Saturday, March 31, 2012

Black As Cole

IT IS ALL very well and good to give Gaia a break by turning off the lights for an hour, but there can be complications. In the dark and wishing to avoid an expensive trip to court, how would you recognise Indigenous artist and Mordy-Litijus elder Bindi Cole as an Aborigine?

Bindi is the lubra dusky maiden on the left. It is not known to which skin totem her companion belongs.

UPDATE: A reader has pointed out that the Macquarie Dictionary lists "lubra" as derogatory, and this came as quite the surprise. The word was used often by Australian explorers, including Sturt, who tells an amusing story of an old blackfella who "ventured to risk the lubras necks" but would not himself investigate the white man's camp for fear of his own. Ernest Giles hails lubras "young and pretty". More recently, some who drive the Stuart Highway may have stopped for a cuppa and a gander at Lubras Lookout, shown below.
It is very hard to keep track of which words are in favour and out of it. "Queer" was an insult in the Professor's youth; now it is paraded down Oxford with the bottom out of its cowboy chaps. Similarly "slut", which once meant a slovenly housekeeper, and then a slattern, has lately been pressed into service by loud and ungroomed women demanding the right to both provocative attire and immunity from the male gaze.

We must move with the times, so a substitution has been in the interests of reconciliation and racial amity. Let it not be said that Bunyips are ever less than sensitive and considerate.

The Original and The Blessed

IN TODAY's Silly, the ever-original Ross Gittins addresses intellectual property and patent litigation, an interesting subject and, a quick check suggests, all his own work. Still, one wonders if this little sentence found its way into his column by way of Freudian slip:

...people like me won't be trying very hard to come up with new ideas

(Update will be posted shortly. Washing machine is unbalanced and shaking itself to pieces.....Load rebalanced and now hung on the line.)

UPDATE: Quite a bit of mail built up in the Billabong’s letterbox over the past two weeks, but this note and associated correspondence is easily the most fascinating item to emerge so far. It was passed along by a reader who reports having contacted the Silly’s readers editor, Judy Prisk, to ask what action her newspaper would be taking in regard to Ross Gittins’ cutting and pasting. Here is her response:

...Senior editors are looking at points raised about Ross Gittins's column. You will hear from me - or someone - soon.
Thanks again for your letter,

Judy Prisk
Readers' editor

The Billabong’s correspondent waited until, eventually, he received this reply from the Silly’s deputy editor Mark Coultan. As an indication of the delusional depths to which the broadsheet Fairfax newspapers have sunk it is most revealing:

Thank you for your email regarding the recent column by Ross Gittins.
We do not agree readers would have been in any doubt that Ross’s article was about the OECD report and that he quoted from it extensively throughout, both directly and by paraphrasing.
Ross cited the OECD and the title of its report clearly at the start of his article and quoted directly from it in many places. Other markers throughout the article, including the conditional tense and references such as ‘‘the report asks’’, ‘‘we’re told that’’ and ‘‘the purpose of reports like this’’, make it absolutely clear that the report is the thrust of the entire article and that Ross is referring to it throughout.
Nevertheless we appreciate you having taken the time to draw your concerns to our attention.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Coultan
Deputy Editor

Now you might think no newspaper could do no worse than redefine plagiarism in order to establish a star columnist's innocence. But there is worse, as the Billabong's correspondent advises after checking Judy Prisk's tweets.

Remember, Prisk is the Silly's watchdog, the sentry charged with protecting its standards and enforcing its ethics.

Oh, and by the way, it is not just a Right Wing Death Bunyip who finds Prisk's performance more than somewhat lacking. Mumbrella is less than impressed as well.

Back For A Bit

A FINE day to be back in Melbourne, and also to bring tidings from the bush, where at least one man on the land is alerting readers of the Border Mail to the link between daylight saving and climate change: