to do more than act like a reflector board for Hendo's puffing up of Howard's glow.

Meanwhile, if you want to learn about fear of Japanese expansion, and appeasement of Japan, why not head off here, where, alongside Curtin's appeasement, you'll get a mention of Bob's pig ironery ...

Never mind, what really appeals to the pond today is the ineffable Gary Johns' incoherent, verging on the delusional, rant in The Australian today.

It's a veritable cri de couer, under the header It's time to return to some core values (behind the paywall to save you from ranters).

It almost goes without saying that Johns' core values never existed, making it somewhat hard to return to them.

Yep, just when the pond thinks it's the natural home of loons, a home of core loonish values, along comes The Australian and whisks away the title and the honour.

After a long libertarian anti-federal and anti-government rant, Johns concludes his piece thusly

Canberra has become synonymous with handouts. The federal government has overreached. It cannot keep its hands off our lives and our livelihoods. 
 The federal government should make all funds transfers to the states transparent, all services outcomes measurable in comparable terms, but it should deliver none. It should act as record keeper and umpire, not as a player. 
 A competitive and reinvigorated federal compact can create a national unity for individual freedom and vigorous diversity. 
 This I pledge.

This he pledges?

What the fuck does that mean?

How does he think he has the ability to pledge anything, except an incoherent ramble about how the federal government should stop everything, before they go blind?

Perhaps he's pledging the portentous, with a dash of the pretentious? Moi,  je promets de l'├ętat ...

And this from a former federal minister, who in his day carried on like all the other ratbags, until it seems, he went blind.

To cherry pick just one example of how far gone Johns is gone, let's take this:

The commonwealth is built on competing jurisdictions. Australian governments have smothered the best of competitive federalism in a blanket of bribes. Australia needs a more vigorous federation. States should run schools and hospitals without federal interference. These are not the business of the federal government.

Actually religious institutions run a lot of schools and a fair few hospitals, and it was the aforementioned Bob Menzies who let that cat out of the bag back in 1963 (The genesis of state aid), and no one is ever going to stuff that genie back into the bottle.

It's not state aid, it's federal aid. And it's perfectly understandable that federal aid should require that schools around the country run by creationists should be required to teach actual science.

Johns seems to think it's the right of everybody to run free and to run wild:

Because the commonwealth does not administer schools and hospitals, it has no practical advice to give. 

Uh huh. That old saw. And because the pond isn't a carpenter, it shouldn't offer any practical advice about being sure to make the table and chair legs level.

The commonwealth has accumulated powers that it may be reluctant to give up. But these powers have purchased interference, not solutions. Different ways of delivering education or health are not bad. Indeed, states constantly look to their fellow states for advice.

Which is a rhetorical nonsense. Different ways can be bad, and the notion that states will compete in some kind of free market elysium to deliver the very best in education and health is a nonsense. Darwin competing with Hobart to deliver the best of education and health? In your wildest dreams ...

The expectation that government could or would behave like another branch of the free market is a delusion (and Johns himself, during his time as a politician and a minister, by his activities and deeds, proved how delusional the later Johns would become).

So what's the real purpose of the Johns' piece?

Well surely it's therapy, the kind of rant that alleviates right wing stress and a world that stubbornly refuses to run the way Johns thinks it should run.

He has a solution for everything - bludging proles, an inventive high court, productivity, charities, Commonwealth-state relations, David Cameron, the EU and referendums, Canberra and handouts, and not one single practical or feasible idea capable of being implemented within the next decade.

This the pond pledges.

Oh well, if you're going to spend time with the crazed, where's the harm in joining them?

And now, because we can never get enough of Pig Iron "state aid" Bob, whom Hendo thinks was the greatest and whom Johns must surely think was a satanic anti-Christ, here's Bob's famous memo on pig irony.

Take that Gary Johns, and all praise Pig Iron for reminding the country that it's the federal government wot runs the place, and to hell with the Chinese when it comes to making a buck out of shipping scrap iron out of the country.

And if Pig Iron wants to run the religious to run the schools, why then surely you'll find John Howard paying for padres and school chaplains, and Hendo praising him to the skies ...

It's time for a return to core values?

You mean the ones before Pig Iron, or come to think of it, before Governor Macquarie ran the colony?

Core delusions, more like it.

(Below: click to enlarge, or go here for the original).




Monday, January 28, 2013

Same as it ever was ...

(Above: cranes over Sydney)


"We need to get this city moving again" - Tony Abbott
"Can we take a rain check on the cranes, and get the city moving again by locating the second airport in Woop Woop?" - Barry "dazzling bazza" O'Farrell.

Yep, it's just another day in good old Sydney town, home of the rum rebellion, and rum federal Liberals forgetting we have a dynamic state Liberal government.

So Sydney gets to host a policy launch singularly lacking in policies designed to get the town on the move again, or the country. Unless all that's involved is a lurch to the raging ratbag right.

The main headline arising from Tony Abbott's policy launch? Well if you believe The Australian it must be to replace the ineffective, flailing, failing state Liberal governments that rule the roost in the east and west:

Cranes over cities!

And you have to pay to read the sublime thoughts of possible Chairman Abbott!

But, but, but Sydney is already full of the Australian white ibis.

Oh sure we could get into a technical argument as to whether the long-billed bird should be called a crane, but enough already.

And anyway, thanks to the Daily Terror, we learn that dazzling Bazza is already promising us cranes over Sydney:

Oh yes, there'll be cranes where it counts, over parliament, as Bazza redecorates his nest. Does he know how to teach those ibises a thing or two!

Meanwhile, will Campbell Newman's mob come to regret politicising dams and floods and rain?

Who knows, but while checking out the Courier-Mail for news on Brisbane, the pond stumbled on this remarkable piece:

At first glance, it seemed fair enough. After all the NBN roll-out has been passing slow, and the pond's own situation in the ruined copper suburb of Camperdown in terms of speed is dire, as is the nation's, what with a recent report that suggested Australia has slipped to fortieth on the world chart.

The story even provided a handy chart to prove it. (Australian internet speeds fall to 40th place globally)


Yes, it's shocking and shameful, especially when you read that Switzerland is fourth (8.7), Latvia is fifth (8.7), the Netherlands clocks in sixth (8.5), the damned Czech republic scores seventh (7.6), the Hamletian Danes manage 7.2 for eighth, Finland gets tenth with 6.8 and even the wretched United States, which was once well down the charts, now sits at ninth with a respectable 7.2!

Some might suggest speed doesn't count, in the way that size isn't everything, but what was even more shocking and outrageous was when the pond clicked on that local Brisbane story about the petition to fast track business broadband.

When you click on Petition launched to fast-track broadband rollout for businesses in Strathpine and Brendale, what do you find?

The mischief makers, the monkeys at play, are none other than the Member for Dickson, Peter Dutton, shadow member for Health and Ageing, and the local Liberal Member for Pine Rivers, Mr Seath Holswich.

Liberals petitioning for the NBN and broadband to benefit business!

The absolutely bloody, filthy, perverted cheek of the pair.

For years Tony 'cranes over the city' Abbott has been carrying on about how useless the NBN is, and how he'd scrap it the moment he got into power, and here's a couple of his primest geese organising a squawking fest about how they haven't been able to get into the garbage like a decent ibis.


Which is why this sudden adulatory talk of Abbott as Dr. Positive - which frequently reduces Michelle Grattan to genteel fainting fits - sends the pond into a frenzy.

If he'd shown an ounce of vision, an ounce of common sense, an ounce of glass, an ounce of understanding of where the digital world was heading - or even a gram of willingness to accept that the metric system had arrived - there'd be talk of fibre to the home as a kind of giant digital crane over the city.

Right now the pond thinks he can take his bloody cranes and watch them topple into a Sydney street and block traffic for a couple of weeks ...

Broadband denialism is a legacy the Liberal party will never live down, no matter how many petitions, they now muster, and what's worse, they've managed to make Stephen Conroy sound like a visionary, which is a bit like managing to make Opus Dei sound like the progressive liberal arm of the Catholic church.

But what's this talk of cranes, and geese and Abbott and broadband petitions?

Well by now you've probably guessed that generally grumpy Paul Sheehan has this Monday wandered down la la lane into a cul de sac, by scribbling Peris must rise about kneecapping.

It will only amuse people deeply into dire perversity, and those who love headers which absolutely mislead the reader as regards the content of the column.

After celebrating Nova Peris-Kneebone's "delightful name" (yes Mr. Sheen knows how to be condescending and insulting in one), Sheehan goes on to celebrate another "lovely name", in Nova Peris-Batman.

And then, Sheehan spends the rest of the column providing great examples of the kneecappings Peris must rise above.

He regales the world by re-telling common gossip about Peris-Kneebone, in the style of a common scold, attributes the appointment to Gillard desiring to avoid losing a seat in the NT, and spends the last part of the column berating ATSIC, Peris-Kneebone's work as a "treaty ambassador", and the indigenous industry of which she was a part.

It's a classic example not so much of kneecapping as vicious headkicking and a gut-thumping and a back-stabbing, all dressed up in the guise of support for Peris-Kneebone, whose sole positive attribute, it would seem, is her lovely, delightful, arcane names.

After reading it, you'll likely reel away, thinking of Caesar:

Friends, indigenous folk with quaint delightful names, 
and members of the indigenous industry,
lend me your quaint ears
I come to bury Nova Peris-Kneebone, 
no matter how delightful her funny name is,
The evil that the indigenous industry, and Kneebone has done
(Did we mention all the scandals that have surfaced?)
Lives after them,
The good is completely unmentionable in this column of dreary bones,
So let it be with Nova Peris-Kneebone ...

And so on and so forth, proving once again how cloth-eared and insulting Sheehan can be, even when he's ostensibly trying to encourage someone to rise above a kneecapping.

Anyhoo, that just leaves time to note that this Australia Day holyday (well it's holy if you worship beer and bangers), that the lizard Oz is at it again in relation to climate change, publishing yet another piece by Michael Asten under the header Today's global warming is well within historic range (behind the paywall so you have to pay to become even more confused and ignorant).

It's a typically evasive piece, spreading red herrings and Boris Johnson - expert, hugely qualified climate scientist - around like Vegemite on a dinki di bit of Aussie oi oi oi invasion birthday toast.

In an antipodean antithesis of current political comment in Australia, London Mayor Boris Johnson mused in Britain's The Telegraph last week on the run of five cold snowy winters in London, contemplated the theories of solar cycles as drivers of climate advanced by maverick astrophysicist Piers Corbyn, and said he "wonders whether it might be time for government to start taking seriously the possibility, however remote, that Corbyn is right".

Asten  then cherry picks a few papers and a few notions in support of Johnson  - fag and King's Scholar at Eton, Classics at Oxford graduating from Balliol with a 2.1 - which suggests a major development in the climate science world.

Lord Monckton is no longer the go to person, and Boris is now the flavour of the city. Yes folks, the denialists have a new ibis.

In the end, Asten can only manage a fudge, as he maintains his chosen task of spreading FUD about climate science, and after berating Obama for deploying rhetoric, manages to produce a few sodden cliches of his own:

The devastating impacts of extreme climate events of which Obama speaks have always been with us, and we have to expect that the human tragedies they bring will be exacerbated by growth in global population. 

Scientifically, this can be summarised succinctly:

Letting the climate go by, let the climate hold me down 
Letting the climate go by, climate flowing above ground 
Into the blue again, after the money's gone 
Once in a lifetime, climate flowing above ground 
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was, 
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was 
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was, 
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was

Yes, climate's always been with us, and human beans have nothing to do with anything, except for locating New York on a swamp next to the sea.

Cycles in climate change imply our efforts should be targeted at mitigation of effects, not changing the climate.
It is my hope that scientists advising our politicians will include the rich literature represented here in their briefings to politicians - or alternatively, that politicians will demand it. 
And may there be a quorum of politicians who will say as does Boris Johnson while contemplating the exceptional snow and icicles in Trafalgar Square: "I have an open mind."

Open mind?

This is of course code for a closed mind, since Asten has repeatedly written for The Australian from a fixed position, as rigid as the Samurai code, such that he became a regular feature in Deltoid's column on The Australian's War on Science 55: Michael Asten, which prompted an Asten response which only further served to expand the notion that he was a kind of Boris Johnson Ibis. (John Quiggin also had a go here).

It's good to see that Deltoid has returned to the fray - for a time it seemed he'd been worn down by the relentless stupidity routinely on view in The Australian.

Even now, it's impossible to imagine how he could keep up with the Johnson-ian drivel The Australian publishes like a relentless climate denying machine.

He recently reached no. 81 in The Australian's War on Science with Matt Ridley's 20 year old wrong prediction,

And he ended last year swinging with The Australian's War on Science 80: The Australian says its OK to lie about the science.

With a bit of luck, Deltoid might get around to considering the deeper thoughts of Boris Johnson on climate science, as refracted through the opaque mind of Michael Asten, but if so, perhaps he should arm himself with a copy of Ovid's The Metamorphoses, and perhaps Caesar's Gallic Wars, in the original Latin of course.

(Below: and now, since the pond mangled Talking Heads, here in remorse is Talking Heads).


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cory Bernardi, Abott's man, and forced videos from Murdock's merry men (and the odd woman) ...


(Above: a different abott's man?)


At last someone in the mainstream media is asking questions about Cory Bernardi, regularly raving right wing ratbag, as you can read in Abott's man under fire over extreme right lobbying.

Pardon me. Excuse me. Is it ever so rude to notice?

Abott's man?


Yep, there's the digitised proof, and it almost made the pond entirely forget the story, which is that Bernardi has been off in the wild, hunkering down with big tobacco, an organisation fighting gun control called ALEC (it's a wonder the Herald didn't twist that into smartaleck), and the Heartland Institute, which recently ran a two day conference called Can Tobacco Make You Healthier? 

Which is a bit like a conference explaining how a .22 slug can lead to plastic surgery which can definitely enhance your appearance.

Anyhoo, according to the Herald story, Abot's (oh it's so catching) man has failed to declare his links in his register of pecuniary interests. 

Making him sound furtive as well as deviant. 

On the other hand, if anyone in the media bothered to track and report on Bernardi consistently they'd find him routinely up to all sorts of wildcat rogue activities.

But the media routinely drapes a pall cloth over the more extreme parts of the Liberal party.

After all, this is the man the South Australian Liberals have determined should hold their number one Senate slot for the next election, and never mind if he gets off with big tobacco, ALEC or the climate denialist crowd. 

Oh you crow eaters, there's nothing to crow about here, you should be eating crow.

It says a lot about Abbott that he fellow-travelled with Bernardi for a long time until the wayward eccentricities made him say 'enough already', and it's a sharp jolt to those susceptible to the blathering of people like Christopher Pearson dissembling about the way Abbott has turned into a secular liberal because he opens his fridge to certified feminists.

The reality remains that you can't have a right-wing cigarette but tossed out the window without also having an occasional spectacular right-wing buttfire.

Bernardi is a classic butt, and a classic reminder of Abbott's lingering enthusiasm for right-wing ratbaggery. 

Will Abbot come out and denounce Bernardy during his whirlwind tour to announce positive policies? 

And advise the world that Bernardi will sit during his term in power on the back bench, so teaching the crowing South Australians a lesson in eating crow?

In your dreams. Abbutt is just as likely to appoint Bernurdi the Minister for Climate Science ...

For more reading on Bernardi and ALEC, here he is mentioned four months ago (yes it's that sort of exclusive story) in ALEC is Secretly Collaborating With Foreign Countries to Promote Bills in Congress, and as a bonus here's an extended piece by Mike Seccombe, with a punchline that Bernardi is Sarah Palin, without the lipstick, and he too has gone rogue: If You Like Sarah Palin, You'll Absolutely Love Cory Bernardi.

The good news is that a shooting star like Pallin eventually burns up and hits earth (Sarah Palin and Fox News part ways as Tea Party's favourite's contract expires), but that only happens when sensible people vote for middle of the road moderate politicians, rather than ratbags.

It seems even Fox News has decided to make some minor cosmetic changes to its incessant ratbaggery.

Are we likely to see any changes to the ways of the Murdoch press, and in particular The Australian?

In your dreams.

The real comedy there is that after years of reviling Fairfax, the Murdockians have come out and blatantly imitated them.

From January 29th News Ltd sites intend to run autoplay videos (News Limited to switch on autoplay video), and thank the lord and praise them to heaven, UM and its CEO Matt Baxter will boycott them in the same way that they've boycotted Fairfax (UM boycotts News Limited autoplay video).

At least there's someone out there who understands the cold fury of a consumer either forced to turn off the sound, forced to drop out of the story, or forced to suffer an ad.

Now it's true that the pond has never watched any video at any time on any News Ltd site, and that's not about to change, forced or non-forced. But all the same it's remarkable to watch a desperate industry deliberately alienate a significant part of its customer base.

The irony is that Fairfax will shortly be imitating News Ltd by rolling out a porous paywall, so that the peas in the pod can keep on looking pretty much the same.

Good news for The Guardian's proposed invasion down under.

Unless you like paying to read stories about Abott's men because it's simply too burdensome these days for the mainstream media to act like the mainstream. And hire a checker outside New Zealand.

Which leaves just enough time to reference another Fairfax blunder (not that News Ltd doesn't also shamelessly misuse and abuse the content of others), revolving around the duck which has now departed Sydney harbour.

It's all there in mUmBRELLA's SMH in copyright blunder over tweeted duck pic.

So much for the incessant squawking over intellectual property rights ...

It's one thing for a blog which doesn't carry any advertising to make use of a CC or other image; quite another for a blog or the MSM which carries FORCED advertising to try to tickle the till and make a little coinage out of the uncredited work of others.

Okay, okay, you want some fair and balanced reporting, just like Fox News, so here it is from the other side of the fence, a story back in 2011 when Dr. No was in full nattering negativity mode, and News ran a story entitled Tony Abott launches stinging attack on Prime Minister Julia Gillard over carbon tax.


No wonder they're forcing the videos, so they can maintain the visual assault on all fronts.

PS if you have any complaints about possible typos in this story, please don't contact the pond. Talk instead directly to our New Zeelund tupsutters. But remember they charge a punny a word for any conversation.

Oh okay, the New Zeelunders eventually caught up with the blunder, and the story's now about Abbott's man being under fire, but it's too late, too late the pond tells ya.

I hit the city and
I lost my band
I watched the tyupos
take another woman
Gone, gone, the damage done.

I sing the song
because I love the press
I know that soem
of you don't understand
Force videos
to keep the cash from running out.

I've seen the typos
and the damage done
A little part of it in everyone
But every Cory Burnardi
is like a settin' sun.

Apologies Neil Young.

Haters, Pellists, angry Anglicans, and a nice Scientological joke for a Sunday meditation ...

(Above: well you won't find a cartoon at The Guardian about this one, will you?)


A kindly reader recently asked the pond why it hadn't taken a look at the recent Julie Burchill fracas in the UK (Observer removes controversial Julie Burchill article on transsexuals from website and issues apology after Twitter storm)

The only answer was 'so many loons, so little time', though there's a corollary - if you feed a loon or a troll oxygen, it only spurs them on.

There's another corollary - on the internet trolls run wild and free, which is why you can still find Burchill's offensive article here at the UK Terror, though the pond first found a copy of it at 'teh Paradox', home of pirates and fitting company for Burchill. It's also been re-published by Spiked, the perfect home of haters everywhere, which in turn led to some quite outstanding pieces hating the haters (Julie Burchill: What is behind her supporters' talk of the 'right to offend').

The piece itself is nothing but a hate fest of the most puerile kind, by someone who sounds like they've never actually met a TG person, and can't understand different notions of sexuality (separating out, for example, trannies and cross-dressers, and men who like to wear the occasional frock, high heels and wig, like half of Sydney rugby league teams, any jock who turns up on commercial television, and most of the officer class of the Australian navy).

It's an example of ignorance meeting spite, and a reminder of how - since gays have mounted their spirited defence of their rights - TG folk are next in the pecking order for bullying, humiliation and uncomprehending, vindictive, thuggish columns by boofhead scribblers.

Presumably it was published by an editor who clearly didn't read the piece and didn't have a subordinate with enough nous to wave a red flag though this might be a charitable view of the online gutter crawling for hits online that's the norm these days.

In any case, when the red flag didn't go up, it was red faces all round, except for cranks and haters determined to maintain the rage.

And perhaps Burchill's face was nicely pink, glowing with the satisfaction of attention paid, another controversy, another day's wanking rewarded.

But since Sunday is the pond's day of meditation, it did revive memories of Burchill's strange addiction to religion, neatly captured by her wiki here, where you can find the relevant footnotes:

In 1999, Burchill 'found God', and became a Lutheran[ and later a "self-confessed Christian Zionist". In June 2007, she announced that she would undertake a theology degree, although she subsequently decided to do voluntary work instead as a way to learn more about Christianity. She has volunteered in a local RNIB home.  In June 2009 The Jewish Chronicle reported that she had become a Friend of Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue and was considering again a conversion to Judaism. Reported as having attended Shabbat services for a month, and studying Hebrew, Burchill now described herself as an "ex-christian", pointing out that she had been pondering on her conversion since the age of 25. Burchill said that "At a time of rising and increasingly vicious anti-semitism from both left and right, becoming Jewish especially appeals to me. ... Added to the fact that I admire Israel so much, it does seem to make sense – assuming of course that the Jews will have me."

Yes, she's as thick as two London bricks, and as vacillating and empty as a British flag flapping in the breeze of pompous self-promotion, and shameless self-publicity, and peacock self-adoration, and vainglorious self-seeking silliness.

Addle-brained is an understatement, and it's why a TG friend of the pond could laugh Burchill's latest effort off, as the mealy mouthings of someone who will say and do anything to stay in the spotlight.

So many loons, so much fuss, so little time.

Which naturally brings us to the week-old thoughts of Cardinal Pell, speaking for the Pellists in the Sunday Terror on the urgent matter of Freedom of Speech.

Naturally Cardinal Pell is in support of the right of the likes of Burchill to be a complete ning nong, and who could argue with that?

After all, the Catholic church has for centuries practised the fine art of abuse, using offending and insulting words to consign vast swathes of people - gays, women, witches, the notion of TG, Julie Burchill - to an eternity in hell, and who could argue with that?

And it's important to remember that the Catholic church has always asserted the right to discriminate against all sorts of odd bods, except of course for the lesbian nuns who used to lash the pond with a ruler, while down the road the Christian Brothers used to take down the pants of the boys so that a leather strap could be applied to their cutely taut, palely white, suddenly bright pink buttocks without let or hindrance from clothing (you there, wipe that foam-flecked spittle from your lascivious lips at once).

Yes, it's important that principles of pious discrimination be preserved, and the pond can't think of a finer body than the Catholic church to fight for the right to freedom of speech. Long may the church be able to revile - and discriminate against - gays, single mothers, harlots, sluts, fornicators, adulterers, and heretics, and consign them to hell and unemployment, while sucking on the teat of taxpayer dollars.

Not that the press has run entirely the way of the Catholics this week. A couple of days ago Richard Ackland was scribbling Catholic clerics behaving obscenely, but there was an even more poignant story about teachers trapped within the Catholic education system, funded in large part by taxpayers.

Under the header Gay teachers in Catholic schools hide sexuality, Josephine Tovey reported on the active discrimination in Catholic schools, and the need for people to hide their sexuality.

Yep, it's as good an argument as any for the Catholic church to continue its discrimination, and maintain its right under freedom of speech to send them all to hell, in the current world and the next.

Greg Whitby, executive director of schools with the Parramatta Diocese, said expectations of Catholic schools were clearly communicated to applicants and that teaching contracts featured clauses stipulating employees ''adhere and observe the principles and moral standings and teachings of the Catholic Church''. 

Sorry sir or madam, we must ask you to leave that cane, ruler and leather strap at the door. The principles and moral standings of the Church are as variable as a weather cock.

''Being homosexual by nature is not a preclusion to working in Catholic schools,'' he said. 
''But practising and supporting that lifestyle is contrary to what you've agreed to sign up with.'' 
Having teachers who openly flout the teachings of the Catholic church risked undermining those teachings, he said. 
''If students see in their teacher that not only do they talk about this but they actually practise it, that's the power,'' he said. 
For senior positions such as a school principal, Mr Whitby said employees had to be practising Catholics.

Amazing, shameless, vicious, pompous head-banging stuff. Why it could have been written by Julie Burchill.

Rampant discrimination, all supported by the taxpayer, and without a thought as to what the moral standards of the Catholic church might be. No doubt we'll find out more about them in the enquiry into pedophilia ...

The pond particularly liked the notion that if a gay teacher showed some actual pleasure, or pride, or happiness in, or acceptance of being gay, and students noted it, the ensuing chaos and hysteria would turn the whole school gay, seeing as how heterosexuals always seem so unhappy and miserable or confused and slightly demented, like Julie Burchill. (Let's not even talk about the few celibates left in the church).

Send them to the closet if they want a job, and let's lock the door in case they gain "the power".

It puts the Catholic church right up there with the latest flood of eccentricities and oddities from Bob Katter's mad hatter bigoted tea party, with the perhaps the best post 'I wouldn't want my children taught by gay pedophiles" effort coming via Katter candidate's halal post sparks new storm (forced video at end of link)

What to say? Well while maintaining that Islam is as dumb as a stick, or at least as silly as any of the big four religions (and Julie Burchil)l, the pond does recommend the halal cuisine of Faheem Fast Food. Try any of the tandoors when next on Enmore road, and the pond swears you will be in for a culinary treat.

And remember, if you carry on about halal, next thing you have to do is give the Jews a really hard time about kosher (yes, if no halal is available, then kosher will do). (The pond wasn't paid for this promotion, not even a tandoor chicken breast)

All this turbulence leaves little time to devote to the Sydney Anglicans, which is a pity because there's dire heresy at work in Michael Jensen's A Surprising Consensus  as he slowly moves from Calvinist times into the twentieth century:

... what is interesting to me is that there seems to be emerging an agreement from all sides in this discussion that the New Testament features women in speaking roles in front of mixed congregations to a far greater extent than is often now practiced in Sydney Anglican churches. Some of the implementation of complementarian thinking about ministry has been over-zealous, to the point that it ignores what is plainly the case in the Bible. In 1 Corinthians 11 (to take the obvious example) women prophesy in the church gathering, and there is no forbidding them from doing so.

Women speaking in church and prophesying and gnashing teeth and wailing and back-biting and donning sackcloth and ashes? Well maybe Julie Burchill ...

By golly, the Jensenists might make it to 2013 ... around 2113 ...

Naturally when it comes to discrimination and freedom of speech, the angry Sydney Anglicans are right there with the Pellists, with the front page dominated by a secular sign, and a story about New religious freedom group gives evidence.

Yes the freedom to keep gay teachers in the closet is a vital example of the freedom of association and the freedom to demean through speech.

 Julie Burchill and the Pellists and the angry Sydney Anglicans have so much in common:

(above: preserved in digital aspic, as today the Anglican site gets to boasting about local Anglicans given secular honours on Australia Day. What is it with Anglicans and silly secularism?)
What a dull layout and website it is these days, and what to say after the dull dourness of the Calvinists?

How about a bit of Scientological silliness?

It seems Crikey has taken to publishing the thoughts of local PR hacks for scientologists, at least if 'No aliens living inside us': Scientology educates the media (may be behind the paywall) is any guide.

Is it possible to take the defensive outpourings of a cult seriously?

As if the recent dissembling, cheating behaviour seen in The Atlantic isn't something that deserves scorn, or absolutely no space or attention paid to the cult whatsoever, like the pond paying absolutely no heed to Julie Burchill.

Seems like attention must be paid, because the piece ends with a plaintive wail from the cult:

Stewart acknowledges the media coverage of the religion is completely out of whack to the number of Scientologists in Australia. “We’ve been told by media, ‘[it’s] because you keep getting the ratings up’.”

Guys, guys, it's because you're a whacky zany cult, right up there with the Pellists, the angry Sydney Anglicans, the halal bashers and Julie Burchill, only much more fun because you're a Hollywood cult with guys like Tom Cruise to deliver your comedy stylings.

And as a result you do so make for fine comedy, which is why the pond recommends Paul Rudnick's Cruise Control in The New Yorker (happily outside the paywall).

Take it away Mr Rudnick, lighten the Sunday meditative burden.

First the set up:

When Tom Cruise . . . [was] looking to hire a new estate manager . . . prospective staffers had to undergo rigorous testing at the Scientology Celebrity Center in Los Angeles. . . . “The test took an entire afternoon and included questions such as, ‘if you saw a car stuck on the train tracks with people inside, and a train approaching, what would you do?’ ” —Radar Online.

Now a sample of the payoff, before you follow the link to the other tricky questions:

Sources have revealed additional questions from this gruelling exam: 

2. Tom has been married to three lovely actresses. If you glimpsed another lovely actress wandering past the estate, what would you say to her? 
(a) “Come inside—we have a warm fire, porridge, and an ironclad prenup.” 
(b) “The master is currently in Europe, slaughtering aliens, but would you like to watch ‘Cocktail’?” 
(c) “I must warn you, if you keep walking, you’ll come to a wooden footbridge, where George Clooney will ask you out.” 
3. If a friend mocked Scientology as a creepy ersatz religion, how would you reply? 
(a) “Kirstie Alley looks just like the Buddha.” 
(b) “Someday a Scientologist will be President, in a miniseries.” 
(c) “A Scientologist is just a Mormon with an agent.” 

(Below: this seems to bring it altogether. Found at the Gallery of the Absurd here)


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Handy tips on ironing for a riotous Australia Day ...

(Above: and that was Nicholson in 2007!)


The other day the pond was having a great debate with an SBS employee about the state of SBS.

There was some agreement - that SBS was totally and comprehensively fucked. The argument was more about who had done the fucking.

Apparently these days if you're an employee you have to spend an inordinate amount of time discussing   values and self-worth and contribution to values and future goals and aspirations and all the other nonsense introduced at great expense by management when they've got nothing else to do but play faux management games.

The real values issues have been lost. Like is there any worse video about sex we can find for the Thursday night slot, or any more wretched British doc to plug yet another scheduling hole, and are all the Nazi documentaries in the cupboard the last ones to hand, or can we still find some ones with colourised footage?

Yes those sorts of values, to do with actual content have gone missing, and all that's left are dreamy values about running a threadbare service on the smell of an oily rag.

After explaining that the pond still watched SBS news because we loved promotional footage inside a news service, and anyway it was the best Al Jazeera program to be found outside of Al Jazeera, we got down to discussing who was responsible for the broadcaster's lamentable condition, and its even more lamentable content, with its original remit and mission long forgotten inside and outside.

Naturally there was talk of Shaun Brown, who somehow thought appearing under a header boasting After a contentious start, Brown departs SBS leaner and meaner in the lizard Oz was something to celebrate.

The point of course is that leaner and meaner and more wretched content has led to even leaner and meaner advertising, such that even the ageing viewing demographic have begun to protest about the lamentable funeral director ads being foisted on them.

An equally tempting target was the board run by Carla Zampatti - it takes a long time for board decisions in support of management to filter down, and even longer for them to be reversed or abandoned by a sullen and resentful staff.

Zampatti patently didn't have a clue, and was out of her depth, and she had acolytes like Christopher Pearson, driven by ideology and ignorance, as her time-serving companions. Pearson's gone now, thank the absent lord for the fate of all token government appointments of acolytes, but the broadcaster still lurks in the doldrums, with not a clue as to how to extract itself, with Joseph Skryznski well meaning, but with his board's collective heads well below the water line.

Anyhoo, it passed the time and did nothing to lift the gloom of the long suffering SBS employee, but it did make the pond look forward to today's column by Christopher Pearson - sharer in the ruination of SBS - and that's an amazing achievement in itself.

To celebrate Australia day, naturally Pearson decided it was time to brood:


Race riot? 

What on earth did he mean, race riot? People injured and perhaps killed? People arrested, charges laid, people flung into jail?

Was he talking about the Sydney anti-Islam film protests last September (here)? Sure that'd mean conflating race and religion, but hey if you've helped ruin SBS, that sort of conflation is easy peasy.

But then it couldn't be an Australia Day anniversary he was scribbling about. 

Yep, you've guessed it, Pearson is actually dressing up what even the Courier-Mail decided wasn't a riot, but a rowdy Australia Day protest, as you can see in its header Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott trapped in Canberra restaurant amid rowdy Australia Day protests.

You'd have thought Crikey had said it all when it wrote Australia Day protest no match for media hysteria.

But here's Pearson, still maintaining the hysteria.

It led to yet another Crocodile Dundee moment for the pond, something along the lines of flashing some SBS footage of an Egyptian riot, and saying that's not a riot, Mr Pearson, this is a riot.

Perhaps the subbies had their doubts, because in the other splash for the piece, the pitch turned into how the events might serve as a landmark in the degrading of our public life, when surely the appointment of useless people along political rather than competence lines to public broadcasters is the real landmark in the degrading of our public life.

Anyhoo, if you can be bothered, you can find From hard but fair to the ugly style of politics hidden behind the paywall, thus sparing the bulk of the world from the thoughts of Pearson.

What's remarkable is that Pearson indulges in a golden glow, golden age view of the past when he comes to talking about politics, after demonising Blair aide John McTernan. 

So this is what you get:

Menzies and his Labor opposite numbers, Curtin and then Chifley, disagreed profoundly on a great many issues. But it didn't stop them from having friendly relations and publicly admitting the highest regard for one another's abilities. When Menzies went to the 1949 election, campaigning inter alia against the nationalisation of the banks, he was content to argue his case. He would have regarded vilifying his opponents as beneath him. He also understood that electors in the sensible centre of politics where majorities are garnered hate that sort of thing.

This is of course a nonsense. Menzies was a dab hand at vilification, and spent most of the 1950s successfully linking the socialist policies of the Labor party to the red Russian communist menace.

Menzies played it hard, and in the Petrov scandal, managed to produce a media riot about a quite minor diplomat.

The great thing for students of history is that newspapers from the time are now available on Trove, and you can go to even a humble rag like the Singleton Argus on 14th September 1951 reporting that Mr. A. Fairhall, M.L.A, branded Dr. Evatt a "political charlatan" given to "lies, distortions and half truths" while kicking the communist can down the road:

Mr. Fairhall traced the events leading up to the Referendum through the 1949 election at which Menzies said" "Communism is an alien and destructive pest. If we are elected we will ban it." (here)

Now it could be argued that calling a politician a lying charlatan isn't vilification - since every politician fits the label - but the vilification of the Labor party as a supporter of pinko commie perverts was one of the great success stories of the 1950s when it came to vilification, a mission carried on by the Catholic-inspired DLP, which played it even harder.

The notion that politics was played more discreetly and genteelly in some lost golden age is one of the greater myths, and Menzies and others of his time loved to smear and indulge in character assassination.  It was an art form and they were artists, and if you don't get it, the pond has 36 faceless men standing by to explain it to you.

But that was the way politics was played in ancient Greece and Rome too, though at least Australia has kept physical assassination of rivals under control.

Anyhoo, the rest of Pearson's piece is more of the same - that somehow Bob Hawke and John Howard were grown-ups and discussed policies and achieved bipartisan consensus, and were ever such chipper chaps and jolly good chums, even if they occasionally disagreed on a detail here and there.

This in the day and age when Keating liked to roast people slowly.

But the real point about the dissembling Pearson's piece is the ongoing fear that Tony Abbott might just have turned himself into John Hewson and might well lose the un-loseable election, all because he's spent his entire time thus far in opposition being relentlessly negative. And now he realises he needs to do things differently.

Which helps explain why he's suddenly proposed to hare around Australia in a whirlwind trip reminding people that the Liberal party has actual policies, and isn't merely a home for nattering negativity and neigh-saying nannies like Julie Bishop and Sophie Mirabella.

And it's a reminder of just how many hot buttons, and sensitivities, and explosive issues the commentariat have to spend their time defusing:

Class warfare in particular is still a far more entrenched feature of life in Britain than it has been here for donkeys' years. The Currency lads and lasses were in some respects precursors of today's aspirational class. The last time federal Labor tried class warfare, with Mark Latham's infamous hit-list of the private schools he planned to de-fund, it lost him a lot of votes. 

Which is of course yet another mangling of history. If anything 'currency lads and lasses' was an Australian label like generation X or Y, making a distinction between those born in the colony and those "sterlings" who were born in the British Isles (and more on that here). And just what is an aspirational class? Is there a class for deadweights who lack all aspiration?

The real point is how to defuse Abbott's political past, and here the mythologising must begin all over again, as the chips on the shoulder fly:

Whether dismissing Abbott as an out-of-touch silvertail from the north shore devoting his career to serving the interests of a few mining billionaires will work remains to be seen. It doesn't fit with his policies or the footage of the volunteer firefighter we've recently seen (after all those years when he refused to let himself be filmed while on duty), let alone with the teachers' aide doing regular stints in Aboriginal communities on Cape York. 

Yep, he did it because he wanted to do it, and never for political benefit, except inter alia, when used for political benefit.

On the gender wars, I said most of what I have to say last week. The fact that he invited his female chief of staff to store her IVF drugs in his office fridge and disagrees with Catholic teaching on the subject may, in the eyes of some ultra-conservatives, make him a trendy liberal materially co-operating in a grave evil. However, it will give sensible people grounds for wondering whether Abbott is by any measure sexist or doctrinaire in the way he's so often been painted. 

Well the pond always promises comedy, and there you have it. This of the man who snuck into the office of Pell for some Pellist advice and then completely forgot about it (you can see Tony Abbott hit Tony Jones with a death stare in a Chaser lad riff on YouTube)

It's true that Abbott has of late been distancing himself from the Pellists and certain Catholic teachings, but that's what you'd expect of any opportunistic politician willing to ditch on the nose principles to help gain power.

As for sensible people being given grounds to do anything but make coffee, well that has to be left to Pearson's window-dressing for his mate. It would seem the price to be paid is an eternity in hell for turning into a trendy liberal.

But at least using Peta Credlin has spared us the sight of Pearson reminding us that Abbott has a wife, who is an actual woman, and daughters, who are also by a strange coincidence women.

But wait there are more comedy stylings, and you knew they'd involve the fiends at Fairfax and the ABC:

The theme of the doctrinaire leader, "Captain Catholic", has been exploited, with considerable help from the ABC and the Fairfax papers, ever since the fall of Malcolm Turnbull. David Marr, the incarnation of the zeitgeist at the Sydney Morning Herald, has time and again reminded us that the age of sectarianism is not dead. 

Perhaps because The Australian keeps reminding us that the age of conservative Latin-mass loving Catholics - always willing to mount a war on liberals and secularism and Fairfax and the ABC and climate science and the NBN - is not yet dead.

In the most recent skirmish, late last year Gillard said on a Friday that she was against a royal commission into institutional sexual abuse but reversed her position on the following Monday. She plainly hoped to lure Abbott into a passionate defence of the Catholic Church, but he failed to oblige and guaranteed bipartisan support for the inquiry well before she changed her tune. 

Yep, when it comes to hanging people and institutions out to dry, Abbott is as smarmy a politician as any of them. It's going to be a rough year for the Pellists, and Abbott has already done his bowl of water routine. He won't let anything stand in his way or his lust for the precioussss.

And so to the wrap up par, and here's where it gets passing strange:

It's worth noting Richardson's heroic attempt to spin on Gillard's behalf. "She understood the needs of victims and put them first. She showed real compassion and understanding and it looked so real. While all this was occurring, all Abbott could do was watch and comment. The credit for what she has done will accrue only to her and she will deserve it."

That's it? We end with Gra Gra praising Gillard, and it's only worth noting? Pearson gets to the end, and lets it go through to the keeper, We're left with a final thought that credit will accrue to Gillard and she will deserve it, and Pearson says nothing to refute it?

Did a passing subbie decide to it was simply time to shut Pearson up, or did Pearson simply run out of steam?

We'll never know, and it's a fair guess that the pond will never learn how such a fine feminist as Tony Abbott, seeking to assume the mantle of Bob Menzies, could stand under a sign like this - and not see them, or understand their naked meaning, in much the same way as he couldn't remember meeting George Pell :



So much silliness on the public record, and now no way to bring it back, whatever the spin, and the dissembling and the mythologising.

Oh and a you get a fucked SBS as a bonus. The pond is now standing by for a fucked up ABC, or at least some tips on ironing.