Friday, April 04, 2003

Dummy Spit Snob of the Week

Friday, 4 April 2003

Despite a determined, some might say desperate, search through this week's op-ed pages, Phillip Adams is the unchallenged winner of the inaugural Snob of the Week award. To make matters worse, it looks like I gave up on Dummy Spit of the Week too soon. Janet Albrechtsen's Truth the loser in race to gag media is the best example of the genre seen so far this year:

Daily anti-war protests show up how free speech is feast or famine, depending on your politics. Today, students and anti-war protesters ... promise to spill on to streets in cities across Australia, a repeat of last week's protests. They gorge on a smorgasbord of free speech. Good for them. It's part of the rough and tumble of civilised society.

Yet in other quarters a spectre hangs over free speech. Here regular warnings from speech commissars warn us to mind what we say lest we offend Australian Muslims. Here the right not to be offended trumps the right to free speech.

The enemy of free speech on Wednesday was former Liberal Senator Chris Puplick, president of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board. In his report Race for the Headlines:

Puplick tried to shame The Australian for investigating refugee claims by Ali Bakhtiyari, pushed on to the refugee stage by activist groups hoping to embarrass the Howard Government. He tried to shame those in the media who exposed a strong racial element behind a series of brutal gang rapes of Australian girls in Sydney by Muslim boys. [My emphasis]

In the interest of balance, here's a little of what chapter 3 of the report says about Janet:

There are also examples of journalists who blatantly name race and religion as the cause of criminal behaviour. In July 2002, Janet Albrechtsen wrote a column in The Australian that stated:

French and Danish experts say perpetrators of gang rape flounder between their parents’ Islamic values and ociety’s more liberal democratic values, falling back on the most basic pack mentality of violence and self gratification.
[my emphasis again]

You probably remember the rest of the story (including the part about how Janet slipped the word "Islamic" in on her own initiative) from seeing it on Media Watch. But let's give Janet the penultimate word:

Airing offensive views is the best hope of showing them up if they are wrong. And sometimes even offensive opinions might be right. Imagine that.

That sometimes goes for other people's opinions of our writing. Unless you're a hero-columnist of course.


Friday, 4 April 2003

In a comment to my post Some Meta-Comments on WOMD (unreliable permalink), derrida derider has provided more accurate historical information on the use of chemical weapons in the Great War, and by Italy in Abyssinia in the 1930s.

Word of the Day: Latte

Friday, 4 April 2003

I think we can forego the Macquarie Dictionary link on this one - we all know what latte is. It's what the out of touch inner city elites drink to wash down their lunch-time foccaccias or croques-monsieur while their less pretentious suburban cousins are happy to settle for a cappucino and a toasted sanger.

If this item from yesterday's Age is any indication, there's a lot of people in the out-of-touch inner city elite. And the numbers are growing. According to a survey by BIS Shrapnel, latte consumption grew by 50% over two years with 225 million dollars worth of lattes sold last year. Assuming that the retail price of a cafe latte is $2.50, that's a total of 90 million cafe lattes.

This may look like an alarming figure: 90 million is a lot of cups of under-frothed cappucino. So I think it would be responsible to put these consumption figures into perspective, to scotch any media scare campaigns on the effects this noxious beverage is having on public health and morals before they get started.

If we asume that most latte use is so-called "social use", restricted to a quick shot in the morning while reading the papers on office time or a lunchtime pick-me-up 90 million cups of the leftist's favourite cuppa can be consumed by only 346,154 out-of-touch inner city elitist types. If we assume latte drinking is a once-a-day seven days a week habit, the figure comes down to 246,575. That's a fairly small proportion of the population, so the risk that the Australian mainstream will be washed away in a flood of over-sweetened caffeinated bilge is very small. At least in the short term.

In the longer term, the picture may be a little less rosy. Extrapolating a 50% growth rate over the next ten years gives the following figures for the numbers of latte drinkers in the population:


As well as the obvious political problems which will inevitably arise when 9 million Australians have lost touch with mainstream opinion there are some difficult planning issues: where the bloody hell will we build the sidewalk cafes these wankers will inevitably demand as their "right"?

Monday, March 31, 2003

And the First Nominee is ...

Monday, 31 March 2003

I spent the week-end with the rainforest editions of The Age and The Australian. Besides reading up on the New South Wales Right of the Anglican Church (apparently they're a lot like the Sydney Diocese of the Australian Labor Party) in The Age's Good Weekend colour supplement, I was looking for likely contenders for the new "Snob of the Week" spot. I found this disappointing effort in The Weekend Australian Magazine:

Extraordinary that a couple of women could go and see a much discussed film about [Virginia} Woolf, sit all the way through it and not have the foggiest idea, after all that, who the hell she was. And you suspect this may be the case with the overwhelming majority of those seeing The Hours. Yet they'll know everything it's possible to know and far more than you need to know about Nicole [Kidman] and her marital vicissitudes - and all about her prosthetic nose.

You won't find this on-line: instead, you'll find a much better article about religious fundamentalism, from the same author.

Still, there's no way out of it - thanks to his article in the print edition of The Weekend Australian, Phillip Adams is the current front-runner for Snob of the Week. I'm starting to go off this idea.