Trenchant Lemmings
"Arrive in a clown car, bursting with anger."
Robert Weaver
Sydney, Australia
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The weblog description is a misquotation from Steve Aylett's Indicted to a Party: What to Do, Who to Blame.
The weblog title links to the "No Country Redirect" version, for whatever that might be worth.
November 17, 2015

I love the bait-and-switch of this angry opinion piece in The Age: lure in the crypto-bigots with what appears to be the start of a standard "I condemn your failure to condemn" rant at "lefties" and Muslims, nailed in place with a nostalgic flourish of that idiotic neologism "Islamo-fascist", and then, before they know it, hammer them with a strident recounting of the relevant history and geopolitics, the imperialist meddling, support for ethno-national colonialism, and actual succouring of said "Islamo-fascism" when acceptably cosy to Western interests, that got us into this appalling blood-midden in the first place.

It is dangerous for so-called "lefties" to shy away from calling it what it is. Islamo-Fascism... it is also time for the mainstream Muslim world to be much more visible and active in opposing these violent extremists within their communities...

...delusional triumphalism of Western capitalism ...US and its allies armed, trained and supported Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda ...Taliban today continues to be trained, financed and supported by forces within the Pakistan security and military establishment ...humiliation of Palestinian people ...Israel was also happy to secretly fund and encourage the terrorist organisation, Hamas ...invasion and destruction of Iraq ...the West's eagerness to destroy the largely secular Gaddafi regime ...West's support for violent opposition to the Assad regime ... financial, ideological/religious and military support from the West's key allies in the Middle East, the brutal Islamo-Fascist regimes of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Gosh. It's just a pity he didn't find time to mention Erdogan.

November 03, 2015

Hey, remember how last year the government was allowed to block release of papers about the invasion of East Timor because it might upset our neighbours at a time of "significant tensions between the governments of Australia and Indonesia"? Well, apparently we're doing this now:

Note, as usual, the careful phrasing: "in support of the newly federated state of Malaysia" is as polite about timing as it is about avoiding mention of the British empire.

The associated poster about the Malayan Emergency refers to Australia fighting "alongside British forces against communist terrorists in Malaya." Remember the good old days, when just saying "communists" would have been sufficient?

November 02, 2015
For granted

Fairfax's resident crypto-bigot, noted hydrologist Paul Sheehan, emits his weekly mephitis:

For several years, the Canadian author Mark Steyn has been starkly pessimistic* about Europe. He recently travelled to Europe to see what the immigration influx looked like. He began in Sweden, the most generous country to immigrants in Europe, and had barely arrived when he had an encounter, described on his website on September 29:

"I was looking forward to sitting back and enjoying the peace and quiet of Scandinavian First Class. But, just as I took my seat and settled in, a gaggle of 'refugees' swarmed in, young bearded men and a smaller number of covered women, the lads shooing away those first-class ticket holders not as nimble in securing their seats...

"They seemed to take it for granted that asylum in Europe should come with complimentary first-class travel ... The conductor gave a shrug, the great universal shorthand for there's-nothing-I-can do."
Oh, I don't know, Mark; he could have kicked you in the nads, you narcissistic, entitled, hatemongering pillock.

It apparently didn't occur to Steyn that the scare quotes around refugees rather draws attention to the possibility that said allegedly pushy Mussulmen could have been Swedish citizens, or, you know, tourists.

* This would be a tactfully uninformative description of Steyn's ongoing concern that the effete Eurotrash are being outbred by the swarthy interlopers in their midst. Sheehan's talent for decorous omission is always impressive - almost as impressive as his expertise as an impresario for charlatans - although here he does not surpass his career best: "He [Jeremiah Wright] has preached that the US Government invented AIDS as a weapon to use against blacks, among other slanders." [My ital.] "Other slanders", you'll recall, included allegations that the US government was involved in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, had lied about the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and had dropped nuclear weapons on a couple of cities in Japan at some point.

October 31, 2015
Oh, Internet...

... don't ever change.

October 22, 2015

Kenny should definitely sue for defamation. Let the courts ensure that on hearing his name every Australian remembers:

Chris Kenny does not force himself on rape victims.

And is not, for the record, a dogfucker.
See also, also.

October 14, 2015
Gunboat diplomacy

The two best jokes from the White House’s official FAQ on Investor-state dispute settlement:

Where did ISDS come from?

Before we had investment rules and ISDS international agreements, unlawful behavior by countries that targeted foreign investors tended either to go unaddressed or escalate into conflict between countries. In fact, early in our history, the U.S. had to deploy “gunboat diplomacy,” or military intervention, to protect private American commercial interests. ISDS is a more peaceful, better way to resolve trade conflicts between countries.
How does the ISDS process ensure that arbitration is unbiased?

Governments play a central role in determining the composition of who handles arbitration. In the case of the United States, we have won 100 percent of cases against us, suggesting our confidence in the process is not misplaced.
H/t Jon Schwarz at The Intercept.

July 30, 2015

July 03, 2015

Here's everything you need to know about Ray Martin as we are informed of his leading an external enquiry into Q and A's unconscionable lapse of etiquette by letting someone, albeit someone who is something of a knobhead, state the blindingly obvious. From the leader's debate of the 1996 Federal election, an election, as Federal elections tend to be, fought, in theory, on national issues.

RAY MARTIN: All right. I want to give you both a chance to sum up, but a quick question, a news question. Were you shocked by the Federal Court's ruling about the behaviour of Rupert Murdoch's companies in Australia over football?

PAUL KEATING: These are corporate matters under the Trade Practices Act, Ray. I mean, you would have to know basically all....

RAY MARTIN: But the judge's use of words like deceit and dishonesty and duplicity and corrupting tactics. Is that coming to....

PAUL KEATING: Yes, but why ask us, Ray? I mean....

RAY MARTIN: Because Telstra is in partnership with Foxtel in terms of pay television. You're also going to give them Fox Studios.

PAUL KEATING: But what are you trying to say, now? I manage the Rugby League - is that it?

RAY MARTIN: No, you are in partnership with a company that has been severely criticised by a Federal judge.

PAUL KEATING: For a pay television business. But Super League is a creature of the News Corporation and News Limited and the ARL.

RAY MARTIN: So there's nothing on TV licences or about newspapers in Australia? There is no reflection on that?

PAUL KEATING: Look, this is essentially about corporations. It is a corporation tussle.

RAY MARTIN: Any alarm bells for you on this?

JOHN HOWARD: Can I just say something about it. As a lover of Rugby League, I hope that court decision is a catalyst to reunite the game. I think the division and the bitterness, the rancour, that has occurred and has cut in half a great game and I would like to see....

RAY MARTIN: Any alarm bells? We don't have your communications policy, but any alarm bells about a company, in newspapers and television in Australia, that gets that sort of critique?

JOHN HOWARD: Oh, well, I mean, they are entitled to further procedures of the law like anybody else and I don't think somebody in my position should be making ex cathedra judgments.
In case you need reminding: Murdoch had just received an unfavourable ruling from the Federal Court in the Super League war. His opponents handed a (temporary) win were the ARL, owned in part by Kerry Packer, also owner of Channel 9 and, thus, Ray Martin's boss. Was Martin's irrelevant grandstanding in a national forum over this PR coup for the man he worked for just something he instinctively decided to pursue, or did he obediently comply with a memo? In either case he performed like the company man he was.

(Just in passing, notice Howard's impressively craven attempt to say something that would please both feuding media magnates, while also posturing as a man of the people. One for the ages, I think.)

In early November 2014 I was most amused (almost as amused as I was at the time by the spectacle of US Navy Seals arguing about who had the right to be called a hero for gunning down an unarmed man) by SBS's description of Martin, while spruiking First Contact, as "an award-winning journalist". Martin was, at one time, a journalist; he, later, won a bunch of Silver and Gold Logies for being a popular TV personality. If he'd won the fucking Nobel Prize for Chemistry that still wouldn't make him an award-winning journalist. (It would make him a journalist and award-winning chemist.) Just saying.

June 05, 2015

As digital methods have become more central to literary study, Shakespeare’s works have proved a tempting testing ground. In a 2011 article, Ward E.Y. Elliott and Robert J. Valenza of Claremont McKenna College tackled the claim of Shakespeare’s widespread wordsmithing. They concluded that new words attributed to Shakespeare are “probably overcounted by a factor of at least two” — in part because early versions of the Oxford English Dictionary relied heavily on Shakespeare for textual citations. Indeed, as more works become digitized, Shakespeare’s number of first-use citations in the OED is dropping, from 3,200 at midcentury to around 2,000 today.

Meanwhile, in another 2011 article published in Shakespeare Quarterly, Hugh Craig, of the University of Newcastle in Australia, took on the belief that Shakespeare’s vocabulary is truly “beyond comparison,” aligning Shakespeare’s plays with about 100 others of the period to “dispel the myth of his exceptional vocabulary.” Craig found that, accounting for Shakespeare’s greater output and survival rate, he was not so different from his peers; on average, he employed a narrower variety of words per play than now-forgotten colleagues like Robert Greene and George Peele. “The truth is much simpler,” Craig wrote: “Shakespeare has a larger vocabulary because he has a larger canon.”

February 26, 2015
The Report

Recommendations are made about immigration, suggesting policies and legislative changes “necessary to support decisions to grant or revoke an initial visa, subsequent visas, and citizenship.” This came in light of the assessment that “in the same circumstances, Monis would likely be granted entry to Australia and citizenship if he presented in 2015”.

Immigration processes had to “reflect changing national security considerations” – a desperate admission of post hoc ergo propter hoc. The Monis who presented himself at the Lindt Café was not the same man who arrived in Australia in 1996. Reading between these lines, the report is expecting immigration officials to be skilful clairvoyants. The more likely outcome will entail exclusionary rules.


Then come the “programs”. Emphasis is made on expediting “work on a Countering Violent Extremism referral program, including ensuring it is appropriately resourced”. This suggests that Monis, deemed mentally ill on the one hand, and a radicalised agent of Islam on the other, could be the beneficial subject of such panaceas. The very idea is tinged with more than a touch of ludicrousness, given the nature of the man’s disposition to begin with. Oscillating between forms of sectarianism, idealism and philosophical costumes, he was arguably beyond the reach of any such recipe for action. What the Martin Place Siege report suggests is a sweetly targeted delusion: that radicalisation programs necessarily work in their theoretical and practical scope, and that Muslim communities must be strongarmed into being agents of the cause.

As a final point, the report uses the incomprehensible verbiage of the modern bureaucrat analyst, centred on such organisational gibberish as “prioritisation” models. There are “Lead Prioritisation Categories”, schematised as “High Priority Lead”, “Medium Priority Lead” heading down to “No Priority assigned” which are, incidentally, those “Leads not relating to imminent threat and with few security indicators.” A cardinal rule of security policy: make it unintelligible.

February 18, 2015

I don't read newspapers anymore — I just lie to myself and cut out the middleman, but I think it's important to note that the press themselves are not actually outraged by what they report on as being offensive. No tabloid journo — whose life is invariably a shattered kaleidoscope of prostitutes, gambling, cocaine, self-loathing, literally going through a stranger's bins, erectile dysfunction and cocaine — is genuinely offended when some students dress up as the Twin Towers for Halloween.

Outrage just makes good copy. It's easier to write, and simpler to understand. A tabloid hack knows that their average reader can barely read and they're not going to try to communicate anything like ennui in the vocabulary of a ten year old.

Offence is often simply an attempt to deny reality. Avant-garde film makers get attacked for saying things that are avant-garde; comedians get attacked for making jokes and footballers get attacked for being stupid. Nowadays offence is taken symbolically. It even gets translated into symbolic terms. Imagine if I did a joke along the lines of...

"The thing about that paedophile ring at Westminster is that they weren't even the worst MPs. There were people in Parliament who were to the right of MPs that STRANGLED KIDS. And they actually did more harm than paedophiles. I mean, the nonces tried to do harm in their own little way, but Thatcher fucked ALL the kids."

Not my finest work, but it doesn't matter because if it started a shitstorm, the joke itself wouldn't be printed. I would be in trouble because I'd joked about abused children or made a sick joke about a dead pensioner. The joke itself would be translated into these terms so as to maximise offence and minimise its message. I would be adjudged to have transgressed on a symbolic level, like some gibbering 13th Century Heretic.
Frankie Boyle, not writing for the Independent.

February 01, 2015
Cornered by the Horde

I recall this scene from any number of zombie movies...

...but never this adorable.

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