Friday, November 04, 2005

Offensive to Buddhists

After reading Paul Gray in The Oz yesterday, I've decided to have a crack at writing a piece that is guaranteed to be inoffensive to the faith of John Howard's mainstream Australians and equally inoffensive to the non-mainstream minority religions that have everybody in a lather over national security - like those baby-killing Seventh Day Adventists. Just to see if it can be done. Here we go:

Wan-to went to his master one day and asked "Master, how can I achieve enlightenment."

The master stroked his beard while he thought. "You must go up to the mountain and meditate upon this question: how many monks does it take to change a light bulb? When you have the answer come back and tell me, and I will tell you if you have achieved enlightnement."

Wan-to went up to the mountain to meditate on the question. He sat for a long time in the lotus position thinking deeply on how many monks it takes to change a light bulb. So great was his concentration that a pair of swallows built their nest of mud in his left armpit.

Time passed; the swallows raised their chicks and flew away. Wan-to returned to the monastery to see his master.

"Have you the answer to my question?" asked the master.

"Two thousand and one." replied Wan-to. "One to hold the bulb and two thousand to turn the monastery around."

"Foolish monk." said the master and struck Wan-to on the forehead with a bamboo stave. "Return to the mountain and meditate on the question again."

Wan-to returned to the mountain; the swallows returned and build a new nest under his left armpit. Wan-to felt sorrow that the work they had put into building the old nest had been wasted.

Time passed; the swallows raised another brood of chicks and flew away. Once again Wan-to returned to the monastery.

"And what is your answer this time, Wan-to?" asked the master.

"One." replied Wan-to "One to change the bulb, one not to think of the white horse and one to make the sound of one hand clapping."

"Foolish monk." said the master, "That is three monks."

Before the master could take up his bamboo stave, Wanto seized it and struck the master on the forehead.

"Foolish master." said Wan-to. "Go up to the mountain and meditate on this question: why is the Buddha like a bicycle clip?"

Through the many years of his life, Wan-to was known as a monk of great wisdom and enlightenment.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


There has always been hostility from some on the left of politics towards America. These are people who believe capitalism is evil and that the US is the place where the evil of capitalism and exploitation is most at home. During the Cold War, Marxists and socialists of various types were ideologically or emotionally drawn to the communist side. Their side lost. This gave them even stronger reason to dislike America.

... if the world is to have a hegemon, the modern US is the kind of hegemon we would like to have: democratic, respectful of human rights, with strong and genuine belief in individual liberty.

Federal Treasurer Peter Costello, 22 August 2005.

Treasurer Peter Costello has warned the public service - and the government's backbench - against focusing on their own patch at the expense of the national interest.

Using an address to the Australian Public Service, Mr Costello said he feared for what he termed the Balkanisation of both government departments and politicians.

He said there was evidence in some areas of politicians not considering the wider ramifications of their decisions.

"(They decide) I'm going to do what my region wants me to do, or my state wants me to do," he said.

"I'll just do whatever is in their interest, notwithstanding that it may not be in the interests of the nation as a whole.

"I think policy works best when we have a conception of national interest."

Mr Costello said the budget problems of the United States was in part due to the decision by American lawmakers to attach particular regional projects to major pieces of legislation.

"I would want to resist that, at all costs here in Australia," he said.

Sydney Morning Herald, 2 November 2005.

Only 2 Damn Episodes To Go

It's funny - this morning Jack and Audrey were planning their future together. Since then he's been responsible for the death of her husband and now he'll have to torture her brother.

Tony, musing on life's ironies to Michelle.

Through a Bulb, Dimly

... During a Senate estimates committee examination of ABC funding, [Senator] Santoro slammed the public broadcaster not only for bias in its news and current affairs coverage but also for persistent hostility towards Australians who practise the traditional faith of the West, Christianity.

"Broadcasters continually make derogatory comments about Jesus, the Pope and Christianity in general in a way [that] I believe breaches the ABC's own editorial policies and shows demonstrable bias," he said.


Egregious examples of the anti-Christian bias of the ABC derive not only from the broadcaster's news and current affairs department but with greater impact from lifestyle programs such as comedy show The Glass House. The Glass House has given repeated offence to Christians with humour directed at the Pope and Mother Teresa.

It is today an open question as to which is more harmful to Australian intellectual culture: bias in the ABC's news and current affairs coverage or bias in its lifestyle programming. My view is that the latter matters more. As far as imbalance in current affairs is concerned, as exemplified by last week's Lateline coverage, it at least can be argued that few Australians will bother watching. Lateline is essentially of interest to those engaged full time in the business of politics: a small, if strategically important, segment of the population.

By contrast, non-news and current affairs programs, such as comedy and television drama, have the potential to reach and influence a far greater number of adult Australians. If bias exists here - in the form of agendas openly hostile to the values of significant sections of the population - then Australia has a real problem with its national broadcaster. This, I believe, is the existing situation.

Paul Gray, a Hun columnist, taking a shot at the big-time in The Oz (soon to be declared a great Australian cultural icon).

Dummy Spit of the Week

Senator SANTORO—I would appreciate it if you could, from this point onwards, just give actual answers to the questions. I put you and the ABC on notice: I am not going to desist from the way that I go about questioning the ABC. All you are doing is aggravating me and other senators. We will just keep on coming. If I have to go to the government and ask for a special inquiry into bias at the ABC, I will do that. I am not at all impressed by Mr Balding’s absence. I understand his attendance had been previously notified to the committee, and it was withdrawn late last Friday afternoon. You can all sit there and look as sanctimonious, as serious or—like a couple of the officers behind you—as lacking in seriousness as you want to, but I am telling you that I am not at all impressed by the absence of Mr Balding. I have 2½ thousand pages of transcripts, because every time I ask a question he says that he has to check the record, and when he does check the record I get nonsense for an answer in the vast majority of cases.

Some of us actually take our jobs very seriously. There are about 28 people in Australia monitoring what the ABC does. I receive between 15 and 20 tapes a week, and out of that we get transcripts. We are absolutely, deadly serious, some senators—I would suggest most senators—in that we want to go about making the ABC accountable. A simple statement of ‘The ABC is the most accountable media organisation,’ does not wash with me, because we as a parliament have given you about $1.2 billion of public funds. The lack of accountability as a result of Mr Balding’s absence from here today is certainly not appreciated by me.

Santo the Magnificent in the Senate Estimates Committee Hearing into the ABC, 31 October 2005.

The Enchanted Toasting Fork

(Episode 3)
The story so far: Episode 1, Episode 2

Petro half woke to a pleasant drowsiness, scented with jasmine and sandalwood with an undertone of candlewax. Someone had been burning aromatherapy candles last night. So last night had been real; he hadn't gone home alone. He hadn't even gone home; if he had he would be waking to the entirely different aromas of a bachelor's bedroom. Should he open his eyes, or was it better to feign sleep a little longer so that he could gloat over his good fortune?

There was time enough for both, he felt, so he put off opening his eyes while he relived some of last night's most vibrant and exciting moments. He noticed another scent, for a moment overwhelming the jasmine, sandlewood and candlewax. He must remember to give his moustache a good wash before he went out today. He twitched, to ease the feeling of skin stretched a little too tight; it didn't help. At last, he opened his eyes and turned his head to the side.

"About time." Petro thrilled inwardly to the sound of that vibrant voice. "I was beginning to think I should redo the garden with thorn bushes." Ruby, that was her name, Petro remembered. She was still wearing some of her jewellery from yesterday; a small ruby stud on the right side of her nose and another above her left eye. For the first time, Petro noticed that neither of the stones appeared to have a mount; they were cunningly wrought pieces of jewellery indeed.

"Mornin'," he muttered, sliding towards her; they kissed. He stroked her face - a finger brushed across the stone above her eye. "Ow!" she protested, "don't touch that."

"Sorry," he said. "Didn't mean to. It looks pretty; a ruby is it?"

"Garnet." she answered tersely. "The other one's a carnelian. Look, can we get on with this? I've got a wedding to do this afternoon."

"Well ... yeah, right." Petro was a little taken aback by her sudden loss of vibrancy, but he recovered quickly and got on with it. Later, they took a shower together, or rather Petro washed Ruby's hair and back while she stood under the spray of hot water. Occasionally he nudged her to remind her that he was still potent if she was at all interested. He noticed that she also has a few garnet - or carnelian - studs on her buttocks. So many piercings. Weird. Had he given her his phone number yet? If he had, could he afford to have it changed?

At last Ruby yielded her place under the shower head to him; there was just enough time, before the cold water set in in earnest, for him to at least give his face a scrub. When he got out of the shower she had already dried herself and was on her way out the door. "Coffee?" she asked, throwing the question back over her shoulder at him.

"Please." he answered. He dried himself as well as he could with the vibrantly pink but damp towel, then locked the bathroom door. After a minute or so, he was able to use the toilet. He flushed it and left the bathroom.

In the bedroom, as he was dressing, his thoughts turned to the toasting fork. Given the way things had turned out, it struck him that he really ought to get it back, before it caused too much trouble for Claudio and Cossima. But how to do it? The first step, he decided, would be to see if he could find any web-pages on Housebreaking.