Friday, November 30, 2012

More Fun Than Joining Probis

BUSY nights around the kitchen table at the Anne Summers household? You bet! There is Young Chip of The Drum in his high chair, brow furrowed and attempting to write a diplomatic rejection note to the resurgent Margo Kingston, whose return to journalism has not been going well.  She has a scoop to share, a desperation to make voters aware that all this talk about Julia Gillard’s AWU slush fund ignores the bigger issue of Tony Abbott’s long-ago efforts to torpedo Pauline Hanson’s political career.

This view obviously presents a problem. It was only this week in Parliament that Julia Gillard heaped guilt by association on Abbott and Julie Bishop, whose attempts to wring some straight answers were rebuffed with accusations that they are in bed with at least one former Hansonite, whom the prime Minister insisted has been responsible for blackening her good name. Shagging other women’s husbands, being unable to say if stolen money paid for her home renovations and having been fired by a major law firm are, apparently, insufficient shadows to darken the character of a strong Labor woman.

So Margo’s contribution had to go. How could Abbott be both a sworn enemy of Hanson and her minion’s eager tool? Certain manifestations of cognitive dissonance the Left can assimilate – Julia Gillard, honest lawyer, aids and abets a grand fraud but remains entirely blameless and pure --  but other thoughts simply confuse the narrative. Safer, much safer, for Young Chip to stick with the party line and have ex-Drum supremo Jonathan Green channel his old friend Alene Composta, which he does with ardent aplomb. No wonder the pair got on so well. As for Margo, she can go tweet.

And at the table’s head there is Anne Summers, beavering away at her latest journalistic, and modestly christened, tour de force, Anne Summers Reports: Sane, Factual, Relevant.  Summers has been down this road before. Stalwart of the National Times, hood ornament at Fairfax Media, publisher and proprietor of Ms magazine – all went bust or are about to, so it can be said with absolute certainty that spectacular failure is a destination whose path she knows by heart. Her latest project, revealed to the world today, testifies that Summers’ ambitions are more modest this time, which should make the latest road to ruin less taxing.

She is certainly off to a characteristic start. Glance through the offerings – The Stolen Generation Was Sexually Abused Too! Fashionable Architects Confounded by Big Apple Climate Doom! – and eventually you get to a review of what sounds a very annoying post-modernist novel about noted Nazi Reinhard Heydrich. Here is its opening paragraph:

ON A HOT DAY outside Prague in 1942, a Mercedes convert­ible slows to halt before a solitary figure in the middle of the road, a man with a raincoat slung over one arm. Inside the idling car is Obergruppen­f├╝hrer Reinhard Heydrich, the Protector of Czechoslovakia (the Reich’s wartime industrial powerhouse) and one of the ris­ing stars of Nazi Germany. The figure in the road aims a Sten machinegun at the man who declared all of Europe’s Jews ‘condemned to death’ two years earlier at Wannsee, and …nothing. The trigger sticks. Chaos ensues.

Nothing happened, really? This may come as news to Summers, but a fellow resistance member then tossed a satchel charge at Heydrich’s Mercedes, peppering him with shrapnel and prompting a raging infection that carried him off several days later.

In her statement of goals and principles, Summers has this to say:
This is our pledge. We will be sane. We will be factual. And we will be relevant.
Sanity is, of course, a subjective state, and anything that whines is “relevant” in the circles in which Summers and Young Chip circulate. But the “factual” bit, that must be coming into  effect with the next edition, due in late January. By then, one assumes, the grant application will be in place with Summer's pal, Sophie Cunningham, who oversees the Australia Council's Literature Board.

For those more interested than Summers in Heydrich’s end, this is decent primer:

UPDATE: Scrotum Face is also taking dictation from Alene's ghost.


Otherwise Occupied

APOLOGIES for the past few day's absence, due in part to the pleasure of bobbing quite a bit at anchor and, a greater reason, to being dumbstruck by our PM's brazen indifference to truth or evidence. She's a piece of work, Ms Gillard.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

By the hair on her chinny chin chin

HOW can it be, in this age of strong women,  that Losa Morrison has been overlooked for ALP preselection and immediate elevation to the inner ranks of the Gillard cabinet?

Losa explains that she is growing that Mo-vember beard to help her father cope with his depression. Yep, that must cheer him right up.

The Australian Financial Rot

IT SEEMS the one thing life guarantees is disappointment. You think things are taking a turn for the better, that there has been an outbreak of common sense, and what happens? Reality goes all AFR on you. A year or so ago, the business paper with all those the anti-business columnists and reporters acquired a new editor from the Australian -- a fire-breathing type, it was hoped, aware of the rather obvious fact that a publication aimed at investors should probably support free markets, limited government and dispassionate appraisal of policies' worth and merits.

And what did we end up with? Lot's of this sort of stuff.

A comedian tells some sexist and unsound jokes at a gathering of the Australian Hotels Association and that is reported, which is fair enough. So what illustration does some unsupervised leftoid mole in the AFR's pictures department choose to illustrate the story? An old picture of Tony Abbott, who did not attend the event, wasn't there, didn't laugh at the gags and knew nothing about it. The picture and caption are below.

Federal opposition frontbencher Bob Baldwin (left), pictured with opposition leader Tony Abbott in October, says he doesn’t “support any attacks based on a person’s race, sexuality, age or weight”. Mr Baldwin was present at an Australian Hotels Association dinner during which Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Finance Minister Penny Wong were the butt of sexist and homophobic jokes. Photo: Andrew Meares

Gina Rinehart has been keeping own counsel of late, telegraphing no intentions or indications of what she might have in store for Fairfax. If she does not make her move soon there will be absolutely nothing left to rehabilitate.

UPDATE: Actually, someone is buying Faifax. FXJ is up to 46 cents and the volume, just 90 minutes into trading, is huge. 

Stephanie Knows the Ropes

STEPHANIE Peatling of the Silly Moaning Herald understands the appropriate relationship journalists must maintain in their dealings with the powerful, most particularly our Prime Minister:

If you have wondered why this government has survived a stellar record of incompetence without ever being called seriously to account, the reluctance of Peatling and many like her to be thought other than a prime ministerial allies and all-round team players may help to explain things.

It also helps to explain why Fairfax circulations are plunging -- down 25 percent in a single year at Peatling's former roost, the Sun-Herald. If Fairfax survives long enough to welcome a new owner, that relationship between bum-kissing and near bankruptcy would be worth bearing in mind.

(Thanks to Bob on the Murray for noticing Peatling's eager debasement)

UPDATE: Just imagine if, instead of tut-tutting into her nosegay, Peatling had spoken up, perhaps to say something like this: "Now hang on a tick, Prime Minister, there is more than one of us rolling their eyes. Some straight answers, please, and you'll get a lot more respect."

Monday, November 26, 2012

A More Appropriate Australia Day Celebration

EVERY SO OFTEN adversity presents opportunities for the wise eye to spot and tonight, as White Ribbon Day draws to a close, is one of those Eureka! moments when all of inspiration’s many pieces click suddenly into place. The problem is that, with all the White Ribbon publicists  and promoters packing up their press kits and quotable social workers for another year, how will Awareness Inc., sustain itself until Earth Hour arrives in four months’ time? The answer is so straightforward, so blindingly obvious, it is a genuine wonder nobody has thought of it until now: Combine the two!

At the midway point between the two guilt-edged publicity campaigns, around the date which now marks the First Fleet’s arrival, we must have a new festival of national guilt. Ardently promoted with billboards and Lateline interviews, it will include posters and TV ads featuring men’s faces in rapid close-up, each announcing “I vow never to do violence to a woman with a power tool.”

Call it Green-Striped White Ribbon Day and it’s a keeper.

Australia Day is a bit of loss, anyway, a good day for a race riot but worth not much more than that if the Prime Minister is not in the mood for a bit of restlessness in Humpytown. So why not replace it with an official festival which members of the Caring Industrial Complex can celebrate by hectoring blameless viewers about the violence they do not commit? When the day is done, all concerned can then go back to campaigning for the more nuanced sentencing of the genuinely violent.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gillard going, going....?

Two calls from people who like to follow politics and sometimes know a thing or two. Both report rumours that a move against Gillard is afoot.

It is the Sabbath, so let us set aside the mouse, rake or Mixmaster and join hands in prayer: 

Please, Great Bunyip, don't rob us of tomorrow's Question Time. Let her swing for awhile yet. Of this we ask. Amen

UPDATE: Well, Question Time came and went and she is still there. For now.

Start a Race Riot, Win Life's Lottery

Tim Blair brings news of Kim Sattler, the Humpytown Crier and noted supporter of terrorists, who last came to prominence when her conversations with a prime ministerial staffer launched an Indigenous intifada against Tony Abbott. Readers will recall the big news arising from that event was that Julia Gillard lost her shoe; less commented was the fact that she surrounds herself with people who see a race a riot on Australia Day as a neat trick for impaling a political opponent. Sattler kept a low profile after that disgrace, but is now back in action and denouncing Abbott as a lifelong Zionist, which probably means the Opposition leader has more wild scenes ahead. As recent events in Sydney have demonstrated, Sons of the Prophet tend to a much greater volatility than welfare recipients living in shipping containers on the lawn of Parliament House.

But what of Sattler's phone buddy, Gillard staffer Tony Hodges? He last made headlines with news that his part in the Australia Day outrage had earned him the sack -- a career setback from which he progressed directly to London and a reported job at the European Bank for Reconstruction with former Labor hack Senator Bob McMullan. If you need to be swept under a rug it is nice to find a mentor beneath the pile with a pay cheque ready and waiting

Well things are going swimmingly for Hodges, it is good to report. There is lots of European touring, a comfy lifestyle and many happy snapshots of his travels to share with friends back home.

And Hodges' happy lot includes plenty of time for twittering as well, including to any number of reporters. Surprisingly, given that many questions about the Australian Day riot remain unanswered, their interest in the co-instigator of that February unpleasantness appears limited to cooking tips...

 ... and chummy, idle chit chat

One day, being journalists and driven by a compulsion to reveal the truth, the Fourth Estate may get back to asking about that riot, what Hodges' current job may be costing the Australian taxpayer, who arranged it, and if he has any plans to whip some trouble with the Welsh by passing along the whisper that David Cameron has been heard engaging in hate speech against leeks.

But the minestrone has to cook first.

UPDATE: Commenter BH notes one of those delightful coincidencs. Today in the Sunday Telegraph, Maiden describes the Australia Day riot thus:

After some false starts and celebrated debacles - witness the Australia Day fiasco which included the Prime Minister losing a shoe - her office is gearing up for an election year.

Yes, it is that lost shoe which is the most important thing to remember about the melee. Not the lost adviser-cum-kitchen companion

Friday, November 23, 2012

How to Deal With a Rude Dill

BEFORE submitting to Jon Faine's interruptions this morning on ABC Radio 774, Michael Smith and Mark Baker should have spent a few minutes reviewing James Delingpole's technique.

A good line to use with Faine (and other ABC hacks and flacks): "Will you stop interrupting me!"

UPDATE: Faine commutes to work:

This is a small detail of a splendid cartoon, one of many, by Beagle Blog Cartoons. Check them out.

ADVISORY: The sky is clearing here in Melbourne and the golf club bar will be a'twitter with lady members fresh from their morning round, the Grass Parrot by far the fairest bird of all. Posting will resume later, after the Professor has put the wood to good use.

And the Winner Is.....

DRUM ROLL, please (no, not that Drum): the correct answer to the competition to spot the genuine,authentic Aboriginal representative on the ABC Advisory Board is Dr Patrick Bradbery, the fellow with the bush beard any casual observer, if not otherwise alerted, might take just as easily as an indication of rabbinical lineage. Perhaps the Charles Stuart University academic moonlights as a mohel who prefers to perform his sacred duties with a sharp stone or broken bottle. In this age of multicultural melding, who can tell?

What we do know is that Dr Bradbery counsels the ABC about its operations and content and, as the author of many tracts and little tomes about the art of learning, that he is especially qualified to help chart the broadcaster’s course. One of his papers, “Arcane Diversity: Is It More Important than the Superficially Obvious?”, seems particularly germane:

When the word diversity is mentioned in contemporary discourse, it evokes concepts like age, race, gender, religious expression, marital status and sexual preferences. While these are undoubtedly important markers of diversity, they are but the more or less obvious indicators that can lead to unproductive stereotyping. Hidden below the surface is a vast ocean of diversity that is harder to detect and consequently often ignored. Just a few examples of this diversity include: access to resources; knowledge; skills; physical health; emotional health; mental health; learning; development; personality; wealth; motives; intents; belief systems; and intelligence. This paper explores just a small part of that ocean in an attempt to bring to the surface one of the vital dimensions of understanding and responding to diversity. That part is that of learning and development. The paper is based on a transcendental phenomenological study of learning and development carried out by the author as a part of his doctoral studies. The conclusion drawn is that facing the endemic challenge of diversity of outcomes, which defies the best intentions of individuals and nations, will benefit from acknowledging, detecting and responding to diversity in learning and development and similar arcane characteristics of the community.
Dr Bradbery is quite right about that. Some strains of diversity are very hard to recognise. Very hard, indeed.

Jon Faine Doubles Down

AS noted yesterday, it is a good thing Jon Faine found paid work as a toady on ABC Radio 774, rather than remaining with the law, because a compulsion to connect dots is generally regarded as an asset amongst learned friends. Faine, whose preciousness needs to be valued in carats, displayed none of that this morning, despite the oft-thwarted attempts of Michael Smith and The Age's Mark Baker. Each attempted to address the increasingly insistent question of our Prime Minister's fitness to hold the highest elected office in the land, and neither could get a word in edgeways.

Smith was seldom allowed to finish a sentence and, when he did, his point was engulfed by the shill's interruptions and poo-hooing. Baker fared somehat better, several times insisting on his right to complete a thought, but the Voice of the Taxpayer was similarly unmoved.

If the ABC answered to ACMA, as do commercial stations, listeners could complain, as another ABC Voice of the Establishment, Jonathan Holmes, urged Media watch's viewers to do in regard to Alan Jones' climate-change heresies. Sadly, ACMA has no authority over the national broadcaster, nor does the Press Council.

What that means, as complainants have learned , is that the ABC pays Faine a very generous salary, gives him a pulpit, promotes him as person worth hearing -- and then adjudicates on his fitness to broadcast. One might as well ask the College of Cardinals to discipline the Pope.

The ABC costs taxpayers somewhere north of $1 billion a year. Where do those of us who foot that bill file a consumer complaint likely to be taken seriously?

Throw a Dart, Spear or Boomerang

(The competition is over. The answer is here)

MEET A BODY of public spirited citizens, an even dozen community representatives of whom you have never heard but who nevertheless play their small part in all our lives.

Today's first assignment: Can you pick the Aborigine? (Hint: It is not the dusky gentleman third from the left)

The answer will be posted later this morning.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Why Doesn't Bolt Have a Walkley?

HEAR Jon Faine explain why Julia Gillard is pure as the driven snow.

Now go to Andrew Bolt and learn why it is a good thing the 774 toady does not work as a lawyer. Here is a sample (Faine in italics):
…it’s to do with the slush fund that she was helping to establish for people who were acting as a group within the AWU at the time.
Fudge. Well, less than a group, Jon. It essentially operated just for Bruce Wilson and, to some extent, for his bagman, Ralph Blewett. And it was set up for their benefit as individuals, not AWU officials.

Well, at that stage, I do remember laughing out loud on air and saying since when should a client not act for someone because they might be breaking the law?

Red herring. No one to my knowledge has ever suggested Gillard should not have taken as a client someone who “might be breaking the law”.
There is plenty more where that came from. And do notice Andrew's update:

"Michael Smith rang Faine for a right of reply, but was not given one."

Easier Listening

FURTHER to the post below about the aural torment that is Jon Faine (now mercifully off the air, thanks to the cricket), it is worth remembering that the ABC is supposed to be a market-failure broadcaster. Therefore, a solemn pledge: If PM Abbott fixes the ABC, as he is duty bound to do, and perhaps appoints a Bunyip to the board, Faine will be replaced by a show guaranteed to satisfy the scandalously unfulfilled need for cracker versions of TV theme music.

This would be a good start:

followed by this gem

It's a pity Faine has no advertisers. We could all boycott them.

The Pain of Faine

IF YOU are not listening to Jon Faine this morning, well, you  are missing a treat. He has been going at it for a bit over an hour, in which time this government's ABC-funded publicist has

1/ Read a transcript of a woman alleged to be Ralph Blewitt's sister, Penny, telling a Perth radio station that her brother is a crook and cannot be trusted.

2/ Interviewed PR lady and former Age industrial reporter Joanne Painter, who was mentioned in Ian Cambridge's diary of his investigation of the AWU-Wilson-Gillard love triangle as having been quoted by a third party as saying that she had agreed to spike a story on renovations to Gillard's home allegedly paid for with Brown Bag Bruce's ill-gotten gains. Here is the relevant paragraph from The Australian's story:
The Cambridge diary states that in September 1995 Mr Gries revealed to Mr Cambridge that a journalist at The Age newspaper was going to publish a “fairly correct” story about union-funded renovations at Ms Gillard’s house… The diary states that Mr Gries knew the proposed article was the work of Age journalist Joanne Painter.... According to the diary, Mr Gries said he had “specifically requested” Painter drop the article and she had agreed to do so. Painter declined to comment yesterday.
Today, chatting with the oh-so-sympathetic Faine, Ms Painter described the Australian's story as "a confection", said the young and naive Gillard never crossed her radar during her "crusading" days at the Age and further denied ever having worked on such a story.

Faine did not ask Ms Painter, and she did not volunteer, why she declined the Australian's request for comment. Could it be that the newspaper's Hedley Thomas is the better-versed interlocutor and Faine a more sympathetic ear?

3/ Faine then shared his microphone with former Labor spinner and Insiders compere Barrie Cassidy, who outdid his host in asserting that there is no "there" there in all this curiosity about Gillard's past, honesty and character.

Scrotum Face then announced that listeners should check the taxpayer-funded Drum later in the day, where he promised a further demolition of the baseless conspiracy against a good and virtuous woman. Ben Eltham's earlier effort needs a little bolstering, evidently.

John Howard made a half-hearted effort to clean out the ABC's stable. Prime Minister Abbott, if he is worthy of that office, will need to do a proper job.

That'll Sell a Few Copies in Caulfield

ONE OF the nice things about being Michael Leunig must surely be that Age readers are of like mind, which is to say so narrow in their perspective that a simple meme brings absolute fulfillment. In the Duck Botherer's case it is the idea that Jews and Nazis are somehow comparable. Remember this little effort from a few years ago:
That manifestation of Leunig's insight was so offensive even then-editor Michael Gawenda refused to publish it, which is saying something, because there was almost nothing else he would not commit to print. Gawenda is long gone, but Leunig's Nazi fixation remains in effect, as may be seen in today's half measure of wit:

Regular visitors to the Billabong will need no explanation of the second cartoon's inspiration, but for the leftoids who stumble in from time to time (Numbers, where have you gone?), read this.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Suffer the Little Children

BACK in the Sixties, the ABC honoured its charter by producing quantities of genuinely educational material, of which the clip below is an example:

These days things are bit different. Rather than the Why Is It So? approach and its progression from hypothesis to experiment, observation and conclusion, the order has been reversed. Now the ABC's resident hip science dude begins with a finding and assembles the evidence to make it stand up. If a few facts get mangled in the process, so be it. And if a bit of sensationalism is required to sell the line, no worries; the planet's future is at stake, after all. The important thing is not to make children understand, it is to make them believe.

Make no mistake, Julius Sumner Miller and Ruben "The Surfing Scientist" Meerman are directly comparable in the roles the ABC of then and now have assigned them.  Isn't that sad.

UPDATE: Not entirely comparable, actually. It is inconceivable Julius Sumner Miller would have put his name to this remark:

Make That Ten

THE Silly's environmental guru, a modest fellow with much to be modest about, wonders why this little blog has published nine posts concerning his sweet self:

Barely more than a youngster and evidently quite easily distracted, Ben will learn as he grows older that finding time for important things isn't all that hard. Indeed, one can even get in a fair bit of golf and fishing without entirely forsaking curiosity.

Take this story, for example, which Cubby and colleague Peter Hannam rushed into pixels yesterday afternoon. Apart from demonstrating that there are still a couple of good things to be said of the ALP -- that would be "Martin" + "Ferguson" -- it also demonstrates what happens when reporters allow a blinkered sympathy for the cause to trump an inquisitive nature. It is not that the story is wrong, or not obviously so, it is simply that it neglects to ask any obvious questions. For example, here is a video of the researchers discussing their methods, which involve strapping some sort of a sniffing device to their car and then going for a drive.

It all seems quite reasonable, and perhaps there is nothing that can be said to fault it. But no reader of Cubby's story would know that because there is no mention of what other men and women of science might make of the technique. For example:

On the bitumen and travelling at speed, the car's engine revolutions would be low and its emissions, which might (or might not) contaminate the readings, could conceivably produce the "natural" 2ppm-or-less referenced in the video. By the same token, the bitumen itself might seal emissions, keeping readings artificially low.On broken ground -- beside a pipeline, say -- where the vehicle will be making harder work of it on more porous surfaces, recorded emissions could quite conceivably be higher.

The thing is, while these questions arise in a curious mind, they seem not to have nagged at Cubby, who appears to have made no effort to ascertain the efficacy of high-speed automated sniffing.

Nor has he placed the researchers in the context of their views, which a link to the video (above) might have achieved. Each researcher is quite clearly a warmist, so the diligently curious would want to place their pronouncements in that frame, just as it might also have been worth noting that Dr Santos is doing very nicely with climate-related ARC grants. Very nicely indeed.

And then there is the manner in which, as Ferguson noted, the sniffers began trumpeting their findings before getting the all-clear via that peer review business we hear so much about -- at least we hear about it when it suits the sort of alarmists the shark sooker is given to quoting. As for deniers, well they get a less sympathetic hearing, as this sad video of a young zealot having his ears pinned back attests. Make a note, by the way, of Cubby's emphasis at the 5:50 mark on the vital importance of peer review. Yesterday, however, when writing of the paper that drew Ferguson's ire, Cubby's approach was markedly different. The lack of peer review was merely mentioned and passed over. As for the fact that the paper has been seized upon and trumpeted by anti-CSG groups far and wide, well that context is not mentioned at all.

That a near-bankrupt company still finds the money to pay Cubby's salary and that he returns the favour by being so often unquestioning is really quite sad. Carbonphobia is costing all of us, even Cubby, a good deal of money. Curiosity is a splendid thing, often satisfying in itself. As a steward of the public trust, Cubby really should give it a try. His warmist mates might think less of him, but he could draw on the compensatory satisfaction of knowing he would no longer be accused of serving as an eager shill.

Until then, someone has to do it -- no matter how much an inquiring nature interferes with golf and fishing. Some things are worth the time, and getting as close as possible to the truth is prominent amongst them.

A NOTE: Seriously, Ben, curiosity does not demand all that much time. This post, start to finish, including the googling, writing and linking, took all of 38 minutes 53 minutes with corrections. You must spend at least that much time every day policing the office re-cycling bin.