Saturday, July 28, 2012

Murphy's Oil

QUALITY JOURNALIST Katharine Murphy covers politics, which is footy reporting’s loss. There she is today in the Fairfax press explaining how the Yabby’s push to regulate free speech and the media is going. Some say this, others argue that, this might happen but that probably won’t – her summation of the state of play is all very interesting, reasonably well written and, on the whole, a quite comprehensive overview of the demand for news organisations to be complicit in their own gagging. If Murphy was covering a footy match her tone would be pitch perfect, for there is not a single indication anywhere in her piece that she favours one side above the other.

And that, without mincing words, is what makes her column so bloody disgusting. Murphy may believe she is no more than an observer in the press box, but the fact remains, as surely she must know within her heart, that she is one of the targets for any expansion of the already onerous restrictions on unfettered reporting, investigation and commentary. Perhaps she thinks it is not that much of a threat. As an exemplar of the ideologically sound reporter, the sort Fairfax hires to the exclusion of all others, it may be that Murphy imagines she and her colleagues have nothing to fear from the current Labor government. Heck, they are sympatico with the Gillard/Greens mob and frame their reporting accordingly, so where is the downside in going limp while speech codes are drawn up to hobble the jackbooted beasts at News Ltd?

Someone should take Murphy aside and explain that she is very much a player in this game, no mere commentator, despite her pretensions to indifference. If free speech is further hobbled by legislative decree, sooner or later it will be her side of politics’ turn to front the Star Chamber.

Or perhaps she plans to take one of the upcoming Fairfax buyouts and just does not care anymore.

He's A Gun Correspondent

ONCE AGAIN, with explanatory reports of those strange Americans’ attitudes toward guns filling Australian newspapers, our fine media organisations’ US-based reporters are hunting up just the right interview subjects to illustrate your typical redneck’s baffling reverence for the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right to bear arms. This is a familiar exercise, repeated every time the latest nutcase opens fire on an assembly of dutiful and disarmed citizens, who have been stripped by law and local ordinance of the means to return fire. When intended victims are packing the means to defend themselves, well that never gets reported on this side of the Pacific, as such incidents ruin the narrative. Americans are just plain crazy, as every newly posted Australian foreign correspondent knows, so the journalistic obligation is to find just the right person to illustrate how very mad they really are. After all, we have never seen an armed lunatic in Australia. Well, not all that many, anyway.

Newly installed Fairfax correspondent, Nick O’Malley, has obviously studied the Correspondent’s Book of Standard Storylines & Protocols, because he ticks every required box in today’s report. His gun-loving nutcase is an elderly gent from Kennesaw, Georgia, with an unkept Santa Claus beard, a pistol on each hip and ready line in racist invective. Perfect! There are some 300 million Americans, and Dent Myers is O’Malley’s pick to represent them all.
 Representative American gun owner Dent Myers

Just how representative is Myers? Why not listen to the man O’Malley quotes and make up your own mind. Be warned, though, Myers’ language is salty in the extreme and many will find the racial slurs he uses as a form of punctuation to be deeply offensive. If you have a strong stomach click here and take it all in.

O’Malley isn’t quite done with his check list. Having illustrated what American gun owners are like, he then explains the pernicious philosophy that produces them:
In the American imagination, government does not grant certain rights to individuals, rather individuals grudgingly cede some of their God-given rights in order to allow a limited government to be formed.
One should not draw too long a bow in seeing O’Malley’s version of the individual’s relationship with the state as entirely representative of the Fairfax mindset. Probably, somewhere in the company, there is someone, possibly a cleaner or cafeteria worker, who believes governments should answer to citizens and not the other way around.

But still, you have to wonder. It was just recently that media chieftains put their signatures to a letter opposing the Yabby’s plans to place further restrictions on free speech – a letter Fairfax conspicuously declined to sign. At the time, the suspicion at the Billabong was that the ailing company did not want to rile the government and jeopardise the possibility of some nice handouts to support that “quality journalism” stuff (like O’Malley’s, for instance).

Now, though, there seems method to Fairfax’s craven refusal. When leaning on media execs to fire troublesome reporters is no longer sufficient and speech restrictions are introduced, O’Malley will be able to re-visit the racist Myers and cite him as an example of that other American evil, the First Amendment. As government grants us our rights, expect him to be just fine with having even more of them withdrawn.

A FURTHER THOUGHT: If O'Malley needed an example of America's wicked gun culture, why didn't he visit the little kid who takes an AK-47 to show-and-tell? Opinion page contributor David Hirst would have been happy to give him the number to call. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Babbling Betty Holds Her Nose

WHEN Silly editrix Amanda Wilson was shown the door some weeks ago, hope soared that the newspaper’s in-house chapter of UOOO -- the Union of Overpromoted Ovary Owners -- would shed a memberette or two.  Surely, it could only be the bonds of sisterhood that had sustained the thick ranks of giddy gals at Fairfax World HQ, for how else to explain the likes of blonde economics writer Jessica Irvine, cut-and-paster A Dill Horin and the mystery of pretentious incoherence that is Betty Farrelly? Alas, several weeks have passed and each member of the trio continues to give womankind’s intelligence a bad name, Farrelly yesterday breaking fresh ground in the quest to write the most obnoxious and patronising  drivel about those not blessed to reside, as does she, in the inner city. Her opportunity to do so arises from the NSW government’s decision to make some changes to the way it operates its archives.

Apparently, up until recently, there was a reading room at The Rocks, where sensitive souls like Farrelly could poke about in the past without having to leave their urban comfort zones. How the reading room operated is a mystery to a Victorian, but one images that visitors would request records and have them couriered into town. If this surmise is wrong, readers are invited to set a Bunyip straight.

Those records are now available only in the suburb of Kingswood, near Penrith, and Farrelly does not like it one bit. Here is how she describes her visit to the suburb, where one guesses she held her nose with one hand while shielding her sophisticate’s eyes with the other: 
Kingswood, five minutes short of Penrith, is a place less forgotten than forgetting. Not to be confused with the Holden of the same name, though of roughly that era, it comprises dozens of lookalike orange-brick bungalows of no particular distinction or offence, neither loose nor organised, untrammelled by any apparent cognisance of either past or future.
How many bong hits went into paragraph? Whatever the number of cones, memories of her Kingwood safari clearly ruined Betty’s buzz, as she won’t let up about the “synchronous barrens” that is Kingswood, which seems an unfair description of homes like these. Modestly priced, yes they are, but not without their charms – one of which is the fact that, sooner or later, the locale’s scorned residents are going to turf out local MP, Labor up-and-comer David Bradbury, on his ear. Gillard’s mob hold the seat of Lindsay by just two-and-a-bit points, so Bradbury’s fate is sealed.

And that is the difference between Babbling Betty and the little people she so contemptuously dismisses. They are smart enough to recognise a loser when they see one. Sadly, the Silly has yet to acquire the same nous.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chip Of The Old Bloc

MR Anne Summers, sometimes known as former Sydney Writers Festival honcho Chip Rolley, will not take up his duties as editor of The Drum for another month or so, which must demonstrate even more than the pleasure of waking up every morning next to his former boss at Ms magazine just how much luck one young man can jam into such a short and blessed life. There he was, hardly more than a teenage Texas tumbleweed trying to make it in the Big Apple in the Eighties, when he lucked into a job at the proto-feminist monthly. Eyes met across an editorial floor, hearts beat faster and, while Summers' magazine sank into a sea of red ink, love took wing and soared.


It is a beautiful story. Having failed in the US, Summers and business partner Sandra Yates returned to Australia, where some people can be very easily impressed, especially at Fairfax. Summers wrote those wonderful pieces for which she is so well respected, sharing with the Silly's audience all the special perspectives of her fascinating view of the world. When Bill Clinton came to town, for example, she told of choking back tears. He might have been a rapist, almost certainly is a rapist, but he's a rapist of the left so that makes him OK, even to a professional feminist.


Yates, too, was kicking on, landing board gigs and scoring the chairman's job at the SWF. She did it with aplomb, presiding over the festival that makes sure  99.9% of guests are ideologically sound and fully fit to be revered by the sort of people who believe that visiting literary leftists lecturing rooms full of the local variety represent the exchange of ideas in its most pure and noble form.

It was certainly a coincidence that Yates' former business partner's beau just happened to be installed on her watch as the SWF artistic director -- just one of those strange outbreaks of happenstance. We can only imagine Summers' pride, however, at seeing young Chip make something of himself. If you have ever watched a nanna delighting in her grandson's first steps, that must be some small tremor of the joy she felt.

Now Chip is about to move on once again -- and, as ever, the pieces just seem to fall into place for him. Not only did he jump straight from the SWF to a nice, secure ABC salary as Drum supremo -- a job that was briefly advertised and must have drawn hundreds of less-qualified applicants -- he will have the satisfaction of supervising towering talents like the all-hearing Tim Dunlop, the forever couth Marieke Hardy and many other deep thinkers like, well, this one.

And Chip's luck -- he is the Gladstone Gander of the literary set, for sure -- knows no bounds, as anyone who peruses the reader comments beneath this article will quickly realise. There is nothing wrong with the article itself, mind you, which quite correctly observes that newspapers taking their cues from the likes of Summers are too busy circling the biscuits to notice normal, average, sane readers turning away in disgust. The Drum commenters, though, they might be Summers' great grandchildren, banging on at great length about everything that is wrong and morally deficient about Andrew Bolt. According to those commenters, Bolt endorses "the worst aspects of Australian society", profits from "the politics of envy" and manufactures "appalling smears" which are said to be "typical" of him. Also, the ABC site announces, it is "proven" that he "makes things up". Then there is this: "People like Andrew Bolt ... usually want any person with a contrary view to their own put in gaol with the key thrown away."

Throw in accusations of telling deliberate lies and, if Andrew has the stomach for it, it would seem he has grounds to proceed against the ABC for libel.

But that won't be young Chip's problem, as the slanderous comments have not been published on his  watch.

Some guys have all the luck -- and Anne Summers for breakfast as well.

A NOTE: For more on the perspectives and views young Chip will be bringing to The Drum, see Gerard Henderson's little backgrounder

Another Warmist Makes His Bones

A GROUP of intrepid souls recently disappeared into a hole – no, not the Canberra press corps – and stumbled upon a wealth of old bones and fossils. There is no doubt their discovery is an interesting find, but there are some who are finding it far more interesting than bits of long-dead diprotodon and other extinct wotnots would suggest – palaeontologist Gilbert Price most of all. Having long since taken a leaf from fellow bone buff Tim Flannery’s playbook (and a swag of climate-related research grants), Gilbert reckons the cache will help him save the world from global warming.

Price with the jawbone of a creature that went extinct before the Carbon Tax could save it.

... And Olive Oyl Owns A Howitzer

IS Fairfax contributor and firearms expert David Hirst one the pseudononymous posters at this online forum, most particularly the fellow who insists he was allowed to inspect and handle Elmer Fudd's famous shotgun at the NRA's Hollywood Museum of Cinematic Weaponry?

An Age columnist-in-waiting

If anyone comes across a further claim that the author also has inspected the AK-47 often taken to school by Swee Pea of Popeye fame -- perhaps purchased at the gun show referenced below -- it will be a Hirst post for sure.

"A Severed Head Just Rolled By Me etc etc"

THE POST below, which touches on the mushrooms of the Melbourne press and their apparent acceptance of the official view that citizens do not need to be informed of threats to their safety, brought back memories of the days when news organisations actually covered the city in which they make their money (one of them, anyway). Sunday morning after Mass, the roast in the oven and 3UZ's Newsbeat bringing atmospheric reports to the kitchen from the scene of the night before's car accidents, fires, and, in the early Sixties, the latest Italians associated with vegetable wholesaling to be knifed or shot.

Well memory deceives. It seems at least some of those gripping accounts were about as credible as a David Hirst column on America's gun culture. Still, even if radio reporters were making it up, at least they covered something. Not like today.  

The Public's Right To Know What It's Told

ACCORDING TO the Paul Howes Rule it is a miracle this shaken Bunyip remains alive to report how policing is done these days in Victoria. Remember the union man’s narrow escape – how he wrote of attending gatherings of young leftists in Australia and was therefore lucky to have survived Anders Behring Breivik’s rampage in Norway? Well the Professor’s close call was even more of a heart-stopper: a mere two months ago and in the company of Double Bogey Daddy and Doctor Yowie, a round was played at Altona’s Kooringal Golf Club, which is no more than a mile or so from the Harrington Square Bookshop where an unknown assailant beat the owner into a coma.

We know about that attack because, almost three full days later, Victoria Police finally announced that a potential killer – the shop’s 62-year-old female owner remains in a coma – is out and about. The attack didn’t make the news until reporters collected Monday’s press releases for transcription, and it seems none of the newspapers is too upset about being kept in the dark by the state’s defenders of life, property and public safety.

One can understand official thinking, of course. If detectives had lucked out and caught the offender over the weekend there would have been no need for an announcement at all and the public would have been spared needless alarm.  Better to keep these things neat and tidy and very low key, that’s the shot. Why, if citizens were to learn of crimes, there might be an outcry to see them solved! Worse, there could even be calls for more pro-active measures to get miscreants off the streets before they can beat additional matrons to a pulp.

Why Melbourne’s two newspapers accept this situation isn’t much of a mystery. Unless the attacker turns out to be a fellow driven mad by (a justified) fear of rising tides, The Age would regard a simple matter of attempted murder and terror in a quiet suburb to be beneath its dignity. And anyway, if people who live in Altona were worth writing for and about they would live in North Fitzroy. At the Herald Sun, as neither puppies nor footballers appear to have been involved, there would have been no reason to interrupt the serious business of making sure News Ltd.’s ballyhooed  transition to the Digital Age does not extend to the publication of Andrew Bolt’s reader comments.

The Billabong is at least seven speed-cameras distant from the scene of the crime, so there will be no lost sleep. In Altona, though, residents are right to worry, not only about a maniac being on the loose but also because no one seems to think them worth of the effort of warning.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lara Bingle For PM!

COMPARE and contrast:

Lara Bingle: Had an affair with then-Blue Brendan Fevola
Julia Gillard: Kissed former Bulldogs forward Barry Hall
Score: Bingle 10; Gillard 2

Lara Bingle: Gets lots of freebies from designers whose clothes she models
Julia Gillard: Got lots of free clothes from crooked boyfriend via Town Mode
Score: Bingle 10; Gillard 4 (penalised for having to sleep with her wardrobe master)

and the clincher...

Lara Bingle:  Looked good in not much while doing crappy Tourism Australia ads
Julia Gillard: Looks awful in a truthful pitch to waterborne New Australians-to-be
Score: Bingle 10; Gillard 3
That puts Bingle ahead by a score of 30 to 9. Here's the ad that sealed the deal:

Readers who believe they may have further reasons why Bingle should take over as PM are invited to air them as comments.

A Double-Barrel (Vanished) Curiosity

(This post has been updated to reflect the fact that someone, presumably Hirst, has figured out that it is impossible to have an over-and-under single-barrel shotgun. The column has been changed online, Hirst apparently having recalled that it was a Winchester he used to tote for personal protection. The absurd claim that small children take AK-47s into the classroom remains, at least for the moment, as originally published.)

WHAT A remarkable America awaited David Hirst when he moved to there in the 1980s. According to his account of US “gun culture”

1/ Children take AK-47’s to school for show-and-tell, and teachers are more or less fine with this

2/ US cops offer guidance in how best to shoot troublesome neighbours

3/ Savvy, gun-smart American friends equipped him with a shotgun for personal defence

4/ That shotgun was a weapon the like of which no gunsmith has ever seen. On the one hand, according to Hirst, it was “an over and under”, meaning it had two barrels. In the same breath, he describes it as “single-barrelled pump-action killing machine”

5/ He was beaten up not, just by a thug but by a top-shelf Aryan Nations thug.

Oh, and one final curiosity. Early in his column, Hirst recalls being threatened with a pistol in a Carlton pub by career criminal and Pentridge hunger-striker Christopher Dale Flannery.  This happened in 1981, according to Hirst, which is very odd because Flannery had been behind bars since late in 1980, awaiting trial for the murder of bent lawyer Roger Wilson. He remained in custody until his acquittal in October of the following year, which still did not leave Flannery much time to be sporting small arms in an Elgin Street waterhole better known for artsy regulars like playwright Jack Hibberd. As Flannery left court he was immediately arrested and spirited off to Sydney to face another murder charge.

Hirst is an SBS documentarian, so it would be wrong to doubt a word he says. Wrong, but very hard not to.

UPDATE: Hirst's reference to a double-barrel shotgun with but a single barrel has been removed and the column re-written. It now reads, "A friend delivered a Winchester shotgun capable of killing close up or at a good distance."

Shouldn't Fairfax also be posting a little advisory that the text has been corrected?

UPDATE II: In a further bit of tinkering, Hirst's column is now graced by a note announcing it has been amended to correct "an incorrect description of a weapon". That is not the classroom AK-47, evidently, which remains in the copy. Readers wishing to see the improbable original will find Hirst's handiwork sealed in the aspic of ink on paper copies of The Age.

UPDATE III: A Fairfax insider writes: "Some of us hoping the redundancies will persuade editors who publish this crap to get out and get lost."   

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gillard Slept Here .... Sometimes

ABRAHAM LINCOLN had his log cabin and Johnny Cash a shotgun shack, and so did our PM Gillard progress to greater lodgings from her humble start as a "young and naive" lawyer allegedly residing during a period of career crisis and romantic turmoil in this tastefully renovated double-fronted Victorian at 36 St. Phillips Street, Abbotsford.

Just to re-cap, extensive renovations were done to the property while the nation's future leader was playing quoits with Cottontails and bedpost at light-fingered lover Bruce Wilson's nearby Fitzroy digs. When eyebrows were raised about the source of those funds, Gillard produced a hand-written receipt to support her assertion that the property did not benefit from a penny of her lover's ill-gotten gains.

That claim satisfied former News Ltd chief John Hartigan, who fired a columnist for doubting the PM's word, and saw Fairfax, which makes big noises about editorial independence, dispense with the services of broadcaster Michael Smith. As for the Fairfax dead-tree press and the ABC, those prisms of truth would focus their gaze on the former Chez Gillard only if it became clear that the home's  occupant had not recycled her rubbish.

But non-journalists remain interested in the property's history all the same, especially the Professor, who cannot help wondering if Phillips Street's longer-term residents remember their former neighbour and have memories to share about those long-ago renovations and the contractor(s) who executed them. Also a source of curiosity: during the PM's SATDAC period (slap & tickle/dilation & curettage), do they recall if the property was rented, which would put pay to the claim that Gillard was but an occasional overnight guest at Chez Wilson.

Anyone who has inspected the home's interior also is invited to decribe the built-in robes, which must be on the large side to have accommodated all those free frocks from Town Mode.

(Many thanks to reader Brooke for digging up Ms Gillard's former address from an old phone directory. Also, much gratitude to commenters who note that the street is actually St. Phillips Street.)

Deniers Get A Good Rogering

IN THE AGE today -- where else? -- Professor Roger Jones of Victoria University holds forth on just how invaluable Australia's sacrifice will be in lowering global temperatures. Apparently 0.0038 of a degree is hugely significant, and China will think poorly of its southern neighbour if we all don't get together and learn to love the Yabby's carbon tax.

Now Victoria University is a modest centre of learning (with much to be modest about, as they say), and Roger Jones might be seen by some as one of the better arguments for restoring the institution to its glory days as the former Footscray Tech, where valuable skills like plastering and panel beating once were taught.

These days, it is rap music that occupies its warmist academics, and this is worth remembering when weighing just how seriously Jones' assertions should be taken. Here he is, getting down from about the 1:00 minute mark with the foul-mouthed climate crew in the celebrated ABC video "I'm a Climate Scientist".

Yes, he's an effing climate scientist, no doubt about that. How could you not believe every word the man utters?

Justice For All!

A HEART committed to justice beats strongly at the Billabong, where all sorts of toxic “isms” can get a Bunyip riled. Discrimination against mythical creatures tops the list, of course, but a close second is speciesism, which imagines some lifeforms innately superior to all others.

Take horses, for example, which are intelligent , noble and loving animals, yet their dignity is compromised every day by the exploitive compulsion of imperialistic humanity to ride about on their backs. Once, before the world bore the tracks of mankind’s jackboots, horses roamed at will and exercised their equine right to self-determination. No longer. Tormented by the whips of bipedal oppressors, lacerated with spurs of hegemonic subjugation and confined for generations in squalid camps known as “stables”, horses have been disenfranchised, robbed of their birthright to roam freely o’er the grassy plains and seen the blood of martyred mobs poured into human food products.

It has gone on long enough!

So, comrades, a call to action and an invitation to join the Professor’s brand new, grassroots movement, Banish Dobbin’s Shame – BDS for short. Campaigners against equine injustice will be kicking off  the crusade any day now with a protest outside the  Macclesfield Adult Pony Club, which may sound kinky to some, but is no more than your usual collection of bankers, media manipulators and scheming horse oppressors. The goal will be to stop supporters of equine injustice getting into their clubhouse, scare off their sympathisers, annoy the club’s neighbours and have an awful lot of self-righteous fun with chants and shouted slogans.

There will be no need to fret about consequences or arrest, even if a number of attending policemen sustain injuries, as one of the Pony Club’s most energetic members is Magistrate Simon Garnett, who yesterday demonstrated an encouraging tolerance for rowdy protests by those who do not like Israel, Jews or chocolates. In dismissing charges against a gaggle of public nuisances arrested as part of the ongoing harassment of the Max Brenner shop in the QV complex, Garnett defended both the right to protest and the accuseds’ selective deafness:
Mr Garnett said while privately owned, QV was a public space and the protesters had a right to exercise their freedom of speech. Mr Garnett said there was no evidence the accused heard requests by QV management and police to leave.
"They entered for the purpose of conducting a political demonstration. They had a lawful right to enter QV Square," he said.
"It cannot be said it was the actions of the protesters that caused any obstruction, hindering or impediment to members of the public.
"They did not surround the premises with hostile intent or demeanour."
Magistrate Garnett, a workers comp specialist and keen student of ambulances' rear perspective before elevated to the bench in 2006 by then-Attorney General Rob Hulls, will find himself personally inconvenienced when he arrives to sling a saddle on his steed, but fear not! As his Max Brenner ruling demonstrates, he recognises the right to protest, to ruin others’ fun or businesses, is sacrosanct.

Sacrosanct, that is, until Tame Ted Baillieu, or whoever replaces Victoria’s Premier, gets around to putting some fresh bottoms on the bench.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Retirement Home in Clayton

ONE OF quality journalism's mysteries -- the purpose of courses run by the likes hoax-abetter Margaret Simons, for instance -- has been solved. As (former) readers of The Age will be aware, reporters who boast more degrees than a thermometer offer no guarantees of fairness, accuracy or intelligence. Indeed, such qualifications strongly suggest the opposite.

So, if universities aren't there for the purpose of training journalists, what is their real purpose?

To keep editors who have ruined their newspapers off the streets, evidently.

Black Like Her

THOROUGHLY INDIGENOUS artist and Mordy-certified victim Bindi Cole (pictured below) has an exhibition of her Aboriginal art at the University of Ballarat, possibly because the University of Grong Grong Matong was already booked.

In any case, as Bindi's art assures us constantly, social equity is a key element of Mordy-Litijus tribe's manifesto, so people who find the idea of putting white-ish folks in blackface to be repulsive (as below), if only grounds of absurdist inanity, might wish to consult the university's protocols on "offensive material" and perhaps lodge a protest.

There is precedent for this, thanks to Jonathan Holmes, who several times has urged Media Watch viewers to set the authorities on those who dare to air doubts about anthropogenic climate change.

Mind you, Ms Cole's Indigenous credentials are impeccable. She once was observed walking past the old Champion Hotel, a sacred site, and her paternal grandmother is both the picture of duskiness and, as she has explained, the fountainhead of Bindi's aboriginality.

Those troubled by the idea of setting bureaucrats against free speech should remember that Cole and her mates started this by going after Andrew Bolt for hurting their feelings. 

Tame Ted's Guest List

THE upcoming Melbourne Writers Festival grows more thrilling by the day. Much more than a corroboree for pinata-whackers, self-hating Jews and mates-taking-care-of-mates, it will also provide a forum to discuss the latest trends in quality journalism. Amongst the guests, footsore climate jogger and essence of impartiality Melissa Fyfe, who will be sharing the stage with aurally gifted and university-certified public intellectual Tim Dunlop.

But wait, that's not all!

On one particular panel of inky festibators, along with Fyfe and Dunlop, audiences will find noted expert on matters media Sue Roff, whose credentials are exquisite (emphasis added at the Billabong):
Sue Roff is the Executive Director at Arts Project Australia, a centre of excellence that supports artists with intellectual disability by promoting their work and advocating for inclusion within contemporary art practice. She has an extensive career in arts management, sponsorship, fundraising, partnering and volunteering.
The MWF is always a lot of fun, but this year's conclave promises to exceed all previous efforts at selective inclusiveness. From red to green, the guest list covers all the acceptable colours in Tame Ted Baillieu's paintbox of public funding.

Victorians attending the festival should be very pleased. Victorians underwriting the events with their tax dollars and speeding fines perhaps less so.

Hot Deals On Unicorn Poo

THE childlike Adam Morton, eyes wide with innocent wonder, today reports that Victoria could draw all its energy needs from the sun. Mankind may or may not be changing the climate, but one thing will remain immutable until the end of days: When slick charlatans meet gullible dills, count on bridges being sold and bought.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

For The Record

BILLABONG visitors are a cluey lot, so this query is borne on the modest hope that someone may have the answer:

What was Julia Gillard's address in Collingwood, circa 1993, when she was mostly sleeping over with beau and blackguard Bruce Wilson at 85 Kerr Street, Fitzroy?

The property records, including building permits and permissions to renovate, might make interesting reading. The name of the contractor, for example, would be good to have, as this detail might inspire an industrious reporter to track him down and ask a few questions about the manner in which he was paid.  So far, all we have is Gillard's assurance, supported by a handwritten receipt no one else seen, that her home improvements were paid for with cash unencumbered by fraud or outright theft.

Yes, yes, it's a long shot -- not finding the records, mind you, just locating a curious reporter.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Liar's Love Nest

HOSPITAL duty and geriatric taxi services mean no more posts until Sunday night, but until then contemplate this lovely home at 85 Kerr Street, Fitzroy, where "a young and naive lawyer" wiggled and wobbled  in her scanties with love god and shakedown artist Bruce Wilson.

Andrew Bolt, the bravest man at News Ltd., refuses to drop the subject of our PM and her light-fingered  former swain. He has some fascinating documents on  his Herald Sun site, where the evidence mounts that News Limited is going down the Fairfax road. First, the company's papers were banned from examining our PM's dark background. Now readers cannot comment on the evidence Andrew is providing.

And on the subject of hospitals, many thanks to the several readers who offered to buy Father Bunyip a wheelchair. The generosity is appreciated, but money isn't the issue. Rather, it has been the Pater's refusal to admit he is getting older and now needs one. The hobbles down hospital corridors over the past week or so appear to have finally persuaded him.

Back Sunday night or Monday morning. 

A Dunlop Retread

IT'S FUNNY the things you find tucked away in the attic. Mention of Tim Dunlop in the post below prompted memories of blogging's early days, when the star of the upcoming Melbourne Writers Festival falsely accused the Professor of wishing him dead. Nothing could have been further from the truth because Tim is a genuinely remarkable specimen -- a writer with the world's most astonishing ears, as the dusty find below, just retrieved from the Billabong's archives, strongly suggests. Published in January, 2005, on Tim's now-deleted Road To Surfdom blog, it was penned while the author was resident in Washington DC and studying to become a public intellectual.

Prepare to be astonished by the scholar's acute hearing and flawless stenography. Here's his original post:


Sitting on the train on the way back from New York after Christmas I overheard the woman behind me talking to the man next to her. I noticed them first when I was putting my bag on the overhead rack, before we pulled out of Penn Station. They obviously didn't know each other but struck up a conversation, the way you do in such situations. She was about forty, he was maybe fifty. They were both African American. Pretty soon the conversation turned to Iraq. I was sitting in front of them so couldn't see their expressions; could only hear the matter-of-fact tone of (mainly) her voice.

"My boyfriend is serving," the woman said. "He's a Sergeant. His original tour was for a year and then it was increased to eighteen months and then two years."
She said that there were seven other people from her street currently serving in the Army in Iraq. "Four of them have been killed," she added. "The most recent was a boy of twenty-three. Just married. His mamma's only child. She lives next door to me."
"Where you from?" the man asked.
"Boston. Part of Boston where you used to get beaten up if your suntan made you too dark. But that was a long time ago."
There was a bit of giggling between them then. Then she said words to the effect of, don't give me any of this Red-State/Blue-State nonsense. "Four boys from my street are dead."
Her cell phone rang and when she finished the call she told man that that was her son. "He wants to join up," she said. "He's young. I beg him not to. But I'm from a long line of men who have served. My father. Grandfather. But I don't want him to go."
"Can you stop him?" the man asked. I guess she might have shrugged, but she didn't say anything.
"My boyfriend has sensitive skin so we sent him a box of Dove Soap," she said picking up the conversation. "We've organised a bunch of money at different times, the people on my street. We do collections or sell things. We take it in turns to send a big package to each one of the boys."
"When was the last time you saw your boyfriend?" the man asked.
"January. He was sent back because he was shot through the shoulder. Nasty it was too. They were in a patrol and the van in front them was attacked. He got hit when he got out. He was out at Walter Reed in Washington D.C.. But they patched him up and sent him back over."
"I hear that's happening a lot," the man said.
They were silent for quite a while after that, as the train pulled through Newark and then onto Metropark and eventually Trenton. During that part of the journey I had my headphones on, listening to I Dream A Highway.
Oh I dream a highway back to you love
A winding ribbon with a band of gold
A silver vision come and rest my soul
I dream a highway back to you
When I took them off I heard the man and the woman again.
"Who's that Teddy Bear for?" the man asked.
"My boyfriend."
"Your boyfriend?" he asked, incredulous.
"Yes," she said, only a little defensive.
"What's your boyfriend going to do with a big Teddy Bear like that in I-Raq?" the man wanted to know.
"He likes them," she said.
"Can't you send him something useful?"
"We did that already. This is for fun. He really likes them. He collects them."
"Sheesh. Can't see what a Sergeant is going to do with a big Teddy Bear over there in Iraq," he continued. "What will the other men say?"
"He's a Sergeant," she said. "They probably won't be saying anything."
"Not to his face," the man suggested.
There was a silence again. Then they both laughed.
That's the sort of atmospheric, on-the-spot reporting -- complete with the appropriate iPod tune at just the right and most poignant moment -- that gets a fellow invited to the Melbourne Writers Festival. If a poor Bunyip had those sort of skills an invitation to speak would by now be on the mantelpiece. Sadly, none of the literary luvvies spending Ted the Twerp's money appreciate a constructive critic, so the Professor has been spurned, quite possibly for holding specific doubts about Tim's account. Also from the attic:
Jan 5, 2005: Tim Dunlop must be about ready to pack his bags, flee George Bush's tyranny and embrace an academic career in one of Australia's fine institutes of higher learning, where levels of credulity are such that he will fit right in. But there might be a better career option for a fellow of his bent and talents: understudy to the Silly's Paul McGeough, who needs to hear a dubious story only once to deem it worth repeating -- so long, of course, as it reflects badly on George W. Bush, the liberation or Iraq or that country's Iyad Allawi. As we know from McGeough's breathless reports of interim Prime Minister Two Gun's prisoner-management policies, a couple of unnamed witnesses will do just fine. In recounting a recent choo-choo ride from New York to Washington, Tim also displays a genuinely journalistic talent for seizing on the improbable quote.

"My boyfriend is serving," records Tim, who was eavesdropping like a demon stenographer on the black couple behind him, in between listening to snatches of popular music that, as if by arrangement with a celestial accompanist, are aptly resonant with his subjects' tragic tidings.

... she said that there were seven other people from her street currently serving in the Army in Iraq. "Four of them have been killed," she added. "The most recent was a boy of twenty-three. Just married. His mamma's only child. She lives next door to me."

"Where you from?" the man asked.

"Boston. Part of Boston where you used to get beaten up if your suntan made you too dark. But that was a long time ago."

This information tickled the Professor's interest. Four dead on a single street! Surely this must have caught the eye of at least one American reporter? If so, a quick Google failed to turn up a single corroborative report.

Now this was a mystery, so it was on to the list of casualties that CNN maintains at its website. Since it assembles the names of some 1,400-plus Americans, Brits and Poles who have given their lives for a better world, including many of their pictures, it's quite a list, although easy enough to search, thanks to the wonders of "CTRL + F".

Hmmmm. Only a couple from Boston, and neither from the same street.

Well, perhaps Tim's informant was simply being imprecise. Perhaps she actually hails from some other locality. So the next search was on the broader "Massachusetts".

No luck there, either. The state's fallen hail in single numbers from (in no particular order) Dighton, Lynn, Methven, Chelmsford, North Egremont, Rehoboth, Pembroke, Raynham, Springfield, South Dartmouth, Townsend, Groton, Middleboro, Plymouth, Pittsfield, Randolph, Wakefield, and Dracut.

Several towns have seen multiple casualties -- two in Bedford and another from New Bedford, for example, but it turns out that those towns are some distance apart, the latter being quite near Harvard and the former deep in the interior.

If Tim takes issue with this analysis, the Professor will be only too happy to link to his defence.
The offer of a link was extended in 2005. It remains in effect today.