Monday, January 31, 2011

Bargric, Burchell, and a little blithe blathering on the clogged intertubes to pass the time ...

(Above: more xkcd here).

Is there anything that the internet can't do?

... what about positive educational outcomes?

On balance, there probably are none. The research suggests the internet is probably making us dumber. It allows us to access millions of facts but does nothing to improve our problem-solving and cognitive capabilities. While screen-based learning can enhance visual-spatial intelligence, it weakens our higher-level intellectual functions.

Well yes, the intertubes allows me to read Mirko Bargric, and as a result I can feel myself getting dumber by the minute. My higher-lever intellectual functioning is foundering, flopping about, and and enfeebled as it turns to jelly.

Could it be that the internet is about to bring about the decline and fall of western civilisation as we know it?

Gillard's persistence with her fanatical plan force us to pay $2000 each to improve a tool that makes us more stressed, dumber, fatter and less healthy is the ultimate proof that she is incapable of making decisions that have positive outcomes in the real world.

Yes, I can feel my stress level rising by the second as I read the fatuous insights of Mirko Bagaric, and that's certainly making my brain fatter and my body less healthy.

But do tell us more:

Most internet use relates to email, (anti-)social networking sites and trash searches, including music videos and porn.

But what about trash searches that turn up the vigilant thoughts of Mirko Bagaric? A kind of rhetorical intellectual pornography full of fear and loathing of the intertubes?

It is even more retrograde from a work and health perspective. Online technologies make workers contactable 24/7, breaking the separation between work and family and social life. High internet users report increased levels of stress and anxiety. It is hardly surprising that in the first large-scale study of Western young people looking at the effect of the internet on mental health, psychologists at Leeds University in Britain found high internet users "had a higher incidence of moderate to severe depression than normal users".

But what about the severe depression provoked by reading Mirko Bagaric, his thoughts littering the intertubes and somehow managing to get past the aluminium foil hat I wear whenever I go near a computer, for fear the aliens will get me? What about the increased levels of stress and anxiety provoked by reading him?

Hang on, hang on, why on earth does he allow his thoughts to be posted on the intertubes? Doesn't he realise that by doing this he's increasing our stress, making us fat and dumber, and generally increasing the anxiety level? He's aiding and abetting and consorting with the enemy ...

And amazingly he's a professor at Deakin University, in the School of Law, with a quite astonishing hatred of the intertubes, almost worthy of Susan Greenfield ...

Pity the poor students I say, forced to deal with all those bees in just one bonnet ... but if you want more ranting you can trot off to Flood of bad decisions from Gillard.

With just one caveat. If you're a lawyer, and you've used ComLaw, or perhaps the AustLII Databases, or perhaps the Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales 1788-1899, or the Family Court of Australia, or dozens of other sites dedicated to the law or legal decisions in Australia, do not pass go, do not collect five hundred bucks, but instead go directly home and go to bed, because you've just made yourself even stupider and dumber than the stupidity and dumbness generally associated with lawyers and our system of justice (which is to say teh law, since justice and the workings of the law are quite different concepts).

That barely leaves us time to honour David Burchell for his usual steaming pile of twaddle, replete with the standard irrelevant historical references, which this time see the Bastille and the French Revolution chain ganged in to service in relation to current events in Egypt, in Swept along by Egypt's uprising.

In the usual fetid, blithely ignorant way of the commentariat, Burchell managed to avoid considering the depths of depravity of Western allies (of a loose kind), like Egypt, which did a lot of dirty work for the United States, or Saudi Arabia, a repressive, oppressive society which has done even dirtier work for the United States.

And so all he can bring to the table is alarm and concern and fear that the old tyrants will be replaced by new tyrants.

It's a kind of let them eat cake philosophy, because they're only likely to want to eat cake again ...

But I guess the kindly Hosni Mubarak government was only concerned for Egyptian citizens when it shut down the intertubes. You know, so they wouldn't get fatter or dumber or overload on stress and anxiety.

Never mind, Burchell is well placed to know about cake-eating.

It was after all the completely inept meddling by Britain, the United States and others in the propping up of the Shah of Iran that led to a most unfortunate subsequent theocracy.

And for generalisations worthy of a profound form of online dumbing down, you can't go past Burchell:

There have been only two popular ideologies of consequence in the Middle East since colonialism's squalid death in the 1950s: Soviet-style authoritarianism, with its specious liturgy of anti-colonialism, and the grand, exultant nihilism of the Muslim Brotherhood and its fellow extremists.

No mention of rabid fundamentalist Zionism, or rabid fundamentalist Wahhabism? Or the wondrous achievement of splendid democracy in Iraq thanks be unto the warmongering of Blair and Bush? And the lingering implication that somehow anti-colonialism is some kind of specious liturgy belonging to authoritarian leftists and commies? And wouldn't the middle east be a much more jolly place if the British had been left in charge?

Yes, this is the same gormless chappie who wrote in That convenient scapegoat, Israel not so long ago:

Christianity, we are told, bequeathed to the modern secular West a fundamental aversion to the idea of the scapegoat, since Christ, the God-man, freely allowed himself to be scapegoated in order to assume all our sins, and in doing so shamed us forever.

Well I don't know who told him, or who told 'we', but of course it takes a blithe capacity to overlook the peculiarities of 'blood libel' (a term even Sarah Palin knows about now), or the ongoing scapegoating of Jews by the Christian church for killing Christ (yes deicide is the only appropriate word for that level of scapegoating).

Burchell wrote that piece before the Palestine Papers unfolded and provided a different perspective on Israeli-Palestine negotiations, but don't expect those revelations to change his mind, in much the same way it's typical that he damns all Egyptians and the future of Egypt because people are mad as hell and not going to take it any more.

After all, what's thirty years in power when the dictator happens to be friendly to the west? No need to do an Allende on him because he's a handy overlord ...

Who knows what will happen in Egypt as things work themselves out. Naturally when Burchell looks at the current events, he sees grim foreboding:

The next few months will show whether the Egyptian opposition has learned this bitter yet profound lesson - or whether it is doomed to repeat that familiar tragedy where the tyrant's executioner turns tyrant in turn, and is compelled to erect an even grander and more messianic political fantasy in his wake.

Uh huh. What luck that Burchell has avoided the familiar tragedy of falling into the hands of Egypt's secret police. (try Heavy Hand of the Secret Police Impeding Reform in the Arab World, and the friendly art of interrogation).

Yep, there's democracy, and then there's presidents that hang around for thirty years, and everybody's terribly worried when actual Egyptians get a little upset ...

Not to worry, anyone who can speak of grander and even more messianic political fantasies, and ignore the works of Blair and Bush in the middle east, is surely involved in a quite deluded and grand messianic political fantasy all on their own ...

By the end of this crooked path (reached with crooked cane and crooked eyesight) a disturbing thought came to me.

Both Burchell and Bargric, the two B's, are academics, in a tertiary education system supposedly dominated by leftists, yet here they are blithely blathering in The Australian on a regular basis, in ways that can only be described as full of sweeping generalisations, and distorted perspectives loaded with generous amounts of twaddle ...

Pity the poor students, I say.

(Below: and meanwhile, speaking of Sarah Palin, this from Doonesbury - click to enlarge. More Doonesbury here, still going strong after all these years).

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Paul Sheehan, and Captain Grumpy goes west young man, westward ho and ha!

Patience, young Amyas! Thou too shalt forth, and westward ho, beyond thy wildest dreams; and see brave sights, and do brave deeds, which no man has since the foundation of the world. Thou too shalt face invaders stronger and more cruel far than Dane or Norman, and bear thy part in that great Titan strife before the renown of which the name of Salamis shall fade away! (and more Charles Kingsley here if you have a strange taste for this sort of stuff).

Ah nostalgia for wild frontiers.

It's twenty years, give or take a day or two, since I first ventured online at thirty bucks the hour on CompuServe, and with useless tech support to boot, damn you CompuServe, damn you.

Oh wait, they're already damned, and lost forever in the fast paced world of the full to overflowing intertubes, which makes reading Ken Auletta's story about Tim Armstrong's bid to revive AOL, You've Got News (sorry, it's behind the paywall), such a strange flashback.

Still, (spoiler alert), here's Auletta's conclusion to his usual impeccably written study of the problems of dinosaurs struggling for reinvention in the new age:

... AOL does not seem to be saving journalism, and journalism does not yet seem to be saving AOL.

As Steve Jobs and Apple showed in the nineties, tech companies can survive and prosper after near-death experiences. Perhaps Tim Armstrong will manage to make AOL rise again, but there's a much more common path followed by digital companies - like Wang, DEC, Starwave, Excite and Lycos. They rise, then they sputter, and then they crash.

Don't forget CompuServe, Ken! But thanks for reminding me I have two Lycos email accounts even the spammers have forgotten about ...

AOL was that funny American thing, a kind of gated online community, and now too many punters have broken down the gate.

But what, you ask, has this to do with pond business, seeing as how on Monday, it's always Captain Grumpy (aka Paul "Magic Water" Sheehan, aka Paul "Hate the Islamics" Sheehan, aka Paul "Won't Someone Think of the Christians" Sheehan) day. Truth to tell, it's got sweet bugger all, though paranoid gated communities always resonates as a theme ...

It's just that reading Sheehan is always guaranteed to be a wade through a whinge and a whine.

But we know our duty, and so on we trudge with heavy heart to read his latest vitriolic, chicken little hysterical, the sky is falling in, we'll all be ruined outburst, under the header Biting the boom that feeds us.

And yippee, we won. You see we regularly have bets as to what will inspire Sheehan to scribble, and sure enough a new way to bash the Gillard government came up.

I suppose it's a bit of a cheat, it's such a broad and reliable category, but the GGB industry is an important mainstay in our commentariat manufacturing base, which is of course vital to our industrial sector.

If only Lotto was an equally sure bet ... It'd be by by the pond, and eat my dust, Captain Grumpy.

This time Sheehan has opened what might be termed a western front, and I see only two solutions: Sheehan must decide to go to Western Australia to live (thereby ending the need of the Herald to put his sacred texts behind a paywall) or he must actively help to campaign for the secession of the west. Or preferably both ...

You see, the sandgropers feel unwanted and unloved, and it's Sheehan's painful duty to act as megaphone for their many grievances, so that the deaf, insolent eastern staters heed their plaintive cries.

For a start there's no water:

Imagine the uproar if this were happening in Sydney or Melbourne. Yet WA's water crisis is almost invisible to the eastern states. When the federal government, the Canberra bureaucracy, the eastern media, and thus most Australians, look west they see only a mining boom and wealth.

Actually the water crisis gets plenty of mentions but a lot of the notes are in the context of climate change, a subject we know from Sheehan is the subject of much religiosity. Take Water supplies could halve in two decades:

Perth's water supplies could dip by nearly 50 per cent in 20 years in the worst case scenario, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong says.

A CSIRO report has projected a marked decrease in river flows and water yields in Western Australia's southwest by 2030.

It said under the best case scenario surface water yields would decrease by four per cent and in the worst case the reduction would be 49 per cent by 2030.

Penny Wong? What a strange blast from the past ...

Colin Barnett, as well as bringing new coal stations on line, has responded by proposing a nuclear power plant (but not in WA's backyard of course, because the state system wouldn't be able to cope. No put it somewhere else and everything will be hunky dory).

But where were we? Oh that's right in the middle of immense Western Australian suffering:

WA is experiencing chronic shortages of water, land, workers and cash, a cascading shortfall that is compromising the greatest resources boom Australia has ever had. Mismanagement by Canberra has a large role to play. This tension is increasing since the Queensland floods and the massive rebuilding required. The pressure on WA in the competition for skilled workers and government investment can only intensify.

Uh huh. Those naughty, wicked Queenslanders, arranging those floods to make things hard for the humble sandgroper.

But average full time earnings in WA in 2010 reached $70,210 - compare this to Tasmania's bottom of the barrel $55,103 (figures here). Only fat cat Canberrans did better, and even fat cat Canberrans marvel at the way the mining sector offers up the highest average full time ordinary earnings by industry, with a nifty $103,111 a year.

Ah but you see that's not riches, that's just more suffering, because the nasty eastern staters take all the GST, especially those devious deviant Queenslanders. It just keeps going south, except that's just a saying for the way it keeps going east, or perhaps north, or perhaps north south east.

Oh dear, and there was prime goose Kristina Keneally moaning about the flood levy and pleading for special treatment for Sydney siders and the Sunday Terror outraged as it claimed NSW to bear brunt of levy.

But forget the local whingers, it's back to the whining west. Not only does Canberra have its paws over everything - oh the irksome nature of native title - it's ruining efforts to dig everything up and ship the entirety of WA to China:

WA is subsidising every other state and territory in the country, by providing 35 per cent of Australia's export income with just 10 per cent of the population. Yet it is short of funds to build infrastructure to support the boom.

''When I tried to explain all this to Julia Gillard, her eyes glazed over. She didn't get it at all,'' Barnett said.

Sheesh, excuse me, my eyes just glazed over.

Wait a second, I get it, I get it. It's because Gillard is a Victorian and an eastern stater, unlike Paul Sheehan, who is resident in NSW but in his heart a true westerner. And no, her eyes didn't glaze over because of the incessant sound of the squawking coming from the western end of the pond, it's because she's detached and robotic and politically waterlogged, and the west hates her.

You see, it wasn't the poverty stricken billionaires taking to the streets to complain about a tax on their squillions that were raucous, it was the federal government:

''People in the West Australian business community have not forgotten that. The personal abuse. The foul language. The lot.''

Oh saintly Twiggy Forrest, oh long suffering Gina Rinehart ... but at last you get a story of the pain of the west worthy of your doubling of your stake in Fairfax Media (Gina Rinehart doubles her stake in Fairfax Media).

It seems everyone in Western Australia turned out to greet emissary Sheehan, a remote, exotic and wonderful creature from the east, almost as strange to westerners as Commodore Matthew C. Perry was when he turned up in 1854 to tell the Japanese it was time to open up shop.

It seems that people in Western Australia are so isolated and cut off from the east that they have no idea how Paul Sheehan's commentaries are viewed by sensible eastern staters. He's such a regular whingeing, whining Captain Grumpy that no one takes him seriously, but in WA he's perceived as a viable, friable conduit for complaints:

When the state's Attorney-General, Christian Porter, organised a breakfast meeting for me to meet business figures and policymakers in Perth, the breakfast was heavily oversubscribed, such is the level of frustration in the city with the east's ignorance of the west's problems. The message was uniform: WA is being bled by eastern politicians, and bureaucrats, to the point where it is self-defeating.

Actually using Paul Sheehan as ambassador at large, or chief gatherer of complaints, or emissary is the bit that's self-defeating.

And what about the tone of the whining, seeing as how it comes hard on the Queensland floods?

"The east coast is oblivious," said the Water Corporation's Murphy, and this was before the floods.

Yes, selfish inward looking east coast people, more concerned about the floods in their neighbourhood, and so oblivious to the pain of the west. The deep heartfelt never ending pain ...

I guess in much the same way as the west coast is oblivious to the Labor party. So much so that Sheehan makes a savoury meal out of the way the federal Labor party currently holds three out of fifteen seats in WA, and WA has only 15 of 117 federal seats.

The point? Someone in in Labor should care about the west?

The solution? Well as we noted at the start, there's only one solution, and that's secession. Granted WA should never have joined the commonwealth, and granted that the pond's preferred solution - WA chainsawed off the mainland and dragged to safety in the middle of the Indian ocean - is a tad physically challenging at the moment, what's needed is another referendum, just like the one so tragically won but also lost in 1933.

Here's the flag, here's the delegation standing by:

Now all we need is Gina Rinehart to revive her father's sadly forgotten 1974 Westralian Secession Movement ... Sheesh, where's Lang Hancock when the west needs someone to trample over native title ...

Yep, the 'stop the Canberra grab' was doing the rounds in the 1970s secessionist movement (here), and it's been doing the rounds since long before federation, and emissary and eastern states potentate Paul Sheehan has just discovered it ...

Talk about an eastern suburbs deep on the east coast wanker ...

Meanwhile, only the principality of Hutt River stands firm against the horde of Canberra bureaucrats.

Oh wait, His Majesty Prince Leonard 1 seceded from WA! Something to do with wheat quotas ...

Never mind, the principle's the same. WA should secede, and Paul Sheehan should secede, and just as they put up a giant gate and fence along the WA border, so Fairfax should put Sheehan behind a paywall, and we'll all be happy.

And now since it's online anniversary day, a completely irrelevant video blast from the 1994 Today Show past that's been doing the rounds on the full to overflowing intertubes.

Murakami, McKeon, and The Palestine Papers? Never heard of them ...

(Above: more Murakami at Versailles images here).

It being a Sunday, what better way to honour the universality of eccentricity than to note the letter by Pierre Charie-Marsaines and Arnaud-Aaron Upinsky, presidents of the Committee for the Defence of Versailles, to the President of France, regarding an exhibition by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami within its hallowed halls?

Mr. President,
Versailles, in the eyes of the entire world, is the symbol of France's cultural excellence, of the glory of the Sun King and the universality of European Civilization, of which France has been the emblem for three centuries. Murakami at Versailles is the symbol of the annulment of France's prestige, of contempt for its sovereign People, and the triumph of a New York-style cultural barbarity - its aim being worldwide hegemony.

Yes, the likes of Christopher Pearson with his talk of Christian Civilization, and David Flint with his worship of the monarchy have French soul mates, though perhaps the use of the word hegemony is inclined to be too hegemonic for their antipodean tastes ...

The letter is so richly loonish - way beyond whatever view you might take of Murakami - that it's worth noting it turned up in January's Harper's Magazine (behind the paywall here).

The authors go on to complain about a Koons exhibition and a previous letter which drew no response:

And so misfortune - cultural, political, economic and touristic - has descended upon us. Ridiculed in her showcase of excellence, France has lost her prestige, her respect for the office of president, along with, may we point out, 14 per cent of her tourism, which threatens her supremacy.

By golly, that hegemonic Koons and his evil ways has a lot to answer for. As for Murkami, his crossbred Japanese-New York art poses a serious problem:

A growing number of French people see in this caricature of Versailles a veritable act of cultural treason, one that aids those who are waging war against European intelligence, art, and Civilization.

There they go, sounding just like Christopher Pearson again, and with penetrating questions galore.

Why are you willing to see France made a laughing stock for the benefit of a small number of foreign interests? How, disregarding all diplomatic rules, can you countenance that, under the pretense of ridiculing Napoleon's coronation at the place of the Sun King, Murakami, that plunderer of mangas, comes to Versailles to humiliate the Japanese, thumbing his nose even at the Emperor of Japan, land of the Rising Sun.

Naturally the letter concludes with a resounding demand that the current director of the Versailles Museum be forced to resign, but here at the pond we demand that he be allowed to stay, because if the result is letters like these the man is doing his very best for 'odd spot' blogs all over the world...

Well at least until the next piece by David Flint worshipping monarchs and emperors comes along, or Christopher Pearson bleats once more about the wonders of Christian civilisation.

Meanwhile, poor Simon McKeon looks like becoming the Takashi Murakami of the antipodes, at least for the year he's Australian of the Year.

As well as attracting the ire of Akker Dakker (Under attack but the flag will still fly) for sounding like "neo-Laborite former prime minister Malcolm Fraser", and Christopher Pearson for preferring to attack flag and Queen when a celebration of the rule of law and Christian civilisation would have been more appropriate (No sizzle on the nationalist barbie), Miranda the Devine also decided to take a chunk out of him in Simon's simple climate stance an insult to science.

As an expert in the game - the Devine has been insulting science and scientists, especially of the climate change kind, for years - the Devine was outraged at McKeon's belief in climate change, and his approval of a carbon trading scheme:

Why a non-scientist should be considered a suitable chairman of our pre-eminent scientific body is anyone’s guess, but it is another indication of the decline of a once great institution.

It is a tragedy that the CSIRO is a shadow of its former self, reduced by to a mouthpiece for climate alarmism.

McKeon, 55, should be careful about sullying his philanthropic name with warmist politics. More importantly, he should refrain from using his new platform to further damage the credibility of the CSIRO.

Yes, there you have the Devine's scientific evidence in a nutshell. "Climate alarmism" and "warmist politics".

Very scientific.

Oh, okay that's just aping her own rhetoric, deployed by the Devine to mock McKeon, a sailor who believes the weather patterns off Victoria have shifted, but it does make you wonder what ails News Corp, reduced by to a mere shadow of its former self as it becomes a mouthpiece for climate denialism.

It looks like McKeon will become a piñata for the commentariat unless he puts his head down and stays out of sight, but for the moment can we just scratch collective heads over this alarming bit of prophecy by Andrew Bolt back on 20th January, Not criticising, just noting - and not saying:

Legal reasons forbid me from mentioning what may be an advantage in the receiving of high honours:

(herewith a list of the nominees)

What I can say is that. not being a businessman or soldier helps.

You have to admire Bolt. A specious reference to legal reasons, in a mealy mouthed way, along with a link to Gary Johns urging that McKeon be given the nod, being a businessman (Honour eludes industry figures), and the feyest of fey hints that perhaps one of the other candidates might get the nod ... perhaps because they're indigenous? Wrong, wrong, and wrong, and so hey nonny no, on we go, and let's make a prediction, legal reasons permitting. A businessman got up, and now it's going to be piñata bashing season for Bolt...

You see, French letter writers. That's how the game is played in the antipodes, sometimes with the cudgel and the downfall of civilisation, and sometimes with the stiletto (or icepick if that's handy) to the back of the neck ...

Meanwhile, in other news you won't read about as the Australian commentary tribe go about their business, lathering themselves into a frenzy over the flood levy, it's poignant to note that in Britain, full attention is being paid to the Palestine Papers and what it means in relation to Israel and its posing about peace this past decade.

Perhaps it's all summed up best by Condoleezza Rice:

During a discussion about international funding to compensate refugees – an estimated 5 million Palestinians are scattered around the Middle East – the US diplomat made a startling suggestion.

"Maybe we will be able to find countries that can contribute in kind. Chile, Argentina, etc (ie, give land)."

The minutes, which are not verbatim, have the initials CR before the quote. Rice was the only participant with those initials. (Condoleeza Rice: send Palestinian refugees to South America).

Yes, that should fix things. Send them to South America ...

There's plenty more revelations covered by The Guardian (here for the coverage under the header The Palestine papers), a timely reminder of just how appalling it is to live under a Murdoch press that controls some 70% of the market in Australia ...

Sadly that situation is beyond satire or irony (though Sandy Tolan tries in The Palestine Papers: A fact-based play in one act).

Never mind, back to the cuckoo French clocks and the piñata bashing and the climate denialism and the outrage over the flood levy ... and absent lord help us, it could be a very long year ...

(Below: another Murakami at Versailles image, which could be considered suitable for gentleman readers, but which, as it contains photographers photographing photographers photographing Murakami, is of course reflexive and therefore okay ...)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Christopher Pearson, Piers Akerman, and a very Murdoch story ...

(Above: the bright side of Christian civilisation).

The other night by mistake I happened to catch five searing minutes of Letters and Numbers, the game show produced by Shine Australia, which pollutes the airwaves of SBS in much the same way as you can never get rid of cockroaches from the kitchen in Sydney.

It represents a kind of nadir of broadcasting, thanks to Elisabeth Murdoch, but also thanks to the reappointed CEO Shane Brown, who is still hanging around in 2011, for no particular reason, thanks to the board that reappointed him, led (or perhaps not led) by Carla Zampatti, and featuring Christopher Pearson who was reappointed to another four year turn that only expires in October 2011 ...

Being a site inspired by monotonous repetition and bees in bonnets, we can't stop moaning about the way this once proud, even if recently formed, Australian broadcasting tradition has been comprehensively trashed, when a poverty of budget shouldn't automatically lead to a poverty of ideas ...

Which leads us to Pearson's latest column in The Australian, No sizzle on the nationalist barbie, where belatedly, three long day after Australia Day, he gets agitated about the constitution and the flag and the trashing of national institutions ...

No, he doesn't mention SBS or the National Museum for that matter, but instead settles for a starting shot across the bow of Simon McKeon, who dared to say he was in favour of a republic and a new flag, and so has already got up the nose of Piers "Akker Dakker" Akerman, the Billy Bunter of the press, who goes on a rampage in Under attack but flag will fly.

Akker Dakker lets all barrels fly at McKeon as a symbol of the ideals of inner-city latte lappers across the nation. What a pathetic, spiteful, preening, splenetic attack dog he is, given to verbal diarrhea and rabies of the most peculiar kind, with his call for gracious anonymity and McKeon not lecturing anyone about political causes such as the republic and the flag, and never mind the way Akker Dakker hectors, lectures, bashes and berates from his podium like a din of cicadas in the summer heat ...

But leaving the bilious Akker Dakker to stew in his plentiful juices, we return to Pearson, who of all things then leaves McKeon aside to berate the media, and most particularly the Weekend Magazine of The Australian for running a story by Ross Bilton celebrating Australia Day in the bush ...

Could this be, the pond wonders, a ploy to get people to sign up to the smart edition of The Australian so they can reference the piece?

It's the second week in a row that Pearson's rabbited on about the Weekend Magazine - last week he babbled on about a piece by Kate Legge involving lesbians having babies - and compared to Akker Dakker's full blooded, go for the throat and the carotid artery attack, it's a most peculiar and feeble quibbling bit of nonsense, revolving as it does around whether the good folk in Cambooya might have put a framed picture of young Queen Bess over the door to the men's toilet at the memorial hall.

Perhaps to give comfort to the men as they take a nationalistic piss while thinking god save good Queen Bess ...

After wondering if it's a set up - clearly Pearson hasn't been in many country memorial halls - the plucky lad gets quite a lump in the throat:

No fair-minded observer could doubt that she has honoured her coronation oath of a life lived in service to her people, or that she has been a model of constitutional propriety. As well, for many she's an embodiment of social stability, the rule of law and Christian civilisation.

Christian civilisation? Yes, I know he left out the white man's burden, Lady Di, the talking tampon, and the tremendous way that Britain waged relentless war on heretical Catholics until quite recent times, but you can't cover everything ...

Funnily enough, Pearson objects to an alleged tone of self-congratulatory banality in Bilton's piece.

So he seeks to match Bilton's photographer Patrick Hamilton's talk of barbecued lamb chops, wine and friends (oh no not the wine lappers) with a splendid militarism:

Forget about our country's contributions to defeating fascism in World War II, a more recent triumph in East Timor or battlefield valour in Afghanistan. It's as though, chez Hamilton, remembering them on the national holiday were somehow anachronistic, perhaps almost in bad taste.

I'm not quite sure where this leaves Pearson and the battlefield valour he weekly displays pounding away at a keyboard for The Australian, but it leads to a kind of heretical attack on the good folk of Cambooya, and their concept of mateship and civic virtue:

As if, for Bilton, one self-congratulatory banality weren't enough to be going on with, he tells us that for Hamilton, the kindness of complete strangers to victims of the Brisbane floods "says far more to him about our national identity than the Queen, or the flag, ever will".

Far be it from me to underestimate the Good Samaritan instinct wherever it emerges, but I often wonder whether the notion that we're more richly endowed with it than other countries isn't self-serving mythology.

Yes, far be it from me to be a ponce and a prat, but back in your cages good folk of Cambooya, and rally around the Queen and the flag, instead of indulging in your self-serving mythologies of mateship, helping out, kindness to strangers and community, or even worse lamb chops, wine and friends.

And while you're at it, please read Akker Dakker so you can be filled with venomous fury and loathing at women on stamps, political incorrectness, the bleeding obvious, while filled with joy about Max the dog. It's the News Corp way ...

Never mind, there's a rather jolly coda in Pearson's piece, involving Pearson, Tony Abbott and "some of the more moderate leaders of Sydney's gay community" called together at luncheon to work out ways to get gays to vote Liberal (thanks the lord they were moderate because we all know that most of them are immoderate, raging, outrageous, extremist queens, don't we, not that we indulge in stereotypes).

It seems one of the luncheon's attendees, Garry Wotherspoon, has written a memoir of the event, albeit with a tone, claims Pearson, that's inclined to be 'poisonous'.

Rather unsportingly Pearson doesn't provide a link to the 'poisonous' piece, but here it is, under the header An 'unthreatening' lunch with Tony Abbott ...

Pardon me, I like it so well, let me quote a little chunk as Wotherspoon explains why the ALP's candidate Susan Harben, even though a former President of the Mardi Gras, had a hard time up against Clover Moore:

Harben had lost convincingly, and Pearson and Abbott wanted to meet with us, to build on this anti-ALP sentiment within a community that had some political and economic clout in Sydney.

There was a stunned and incredulous silence when this was explained to us.

Did Abbott and Pearson have any idea who they were dealing with? We were not some cabal of conservatives - most of the gay men at the table would never have voted for the Coalition; it epitomized everything we abhorred. Most attacks on the gay community came from Coalition people such as state National Party MP Peter Rowland-Smith, who wanted the Mardi Gras parade to be banned from Sydney streets; or Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan, Howard’s bovver-boy, who made false accusations under Parliamentary privilege against High Court Justice Michael Kirby; or the National Party’s Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, who wanted a book featuring two lesbians and their children to be banned from schools.

Those two so-called political sophisticates - Abbott from the refined wastes of Sydney’s North Shore, and Pearson from Adelaide, the "Athens of the South" had utterly misread the Bligh campaign and what it was about, which was having an independent voice in state Parliament, rather than some hack who would do a party’s bidding. Our anti-ALP stance was for Clover, a long-time gay rights supporter, not for the conservatives.

Oh dear, that's a bit severe. The pompous Pearson doesn't quite know how to cope, and so provides his own interpretation of the motivation and meaning of the lunch:

I remember Abbott remarking in a jocular way that if gays could prefer a good independent candidate over a gay Labor candidate, perhaps it was possible that one day they'd prefer a good Liberal candidate in the same way and Labor's stranglehold on the gay vote in Sydney would loosen.

Um yes, but isn't the whole point of the story that Labor didn't have a stranglehold on the gay vote, hence Clover Moore?

Never mind, at the end Pearson tries on a comeback which can only be called bizarre:

For all its venom, had Wotherspoon written this piece during the federal election, it might have lent weight to Abbott's claim that he had longstanding friendships with gay men.

On which benighted, deluded planet might that be? Even as a jest, it's a tragic jest. And then this optimistic flourish:

Can it be that its appearance just before the NSW elections betokens the unthinkable and that Labor is finally losing its stranglehold on the gay vote in Sydney?

You know, the only credible response to that remark is a stunned, incredulous silence.

Oh sure we could point out there's only one electorate where the gay vote is truly meaningful (the Member for Sydney), though it does rumble through a couple of other electorates (come on down north Newtown, Camperdown and Glebe), and that conflating the current situation of the state government in NSW with a gay/straight divide, and the federal scene is utterly bizarre, and that the entire Wotherspoon piece is testament to the way Labor doesn't have a stranglehold on the gay vote in Sydney - hence Clover Moore - but we'll settle for a stunned, incredulous silence.

Yep, Pearson resolutely remains a cloth-eared blow-in gherkin ...

So why not a little more Wotherspoon, remember it's available here, as he notes that, while much was discussed, and Abbott and Pearson were attentive, but not particularly forthcoming, the stunned silence was followed by the wrap ...

As might be expected, the meal ended shortly thereafter. We all paid for our food, and Abbott generously offered to pay for the wine. We Sydney gay men wandered off into the afternoon sun, a trifle befuddled perhaps, but much bemused by these blow-ins. We left Abbott and Pearson on the footpath outside Beppi’s, waiting for the ministerial limousine to sweep them off into a Sydney sunset.

It was a very Sydney story.

Poisonous tone? As opposed to bemused and befuddled? And a funny evocation of a clash of cultures ...

So there you go, Akker Dakker and Pearson, two attack dogs doing their usual rounds, and meanwhile that proud Australian tradition, SBS, laid to waste and ruin, but elsewhere amusing writing to be sampled ...

It's a very Murdoch story ...

(Below: and it's a very old story. You can get an idea of Akker Dakker's tone and visceral contempt for anyone he doesn't like in this leaflet circulated during the anti-conscription campaign during the First World War, found here. Click to enlarge).

Friday, January 28, 2011

Jodie McNeill, the Jensen heresy, the worship of nature amongst the commentariat, and a dash of Ricky Gervaise along with dust radio ...

(Above: an inspired piece of Anglican design, worth celebrating before it shuffles away from the top of the magic faraway tree, which is here).

It being a quiet day on the pond, we thought we'd drop in on the Sydney Anglicans (sometimes cruelly known as the nepotic Calvinist Jensenist heretics) to see how things were going ...

And it seems there's turbulence in the air, with Ricky Gervais causing shock, horror and consternation, and insulting millions of American Christians by recycling Bunuel's old joke about thanking god for being an atheist (and who knows where Bunuel borrowed it from, though he did say it was an accidental aphorism, here, and retreated from it).

I'm not sure exactly why announcing you're an atheist is an insult, since I'm never insulted when someone tells me that they're a Christian or believes in Santa Claus or the Easter bunny.

Not to worry, the Anglicans provide links to Gervais on Not Mocking Christians, and Ricky Gervais's fundamental error was to attack God, a piece by John Harlow that escaped The Times paywall, and turned up like a starving refugee in search of food and readers in The Australian. Harlow concludes resoundingly:

God, apparently, cannot take a joke in America.

So far, so good for a Friday - must we always eat fish on Friday - but then I made the fatal mistake of clicking on a banner dubbed The challenges of a post-Christian society, alarmingly illustrated with a couple of battered boiled eggs (as above), and it led me straight to Jodie McNeill's When "thinking of you" is not enough ...

In it, McNeill spends his time rueing the absence of prayer in response to recent problems:

There was a time in our distant past that people used to say “we’re praying for you”, rather than “we’re thinking of you”. We knew that the prayers of those who cared would make a concrete impact on peoples’ lives as those saints of old raised concerns with their heavenly Father.

I'm not sure exactly how these prayers made a concrete impact on people's lives in the recent Queensland floods, seeing as how prayers don't seem to have stopped Queensland flooding in the past and are unlikely to stop Queensland flooding in the future (and as for bushfires, the absent god in recent years has been truly derelict and unresponsive).

McNeill seems to think prayers, rather than dams, or levees or flood mitigation or living with it might just be the solution:

The impact of having a believer bring prayers to their heavenly Father is an activity that reaps a double-reward. The prayers themselves bring concrete outcomes, and the announcement of those prayers to unbelievers is a bold demonstration and testimony to the love and care of the believers who graciously bring the requests of their friends, family and community to their heavenly Father.

If only we had more Christian politicians, journalists and everyday believers who would be brave enough to say “we’re praying for you.” Imagine the double impact!

Is this a bit like the double impact of the Maharishi and his TM and his plans to build a kind of yoghic coherent world consciousness, as outlined in detail in his wiki here?

Well no doubt prayers provide a warming sense of personal comfort, but if someone said they were praying for me, rather than mucking in and helping out, I'd be inclined to think of them as tossers. (No doubt Christians will unite and be willingly tithed by the government to send a little of their cash Queensland's way).

But where is the double impact, where are the concrete outcomes that are supposed to be derived from prayers? Did they bring an end to a couple of world wars, or the spotfire wars that have plagued the planet in the past couple of decades, or the starvation and misery and the suffering and the ...

Well it's an old argument, the power of prayer, and whose praying to the right god, and so who has the most influence and pulls the right results for the right team (next week Jews versus Islamics in a prayer down for peace in the middle east, strictly on Israel's terms), but McNeill faces an even bigger problem. You see, all the commentariat commentators on the right - even those who boast of a natural affinity with Christianity - have shown disturbing signs of being fearing, loving gaia worshippers.

Gerard Henderson provided the most perfect summary:

There has always been droughts and bushfires and floods in Australia, before and after European settlement. There always will be. If Sandell does not want to live in this kind of world, then the only solution is personal emigration. The problem is that most countries, over the ages, have experienced weather disasters. It's called nature. (Here).

Yep, it's not called god, it's called nature, gaia if you will.

In the old days, it would have been called acts of god, and I believe the insurance industry sometimes still prefers this quaint phrase as a convenient get out, gotcha clause, to avoid any fiscal responsibility for the imponderable workings of the deity (and/or deities, including but not limited to the god at work in your own parish).

Who'd have thunk that Henderson was a believer in gaia? Even Miranda the Devine seems to think that it's nature to blame:

We have been so busy fretting about carbon dioxide that we have neglected the real challenge -- how to adapt and protect ourselves from natural disasters. (here).

She trusts not in god, but in dams, and a jolly good greenie bashing, perhaps with hockey sticks.

Janet Albrechtsen was a little more evasive, calling the floods a calamity, (here), which leaves it open as to whether god or nature is the responsible party for the calamity, but she did seem keen that political leaders develop empathy rather than hold a prayer meeting. Yes, Dame Slap talking of empathy, in a weirdly sick touchie feelie kind of way ...

And in his couple of pieces, the grumpy curmudgeonly Paul Sheehan seems to think that Australia has been gushing rivers of blood and ruining the planet:

Dirt charts the history of soil depletion from ancient Greece to modern times. A depressing pattern sets in and never changes. When societies exhaust their topsoil, they collapse or are forced to move. The age of mechanisation merely sped up the process. (here)

Sheehan's solution to the natural disaster isn't a prayer meeting:

Backyard gardens. Planting fruit trees and other edibles in common areas on street fronts. Chicken coops ...

Grow local. Buy local. Eat local ... Rethink the back yard and the front street. Because food shock is coming.

Oh sweet absent lord, the world is coming to an end, must go get myself some Chicken Littles so that they'll run around in the back yard squawking and clucking and killing off worms.

It turns out that the commentariat commentators are useless, alternately blaming humanity or nature, so we had to turn to an infallible guide, one Ron Fraser in Queensland Floods Worsen:

This brings to mind the prophecy for our day, “… I caused it to rain upon one city, and I caused it to not rain upon another city; one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered” (Amos 4:7). The irony is that so much of Australia’s northeast was not so long ago in the grip of record drought, giving even greater emphasis to Amos’s prophecy.

How many will consider that the sins of a nation will bring a penalty from our Maker in the form of such catastrophes?

At last, someone ready to call it as it is, and bring back the good old days of hellfire, damnation, brimstone and thunder, and Elmer Gantry. Someone in to the book of revelation and the beast and the lake of fire burning with brimstone and the breath of Jehovah like a stream of brimstone (and there's more here on fire and brimstone). Sock it to us Ron:

Few indeed.

Few will truly heed any warning that rings of a flood of publicly declared “biblical proportions” being caused by biblically specified reasons, the results being predestined according to inerrant Bible prophecy.

Yes, few will heed until our Creator turns up the heat by imposing more and increasingly severe penalties of “biblical proportions” for the generations of rebellion against His law to force them to listen.

Oh you can hear the blood of the Sydney Anglicans quickening in their veins as they hear Ron's call to arms:

But, thank God that the floods and the fires in Australia are just one of many great indicators that our Creator has had enough—enough of mankind’s wayward rebellion against the very reason for which they were created. Thank God indeed that He will soon directly intervene to impose His government of peace and global unity for the good of all mankind! (Isaiah 9:6-7). Then humankind will understand its truly incredible potential and will move en masse to embrace it. But, only after it has suffered terribly for rebellion against its own Creator.

Ron goes on to plug a book - there's always a book to plug, and tithes to collect, and donations to seek, to sustain the mission and the cause - but it took me right back to the good old days when Garner Ted Armstrong, son of Herbert W. Armstrong, used to pollute country radio like a cockroach with The World Tomorrow, and there was a feuding and a fussing and a fighting between daddy and son, and what do you know, the old Philadelphia Trumpet is now to hand on our hour of need online in the digital form devised by god as

It reminded me of a song by Chris Whitley, all about dust radio - the kind of radio you hear while on the road in the late or the early morning hours in the south of the United States or in the bush of Australia - where air time is handed over to whoever's got a free program that fills up the void:

Somebody receiving up there
On dust radio
Walk it with the spirit
Talk it with the spine
Mama sing "Open up yourself when worlds align"
My Secret Jesus,
The Good Red Road
On blood antenna
And dust radio

And then I thought, hang on a second, this is what happens when you read the Calvanist Jensenist nepotic heretics.

After a bout of Gervais heresy, you discover all the commentariat commentators are at one with the Gaia worshippers and the ancient druids in talking of the power of nature and the forces of nature, and nary a word about god or prayer meetings, and the next thing you know the Queensland floods are all the work of god ...

Truly either the Jensenists or the absent lord work in mysterious ways ...

(Below: Gervais having an argument with god. You can find the rest here).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Andrew Robb, and more political correctness from the minions of Dr. No ...

(Above: well played Jacki. You survived Hinch and the industry to get the nod).

Meanwhile, the anonymous editorialist at The Australian strikes again in No cliches please, it's Australia, as he or she celebrates the Oscar nomination for:

Jacki Weaver's performance as an underworld matriarch in Animal Kingdom, an indie film set in the streets of suburban Melbourne ...

Indie film? Wash out your anonymous mouth with government-funded soap ...

The principal investor was Screen Australia, an Australian Government body, and Porchlight Films, the production company, was one of four companies slipped a casual $720,000 in grants and loans back in 2008 by the Australian Film Commission, before that body got rolled into Screen Australia.

Indie film? Dammit, sir or madam, it's pinko pervert socialist governmental film-making worthy of Mosfilm at its finest. Sssh, don't mention the government, just meander along in your free market thinking, as you quaff your champagne and celebrate:

At a challenging time for the local film industry, these nominations for Australian talent are particularly heartening. They show the world the depth of the industry here as well as the diversity of Australia -- warts and all.

Yes, and they also show the world the depth of The Australian's heartfelt unwillingness to note how the Australian film industry is actually funded. Suffice to say, it would collapse like a dwarf star the moment government funding was withdrawn.

Well played anonymous sir or madam free marketeer ...

Meanwhile, somehow it feels like Friday, and a time for the meandering thoughts of a Liberal politician taking up space in The Punch, punching on in a punch drunk way, and sure enough there's Andrew Robb delivering up Let's get over our dam phobia, and taking a swipe at Bob Brown for daring mention climate change and coal in the context of the recent floods.

Robb starts off with a couple of bon mots sure to excite the populace:

All the experts, whatever their views on climate change, agree that the increased rainfalls are driven by the long-established cycles of La Nina weather events, just as El Nino is associated with drought.

There that takes care of climate change, whatever your view of it might be, though whatever view of it Andrew Robb takes must remain an eternal mystery.

That incisive insight is followed up by this one:

No-one in the Coalition is suggesting that additional dams would have prevented the tragic Queensland floods.

Uh huh. So why the sudden rage to have a damn sight more dams right here, right now. Is it simply a way of embarrassing the government?

The onset of the floods did, however, prompt a renewed resolve from the Coalition to ignore political correctness and to put dams back on the agenda as part of the national water management debate.

Dams are by no means the answer in every instance, but nor should they be automatically excluded purely because of politics.

Uh huh. Well here at the pond - a natural feature of the landscape formed by damned beavers beavering away to erect barriers formed from all kinds of political correctness and political folly and political bile and spite - lordy how those beavers find plenty of raw material - the tendency to deal with dams hasn't involved political correctness so much as NIMBYism across the political divide.

When you get a politician blathering on about political correctness, you're close to the smell of humbuggery in the air, and sure enough so it comes to pass.

Did we mention the Traveston dam? If you look at reports in the day - the short piece Greens, coalition slam Traveston dam will do - you find the coalition outgreening the Greens, and acting in overt alliance with the Satanists, and chief Satanist Bob Brown himself as they smote mightily Bligh and the dam:

A motion, put forward by the Australian Greens with the support of the federal opposition, says the plan presented real threats to "these species".

It calls on federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett to reject the "premiers's crude and misinformed assessment".

How about the rampant political correctness of Greg Hunt in Traveston Dam fight taken up by Federal Opposition? I like the political correctness so well, let me quote it at length:

The Federal Opposition says it will take on the fight to stop the controversial Traveston Crossing Dam proposed on the Mary River near Gympie.

Opposition climate change, environment and water spokesman Greg Hunt today said the proposed dam was one of the "worst sites in Australia".

He said the dam would have major adverse environmental impacts - including water wastage and on native species.

Yes, back in those days, dams were assessed on their merits:

"I visited the Traveston Dam site, I've met with the people and I've looked at both the lower and the upper Mary and the message is very clear that we're not against dams but this is a bad dam site," Mr Hunt said.

"The site is a large, flat evaporative pond ... (and would be) a massive waste of water.

"It would destroy one of the great food bowls in Australia.

"You have all sorts of different foods that are grown there and an incredible loss of productive land of capacity.

"The dam itself is (also) likely to have a major impact on scarce species including the Mary River turtle and others."

Damn it, is there any solution?

One alternative would to use deep chasm dams which would be subject to a lower evaporation, he said.

"We're going to have the fight.

"It was a politically chosen site and by all accounts all the advice to the government is is it's an unwise site."

Yep, it's a wondrous bit of political correctness, treating the dam as a political issue, and how does Robb deal with this giant turtle of an issue?

The Coalition opposed the Traveston Crossing Dam for a variety of reasons which have been well documented, and we absolutely stand by that decision. The Bligh government, to its credit, was at least prepared to seriously canvas the option of a new dam, albeit one of unacceptable design and location.

Yes, there's the stench of double-dealing hypocrisy in the morning. And yet, such is the mealy mouthed capacity of the double dealing politician for pious hypocrisy, there's Robb with the cheek to berate Julia Gillard and Bob Brown for 'predictable negative, knee-jerk reaction' to the coalition's new found attitude to dams.

You know, a bit like the predictable negative knee-jerk reaction the coalition offers to everything.

So how will the coalition proceed with its new found zeal for dams?

In terms of the Coalition’s work, the consideration of appropriate dams will include looking at all areas of water management, including new technologies and innovations and consulting widely with the scientific and engineering communities, land owners as well land management and environmental groups.

Yes, in the usual way, the Coalition's work will proceed by way of blather ...

Well with an eye to the controversy, the Australian Geographic has rediscovered an article penned back in 2008, To dam or not to dam?, which explains exactly where rhetoric and posturing and blather gets you when it comes to reconciling all the interests involved in building a large scale dam ... and politicians get the smell of blood and a cheap political kill ...

As cities expand and demand new water, and the solution involves flooding large areas of countryside, the issues get tricky, and the heat goes on politicians to reconcile the irreconcilable.

As well as seeping through one of my favourite films, Polanski's Chinatown, the history of the supply of water to Los Angeles, the acquiring and ruining of the Owens valley, and the work of William Mulholland earns a couple of chapters in one of my favourite works on the subject, Marc Reisner's now somewhat aged Cadillac Desert.

Whenever Australians think they have water management issues, they only need to look to the United States for relief, and Reisner's book, a history of water management in the American west, and available here, is a great way to start ...

And then there's the St. Francis dam story - you can even sing along to Frank Black's St. Francis dam disaster song - and the Teton Dam collapse, and why there's a handy list of dam failures here, and we haven't even got on to soil salinization in California ...

Meanwhile, back to the blatherer to wrap up the discussion:

While Julia Gillard and Bob Brown will no doubt attempt to whip up a scare campaign against our work, we will not be deterred. It is time to put political correctness aside and to overcome our dam phobia.

Well that's good news, if it means the coalition is capable of putting political correctness and political negativity and cheap mindless point scoring aside, though that might be a tad optimistic so long as Tony 'Rashomon' Abbott remains in charge.

When, you might wonder, will the coalition be able to put their political correctness aside, and overcome their climate change phobia? So that we no longer have to read articles that start off with a kind of priestly ritual incantation along the lines "the experts, whatever their views on climate change ..."

Until the twelfth of never, and that's a long, long time ... though if you want to see an angel - one who actually wrote a thesis on the topic - dancing on the head of a pin, look no further than Greg Hunt discusses shadow climate policy, another blast from the past.

Ah yes, Hunt knows how to oppose dams, and Janus-like show whichever face best suits the mood of the day ...

Robb opened his piece by labelling Brown's claims as absurd and insensitive, and Brown an opportunist with timing that leaves a very bad taste in everyone's mouths.

That doesn't even begin to conjure up the wave of nausea experienced by reading the always opportunistic Robb doing the work of Dr. No in this little offering ...

Talk about Animal Kingdom ...

(Below: and speaking of doctors, a little light relief from First Dog. More First Dog here).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Australia Day, and shelter from the storm ...

(Above: this flag, weather proof, machine washable, iron safe, polyester, weather proof, fade and mildew resistant, permanently dyed, fine art flag, manufactured with vivid colour process to strict military flag standards available here for a measly ten smackeroos US).

Naturally the pond has already devised its own flag proposal for Australia Day, seeing as how all the alternatives floated in Eminent Australians rally around as call goes out for a new flag have fallen on stony ground.

We see it as a way of celebrating the new reich - scheduled to last a thousand years - of calm, conservative, considered citizens, at peace with themselves and the world, and ruled by a gaggle of conservative commentariat commentators who make sure no unruly liberal or unseemly provocative socialistic pinko pervert thinking disturbs the peace of the land. Love it or leave it liberals, and take your flag ideas to Antarctica, and your new republic of folly ...

Yes, there'll be peace for David Flint and his comrades, recently tortured and taunted by of all people Sir Michael Parkinson.

Naturally Andrew Bolt was profoundly indignant in This whingeing tells us it's Australia Day:

Speaking to reporters in Sydney after becoming the first foreigner to deliver the annual Australia Day address in its 15-year history, Parky said ... the period after Queen Elizabeth II either dies or abdicates would be an “acceptable’’ time for the nation to formally sever ties with the British royal family.

“Why should Australia not be a republic? It’s its own country, its own man,’’ Parkinson said.

Dear lord, a whingeing Pom whingeing away in Sir Michael Parkinson says it's time for Australia to become a republic. The cheek of the man ...

Yes, it's the classic rebuttal. Disagree with someone and you can always label them a whinger. Got an alternative idea? What are ya, a bloody whinger? Ya moping sook ... ya bloody dingbat. You whine louder than a dingo hunting for a baby ..

Of course Andrew the Dolt makes a professional career out of whingeing, whining, moping, getting shocked, appalled and outraged (not necessarily in that order), but Parkie proposes a republic and he's a whinger ..

Naturally the monarchists were furious at the ramblings of a foreigner - a benighted one at that - and instead promoted the views and teachings of a true blue Aussie of Eurasian origins, as you can find here in Sir Michael Parkinson CBE denounces the Australian Crown if you haven't already downed your third bottle of chardonnay ...

You see, instead of idle chatter after the Queen's death, and the end of the second Elizabethan age, there'll be much to excite, because after the funeral what happens?

This will be followed by fascination and interest in the Coronation, the next Prince and Princess of Wales, and no doubt their children.

During these times, first sad, then moving and then exciting, talk of some vague undefined politicians’ republic replacing our old and successful crowned republic will be completely out of place.

Yes, yes, yes, who's fucking who, who's divorcing whom, who's marrying, who's breeding, who's wearing a Nazi uniform to a party, who's gone mad greenie, who's shooting down the Islamic hordes in the next crusade, who's helping sell the most copies of The Australian Women's Weekly, and it's all so dinki di and true blue and Aussie ...

Because we're a successful crowned republic!

Oh fuck me dead, the spirit of Alice down the rabbit hole and Magritte and Bunuel and the surrealists live on in this wide brown land, where white is black, and the crown is the head of a republic, and fuck me dead how can people be so dumb and so wayward and abusive of language, semantics and the actual constitution. It's like that sign in, of or inspired by Dr. Strangelove:

That's why we barely have time to note some of the splendid contributions on the meaning of Australia and Australia Day, but surely we must pause to welcome former chairman Rudd's return to theoretical discourse in The Punch with I believe Gen Y are the future.

Strange, I thought that the baby boomers were the future. Oh wait, they're dying off? How about Gen X? They're too old already, and anyway they blew it, and soon they'll be hanging around waiting to die off?

Well there you go, I guess that means that Gen Y, aka the Millenial generation, generation next, the net generation, or the echo boomers are indeed the future ...

And for the next meaningless truism and fatuous insight, before we all die off and those who remain alive will plod on into the future of a glorious crowned republic?

Well you can read Natasha Stott Despoja, daughter of Shirley the destroyer, joining the monarchists and Andrew Bolt, and getting tremendously upset with Parkie in The day for us to celebrate our own, and proving simple minded provincialism and patriotism and nationalism takes many kinds of hues in many kinds of scoundrels:

Michael Parkinson is the first non-Australian to have been invited to give the Australia Day address and, while his unique perspective on our identity and character is worth having, he should have said no ...

... Henry Lawson would be rolling in his grave, not to mention Mary Gilmore.

Actually it's the monarchists and Andrew Bolt rolling in their graves, but never mind, as you'd expect the pinko pervert cardigan wearers have given you the chance to download Parkinson's speech in mp3 form here.

Or you might just go quaff that fourth bottle of chardonnay to keep the party lively.

Make sure to drink a toast for the coming republic ... without a crown and without surrealist logic to keep it company ...

And when you're drunk enough you can join former chairman Rudd in a few verses of Whitney Houston's immortal Greatest Love of All:

I believe the children are our are future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone to fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me

But don't overdo it. There's nothing like the sickly nausea you get when you wake the next day with a hangover, and realise that if you haven't woken in fright, then you've certainly woken in a crowned republic ...

(Below: a few cartoons to celebrate).

Janet Albrechtsen, and the importance of maintaining the public funding of cults ...

(Above: Nicholson is currently off line as the result of hacking, but the public private sector divide cartoon was found here, in company with Chris Bonnor's useful Schools: Don't mention the ... public vs. private).

What better way to celebrate Australia Day than to read Janet Albrechtsen valiantly defending the current government funding of the private school system?

Sure some might prefer to listen to the Triple J hot one hundred, others might indulge in a humble barbecue, sill others might be signing up as citizens of this brave land, yet more will show these new citizens how important it is to get pissed as parrots and act like galahs as benefit of citizenship, but for the pond there's no more splendid a sight than our very own Dame Slap valiantly defending the fortifications of socialism and public funding and wealth transference, as we'd expect of any decent commentariat columnist in The Australian ...

You too can waste valuable minutes of your life by reading Class warriors prepare to ambush private schools, instead of getting under a hose to soften the impact of the heat (or perhaps by taking the plunge in a publicly funded, available to all public swimming pool ...).

Or perhaps as a new citizen you might marvel at the way this country has long invested in a public secular education system available to all ... and having in my youth tried both the Catholic and state systems, you've probably already guessed the way the pond's bias flows.

Or should that be floods, because in sniffing out the enemies of the private sector, Dame Slap is hyper sensitive about the use of the word 'flooding'. In much the same way as I'm sure she's sensitive about lock and load, and targets and shooting down the political enemy ...

Anyhoo, never mind, the class warriors and enemies are the usual predictable motley lot of union leaders (the teachers' unions are the last haven of unreconstructed communists, it seems), the Greens and the Fairfax press, busy shocking parents about fee increases for private schools, and the way some of the toffier schools make out like bandits. (a yearly feature, from 2010's Private school fees race ahead of inflation to 2011's Parents bear the burden of surging private fees).

The fiends! Don't they understand all is going swimmingly well in both the private and public education systems? Well maybe not the public system, but who cares, provided the private sector can keep on scoring the loot ...

Union leaders may talk about equality of opportunity but their aim is equality of outcome: each Australian student attending the same kind of school, receiving precisely the same kind of cookie-cutter education. Diversity, usually such a fashionable word in the teachers union world, is taboo when it comes to schools and choice.

Yes, diversity, that's what we need. The right of every child and/or its parents to receive a proper, decent, federally subsidised scientological education, as the sensible students at the Athena School in Newtown (just around the corner from the pond) receive guidance based on the sound principles of The Way to Happiness, written by that genius L. Ron Hubbard. (and you too can explore the precepts of the way to happiness by going to the official site here, or by reading the wiki here. Please note that the pond expressly disclaims any legal liability or responsibility for anyone who achieves an instant karmic understanding of the role of Thetans and Xenu in their lives as a result of clicking on these links, and loses squillions in the process).

Yes, we've bored stray readers before with details of how the federal government is shovelling $1.4 million down the throat of the Athena school - there's a nice new hall being erected right at the moment - and it's even picked up its own wiki, here.

Then there are the schools of the Exclusive Brethren, lining up to pocket some $70 million in federal funding at the same time as former chairman Rudd described the sect as an extremist "cult". (Brethren schools to get $70m in funding).

Finally I get to understand the meaning of cognitive dissonance ...

Being an advocate of public education is a fine vocation indeed, except when it means becoming a specialist in dishonest and illogical arguments aimed at bludgeoning the federal government into giving less and less to private schools. No strategem goes unused in their attempt to strangle private education.

Uh huh, so here are some dishonest and illogical arguments, a strategem designed to strangle some aspects of private education.

You see, as well as the scientologists, there's all the other fundamentalist creation teaching schools that can be found if you've got a spare half hour, like the CityLife Church which runs the Waverley Christian College, and which - along with helping that prime goose Senator Steve Fielding into temporary unnatural prominence - has held out its hand for federal and state government funding, and done very nicely thank you very much. And please don't get too thingie about the science curriculum, as the Association of Independent Schools in South Australia noted last year in Creationism ban a test of faith for religious schools.

And then there's the growing number of Islamic schools that pick up federal and state funding. A few years ago the East Preston Islamic college came to notice for a little larrikinism (Muslim boys urinated on Bible) but the real sting in the tail is the $3.9 million the college collars each year of taxpayer money ... (if only they'd urinated on the Koran at the same time ...)

And so on and on and on, private schools pocketing taxpayer money to fund their sundry and absurd views of the universe.

Of course all this started with the Catholics and the wealthy elite Anglicans (such a tidy division, the tykes for the poor, the well meaning Protestants for the rich, with a few rich tyke schools to make it look balanced), but it all began to fall apart, and turn to chaos in the years of the Howard government.

Usually you'll find commentariat columnists outraged at Islam, or shocked by wasteful government spending - school halls, pink batts - but you'll never hear a shriek or a moan from them at the way the Howard government helped fund a thousand different theologies and ideologies in private schools ...

Yes, let a thousand shrieking voices bloom out of the barrel of a federally financed gun.

No, you'll hear this kind of learned by rote cry of pain:

Still, teachers unions are committed to first reducing, then obliterating, any public funding to private schools. Their message to parents: if you can pay anything at all towards a private education, you should pay for the lot.

Actually, if you want your child to be educated in a scientological, fundamentalist Christian, or decent Islamic way, damn straight you can pay for the lot. And come to think of it, the same goes for the Catholics and the Anglicans.

Why on earth should the taxpayer contribute to you, your weird, warped world view, and your desire to ensure that your child shares your weird, warped world view?

Meanwhile, Dame Slap gets fired up on a dose of fevered rhetorical zeal:

Imagine how refreshing it might be to hear an advocate of public education talk about the importance, too, of private schools within our education system. Imagine if this public education advocate recognised the need to encourage - not just tolerate, and certainly not penalise - parents who can afford to privately educate their children, to do just that. Imagine if the Gonski review said just that. And just imagine if the Gillard government agreed.

Yes, just imagine if they finally managed to admit, to acknowledge, that the funding of the Exclusive Brethren cult or the cult of Scientology or the cult of creationism or the denigration of computers and the modern world was a really vital and important part of our education system, deserving of government funding ...

After all, telling hardworking parents who sacrifice in order to fund their children's education that the more they invest, the more they will be punished by a withdrawal of federal funding is no way to build an education revolution.

Yes, an education revolution that will cement in place the important understanding that creationism brings to science, and Scientology brings to those in search of the way to happiness.

It's called diversity in education, and while you might call it picking the pockets of Australian taxpayers, Dame Slap sees it as a way of building an education revolution.

And sure enough there's every sign that in the next decade the Australian education system will achieve the outstanding cretinism produced by the wondrous ways of the marketplace and the private sector, and its explicitly theological and scientifically and historically unhinged standards in the United States ... (U.S. Falls in World Education Rankings, Rated 'Average') ...while the student of Shanghai gave them a wake up call (China Debuts at Top of International Education Rankings).

Remind me again?

Who let Dame Slap into the classroom?

Oh that's right, it was Enid Blyton ...

(Below: various incarnations of Dame Slap and her tremendously effective private school up at the top of the Faraway tree. Surely she deserves some recognition and a federal government grant recognising her services to private education? After all, scientific studies suggest there's never been a better way to educate a child than to give them a firm slap.)