Saturday, July 23, 2005

Under Renovation

In response to repeated hints that pretty much "whooshed" me ("whoosh" being the sound of an idea going over your head), I've turned on the RSS feed. I've noticed a few other things that need a bit of sprucage so it's time to hang out that sign that says:

"We are currently undertaking renovations. We apologise for any temporary inconvenience this may cause you."

State of Nature

An Epic Saga of Life Before the Body Politic. Maybe.
Episode 1: Ayra Gets Lug's Goat

The first rays of the morning sun struck through the cave entrance onto Lug's face, waking her. She looked around cautiously, assessing the new day. Obviously, she was still alive; that was a good start. No great beast loomed in the cave entrace, ready to strike her down and tear out her throat as soon as she moved; that was good too. Cautiously, she stood up and moved towards the opening. So far her day was turning out well.

Lug's first tasks for the day were to feed, water and milk her goat. She walked down the hillside to the crude goat-pen she had built to confine the goat and protect it, somewhat, from the great beasts of the forest. When she reached the pen, the goat was gone. Lug checked the ground for tracks and found the imprint of goat hooves and human footprints leading away to the south. "Goat taken," she thought. But who had taken it?

The tracks led her to the fringe of the forest, where Ayra had his cave-of-sticks; a hut of fallen branches bound together with braided ropes of dried reeds and liana. It was a rickety structure but Ayra was happy to call it home. It was the only cave-of-sticks in the world; the product of his own hard work but also (and this is much, much more important) the product of his mind too.

Lug's goat was tethered to a stake driven into the ground near the entrance to the cave-of-sticks. Lug started to untie the rope from the stake; the goat bleated and Ayra rushed out of the hut, club in hand.

"My goat!" Ayra shouted, "You leave her here!"

"My goat!" countered Lug, "I give you beer for her yesterdays." Actually, it had been the best part of what we would call a week but in Lug's era temporal concepts were still a little rudimentary.

Ayra sneered. "Look in cave-of-sticks," he said, "You find beer, you take goat."

Lug searched the cave-of-sticks. There was no beer there, of course, so she left wishing that she had thought to bring her own club. She set off back to her cave to fetch it and on the way back met her friend Mog. She told Mog how Lug had taken her goat.

"Ayra done that before," Mog told her. "Gave me goat for nuts, took it away again. Said same thing too. No not same thing 'cause was nuts not beer. Said I could have goat back if I find any nuts in his hut."

"Ayra is ..." Lug began, then paused, stumped by the problem of expressing a simple concept beyond her primitive, pre-social-contract vocabulary.

"... big turd." Lug finished, a little lamely by modern standards.

"Lug not look like turd. Smell like one sometimes." Mog responded, unaware that Lug had just invented metaphor. This would lead to trouble tomorrows.

Further along the track, they met Blig. He too, had traded with Ayra for the goat yesterdays but "not same thing 'cause was berries not nuts, berries not beer."

"Ayra is ..." Lug began. Once again she was stumped by the absence of a key concept from her intellectual framework, "... big arsehole!"

"Lug arsehole same as mine. Same as yours." Mog responded as oblivious as before. Blig said nothing but his mind was already playing with the possibilities of Mog's new figure of speech.

"All get clubs!" cried Lug. "Meet here. Get Lived-Longer-Than-Most-But-Not-Long-As-Some! Fix Ayra good."

They each went their separate ways and got their clubs. It was Lug, as their leader for now, who went to fetch Lived-Longer-Than-Most-But-Not-Long-As-Some. (The story of how Lived-Longer-Than-Most-But-Not-Long-As-Some earned his name in an era when life was generally "nasty, poore, brutish and short" might be worth telling on another occasion, were it not so blindingly obvious.)

Once they had all gathered with their clubs, Lug, Mog, Blig and Lived-Longer-Than-Most-But-Not-Long-As-Some went to pay Ayra a visit.

Next: Something Wicked This Way Comes (the Judgement of Lived-Longer-Than-Most-But-Not-Long-As-Some and what came of it).

Social Cohesion in the 14th Century

It's not just the poor we have always with us:

tell me, Lord, if you please, by what right or title does a villein eat beef? ... And goose, of which they have plenty? And this troubles God. God suffers from it and I too. For they are a sorry lot, these villeins who eat fat goose! Should they eat fish? Rather let them eat thistles and briars, thorns and straw and hay on Sunday and peapods on weekdays.

They should keep watch without sleep and have trouble always; that is how villeins should live. Yet each day they are full and drunk on the best wines, and in fine clothes. the great expenditures of villeins come at a high cost, for it is this that destroys and ruins the world. It is they who spoil the common welfare.

From the villein comes all unhappiness. Should they eat meat? Rather should they chew grass on the heath with the horned cattle and go naked on all fours ..."

(From Le Despit au Vilain, cited in A Distant Mirror by Barbara W Tuchman. Tuchman notes:

[This tale was] addressed to an upper-class audience. Was this what they wanted to hear, or was it a satire of their attitude?)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Succubus Interruptus

(A dream)

I'm in a strange part of town, unsure of how I got there, but I more or less know know the way home. I set out, with a vague inkling that getting there isn't going to be easy. I'm walking beside a busy highway - if I turn right at the next street, I can walk to a tram terminus and catch the tram home. It's still going to be a long trip.

For some reason, I walk past the turn but this isn't a problem; I can take the next right, walk one block then right again will bring me to the tram terminus. Or so I think. When I take the next right I find my way blocked by a kerbside pool-room. The pool tables don't just block the pavement, they're all the way across the street. There's far too little room to walk between them. All the pool players are big burly guys with tattoos and sleeveless denim or leather jackets.

Soon I find myself hemmed in between two of the pool tables one to my left the other to my right and two players - before me and behind me - both intent on taking their shots. Both of them want to shoot from right where I'm standing so we end up in a little jostling match. Neither seems willing to yield; not to let me pass nor to allow the other player to take his shot first. Finally I discover that what I thought was a pool cue pressing against my back is in fact, the back of a bar chair and the player blocking my way forward finishes his shot. I move on.

The street is no longer a street, the pavement no longer a pavement; instead I'm walking along a winding pathway through a covered arcade or conservatory. The path wanders through beds of reeds or something similar. Someone has left a lot of plastic grocery bags along the path. Each bag has a tuft of celery sticking out of the top. They cover the full width of the path for several yards, so it is impossible to get past them without trampling them. Everyone in front of me is trampling the bags so I see no reason not to do likewise.

Music is playing; the tempo di marcia from the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. As I walk, I tap the point of my unbrella on the floor in time with the music. The effect would be much more pleasing if the heels of my carpet slippers didn't flap every time I take a step. The floor has several levels, connected by stairs and ramps.

I walk down a short flight of stairs onto a section of the floor with highly polished, elaborate parquetry. In front of me there's a woman dancing to the music; it's no longer Beethoven, the music has been changing continually as I walk. She's dancing along a line at right angles to my path; I have to get past her to get home. By the time I reach her she's singing a Noel Coward song I don't recognise, with words I can't make out, but nonetheless it must be Noel Coward because she's singing it with a prissy Noel Coward English accent. We collide.

I tell her I'm sorry and move on; ahead of me I can see a high glass window at the end of the arcade and through it, the front of a church. it's a tall building, with ornate multi-coloured brickwork. I think about taking a look inside the church when I get out of the arcade. The architecture looks interesting. I feel a touch on my left arm; the dancing woman is beside me. We leave the arcade together.

We talk; she wants to come back to my place but she wouldn't be able to stay much after midnight. For some reason she's acquired an American accent. I suggest we could go to her place instead. "You are a fast worker," she remarks.

For some reason, she wants to see my driver's licence before she'll take me back to her place. I tell her I don't have a driver's licence; will a passport do? It will. I take my passport out of my shoulder bag - it must have replaced the umbrella - and show it to her. Once she's satisfied that she knows my identity, we move on.

Before we can go to her place, she has to drop into work for a little while. She works in a hospital ward which we get to, in efficient dream fashion, by walking straight in off the street. My penis is uncomfortably engorged. I look down to check that it isn't poking out of the top of my trousers - it's reached a size well beyond its waking life dimensions, which are by no means inadequate but, instead, comfortably above average without being too freakish.

She has a few things to finish up before we move on to her place. She peaks to a colleague while I sit on an empty bed and try to think erection damping thoughts. I'm glad I'm not naked.

I wake up to discover that I'm lying on the couch, in a slightly overheated lounge-room. I'm glad that Zeppo Bakunin is over at his parents' place so that I'm alone in the house. I'm also a little relieved that the dream stopped where it did because I'm wearing my last clean pair of pants and there won't be time to get to the laundromat before that appointment I have tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

(Intellectual) Snob of the Week

HEATHER EWART: ... Initially, the Hawke Government thought it had public support [for the Australia Card], but an outcry from civil libertarians and others galvanised widespread community reaction against the card.

SUSAN RYAN: It was like a bushfire rampaging over the public debate. It went from apparent public acceptance to hysterical opposition in a very short space of time. I myself, in public life, never experienced such ferocious opposition to any proposed government measure. It was out of control. You couldn't deal with it by rational argument.


We couldn't win it politically. At a town hall in Launceston somebody got up and said the real program was that the Government was going to have the mark of the devil, 666, lasered on to the foreheads of Australians or even on to the wrists of new born babies, and the person who said that didn't appear to be a rat bag and the other people in the town hall didn't appear to be rat bags and they all cheered him.

HEATHER EWART: So the former ministers offer John Howard this advice.

NEAL BLEWITT: I think if the Government wants to argue its value as a security weapon, that case has to be made and I'm certain the people are willing to listen to that.

SUSAN RYAN: On the other hand, I think those very deep-seated fears that were whipped up back at the end of 1987 could be whipped up again and probably would be.
[my emphasis]
7.30 Report, Monday July 18.

It's a little frustrating the way that a statement that strikes you as smug and self-satisfied when you see see and hear it spoken comes out so sanitised in the transcript. And it's possible that the smugness and self-satisfaction I detected in the statement I've emphasised was an artefact, a product of my mood when I was watching the report and the montage of interview clips that preceded it.

All the same, Ryan's characterisation of the opposition to the Australia Card as a rampaging bushfire of hysteria beyond the control of rational argument makes her a so much of a shoe-in for "Snob of the Week" that it's hardly worth waiting until Friday to declare her this week's winner. Will someone else pip her at the post on Friday? Will there be a next week's winner? Well folks, that's what comments threads are for.
Meanwhile, in another universe of discourse entirely:

"There!" says Mr. Lancaster. He rolls back the platform. He dusts himself off. He rises. "It’s a perfect Origins Bomb, if I do say so myself."

"Perfection is for God alone," corrects Mrs. Lancaster.

"Oh, Mrs. Lancaster," says Mr. Lancaster, beeping her nose. "You do keep me honest."

"What’s it do?" Iphigenia asks.

"It’s a way to prove Creationism right for once and for all," says Mr. Lancaster. "When I push this button—-"

Here he indicates a large red button labeled "Emergency Proof of Creationism."

"—-everything in the universe that is older than ten thousand years old, and every human who evolved from lower life forms, blows up!"

(link via Crooked Timber)

An Open Letter

To Mr Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe
On behalf of Sam, an Australian Blogger

Dear Mr Mugabe,

Sam would dearly like to live in a society where he can say what he will
without fear of contradiction or criticism and occasionally kick the shit
out of those who do not meet his standards of good citizenship.

Could you please, please, PLEASE, let him have Zimbabwe once you're
finished with it.

Yours Faithfully,

Gummo Trotsky.

PS: If you decide Sam's not up to it, there are plenty of other Aussies who'd be glad to take it off your hands.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Another Cheezy Bid for Something Resembling Literary Imortality

In the comments to Barista's post on last Friday's blogger get together, "Radiant with Anonymity" ej asks:

What is the poetically correct name for group of bloggers?

I was going to put a comment up with a couple of suggestions but technical problems got in the way. After a little, insomnia addled reflection, I've decided to have a crack at emulating Richard Dawkin's proud achievement of getting a new word (meme) into the OED: with a bit of luck, and some blogospheric assistance, I might just crack it. So just as we can speak of a murder of crows, an exaltation of larks or a disputation of baristers, I suggest that we adopt "rantwittering" (pronounced rant-wittering not ran-twittering) as the collective term for bloggers. Try it out loud - "A rant-wittering of bloggers" - doesn't it just roll off the tongue?

Incidentally, if you're talking about a collection of RWDB bloggers, there's a more specific collective noun: it's a fulmination of RWDBs. How you pronounce the RWDB part is entirely up to you.

With that out of the way, it's time to tidy up the house a bit. The dog-sitting ends tomorrow so I'll be saying goodbye to insomnia in Melbourne's Outer Leafies and hello to anomie and alienation in her Not Quite Inner Nondescripts tomorrow afternoon. Did anyone watch Insomnia on Channel Seven last night? Such a happy ending; the poor bloke finally got some rest.
Meanwhile, in another universe of discourse entirely ...

Idiot-Savant Watch

At the moment I'm having trouble deciding whether Peter Beattie is a telegenic idiot-savant or just a telegenic idiot. He was interviewed on The Insiders yesterday. He had a few things to say on the subject of the proposal of a National ID Card. From the government's point of view, it's now appropriate to put this idea back on the political agenda because:

  • Knowing that everyone in the country is actually who they say they are will help keep us safe from terrorism;

  • It's not Bob Hawke's idea any more;

  • It's not about tax collection. Yet.

Beattie is in favour of the idea too, for a number of reasons:

  • It's the way the world is going;

  • It will help prevent a repetition of the Cornelia Rau farce;

  • It will help prevent terrorism;

  • It will help prevent identity theft;

  • As far as he's concerned it's about commonsense, national security (I'm not sure whether he omitted the "and" or he's asserting some claim that, the way thins are these days, commonsense is national security and vice versa. It's somewhere between even money and six to four on that it's the latter.

In fact, if Beattie gets his druthers, it won't be just a National ID card:

One of the things we discussed Barrie at a recent COAG meeting was a national smart card. Now most States are looking at it, we are. By smart card I mean, I'd love to have a card which means that I can use it to access EFTPOS, ATM. I can use it for credit, to pay for a train, bus, ferry the whole lot. Now if you can have one card to do that - that removes a lot of the cumbersome problems people have managing their finances.

And Beattie is concerned about the problem of identity theft? As I understand it, identity theft works something like this at present:

You nick someone's bank statement, gas bill and a few other such documents from their mail - enough to establish 100 points of identification essentially. Then you bugger off to a bank and apply for a credit card in their name, run up a shit load of debt and stake out a new mail box.

Here's how identity theft would work with a National Smart card:

You pick the pocket or snatch the purse of a passing stranger in the street. You toss everything but their National Smart Card, which you take to some geek who's prepared to hack it for something like 10% of the take.

Maybe I should drop the "savant" part after all.

Postscript: despite my best efforts to derail it, there's a serious discussion of the National ID card going on at Larvatus Prodeo.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Fair Game Theorist

According to Don Arthur at Troppo Armadillo, Peter Saunders of the Centre for Independent Studies (not to be confused with Peter Saunders, Director of the Social Policy Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, who is no relation):

... likes to think of society as a game of Monopoly -- if one of the players succeeds in driving the others in bankruptcy there's no problem so long as everyone obeys the rules ...

The linked article has the provocative title "What is Fair About a 'Fair Go'?" It begins:

An egalitarian, a meritocrat and a classical liberal once sat down to play the board game, Monopoly. All agreed at the outset that it would be fair to give each player the same amount of cash with which to play.

As the game progresses, the players - well, the egalitarian and the meritocrat at least - start behaving badly. The egalitarian is miffed because he's ended up with Old Kent Road instead of Mayfair and demands a redistribution of property and monies to restore fairness to the game. The meritocrat is peeved because the fall of the dice is not properly rewarding skilful, serious play. The classical liberal responds to these infantile outbursts with a patient sigh and explains:

We have all played by the rules. Nobody has cheated, and nobody has stolen anybody else's money or title deeds. Nobody pre-ordained the present distribution of money and property—it is the aggregated outcome of each individual's free and uncoerced actions and decisions. How, then, can this distribution be considered unfair? What would be unfair is if we agreed by a majority vote to take money or property from the most successful player to share it out among the other two, or to give more to the player deemed most deserving. If we were to do that, we would undermine the principle that the same rules must apply to all players. The best player would then probably go elsewhere, and our game sooner or later would collapse into bickering and chaos.

This is by far the best piece of dialogue Saunders' gives to any of the characters in his little fable but, while it reveals where Saunders' sympathies lie in this contest between three notions of fairness, it doesn't help the situation any. The players eventualy go their separate ways, after the meritocrat and the egalitarian have both indulged in further displays of bad temper. The story ends on this curious note:

The liberal picked up the dice, bade the other two farewell, and went off in search of a game of Snakes and Ladders.

For a while, this had me wondering why the classical liberal took the dice and nothing else. Presumably they were his, which leaves you wondering who owned the rest of the Monopoly set - one assumes that it was the meritocrat. And were they really able to get the game started without a big argument about who got the top hat token, who got the little dog, and who got stuck with that wheel dingus with the factory chimney poking out the top? And what gave the classical liberal the idea that it is even remotely possible to play a game of Monopoly that doesn't collapse into bickering and chaos?

What follows - the meat of the article - is a three paragraph examination of the importance of fairness, or rather 'fairness' in a society followed by a potted history of the evolution of the Australian notion of a 'fair go'. Then we get back to the point of the fable: the three different, and competing principles of fairness to be found in our culture:

The egalitarian definition of fairness focuses on the final distribution of resources. Anything that flattens out the distribution of income and wealth is fair; anything that makes it less equal is unfair. A less than equal distribution can only be justified if it can be demonstrated that no other pattern of distribution could make the worst-off people any better off (as in Rawls's 'difference principle').

Against this, a meritocratic definition of fairness focuses on the principle of 'just deserts'. Unequal outcomes are fair provided everybody has had a chance to compete on an equal basis. In particular, fairness requires that the most hard-working and talented people should reap the highest rewards (meritocracy rewards 'ability plus effort'), and this will only happen if there are no major obstacles blocking the achievement of meritorious individuals from the least advantaged backgrounds.

In contrast with both of these, the classical liberal conception of fairness denies the relevance of any distributional principle, whether egalitarian or meritocratic. Fairness simply requires an open system governed by the rule of law; it is judged by procedures, not outcomes. People must be free to accumulate assets and to transfer them as they see fit. Provided these rules are followed, the result is 'fair' (even if talented people go unrecognised or lazy people are favoured by luck or by birth).
These three principles of fairness are logically incompatible with one another.
[my emphasis]

Saunders' claim that these three definitions of fairness are logically incompatible is a bold one and deserves examination, if only because when someone tells you that three statements (however semantically complex) are logically incompatible then there's one damn statement too many. This can be illustrated with the help of some simple examples.

Consider these three assertions:

Socrates is a man.
Socrates is a cat.
Socrates is a dog.

You might be tempted to describe these as logically incompatible on the grounds that Socrates cannot be at once a man, a cat and a dog. Wrong; all three can be quite logically compatible if all three are false and Socrates is, in fact, a horse. At worst, Saunders' three definitions of fairness are merely incompatible and only by Saunders' assertion. They are logically compatible if, for example, Saunders has advanced three definitions of fairness, two of which he knows (somehow) to be false and one which he wrongly believes to be true. Being right about two commonly held beliefs being wrong and wrong about your own beliefs on the subject of those beliefs being right is an interesting little cognitive feat but by no means inconceivable.

Alternativley, all three definitions of fairness might be logically compatible and true, like the following three statements:

Socrates has a beard.
Socrates is smelly.
Socrates roots nanny goats.

These are all logically compatible and possibly true if Socrates is, in fact, a billy goat. They amount to partial descriptions of Socrates just as Saunders' three "logically incompatible" definitions of fairness might be accepted as partial definitions of what we mean by fairness in social settings a little more complex than your typical game of Monopoly.

Following on, Saunders says a little later:

The incompatibility of these three principles of fairness complicates any attempt to unravel what Australians mean when they express their support for a 'fair go.'

I think this statement overreaches the mark a little too - it may be difficult for Peter Saunders to unravel what Australians mean by a 'fair go' but that's only because he's set himself up to fail with a false dichotomy and a half - a false sesquidichotomy if you will.

Why Did I Bother?

I didn't actually watch Channel Nine's This Is Your Life on Thursday; I video taped it while I watched something else. Now that I've taken a look at the tape, I'm glad that I had the sense to give myself the option of fast forwarding through the boring bits or most of the boring bits. Essentially This Is Your Life (TIYL) is an hour long boring bit, based on an inherently boring concept. It's a sort of premature funeral service, with Mike Munro as celebrant presenting a highly sanitised pre-mortem eulogy with the help of friends, family and sundry associates of the dearly undeparted.

Munro surprised Hanson on-stage at the Star City Showroom where she was appearing as a guest star in the show Todd McKenney Live a cabaret performance starring, of all people, Todd McKenney. Hanson was wearing a sequined evening gown in Margaret Thatcher blue. It was something of an eyesore but I must admit that it did complement her looks.

Back in the studio, Mike started in on her birth and early life. In the lounge room I hit the fast forward button to get to the part where, as Channel Nine's promos for the show had it, she "turned Australian politics on its head". This came a good fifteen minutes into the show. Munro described how, faced with the problem of caring for four young children, Pauline had bought a fish and chip shop in Ipswich and:

... working twelve hour days, seven days a week you begin to gain a real insight into the feelings and everyday gripes of the locals and its now that your outlook not only broadens but dramatically changes. And coming up Pauline Hanson becomes the most talked about politician in the country. But first this message:

"This message" was from Alan Jones:

Well hello Pauline, I hope you have a wonderful night and I'm sure many Australians remember you as someone who just tried to tell the truth and you saw things as you'd experienced them and that stirred one or two people in the world of politics up a little, after all a housewife and a woman working in a fish shop wasn't meant to have all of these views. You didn't conform with the traditional mode of things but Australians warmed to you because I think, and I found you, and listeners found you, always willing to say it as you saw it.

As this warm encomium was delivered to camera, rather than as an on-air read, I think it's safe to assume that it came from Jones' heart. Not that it really matters and, when you think about it, it probably doesn't.

Once the ads were over, the program got down to Hanson's entry into Australian politics and the way she turned it on its head. First there was her letter to the Queensland Times on the subject of Aboriginal deaths in custody and Robert Tickner's misplaced sympathy for aboriginal prisoners. This was perhaps the first occasion on which she demonstrated her newly broadened and dramatically changed outlook. This appears to be the web's favourite bit:

I don't feel responsible for the treatment of Aboriginal people in the past because I had no say, but my concern is for now and the future. How can we expect this race to help themselves when government shower them with money, facilities and opportunities that only these people can obtain no matter how minute the indigenous blood is that flow through their veins, and this is what is causing racism.

This was followed by some excerpts of Hanson's maiden speech, where she articulated to the whole nationsome of those feelings and gripes she had picked up working in her fish and chip shop:

I am fed up with being told, `This is our land.' Well, where the hell do I go? I was born here, and so were my parents and children.

I and most Australians want our immigration policy radically reviewed and that of multiculturalism abolished. I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians. Between 1984 and 1995, 40 per cent of all migrants coming into this country were of Asian origin. They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate.

Immigration must be halted in the short term so that our dole queues are not added to by, in many cases, unskilled migrants not fluent in the English language. This would be one positive step to rescue many young and older Australians from a predicament which has become a national disgrace and crisis.

The thing that struck me most as I was re-reading this tirade was not so much the racism of the piece, but its self-absorption: it's all me, me, me! I'm fed up with this, I want that, I believe the other. I guess that's what it means to "say it as you see it".

We also got footage of Pauline being honest and forthright in a conversation with three young aboriginals, Pauline vs Charles Perkins on daytime TV and that "Please Explain" moment before Munro launched into a potted history of the decline of One Nation, brought down by a combination of collusion between the Liberal Party and the ALP on preferences, internal division and the nastiness of Tony Abbott. Pauline goes to prison, she gets a supportive letter from Nellie Dargan, a ten year old aboriginal girl, she gets out of prison again. She goes on Dancing With The Stars and, despite having two left feet, she gets all the way to the finals on the votes of the viewing audience. Now she's working on her autobiography, a showbiz career and a new relationship that you may have read about in one of Kerry Packer's magazines for women.

Once the "where is she now" stuff was out of the way, they wheeled in Nellie Dargan and she and Pauline sang a duet; one chorus of that "We are one but we are many" song. Then it was time for Mike to sum up the career of this remarkable woman:

Pauline, it is impossible to overestimate the extent to which you personally shook the political establishment. There's no doubt about it and there's no doubt that you are an honest and forthright woman and no matter what political persuasion people might have, they have to admit that you've always had the courage of your convictions. You certainly led the Liberal Party and the Labor Party on a merry old dance.

The show finished with Pauline and Todd McKenney performing Fever. Neither made a convincing show of singing the song. There was a bit of a dance interlude (allegedly the rhumba) during the bridge. The dancing was every bit as convincing as the singing; the whole performance appeared to be pitched at the vicarious embarassment buffs in the audience. Hanson's performance didn't demonstrate any surprising talent that we'd never seen before and McKenney's had me wondering how, exactly, he had managed to score the lead part in The Boy From Oz. Apparently he's since lost it to Hugh Jackman, for the next Australian production, but, I've read, he's glad for Hugh and not the tiniest bit miffed about it. Really. According to the Sydney Star Observer the show is, or was, supposed to tour the Gold Coast and then come down to Melbourne. With the best will in the world I can't help hoping that the comprehensive bucketing it's had from the critics will have put paid to that notion.