Friday, August 31, 2012

Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings ...

(Above: First Dog sets the tone for the pond, more of him here, and if you're prepared to give up an email address, you can access Gina's think piece here. Don't do it, for the love of the absent lord, don't do it, you'll be on a list).

In an alternative universe, the pond dreamed of being a television programmer.

Sit around all day watching television programs and shaping them into a seamless gown that would have viewers riveted to their sets. What a wanton, wastrel lifestyle.

Which brings us to the Ten network, and its current woes, with the memory jogged by Crikey's Lach, stock and both barrels: who's killing Channel Ten, harking back the good old days when Ten owned the youth demographic, and even though it was invariably behind Seven and Nine, the network always made a tidy profit. It was lean and mean and quite often fun to watch.

A lot of water and television muck has fallen off the box since then. The Simpsons has long since nuked the fridge and lost its mojo, and then there was Ten's disastrous attempt to turn itself into a serious prime time news and current affairs channel with George Negus.

While fond of him, even the pond's maiden aunt thought George was a little long in the tooth.

And now we have the current regime, which fails at both a board and management level. They'd love to get the youth market back, but they don't have the first clue as to how to go about it.

The young 'uns have hared off elsewhere, lured by the massive repeats that Nine deploys of sitcoms like The Big Bang Theory. In terms of animation, Seven has similarly been saturating the airways with American Dad and Family Guy (and they even try to shelter American Dad from the impact of a show like Underbelly: Badness, here).

Seven knows what it is, and what will appeal to its audience which is why it can also run the squillionth repeat of Fawlty Towers and Yes Minister. Ten doesn't even have the gumption or know how to bring back Duckman!

Can Ten ever get its niche youth demographic - loved by advertisers - back?

Its secondary channel Eleven is a complete mish-mash of tired product, harking back to the glory days of the catalogue, but now completely irrelevant. Show the pond a nerd who isn't over The Simpsons and Futurama, and the pond will show you a nerd still on trainer wheels.

As for One, this secondary channel has become a mess, running arcane sports programs because Ten can't afford the big audience winners, and then pretending it's actually not a sports channel, it's for general entertainment. What a mess.

Worse, these days the youth market is tricky and flighty. Even if Ten could get hold of a cable show like Hatfields & McCoys, which shifts Romeo and Juliet to West Virginia after the Civil War, it's already out there, gone, done and dusted for anyone who knows how to click a button. And the young do ...

Which brings the pond back to Andrew 'the Bolter's' Bolt Report and why it's symbolic of management failure.

The Bolter is fond of comparing his ratings to The Insiders. Oh yes, it's a hit, a palpable hit for the Bolter ...

Excuse the pond burping.

The ABC? Boring cardigan wearers offering up Barrie Cassidy? That's an epic fail because in the meantime the show's rivals on the commercial networks have tippy-toed off with the youth demographic.

The pond's maiden aunt might have a soft spot for Barrie Cassidy, but she'd no more dream of watching current affairs on a Sunday than the average teenager who just wants to watch Video Hits.

The Bolter's show is something of a legendary joke in rival commercial circles - remember the joking about the Usain Bolt campery?

It's true the show is only a minor symbol, but it's a symbol all the same of a network distracted by trivia when the name of the real game is the audience. If Ten were serious and dedicated to a cause, it would toss out Bolt in the same way it's been shedding all kinds of shows these last few weeks.

The point, in the end, is that watching daytime television, watching any sort of television is a wanton, wastrel exercise. You don't get brownie points from your audience approaching them with cynicism and contempt, and by hectoring them for being bludgers.

Two things remain true in relation to Ten.

When David Mott walked out the door, there went one of the few people at Ten who had the first clue. And so long as the current board and management thrash about without a target demographic, programs that will deliver to that demographic, and a business plan that seeks to appeal to that key advertisers interested in that demographic, the network will continue to flounder.

This is a network with a serious identity crisis, and the Bolter isn't the way forward, no matter how much some people think he's big in the country (or maybe he's big in Japan).

There, and we ended this rant without once mentioning Gina Rinehart and how she doesn't have a clue, how she fears and loathes the audience her network needs, and how she supports ideologues when all the youff demographic, the pond and the advertisers want is a bit of entertainment. Especially on a Sunday ...

What else before we hit the weekend?

Well astute observers of The Australian will have already noted Dennis "the pompous tie" Shanahan's epic misuse and abuse of Lewis Carroll in Our leaders live in looking-glass land (behind the paywall but you know how to google).

After its relentless pursuit of Gillard in recent weeks, it seems the rag is now aiming for some kind of objectivity and balance in its ranting commentariat, and so Shanahan affects an air of cynicism in relation not just to Gillard, but also to Abbott:

Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott are behaving like Lewis Carroll's Walrus and the Carpenter taking young oysters from their bed for a walk on the briny beach.
The Prime Minister and Opposition Leader lead the fat young oysters along, remarking on how fine is the view, then sit down on a rock "conveniently low" to talk about cabbages and kings and "whether pigs have wings".
While engaged in conversation about boiling seas and sealing wax the two companions feast on the distracted oysters with buttered bread and vinegar.

Yep, Shanahan thinks its whimsical and engaging to portray himself and his readers as hapless distracted oysters. What a goose, and perhaps only a second class form of pâté de foie gras at that, given the way the rag shoves rabid right-wing corn down the throats of its readership.

Anyhoo, readers - oysters on the sea-bed of life - will have tremendous fun, watching Shanahan as he dares to take a poke at Tony Abbott:

The strategies are all about scare campaigns on the carbon tax, mining busts, penalty rates and job security, and the only defences are more scare campaigns and a refusal to speak about other vital issues.
No one expects Abbott to produce a John Hewson-style Fightback package of massive details on a new tax, and no one expects Wayne Swan to just roll over and give up on the prospect of a budget surplus.
But the hysteria, verballing and distraction have to stop.

What, you mean that the hysterical The Australian will stop verballing Gillard over a distraction involving ratbags and an ancient union scandal?

In your dreams Mr. Shanahan, in your dreams. The pond looks forward to the next crusade by your rag, and to its continuing slide into irrelevance through excess, which is right up there with Ten's inability to recover a decent audience.

And lastly a treat.

The pond's usual business is abject loonery, but every so often it's worth celebrating an amusing read, as is the case with Richard Ackland's With nod (and wink) to past, it's more fodder for maintaining the rage.

Ackland seizes the moment of the launch of Jenny Hocking's second volume of her Gough Whitlam biography to wipe the floor with Gerard "toxins into the brain for another burst of rage maintenance" Henderson, without once mentioning Henderson.

After pausing to contemplate the amazing judicial activism involved in the dismissal - no howls from Janet Albrechtsen about activist judges here - and marvelling at the audacity of Bob Ellicott, and remembering the alleged separation of powers, Ackland puts the meaning of the dismissal in a nutshell:

Hocking's revelations are a reminder of the informal world of nods, winks and forefingers tapping the nose.
Everything from the Crown to the judiciary, the Murdoch press and many in the legal profession were arrayed against Whitlam.
Need we be reminded that these embodiments of virtue are just as capable as the whatever-it-takes types of perverting the rules to achieve their ends.

Indeed. Right now Dennis Shanahan is crying into his pool of tears, and who knows, smoking a pipe with a caterpillar and munching on a mushroom, while the Murdoch press goes about the business of arraying everyone against Gillard.

The only upside? Dennis Shanahan is an oyster, and Gina Rinehart doesn't have the first clue about how to use the media to achieve her ends ...

(more Kudelka here).

And now, if you've made it this far, with the weekend beckoning, here's to the news that not only has Tony Abbott been reading Fifty Shades of Grey, he's also read Nikki Gemmell's With My Body and The Bride Stripped Bare (thanks Crikey, here, paywalled).

Here's a cartoon for you Mr. Abbott, and do try not to get excited:

And now that the pond has declared an uneasy truce with Optus, here's another cartoon, also doing the Facebook rounds. The pond doesn't agree with the Samsung Apple riff, but loves the Nokia motif. If it'd only been Optus ...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

First the pond gets dental policies sorted with pliers, then it's on to a Farrelly Blair spat ...

(Above: dentistry, Dad and Joe style, with Dave watching).

It's the pond's boast that one of its favourite uncles always removed his teeth with a pair of pliers.

The notion that they were a rusty pair of pliers was an exaggeration, it was simply that the procedure saved the time, trouble and expense of attending a dentist.

The pond's uncle is in esteemed sociopathic company. On page 99 of Zhisui Li's scurrilous tale The Private Life of Chairman Mao, it's recorded:

Mao never brushed his teeth. Like many peasants from southern China, he simply used tea to rinse out his mouth when he woke, eating the leaves after drinking the water. He had resisted all attempts to get him to see a dentist.

This excellent regime finally produced a result:

As the years went by, the problems with his teeth continued and so did his aversion to dentists. His teeth became blackened and began falling out. By the early 1970s, all his upper back teeth were gone. Fortunately, his lips usually covered the remaining few teeth even when he talked and smiled, so the absence of so many and the color of the few that remained were not often noticed.

It almost goes without saying that untended, discoloured, deformed teeth are the first sign of a lumpenproletariat, working class - dare we say peasant - lifestyle.

This is most noticeable in the United States.

There's simply no point in getting out of bed and attempting to become a Hollywood film star without a gleaming set of capped, highly whitened choppers, which can bring an exceptional Stanislavskian intensity to portraits of people suffering in concentration camps and the like. You know the drill - mud spattered face, and a dazzling set of choppers.

What's the point of having class distinctions, if the do gooders are always out and about trying to get a decent minimal standard of health care to poor people?

The pond notes that jolly Joe Hockey has a great set of choppers, no doubt earned while selling used cars and used Liberal party policies, but we simply can't afford to help poor people. Think of the cost of maintaining a yacht in Sydney harbour!

But the current dental fuss, and all the neigh sayers, set the pond to thinking about the way a caring Liberal party, run by a compassionate Catholic, could resolve the conflicting tendencies, catering to the capped gleaming rich while pretending to give a toss about the poor.

It's simple really. Provide a piece of string and a door knob (afix to any flat surface) for free at every post office in Australia, along with a decent pair of pliers. Problem solved.

Some do gooders have also suggested discounting the price of tea, so that the peasants can tend their teeth while imbibing a caffeine hit, but really the pond couldn't countenance interfering with market forces.

Not to worry, there's your dental policy, done and dusted. Now you can see why the pond is consulted on all the major policy issues let loose in the land ...

Cynics might detect a little irony on the day that a story breaks about pollies and perks (Rein reigns supreme in Qantas upgrade spree - forced video at end of link), but that only says all you need to know about pollies, perks and failed Qantas business strategies. By golly did the board pick the wrong CEO or what.

Meanwhile, after the exhaustion induced devising a new dental policy, the pond went in search of light relief, and there's nothing like an intertubes war to provide said relief.

Poor hapless Elizabeth Farrelly is in the thick of it, as she explains in Anonymity powers the cudgels in hatesphere.

The sweet, confused and miffed thing posted a few snaps of a removalist (and truck - we're not quite sure what was featured, because it seems the original post has now disappeared) who had dared to block a bicycle path.

As he stalked off I took a couple of pics of his unmarked truck and posted them on my blog.

The funny thing? Farrelly then goes on to complain about the response:

I was called a pompous prat, a rude and viscious (sic) idiot, an incredibly stupid woman, a small sad person, a pompous git, an old commie bat, an absolute wanker, a poor little suffering Doctor princess pet, a moron, an imbecile, a pestiferous little idiot, a selfish fool, an arrogant conceited woman, an old tart, an old fart, a dolt, lord of the bicycle paths, a wowser, pathetic, despicable, weak, dishonest and a complete f---wit.

Shocking. You could spend a lifetime siccing the spelling on the tubes.

Naturally Farrelly gets agitated, critiquing cyberspace and the rise of secrecy and the digital hatesphere and the way the intertubes provides both secrecy mask and cudgel.

There's a new strain of hate out there - misogynist, anti-education and clearly frightened of change; the Julia Gillard bullet-hole T-shirt; the threat to kill Nicola Roxon; the Nazi slogans with which radio host John-Michael Howson abused Christine Assange.

Yes, it's only since the internet's rise that we've seen Nazi slogans.

Oh and the blogger who deemed it okay to put up an image of a worker going about his business as a form of payback (it's a favourite sport of workers to block the pond's rear lane access to the water lilies).

Now was acting within rights. You can't control your image if it's snapped in a public space (unless it happens to be in the precinct of the Opera House and the goons come out in force to stop you filming).

But isn't it a bit rich to be complaining about the anonymous hatesphere, having launched a bit of hating of an anonymous trucker into said sphere? The polite thing to do would have been to ask for the insolent chappie's name and inform he would be featured on the tubes.

I understand the truckie didn't like being outed. But it's that old privacy thing: if you wouldn't want it known, don't do it. If it was OK for him to do it, it was okay for me to say so.

Uh huh. So there's a nice double standard, with Farrelly cast in the role of a truth teller:

If you pillory truth tellers, you chase decency from public life, skewing politics and ending meaningful debate in a way that helps no one, least of all those on the bottom.

Oh please, conducting a minor skirmish with a trucker isn't meaningful truth telling. It was payback that went wrong.

So why did the payback go wrong? It turns out that the reason has bugger all to do with anonymity, it has to do with that gadfly Tim Blair. After blogging about the trucker, Farrelly was assaulted by the hive mind, by way of emails and comments:

...blogging became a kind of experiment. I knew failure was on the cards. Humiliation even. But I did not expect to feel endangered myself.
Now I am hourly reminded that experimental knowledge is sometimes so dark and loathsome we'd sooner be without.
And it's not all anonymous. Of the mob pursuing me, some used government or university or work email addresses. Some - including their apparent puppetmaster Tim Blair - gave names.
I don't read the Tele. I'd never heard of Blair. Turns out he blog-blags me so often it looks like attention-seeking, calling me ''crazylady'', ''grandmaw'', ''bossypants'' and ''idiot doctor'', imputing motives I've never had to incite his hate-filled acolytes.

She'd never heard of Blair? But it's a rite of passage for any blogger to endure an assault from Blair and his mentally deficient drones.

It's how Blair makes his living, making his parrots wheel and squawk as they fly through the digital ether to do his bidding. It's an even higher mark, a greater honour, if you've copped an assault from the Bolter's assorted pack of first grade idiots and tossers.

The point here is that while the actual grenade-tossers might be anonymous, the motivating tossers are well known and housed within News Limited. It's exceedingly rich of Farrelly to talk about the blogosphere and the hatesphere when in reality she's talking about the Newslimitedsphere, and its routine business of spreading the fear and loathing and the UD in FUD.

Yes, it's not Anonymous, it's News Limited, the very same News Limited that once featured John Hartigan railing at the way journalism, not the limited intellectual value of blogs, is the future of the web.

It's News Limited readers, clustered around Blair and Bolt and Piers "Akker Dakker" Akerman and Miranda the Devine and The Punch and such like, who are encouraged in their behaviour by a publicly listed company.

It's Blair and Bolt in particular who revel in their dittohead following and who regularly unleash the hounds, as they indulge in a very public, completely un-anonymous cyber bullying.

What to do if you happen to be assaulted by these bullies and their acolytes on line? Well the last thing you should do is quail and quiver and show weakness, as Farrelly did. First the quailing:

Some of Blair's blogs use more of my words than his. I'm considering sending a bill.
And so he blogged on, relentlessly. Thursday, Saturday, Monday; clearly enjoying the rabble. He might not be responsible for his nut-job devotees, but he carefully fed them their ideas and terminology. Describing me as an "idiot Doctor of Urbanism who thinks 'traffic' means her in a freaking bike lane" he told them repeatedly that I wanted the truckie fired, hated ''working men'' and thought myself too good to "get off her stupid bike''.

Uh huh. But the first thing to do, to be polite, is to offer a link to Blair's ranting, so that readers - if they desire to step into the cesspit - can do it with a click and head off to Path of Most Resistance.

It turns out that it's just a typical set of Blair jibes:

He helpfully posted links to my blog and CV, even requoting some of the comments from my site, where I was derided as a communist, a Green, a hypocrite and a tory; as rich, powerful, supercilious, menopausal, adolescent, a Green ''self-annointed [sic] member of the ruling class'' and cause of everything wrong with both the inner city and the Fairfax share price.
It was a lynch mob; bike-hating, city-hating, education-hating. Wound up by Blair, they rode a tide of anger, envy and sexism.

At which point, you almost begin to think Blair might have a point about preciousness:

It wasn't just criticism. A personal blog is personal. The comments come to your email. These people were in my living room, spraying hot pus. Suddenly I saw how teenagers can kill themselves over cyber-bullying.

Oh for god's sake, just send the email to the spam bucket and don't read any of it. And delete comments on the blog you don't like, rather than yank the whole blog. And if anyone complains about having their comment yanked, tell them to fuck off, you want some fucking politeness and some fucking decent language deployed on your corner of the intertubes.

Tim Blair is a dickhead and a stirrer, that's a well-known fact, with the depth and intelligence of your average gadfly, fancifully imagining that he makes a contribution to climate science.

At the same time, it's completely fanciful to lather this little online bruising up into an indictment of everything:

There are two issues here; the infection of politics by unmodified emotion, and the poisonous strand of class-based secrecy that sanctions the wrongdoing but not the telling of it.

Alternatively, don't take an easy shot at someone doing a job, and that way you might avoid being on the receiving end of a set of easy shots. And don't resort to gobbledegook in the quest for self-justification ...

What happened on the street should have stayed on the street ...

Meanwhile, Farrelly should be aware that Blair has constructed a law to describe him and his stupid flock:

... the ongoing process by which the world's multiple idiocies are becoming one giant, useless force revolving around one giant useless blog flung together by one spiteful spleening blogger (oh we made a bit of it up but you can read the real law at the Urban dictionary here).

This sort of warfare is grist to Blair's pathetic mill (see Tim Blair human rottweiler or light weight lap puppy of Big Media?)

The lap puppy loves to play ... ask him nicely and he'll explain all you need to know about Arctic sea ice ...

(Below: and so to the good news. Just as in secret Andrew "the Bolter" Bolt is an Italian opera loving, quality red wine sipper and Europhile, it turns out that Tim Blair is a chardonnay slurper and swiller. Image found here under the header Tim Blair's dirty little secret is out. A chardonnay swiller! Oh crawl away and die of shame. What next? The Arctic sea ice is in a record melt, and can't be used as ice blocks to chill the chardonnay?)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Remember, marriage is like a crucifixion, a burden and a weight and a sip of vinegar the only reward ...

The Sydney Anglicans, always determined to paddle against the stream, are making a bit of a splash with Peter Jensen's Fairfax outing, Men and women are different, and so should be their marriage vows.

So far as Jensen goes - which isn't very far - it's the usual gobbledegook, and the usual slaying of demons.

Marriage is under dire threat, and seemingly about to be abandoned, individualism cops a whack, and bizarrely, the role of the male in marriage is to endure a kind of Christ-like crucifixion in stoic silence:

Where different promises are made, the man undertakes great responsibility and this is also the wording of the book, as it has always been. The biblical teaching is that the promise made voluntarily by the bride to submit to her husband is matched by the even more onerous obligation which the husband must undertake to act towards his wife as Christ has loved the church. The Bible says that this obligation is ultimately measured by the self-sacrifice of Christ in dying on the cross.

Yep, for any man getting hitched, why you can feel the nails slicing through the feet and the palms, the side being pierced and the blood flowing, the crown of thorns applied by the relentless harpy, and a drink of vinegar at close of day all that's offered for refreshment.

Why do the Sydney Anglicans always cast the conversation in terms of joyless burden, self-sacrfice, immolation and Calvinist suffering?

This is in complete contrast to the evil view of marriage as a chance to share a little happiness, joy, life and the odd fuck:

Secular views of marriage are driven by a destructive individualism and libertarianism. This philosophy is inconsistent with the reality of long-term relationships such as marriage and family life.

Yep, if you're a secularist, you simply can't get married and enjoy family life, because it will get you involved in an inconsistency time warp.

But if you're a faithful Sydney Anglican woman, you make out like a bandit. Not only does your partner endure a Christ-like capacity for noble sacrifice, in a masculine way, by agreeing to submit, you snap the collar tight and hard around his wayward neck:

This is not an invitation to bossiness, let alone abuse. A husband who uses the wife's promise in this way stands condemned for betraying his own sworn obligations. The husband is to take responsibility for his wife and family in a Christ-like way. Her ''submission'' is her voluntary acceptance of this pattern of living together, her glad recognition that this is what he intends to bring to the marriage and that it is for her good, his good and the good of children born to them. She is going accept him as a man who has chosen the self-discipline and commitment of marriage for her sake and for their children. At a time when women rightly complain that they cannot get men to commit, here is a pattern which demands real commitment all the way.

(uh huh, but which one is Sam?)

I guess it begs the question as to why Christ never got married, and instead preferred to hang out with twelve dudes ...

It is a pity that the present discussion has been so overtly political. Instead of mocking or acting horrified, we should engage in a serious and respectful debate about marriage and about the responsibilities of the men and women who become husbands and wives. The Bible contains great wisdom on this fundamental relationship.

Which, it has to be said, leaves out any wisdom you might derive from Hinduism, or Confucianism. It really is remarkable that a billion plus Indians and a billion plus Chinese have the institution of marriage within their midst, without the benefit of Jensenist interpretations of biblical wisdom. How passing strange ... perhaps it's all the fault of the secularists:

The rush to embrace libertarian and individualistic philosophy means that we miss some of the key relational elements of being human, elements which make for our wellbeing and happiness. It's time to rethink marriage from first principles. It really matters.

Yes it is, those Indian and Chinese libertarian individualists need to rethink marriage from first principles. And if they do, why they might find the instinct to mate and share a life goes back a tad further than the young earth creationism that infuses biblical literalists.

Thus far it's fair to say that it's all pretty much same same, just another tired Anglican outing, resolutely shouting defiance at the modern world, and harking back to a never never land in search of camel-droving tribal wisdom.

What's more interesting is the way the outing served as an opportunity for Jensen to be given a fair old pounding in the comments section.

No doubt it's water off a duck's back, but it was Jensen's supporters in the comments section that attracted the attention of the pond, and should in a sensible world give Jensen a little pause to reflect:

I’m no longer Christian but I agree with the basic premise made by Peter.
I’ve been married twice and they failed because, typical of most women now, my wives put their own wishes above everything; including the welfare of their children.
In all human societies throughout history, women submit to their husbands. In all ape societies females submit to males.
The price for feminism is a lot of failed marriages, children from broken families, a lot of men who don’t trust women and a lot of women who don’t trust men.
Peter is not a dinosaur; feminism is the unnatural belief we have now.

Uh huh. Amazingly rick of Melbourne seems not to understand why, with this attitude, a couple of women failed to submit to his ape charms.

With supporters like this, the intrinsic Jensen message is exposed to the baleful air.

And then there was more predictable biblically based support:

Just after the request to get women to submit to their husbands. God says that men should to submit to Him - by loving his wife as Christ loves the Church ... to give his all life for her, to serve her with everything he has, to give her everything she requires, to support and strengthen her at all times. This is a harder deal on the man than on the woman. God says the weight is all on the man's shoulders. God gives just three verses to the women, then the next nine to the men.
Have a read through Ephesians 5:22 - 33 to get the bigger passage. You can view it here ...

Yep, it's a real burden, a real weight, a huge amount of suffering to be married. And wisely in her infinite wisdom, god short-changed women, giving them just three verses, while she gave nine verses to the men, and the men are long suffering and the women have it easy, and why marriage is little short of a crucifixion considering the hard deal dished out to men and the weight on their shoulders and the sword in their side and the vinegar drink after a hard day's work supporting the little woman and the bawling brawling spawn ...

And so on and so forth.

As the Anglican church in Sydney slides into complete irrelevance - in the last census Anglicans registered the largest fall among big Christian denominations and those claiming 'no religion' now outnumber Anglicans - at least the comedy stylings remain fresh and a marvel to behold ...

Jensen proposes there should be no mocking, but what else can you do when with all solemnity, he proposes that the duty of a man in marriage is to suffer like Christ crucified on the cross.

Does he even begin to comprehend what he's saying?

(Below: we just had to include a dinosaur joke).

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The pond settles on expansionism and to hell with the Arctic sea ice ...

(Above: Cardinal Pell with hand gesture and handy holy water).

What a splendid sight.

Cardinal Pell opening a medical centre dedicated to tackling cancer by sprinkling holy water on the building, and giving journalists and photographers a special sprinkle (here).

Using scientific principles, the pond would have preferred to call in a Filipino faith healer, a New Orleans voodoo artiste, or a witch doctor, but it's the scientific thought that counts, and St. Vincent's Hospital has passed the test. When you want a cure, call on a quipping Cardinal and he'll give you a sprinkle, and before you know it, cured, done and dusted ...

And another thing.

When will Apple come to understand that it's current 'lawyer at ten paces' strategy is totally stuffed? Rather than compete on quality of product, and pricing, Apple has chosen to compete with lawyers, litigation, patent law, and dubious claims.

Is it possible to be an all-Apple household, and yet loath Apple? Sure thing, though no doubt there are plenty of PC users out there who might say the same about Microsoft ...

Damn them, damn them all. It isn't a victory, unless you're a fan of pyrrhic victories. As soon as lawyers start devising your business model, you're fucked. (Apple v. Samsung: The legal aftershocks). The exercise is eerily reminiscent of the music industry deciding to sue its customers, only this time Apple is feuding with a rival which happens to build a lot of its components. The only guarantee? The customers will suffer ...

Phew, and we haven't even got on to doing the rounds of the commentariat, or what's happening in their world, or mentioning the demise of Derryn Hinch. (3AW presenter Derryn Hinch fired). Waiter, bring me ten wooden stakes, moistened with cloves of garlic and the purest of silver. The pond just wants to make sure ...

Hinch's latest trick was to head off to court to defend his right not to vote - or so mUmBRELLA says. The pond suggests Hinch head off to Russia, where the right to vote is the right to participate in a totally meaningless display of support for Putin ...

And while we're at it, let's pause just to record the joy of Grahame Morris calling Leigh Sales a "cow". What a feral pit bull the lad is, how classy (Lib strategist sorry for calling journalist 'cow', forced video at end of link).

He's welcome on the pond any time, we need classy examples of how to lower the tone of the political discourse ... not that we'd resort to calling him a fat frump of a dinosaur - that's for other low rent sites - we'd much prefer just to note he's an exemplar that any Sydney Anglican would be proud to vote for. Submit cows, and serve your masters, or some such thing ... (Crikey says: cows and dinosaurs, behind the paywall).

In relation to Morris, can we just record a doozy by Andrew "the Bolter" Bolt in relation to the matter, as the Bolter got agitated and lathered up by the ABC and the mention of dinosaurs (Sexist attack by ABC on respected veteran):


Note how unsubtly The Age wove this in with Julia Gillard’s red herring about Larry Pickering and the Labor’s fraudulent attack on Tony Abbott’s alleged sexism.
The few undergraduates left at the paper are turning it into a university student paper in their frantic efforts to tear Abbott down.

CORRECTION: The copy was written by AAP. Apologies to The Age.

It must be awesome to be an error-laden fool, quick to abuse, and then forced to make a dull, leaden apology.

Oops, is that sexist, deviant Age and ABC thinking?

So it's on to the commentariat, and here's the thing of immediate concern to the pond. Lately the papers have been full of news that the sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has melted to the smallest level ever recorded (Arctic ice melts to record low: scientists).

Usually and often in unison, brave members of the scientifically expert and eminently qualified commentariat have in the past stepped forward to explain how shrinking ice caps is the work of fraudulent grant-devouring scientists involved in a vast international conspiracy, perhaps involving the United Nations or even a cartel of bankers.

But lately the commentariat has been distracted. Today for example Janet Albrechtsen is busy explaining how the Fair Work Act is a legal nightmare, and how there exists the odd just judge because they agree with Albrechtsen (The just judge gets full marks behind the paywall).

Other pundits at The Australian are cock a hoop at the dumping of the floor price for carbon:

There's simply no time to consider whether the Arctic sea ice is in pain.

If it wants to sulk, let it sulk, if it wants to melt, why then let it melt ...

Perhaps the most preeminent scientific expert - he'll give you an opinion sourced from AAP at the drop of a hat - Andrew "the Bolter" Bolt is also away with the pixies.

Today, amongst other pressing matters, he's concerned with the damage being done by the carbon tax, recycling the thoughts of Dennis Shanahan and Terry McCrann (hello, little Sir Echo, hello echo chamber, hello) in The carbon tax just became another damaging tax grab.

Tragic really. The Bolter has spent years assuring the world that the Arctic ice is doing fine, but just when it needs a little care and loving attention and reassurance, he goes missing in action.

What about Miranda the Devine then? She sat at the feet of Lord Monckton and supped at his font of knowledge so many times. Nope, in the latest of her intermittent communications, she's agitated by union thugs (Union thugs - what a surprise).

How about Piers "Akker Dakker" Akerman, always keen-eyed when it comes to a UN conspiracy? Nope, Akker Dakker's off sorting out the refugee crisis in Repair broken boat bridge.

At long last, desperate for the ice, the pond resorted to the punch-drunk Punch.

Only to find Sophie Mirabella scribbling Who will make the next giant leap for mankind?

Amazingly Mirabella spends her entire column brooding about space travel without once mentioning the way conservative creationist Republican tea party luddites have done more to reduce the collective intelligence of the United States in the past decade than Mirabella has managed to achieve for Australia ... but she's working on it. (as they are in the United States, as you can read in Bill Nye 'The Science Guy' Debunks Creationism, Gets Killed Off By Twitter).

Back to the Mirabella vision:

This year marks 40 years since man last stood on the moon – yes, it’s been that long. It’s worth pausing to think about what sort of human endeavours will enrich mankind in the future.

Uh huh. Damned if it will be climate science, or scientists braving the chill winds of the north and south poles to help discover what makes the world tick:

Are our children being imbued with that same sense of wonder and willingness to take risks to discover new horizons? Has our connectivity made the world so much smaller that exploration seems pointless or passé? Is our society so risk-adverse that adventure is now just imaginary fodder for books and movies? Are our kids so continually bombarded with the “reduce, conserve” message that quests for expansion or exploration now have negative connotations?

Conserve? Bah humbug, I spit on your petty conservationist ways. What we need is epic destruction, quests for expansion, lebensraum, the fight for ultimate victory, ultimate triumph of the will ...

Mirabella will be fondly remembered for her berating of climate scientists for being dubious untrustworthy sooks:

The carbon tax debate is important and should be conducted without hysterics. The apparently false allegation of death threats have diminished the individuals involved and reflect poorly on the scientific community. (Explanation needed from chief scientist).

A simple summary of simple-minded thinking? Neil Armstrong wonderful, space exploration wonderful, more vision needed, climate scientists casting shadows, not making honest disclosures, telling porkies, indulging in hysterics, making false allegations ...

Oh bugger off Arctic ice, you'll just have to take care of yourself.

Ms Mirabella has no time for actual observed events in the real world.

Let's join with her in a messianic quest for expansion, and to the conquest of Mars in the name of earth.

Oops, that sounds a little too UN. As if we live on a planet where the Arctic ice seems to be under stress.

Well then, in the name of the good citizens of Indi and their fearless expansionist leader Sophie Mirabella ...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Got your top hat and your glass topped up, because today we're doing a toast to John Kerr, thanks to Gerard Henderson ...

(Above: found here in a site dedicated to the dismissal).

Happily once a decent time has passed, the AFR paywall lifts and Mark Latham's lunches are revealed to the world in all their glowing glory.

So it is that the average punter can access the thoughts of Robert Manne, as channeled by Latham, sorted over two vegetable soups, spring rolls, steamed scallops with vegetables, roast duck, fried rice and two Vietnamese teas for the grand spend of $63 at the BBQ House Seafood Restaurant 240 Victoria Street, Richmond ... (A home away from home for the pond).

Since today is prattling Polonius day, let's get things off with a bang, as Manne and Latham brood about said Prufrock:

His most persistent critic is the Sydney Institute's Gerard Henderson, who blogs every Friday on a series of imagined Manne atrocities. Henderson is notoriously precious in his exchanges with other people, reaching into his encyclopaedic filing system to even the score with rivals who might have crossed him any time in the past 50 years. And so it is with Manne.
As he tells the story, "Gerard and I were at Melbourne University together in the late 1960s. He was known very much as Santa's man on campus, an acolyte of B. A. Santamaria. He submitted an article to the university magazine for which I was one of three co-editors. I actually wanted to run it but the other two editors didn't like it. Ultimately, the piece was rejected and Gerard, quite incorrectly, blamed me. For many years I didn't even realise he hated me, but that's Henderson for you."
Some years ago Anne Henderson, Gerard's wife and the deputy director of the Sydney Institute, wrote a book called Getting Even. For Gerard, it could easily be biographical, a neat precis of his outlook on life. For anyone who doubts Gerard's capacity for revenge, Manne's recollections are instructive. Like most rivalries, this one is laced with jealousy. Henderson detests Manne's reputation as Australia's leading public intellectual, while Gerard himself languishes in the nit-picking trivia of his Friday blog. (and if you want the rest of Latham's self- and Manne-congratulatory effort, you can find it here under the header Robert Manne is all we have left).

Naturally pompous Polonius found the bait irresistible, and found the time to respond.

Truly if he were a trout, he'd provide no sport at all, as he furiously fired off Manne and Latham's false claims and nonsense.

The silly goose - or should that be the desiccated coconut - spends a good deal of time in his letter suggesting there was no enmity between him and Manne in the eighties and early nineties, and no envy or spite in relation to Manne, which makes you wonder if Hendo actually reads his own relentless tirades about Manne.

Naturally he refutes all imputations about Anne Henderson's book as ridiculous, and he also blathers on about how the article rejected by the Manne troika was picked up by James McAuley for Quadant, "a much more influential magazine than MUM" (yes, even in denying a point, hapless Polonius can't help revealing himself as a pompous prat).

Now here's the strange thing. The cruellest cut in the Latham/Manne conversation is the reference to Henderson being a lap poodle of B. A. Santamaria - the bit that runs He was known very much as Santa's man on campus, an acolyte of B. A. Santamaria.

No defence? No resistance? An acolyte of a barking mad Catholic fundamentalist? Or is it guilty as charged?

No wonder Henderson has trouble getting two coherent thoughts together in a single sentence, yet he has the cheek to talk of Latham and Manne as inconsistent thinkers.

Does he really think it constitutes a defence of Anne Henderson's book to propose that the title was suggested by the publisher HarperCollins? What on earth has that got to do with anything? It's a joke, about someone of precious hue, who's always intent on getting even. To the point of acting like a salmon and sending a missive to the editor of the AFR, trying yet again to get even ...

So it goes, and so today, we have yet another peculiar insight into the thinking of Gerard Henderson, as unveiled by Left closes ranks to consign Kerr to wrong side of history.

What's so peculiar? Well for starters there's a kind of puffery and self-esteem at work, right up there with Mark Latham.

Polonius is indignant that upstart Jenny Hocking has dared to step on to the hallowed turf of Henderson, and the matter of Sir John Kerr and the dismissal. He revealed all two decades ago, it was all Gerard, Gerard, Gerard!

My revelation that Mason was the third man in the dismissal was published in the Herald on January 8, 1994 and received wide coverage. Before submitting the piece, I wrote to Mason advising what I proposed to do. His office acknowledged receipt of my letter and expressed thanks for giving advanced warning. Later I corresponded with Whitlam about this.

Me, me, me, I, I, I ...

Now the naughty Hocking has muddied the waters, stirred things up, and brought Mason out of the closet, stealing Gerard's thunder! (Mason speaks out on dismissal, forced video at end of link).

It's just so wrong, so unfair. So let's have a barrel of nit-picking snidery discharged in the direction of Mason:

Mason recalls that he told Kerr he should warn Whitlam of his intentions. Kerr never said this to me and Hocking has found no such recollection in Kerr's papers. Since Kerr died in 1991, his attitude on this matter will never be heard.

Uh huh. That damn Mason. Could he be involved in a perverted leftist conspiracy to consign Kerr to the wrong side of history, and without the drunkard around to defend himself?

Well it would be a bit rich of Henderson to accuse Mason of lying or disremembering, so he has to turn his double-barreled buckshot of spleen and envy on someone else. Come on down Jenny Hocking:

Hocking is the Left's bespoke biographer who has published adoring accounts of such left-wing identities as author Frank Hardy, politician and judge Lionel Murphy and Whitlam. In a number of soft ABC interviews yesterday, Hocking described Kerr as a "weak man" with "an animated concern for his own position".

Oh no, Ms Hocking, you spoke to the ABC! You know they're notoriously soft and leftist.

The mere fact that you speak the obvious about Kerr, a weak man, and a bit of a vain peacock with an animated concern for his own position - just look at his love of fancy toff clobber - is simply neither here nor there.

No doubt it's sad that Kerr, always a bit of a tosspot, eked out his remaining years in London, where he could be seen most days, usually the worse for wear, at one or other gentleman's club, but them's the breaks (here at his wiki).

But do go on Mr. Henderson, worship your idol:

The latter reference was a comment on Kerr's expressed concern that, if he gave warning that he intended to dismiss Whitlam for attempting to govern without supply (i.e. money), Whitlam would have advised the Queen to sack him first.
This was not a question of self-preservation. In his conversations with me, Kerr made it very clear that he was desperate not to involve Buckingham Palace in an Australian political dispute. There is little doubt that Whitlam would have moved against Kerr if he had been consulted by Kerr along the lines Mason suggests. In the climate of 1975, this would have caused a constitutional crisis and possible political disorder.

Uh huh. So thanks to John Kerr there was no constitutional crisis and no political disorder. And in your alternative universe, Buck Rogers meets the Martians ...

And so Malcolm Fraser came slouching towards Bethlehem, and as an ultimate payback, now torments Henderson weekly with his leftist attitudes and pronouncements.

There's an irony in there somewhere.

But let's get back to embittered unhappy Henderson, still fighting the dismissal wars some 37 years after they started. Is that a giant massive chip on the shoulder or what?

Hocking's attacks on Kerr should not detract from one central matter. The dismissal resulted from the fact that the opposition leader, Malcolm Fraser, blocked supply and Whitlam attempted to govern without supply. Yet today Whitlam and Fraser are left-wing heroes while Kerr is criticised for doing his duty and resolving the impasse by dismissing Whitlam and ordering Fraser to conduct an immediate double dissolution election.

Yes, in Henderson's bizarro world, Fraser is part of the left-wing conspiracy, and poor old Kerr is posthumously persecuted for just doing his duty while inclined to a drink or three.

Back in the day of course it was understood to be not so much a resolution of an impasse as a rewarding of Fraser for his obstructionist conduct. And a critique of the Whitlam government, which deserved a critique but which had also recently been re-elected ...

How silly to situate a political discussion in the political realities of the time, and how silly not to realise the doofus in the middle was blind-sided by Fraser ...

Does it say something about Henderson that he approves dissembling and subterfuge, and Kerr not having the balls to front Whitlam and stare him down, as Mason said he proposed?

Might Kerr even have rung Malcolm Fraser an hour before doing the dirty deed of the dismissal, to tip him off, as Fraser has claimed? No straight bat or derring do from this man ...

It goes to the character of Kerr, and perhaps it might also go to the character of Henderson as he yammers on yet again about the ABC, the left and the history wars, which now strangely include Sir Anthony Mason on the wrong side ...

Phew, after that, the pond feels like a sit down slap-up meal.

How about we start with a serve of goi cuon, before moving on to heo rang muoi and bo tai me (just love that rare beef with mint and tamarind dressing). It ain't Victoria Road in glorious Richmond, but the Thanh Binh in King street Newtown should see you right.

And remember to raise a glass and drink to the ABC, Anthony Mason and Malcolm Fraser, those heroes of the leftist class struggle ...

(Below: and now let's go to the races with Sir John and get a little tipsy).

The Sydney Anglicans, a storm in a teacup in a nineteen fifties kitchen ...

The cri de coeur from Sydney Anglicans about failing so often is on another matter than the recent news that to be a married Anglican woman you need to be a submissive woman.

But still it does evoke the sublime irrelevance of the church to the goings on about town.

Oh sure there was a flurry of letters in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning about the new submissive Anglican wedding vows, with Anglicans in an 18th-century frame of mind setting the pace.

The pond forgives the correspondent - Anglicans in a first century frame of mind doesn't have quite the same ring to it, when the point is that the Anglicans want to head back to women doing needlework in best eighteenth century style.

As you'd expect, in the name of balance, there were also a few favourable letters, strangely from gender traitors, who didn't seem to mind submitting to the Jensenist heresy.

The tone evoked for the pond the pleasure of reading a Fairfax rag from the nineteen fifties.

Then Julia Baird took the whole thing seriously, and scribbled No place for spirited women.

Amazingly Baird is listed as a former member of Sydney Anglican synod and the Movement for the Ordination of Women, but she did at least allow for risibility as a response:

...does it matter, in a broader cultural context, that there is a deep strain of misogyny in Anglicanism, and women are still described as subordinates? Is it just a private matter of belief? Or just arcane, irrelevant and even risible?

Yes, yes, yes and yes. The Sydney Anglicans can't possibly be taken seriously, and there's no point debating their misogyny with them, and the only sensible, feasible response is laughter.

There's a fine flurry of comments below Baird's piece, but when you go looking for other responses, the intertubes is silent.

There's unhappiness about the death of Neil Armstrong, or Lance Armstrong being called a drug cheat, but nobody seems to mind or to care about the latest Anglican folly.

The drift into irrelevance is strong, the tendency towards cultism seemingly irreversible, the possibility of a reversal and a reaching out highly unlikely.

And the Sydney Anglican website is itself wreathed in navel-gazing silence about the issue.

The role of women? Why not try instead Phillip Jensen's Apologetic Evangelism ... An Oxymoron?

If ever you wanted an epic gobbledegook call to conservative arms, Jensen's piece is just for you.

Defiance is the key, and let's not have any post-modernist suggestion that the bible is multi-layered, written by a variety of authors with different agendas, and open to all sorts of conflicting interpretations, many of them embedded in conflicting textual points:

Paul did not apologise for being a Christian but he used apologetics as he preached the gospel. He rejoiced with the Philippians in both the ”defence and confirmation of the gospel” (Phil 1:7). He argued and dialogued with the opponents of the gospel. In Acts, his evangelistic work is described as involving arguing, reasoning and persuading - as for example in Ephesus where “he spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading” in the synagogue and then reasoned daily in the hall of Tyrannus (Acts 19:8f). In his relationship with the Corinthians he speaks of destroying “arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” and taking “every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Submit you heathens!

Put it another way. Baird and any other woman wanting a debate with a Jensenist should either submit or walk away before they cop a serve of triumphalism. No need to apologise if you think you're on the money:

This was not apologising for dividing the synagogue community or for offending other people’s religion or for calling people callous, greedy and impure (Ephesians 4:19). Paul’s apologetics was not apologising for the gospel or its effects upon people – there was nothing to apologise about in the gospel. His apologetics were a form of arguing and answering objections as he declared the truth of the gospel, and through this he showed the folly of rejecting it or embracing other views. In this he was no different to his saviour, who made no apology for speaking the offensive truth boldly.

And no need to think you might be fallible in your thinking, or your interpretation of the bible, not when the language of humble uncertainty is just a way of disguising an almost megalomaniacal certainty:

In adopting today’s language of humble uncertainty, we may be denying our own message. For we may be agreeing with the moderns’ arrogance that God is answerable to human reason rather than human reason being answerable to God; and confirming the post-moderns’ irrational relativism that everything is just a matter of opinion and God is answerable to me.
Is speaking with humble apology a genuine attempt at “being all things to all people”, or is it a mask for our embarrassment about the Gospel?

Yep, there's no embarrassment for a Jensenist turning back the clock. All the way back:

It is not triumphalism, but the truth that Jesus liberates us to live different – and better – lives than we were living when we were in “the domain of darkness”.
Evangelism doesn't simply speak the truth, it also changes lives and societies; from worse to better ...

And women from people with minds of their own to submissive, amenable, pliable, malleable, ductile, soft, receptive and agreeable creatures (per Baird).

And that, you have to believe, is taking the world from worse to better, as we all go back to the past ...

No thanks, but what rich comedy, because living as a Sydney Anglican means living in a time warp or perhaps a time capsule, changing lives and societies back to Judea in the first century.

Or perhaps to a Sydney Anglican dreamtime. Evoke it for us, Sydney Anglicans' graphic artist:

The pond takes to pooper-scooping like Campbell Newman or a duck takes to water ...

(Above: a pooch pooper-scooping poo. It seems it's a Queensland thing, since it was found here at Dogmatic councillors argue over who cleans up the mess).

Okay, let's get the parochial rant out of the way first.

There's the pond sitting down, innocently watching a little ambulance chasing on the news, and up pops a harmless feel good story about Bazza O'Farrell flinging a little cash at PCYCs (why there's even a new one planned for that depressed area of Dee Why, probably depressed because of its proximity to Tony Abbott's electorate).

The theory is that idle youffs, instead of punching people in the streets, go off to the gym to punch punching bags, helped along by your local friendly, cheerful fuzz.

Who knows if it will work, but where's the harm? It's better than the usual right wing sabre- rattling about locking them all up and flinging away the key.

So what does John Robertson, alleged head of opposition, and a rump once known as the NSW state Labor party do?

Why he turns up on the very same news story glowering and saying the only way to combat crime is to have more heavy-handed plods on the street, the implication being that the youffs of today just need to be locked up (and the key flung away).

Combative nattering negativity right out of the Dr. No handbook.

Robertson could have sounded positive, he could have said something nimble. Like how street crime is out of control and how preventative strategies are very important and how the O'Farrell government has failed to take them seriously, unlike the rump known as the Labor party, which believes prevention is better than cure, and better than flooding the streets with fuzz and Orwellian cameras.

At least attempt to sound intelligent and responsive, instead of delivering a thirty second sound bite worthy of a Republican.

Instead Robertson preferred to sound like a head-kicking, hard-hatted union doofus boofhead. Or Tony Abbott ...

Uh huh. It's these little details that count, and by counting this detail, it seems to the pond that NSW Labor (the rump that is) is destined to spend much longer in the wilderness, no matter if the weekend by-election in a safe seat delivered a little gee-up.

Why are politicians inclined to be in the half-empty school? Eventually it catches up with them, as shown by Tony "the carbon tax will destroy the world" Abbott.

And another thing. Will federal Labor learn anything about the NT Intervention from the results in the NT election? Will they finally take seriously the complaints about the continuation of a policy initiated by that prime gruff, Mal "the rough" Brough? Or will they plough on regardless, without pause?

Naturally federal Labor will seek to distance themselves from the loss, but the reality is that federal and state policies are more closely entwined as a result of the intervention.

For that matter will Abbott and Brough learn anything? Will Abbott commit the cardinal sin of putting a rough Brough back in the NT box seat?

The election result has produced an uneasy alliance between the CLP and bush blacks, which will see fireworks for years to come, and the pond almost wept with delight to see CLP leader Terry Mills promise to abolish the Berrimah line.

Oh that's a grand porky to begin with ... (and read about the imaginary Berrimah line here)

And another thing.

The pond last night was sitting down to watch the SBS news - on the basis that sometimes it's interesting to see more than ambulance chasing, even if it's ambulance chasing in an international setting - when what should bob up?

That's right, an extended advertorial for the second series of Go Back To Where You Came From.

Memo to SBS newsroom. The fact that SBS has made a sensationalist bit of exploitative programming out of the plight of refugees, cynically throwing the likes of Angry Anderson and Peter Reith into the mix, isn't news.

It has no place in a news service. SBS acting like a gormless commercial network, which is always incapable of distinguishing between real news and shameless self-promotion, is however news. Of the worst kind.

It's the wrong sort of blatant advertorial news. The ABC has been doing it for years, to the considerable agitation of the pond, promoting a Four Corners story here, recycling a bit of Australian Story there, but that's no reason for SBS to lower themselves to the wretched standard of the ABC. Especially as we already cop advertisements on SBS, but not enough to fund any Australian content, just recycled British quiz shows and Comrade Rex.

Consider yourselves sin-binned for the week, SBS news.

And no the pond won't be watching the show in anticipation that Reith has some sort of epiphany. He's been running his usual epistles from the far right in The Drum, long after the show was shot. There's a greater chance of Satan having an epiphany than Peter Reith ...

We've already read director Lincoln Howes breast-beating about how he pinned Reith to the wall, in To Kabul and back, no escape for Reith (forced video at end of link), but how can you take this as a sign that Reith was pinned?

Reith was unimpressed. He stormed past me on his way to the minibus and said: ''You set her up to do that. You manipulated it.''
I responded: ''I can assure you, Peter, I had nothing to do with it. Did you really expect to come on this program and never have to talk about 'children overboard'?''
''Well, you made sure of it. Manipulating her like that. Typical of your lot with your left-wing pinko SBS agenda.''

Actually Mr. Reith it's typical of their capitalist, advertorial, "sell their news soul for a little program promotion and ratings", red state, right wing pervert agenda ...

Yep, all the show will do is get the pond agitated, and frothing and foaming.

As SBS's news service has already managed.

Consider your entire network sinbinned SBS. And now you've lost the pond as a viewer, make sure you don't lose your other viewer, or the asterisks will swamp the ratings …

Finally, what joy it is to watch Campbell Newman in action. Single-handedly the man is restoring the fortunes of state Labor (and in a collateral way the hopes of federal Labor) in Queensland.

His latest effort has even attracted the attention of we Mexicans down south. After calling the state a Spain in bankrupt action, his latest verbal flurry has been to label public servants and their jobs a form of dog poo:

''We get the pooper scooper out every day of the week,'' said Newman as he sought to justify the need to clean up after Labor. Newman has already sacked 4500 public servants. He is tipped to sack another 15,500 in his budget next month. (Abrasive Newman gives Labor a lift)

Human beans as dog shit.

Newman is a great indicator of the way a Tony Abbott government will likely function. Erratic, ideological, ambitious and deluded. And at last it's dawned on the federal Labor government that they could make hay while the Newman pooper-scooper goes about its business, flushing people down the toilet. (Federal Labor uses Campbell Newman's job cuts to raise fear of Tony Abbott-led government).

Yep, there's Newman and Abbott chortling as they compare pooper-scoopers:

It's made reading the Courier-Mail quite the fun and necessary thing at the pond. Here's their front page digital splash today ...

Phew ...

What a relief there's a story about Ned Kelly's skull, a Queensland mansion and some tasty models to relieve the tortured state.

The deep north rag is abuzz with shock horror and analysis. Why there's Steven Wardill proposing that Clueless Newman should look south.

Ye ancient cats and dogs, Wardill wants Newman to be more like Jeff Kennett! Wouldn't it be simpler to suggest he model himself after a wrecking ball? Oh wait, he already has. It seems Kennett's the Queenslander model for sensible reform ...

Go Queenslanders ...

Oh they do political comedy well in Queensland. And the next round is a union advertising blitz, as outlined in Together union accuses Campbell Newman of trickery in $500,000 advertising blitz.

Newman is no doubt thinking that all the has to do is the hard yards and the slashing and the burning now, and in a year everyone will have forgotten about it. Well everyone except those who've lost their jobs. But that assumes he'll be turning the state economy around as a result of the slashing and burning.

Do people easily forget being called dog shit, which needs to be scraped off the pavement with a handy pooper-scooper? Perhaps only in Queensland, or perhaps not at all ...

Finally there's been a temptation on the part of many to note how Hurricane Isaac is definitive proof that god doesn't like the Republican party and Mitt Romney.

It's a retort to the ill-mannered ways of stupid Christians who went around alleging that events like Hurricane Katrina was god's punishment of New Orleans for having gays and the mardi gras and voodoo and really good funky blues and jazz in their midst.

And for all we know about the mind of god, it might well be true. But Isaac is another natural disaster, given top of the page treatment by sites like the Huffington Post:

There's no need to replicate the epic stupidity of fundie Christians in relation to the causes and effects of natural disasters.

Natural disasters are natural disasters, and you'd hope in time that stupid fundie Christians come to realise it, instead of idle point scoring in a way reminiscent of witch doctors playing on superstition in the darkest of ages .

So despite the enormous temptation, no cheap point scoring from the pond ...

All very well, you say, but is there any upside, a ray of light or hope in today's gaggle of messes?

Well yes, the pond scoured the opinion pages of Fairfax, and it seems Paul "Chicken Little" "the sky is falling" "General Grumpy" "Colonel Gloom" Sheehan has gone missing ...

Now that should put a spring into your step as you stride into the day ... unless of course you're in the path of a hurricane or Campbell Newman, in which case the pond wishes you good luck and the hope that the storm swerves around you and your loved ones ...

(Below: Pat Robertson makes assorted weather predictions).

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Polling in the ABC "Drum" style, banging away in the wind ...

A tip of the hat and a wag of the finger to Russ, for drawing the pond's attention to the ABC's idea of polling.

Perhaps all those jokes about the tendency of the ABC to emulate the dear leader of North Korea are right.

Have your vote, have your say, just make sure you submit the right vote.

Or perhaps Russ was right, and it's a devious attempt to exclude Dr. No and his acolytes from answering.

Anyhoo, thus far, the yes's stupendously outweigh the neighs ...

Thanks Russ, lordy how a Sunday passes pleasantly with a smile on the dial ...

A bag of mixed Christian lollies for a Sunday, from a Catholic denialist sherbet to a trinitarian all-day sucker to a Mormon bullseye ...

(Above: eek, watch out Harry, the beasts and the Medowie Christian School are out to get you).

And so to our usual Sunday tour of Christian eccentricities.

Pride of place this week must go to Medowie Christian School, located in the Hunter Valley, which marked book week by banning Harry Potter garb, for fear the children might be introduced to witches, warlocks and wizards:

Ms Van de Mortel said the Harry Potter series, which is about witches and wizards, was not available in the school library because it had been the subject of many international debates.

Indeed. Shocking to imagine a book subject to international debate! Books should be debate-free!

And Lisa Taylor chimed in with a most incisive point:

"In the lead up to Halloween the shops are full of so many grotesque, frightening costumes and I've got two little boys," she said. "It's supposed to be a celebration of literature." (Harry Potter banned by Christian school).

Yes, indeed. A celebration of literature. Excluding the bible, of course, which is perhaps the most amazing collection of grotesque, fanciful stories about ghosts, ghoulies, angels, devils, Satan, crucifixions, and risings from the dead (way better than a vampire flick), genocidal murder, rape, pillage, burning bushes, demons, the anti-Christ, plagues, rivers turning red with blood ... and yadda yadda, more than enough to appeal to that showman Cecil B. DeMille ...

It goes without saying that that the Medowie Christian School has been regularly sucking at the teat of state and federal government taxpayer support since its foundation. And its statement of faith is a classic (pdf the full text here):

k) We believe in water baptism and the sharing of Communion.
l) We believe in the existence of Satan and the reality of spiritual warfare.
m) We believe in all the works and gifts of the Holy Spirit according to the biblical witness.
n) We recognise the jurisdiction of civil authorities except in matters conflicting with the biblical witness and/or conscience.
Note: These doctrines are intended as evangelical interpretations of the Old and New Testaments. Where further clarification is required, the 1979 Baptist Statement of Faith should be consulted.

Your educational taxpayer dollars at work. Hallelujah. Well done wild rocker Peter "Short Memory" Garrett ...

And by golly they can spring for a fancy flash intro to the website. Caught out right there. Don't they realise that Flash is the devil's work?

What next? Well a poignant lengthy profile of Jerry DeWitt in the New York Times, under the header From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader is well worth a read.

DeWitt was an evangelical preacher in the small town of DeRidder, La., when he lost his faith, and rather than pretend, he outed himself to family and friends, with dire consequences to his marriage, his job, and his home ownership.

The pond can sympathise with what it's like to be out of step with other people in a small town (oh Tamworth, Tamworth, what a heartbreaker you are), but the funny thing is that being an evangelical preacher, DeWitt did what seemed right and proper by becoming an evangelical in the cause of atheism.

It's a curious journey, treated with sympathy and understanding and insight by reporter Robert F. Worth, especially when it comes to dealing with the trauma of DeWitt in relation to his love of the people and the place, and the trappings of his lost faith

“Religion does a lot of good, especially the loving kind, like at Grace Church,” he said. “I know people who went to a more liberal kind of Christianity and were happy with that. The problem is, for me, there was a process involved in moving from Pentecostalism to a more liberal theology, like Grace Church. What makes me different is that process didn’t stop, and it took me all the way. In the end, I couldn’t help feeling that all religion, even the most loving kind, is just a speed bump in the progress of the human race.”

Amen, brother. The pond isn't big on evangelising - live and let live, and just leave the pond and gay marriage and women's rights alone - but when fundies get to banning Harry Potter, it's time to make a stand. Next thing you know Santa Claus will be on the hit list because of his willingness to share his North pole retreat with Superman ...

What next? Well the Sydney Anglicans have attracted attention with yet another epic effort to role back the clock on women's rights, as celebrated in To love and to submit: a marriage made in 2012:

Brides will be promising to submit to their husbands under a new marriage vow the Anglican diocese of Sydney is expected to approve at its synod in October.
It requires the minister to ask of the bride: ''Will you honour and submit to him, as the church submits to Christ?'' and for her to pledge ''to love and submit'' to her husband.

Truly the Jensenist fundies are off in a la la theological world of their own. Naturally it produced a few snappy responses about the patriarchy and bad theology and derogatory wording, but it's enough already for the pond to think for a nanosecond about submitting to a Sydney Anglican. Eek, nightmares for a week.

Mr Judd, 27, who is studying to be a minister, said a Christian marriage was akin to dancing: ''The male always leads, even if he's not necessarily the best dancer … as long as you take the definition of male leadership that we're operating on, which is giving yourself up and putting others' interests ahead of yourself.''

And an agony of stubbed toes and trodden-on feet for a lifetime. No thanks.

Strong is the spirit of Todd Akins style fundie Republicanism in Sydney Anglicans.

Or perhaps Fifty Shades of Grey?

Not likely, they don't have the imagination, but the pond would like to let loose a femdom amongst them. Just for fun.

Meanwhile, instead of finishing off his seven epic sins of Sydney, Michael Jensen fudges with a review of a book by Sam Allberry, The Trinity: what's the point?

Trinitarianism is as absurd as transubstantiation, and it never fails to amaze the pond how Sydney Anglicans can swallow a three-way elephant while baulking at a crackers camel. All the same, it provides an epic moment of Jensenist gobbledegook:

Human beings resemble God the Trinity in many ways, but crucially not in others. For example, we are embodied; God is Spirit.

Except of course that God was embodied in Jesus. But do go on:

Our unity with each other in marriage and in church is not exactly the same as the divine unity, though it resembles it. Likewise, the pattern of gender relationships that Allberry explores, is not to be simply understood as a direct analogy between the relationship of the Father and the Son. Also, while it is true that God is in eternity as he is towards us in history, it is also true that God is not simply as he is reveals himself to us in history.

Phew. What a slippery, tricky fish this long absent god is ...maybe more like an eel than a fish.

There are a few other distractions on offer - Jodie McNeill is tortured by ugg boots and tracky dacks in The call of casual Christianity - but really the best own goal of the week has been the splendid work of Cardinal George Pell, as outlined in George Pell puts abuse at arm's length (paywall protected):

Australia's most senior Catholic, Sydney Archbishop George Pell, has authorised an extraordinary 4000-word statement publicly distancing himself from responsibility for the church's mishandling of sexual abuse investigations around the country.

It's an old riff, but a goody. There's no head of the church, no one to accept responsibility, no one with Australia wide authority, no way to sue, etc etc. While at the same time you can't stop the average Catholic priest from yammering on about personal responsibility and personal guilt:

"The church is very clever in dividing the different dioceses around Australia. It means that if a priest has molested a child in diocese A, and only that diocese's bishop can do something about it, he is able to transfer the priest to diocese B and not tell the bishop there," he told The Australian.
Dr Keon-Cohen said the NSW Supreme Court in 2006 held the church cannot itself be sued, and litigants who are successful against individual priests are unable to win significant damages, as church assets are "concealed behind a corporate veil of property trusts".

Oh yes, as Keon-Cohen points out, it's right up there with the tobacco companies. Or companies who've set themselves up in nice tax havens in the Bahamas. Your friendly local tax-dodging church at work ...

Here's how you wash your paws in a bowl of water, in best Pellist style, as explained in Countering Sexual Abuse:

As Cardinal I am not the head of the church in Australia. My authority is limited to the Archdiocese of Sydney. The Catholic Church does not have a state or national general manager. There is a division of responsibility in the Church somewhat like the separation of powers in a democracy. Each diocesan bishop supervises his own priests and church workers.

Yep, I'm not the king of the dirty castle, you can't get me.

And a further irony? In his homily for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Pell had this thought to offer:

We all know that it is no defence legally for someone travelling over the speed limit to reply that he was only following the traffic, part of a group, all of whom were travelling at the same speed.

Uh huh. But what if I'm not responsible for any of the other drivers? After all, I'm only a cardinal, nothing to do with me, if they get caught it's their tough luck for not knowing how to set up a decent defence and a handy corporate tax-free structure, so if the children suffer when they come unto me, they can just bugger off ...

That just leaves enough time to note a recent piece by Adam Gopnik for The New Yorker, I, Nephi Mormonism, giving context to the LDS and its meanings (currently outside the paywall).

Gopnik writes the way the pond would like to write, and right at the moment, as he notes Mormonism is everywhere, what with one of its leading members aiming to be President of the United States.

It's a bizarre, concocted religion, with strange beliefs (anyone want a planet of their own?), made up in the nineteenth century the way scientology was made up in the twentieth (a remark, as Gopnik notes, guaranteed to get teeth on edge).

Gopnik covers all the bases in a sympathetic way and with just the right edge. Here's a taster:

Scholarly opinion on Smith now tends to divide between those who think that he knew he was making it up and those who think that he sincerely believed in his own visions—though the truth is that, as Melville’s “Confidence Man” reminds us, the line between the seer and the scamster wasn’t clearly marked in early-nineteenth-century America. Mark Twain read the Book of Mormon and, knowing what Smith would have read, not to mention knowing about frontier fakery, came to conclusions about both the sources of its prose and the sequence of its composition:

The book seems to be merely a prosy detail of imaginary history, with the Old Testament for a model; followed by a tedious plagiarism of the New Testament. The author labored to give his words and phrases the quaint, old-fashioned sound and structure of our King James’s translation of the Scriptures; and the result is a mongrel—half modern glibness, and half ancient simplicity and gravity. The latter is awkward and constrained; the former natural, but grotesque by the contrast. Whenever he found his speech growing too modern—which was about every sentence or two—he ladled in a few such Scriptural phrases as “exceeding sore,” “and it came to pass,” etc., and made things satisfactory again. “And it came to pass” was his pet. If he had left that out, his Bible would have been only a pamphlet.

The pond must be one of the few, apart from Twain and thee, who've actually read the wretched inflated absurd thing. As Gopnik notes:

The powers that possession of the Book of Mormon conferred mattered more than the doctrines that it contained. “Rarely did missionaries draw on the verses and stories of the Book of Mormon in sermons,” Bowman explains. “Rather, they brandished the book as tangible proof of Joseph Smith’s divine calling.” Some holy texts, the Gospels, for instance, are evangelical instruments meant to convert people who read them; others are sacred objects meant to be venerated. The Book of Mormon is a book of the second sort. As the French religious historian Jean-Christophe Attias points out, in traditional Judaism the physical presence of the Scripture is at least as important as its content: when the Torah is unrolled during the service, it’s meant to be admired, not apprehended. That the Mormons had a book of their own counted for almost as much as what the Book of Mormon said.

The New Yorker recently had a presence at the Melbourne Writers' Festival. They seem to have finally realised that there's a market in Australia for signs that wit and intelligence still live in the United States (none in the current crop of Republicans, but any sign will do, especially when done Gopnik well).

Gopnik is particularly fine on why Mitt Romney is a flip flopper - the whole religion routinely flip flops (sssh don't mention the blacks) - and why adherents just love to make money:

Elsewhere among the Western democracies, the bursting of the last bubble has led to doubts about the system that blows them. Here the people who seem likely to inherit power are those who want to blow still bigger ones, who believe in the bubble even after it has burst, and who hold its perfection as a faith so gleaming and secure and unbreakable that it might once have been written down somewhere by angels, on solid-gold plates.

Oh yes, a holy salutation unto Mr. Gopnik for providing a fine meditation on the bizarre world of exceptionalist native American Mormonism ...

And so ends the readings for the week.

(Below: Harry Potter? Eat your heart out, William Blake knew how to draw a damn fine demonic diabolical biblical beast, fierce enough to make the Medowie Christian School quiver and quake with fear).

Now if you've managed, by a Herculean feat, to get this far, here's a bonus, David Letterman's ten excuses for Kevin Yoder, committed Christian, skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee. (Politico broke the yarn here). There should be more of it. Come on Sydney Anglicans, come on. Don't let Republican Christians steal a march, get down to Bondi and do some skinny dipping. Dorothy promises to watch submissively, while finalising the epic tale of an ancient tribe of Israelites who landed in Australia just before Christ ascended to heaven. If you need any good excuses, here they are: