Friday, March 03, 2006

The Fool In History

No one dared tell the outcome of the [sea] battle [at Sluys in 1340] to Philip VI until his jester was thrust forward and said "Oh, the cowardly English, the cowardly English!" and on being asked why, replied "They did not jump overboard like our brave Frenchmen." The King eventually got the point ...

Tuchman, A Distant Mirror, Chapter 4.

Toorak Baby Murder Shocks Residents

From The Melbourne Hun Monday, January 5, 1891:

Toorak resident George Cameron was shocked when he found the body of a young infant in St George's Road yesterday.

"I was shocked." he told The Hun, "I saw this bit of old black rag by the side of the road and when I picked it up there was this sacking underneath and the baby was wrapped in that. Gave me anasty turn, I can tell you."

Mr Cameron contacted the police and the body was taken to the Morgue. Sources have informed us that the baby was a 4 week old boy. His skull was fractured and there were bruises on his back and arms. "It's a good while since I've seen anything quite this nasty," said one Morgue employee, who declined to be named.

An inquest has been scheduled.

See how easy it is? Now come on people, I want some outraged editorials and opinion pieces to have a good giggle over by Sunday morning. Alright, Sunday evening at the latest.

Weaselversary Too

In yesterday's Age, John Carroll had this to say on the Stainless Steel Weasel's Prime Ministership:

The achievements are in the second half of the Howard decade. The turning point in the prime ministership was September 11, 2001. Machiavelli drew on the classical Roman view to assert that political success depends on a fusion of virtu - the character strength and virtue of the leader - and fortuna - good fortune.

John Howard has had an extraordinary and sustained run of good fortune. For one, he happened to be in Washington on September 11, when the third plane ploughed into the Pentagon. His political experience before 1996 had been virtually entirely domestic, and his early prime ministerial ventures into foreign affairs sometimes looked clumsy. From that day in 2001, he developed into a statesman who has very significantly changed Australia's geopolitical orientation. This is a major and lasting accomplishment.

It's an ill wind and all that. Still, if Carroll is right in saying that Howard owes his big moment to Osama Bin-Laden, it's difficult to avoid the conclusion that all the Howard Hagiography that's doing the rounds right now is objectively pro-Al-Qaeda. Sorry, that's a bit unfair, isn't it?

Over at Catallaxy, Rafe Champion is wondering, purely rhetorically, who would pay money to read cartoonist Bill Leak's take on ten years of John Howard:

... Howard has reshaped Australia to conform to his own vision. We love the inflated feelings of international self-importance he has given us and we don’t seem to care about all the things he has taken away. Happy to live in an economy instead of a society, we might as well also accept that we are all Little Johnnies now.

Smaller, meaner and less attractive, we’re looking more like monkeys every day.

Well, now that I've read it on-line, I don't need to rush out and buy a copy of The Howard Factor - I can just relax and wait for it to turn up among the new acquisitions at the local library. Ta Rafe.

Finally, a few words from one of Britain's foremost political analysts of the 1960's, sadly neglected these days:

Well of course he's bleedin' lied and broken promises, hasn't he? That's yer bleedin' statesmanship, that is. That's yer political greatness.

I mean, what's all this fuss over whether he knew about yer AWB payin' bribes to Saddam? Do yer think our Winnie would have been bothered about it? If Old Adolf had called him up before D-Day and arsked 'im, "Winnie, old mate, are you plannin' to invade Europe anytime soon?" would he have told him the truth. Nah! He'd tell him to stick it up his khyber, that's what he'd do! Bleedin' obvious, that is.

Here's hoping that this post will bring back the readers who have decided to take their business elsewhere in response to our recent focus on reality television and soft-porn.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

That's not Funny, That's Just Stupid

According to Tim Blair, a link may exist between a widespread mood disorder and the approval rating of Kim Beazard or Howzley or whatever his name is:

Australians genetically prone to depression: 43%.

Kim Beazley’s current approval rating: 42%.

For the record, I'm one of the missing one percent. But I do agree with the 70% of poll respondents who believe the Government knew about the AWB kickbacks - along with all the other members of that 43% of the population who are genetically prone to depression. As only 27% of normal Australian voters think that the Government are lying their arses off over the AWB scandal, the polls show that John Howard still retains a handy 3% lead on this issue.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Announcing - Flag Elation!

It is the flag that does it for me, and I believe it does it for thousands and thousands of Australians. I would like to think we could see the flag on every street corner.
Bruce Scott (Nationals, Queensland) Member for Maranoa (Hansard, 27 February 2006)

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(Images by His Excellency, Lord Sedgewick of Strathmore)

Meme for Melburnians

The following report appeared in The Argus on Monday, January 5, 1891:


The dead body of a male child, apparently about 4 weeks old was discovered on Saturday in St George's Road Toorak by a man named Cameron. The body when found was wrapped in a piece of sacking, covered with a piece of black cashmere. It was taken to the Morgue by Constable Umbers and, when examined, it was found that the skull had been fractured and that there were bruises on the back and arms. An inquest will be held in due course.

I got to thinking today about how one of our current newspapers would report this event. How would it look on the front page of The Hun or The Age? What would the op-edsters have to say about it? Over to you.

Oh, alright, you don't have to be a Melburnian to pitch in. I'm sure someone at our national "Organ of Record" would have something to say on this item too.

Start hitting those buttons, people.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Chewing the Fat (Redux)

Shaun Cronin's post Survival of the Thinnest at Larvatus Prodeo is just the excuse I need to revive this oldie on the subject of obesity and my own physical perfection:

Lean, mean thinking machine Andrew Norton of Catallaxy Files and the Australian Libertarian Society seems to have developed a morbid obsession with fat recently. Principally it seems to be other people's fat: lesbian fat, lefty-columnist fat and most recently whiny fat people fat. In this last post, Andrew links to this Medical Journal of Australia article which identifies a number of causes of the increase in the number of whiny fat people in the Australian population. The article also canvasses and quickly evaluates possible approaches to the problem, commenting:

Even when "individual" treatment programs are effective (and they require continuing follow-up and involvement), the costs of making such programs widespread are likely to be prohibitive. Such programs are also unlikely to be accessed so readily by disadvantaged groups — increasing the already apparent socioeconomic differences. Public education should also be wary of overpromoting the virtue of thin bodies and inadvertently contributing to the development of eating disorders — the emphasis needs to be on healthy bodies. We must also guard against the victim-blaming approach, which can lead to obese people being labelled, if not bullied or demonised, and parents being criticised for their fat children to the point that issues of cruelty and child abuse are raised. A gain in physical health could easily be offset by deterioration in mental and social health. [my emphasis]

On that last sentence Andrew has this to say:

In individual cases, a tactful and kindly approach may well be the right one. But the language of 'victims' is likely to be counter-productive, encouraging people to think that their weight is the result of forces beyond their control, rather than their own actions. How many fat people have you heard saying 'it's my metabolism', as they tuck into another over-sized meal? Why justify such excuses? Fat people are mainly to blame for their own weight, and to the extent that they are not it is usually their parent's fault.

It's pretty obvious that Andrew is no endomorph. My guess is that he's a mesomorph; ectomorphs (like me) generally learn from experience that we can eat like pigs without turning into whiny fat people, much to the envy of our whiny fat friends. Comfortable in this knowledge we can turn an indulgent ear to their complaints about their metabolisms and respond with a sympathetic remark such as "Yes, I'm glad I don't have a lousy metabolism like yours. It must be hell being a whiny fat person."

Afterword: with so much earnest comment to come on The Biggest Loser it's going to save me a lot of work reposting this. Just to remind you all:
  • I'm not fat;
  • I'm not much impressed by all the self-righteous moralising I read around the place about how fat people should just stop eating crap and exercise more;
  • I've taken the piss out of the whole thing once already and right now I can't be bothered doing it again.
  • I'm not fat. OK there's that bespoke suit from twenty years ago that I can't get into any more, which is a bit of a shame in one respect because a three-piece white self-stripe does look rather natty but on balance it was no great loss because it was always a bugger of a thing to keep clean.