Friday, December 15, 2006

I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane

I’ll be back in Melbourne early in January next year.

Tomorrow afternoon, I’m off to Brisbane, to spend Christmas with some accomodating rellies, so there may well be a hiatus.

Have yourselves a merry little Christmas, saturnalia, Yule or bah-humbug, according to personal preference. And that about covers it, I think.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Oh Bugger, I Missed the Grogblogging!

And I’m doubly buggered, because I’m stuck for an explanation. How about a good excuse then? Nope, don’t have one of those either. OK, how about a quick, after the event rationalisation? Well, at least I didn’t make an arse of myself by getting into a long drunken rant about Irish rebel songs being nothing more than bigotry set to music. Ask FX Holden. He knows I can get quite – well, bigoted – once I get onto the subject of Irish music.

And if I hadn’t started in on the Irish rebel music, or the current colour of the family jewels, I’d have done a lot of skiting about how I’ve been offered a place in that Master of Arts course I want to do next year. Bloody boring prospect for everyone but me, that.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Who’s Your Daddy?

With the exceptions of the current account deficit and poor balance of trade figures, it seems there’s nothing that escapes Federal Treasurer Peter Costello’s desire to claim the credit. In question time on Thursday, Government backbencher Phillip Barresi obligingly pitched this Dorothy Dixer to the Treasurer:
My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Would the Treasurer inform the House of the latest ABS statistics on births and fertility rates? What policies has the government put in place which have helped families in my electorate of Deakin and right across Australia? Why is this important for the future?
The Permanent PM in Waiting was pleased to announce that fertility rates were up – from 1.78 births per female over her reproductive life to 1.83 – the highest rate in 11 years. And of course, it’s all thanks to the Howard government that Aussie couples are rooting more and, more to the point, rooting more productively. That’s more than you can say for what they’re doing in the workplace, where productivity hasn’t grown over two years.

We’re still a bit shy of the Treasurer’s fertility target – 2.1 births per reproductive female, so the Treasurer repeated his call for Australians to have “One for Mum, one for Dad, and one for the country.” Don’t forget, there’s a total of $1800 in baby bonuses for couples who meet their quota.

I’m happy, this inaugural Blue Balls Day to partially endorse the Treasurer’s call – Aussies should be shagging more. So tonight would be a good night to get into the bedroom and have one for yourself, one for your partner and one to video-tape and send off to the Treasurer. Gay couples too – the Treasurer can sort out which tapes he actually wants to watch for himself.

Cross-posted at Larvatus Prodeo.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Word of the Day: Slum

slum, n: 1. a place inhabited by impoverished people who are despised for living there; ~ -dweller, despicable person who lives in a ~. 2. An unsuitable place for a private school.

Time to shoot down the bomber

Perseverance, n. A lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves an inglorious success.
(Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary)

If I hadn’t been long convinced that Kim Beazley has to go, if the ALP is to have any chance of winning back government, Jacques Chester’s paean, at Club Troppo, to Kim’s “bottomless reserves of patience and comebackitude” – in plain English his perseverance – would have done it for me. Kim reminds Jacques of Doctor Who and:

… another famous opposition leader, one who eventually made it all the way to the top.

John Howard, of course.
The idea of “Doctor Kimbo” is a bit of a laugh. Confronted by a Cyberleader determined to convert the whole of humanity into robotic drones, his most likely response would be “Don’t forget the Cyberdogs and Cybercats.” Daleks threatening to exterminate humanity? “Not good enough. Here are a few other species who warrant extermination.”

The remainder of Jacques’ post argues, mainly, that it’s time for the ALP to lower its expectations of the leadership, in much the way that members of the Liberal Party have learnt to live with John Howard as Prime Minister.

Here’s one of the principles of governance that the Liberals have learnt to live with:

I think in public life you take a position, and I think particularly of the positions I've taken in the time I've been Prime Minister, I have to live with the consequences . . . and, if I ever develop reservations I hope I would have the grace to keep them to myself,
(John Howard, reported in The Hun, November 22)
That’s what Howard expects of himself – would he expect any less of his colleagues? Phil Ruddock’s rise from Immigration Minister to Attorney General gives a very strong clue to the answer. Petro Georgious conspicuous exclusion from Cabinet, and the attempts to strip him of his pre-selection are a pretty good indication of how Howard’s “broad church” deals with those graceless individuals who won’t keep their reservations to themselves.

The Howard government – not just Howard – has to go. In a better world – not the perfect world of my imagination where all the women are leggy, bi-sexual blondes with identical twin sisters but one close to it – a drover’s dog could lead the Federal ALP to victory in the next election. But we don’t live in that better world. And for that reason, the ALP needs more energetic leadership than this:

The time that really counts as a leader — and it's 50 per cent of your task, the other 50 per cent leading up to that — is in the five weeks of the election campaign.
(Beazley to Michelle Grattan in The Age, November 25)

Cross posted at Larvatus Prodeo.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Silly Saturday Challenge

To the Editor of the Argus:

Sir – Allow me to point out to your correspondent “J Sibbald” that the derivation of the expression “not worth a tinker’s dam” is this.

In Flanders during the middle ages a “dam” was the smallest coin of the existing currency, and as tinkers in those days were itinerant, and little better than vagrants, their services were generally rewarded by a “dam” and as no other tradesman would take such small remuneration it became the custom to say if anything was of very small value it was not worth a tinker’s dam.

I noticed recently in an article in one of the magazines the expression “not worth a tinker’s malediction” the writer evidently not caring to use the word “dam” for fear of a “swear word” offending some of his readers.

- Yours &c, J. W. THOMAS

Readers are cordially invited to provide suitably colourful explanations for the expressions “flash as a rat with a gold tooth” or “cunning as a shithouse rat”. Or any other expression of your own choice.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Male Sexual Deprivation – What Are the Facts?

Fact: sexual deprivation can affect any man, regardless of age, income or marital status. Someone you know personally may well be a male sexual deprivee. If it’s your husband or boyfriend you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Fact: due to the social stigma attached to male sexual deprivation, many sexual deprivees hide their condition from friends and family and construct wild tales of their sexual exploits. Has someone you know recently “shared” with you his amazing experience as the only man at a lesbian circle orgy? He hasn’t been getting any for years.

Fact: male sexual deprivation is completely unnecessary. It takes a mere thirty seconds of considerate female attention on a daily basis to end the suffering of most male sexual deprivees.

Join the International Circle Bitch Day of Action on Friday, December 8th, 2006. Wear your Blue Balls with as little embarrassment as you can manage!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Coming Soon - Blue Balls Day

Focussing on the sexual deprivation of men, by women, does not mean that other social problems are okay or don’t exist.

But don’t expect us blokes to give a toss about them if we're not getting our oats.

The Blue Balls Campaign focuses on the sexual deprivation of men by women. Because sexual deprivation of men is a social problem that deserves serious attention. One that has been neglected for far too long.

Sexual deprivation is a serious physical and mental health problem for its victims. In Australia, male sexual deprivees cost the taxpayer millions through provision of anti-depressant medications on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. This needless drain on the economy could easily be avoided if more women were willing to give these sorry buggers a good root.

It’s time to end the silence on the sexual deprivation of men by women. Men - show the world you won’t stand for continuing sexual deprivation by buying a pair of Blue Balls on Blue Balls Day. Wear your Blue Balls with pride with as little embarrassment as you can manage.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

You My Good Frien’ Are A Pig

I overheard that remark on the bus home, Thursday evening. It was made – twice – by a young bloke sitting up the back of the bus with his mates. Guessing wildly, I figured that they were on their way home from seeing the new Borat film at the Northland Cinema multiplex.

If my guess was right, I can expect to hear that line a lot when I’m out on the public transport system – and perhaps a few others, depending on how well the film does and how many memorable lines and catch-phrases Sacha Baron-Cohen has managed to cram into it.

That will save me a few bucks on seeing film. Even better, it will save me the sort of earnest critical effort Christopher Scanlon wasted on the film in Thursday’s Age. It’s just another film about ignorant foreigners with no grasp of English idiom. Like Carry On Up the Khyber.

When Genres Collide

Rodney sat at the small table by the parlour window. The small, leather bound book Old Warbeck had lent him lay open on the desk. Spellbound, the boy read eagerly, his eyes straining in the failing evening light. Outside the window, ignored, grey clouds lowered over Murklington, the sun sank lower in the west, casting the shadows of the long rows of terraced manors, across its narrow streets. From the dark eminence of Pit Head Hill, the horn sounded, signalling the change of shift at The Pit – the town’s one enterprise, where Rodney’s dad, and all the other men of Murklington went each day to wrest a living from the unforgiving earth.

Rodney’s mother, Guin, came through from the kitchen, where she was cooking her husband’s tea and boiling the water for his nightly bath. “Come on, Rodney,” she said, “Tha’ Dad’ll be home soon. Gi’ us a hand wi’ ‘is bath love.” She noticed the book on the table.

“What’s that you got, pet?” she asked.

“Just a book, Mam.”

“I can see it’s a book, Rodney, I’ve still got eyes in me ‘ead. What’s it a book about then?”

“Just stuff, Mam.”

With an exasperated sigh, she took the few steps needed to cross the small parlour and grabbed the book from the table. Slamming it shut, she read the front cover. Embossed in the leather there was a goat’s head, in the centre of a pentacle. The title was printed above this device, in faded gold leaf lettering: Gridley’s First Grimoire for Boys.

“Oh bloody hell,” said Rodney’s Mam, in resigned tones, “What you doing fetchin’ a thing like that into t’ manor? Best not let your Dad see it, you know what he’s like about magic. Go on, take it up to your room, then come help us out wi’ this bath.”

She left the room again. Instead of taking the book up to his room, Rodney read on, until their was too little light for even his eager eyes. Then he hid the book under one of the cushions of the settee and went to the kitchen.

“About bloody time,” said Guin, “Look sharp now, your dad’ll be here any minute. Finish fillin’ t’ bath, while I take care o’ tea.”

As Rodney and Guin worked, the street outside filled with the sounds of the day shift coming home – the muttering of tired voices, the weary tramp of tired feet. They heard the front door open in its usual way, slamming hard back against the floral wallpaper of their small vestibule.

“Ah’m ‘ome,” boomed the voice of Rodney’s dad. “Gi’s a hand getting’ out of this kit then, will you.”

“Go help your dad off with his gear, love,” said Rodney’s Mam, “While I finish up in here.”

Rodney rushed from the kitchen back to the parlour. He still wasn’t quick enough to stop his father snapping a peremptory “Get a bloody move on, then” at him.

“Start wi’ boots,” his father ordered. “Bloody things are killing me. Then t’ cuirasse and hauberk.”

Rodney knelt and began to unfasten the buckled straps of his father’s iron boots and greaves. From the kitchen, Guin shouted “You’re not sitting on ‘t good furniture in your mucky armour, I hope, Roland!”

“Course I’m not set on t’ good chair in me mucky armour woman. Bloody hell! I might o’ been daft enow to marry thee, but I’m not a complete bloody idiot.”

This was the way it always was between Rodney’s parents. In the early days of their marriage it had been a joke between them, but over the years the bantering edge had worn down and their good-humoured teasing had turned into something else.

“Still daft enough to tread orc’s blood into carpets!” she retorted from the kitchen.

“Orc’s blood! Get on with you, woman. Haven’t seen an orc down than pit in months. It’s all been soddin’ mummies and zombies since Middlemass. Wouldn’t mind findin’ a decent orc’s lair right now – they might be mucky buggers, but there’s more gold for the takin’ in an orc’s lair than we’ve been collectin’ in all these bloody tombs.”

Rodney finally had his father’s boots off. He stood, and began working on the buckled straps of the cuirass. Guin came into the room from the kitchen.

“Bloody hell, Rodney!” she said, this time with genuine exasperation, “How many times do I have to tell you to put down some newspaper when you’re taking your father’s kit off. Look at my carpet!”

“Leave the lad alone, lass. It’s nobbut a bit of zombie bone and mummy dust. A bit o’ sweepin’ and beatin’ ‘ll soon clean that up.”

“Aye, well it won’t be me doing the sweepin’ a beatin’. Get on wi’ it Rodney, your Dad’s bath’s waitin’. So’s our tea. No, not not yet!” she cried, when she say Roland lifting the unbuckled cuirass over his head, “Wait till I get that newspaper!”

Once Roland’s armour was off and placed with proper tidiness on sheets of old newspaper, he went to the kitchen for his bath. Between them, Rodney and Guin took the armour out to the backyard. By the light of an oil lantern, Rodney examined the armour for bloodstains and rust spots but he found little more than a light coating of mummy dust and a few bone fragments stuck in the rings of the hauberk. It was light work to clean the armour with badger brush and an old rag. Once it was clean, he went inside, laid some newspaper on the floor beside the front door that let in from the street into the vestibule. Then he stacked the armour on the papers, ready for the morning.

By the time he finished, his father had finished his bath. With tin buckets they bailed out the bath – emptying the buckets into the drain outside the kitchen door – until the bath was light enough to be carried outside. Roland carried one end, Rodney and Guin the other. The empty bath was returned to its corner of the kitchen and at last they sit down to tea.

As he sat at the table, Roland laid down his pickings for the day, beside Guin’s plate.

“Sorry lass,” he mumbled, “That’s all there was. Might be a bit o’ a spell on that ring though, and the necklace is a nice bit of craftsmanship.”

“Magic and craftsmanship won’t count for ought wi’ butcher and grocer. Tha knows that.” Guin answered with impatience, “It’s nought but good troy weight wi’ them.”

Roland snapped.

“It’s not my bloody fault all o’ th’orcs lairs is worked out and we’ve found nought below but bloody ancient tombs!” he cried, “Were best bloody Hell Pit in’t Kingdom when me dad moved ‘ere, and weren’t too bad when me and thee were courtin’.”

Rodney began eating faster – a lot faster. Whenever his father mentioned “when me and thee were courtin’” it was best to get away from his parents as quickly as possible. Away to the safety of his own room, where he could dream his dreams of leaving this dreary town where soul-deadened men spent their days fighting downward, ever downward, through the subterranean levels of a worked-out Hell-Pit, ever hoping that the next stairway or shaft downward would lead to mightier hell-spawn and the rich pickings that came with them. “Where there’s brimstone, there’s brass” went the local saying.

That life – the closed, narrow life of the knights, warriors and paladins of Murklington, in their huddled rows of terraced manors – wasn’t for him. With Old Warbeck’s help he’d find his way out into a wider world – a better world…

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ain’t Never Gonna Be Assimilated Blues

Here’s a little item I missed last week thanks to the Melbourne Cup (did my dough) and getting carried away with the US mid-term elections. At least I wasn’t alone on that second one – there wasn’t anyone in the entire Legion of Brain-Sucking Leftist Zombie Sheep who didn’t get carried away with the happy thought that with the Republicans rooted routed in the polls over there, the political climate might start to look a little brighter over here.

But while we were all distracted with that, it was business as usual when it came to this Government’s increasingly weird program of social re-engineering. Sorry, that’s not a program of social re-engineering, it’s a perfectly proper political agenda, all about restoring basic Australian values.

I really will have to reign in this tendency to slip into BrainSuckingLeftistZombieSheepSpeak if I’m ever going to stand any chance of being re-assimilated into the Collective – oops, I mean of course, Mainstream Australian Society.

Last week the High Court of Australia delivered its judgement on whether it’s alright for Amanda Vanstone to deport one Stefan Nystrom, a Swedish born career criminal.

According to The World Today, he’s actually a reformed criminal, but their report relies way too heavily on interviews with his mum and his lawyer – neither of them the sort of objective sources that ABC reporters would be talking to if they were doing their jobs properly.

The Nystrom story – for those who came in late – is that Stefan was born in Sweden, in 1974, while his mother was over there on a family visit. A month after the birth, Ms Nystrom returned to Australia, bringing young Stefan with her. Stefan has lived here ever since, and it’s here, not in Sweden, that he went to the bad and took to a life of crime. All the same, as far as this Government is concerned, he’s forfeited any right to remain in the country:

KATHRYN ROBERTS: Yesterday's High Court decision will affect at least nine other people in similar situations. They were released from immigration detention pending the outcome of Mr Nystrom's case. Now the Immigration Department is likely to review their cases.

The Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone was unavailable for an interview, but in a statement she welcomed the decision and said Mr Nystrom would be removed from Australia.

That’s if they can find him of course – at the time of the World Today report (last Thursday), Nystrom was “fruit picking somewhere in New South Wales and yet to be told about the decision.” It wouldn’t be at all surprising if he’s done a bunk over the weekend, to avoid being "removed" from Australia.

At the end of the World Today report, Kathryn Roberts inadvertently provides a demonstration of how much work remains to be done if the ABC is to be redeemed as a source of objective reporting, and not a government subsidised propaganda channel for BrainSuckingLeftistZombieSheepSpeak, giving the last soundbite to Nystrom’s mother:

BRITT NYSTROM: I would say to her, just think about it. I don't even know if she has got kids or whatever. But, for God's sake, he's been living here all his life, apart from 25 days. He was a bit of a larrikin when he was younger, a teenager, but he's stopped it all and just give us a break. He's proved it now. He's not going to do any more crimes.
I admit, I’m only just getting the hang of this myself, but I think the general idea is that once the proper authorities – in this case Amanda Vanstone – have had their say, debate stops. You don’t give the last word to people who disagree with the government for crying out loud.

Ah, who am I trying to fool anyway? This story disgusts me. The fact that this post is going to attract a lot of comments saying “Nystrom must go” or “For crying out loud, he’s a bloody criminal who’s currently resting between engagements as an itinerant labour – this guy just doesn’t matter” disgusts me. So …

It’s time to take a break from this topic until I’ve read through the High Court judgement. But first, I might dig out some of those candles made from the fat of dead, barely legal, teen virgin mud-wrestlers so I can perform obeisance to Ovis Magnus, Dark High Lord Commander of the Legion of Brain-Sucking Leftist Zombie Sheep.

Muahaahaahaahaahaa! His dark reign cometh!

(Cross-posted at Larvatus Prodeo)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Furphy Watch

Remember how, thanks to the long march of Maoist educators through the institutions, our education system is so debased that here in Victoria, schools have dropped teaching kids real English in favour of pop-culture and SMS messaging?

In case you’d forgotten, Saturday's Hun published a timely reminder from Neil Mitchell, under the headline “Dumb and Dumber”.

Mitchell is the nearest equivalent to Alan Jones we have here in Melbourne. So you might expect Melburnians to regard Mitchell as the thinking man’s Alan Jones. We don't, for two reasons: firstly, the phrase “thinking man’s Alan Jones” is an obvious oxymoron and secondly, on the evidence of today’s article, Mitchell doesn’t put enough thought of his own into his work to qualify as the thinking man’s anything. He begins:

IF it is horror stories you want from Australia's education system, it is horror stories you will get.

Teachers and bureaucrats are creating them faster than you can throw a duster across a classroom.

Such as the course we are running here in Victoria to study text messages.

Why waste time learning SMS shorthand when there is a perfectly acceptable language called English.

If the teacher must teach gibberish, is it unreasonable to suggest they teach the real language first?

Perhaps they don't know how. The written advice to teachers from the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority seems to use words that have not been invented.

The one fact that Mitchell’s article – one of only two or three in the whole piece, the rest comprising a lot of supposition and speculation (like the last two quoted paragraphs above) – is that there is indeed, an English unit available for use in schools that want to teach students a short, 4 activity course on SMS messaging.

Most of the other facts about the unit – such as that at most, it would involve 4 to 8 class sessions over one or two weeks of English for students in Years 8 to 10 – Mitchell happily ignores in favour of innuendo about the general stupidity and ignorance of teachers and education bureaucrats. It’s not until halfway through his piece that he gets over the his fit of brain-farting for long enough to try his hand at examining the question in a balanced way. By then the damage is already done.

In that later, balanced section, Mitchell takes up the problem of conflict between schools and parents, caused by their mutually antagonistic perceptions:

Many schools still believe a good parent is an ignorant parent, tolerated rather than encouraged.

Many parents still see teachers as lazy, with long holidays, short hours and the singular ambition of turning their children into clones of Martin Kingham.

I wonder where those parents are getting that idea about teachers – it couldn’t be articles like this one, could it?

Mitchell’s article reminds me of those famous words at the end of John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: “When the facts don’t fit the legend print the legend.”

Even if the legend is just a grubby, politically inspired urban legend.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Slag Off the Green Guide Thursday (a Day Late)

It’s been a while since I slagged off the Age Green Guide. It hasn’t been necessary, over most of the past couple of months, because the free-to-air schedules have been crap anyway. Under the circumstances it would have been a little mean-spirited to pay out on Debi Enker, today’s slaggee, for writing crap reviews. If the programs are crap anyway, who cares about the reviewing?

Paying out on reviewers is best saved for when you read a crap review of one of the few good programs that’s getting commercial prime-time air at the moment. I’m talking about The Closer, on Channel Nine, more or less reliably, at 9.35pm on Tuesdays.

Taking up the theme of a review written by Kenneth Nguyen a couple of weeks ago, Debi begins her piece on next Tuesday’s episode with some bitching about the show’s protagonist:

The supposedly endearing scattiness is getting a bit annoying. From the start, the creators of The Close have tried to soften the image of deputy police chief Brenda Lee Johnson (Kyra Sedgewick). She’s intended to be seen as a peerless investigator, but just to keep her human, even womanly, they’ve given her a honey-coated southern drawl and what’s supposed to be a winsome scattiness.

It’s possible that next week’s episode is every bit as bad as Debi makes out. That, thanks to exceptionally bad scripting, acting and comic timing, all next Tuesday’s episode has on offer is the irritating spectacle of Kyra Sedgewick, as Brenda Lee, bumping into furniture and tossing down the comfort foods. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

Be a bugger of a thing if Debi’s right and all the things I like about the show – including the strong ensemble acting and the witty moments of character-based comedy – have already been tossed, in favour of a much more by-the-numbers “scatty Southern belle solves murder by the numbers while bumping into furniture and binge-eating” formula. Because the major alternatives to The Closer on the commercial channels are:

  • Taciturn, resolute, scientifically object cool dude (dark sunglasses optional) who knows science leads team of geek investigators who solve crimes with impossible science and CGI animation.

  • Gung-ho military investigators and lawyers poke their noses into any criminal investigation with even the most remote connection to the US Navy or the US Marines, breezily ignoring any real-world problems of jurisdiction.

  • Staff of the worst-managed coroner’s department in the entire continental USA use their work hours to pursue personal crusades arising from traumatic incidents in their past personal lives, then use their personal time to put in a lot of unpaid overtime on the cases they’re actually supposed to work on. This wouldn’t be necessary if they weren’t all completely dysfunctional morons with lousy time-management skills.

So what if every episode of The Closer follows pretty much the same formula? So do all the alternatives on offer. Unlike the producers of the alternatives, the producers, writers and cast of The Closer don’t leave it up to the formula to do all the work.

Next time you’re looking for a Tuesday night television program to pay out on Debi, save it for Dancing with the Stars or 20 to 01. And that goes for your colleague Kenneth Nguyen too.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Henry Ford and the Great American Horseshit Crisis

According to The Age, John Howard told a meeting of government MPs not to be “mesmerised” by the Stern report. The warning wasn't needed in the case of Nationals MP De-Anne Kelly – she’s obviously immune to mesmeric influences.

De-Anne has found it easy to stay on the PM's message – more or less – on the Stern report, telling reporters that Australia should look to technology, not economics, for solutions to the problems of global warming. And she backs up her position with a well known historical precedent:

"It's technology that provides an answer for the future, not an economic answer that taxes, slices, dices and removes opportunities for young people."

At the turn of the century, economists in the United States predicted horse drawn carriages would lead to the country being covered in horse "you-know-what", she said.

"This was a topic of great debate. They were going to tax horses; they were going to remove horses from the city and, of course, along came Henry Ford," Ms Kelly said.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Low Society

Local identities the Supplieds have been busy over the past couple of weeks, writing letters to the Moreland Leader. Name, and partner Address, are very upset at the way they have been abused and defamed in the letters pages of the paper.

In a jointly signed letter, Name writes:

MY objection to the development of Munro Manor is not “ill-informed or judgemental” (Christopher Anderson letter, Moreland Leader, October 23).

It is based on evidence that this sort of accomodation does not have successful outcomes for many tenants, especially at this size.

I refer to a report commissioned by Yarra Community Housing, the group who will be responsible for management of the facility. Its 2002 report, No Place Like Home, is very clear in its concerns about this sort of housing.

“Rooming houses, particularly the larger communal style properties, were not felt to represent a viable long-term option in their current format for increasing numbers of people,” it says…

I’ll leave off there, if you don’t mind. The Supplieds have a bit of a reputation for being touchy buggers and sometimes they get a bit writ-happy.

Here We Go Again

Today’s big kerfuffle in Ozblogistan is the Stainless Steel Weasel’s announcement of $90 million in Federal funding for a school chaplaincy program. It has Zeppo Bakunin wondering what High Court judges think when they read their morning papers – do they think, oh bloody hell no, this is the last thing we want coming before the Court or well, here’s an interesting challenge to look forward to in a couple of years’ time?

Our Their ABC, taking a scrupulously non-partisan line, reports:

Mr Howard has told Macquarie Radio that the Government would ensure the chaplains are not extremists, but he denies that the plan blurs the line between church and state.

"I don't think it is," he said.

"I think it is just reserving the right in extreme circumstances - the Government, because taxpayers' money is being used - to say we don't think this person is appropriate.

Reassuring, in these troubled times when the antediluvian views of the chronically stupid are seen as a threat to all that we cherish about this great nation of ours. And a challenge for the Australian Parliament’s legislative and regulatory draftsmen too – how are they going to weasel federal government selection of school chaplains past section 116 of the Australian Constitution? You know, this one:

116. The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth. (emphasis added)

Well, I suppose they could hand the money over to the States, who aren’t bound by this section of the constitution, and leave the religious discrimination to them. The one problem I see with that approach is that I can’t imagine too many of our current State Premiers or Treasurers queuing up for program grants that are offered on the condition that the State governments do Prime Minister Evil’s dirty work for him.

And where does the ALP stand on this issue? There hasn’t been any word from Fat Bastard yet, but:

The Opposition education spokeswoman, Jenny Macklin, said Labor supported the chaplaincy program, but said: "Any new chaplaincy program must be flexible enough to take into account the diversity of religious beliefs in our school systems."

So at the Federal level, the broad church of the Liberal Party and the true believers of the ALP are united in a spirit of ecumenism. Warms your cockles, doesn't it?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Enough with the Stupidity, Already

… And who is someone wise? The one who prescribes the right medicine for the right illness, we call him wise. And the one who says the right word at the right time, we call him wise. And the one who acts appropriately on issues, wise.
(Sheik Hilali in that sermon)
My personal prize for the worst headline in today’s news – and I admit that I haven’t looked very far – is this headline in The Age:
Prove it and I will stand down, says the sheikh
Reading on, it’s clear that the headline should be something like “If my mates can prove to me that I meant to say what you think I said then I’ll stand down”:
… Sheikh Hilali said yesterday: "I will stand down and leave all work related to the Muslim community if they can prove what I said was meant to be offensive. I won't be saying anything to them (the clerics) but will listen to what they have to say." He said he was confident he would have their support.

In other words, the Sheikh has no intention of stepping down. A less disingenuous position would be for the Sheikh to declare that he will stand down if the invited clerics can prove that, by his own standards, he’s far from wise and actually pretty stupid:

And the one who says the right word at the right time, we call him wise.
So, did his rambling sermon – which declared that atheists and trinitarian Chrisitans will be damned to hell, that the grasping materialism of wives is responsible for drug dealing and organised crime, that the “immodesty” of women is responsible for the crime of rape and that women are Satan’s best weapon – show that the Sheikh is wise?

First, none of this guff was meant to be offensive, as the Sheikh has said today. We can also see this from the Sheikh’s quick qualification of his remarks on grasping women who incite their husbands to become career criminals:

… Not our women in Australia, the women of Canada. The hall up there is full. They are the women of Canada and Mexico, the ones who encourage their men - to do what? Go! Get me! And no matter how much he brings her, she wants more.

Well, that’s alright then – no Australian woman, particularly a member of Sheikh Hilali’s congregation – would push her husband into crime to satisfy her greed, but those Canadian and Mexican women, they’re different – stay well away from those.

But do we call the man who realises that he has just said something highly offensive to his audience and has to improvise a rapid qualification of his opinion a wise man?

Sheikh Hilali said he was upset that his sermon, which was meant to "protect the modesty of Muslim and non-Muslim women", had been so misunderstood.

In hindsight he would have used a different example during his Ramadan sermon, he said.
(The Age)
Do we call the man who chooses the wrong example to use during a sermon, a wise man? Or do we call him something else?

“My sermon did not discuss or mention rape. The message of my sermon was intended to protect oneself from sexual predators and indecent attacks.”
(The Age)

… The Al-Rafihi scholar says in one of his literary works, he says: If I come across a crime of rape - kidnap and violation of honour - I would discipline the man and teach him a lesson in morals, and I would order the woman be arrested and jailed for life.
(The sermon)
Do we call a man who can’t even remember what he said, or attempts to unsay it a wise man? Or do we have better names for this kind of a man?

So, enough already. Sheikh Hilali is just plain stupid. And the loyal followers who have rallied to his defence – well, they’d have to be pretty bloody stupid too, wouldn’t they? And all those people who’re prepared to big noise this numbnut as a threat to the Australian way of life – on this subject, they’re the biggest bloody idiots of all, regardless of where you find them.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What’s My …

Even an old hand with a long established blog might find himself with a thing or two to learn from a relative newcomer. Especially if his blog has limited appeal outside a small circle of readers.

One thing I’ve picked up, while surfing other blogs, is that you’re more likely to appeal to a wide audience with a short, snappy, writing style, long on hyperbole and invective and short on analysis and argument. And short on sentences too. In fact. The. Shorter. The. Better.

Another useful trick, it seems, is to finish every post with a pithy, irritating sentence that doesn’t mean anything at all. No more than two words, three syllables at most. Something like

Catch phrase!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

And Now We Are Four

I had a bit of a panic on Friday. For some reason I got it into my head that it was my bloggiversary, so I cranked out a quick, celebratory post. Once it was published, I realised that I was three days early so I quickly deleted it before anyone had a chance to notice and link to it.

Yesterday, I was out in Melbourne’s inner Eastern suburbs, sitting on a boathouse balcony beside the Yarra – soon to be cleaned up so that it’s finally safe to capsize your hired rowboat so that your belusted’s t-shirt clings to those voluptuous but firm breasts with the mild chill of the water teasing her nipples into pert erection, clearly visible through the clinging semi-transparent wet knitted cotton. Unless she’s wearing a black Sepultura t-shirt, of course. While I was musing on the potential benefits of cleaning up the Yarra, my companion for lunch and and a few drinks asked when my bloggiversary was coming up – and I remembered that we were celebrating it. After a fashion.

After a couple of hours of conversation, we parted. By the time I got home the four glasses of red and the heat of the day were starting to do their soporific work and I took myself to bed. I woke again around 8:30pm – bugger getting up again there’s sod all on the telly tonight – and at 1:00am this morning – bugger sitting at the computer to get anything written now; I’ve already missed the date it can wait until tomorrow.

So, once again, I’ve missed the opportunity for some nostalgic confabulation about the good old days, when the majority of bloggers were people who could actually write, and do it well, while these days blogging has become the preserve of failed fame whores who couldn’t even get through a Neighbours audition, score a gig on Australia’s Biggest Loser lack even the modicum of musical talent and good looks you need to get through the Australian Idol auditions and are too socially dysfunctional for even the producers of Survivor to put on screen. The main reason I sometimes get that impression is that I spend too much time visiting the wrong blogs.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A True Tale of Local Wonder

I was browsing through on-line versions of a few Leader Community Newspapers this afternoon, seeking material for an off-blog writing project and I came across another one of those reports in the local papers that could teach the big boys a thing or two. In the Sunbury Leader of 16 October, Natalie Schenken reports:

SUNBURY inventor Arthur O'Connor is the brainchild behind the first Australian-developed noiseless wind turbine.
Hume Council has agreed to a 12-month trial of an O'Connor Hush Energy micro wind turbine at the Sunbury Works Depot.

The former funeral director has taken a quantum leap in his career from organising funerals to selling wind power.
Mr O'Connor said the turbine had been 24 years in the making and he had had it patented in 62 countries.
Mr O'Connor decided last year to sell his funeral business and concentrate full-time on his goal of revolutionising wind power worldwide.

The micro wind turbine will create clean, green power from wind energy connected to the electricity grid.
The one-metre turbine looks similar to a small jet engine and could potentially halve residential electricity bills. The turbines are expected to cost about $6000 each.
Mr O'Connor plans to produce models with diameters of one to five metres.
The Sunbury Works Depot office was chosen as the location for the trial because it is similar to a house.
The trial will involve monitoring of the electricity grid's connection performance, visual impact and noise.

Marvellous stuff to be sure – but now I want to know more about the unnamed whiz-kid who came up with the idea of creating an artificial funeral director that dreamed of becoming a real inventor. Compared to this tale, the story of Pinnocchio is a mere kitchen sink drama.

World’s Best Practice

If you’re looking for edifying, dramatic or amusing stories – the sort of stories that Elite Quadre George Thomas wants to see our major dailies run more often – it’s not just your local paper that you should be looking at. Your local Neighbourhood Watch newsletter can be a good source too. Here’s an item from the police statistics in our most recent newsletter:
As a result of the introduction of the Code of Best Practice for Family Violence, the number of family incident assaults has increased by 7.2%

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oy! Oy! Oy!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Quadre Watch

WHY do the lackeys of Leftist counter-revolution in the media devote so much space to non-stories? At times in the Australian media it seems that if we were to subtract the latest leadership speculation, opinion poll results, windbag commentary, public relations beat-ups and celebrity gossip, little would remain but the weather forecast.

Journalists in the larger media organs tend to treat with disdain and avoid what are usually called human interest stories, yet these are a great potential source of edification, drama and amusement.

Most journalists could learn a lesson from local newspapers, urban and rural, which are widely underrated yet employ many reporters with genuine enthusiasm and curiosity for news.

A heroic council road maintenance employee, seeing a pothole in the road at a level crossing, filled it in a few minutes, in accordance with the precepts of our beloved Prime Minister and Leader and went on with his work in true revolutionary spirit. He did not know that this pothole had been the subject of a demarcation dispute between his Leftist reactionary dominated council and the Leftist reactionary bureaucrats of the rail authority, and was unfairly reprimanded by his Socialist bosses.

Elite Quadre George Thomas in the National People’s Daily.

Hat Tip: to Phil Gomes at Larvatus Prodeo.

Postscript: Here's an example of the kind of story that many journalists could learn a lesson from: a tale of heroic resistance to Left wing social engineering from the front page of one of my local letter box stuffers.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Quadre Watch

RECENT speeches by our Great Prime Minister John Howard and the running dog deviationist Petro Georgiou have led many revisionist reactionary hyenas to lament the decline of small-l liberals in our great Liberal Party and the betrayal of the Menzies tradition of liberalism. But stand back and look at the true history of our great nation and today's great Cultural Revolution and you will find a different story.
A member of the elite Quadre (Quadre Member X) in Wednesday’s Oz. Later in the article, Quadre Member X reveals the heinous influence of the running dogs of deviationism in the Western Australian education system:
To take one example: the reading list recommended for students of Year 12 English in West Australian state schools is scandalously unbalanced towards the Left, including Noam Chomsky, John Pilger and Henry Reynolds. I have not seen equivalent lists for other states but I think it safe to say Edmund Burke, Friedrich Hayek and Keith Windschuttle are probably not stars on any of them…

I couldn’t find a recommended reading list for Year 12 English in WA Schools – the closest I got was a list of suggested texts which includes two works by John Pilger and two by Henry Reynolds. Quadre Member X is quite right in saying there’s nothing by Edmund Burke, Friedrich Hayek or Keith Windschuttle. There’s nothing by Chomsky either, unless he was writing under one of the pen-names Germaine Greer, Kaz Cooke or Naomi Klein.

Update: a hat tip to commenter deej who found Ayn Rand's novel The Fountainhead listed in the Year 11 novels, right above Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Orwell's Animal Farm is in there too.

More Update: Today's Oz includes a scandalously revisionist attack on the Elite Quadre by lickspittle lackey of leftist reaction, Dennis Glover.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Jolly Bunch of Kants and Bustards

So I gets to me computer this morning to write an account of Friday night and I finds that FX Holden has done the honours already and a right fine job he’s done of it too, him being there from near the start and all. Me, I didn’t get there until around seven, what with being forgot about at the doctor’s and all so when I arrived there was already a room full of people to be worked but first there was a bar full of tipple to be started on first, wasn’t there?

So it’s up to the bar for a glass of red and then a word or two with Tiley and Helen and then here’s Nabakov with a martini in his hand and me discovering I’m not really up to the hobnobbery so I takes myself off to an armchair once I’ve slipped up to the bar to get another tipple of course, only this time out of one of the bottles with a proper label and a name on it on account of the house red fair stripping the lining off me cheeks.

And what did Gummo think about while he was sitting in that armchair?

Sure and he thought about striking an elegant relaxed pose where he could shut his eyes and nobody would catch him napping and he let the hubbub of conversation just go by and thought it was pleasant to spend a few minutes quietly by himself with a crowd of happy people on hand if the fancy to talk to anyone should strike him later.

So he was a bit sleepy drunk then?

So he was.

But then he got a couple more drinks in him and he was obtuse and opinionated drunk and he was ready to start spouting off to FX and Tony T about books they should read and films they should see and forgetting the names of the books they were telling him were worth a look and then he got romantic drunk and had to profess undying love to every woman in the room, except before he could get to Lucy Tartan, he got distracted when Tiley pointed out Mark Bahnisch had arrived and Nabakov was pointing out Gummo to Bahnisch so he had to go over and introduce himself and then buggered off to talk to someone else but by now he was swapping-personal-secrets drunk, so he decided to take himself outside for a smoke. And some making excuses about not being able to go up to the theatre upstairs because he’d probably fall asleep, and snore and not getting off the hook until he’d said he’d probably start talking in his sleep too.

Then up the lane a little to the Szechuan restaurant, where he got a bit bossy and obnoxious drunk at Boynton on his way to the jakes coming back to find himself sitting across from FX and Tony, with Boynton to his right and Nabakov at the end of the table. And looking around every second table had a plate on it with a great pile of chillies and the young couples were pulling out prawns by the tails.

Then back to the bar, but FX Holden has already told that part of the story.


Let it be known that Anglican churches basically are empty today. And those who show are female or men who are female wannabes. Many of the clergy are the latter. Therefore, there are not that many robust wife-beating potential males attending the Anglican sanctuaries any more.

The prolific Grant Swank (I kid you not) at Conservative Voice.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Big Question

sPlaying the race card for ratings - has reality telivision finally gone too far?

You can find out tomorrow night at 6:30, when Channel Nine's A Current Affair does a searing expose on Survivor: Cook Islands, also showing on Nine, at 9:30. I won't be watching either program. Since they pulled the hour long feast of gratuitous nudity, sex and violence that was Rome in favour of this turkey, I've lost all interest in watching Nine on Wednesday nights.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Shite Watch

The Melbourne Fringe Festival is on at the moment – it actually started last Wednesday.

Geelong journalist and blogger, Bernard Slattery has looked into what’s on at the Festival – like this event – and found that it’s all a load of publicly-funded shite.

If you’re fool enough to disregard Bernie’s authoritative opinion – on the entirely spurious basis that it’s based on one selected quotation from an Age article and maybe Bernie should get up to Melbourne to see the show before he dismisses it out of hand – here’s the Festival program. And here’s a page listing all the Festival's partners and sponsors. The Fringe Festival is on for another two weeks, so there’ll be plenty of other shite events you can waste your money on.

Incidentally, nowhere in that Age report do I find any mention of who funded the (alleged) artists who devised the event Bernie doesn't like the sound of.

Saturday, September 30, 2006


Q: I want to become a role model for conservative men. How do I do it?

A: Ditch your fiancee and children and get down on bended knee to propose marriage to a famous pop-star.

Update: You'll slip somewhat in their estimation once word gets out about the fiancee and kids.

Op-Shop Book Corner

As the Twig is Bent by Terry Lane (Dove Communications, Melbourne 1979)

This book (ex Aquinas College, Ringwood) was actually a genuine find. In it, Lane presents interviews with sixteen prominent Australians about their childhood. One of them is the historian Manning Clark of whom Lane writes:

…Manning Clark has become an outspoken critic of Australian Society in his books, articles, speeches and broadcasts, expressing a profound pessimism about the future. The events of November 1975, ‘that year in which the money-changers and accountants – the men with a passion for interest rates as dionysiacal as the passion of some men for "other things" – were to have their terrible day of triumph’, have left him deeply disturbed. Because of his defence of the Whitlam government … there was a storm over his commission to broadcast the Boyer Lectures on the ABC in 1976. An attempt to censor the lectures before they were recorded was thwarted when it was made public.

Of course that sort of thing couldn’t happen in these comfortable and relaxed times. On to an excerpt from the interview – Clark’s gloomy concluding remarks:

Perhaps my childhood was always at my elbow, as it were, helping me to dream the dream that one day I might put down on paper the story of why we are as we are and why, wherever I am, whether in Moscow, London, New York or at Harvard, I know deep down where I belong and that Australia is always for me the ‘shire for men who understand’.

But it is also a place where many people seem to belong to a different world from mine. Some of them are provoked to great wrath by what I try to say. That too has been part of what Henry James called my ‘complex fate’. There is one side of me which believes all those shouters and mockers will gradually fade away, but another part tells me they are with me forever in Australia – that Australia belongs to them.

Some days I feel the same about the blogosphere. Others, I’m embarrassed to find myself counted among the shouters and mockers. That’s just part of my ‘complex fate’.

(Cross-Posted at Larvatus Prodeo)

Half a Leg

I was hanging around the street, a little way up from the entrance to the pub where I go for the trivia quiz on Thursday nights. It was one of the breaks between rounds so I’d slipped out for a smoke and a chance to think over a remark I’d made in conversation with a team-mate. I’d just discovered a belief that I didn’t know I had and it seemed to be a good time to start thinking over how to fit it in alongside the old ones and which of the old beliefs were going to need clearing out to accommodate it.

A friendly female voice called out to me "Are you OK there." I’m a sucker for friendly female voices. I replied "Yeah, sure," and tried to pick up my train of thought, but she wasn’t any of that.

"Just had to ask," she said, "Because I’m that sort of person – y’know, when I see someone who might be having a bit of trouble, I’ve got to do something, y’know?"

"Ah-hah." I said, and wandered away up the street a little, still pre-occupied with the new belief problem. She wasn’t having any of that either.

"Hey, don’t take yourself so seriously," she said, "It’s not worth it. I know about these things. See, I’ve got half a leg."

I was starting to regret lighting a second cigarette but I was also fascinated. It’s not every night you meet a drunkenly cheerful extrovert who’s a bit deficient in the leg department. She was blonde and not entirely unattractive as well so I was temporarily endeared to her.

She’d made it clear that, whether I liked it or not, we were going to have a conversation, so I put on my friendly face and moved a little closer. While I did, I took stock of her legs – one foot in a running shoe, the other in a white sock and a sandal with a velcroed strap. I made the count one and a half legs at least but, given what they can do with prosthetics these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if I overestimated by a whole leg.

"I mean, these people here with their trivia, they take it so seriously, y’know? They need to get a sense of perspective …"

I knew what she meant – since I was one of those people there for the trivia but I decided to keep quiet about that.

"… It’s not that important and I should know – I’ve got half a leg!"

"What is it with these people? Why do they take it so seriously?" she asked, "We were sitting at this table and someone asked me to stop copying her answers. So I told her it wasn’t that important – she needs to get a sense of perspective. Look, I said, it's not that important. I should know – I’ve got half a leg."

One and half legs, I corrected her silently. And as it happens I know someone – distantly – who’s only got one leg and a stump and she doesn’t carry on about it the way you do, as far as I know she doesn’t use it as an excuse to crib at trivia nights and maybe she’s smart enough to leave people alone when they want to be left alone too.

I didn’t say any of that, of course, because the last thing you want to do when you have a drunkenly cheerful, egocentric extrovert on your hands is turn them into a drunkenly angry, egocentric extrovert. I took another drag on my ciggie – the sooner I got it smoked down to a buttable length and got back inside, the better but I didn’t want to provoke any "Wazzamatta? My not good enough for ya" stuff either.

A young buck came out of the pub, walked round to the driver’s side of the car we were both standing beside and fished in his pocket.

"Oh shit!" He said, "I’ve left the keys in the car."

"No darl’ – you left them on the table inside."

"No, I’m pretty sure they’re in the car."

"I saw them on the table, I’m sure of it. Go back and have a look."

He complied – he obviously knew better than to contradict her too. I looked at my cigarette – nearly there. Close enough to risk an attempt to channel our mainly one-side conversation onto a less touchy topic than trivia buffs who take themselves too seriously because they’re over-leggy.

"Men, eh?" I quipped. Before she could respond, her buck came out of the pub again.

"No they’re not on the table." He said.

"Well where are they then?"

By now he’d reached the driver’s side of the car. He looked in the window.

"They’re in the car – I can see them on the driver’s seat."

It was a perfect chance for me to bugger off, before I got dragged in any deeper. I took it.

Friday, September 29, 2006


How can I tell if my cognitive functions are coming back on-line after a long down?

A good test is to make a cup of coffee. If you fill the kettle from the tap because it feels too light, then pour the water straight into the cup, you may still have a little way left to go.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Simply Irresistible

The Oz lobs a banana peel onto the pavement of public debate ...

prat falls ...

and blames the fruiterer for selling the banana.

Pure Chaplin!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Word of the Day: Equanimity

We haven’t had one of these for a very long time, have we? According to Zeppo Bakunin’s old Concise Oxford, equanimity is:

Evenness of mind or temper; composure; resignation, acceptance of

It’s a mood that I’ve learnt to treasure, especially in times when gladness, joy and happiness have seemed hopelessly out of reach, thanks either to external circumstances or internal brain-chemistry. When equanimity is as good as it gets, you take it, not gladly of course but equably. With equanimity.
Sometimes I’m foolish enough to accept an inferior substitute – an afternoon of deluded hope perhaps, or the false equanimity of the writing mood, giving an account of that afternoon and subsequent events, distanced from them emotionally by the role of author. This false equanimity doesn’t last – when you’ve just sent off an E-mail asking someone to post a snarky comment on a blog, under your blog persona because your net connection isn’t working too well or you have an "Oh for crying out loud! Can’t you read!" attack at a comment on a recent post – the counterfeit becomes obvious.

An obvious counterfeit immediately loses its value. So I’m not exactly writing this in a mood of equanimity either. So I’m off to lie down and let the sadness and despair wash over me for a while until I’m comfortably numb again. Then maybe I’ll be able to tackle the topic of what "welfare dependency" looks like from the inside. Starting with the obsessive, but very necessary habit, of asking every time you see a potential exit from the maze, "Am I going to lose money by going this way?"

Postscript: in between writing the rest of this post and publishing (or re-publishing) it, I did the sensible thing and called a friend to invite myself over to her place. I got coffee, empathy, a sense of perspective reboot and a brand new hand me down wok. As soon as it’s cleaned up I plan to get in some serious pleasant activitity therapy involving chicken, vegetables, rice stick noodles and various condiments and spices.

Bonus Kitchen Tip: the Stanley 65-549 screwdriver is very handy for separating chicken thigh fillets that have frozen into a solid block.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Op-Shop Book Corner

This week: Ballbreaking by Robert Spicer (Animo Books, 1983)

I’m not promising that this is going to become a regular series – my record on that score is pretty spotty. Not Dalmatian spotty; more like Dalmatian with alopecia spotty. It all depends on how the supply of curious books at my local op-shop holds up.

According to the blurb, Robert Spicer’s Ballbreaking:

… shatters the common conceptions of what relationships between men and women in the affluent Western world are really all about!

Derryn Hinch promises:

You will be outraged, alarmed and challenged by Bob Spicer’s theories. There is enough fuel here for a thousand feminist fires. And I thought I was

And according to John Michael Howson:

A controversial subject deserves a controversial point of view – perceptive and brave…

So, what’s in the book?

According to Spicer’s introduction:

This book is based largely on hundreds of informal discussions with women and men of all ages and backgrounds. The results have been obtained rather
under-handedly, in much the same way as one gets the real opinion of the white
Afrikaner in South Africa, as distinct from the stated opinions he has
whitewashed for general exhibition.

First, by establishing the outlook of the individual being interviewed in each case, and then by appearing to identify with that point of view, one can draw other more deeply hidden attitudes into the open…

I don’t know why Spicer describes this research method as underhand; it’s instantly familiar to anyone who has found themselves in one of those awkward conversations at a bar where that amiable stranger gets a little too deep into his cups and starts sounding off about his ex-wife. Then it’s time to start muttering a non-committal "Uh-huh" now and then, while you finish your drink as quickly as you can without being obvious about it, make some excuse that the shit-faced loon won’t remember anyway and get the hell out. Unless you’re doing informal social research - then I guess you might offer to buy your new acquaintance another.

From his hundreds of informal conversations, Spicer has constructed a manual for prospective ballbreakers throughout the western world. And why not? After all:

Men deserve everything they get, and more, for allowing themselves to be debased, abused and manipulated by a strictly speaking inferior creature. Nevertheless, they do it, and given the conspiracy against them from birth, I daresay it is understandable and forgivable.

Though Spicer maintains, in the Introduction, that his book is a tongue in cheek attempt to present a serious message, a warning to men of the ways women seek to entrap them in their lesser selves and an exhortation to women to stop debasing, abusing and manipulating their natural superiors, methinks he protesteth too much. The sage advice he gives women in the rest of the book on how first to entrap their victim, and then pussy-whip him into complete and abject submission looks more like a gender sell-out – a progression from misogyny to misandry and hence complete misanthropy.

Why is it that low women seek to dominate the inherently nobler sex of man? According to Chapter One, "The decision for prostitution" It all begins in early childhood:

When a little girl sells her first kiss for a lolly, the stage is set. Whether it be to a her father or the boy next door, it’s all over bar the shouting. Why on earth should one involve oneself with the odious and objectionable business
of making a living, when for such a little favour one can have the fruits of
someone else’s labour – man’s.

At a very early age, the majority of women decide to become prostitutes. Not, of course, honestly and openly; you must remember that to succeed, you must never be honest. Man will never suspect for a moment that his creature on a pedestal is not honest, therefore the need for honesty is, in fact, non-existent.

To be a common prostitute is, of course to be a complete fool; you should quite rightly despise her for selling her services for a pittance, overlooking their potential value and thereby debasing the product…

Men should adore the common prostitute for her openness and honesty, but the good women in their lives have succeeded in keeping the whole shooting match very firmly in the closet.

Forget Damned Whores and God’s Police – once that first kiss has been sold, either to a dumb father, who really ought to know better, or to the boy next door, who can hardly be blamed for allowing his innocent sexual urges get the better of him, the die is cast. A woman’s choice in this world is to be either a damned whore or a damneder whore and that’s that.

All Spicer’s chapters finish with a summary, in point form, of the chapter’s main findings and hints for the prospective ballbreaker. Here’s number twelve from chapter one – it might cure a few blokes out there who’re still having trouble with a touch of the old Madonna/Whore complex:

Romantic love as man perceives it has no place in your life except to the degree that he must be deceived into believing that it is the only thing in your life.

Actually, on reflection, number eleven is better:

Your purpose is initially to attract and please man, and thereafter to
manipulate his emotional deficiencies and to maximise his earning potential for
your own benefit through his inadequacies, insecurities and moral conditioning.

Don’t forget, when it comes down to it the poor boob actually deserves it. As numerous on-line commentators will no doubt attest.

(Cross-posted at Larvatus Prodeo)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

One Small Step For A Blogger …

… but, when it comes down to it, not a particularly large one for society. The anonymous one has been under doctor’s orders to flog a piece of writing. Last week he finally cracked it, and his name is up on the web at one of those pay-per-view on-line mags. Unfortunately, neither of us has seen the finished article as a web page, because we don’t have a subscription to the site in question. This bothers the anonymous one not one whit as long as the readies come through – he remains content to allow me to carry the burdens of on-line notoriety. Precious bastard!
Just to show how precious the bugger can be about not putting his own, less than euphonious name, out in public, here’s a theatre review he duck-shoved onto me to write.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


I picked up The Roadmender by Michael Fairless (Illustrated by E.W. Waite) at the local op-shop, in the two dollar job lot of books that included that copy of Bertrand Russell’s The Conquest of Happiness, where an anonymous annotator had trenchantly dissected the character of Judy. In the publication details on the reverse of the title page (embossed at the bottom with the legend PERCY HUME, BOOKSELLER, SHEPPARTON) the book is described as “New Edition, Reset” with publication dates from October 1911 to June 1923.

The book is in three sections – “The Roadmender”, “Out of the Shadow” and “The White Gate”. The first and last sections are set in the English countryside, the middle section in London. The London section, with its references to the funeral of Queen Victoria, gives the only indication of the book’s supposed time of writing. With its overwrought metaphors, little romantic vignettes of bucolic poverty, musings on Wagner and hortatory religious reflections, it’s one of the finest pieces of sentimental clap-trap I’ve ever read in my life. And I’m still only two thirds of the way through it, so there are probably a few more delights to come.
I have attained my ideal: I am a roadmender, some say stonebreaker. Both titles are correct, but the one is more pregnant than the other. All day I sit by the roadside on a stretch of grass under a high hedge of saplings and a tangle of traveller’s joy, woodbine, sweetbriar and late roses. Opposite me is a white gate, seldom used, if one may judge from the trail of the honeysuckle growing tranquilly along it: I know now that whenever and wherever I die my soul will pass out through this white gate; and then, thank God, I shall not have need to undo that trail.

In our youth we discussed our ideals freely: I wonder how many beside myself have attained, or would understand my attaining. After all, what do we ask of life, here or indeed hereafter, but leave to serve, to live, to commune with our fellow-men and with ourselves; and from the lap of earth to look up into the face of God? All these gifts are mine as I sit by the winding road and serve the footsteps of my fellows …
That’s just the opening of the first section, full of those romantic vignettes of rural poverty that I mentioned earlier – “Fairless’” own (it's evident from the text that Fairless is a pseudonym), self-imposed poverty, and that of the people who pass along “his” road, providing Fairless with the opportunity to take a little time-out from his self-aggrandising religious meditations:
… Morning and night I serve with the Gibeonites, their curse my blessing, as no doubt it was theirs when their hearts were purged by service… The Gibeonites were servants in the house of God, ministers of the sacrament of service even as the High Priest himself; and I sharing their high office of servitude, thank God that the ground was accursed for my sake, for surely that curse was the womb of all unborn blessing.
His hero-worship of Wagner:
What a wonderful work Wagner has done for humanity in translating the toil of life into the readable script of music! For those who seek the tale of other worlds his music is silent: but earth-travail under his wand becomes instinct with rhythmic song to an accompaniment of the elements, and the blare and crash of the bottomless pit itself.
And his gloomy musings on the decline of civilisation as he knows it:
The swift stride of civilisation is leaving behind individual effort, and turning man into the Daemon of a machine. To and fro in front of the long loom, lifting a lever at either end, paces he who once with painstaking intelligence drove the shuttle. Then he tasted the joy of completed work, that which his eye had looked upon and his hands had handled; now his work is as little finished as the web of Penelope. Once the reaper grasped the golden corn stems, and with dextrous sweep of sickle set free the treasure of the earth… now he sits serene on Juggernaut’s car, its guiding Daemon, and the field is silent to him.
There’s something I forgot to mention earlier – there’s a shitload of purple prose in the book too.

All that said, I have to give Fairless his due; maybe once or twice during the course of his mental meanderings, he gets his head far enough out of his arse to notice something worth recording, and manages to describe it in a style that doesn’t completely overwhelm his subject matter:
There is an old couple in our village who are past work. The married daughter has made shift to take her mother and the parish half-crown, but there is neither room nor food for the father, and he must go to N--. If husband and wife went together they would be separated at the workhouse door. The parting had to come; it came yesterday. I saw them stumbling lamely down the road on their last journey together, walking side by side without touch or speech, seeing and heeding nothing but a blank future. As they passed me the old man said gruffly, “Tis far eno’; better be getting back”; but the woman shook her head and they breasted the hill together. At the top they paused, shook hands, and separated; one went on, the other turned back; and as the the old woman limped blindly by I turned away, for there are sights a man dare not look upon. She passed; and I heard a child’s shrill voice say, “I come to look for you, Gran”: and I thanked God that there need be no utter loneliness in the world while it holds a little child.
Well, come on, I never said that “Fairless” demonstrated any insight into what he was seeing, did I?

(Cross posted at Larvatus Prodeo)

Friday, September 08, 2006

As They Say In The Classics –D’Oh!

I was on the phone to the ex the other day. Although we’re divorced, we still have one or two loose ends to cut off, such as finally winding up the family business – but that’s a whole other story, for some imagined future time when I can deal with the subject with a bit of equanimity.

We got into one of those conversations about where things went wrong. Not the bitter kind but the kind where you look back on things and decide that, all things considered, you didn’t do too badly and you’re left with mild, almost painless feelings regret for what might have been but couldn’t. In that mood I said, “Maybe we should have a divorce anniversary do this year.”

“You’ve missed it again!” she answered, “You know, there’s probably a blog in that.”

She’s right, damn it. Again.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Judging Judy

I’ve never met Judy, but it seems that Bertrand Russell had her pegged way back in 1930:

When I speak of ‘the sinner’, I do not mean the man who commits sins; sins are committed by everyone or no one, according to our definition of the word. I mean the man who is absorbed in the consciousness of sin. This man is perpetually incurring his own disapproval, which, if he is religious he interprets as the disapproval of God. He has an image of himself as he thinks he ought to be,
which is in continual conflict with his knowledge of himself as he is. If, in
his conscious thought, he has long since discarded the maxims that he was taught
at his mother’s knee, his sense of sin may be buried deep in his unconscious,
and only emerge when he is drunk or asleep. Nevertheless, it may suffice to take
the savour out of everything. At bottom he still accepts all the prohibitions he
was taught in infancy. Swearing is wicked; drinking is wicked; ordinary business
shrewdness is wicked; above all, sex is wicked… The one pleasure that he
desires with his whole soul is that of being approvingly caressed by his mother
[father], which he can remember having experienced in childhood. This pleasure
being no longer open to him, he feels that nothing matters: since he must sin,
he decides to sin deeply.
That’s from the Unwin Books reprint (1961) of Russell’s The Conquest of Happiness. Whoever annotated the book thought the emphasized sections of that excerpt described Judy pretty well – except for that bit about Judy’s mother fixation, which was corrected, in pencil, by the annotator.

Obviously, Russell didn’t have Judy when he was writing Chapter II "Byronic Unhappiness" but the annotator recognized another of Judy’s boring habits in the first page of the chapter:

I am persuaded that those who quite sincerely attribute their sorrows to their views about the universe are putting the cart before the horse: the truth is that they are unhappy for some reason of which they are not aware, and this
unhappiness leads them to dwell upon the less agreeable characteristics of the
world in which they live.

Suitably rephrased, I bet that sentiment was just the thing to stop Judy in her tracks when she started banging on about the absurdity of human existence, The Myth of Sisyphus and all the rest of that existentialist crap.

If Judy was swearing, drinking, dealing and fornicating her way through the sixties, she was probably a war baby. Which explains why I never met her at any parties when I got around to doing a bit of swearing, drinking and fornicating on my own account the following decade.

But bad language, drinking and the rest, do not a happy Judy make, particularly if they’re driven by her neurotic desire to "sin", as Russell and our annotator confirm in the last chapter of the book:

The man who suffers from a sense of sin is suffering from a particular kind of self-love. In all this vast universe the thing that appears to him of most
importance is that he himself should be virtuous. It is a grave defect in
certain forms of traditional religion that they have encouraged this particular
kind of self-absorption

Now that we know the cause of Judy’s unhappiness, there’s time for one last reflection on how Judy’s traditional religion has affected her relations with other people:

To be the recipient of affection is a potent cause of happiness, but the man who demands affection is not the man upon whom it is bestowed. The man who receives affection is, broadly speaking, the man who gives it. But it is useless to give it as a calculation in the way in which one might lend money at interest …

Poor Judy – continually trading off sex for professions of affection. If only she’d read the book for herself, she might have found the way to a more genuine and abiding sense of happiness:

Happiness is of two sorts, though, of course, there are intermediate
degrees. … [they] might be distingushed as plain and fancy, or animal and
spiritual, or of the heart and head … The happiness of my gardener is of
[the first sort]; he wages a perennial war against rabbits, of which he
speaks exactly as Scotland Yard speaks of Bolsheviks; he considers them
dark, designing and ferocious, and is of the opinion that they can only be
met by a cunning equal to their own. Like the heroes of Valhalla who spent
every day hunting a certain wild boar, which they killed every evening but
which miraculously came to life again the next morning, my gardener can slay
his enemy one day without any fear that the enemy will have disappeared the
next day. …the fount of joy is inexhaustible and it is ‘they rabbits’ that
supply it.

But, you will say, these simple delights are not open to superior people
like ourselves. [Now, isn’t that just typically Judy?] What joy can we experience in
waging war on such puny creatures as rabbits? The argument, to my mind, is a
poor one. A rabbit is very much larger than a yellow-fever bacillus, and yet a
superior person can find happiness in making war on the latter…

Maybe that’s how Judy finally achieved happiness – perhaps now she looks back on her youth as a successful personal war on sexual frustration. Who knows? Only Judy and a few blokes with fond memories of this night when they met a chick who’d had a few too many.

(Cross-posted at Larvatus Prodeo)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Snob of the Week

I took a look at the Age/SMH Good Weekend today and learnt that Anna Wintour is the editor of American Vogue and that she is lampooned in the film The Devil Wears Prada which is to be released here in September. Her friend Barbara Amiel isn't too pleased at the way Anna is depicted in the film:

Since time immemorial, people of limited or average ability and energy have consoled themselves that they understand the more important values in life, such as relationships and intimacy, as though these things were not available to energetic, talented people. This is a literary convention that fuels many a work on stage and screen as well as between covers. One of the commonest ways by which this is done is to depict these powerful and successful beings as human failures.

... People like to be reassured that though they don't amount to much, what matters is that their friends love them ... But half-truths wrapped around lies can always make the incredible sound credible - to the gullible.

Later, to show just how wrong the makers of The Devil Wears Prada have got their caricature of Wintour (renamed Miranda Priestly in the film), Amiel tells us:

Meryl Streep's Miranda has little connection with ... Wintour, either in style or substance. Wintour's ears would never display the oversized hoop earrings Streep wears in the film. The clunky shoe that stretches out of the limousine in a brief shot when Miranda first appears would never appear on Wintour. She wears only Manolo Blahnik, whose shop windows have not been darkened by clunkiness.

In the end, Amiel does concede that Wintour has one or two imperfections, including a certain naive other-worldliness:

I encountered [Anna] once under the canopy of a Fifth Avenue apartment in Manhattan. She looked a knockout , wearing a fantastic Yves St Laurent snakeskin trenchcoat. "You must have it," she said. "Go and get it. There's a size 36 left." I wanted to ask what it cost but hadn't the guts.

That afternoon, I forked out $12,000 for the same coat and took it home for an hour, only to return it the same day. When she asked me later, I mumbled something about having exhausted my budget for the season. "But it's only $3000," she said.

Postscript: comments are enabled again for those as wants to use 'em.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Hiatus Update

With thinking too there is a time for ploughing and a time for harvesting

Culture and Value, Ludwig Wittgenstein, second edition ed von Wright and Pischler, 1998

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Nothing to see here

Move along.

Gummo Trotsky has spat the dummy, taken his bat and ball and gone home, yet again.

Friday, June 23, 2006

For the Record

About forty-one years ago, my parents decided they were sick of living in the slummier part of a class-ridden, snobbery-ridden society that offered them few prospects for upward mobility and dragged their arses, and mine, and those of my siblings, 13,000 miles around the world to a country where, they hoped, prospects were better. And so they were.

One of the things you might reasonably expect would also be left behind, was the ingrained snobbery of the old country, with all its manufactured excuses for one class to look down on another. The last thing I would have expected was to see it replicated, however unwittingly, on a blog but, a few weeks ago, this post appeared at catallaxy. I had one of those "oh for crying out loud" moments but, apart for a little too much off-line bitching about the author of the post, I decided not to make too much of it.

A little later, I found Rafe Champion's paper on Bill Hutt (PDF) at the HR Nicholls society site, where that Lion and the Ostrich post turned up again, this time as an appendix to Rafe's exposition of eight myths of trade unionism. Once again, I ignored it - what was it to me if the impartial seekers after truth at that august society were having a few giggles at the idea of English slum-dwellers of the 1930s doing wee-wees and poo-poos in cupboard drawers? I decided, again that it wasn't worth writing about.

This week, it turned up once again, at catallaxy, where Rafe presented his Hutt paper once more, in instalments, with this introduction to the first episode:
The capitulation of Kim Beazley to the unions on the issue of work contracts has ensured that industrial relations will be a live issue for some months to come. We are likely to hear endless repetition of a number of myths about the role of the trade unions and it may be helpful to have an alternative point of view for balance.
This differs a little from the introduction he gave it in his presentation at the HR Nicholls society:
Question: How long will it take us to get to a labour market regime based on freedom?
Answer. Some time after Bill Hutt becomes a household name among people who are interested in industrial relations

The centralized system of wage fixing in Australia was designed to replace the “rude and barbarous” situation in the nineteenth century with a “new province for law and order”. This expectation was based on a number of assumptions about the nature of the economic system that evolved in the Industrial Revolution and the place of the workers and their associations in that system.
Both introductions convey the impression that Rafe's paper on Hutt is intended to have some bearing on the Australian situation, but Rafe assures us that this is not so. He wishes to be considered a non-combatant in the political, or ideological, battle over that subject. I'll return to Rafe's wish later.

It's sobering to realise, that even a mere ten years in a slum environment can leave you with a chip on your shoulder big enough that you are angered even by accidental, and no doubt unintended, disparagement of slum-dwellers thousands of miles away and decades ago. And clearly it's unreasonable, and bespeaks the existence of a few ishooze, to be angered when a historical consensus that largely agrees with your own family history, is questioned in a spirit of free and open intellectual inquiry. Over the past couple of days my on-line persona has become decidedly unpleasant, so it's time to take another break.

So, as far as I'm concerned, Rafe is welcome to his non-combatant status. I'd suggest that if he wishes to keep it, he needs to refrain from a few activities, such as:
  • Posting reading lists for other bloggers;

  • Decrying the failure of post-modernists (whoever they are) to engage with critical rationalism, the failure of trade union ideologues to engage with the ideas of WH Hutt - non-combatants do not seek engagement with anybody;

  • Decrying the shoddy and dishonest scholarship of TEH LEFT - non-combatants do not concern themselves with the relative merits of the contending forces;

  • Decrying TEH LEFT as slaves to a false paradigm - neither do non-combatants concern themselves with the merits of the combatant's strategies.
That is not an exhaustive list - there are no doubt a few things I've overlooked that Rafe could do to jeopardise his non-combatant status but that's not my problem. I'm on hiatus again.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Make Money for Commenting on Blogs!

There's one small catch - it all goes to Medicins sans Frontieres.

Another Bloody Meme!

Yes, those new memes keep on coming. I nearly missed this one. Apparently it's bog-paper Monday.

What the hell - here are some bog-roll pictures for you all to enjoy. Just remember - ultimately they all come from trees. Like banknotes, except in Australia, where the banknotes ultimately come from oil wells.

The Fabulous Lombe Brothers

Isn't serendipity wonderful? After writing up Francis Ysidro Edgeworth (one of the late nineteenth century founding fathers of modern economics), I decided to go back to the beginning of Heilbroner's The Worldly Philosophers and, yes, actually read the whole book. Several pages into the chapter on Adam Smith, after I'd read Heilbroner's exposition of Smith's theory of the market, I found this:
Does the world really work this way? To a very real degree it did in the days of Adam Smith. Even in his time, of course, there were already factors that acted as restraints against the free operation of the market system... And already there were more disquieting signs to be read. The Lombe brothers' factory was more than a mere marvel of engineering and a source of wonderment to the visitor: it betokened the coming of large scale industry and the emergence of individual employers who were immensely powerful individual actors in the market...
I immediately decided that I had to know more about these Lombe brothers, especially given Heilbroner's description of working conditions in the factory:

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Francis Ysidro Edgeworth (1845-1926)

Another Great Dickhead of History

I discovered Francis Ysidro Edgeworth while flicking through Heilbroner's The Worldly Philosophers, looking for dirt on Stanley Jevons, one of the alleged inventors of consumption theory. Edgeworth was a contemporary of Jevons who, in 1881 published Mathematical Psychics a treatise on economics. According to Heilbroner (p171 in "my" copy):

... Edgeworth was not fascinated with economics because it justified or explained or condemned the world, or because it opened new vista, bright or gloomy, into the future. This odd soul was fascinated because economics dealt with quantities and because anything that dealt with quantities could be translated into mathematics...

To build up such a mathematical mirror of reality, the world obviously has tto be simplified. Edgeworth's simplification was this assumption: every man is a pleasure machine. [original emphasis, my literals and elisions]
Heilbroner continues with a few remarks on Edgeworth's character:
Of all men to have adopted such a view of society, Edgeworth seems a most unlikely choice. Hehimself was as ill-constructed a pleasure machine as can be imagined. Neurotically shy, he tended to flee from the pleasures to the privacy of his club; unhappy about the burden of material things, he received few of the pleasures that for most people flow from possessions... Perhaps his greatest source of pleasure was in the construction of his lovely economic Xanadu.

But regardless of his motives, Edgeworth's pleasure machine assumption bore wonderful intelletual fruit. For if economics was defined to be the study of human pleasure-mechanisms competing for shares of society's stock of pleasure, then it could be shown - with all the irrefutability of the differential calculus - that in a world of perfect competition each pleasure machine would achieve the highest amount of pleasure that could be meted out by society.
On reflection, I don't share Heilbroner's view that Edgeworth seems an unlikely person to have taken such a view of society - it's precisely the sort of idealised conception you might expect a neurotically shy person who shuns the pleasures of human company to take. And I'm inclined to doubt that his lovely economic Xanadu was his sole source of pleasure - my guess is that he had an impressively elaborate line in sexual fantasy as well. But given the era Edgeworth lived in, I'm happy to concur with Heilbroner's suggestion that the economic Xanadu was Edgeworth's greatest source of pleasure.

Edgeworth's character - neurotically shy, spartan, masturbative - would certainly explain his inability to understand why people, who ought if they were rational, to compete with each other for all the pleasure society had to offer - would insist on limiting their pleasures by combining in organisations such as trade unions (or more respectably, professional associations and chambers of commerce). Cut off from the pleasures of society by his shyness, he could not recognise that for most people, just hanging out is inherently enjoyable. And his intellectual solution to this problem - that hanging out, or combining with otheres to gain illusory "common benefit" is only effective in the short run and, in the long run, rationality, that is pure competition, will prevail is reminiscent of the chronic masturbator's belief that one day all the women in the world will come to their senses and break down his bedroom door.

Edgeworth's Mathematical Psychics included a chapter on a bloody struggle that was going on, at the time he wrote it, entitled "The Present Crisis in Ireland". I leave you with this interesting function, reproduced in Heilbroner, which Edgeworth used in his analysis of the crisis. I like to think of it as "Edgeworth's Irish Nationalism Function":