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Category Archives: weirdness

Brer Abbott and The Undead

What a good name for some Gothic band to take!

I refer of course to Tony Abbott’s ghost cabinet — a cabinet of Dr Caligari.

An Abbott, two Bishops and Nick the Impaler
A Cadaver, a Barney and Kevin the Tailor

That refers to the famous couplet on Richard III:

A Cat, a Rat, and Lovell the Dog
All ruled England under the Hog

Yes, we have an alternative at last: the pit or the pendulum, the devil or the deep blue sea, Scylla or Charybdis, Hitler or Stalin… Of course the latter is particularly unsavoury, is it not? Unfair on both counts — but don’t blame me: I’m not the one who compared Copenhagen to Munich while fully aware of the spurious nature of the analogy but nonetheless knowing it would push the right buttons in punter-land. That was Tony yesterday to Alan Jones. And interviewed on Lateline last night the neuro-linguistic triggering got a typically Abbott overkill: he even underlines the cue words by raising the stress above the rest of the utterance, a kind of phonological CAPITAL LETTERS TRICK.

Peter Hartcher noted inThe Sydney Morning Herald:

…He has rejected the counsel of the Liberal Party’s founder, Robert Menzies, that ”the duty of an opposition is to oppose selectively”…

Abbott will not engage on Rudd’s terms. He will not mount an intellectual case. He will not present detailed policy alternatives.

He will circle Rudd, throwing jabs from all directions, never presenting a stationary target. He proposes deregulating the job market, for instance, but refuses to be specific: ”I am asking questions here,” he told Sky News yesterday, ”not making policy.”

”I want to make a fight of things,” he said. ”I think I have got the frontbench to do that.”

With the climate sceptic Nick Minchin in resources, the hardliner Eric Abetz in industrial relations, Barnaby Joyce free-ranging and veteran warriors like Bronwyn Bishop and Kevin Andrews on the front line, nobody would disagree with him.

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Random but mostly political

1. A feast for pollie-watchers and pundits

Just look at The Australian today.

Libs facing election rout

David Uren THE Coalition faces an electoral wipeout at next year’s federal election if the rebels led by Tony Abbott and Nick Minchin succeed in blocking the government’s climate change legislation.

The lead story’s interesting, and so is Paul Kelly. I suspect Joe Hockey is privately fuming.

2. Borrowed from Jim Belshaw

Like Jim, I won’t comment!

I simply report this gem from the Australian Citizens Electoral Council without comment.

Isherwood: Who would have thought? British genocidalists are liars too

The British oligarchy’s depopulation charity, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), established in 1961 by Prince Philip and “former” Nazi Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands to realise their wet dream of reducing the world’s population to two billion or so people, is a key paymaster of the lying scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU).

The CRU basically cooked up the whole global warming fraud: in another time, before hackers exposed their true nature last week, Britain’s former chief scientific adviser Sir David King happily gushed that the CRU “set the agenda for the major research effort” in climate change; its “scientists” are the leading authors of the IPCC reports cited as the bible on global warming.

Well, well.

3. Why Steve Fielding is a much nicer person than Nick Minchin

Senator Fielding (Family First) has copped much flack for his denial of anthropogenic climate change, but at least he is up front about it, even trotting out his charts to try to convince the green demonstrators outside Parliament the other day. Of course, as we all know, Fielding isn’t really a politician. Minchin is.

So now Minchin is a double denialist because 1) he denies that what he is doing goes way beyond the issue of the ETS and 2) he attempts to deny he is a denialist. On both counts he is being economical with the truth. On point 2 he has been on record for years and one wonders why – well, not really – he is figleafing himself today. Of Minchin climate scientist Graeme Pearman famously said in March 2007: "I am worried that a federal minister would believe this crap."

4. And Malcolm Turnbull is much nicer than Nick Minchin…

While not totally frank Malcolm Turnbull was considerably more accurate than Senator Minchin in his half of the back-to-back interviews on the 7.30 Report last night. On just one obvious point, as Paul Kelly says: “The conservative rebellion this week has been a stunning, ruthless and self-righteous exercise. It was about converting a minority into a majority position by sabotage. Don’t fall for the idea that Turnbull didn’t have majority support.”

5. Science marches on whatever the pollies do or say

For example:

The first-ever Australian benchmark of climate change impacts on marine ecosystems and options for adaptation is being released in Brisbane today.

27 November 2009

The Marine Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Report Card for Australia, and an accompanying website, will provide a biennial guide for scientists, government and the community on observed and projected impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems.

"The objective of compiling this information is to consider options available to environmental and resource managers in their response to changes in ecosystem balance," says project leader, CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship scientist Dr Elvira Poloczanska.

"On both sides of the continent there is clear evidence of ocean warming and this is already bringing sub-tropical species south into temperate waters, and in the case of the giant kelp forests in Tasmania, appears to be having a severe impact in just a few years.

"This research is relevant for anyone with a recreational interest or financial investment in our coasts and oceans," Dr Poloczanska says.

climate big 6. If you want to read a book

Try Robert Henson, The Rough Guide to Climate Change 2 ed.

I like it because I can understand it, but also because it is less polemical than many in the field. He admits problems and complexities.

 

Politicking boats and people movement

Here we are in deja vu land again. I ranted about these matters frequently in the past, the main rant being Massaging the Asylum Seekers (2001 – 2007).

Now as then an increase in boat arrivals has prompted a range of responses, some of the foolish and atavistic, others paranoid, and some sensible. (The atavism comes to mind as I reread that brilliant expression of deep invasion anxiety, The Lord of the Rings.) Could the boat people include some terrorists trying to enter the country? Well, you can’t categorically say no, but it would seem more likely they would arrive by plane, or even more likely be born here or already in the country. Most people in boats enter into their risky and often expensive project in order to get away from situations of civil war and terrorism, after all.

Rather than rave again I think I’ll just say the recent enquiry into Christmas Island deserves to be implemented. Here it is: HREOC report on Christmas Island.

For current policy see Managing Australia’s Borders from the Department of Immigration. I do accept the need on political, social and environmental grounds for border management. I do not accept the hysteria the topic generates.

Back in 2007 I commented on my rant linked at the head of this post: “It seems likely that some of the worst aspects of those years will be corrected by the Rudd government. Already, the Pacific “Solution” has begun to be overturned.” I have not been entirely disappointed but we could do better.

 

What a classic!

Floating Life attracted via the contact form this rather amazing variant on the “give me your money” scam – not Nigeria for a change. I have not corrected anything.

Calavary Greeting’s

Dearest In The Lord

May the peace of almighty God be with you and your family,I am Mrs Hanan Solomon from Isreal but now  undergoing medical treatment in the oesophageal hospital in capital city here in abidjan. am married to late Dr Jackson Solomon , who worked with Isreal Embassy for Eleven years before he died in the year 2004,after a brief illness that lasted for only Two month.

We were married for Eighteen years without any child. After the death of my husband i vowed to use our wealth for the down trodden and the less privileged in our society. Recently, My Doctor told me that I may not last for the next one months due to cancer problem, though what disturbs me most is my  stroke. Haven known my condition i decided to Serve God with our wealth.

When my late husband was alive we kept the sum of ($2.800.000.00 Million)Two million eight hundred thousand dorllars with one Bank, Having known my condition I decided to Give out this fund to an individual or better still a God fearing person who will utilize this fund the way I am going to instruct here in. I want an individual that will use this  fund to provide help to the community’s need and christian poor and indigent persons, orphanages, widows around him and Schools etc.

As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact where the money was deposited also issue you the documents that will prove you the present beneficiary of this fund. Any delay in your reply will give me room in  sourcing for an individual for this same purpose, always be prayerful all through your life.  Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I Stated herein. Hope to receive your reply soon. Because i have come to find out that wealth Acquisition without Christ is Vanity upon vanity,

Thank you and may the Almighty God bless you.

Mrs Hanan Solomon.

The accompanying email return address is in China.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2009 in amazing, web stuff, weirdness

 

Sydney turns red: dust storm blankets city

See The Sydney Morning Herald. I have never seen anything like it here in my lifetime. And that’s 66 years…

dust 003

dust 002

See also ABC on this — and the comments.

Update: You can see how my coachee (Year 9) saw it at The day the weather went crazy….

This isn’t mine, but it gives a really good idea of the morning:

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2009 in Australia, events, weirdness

 

A storm in a coffee cup?

I can’t help but be bemused from the safe distance of Sydney Australia at our American friends sometimes. Take the heat that has apparently been generated by the President’s coming address to school students. To be fair, the same bewilderment is shared by many Americans — for example Does President Obama Want to Brainwash Our Kids? on God’s Politics, an evangelical site.

I suppose I’m asking for trouble by going here, but could someone explain to me the current controversy surrounding President Obama’s speech to American public school students on Tuesday? I’m serious. At first I thought the whole thing was just a minor stink, but as I’ve been reading posts on the Web and around the blogosphere, I’m realizing that this is major stuff. And as I look at some of the conversations happening among my friends and acquaintances on Facebook, I’m a little taken aback to find that some folks are actually afraid that their children will somehow be brainwashed or corrupted by whatever “hidden socialist messages” Obama will be delivering during his pep talk on the importance of education.

I know that there was initially concern about the wording of some classroom activities that the Obama administration was encouraging educators to use with their students during and after the speech, but my understanding is that the administration corrected the problem areas and that it will even post the speech at the White House Web site on Monday so parents and teachers can read it beforehand. Nevertheless, some parents and school districts are still making noise. The Valley View School District here in Illinois, where my two children are students, announced on Thursday that it would not allow its kids to watch the speech, and other districts are leaving it to individual teachers to make the call. Personally, I would’ve loved for this to be a part of my kids’ classroom activities next Tuesday, and I would’ve looked forward to chatting with them that evening about what they heard…

That seems eminently sensible and even-handed to me. As one commenter says: “If parents or school officials are upset about the very fact that the President will address school kids then I think they have their Obama-sensitivity meters set a little to high. Recent presidents have all taken time to address school kids. It’s a piece of harmless, fluffy American tradition.” But then you have people who will tell you Obama is a fascist, a socialist, even the Antichrist. None of those particular bits of hyperbole seem terribly likely to me, whether one likes or loathes the man – a matter of opinion of course. And it is fair to say the left – or some of them – would also have been muttering or screaming if GWB had elected to do the same.

Seems to me that parents scared of their children being brainwashed by a pep talk have little faith in themselves or their children.

Kevin Rudd Twitters the kids, and others, on a daily basis. You’ll be pleased to know he enjoyed the footie on Friday night…

See also Silly Stuff posted by Len in Texas.

Update

Len in Texas has followed up with Back to school remarks:

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama

Back to School Event

Arlington, Virginia

September 8, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning…

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2009 in amazing, America, USA, weirdness

 

Borrowed plumage

I have often enjoyed DeusExMacintosh on Skeptic Lawyer, but today’s entry is a corker!

page_15 

The image is linked to the original.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2009 in America, other blogs, satire, USA, weirdness

 

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What a crock!

Just now in Oz we have this absolutely *riveting* (not) Utegate Affair. Not our finest moment. The latest is that the email at the centre of it all is a fake – so the Australian Federal Police say. In the meantime just about everyone has been calling on everyone else to resign. It’s better than Home and Away or Neighbours, and has about as much relevance to real issues in Australia.

I really can’t be bothered going into it, but I do note the Used Car Salesman at the centre has by all accounts gained nothing from all the alleged lobbying and  mate-grooming: he didn’t get his loan after all.

Let me tell you a story.

In the fifth long year of M’s search for Australian Permanent Residence the application seemed stuck. We’d been warned that if you rang Immigration and complained too often they might, so it was alleged, move your application to the back of the filing cabinet. Well the guy handling our application was generally helpful, but it was still in limbo. At one stage too Immigration managed to lose a vital Chinese document, which led to us mounting an almost cloak-and-dagger operation in Shanghai to get another copy…

So we, especially me, were pissed off, and there was an election coming up and I feared what might happen to Immigration under Howard and Ruddock. So I contacted my local member, Peter Baldwin at the time, to see if he could exert some pressure. Well, a short time later the matter was drawn to the attention of the Minister for Immigration and the Permanent Residence came through at last.

Why is that so different from the Used Car salesman (perhaps) doing something about getting his loan application considered? If he did… Isn’t that what local members of Parliament do, and if you do happen to know the PM and the Treasurer, would it be weird or even reprehensible to mention the issue?  If he did.

Let’s hope Parliament manages to get back to doing something useful after this present outbreak of crap.

 

I read the news today, oh boy…

Well, it is the anniversary of that album…

But then, whoda believed it a few years ago?

And then, speaking of holes: Bellevue hole an active crater for weeks to come. See Sally’s Sydney Daily Photo.

(More coming. I’m switching to Live Writer…)*

And then, as I was saying before I was rudely interrupted…

020609_cartoon_moir_gallery

Moir in today’s Sydney Morning Herald

Meanwhile.

We have had much merited soul-searching about the targeting of Indian students in Melbourne of late. You will see Ramana took it up here recently. You need only to check this blog under racism to see where I am coming from on such things. However, I did find New Matilda more than a bit po-faced in Sol Was Right: We Are Racist by Ezequiel Trumper. I agree with commenter PaulRobert:

…You’re not seriously trying to argue that there is less entrenched racism in the US than in Australia, are you? There’s very little chance of hysterical protests against chk-chk-boom because no one takes the racist angle seriously – it was so obviously a joke.

Your article reminds me of Robert Hughes’ idea of "linguistic Lourdes": if only we could change the language people use, all the evils of the world will magically disappear – very PC circa early ’90s.

If you want to highlight the damage racism does in this country, get on the case about the appalling attacks against international students in Melbourne. But Trujillo? I’m happy to join with Rudd and give him the "one-fingered" farewell not because of his Mexican heritage but because he was a corporate vandal, a failure and a knob.

I even go along, for the most part, with Gerard Henderson:

…Stories which have a race edge tend to excite journalists in Australia. Not, however, on this occasion. Readers of The Age and, to a lesser extent, the Herald Sun would have been aware of a spate of attacks on Indians beginning about October, primarily in Melbourne’s western suburbs. This led to the establishment of the Police-Indian Western Reference Group in January. At the time about 30 per cent of all victims in this area were men of Indian appearance.

In fact, the number of Indian victims of assault in Melbourne over the past six months exceeds the total number of serious casualties in the Cronulla riots – and revenge attacks – of December 2005. Yet, until last week, there had been almost no coverage of this issue on the public broadcasters. The matter was all but ignored on such important ABC programs as AM, The World Today, PM, The 7.30 Report, Q&A, Lateline and Radio National’s Breakfast, as well as SBS’s World News Australia.

Even the Victorian Government has been surprisingly quiet on what sections of the Indian media have depicted as "curry bashing" incidents. The Premier, John Brumby, issued a media release last Friday following representations from India’s high commissioner in Australia, Sujatha Singh. Better late than never, but still late…

Interviewed on Lateline on July 28 last year, the influential Indian commentator – and one-time United Nations player – Shashi Tharoor criticised Australia’s policy on uranium exports. He made the important point that, unlike Australia, India does not enjoy the protection of the US nuclear umbrella. He also pointed out that, in living memory, India has fought wars with what are now two nuclear powers — China and Pakistan.

Elsewhere, Tharoor has depicted Australia’s policy in this area as a vestige of what he terms "apartheid".

It appears many influential Indians do not fully appreciate that the Rudd Government’s position on uranium exports is determined in part by the Prime Minister’s focus on observing United Nations treaties to the letter, and in part on upholding Labor policy and, in the process, keeping Labor’s left-wing quiet.

Even so, the policy has annoyed the highest level of the Indian Government. And now many Indians are rightly concerned about ethnic-motivated crime in Australia.

It’s time to focus on improving the relationship between Australia and India. A greater concentration by the Victorian authorities on crime, and more restrained policing, would help for starters.

Let’s hope they catch all the low-life responsible for the Melbourne attacks.

* I was composing direct to WordPress but the WordPress media uploader, and/or Google Gears, crashed Firefox three times!

 

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Sol Trujillo as victim of malicious Rudd racist “adios”…

… only if the unexpressed “arrogant turd” is racial vilification. We colonials take rather unkindly to being labelled “backward”, and I am sure the Singaporeans were not impressed by Trujillo’s stewardship either:

SOL TRUJILLO’S claims on the BBC that Australia is a racist country sit oddly with the dog-whistle politics which Telstra played so hard and so often under his three-year stewardship.

"We are an Australian company, majority owned by Australians. We are not from Singapore or anywhere else," Mr Trujillo’s chairman, Donald McGauchie, told shareholders at the company’s AGM a year ago.

The Singapore reference was a shot at Telstra’s main competitor, Optus, which is owned by Singapore Telecommunications…

So writes Michael West in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. I even find myself in broad agreement with Peter Costello, former Howard treasurer:

There are plenty of reasons to be critical of Sol Trujillo’s performance as chief executive of Telstra. Race is not one of them.

Kevin Rudd was foolish to take a cheap shot – saying "adios" – when Trujillo left. And Trujillo is milking it as evidence that Australia is racist.

But come on, Sol. You came to Australia and took up the prize job in Australia’s telecommunications industry. After four years you are leaving with $30 million of cash and bonuses. And you want us to believe you are a victim of racism?…

Trujillo says he changed Australia. Not in the way he thinks. One change is that corporate boards are going to be more wary of overseas appointments in future. Australian executives are as good as any in the world. A chief executive who understands the country and has a long-term interest in its future is a valuable asset for a company in a sensitive sector.

The Telstra directors could not have been surprised things ended the way they did under Trujillo. His previous track record was there for all to see. In my view, the board has a lot of explaining to do. It’s about judgment and performance. It is not about race.

The “Ugly American” rides again…

Yesterday I remarked on Twitter: “What a twerp!” Indeed.

 

Perhaps I’ll write another Kubla Khan…

We all know the story…

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

… and Coleridge’s explanation:

In the summer of the year 1797, the Author, then in ill health, had retired to a lonely farm-house between Porlock and Linton, on the Exmoor confines of Somerset and Devonshire. In consequence of a slight indisposition, an anodyne had been prescribed, from the effects of which he fell asleep in his chair at the moment that he was reading the following sentence, or words of the same substance, in Purchas’s Pilgrimage: “Here the Khan Kubla commanded a palace to be built, and a stately garden thereunto. And thus ten miles of fertile ground were inclosed with a wall.” The Author continued for about three hours in a profound sleep, at least of the external senses, during which time he has the most vivid confidence, that he could not have composed less than from two to three hundred lines; if that indeed can be called composition in which all the images rose up before him as things, with a parallel production of the correspondent expressions, without any sensation or consciousness of effort. On awakening he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved. At this moment he was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock, and detained by him above an hour, and on his return to his room, found, to his no small surprise and mortification, that though he still retained some vague and dim recollection of the general purport of the vision, yet, with the exception of some eight or ten scattered lines and images, all the rest had passed away like the images on the surface of a stream into which a stone has been cast, but, alas! without the after restoration of the latter!

Like many readers I really think the poem is complete, despite what Coleridge said. I can’t think of a better ending than:

…I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Courtesy of citalopram my dreams continue to be quite extraordinary. They often involve friends, acquaintances and family members, with little regard for chronology however, as the dead and living happily coexist sometimes in real settings, sometimes in composite or shifting settings. Like Emily on the post I linked to there I often find them rather enjoyable in their way. Emily writes:

The dreams are never scary, generally just about everyday stuff…. sometimes i find it quite enjoyable as i remember the dreams from the night before through out the day!

Only occasionally do I remember them throughout the day. One example is here.

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2009 in health, personal, poets and poetry, weirdness

 

On the juvenile rhetoric of the American Right our Right is right…

Gerard Henderson is an Australian conservative commentator with whom I at times agree. While he may be many things, insane is not one of them. Today he exposes the overblown rhetoric of the US Right while not himself being a total Obama groupie: All the way with Obama’s world.

…Obama is not the left-wing socialist that some of his right-wing critics in the US maintain. On Fox News, Glenn Beck runs the line that Obama is some kind of leftist fascist intent on destroying individual liberties. This view has been challenged by, among others, Fox News presenter Bill O’Reilly. But, due to Beck’s polemical force, it is likely that his opinion will have some impact on the American electorate.

The evidence suggests that, on foreign policy and the economy, Obama is acting a bit like a liberal politician in the JFK mould. Obama once advocated the withdrawal of all US forces from Iraq by mid 2008 – he now wants the US troops to pull out when the elected Iraqi Government, under the leadership of Nouri al-Maliki, is regarded as capable of surviving. Also, Obama has committed additional forces to Afghanistan and the US remains active in hunting down Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.

On the economy the Obama Administration is in the tradition of Democrat predecessor Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. This approach may, or may not, be the most appropriate response to the global financial crisis. However, it is not redolent of socialism, still less fascism…

While surfing through the now excellent again BlogExplosion I have encountered some mindblowingly awful “conservative” US blogs – rank and unbelievably bad some of them. Honestly, I wonder where their brains are! They certainly don’t make good advertising for their own country – but then of course there are many other US political and current affairs blogs that are first rate. But there is something about US conservatism that is totally sui generis, and quite terrifying to an outsider like me. Our local wingnuts look good in comparison, and Henderson – not really a wingnut – even better.

Meanwhile the Earl of East Sydney is in all sorts of bother.

KEVIN Rudd’s mid-air outburst at a female RAAF cabin attendant has done nothing to dent the Prime Minister’s popularity, which has soared to near-record levels as Malcolm Turnbull’s rating has hit a new low.

The Opposition Leader’s rating as preferred prime minister has fallen to 18 per cent, putting Mr Turnbull on practically the same rating six months into the job as his predecessor, Brendan Nelson, had after the same period.

Mr Rudd’s satisfaction rating jumped by five percentage points in the latest Newspoll, which was conducted exclusively for The Australian from Friday night to Sunday afternoon – a period during which Mr Rudd’s apology for his angry outburst, the outcome of the Group of 20 leaders’ meeting and the imminent arrival of the Government’s $900 stimulus cheques were all headline news. Labor maintained its strong and steady primary vote lead: 47per cent compared with the Coalition’s 36 per cent.

The two-party-preferred result, based on preference flows at the last election, puts Labor’s lead over the Coalition at 16 percentage points, close to its post-2007 election record high, as voters choose to stick with Labor to manage the economy through the global crisis and rising domestic unemployment.

Just as his popularity increased despite the August 2007 revelation he had been drunk in New York strip club Scores, Mr Rudd is preferred as prime minister by 67per cent of voters, while Mr Turnbull recorded his lowest preferred prime minister rating of 18per cent, down two points on the previous poll…

 

The Great Firewall of Oz debacle

I can’t do better today than to pass on SameSame’s Letter From the Editor which just arrived in my email.

Well, what a debacle this proposed internet "filter" is turning out to be!

First the Australian Government assure us that it won’t censor free speech but will instead protect us from sites relating to "child sexual abuse, rape, incest, bestiality, sexual violence and detailed instruction in crime". Then the so-called list of censored sites is leaked, revealing that hundreds of URLs on the list are actually entirely legal.

The Government then censor the already censored blacklist: republishing the blacklist is illegal; linking to sites on the blacklist is illegal; linking to the blacklist itself is illegal. Punishments include up to ten years imprisonment and for websites a possible fine of $11,000 per day.

Then the Government deny that it’s even the correct list, claiming that the leaked list contained too many URLs to possibly be theirs. And so a more recent version of the list is leaked, and it turns out to be about the same size. And the new list still contains totally legal content.

According to independent media source Crikey, there’s little doubt that the latest list is the genuine article. They cite specific items on the list, and the dates of their inclusion, and find that they correspond with that of the ACMA’s. As far as the recently leaked lists are concerned, the Government is yet to comment.

What it all boils down to is this: we’ve been told that only illegal online content will be blacklisted, but that’s simply not true. Not only that, but unlike offline censorship in this country, not only is the content censored, but information about what is censored is also censored. This means it’s not subject to parliamentary or public scrutiny, and it’s not up for appeal.

That’s dangerous, no matter how you look at it.

See also my earlier post and the item top right in the side bar. Across the political spectrum see  Ned the Bear interviews Stephen Conroy, Liberal Party member Chris Abood on the internet blacklist, Stephen Conroy is an unrepeatable vulgarity (from a distinctly right-wing blogger), Bloggers, Big Brother Conroy is watching you!, The Tangled Web and This Is Not A Club We Want To Join.

This is among the most ill-conceived and foolish things the Rudd government has thus far come up with. I rather doubt Obama and Rudd would be singing from the same hymn sheet in this instance.

Update

Q&A should be lively tonight.

And on another Internet development see Wednesday, March 25, 2009 on Happy Antipodean.

A Facebook data capture story posted on Facebook by a friend is not as hilarious as it first appears as so much law in Australia is imported from overseas, especially from Britain and the US.

The story contains some devastating inconsistencies.

The government is "is considering making … sites [like Facebook and MySpace] keep data about their users’ movements". On the other hand the government "was not seeking the power to examine the content of messages sent via the sites".

Strange…

Quick note after watching Q&A

Stephen Conroy has a talent for tying himself in knots; Greg Hunt was much more concise and focused. It was reassuring to learn that no political blacklisting is proposed, but I still think the idea of trying to impose on the internet through technology the same standards we currently apply to books, films, radio, tv and so on is likely to be clumsy and possibly futile. Susan Carland made a good point when she suggested leaving offensive sites open so that they can be tracked made rather more sense, and so does the principle that users have a responsibility to filter for themselves.

Andrew Bolt’s self-presentation as the voice of “moral seriousness” was quite sickening, not to mention possibly self-delusional – though I imagine he may well be sincere, or deeply believe he is. The way it manifests itself does rather lean heavily in one direction, however, and that not necessarily either moral or enlightened.

All that said, it would appear some of the reactions to this issue — possibly including my own – have been a touch panicky. It was interesting to learn the ACMA list (subject to regular revisions) has been around for nine years already, and that no-one proposes to prosecute people who simply look at listed sites. On the other hand, I was still not convinced by Conroy’s arguments – once the verbiage had washed over me and I deduced what he may have actually said. The shag on a rock in the whole debate was Bolt. Louise Adler was just a bit too absolute I thought.

In case you wondered, I still oppose the idea.

There were interesting other issues (Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine) raised in the latter part of the program. To view the program or (later) read transcripts go here.

 

Strange and sad

Such were my feelings as I watched this last night:

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Back in 2007 I had mentioned the key events before: Sydney Boys High School 1955.

The god-like Fifth Form students — High School only went to Year 11 then — included quite a few who became, well, god-like figures…

One of THE most god-like to us in 1955 was Marcus Einfeld, son of Jewish Labor Party politician Sydney (Syd) Einfeld and his wife Billie. He did indeed go on to a distinguished career, and it is sad to read what is befalling him at this time. Just what he did remains to be tested, but if proven it really would make you wonder why on earth he did it, as Legal Eagle does in How the mighty may fall.

It is doubly sad because Einfeld was so often on the side of the angels, as in this talk in 2001

Many on the Right will feel most self-satisfied if Einfeld’s peculiar attitude to speeding fines is proven in court. I will feel sad that my boyhood hero has feet of clay, but I still won’t discount his intellect or achievement over that half century.

Now he is in jail.

See also Legal Eagle today: The final ignominy.

Update 26 March

It is hard to imagine a stronger contrast with Legal Eagle’s judicious and critical but still charitable post than Miranda Devine in today’s Sydney Morning Herald. She is positively crowing.

I say the good the man did – and he did much – remains good, whatever the faults or indeed crimes of the man.