Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Stay Tuned

APOLOGIES, seriously, for going on about Fairfax lately, but the company’s antics really do make it difficult to turn away. This morning on 3AW, which is owned by Fairfax, compere Neil Mitchell mentioned in passing that a carbon tax may boost domestic electricity prices by 30%. This ticked off Green Establishment spokesman and alarmist for all seasons Adam Morton, who moonlights as the Phage’s environmental reporter. Morton next launched into a series of mildly indignant tweets, one of which Mitchell answered thus:
adamlmorton Adam Morton
@3AWNeilMitchell Where does the 30% increase in electricity bills over 3 years under a carbon tax figure come from?
in reply to @adamlmorton ↑
@3AWNeilMitchell Neil Mitchell
@adamlmorton industry two weeks ago
Morton has an endangered native bush bee in his bonnet by this stage and posts a few more tweets that sum up two rival online polls, each a Fairfax endeavour. On 3AW’s site listener opinion is running against Cate Blanchett 64-36. At the Phage, a similar poll sees readers taking the actress’ side 80-20. One gathers that Morton believes the latter poll is the more righteous, and he goes on to tweet and retweet links and comments defending Blanchett, attacking the Daily Telegraph as “a meth addicted hillbilly with glazed eyes pointing a shotgun at hallucinations” and even explaining how a green reporter decides what news to report and which to filter.
adamlmorton Adam Morton
@WhyPaulHowes If you can show govt paid for ad, i'm interested. Otherwise this "debate" is all just hot air I'm afraid.
All of that is interesting, but also predictable. While Morton is habitually blind to stories that do not serve his green mates’ agenda, gve him credit for labouring publicly and proudly under those misconceptions.

@jillastark Jill Stark
@adamlmorton No reply from Mitchell yet either about your query on his power bill stats. Can't believe how unaccountable he is for nonsense.
A few years ago, before Fairfax bought 3AW, Mitchell was given to frequent and sneering dismissals of the Phage as anything but a serious newspaper, one certainly not staffed by grown-ups. That sort of criticism is not much heard these days, but tomorrow it just might be. While it can sometimes seem that Mitchell prefers to niggle and bash his staple Three Cs – Collingwood, Catholics and cartage contractors – he may well be about to expand the repertoire . Mitchell’s ego is so large it could be deemed a hazard to navigation. He will not take kindly to being branded a piffle peddler by a slip of a 20-something gal, especially one who works for the same company. 

Tomorrow should make for wonderful listening if he takes the bait – one arm of Fairfax getting stuck into another.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Insane Clown Posse -- Update

ONLY the best, the very best, of the settled science made it into The Critical Decade, in whose pages we find this reference to a recent dispatch from the hot front:

"While the instrumental record goes back little more than a century, not long enough to clearly discern multi-decadal patterns of variability that are repeated
on century timescales, palaeo studies could offer some insights into the severity of the recent drought in a longer time perspective. For example, a recent study (Gallant and Gergis 2011) states that the very low streamflow in
the River Murray for the 1998-2008 period is very rare – about a 1-in-1500 year event."

The author would be this Gallant – or Climate Ho Allie, as she is known in rap circles. Check her out at the 1:05 mark of the video, a’shouting and a’cursing and reaching out to taxpaying Australians who are, yo, down with the rap culture.

No word in The Critical Decade about how the lab bitch came up with that remarkable figure. (Hint: It has a lot to do with Balinese coral, New Zealand trees and lots of other floor sweepings from  the modern science workshop.)

If Gallant keeps putting runs on the board at this rate she could even score a Churchill Fellowship.

Lost Generation

WHAT’s the matter with young people today? What a feckless, lazy, lay a’bed lot they are. As for throwing a half-decent turn, even that is beyond them. Age forever damns youth, but seriously, can anyone who followed Dr Jim up Bourke Street refrain from laughing at today’s limp activists? The planet is staggering, Big Carbon is killing us and an Earth-saving tax simply has to be passed or we’ll all, like, you know, die, and what is the best turnout the Youth Climate Coalition can manage?

Fifty third-string understudies for any TV re-make of the Osmond Family, that’s what.

Look at this video and you pretty soon appreciate why normal, typical, surly adolescent snots want nothing to do with these warmist children. Apart from falling down en masse -- wait till the final scene for that one -- what is their idea of fun? Hunting cans in the wrong wheelie bin? A thrilling ride on public transport?  Sequestering methane by inhaling each other’s farts? At least, when hippy hair was in fashion and Malcolm Fraser was still a fascist, that earlier generation of placard-wavers could roll a decent joint. Sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll? Sucks, dregs and f***in’ coal, that is what today’s pantywaist protesters are, and what they are all about. Anyway, watch the video and despair.

Don’t you just love that bit where the kiddies fling themselves to the floor, knees gone all wobbly at the thought of a candlelit future? And did you notice, too, how almost every talking head finds just about everything and anything “amazing”, right down to and including meeting Eustace Gladhand MP. These youngsters must spend their entire lives in a state of constant astonishment if a sandwich with Wayne Swan represents one of life’s most memorable moments.

What do you do with kids like this? What do you say them? Captain Mainwaring articulates the only possible response.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Radio Daze

ONE of the few advantages of a bad back, in addition to providing a ready excuse for the odd fluffed drive off the tee, is the early hour at which discomfort banishes sleep. Rise sore before the sun, boil the jug, make the coffee and smile at feline hypocrisy as the toast turns brown. Minutes earlier the little ball of spite was savaging toes beneath the quilt, all mad black eyes and ears in killer mode, flat against an empty skull. Pass by the fridge, however, and the scourge of mice and sparrows becomes a symphony of purrs and plaintive squeaks, all the while cutting chicanes on the tiles and pleading for the morning’s saucer of fish-flavoured stinky stuff. Robert Heinlein called it right when he noted that women and cats do as they please; dogs and men need to get used to it.

With the cat preoccupied, that leaves only the radio for company, which mostly means Fairfax’s 3AW, far and away the highest-rated station in Melbourne. New Fairfax chief Greg Hywood has brought in KPMG to sell it off as part of a job lot that includes all the other stations in the company’s portfolio – part of his push, along with outsourcing sub-editors, to save his company from the consequences of a decade-or-more’s gross mismanagement. The chain should fetch around $300 million, which Hywood will probably use to pay down a mountain of debt and, if the analysts are right, boost the share price from the dismal to the merely bleak. Desperation’s game plan makes sense, as far as it goes, but on a weekend morning, as the magpies wait by the pond for their bacon scraps, it is hard to hear what is being said on air without suspecting  Hywood’s preferred course will prove to be a further misstep, and probably one of the last, before the receivers arrive. In the long and sorry saga of Fairfax stupidity this move may well prove to be the most culpable by a country mile.

Actually, it is not what is being said but who is saying it. Every Saturday morning, 3AW hosts an extended segment called Buy, Swap and Sell. Listeners call in to announce their garage sales, unload old bicycles, bedroom suites and bridal gowns. There are scores of sellers on any given weekend, and many come from places where Melbourne’s other Fairfax product, the Phage, must move copies only in the single digits. Taylors Lakes, Narre Warren, Reservoir, Werribee, Ferntree Gully – locales that were home to John Howard’s fabled battlers. In other words, places and people your typical Fairfaxista sees as dog dirt wrapped in brick veneer.

The Fairfax view, as haughtily expressed by Silly media writer Tim Dick, is that “the tenor of this type of talkback doesn't sit well with what people expect from broadsheet newspapers.” Therefore, because he and the likes of Jonathan Holmes don’t have much time for unfashionable plebs, the radio stations have to go. We all know about throwing out babies with bath water, but this is much worse. This is keeping the suds and chucking the best hope for the future.

Imagine if, instead of retreating to its black-clad, green-striped, latte-flecked comfort zone, Fairfax were to decide that its best hope hangs on an expanded, broader audience. Rather than sacking sub-editors, the first step would be to clean house of the precious-pie writers and editors who take pride in their apparent conviction that the Phage’s audience starts with admirers of David Hicks and ends at climate catastropharians. Perhaps, if Hywood were to poach, say, cartoonist Mark Knight from the rival Herald Sun, potential readers might see a sanity to balance Leunig’s twee fixation with ducks, curly flowers and his own wonderfulness. The key to that approach would be 3AW, whose audience shops at stores that advertise hardly ever, if at all, in the Phage. Go through the Saturday Phage and the most striking thing, other than the amount of time and money wasted on packaging the same old drek in a shiny new design, is the absence of those same ads. If not for the head-hunters’ executive employment listings there would be virtually no advertising in the main body of the paper.

So imagine, if you will, what opportunities might arise if  the Phage took some of its human furniture to the tip, keeping just enough to retain the existing readership. Imagine, too, that the paper recruits writers who are aware that the Monash Freeway extends much further than Hawthorn, that there is an entire, promising world of potential buyers and advertisers in those unfashionable  suburbs, including the sneered-at outer suburban ones. Get the new recruits behind a studio microphone at 3AW to talk about their scoops and stories and the idea might take root that the Phage actually cares about Middle Melbourne and shares this city’s concerns -- the yobbos on its train lines, the snarling traffic that daily ties up the Westgate Freeway all the way to Hoppers Crossing, the rip-off revenue cameras that mine millions of dollars from the pettiest speeding violations.  A few people who know that uninvited graffiti is vandalism, not art, also would come in handy, as would some fresh heads who understand that  ethnic teenage gangs in places like Noble Park demand stories about poor policing and the decline in public order, not windy essays about root causes and white Australian racism.

Hywood was hailed as the newsman Fairfax needed at the helm. He may be that and more, but if the Buy, Swap and Sellers cannot be persuaded to give the Phage another chance, Melbourne will soon be left with only one newspaper, a terrible one (apart from Andrew Bolt), and we will all be the poorer, starting with Fairfax stockholders. Even a retarded cat can grasp that a switch in attitude and behaviour often brings the desired result. Hywood, one would hope, is smarter than a cat.

FULL DISCLOSURE: The Professor dumped all Fairfax stock back when Fred Hilmer was backing Margo Kingston’s Web Diary as the future of the Internet, rather than buying a piece of Seek.The share price was just north of $5 at the time. As of trading's close on Friday it was $1.04.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Loose With The Language

THE ANGRY girls will be out slut-walking very soon, so we can expect to hear a lot more about “reclaiming” the word. Good. When they have done that, they can give it back to the original owners. Men.

Why is thy lord so sluttish, I thee pray,
And is of power better clothes to bey?

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Duck, A Weave And A Bob Each Way

ON the Index page of the Climate Commission’s report, “The Critical Decade” you will find this disclaimer:

…While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the material contained in this document, the Commonwealth of Australia and all persons acting for the Commonwealth preparing this report accept no liability for the accuracy of or inferences from the material contained in this publication, or for any action as a result of any person’s or group’s interpretations, deductions, conclusions or actions in relying on this material.

By page 60, the final page of text before the footnotes, the certainty of settled scientist and report author Will Steffen has re-asserted itself:

As you’ve read in this report, we know beyond reasonable doubt that the world is warming and that human emissions of greenhouse gases are the primary cause. The impacts of climate change are already being felt in Australia and around the world with less than 1 degree of warming globally. The risks of future climate change – to our economy, society and environment – are serious, and grow rapidly with each degree of further temperature rise. Minimising these risks requires rapid, deep and ongoing reductions to global greenhouse gas emissions. We must begin now if we are to decarbonise our economy and move to clean energy sources by 2050. This decade is the critical decade.

Serif Envy

LET us be clear about this: women are lovely creatures. They certainly brighten the place up, as Malcolm Fraser was excoriated for saying of female MPs when better known for martyring Saint Gough, rather than the stentorian sniping at his former party which has done such wonders for his popularity. Women generally cook better than men, are more pleasant to cuddle, and they demonstrate a remarkable inclination to wipe down benchtops, even before the first fungus colonies have appeared. All in all, it is a good thing to have a woman about the house, at least until such time as the stove is spotless and the conversation has turned, as it inevitably does at the Billabong, to the many small ways in which an imperfect Bunyip might drink less, drive more slowly, not cause scenes at Bolshevik dinner parties and, God help us, buy and ride a bloody bicycle. To the feminine mind these exhortations to betterment are so obvious, so reasonable, that the seasoned male will see no point in arguing. As Young Master Bunyip has been repeatedly advised, the key is to wear a sheepish smile while flaws and faults are laid out, then switch the conversation as soon as possible to topics which women find even more compelling. The chief amongst these will always be themselves. After that, the abject carrier of XY chromosomes need hardly say a word. Just nod and smile as the complexities of relationships with mothers are explained and, inevitably, grave doubts are voiced about the character, sanity, veracity, dress sense and partners of other women.

Doctor Yowie, the Professor’s boon companion, was musing about the feminine perspective only yesterday. Indeed, he became so agitated on the drive back from the happy hunting ground of the Broken River Basin his cries all but drowned the thrumming of bar treads on bitumen (handy tip here for tax-averse tyre buyers, by the way). A literary sort, what lit his fuse was a broad observation about the corruption and cronyism that characterises Australia’s book prizes and the panels that award them. If Malcolm Fraser can collect one of the top awards for a book that is self-serving, forgetful, tendentious and crafted not to serve the truth but its ghosted author’s re-made image, well, why not enter your cat’s scratchings in next year’s award? Litter-tray crap, unlike Fraser’s nuggets, requires less sifting to identify and Moggy’s opus is likely to bring just as much pleasure to the average reader, which is to say very little indeed.

Now the Yowie, while a lovely fellow and a dab hand with a dry fly, is one of those beastly conservatives – you know, the sort who believe in equality and think that gender-based awards patronise their recipients. This is probably going too far, as there is little chance a woman could ever win the Brownlow in an open competition, although the best would probably outperform any current member of the Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne or St Kilda. But in matters having nothing to do with athletic endeavour it is hard to argue against his point. Who amongst us can name the current women’s chess champion? More to the point, who cares?

The narrower salient of his criticism was prompted by Roma Koval’s bookshow on Radio National, which featured an interview with Sophie Cunningham, former Meanjin editrix, lit fester,  and post-pinata-whacking nibbler on Jonathan Green (of Their ABC’s) celebrated chocolate cake.  The LandRover was bumping along a rutted track at the time of the broadcast, so it was impossible to take down her exact words. Not to worry, Soph has been saying much the same things to a good many people, including the Guardian, which seems never able to resist an opportunity to present Australians as ignorant, racistsquirt-sozzled brutes.

"What we are concerned with is the systemic exclusion of women writers over several decades - a situation that seems to be getting worse, not better," Soph was quoted as saying, mostly about the Miles Franklin, which has short-listed a woman in only one of the past three years. Doctor Yowie was rumbling with discontent as Soph laid out for Koval the dreadful oppression confronting our scribbling shielas, but he must have been getting in touch with his feminine side because the rant was particularly easy to ignore. Much more interesting was to wonder at whatever it was that set Soph on her crusade to get women out of a room of one’s own, as Virginia Woolf put it, and into the shared confines of a literary ghetto.

Could it be a little dash of frustration? Her most recent novel, Bird, was published in 2008 and, unlike her first, Geography, went unnoticed by book-panel adjudicators, who shortlisted that earlier work for the 2004 Commonwealth Writers Prize for first-time authors. With one of its many memorable lines proclaiming “just getting on the plane made me want sex”, it certainly would have won the Professor’s endorsement, as all forms of public transport, including trams and sedan chairs, tend to have that effect on Bunyips.

No, that cannot be the reason for Sophie’s agitation. As one of the literary left’s anguished aunties, surely she would wish to level the playing field – a fair go for all! – rather than open a new arena in the name of uterine apartheid. Mind you, some of the gals who have joined the push – Louise Swinn, Monica Dux and Kirstin Tranter amongst them -- might appreciate access to a bit of prize money, but the fact that all turn up on the same panels at literary festivals and writers’ shindigs should not be taken to imply that the sisterhood is primarily intent on looking out for its mates. No, that would never happen. Never!

Maybe it is the fabled cultural cringe. Britain keeps the gals happy with its Orange Prize, so perhaps Soph thinks Australia cannot be a proper, mature, intellectually stimulating home to good writing until an antipodean girl-a-palooza figures on the cultural calendar. Again, that could not be the rationale. Fierce, independent, our-stories-our-voices types never take their slavish cues from overseas movements. Well, not very often, anyway.

It is a mystery, and there is no point in turning to sexism’s stereotypes for an explanation. You know, the notion that there is one clear and well-worn path into the ranks of great female artists. Pen depressive verse, snap photos of unsettling freaks or churn out neurasthenic novels about birds singing to you in Greek* and then top yourself. Hey, it worked for Plath, Arbus and Woolf. Perhaps, in addition to whatever money Soph extracts from Canberra and/or a corporate sponsor (the Shree company, very keen on the role of women, might be worth hitting up) she could toss in a chair, a beam and a length of rope. Why should Australia’s female writers be denied access to perpetual acclaim?

The mystery of Soph’s motivation only deepens when you consider her rationale. Yes, The Miles Franklin gendercrats have not been selecting literary works in accordance with actuarial principles, but they represent only one prize. If one looks at the wider field of prizes and grants, women do not figure badly at all. Indeed, if men were more given to perceiving sexist discrimination, they would be howling for equity and justice.

Start with last year’s Phage Book of the Year shortlist, in which all five non-fiction contenders were women. In fiction, two of five were female, while Poetry’s finalists favoured men 3-to-2. Add up all the categories and women represent nine of fifteen finalists, which is a clear female majority – at least by the phallocentric reckoning of traditional mathematics.

But let us not dwell on the Phage, where Bristow may well have been the last manly fellow in the paper, and even he is now gone. Turn instead to the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, which have seen five of the past eight awards go to the fair sex. Then there are the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, where it is true that only two of six fiction finalists were women. In the non-fiction category, however, women wrote or co-wrote five of the final six, including Margaret Simons’ hagiographic burnishing of the ABC’s now-favourite ex-PM. In Poetry, women represented four of six. Every single finalist in Young People’s Literature was female, while five of six in the Children’s Literature playoff were gals. Men did better in the Community Relations category, actually managing to score three of six finals berths, but slipped a bit in the New Writing section, where women snaffled four of the six finalist spots, as they did in the judges’ quest to name the best playwright. Scriptwriting saw a three-each split. The Special Award went to a woman (she was only the entrant) while the Translation award, which the all-female panel awarded to a man, included two women amongst the final three.

Tot up all the categories and, once again, girls don’t just rule, they dominate. Of the 64 finalists, 39 represent what Soph believes to me an oppressed minority. If she turns to Arts Council literature grants, her impression of galloping injustice will be furthered confirmed, as only 35 of 51 cheques were mailed to female letterboxes. By the time Soph gets to fuming over the exclusion of female writers from overseas residencies – the taxpayer annually sends half a dozen scribblers to Paris, Rome and other hardship locations, typically at a cost of around $18,000 apiece --  she will be apoplectic. How could it be otherwise when only five of six available keys to foreign apartments were handed to women?

It is unlikely the clamour for a female writing award will go away – these things seldom do, not when snouts are a’snort with an eagerness for plunging into the trough. So  the best bet, the line of least resistance, will be to do the nod-and-smile thing, indulge the gals in their hunt for  reasons to be unhappy and read books as sensible sorts always have, for the content and quality of the writing.

Do that and any writer’s genetic aptitude for cleaning the stove will be beside the point.

(*The Greek birds figure in Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chuck Her Off The E.J. Whitten Bridge

IT HAS been a shocker of a year for followers of Australian Rules Football teams St Kilda and the Western Bulldogs. Each began the season at relatively short odds for this year’s flag, and this seemed entirely reasonable at the time. St. Kilda’s heart was broken, and then its back, by the draw and subsequent defeat in 2010’s two Grand Finals, the last of which Collingwood won at a romp, so the thinking in the Outer was that the Saints would be fired up for revenge. That has not happened. One third of the way through the season, St Kilda has only just managed its first victory, and that by a meagre few goals over a Melbourne squad so ugly even Father Damian of the Lepers would have given them a wide berth.

Footy is the staple of every Melbourne winter and a large part of this city’s idiosyncratic charm, so the Saints’ fall from grace is a frequent topic of conversation. Everyone agrees the game has caught up with the style of play that made St Kilda a contender, and that is the reason one hears in barber chairs and pubs or on the stroll from green to tee for this season’s spectacular collapse.

But there is also that other reason, the one that gets mentioned but not for the most part dwelt upon, and certainly not by Saints supporters: The St Kilda Schoolgirl. If that little minx and her nude pictures, lies, truths, half truths and calculated disruption of the AFL’s publicity machine are unfamiliar there is no point in explaining them. Anyone ignorant of the Schoolgirl’s story will have no interest in the world’s greatest sport and is unlikely to have come so far into this post, so why bother recounting her devilment? If you do not know about it by this stage you do not want to know about it.

None of that can have done the Saints any good, and apparently it hasn’t. It cannot be easy, for example, to be a captain who must run the gauntlet every week of opposition supporters wondering about the state and volume of your pubic hair. Until this year the footy term “waxing” meant nothing more than two players running down the clock by kicking the ball repeatedly between themselves. Thanks to the Schoolgirl’s snapshots the sum of human knowledge has been expanded, if only by a stubby inch or two.

That settles the Saints, but how to explain the Bulldogs, who finished third, third and fourth over the past three years? Always the bridesmaids, this also was reckoned by many to be the year of the Dog, especially on the side of the Maribyrnong where the sun goes down. Hot new recruits, a seasoned leadership cadre, a coach with much to prove – it was enough to see the team open the season at 8-1 for the flag. Then the Doggies took the field in the first round against Essendon, only to be whipped and roundly humiliated.  A further thrashing was administered on Sunday, when the Eagles inflicted one of the most comprehensive defeats seen on the playing field in living memory.

Some men, honourable men, would have requested a minute alone in the coaching box with a revolver, but coach Rodney Eade is not made of such stuff, seemingly determined to stick with the charade of competence until he is sacked. But will that be enough? If St Kilda’s experience is any guide – and it most certainly is --  Footscray has more housecleaning to do. Like St Kilda, Whitten Oval is beset by a troublesome woman. Unlike St Kilda she happens to be the Number One ticketholder.

Yes, sports fans, it is Julia Gillard of whom we speak. When it has suited her, the Dogs have been her bitch. Recall the response to questions about her ambitions to oust Kevin Rudd. Not a bit of it, she swore, adding that she would be more likely to replace Barry Hall at full forward than slime and stab her way into the Lodge. It was a lie, one more entry in our PM’s  ledger of falsehoods and deceptions, and she has returned repeatedly to the red-white-and-blue well whenever it has been expedient to promote the fiction of her working-class, western suburbs authenticity.

Some horny handed daughter of toil she! Never held a job other than that of publicity-chasing lawyer with a bought and paid for Labor law firm. Never met a taxpayer she has not sought to make poorer with her carbon tax. Never stood in the checkout line at Coles in Pier Street, Altona, where her constituents are reminded by their weekly grocery bills that Canberra’s official figures bear not the slightest relevance to the real cost of preparing dinner. Has this champion of the industrial West ever pumped her own petrol or saved the discount coupons to make that costly experience less painful? Somewhere between Wales and Werribee she acquired the nasal infection that is her idea of what her adopted countrymen sound like. Apart from disporting herself in a Footscary scarf when cameras are about, that is the sum total of her ties to the working world.

St Kilda has its schoolgirl and the Bulldogs have their Gillard. Both liars, each prepared to use the team they claim to support for their own ends. Yes, Rodney Eade must go, but the case for cancelling the PM’s club membership is perhaps even stronger. Every time she drags her layabout beau to the President’s box she is a reminder that the fish rots from the head down, that a team prepared to make itself a tool in a liar’s self-promotion will never deserve the full four points, let alone a flag.

Get rid of her, Footscray. And then hand Eade that revolver.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gone Fishin'

A FRIEND dropped by the Billabong on Sunday afternoon to help pick the olives off the big tree, share a drink, grill a steak, watch the footy and, just in passing, note that Victoria's trout season ends on the Queens Birthday weekend. One thing led to another but mostly to the garage, where the car was soon conveying a pair of overgrown schoolboys on a wag to places north and mountainous. The weather today was cold, but the fishing hot -- and there will be more of it tomorrow. Now, back to that comfy chair, the second bottle's last drops and the pleasure of a open fire.

Posting should resume on Wednesday.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Drowning The Ants

JUST BEYOND the Billabong’s back door, down the stairs and past the barbecue, there is a spot that would be perfect for a lemon tree, as that is where, when alcohol has been consumed, the Professor sometimes gives the ants reason to believe their little world is ending beneath a body-temperature deluge high in uric acid. It is a cultural thing and to be cherished, a testament to the Judeo-Christian heritage. A good Buddhist shrinks from inflicting such suffering, the Confucian sees it as disrespecting the garden's ancestral planters and an animist is unlikely to unzip at all, apt to be gripped by reverence and reverie at the sight of all that secret ant business being enacted down below. As for your Musselman, the Prophet’s prohibition on alcohol means that, upon sober reflection, indoor plumbing is to be used and celebrated as another example of Allah’s beneficence in guiding the faithful to our infidel wonderland of flushable creature comforts.

Still, there is inspiration for those culturally attuned to absorb it, as few things more closely resemble the current political situation than the spectacle of agitated and baffled bullants dashing about in their sodden circles. Somewhere deep below the nest’s mounded entrance sits the queen, dry for the moment and relatively safe. Picture her, if you will, with a longish nose and hair of the Bozo hue. She is isolated and dependent for her cues and information on messengers bringing word of the saturating disaster above. Here you might imagine a six-legged Bruce Hawker (especially by the second or third bottle) relaying the grim tidings to his leader. Not to worry, he will advise at last, your soldier ants are on the attack, little nippers at the ready.

And so they are, fierce in their bafflement as the flood grows ever worse. If ants carried notebooks and took unquestioning stenography, the most determined to protect and serve would bear names like Michelle and Peter. Such ardent defenders see the current panic as evidence only of the attacker’s “negativity”, not of the nest’s many vulnerabilities.  It is a scent trail to be laid at every opportunity, augmented as the flood grows worse with comforting counsel that  the mission is not flawed, only the way its goals are being sold.

But still the panic spreads, so much so that even Bob, the genial old drone, is getting agitated. He never bit nor was seen to be riled, but now he is irritable and fighting mad,  snapping his green pincers at all sundry, especially that big cockroach Rupert. Bob has had an easy life, required to do little more than seed his peculiar notions and bask in the acclaim as the queen brings them into being. Now that he is being blamed and quizzed and called upon for explanations, well, he does not like it one bit.

It is an inspiration to see the ants in such a state. Until an election is called and the queen is flooded out for good, it will have to do. Now, where’s that corkscrew? Another bottle beckons.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Guy The Goose

NOT ALL the notes arriving at the Billabong are penned in vitriol’s ink, and the alert that arrived this morning from “Bob on the Murray” is one of those. “Have you seen Crikey?” he wonders, going on to note that Guy Rundle has done to George Orwell what so many others have found irresistible: conscript him posthumously to various and often contradictory causes. Conservatives, hard-to-port lefties, environmentalists – all are a bit too fond of grinding Orwell’s bones to make their bread. As Brit left-leaner Alistair Harper observed last year in Prospect magazine, “Crudely put, George Orwell is anyone’s bitch.”

Now Rundle has appointed himself Orwell’s latest butch cellmate:

The Australian’s war against Manning Clark had a final twist this week when Fairfaxista Gerard Henderson weighed in, to remind readers that among the million-plus words Clark published, he once remarked that Lenin had a “Christ-like visage”, and that appears sufficient to damn his reputation. This pathetic snippeting represents the sad decline — from debate to culture war — that makes genuine intellectual life impossible. What, for example, would the Henderson kid make of this quote:
I have to put it on record that I have never been able to dislike Hitler … that Christ-like face, so full of suffering.”
The speaker is neither Oswald Mosley nor even Sir Robert Menzies, but George Orwell (Collected Journalism Vol 3, item 1). Even more amazingly it was from a review of Mein Kampf, published — near incredibly — the day Britain declared war on Germany.

As a former winner of  The Age Non-Fiction Book of the Year award you expect Rundle to get a few things wrong, but the above attempt at literary necrophilia is a genuine shocker. Start with a glaring error of fact: The Mein Kampf review was not published on “near incredibly -- the day Britain declared war” or even, near incredibly, in the same year. That conflict officially began on September 3, 1939, two days after Hitler invaded Poland, and not, as Rundle believes, on March 21, 1940, when the edition of New English Weekly which carried the review reached newsagents.

As to the review itself, you would not get the gist of Orwell’s thoughts from Rundle’s snatch quote, which is nothing less than the slandering by abridgement of a man who copped a bullet in the throat while fighting fascists in Spain. Yes, Orwell did write of being unable to “dislike Hitler”, but that was not all he had to say. Here is the full quote, the one Rundle bowdlerised in the interests of making his dishonest point:

I should like to put it on record that I have never been able to dislike Hitler. Ever since he came to power — till then, like nearly everyone, I had been deceived into thinking that he did not matter — I have reflected that I would certainly kill him if I could get within reach of him, but that I could feel no personal animosity.

Rundle deploys ellipses – that same “pathetic snippeting"  he decries in Henderson --  to conceal Orwell’s meaning. So here for the record are the words he found it expedient to flush down the memory hole, as the man whose memory he is smearing put it in 1984:
The fact is that there is something deeply appealing about him. One feels it again when one sees his photographs — and I recommend especially the photograph at the beginning of Hurst and Blackett’s edition, which shows Hitler in his early Brownshirt days. It is a pathetic, dog-like face, the face of a man suffering under intolerable wrongs. In a rather more manly way it reproduces the expression of innumerable pictures of Christ crucified, and there is little doubt that that is how Hitler sees himself. The initial personal cause of his grievance against the universe can only be guessed at; but at any rate the grievance is there. He is the martyr, the victim. Prometheus chained to the rock, the self-sacrificing hero who fights single-handed against impossible odds. If he were killing a mouse he would know how to make it seem like a dragon. One feels, as with Napoleon, that he is fighting against destiny, that he can’t win, and yet that he somehow deserves to. The attraction of such a pose is of course enormous; half the films that one sees turn upon some such theme.
So where did Rundle get that quote, which appears nowhere in the original review? Notice the difference between “that Christ-like face” and the actual text, which reads “the expression of innumerable pictures of Christ crucified”?

It is a question Crikey’s editor should mull before putting it to her star correspondent. Were she to extract a coherent answer it could be dreadfully embarrassing to admit the goose-stepping boys at Stormfront  are deemed a reputable source of inspiration.

FOOTNOTE: Orwell’s widow, Sonia Blair, was a fierce guardian of his legacy and reputation, sometimes stripping out little bits of her late hubby’s work she must have foreseen would be open to mis-quotation by the cherrypicking Rundles of this sorry world, where “genuine intellectual life” is “impossible”.  In the wife’s version of the Mein Kampf review the line about never being able to dislike Hitler was made to vanish entirely. Like Rundle, Sonia found ellipses very handy.

UPDATE: Is Rundle incapable of even the most undemanding transcription? Apparently. He quotes the Henderson letter at which he takes umbrage as saying Lenin had a “Christ-like visage”.

It is well established that the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin was a corrupt killer. Yet, in Meeting Soviet Man, Clark declared that Lenin was "Christ-like, at least in his compassion".
Wrong again, Mr Rundle, wrong again.

Not At This Address

ACCORDING to Stephen Fry on QI the other night, a park ranger in the United States was struck by lightning seven times and survived. It must have become tiresome because he committed suicide before Gaia could send down the final delivery of an old-fashioned eight-ball over (to which cricket should return, just by the way). There have been no lightning strikes at the Billabong lately, but there is another annoyance that persists in testing all patience. Please, readers, be clear about this once and for all: The Australian’s Imre Salusinszky has no connection whatsoever with this blog. None. Never has, probably never will – although if he wished to send tips, make comments or contribute the odd post, they would almost certainly be published straight away (allowing that they do not deal with the alleged magnificence of the Hawthorn Football Club, in which case the spike will be waiting).

Meanwhile, a festering pile of misdirected correspondence is growing by the front gate, much of it from the caring, enlightened left, where the definitions of respect, inclusion and appropriate forms of address appear to be entirely subjective.

“Imre you Zionist c***sucker” is the way one began. Another charming missive wondered how much the Israeli ambassador is paying to underwrite The Australian’s  “hate campaign” against the Greens, Marrickville Council and Loopy Lee Rhiannon. (Funny, isn’t it, how that “hate” talk is doing the rounds at the moment?). Several other notes cannot be quoted, not for their obscenity but because the correspondents’ poor command of grammar, punctuation and spelling rendered their messages incomprehensible.

There is, however, one comment in which Imre will surely take much pride. It is this:

“Imre, does it hurt your feelings when your peers don’t take your newspaper seriously.”

Imre’s colleagues? The writer must be thinking of Michelle Grattan, Peter “Pretentious, moi?” Hartcher and so, so many others at Fairfax and the ABC.

Perhaps, if Imre were to polish his skills as an apologist for Greens inanity and Labor incompetence, if he were to master the skill of learning what not to report, those inky eminences would welcome him into their ranks.

Until then, one suspects he is quite happy being a journalist. Those disdainful colleagues should give it a shot.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Here Comes The Judge

ANY day now Judge Mordecai Bromberg, failed candidate for Labor pre-selection, will rule if Andrew Bolt needs to be speared in the thigh or somesuch for ruffling the feelings of nine people who believe it a shocking and racist thing that others find it difficult to perceive them as they prefer to see themselves.

The case has received much attention, including this entry on the website of Victoria Museum:

Bolt’s posts imply that Aboriginal identity is solely related to biological or racial categorisation. For communities and Aboriginal people themselves, Aboriginality is a much deeper and much more complex question, related to cultural backgrounds, familial and community ties, and self-identification.

Because the Museum takes very seriously the obligation to expand public knowledge– always in the fairest and most impartial way, mind you -- it has helpfully augmented its coverage of the trial with a video interview with photographer Bindi Cole, proud Aboriginal woman and one of the aggrieved nine, who explains why much of her shutterbuggery is inspired by  “how I was perceiving the world perceiving me.”

There appears no way to embed the video, so readers might wish to check the link., where they will also find Cole family snapshots of Bindi’s father and proud Aboriginal granny. The family resemblance, generation by generation, is very strong.

As for poor Judge Bromberg, Crikey reports – and The Australian relays -- that he can expect an all-out assault by the villainous Murdoch press if the decision goes against the News Limited’s star columnist.

Bolt has remained steadfastly silent about his legal travails, the day-by-day details of the case and the issues of identity at the centre of it, lest he land in trouble with the law. Does that same constraint not apply to publicly funded institutions, internet newsletters and plaintiffs?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pressing Matters

No blogging today, and apologies for that. There are days when the mundane takes precedence and this has been one of them.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mournful Morton Of The Fever Swamp

RESIDENT Phage catastrophist Adam “Mournful” Morton is feeling poorly today, according to his tweets, but his dedication to the alarmist cause allows no rest when wicked deniers are on the prowl. They must be scourged and shamed, exposed by comparison with the more responsible reporting of events that Morton believes, and with pride,  to be the essence of his and Fairfax's fearless journalism.

Adam Morton
Another day, another p1 headline on climate in the Oz that doesn't reflect the story. Anyone would think it has an agenda.

Here is the story that raised Morton’s temperature. “‘Summer of disaster not climate change’: Rajendra Pachauri” the headline says, which would seem fair enough, given the three supporting paragraphs of the railway engineer’s quotes that appear near the top of The Australian’s report.
"Frankly, it is difficult to take a season or two and come up with any conclusions on those on a scientific basis," Dr Pachauri said. 
"What we can say very clearly is the aggregate impact of climate change on all these events, which are taking place at much higher frequency and intensity all over the world.

"On that there is very little doubt; the scientific evidence is very, very strong. But what happens in Queensland or what happens in Russia or for that matter the floods in the Mississippi River right now, whether there is a link between those and climate change is very difficult to establish.
So I don't think anyone can make a categorical statement on that." 

Pachauri’s thoughts make no sense: No specific event can be linked to climate change, as the paraphrasing of the Australian’s headline states, but somehow, if taken together, they can. Zero + zero + zero + zero + zero = an “aggregate impact” for which “the scientific evidence is very, very strong”.

In his fevered delirium, and because today he has a lurgy as well, Morton tweets an approving link to Fairfax colleague Tom Arup’s report on the same interview. In that instance, however, the relevant quotes are buried way, way down at the bottom. Indeed, they are the final two paragraphs:

But after a summer of natural disasters in Australia, including the floods and the cyclone in Queensland, Dr Pachauri warned against drawing links between climate change and an individual weather event, instead pointing to an overall trend.
''I really wouldn't link any single set of events to human-induced climate change.
''I think scientifically that's really not possible … the scientific basis is clearly not strong enough,'' he said.

Ah, the truth, Fairfax-style. Don’t put obvious questions of those of whom you approve. Support the cause, not objectivity. And finally, if the quotes don’t match your deeply held beliefs, deep-six the bastards. Then bag the opposition for havng "an agenda."
Mournful Morton should add those tweets to his CV. The hirers at the ABC, which does not need to make a profit,  will love them when the Age, which could be making a profit if not for people like Morton, falls over and dies.

The Great Black Hope

THEY buried Lionel Rose yesterday and, as at any funeral, it was a day for memories. Festival Hall in West Melbourne, which must hold at least 4000 people, was only half full, although the seating arrangements and lighting made it seem otherwise. There were plenty of the customary stories, the sort always recounted over coffins, for few things do more to loosen tongues and memories than a wooden box’s reminder that the clock never stops ticking, not for any of us. So the speakers put their recollections on the record, keen to add a few more entries to the legend before the opportunity of the moment was missed. Thus did we learn of the night Rose and fellow champ Johnny Famechon tied one on so tightly that an angry spouse made them sleep in the car. After and outside, the old bloke who called the Billabong earlier in the day to request a lift rolled a fag and recalled the night – he thinks it was n 1964 -- when he watched Rose take an amateur title. “You just knew he was made of greatness,” was the way the old-timer put it. “A wonderful, beautiful fighter.”

Blokes belting the daylights out of each other is an entertainment older than history, but there are many who find it more than a little sad. Poor kids acquiring brain damage for the amusement of the well-heeled – if you have ever met an old and punchy pug, all twitches and slurred incoherence, it is hard to swallow the line that boxing is a sport like any other. If that is the case, why not insist on Olympic-style faceguards? The judges could still rate the combatants’ technical skills, and the crowd would not be denied the thrilling thud of heavy blows. But there is no chance of that because professional boxing is, and always will be, about the pain of others. This way to your ringside seats, gentlemen. If you’re lucky, you might even get sprayed with blood.

But what can you do? People should be free to follow their hearts, deplorable as more sensitive sorts might find the brutal passions that inspire more than a few. Better to focus instead on the upside of the deplorable, and there was much about Lionel Rose, particularly outside the square ring, to warrant accolades. He was generous to a fault, for starters, as speaker after speaker noted. He was kind and gentle when not making a living with his fists, and always a decent man, even allowing for a bit of trouble with drink and the law. But none of those qualities and virtues explained why, when the call came for that lift to Dudley Street, it seemed well worthwhile making the trip into town. It was those memories that served as the catalyst for swearing off golf for the day, donning a black suit and mournin not just a man but the vanished promise of what he once seemed the very symbol.

It was 1968 and Rose, fresh from his title triumph in Japan, was standing on the steps of Melbourne Town Hall as maybe a quarter of million people jammed into Swanston Street. Not a year before Australia passed a referendum adding Aborigines to the census (not, as is commonly mis-stated, gave them the vote, which had never been denied those who sought to put their names on the electoral roll). There was no smoking ceremony back then, no welcome to country, and no acknowledgment of the Original Custodians – that veiled, pro forma slag at those of us whose guilt extends no further than having descended from the first pallid pink people who came here so long ago. The original Wurrindjeri are long gone, likewise the settlers who fouled the creek where Elizabeth Street now runs, an act for which they made amends by building upon a foundation of Ballarat gold this terrific city, now home to almost four million souls.

There was none of that guilt-edged theatricality in 1968, when a young Bunyip threaded a pushy path through the crowd to the Town Hall steps, just as eager as every other white face to hail the nation’s hero. He was black, the crowd white and, on that day, melanin content didn’t enter into it. Rose was Australian, we were all Australian, and one of us had done something magnificent. That was all you needed to know. It was a wonderful moment.

There were Koori flags and lapel pins on display yesterday at the House of Stoush, but when they carried Lionel Rose’s coffin from the spot  where the ring normally stands, it was draped with the Australian flag.

It will be a good to remember him that way, not as a symbol of grievance and division but as the focus for a unity of spirit that so many others have done their damndest to bury and destroy, often for the most selfish reasons.

Vale Lionel Rose, late of Jacksons Track -- Aborigine, champion fighter, singer and father. He was all of that, but most of all he was a great Australian inspiration, a reminder of what once we were and might some day be again.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Send In The Gowns

A WEDDING at the Lodge, yep, that will turn the polls around for our failing and fading prime minister. And here’s just the emporium where the blushing bride, who has much to blush about, will find the perfect gown.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Quality Journalism

PRODIGIOUS TWEETER Ben Cubby, who moonlights as the Silly’s environment editor, alerted his followers on May 9 to this story, which identifies ExxonMobil as the leading patron of the most prominent deniers.
Nine of the top 10 climate skeptic scientists work with organisations that receive money from ExxonMobil
9 May via web Retweeted by MsAlegna and 18 others
What’s that old saw about a lie getting halfway around the world before truth gets its pants on?  Well, as Cubby's item was retweeted, the folks at.the populartechnology blog pulled up their strides and sent a questionnaire to the 10 boffins identified as beneficiaries of Big Carbon’s dirty dollars.

Cubby shouldn't believe everything written in green ink, it turns out.

Expect him to tweet a correction. Any. Day. Now.

The Footy-Free Perfect Child

A CHILD is one of the Great Bunyip’s wonderful cosmic jokes, as anyone who sets out to raise one comes quickly to understand. Parents-to-be, especially mothers, spend inordinate amounts of time contemplating all the good and worthy influences they will bring to bear on their little ones, only to find that, just like war, no well-laid plan survives its first encounter with the enemy. Such has certainly been the experience of a close friend, a rock-ribbed libertarian lady who grapples daily with the shame of having produced a lad who covers his bedroom wall with posters of woebegone polar bears, melting glaciers and demands that the Hazelwood power station, irreplaceable source of 25% of Victoria's electricity, be closed and razed. The evening meal has become a torment of surly silence and snarling contempt, the discord several times reducing her to tears and her hubby to threats of violence. She did everything right, as did her Liberal-voting partner, yet their child appears determined to make idiocy his vocation. As the boy draws close to his fifteenth birthday she has come to realize there is nothing to be done but go zen, bite her tongue, wait patiently and hope that the late arrival of good sense will save him from a life of mung beans, public transport and the myth of the clean, green perpetual motion machine.

Just now taking the first delighted steps down parenthood’s road, fellow blogger Lucy Tartan is determined to raise the perfect child, and she has drawn up a list of quite explicit rules to achieve that goal. “I've more or less settled upon a core set of principles,” explains a confident Lucy, whose son, .Leonard Elvis, entered the world a little over a week ago. Here’s what little Lenny can look forward to:
  • plastic toys, brightly coloured ones in particular
  • voting Liberal
  • tv in bed
  • going to church (at the first sign of teenage experimentation in this direction I will say "here is $500, have a party with your friends instead.")
  • joining any sport which doesn't allow girls to play in the same contests as boys
  • especially, going anywhere near the local football club
  • eating meat
  • drinking Coke
  • getting a dog
  • working at McDonald's
  • finding anything remotely amusing about Charlie Sheen
  • doing after-school activities (music lessons etc) which require me to drive him to the place of the activities or do anything else organisational
  • table manners, including the ability to recognise implements of cutlery and use them for the purposes for which they are designed
  • not writing or saying singular 'they' indiscriminately
Good luck with all that, Lucy, especially the last rule, routinely violated these days by people who should know better – reporters, sub-editors and educators in particular. If Lucy’s plan falls apart, as it surely will, she might want to consider swapping her own progeny for the troublesome teen mentioned above. There would be no common genes, but it does sound as if they are made for each other.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Insane Clown Posse -- Part II

ONE of a career in Etruscan semiotics’ great attractions was also the easiest to grasp:  you could make it all up as you went along. Well, not make it up exactly, because there were already a few, a very few, pioneers when the Professor charged like a bull into the field some decades back. Citing their scholarship kept them flattered and happy and, once deference had been demonstrated and fealty proclaimed, the door swung open on wonderland of academic ingenuity.

Say, for example, the department needed a little assist from the sods and saphies at Queer Studies, always being aware that it is very important to have allies when budgets are being thrashed. No worries, very easy to arrange. Add to the PowerPoint an ancient fresco of, say, Chiron doing some naked mentoring with an adolescent Achilles and present “the image” – there is no such thing as a mere illustration these days -- as proof that any lingering disdain for pederasty defies history’s precedent and is solely the legacy of joyless Victorian repression.

Note next that intolerance is the curse from which society must free itself, that discrimination is vile, that there must be “societal growth and evolution”, not to mention “confrontational honesty”, and make frequent use of the always popular “need for the appropriate response”.  For the money shot, suggest all present put their names to a public letter protesting restrictions on older gents who loiter near school groups at the municipal baths. By this stage, someone at the table will have surely announced the intention to pen a Phage opinion piece along the lines of “Priestly Abusers Demean Man/Boy Love”. Another voice will note that Tony Abbott is a Catholic and all present can then enjoy a little chuckle about his six-pack, Speedos and hypocrisy. Then it will be on to the agenda’s less weighty items. 

With fresh dollars in the departmental pocket it is good to give the impression of diving straight back into the work at hand, which mostly means fostering the next crop of PhDs who, upon graduation, will hail their old professor’s magisterial corpus as they peer-review each other’s output. Thus does the circle of academic life renew itself – and a good thing, too, both for members of Australia’s intellectual elite and the financial institutions holding their mortgages.

None of the above is anything that would have been admitted back in the day when there were papers to be graded and hungry post-grads to do all the marking. That reticence once seemed appropriate, even ethical. Now things have changed -- thanks to that Hungry Beast rap video, which has revealed how other areas of academic inquiry follow very much the same methods that built the budget and profile of Sydney Orr’s Faculty of Etruscan Semiotics. All thanks for the eye-opener go to Melbourne University’s Ailie Gallant (below), one of those hockey-sticking hos from the science ghetto whose rapping and cursing demonstrated why climatologists command the respect they do. Ailie is quite proud of that video, by the way, and has even added mention of the performance to the “Media and Outreach” section of her bio page in the Parkville Asylum’s staff directory.

It is not Allie’s efforts to attract attention  (which can also help with the funding), but her co-authored paper on water flows in the Murray Darling Basin which has brought so much re-assurance. In particular, it is the remarkably specific conclusion that there is precisely, and she is very exact about this, a 2.3% likelihood tht any of the many droughts over the past 1500 years were worse than the one just ended – the same dry spell during which the she began smokin’ dos’  stats in her climate crib. It was a popular meme a few years ago, back when rain refused to fall and climate change was replacing global warming, so her enthusiasm at the time was understandable.

And her methods? Well, let’s just say that the Professor is -- yo, lab bitches -- down with them.

The Original Custodians were not big on meteorological records, so that was a problem for Allie right there. She might have gone off to Barmah (a lovely spot) and cored a few red gums or somesuch, measured their transected rings and deduced when it had been hot and dry or cool and wet. That was not her preferred method, however. Rather, nice and comfy at a Parkville work station, she consulted those who went before, mining their studies of celery top pines in Tasmania, teak in Indonesia, some tall timber in Western Australia, Tongan corals, kauri in New Zealand and other interesting bits of Bali, Fiji and the Great Barrier Reef. The closest survey site was a good 900 kilometres from the Murray, the furthest a 10-hour flight, even for Tim Flannery. Data sources so far removed from the river she intended to study might have suggested an insurmountable obstacle to those who know not the miracles of modern modelling. By reviewing numbers here, sifting charts there and rejecting discordant figures in accordance with recognised climatological norms and norming, Ailie was able to feed what was left into a computerized vitamizer and – golly gosh, guess what? – demonstrate with charts and graphs that the recent drought really was the worst in centuries, just as the Phage, ABC, Guardian, World Wildlife Fund had been saying all along!

Indeed, by Ailie’s reckoning, it was even worse, which must have convulsed the WWF’s fund-raisers with shivers of delight: the drought was not the nastiest in 100 years or even 1,000 years – it was a full 1500 years since Australia had seen the arid like. Just to put things in perspective, that is not too long after the Romans pulled out of Britain. Amazing, ain’t it, what climate science can learn about a river in southern Australia from a bit of Bali coral someone else has studied? And don't getting suspicious, thinking nobody could be that precise on the basis of such much-handled data.The science is settled, Ailie assures us, and to a 97.7% certainty, no less!

And that, as Ailie rapped the other night, is what climate science is all about. She is proud of her research, naturally, and quite probably eager to tackle the next challenge -- pinpointing Warrnambool’s worst hailstorm since the Council of Trent, perhaps. As for the Professor, there are no regrets at the Billabong. Climate science might be better funded, but the case for pederasty was, while almost as open to question, much easier to make. And, as any self-respecting climate denier would add, much more convincing.