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156 responses to “Saturday Salon”

  1. Guy

    Rather wishing I was enjoying some sensible temperatures in Oz rather than the forecast snow in London this weekend …

  2. Wood Duck

    I watched Clive Palmer musing on Lateline the other night about how he might follow Gina Rinehart into newspaper ownership. It led to think about Fairfax with 15% owned by each of Rinehart, Palmer, Nathan Tinkler and Twiggy Forrest. It’s an exciting prospect, but to fit in, I would imagine that Twiggy would have to pack on a few kilos.

  3. Geoff Henderson

    Guy @1, I am in Far North Qld. It is 7am. est, the temp is 30C and it is our “wet ” season. A fairly brisk wind of 15-20 knots is tearing fronds off the palm trees, and the mud crabs are being blown out of the river. There is a small risk of a cyclone developing. There is a possibility of a cracker storm later that will bring torrential rain and local flooding.

    I really would not mind being in London right now.

  4. kymbos

    Sigh. Michelle Gratton writes another piece pretending Gillard isn’t prime minister – this time pretending Rudd is, instead of Abbott:


  5. Wantok

    So the banks are again offshoring jobs but, according to one report it is not just to save money on salaries (which they do) but also because they get better productivity from offshore (mainly Indian) employees. A capitalist’s wet dream : pay less, work them harder reap bigger profits.

    No morality ?: blame the shareholders

  6. FFranklin

    I’ve almost finished Susan Mitchell’s book “Tony Abbott : A Man’s Man” courtesy of my local library. Thirty years old and the bloke has not worked a day in his life!! High school at some North-Shore snob factory for upper-class Catholics. Then it was on to Sydney University to do an Arts degree with economics and law majors. Then it was the “Brideshead” period at Oxford followed by a period of several years at a seminary in Sydney. Just an ordinary everyday Aussie!!
    One thing that puzzles me about this period in the book is Abbott’s Rhode scholarship. We’re constantly being told (often in hushed tones) when Abbott appears as a simian dullard that “he’s not really that stupid….he is a Rhode’s scholar don’t you know?” In the book SM says that Abbott was more interested in student politics, sport and boorishness at uni. and completed his degree “without distinction”. What he did get was a glowing reference from a Father Costello(!) a wealthy and well connected priest who’d been a mentor since his high-school days. I’m puzzled how completing an Arts degree “without distinction” gets you a scholarship and whether or not this Rhodes thingy has an element of upper-class wankery. According to the book once at Oxford Abbott’s main priority was to gain a coveted Oxford Blue, first in rugby but he was not good enough and was dropped, and then in boxing. This is by no means a detailed book and what Abbott had to complete academically for his scholarship is not mentioned but from what I know it was a Masters in politics and philosophy. A few essays! I’m not suggesting it didn’t take a certain amount of intelligence but you’d think the bloke had won a Nobel prize the way it’s reverentially talked about at times. Anyone have more details about the Rhodes scholarships ie. academic prerequisites, the role of references, academic requirements etc. ?

  7. Brian62

    Wantok, get ready for the banks tried and true cost shifting exercise, less employees longer waits in the queue’s, at customers cost.

  8. Rock

    Woodduck at 2.
    The whole Gina Rhinehart et al thing is quite interesting and fun/important for people of a small l-liberal persuasion to discuss.
    Crikey has had some good discussions.

    But can we do better than fat jokes?

    I think a persons physical appearance/health can sometimes be relevant to trying to understand them and one or two comments on Crikey did try this (with the associated risk of pop-psychologising) but this whole thing is more important and there are far more useful reasons to be concerned about ‘these kind of people’ than that they are not skinny latte sippers.

  9. Salient Green

    http://ecosia.org/ The Green search engine which delivers Bing and Google search results and sponsored ads. When a user clicks on a sponsored link, that company pays Bing and Yahoo, who then pay Ecosia. Ecosia donates 80 percent of its take to the World Wide Fund for Nature’s programs in the Amazon rainforest.

  10. Brian62

    [email protected] Diet failure’s a bitch?

  11. David Irving (no relation)

    FFranklin, my understanding of the Rhodes Scholarship rules are that the recipient needs to have got a reasonably good degree, and (more importantly) be good at sport. A cousin of my late mother, who was very bright but not particularly sporty, gamed the rules by doing well at middle distance running. (The mile wasn’t particularly popular.) Abbott obviously gamed them some other way.

  12. drsusancalvin
  13. Katz

    The Rhodes Scholarship selection panels have an impressive record in choosing winners who later go on to make a mark in their chosen fields of endeavour.

    Chicken or egg? You decide.

    Abbott’s first post-scholarship choice of holy orders was a little unusual, but his later choice of politics was along conventional lines. I know of at least half a dozen Rhodes Scholars who became Australian government ministers.

  14. Terry

    Were Simon Crean’s media appearances last week part of a pitch to be Foreign Minister in any new Rudd government?

  15. Terry

    There will never be a Simon Crean government, and I say that as someone who quite likes him.

    Can you imagine the scenario? We are going back to the leader we dumped in 2003. It would certainly be a commentary on those who have followed.

    Perhaps Bob Hawke can be drafted back into Wills.

  16. PeterTB

    Abbott obviously gamed them some other way

    He seems like an excellent human being to my conservative way of thinking. All of the MSM efforts to demonise him have had an effect, but their negativity will eventually run out of puff.

    As Rudd and Gillard have already found, you disrespect him at your own peril.

  17. murph the surf.

    At university Tony Abbott was larger than life from Day One.
    The scholarships in those dark distant days needed performance as a “well rounded individual”.
    I became familiar with this as a guy in my final year was competing with Abbott for one of the scholarships on offer.
    Suddenly this quiet but generally taciturn guy wanted to run for the role as our faculty representative on the Senate. As this was usually quietly decided by the Faculty Secretary chosing someone and getting them to agree this was a bit of a change.
    Anyway while he was a first class honours student and represented the Uni in the soccer team this wasn’t enough to get very far.
    Abbott could boast of being SRC President , well known as a fabulous rabble rouser and shit stirrer and having played Rugby for the Uni- the laclustre academic performance was only one of three criteria so what with all the power of connections added at the end the choice was Abbott.
    After his period at the seminary he did work as a commentator for the Bulletin. His speciality seemed to be casting all problems as being due to our nation drifting away for Albion – I think one piece even included the line ‘this Southern Albion’!

  18. Katz

    After his period at the seminary he did work as a commentator for the Bulletin. His speciality seemed to be casting all problems as being due to our nation drifting away for Albion – I think one piece even included the line ‘this Southern Albion’!

    How ironic for the Bulletin. If we could harness the energy of Henry Lawson rotating in his grave, Australia’s green energy challenge would be won.

  19. AT

    The conservatives will be taking great comfort from the extraordinary sight of LP devoting 30 per cent of Saturday Salon (so far) to Tony Abbott!

  20. Wood Duck

    You are probably right Rock @ 8.
    Fat “cracks” about Gina, Clive et al. are certainly not PC. But, how would have felt if I had, in another context, called Hermann Goering a fat bastard?

  21. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    But, how would have felt if I had, in another context, called Hermann Goering a fat bastard?

    Wood Duck, I reckon there’s a pronoun gone missing in that sentence. Never mind. Göring’s corpulence was self-induced due to an surfeit of Lebensraum, rather than hormonal or other cause out of his control. While a revolting man in so many ways, he also had a modicum of self-deprecation, unlike most other Nazis, and didn’t take offense at the old joke about his weight in his presence.

    (Plus: the war. )

    My rough guess is that calling Hermann Goering a fat bastard is alright; he wouldn’t have minded too much if you said it to his face. Wouldn’t have stopped him sending you to a firing squad or a KZ under other circumstances either.

    But there are better jokes about the man. I don’t know if Göring would have found this sketch particularly funny…

  22. Joe

    I think that Labor need to ignore the likes of Harper, show discipline and stay behind Gillard. Anything else would be political suicide. This should be obvious, and for most I believe, it is.

    If the situation is so bad that Labor stand no chance of winning the next election than there will be plenty of time in opposition to put a new “team” together. Gillard may not be living up to everyone’s expectations but she has made no clear policy blunders like her predecessor!

    Perhaps it’s a good sign that the media has nothing else to do except speculate about the leadership?

  23. Joe

    Another front in the culture wars?

    Why can’t we make jokes about fat people? Why?!!

    Maybe we need to look at the compliment– What can we make jokes about? Herman Goering was born an arsehole, it wasn’t his fault, sure he ate a little too much and had some crazy ideas, but it was the drugs, man!!

  24. Fran Barlow

    PeterTB said:

    {Abbott} seems like an excellent human being to my conservative way of thinking.

    The claim is to subjective to refute or prove. I recall Hitchens saying that claims that could be advanced without proof could likewise be dismissed.

    Let us put the claim to one side for a moment. As far as I can tell, the prospect of “an excellent human being” also being a career politician is highly improbable. As things stand, the system tends to chew up and spit out anyone who might fit that description, or so debauch them that whatever they were when they entered politics, they are ethical bankrupts by the time they get near the leadership of the governing parties. The priviliged run politics, and there’s simply no way they are letting anyone touch their privileges. That’s the key lesson of the last 100 years.

    That is not to say that all political leaders have done equal offence to the prospects for social justice and reasoned public policy. Some have been less egregious than others. Oftne, it strikes me, their successes have been inadvertent, or the result of something external to their politics forcing their hand.

    At the moment, we have two shameless apologists for boss class rule playing out a vacuous and reactionary contest for the right to protect the privileges of the elite. The quantity of their ethical excellence really isn’t salient, because actual policies will be determined in practice by those outside of official politics.

    Unless and until the working people can achieve inclusive governance, personal ethics and politics will continue to be unacquainted.

  25. Fran Barlow

    Herman Goering was born an arsehole, it wasn’t his fault, sure he ate a little too much and had some crazy ideas, but it was the drugs, man!!

    Again, the term trades on angst over toileting, or perhaps over sexual preference. I don’t regard affirming either of these as suited to those seeking equity.

  26. Rock

    I’ve heard of Goering but don’t know much about his weight or the exact history of his work (I blame the education system….) or therefore how referring to him is not some sort of all too quick Godwin offence.

    Thanks Down and Out for some background and views.

    I would be particularly interested to know if Gina et al have any room for self-deprecation about their weight or any thing else we might care to make comments about. (Did Clive Palmer once make some sort of self-deprecating joke?)

    I’m not trying to go all PC on you (that is soooo 1990s) but would just rather we attacked the, um, more weighty subjects.
    (And hasn’t that rugby league loving mining guy Tinkler lost some weight, anyway?)

  27. Joe

    That’s right Fran, no jokes about anal-retention, sexual practice or drug-use! I think we just need to concentrate on making light of normal people.

    I am starting an online petition.

  28. drsusancalvin

    Did the rule change? I’m not sure why we shouldn’t mention “fat”. I recall the endless jibes and drawings of Joan Kirner looking like a fat frump. I notice the exaggerated thighs and bum in every sketch of the Prime Minister. The thing about Gina’s appearance that is telling is that she’s the spitting image of her dad in a frock. *
    *disclaimer. I have not actually seen Lang Hancock in a frock.

  29. Guy

    Well Geoff @3, we don’t really do torrential storms up here so I guess that is one good thing! On the other hand, we do a lot of grey, gloomy and cold.

    Today (Sat AM) is looking pretty nice and clear though.

    On the other topic, I think calling Gina Rinehart fat is just a timesomely lazy way to lay into someone. There are lots of more telling ways to criticise folks like her and Clive Palmer that probably require a bit more intellectual effort than something a schoolyard bully would crack on with.

  30. Joe

    Guy, but maybe if we had more fat jokes there would be less fat people in Britain and Australia? Having less fat jokes certainly hasn’t seemed to have much of an impact on the school-yard bullies, a topic, which seems to be alive and well.

    And if fat’s a no-go zone, why should we still be able to appeal to “lazy” and “intellectual” as ideas?

    C’mon people, what is it about fat-ness in combination with the likes of Palmer and Rheihart that’s just a little bit funny?

  31. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Here’s Hermann Göring’s uniform on display at the Luftwaffe museum. It reminds me of a sarcophagus.

    (That’s probably the sort of comment that he wouldn’t appreciate at all. )

  32. Joe

    Down’n out– it reminds me of one of Kim Il’s suits, which is somewhat of a revelation. But anyway, all these fashion people are fascists, h’right!

  33. Shingle

    Agree that this blog should be above fat jokes. For every rich powerful fat person there are probably many more people who are to the contrary.

  34. Katz


    At the same time, [Lang Hancock] expected [Gina Rinehart] to be a decorative addition to business meetings. “He used to pick at her about her dress and her style and her behaviour,” remembers an old family friend. “He used to keep picking at her if she put on weight. He’d say, ‘Where’s my pretty girl?’ ” Much later, when father and daughter fell out over his marriage to Rose, Hancock taunted Rinehart about the kilos she had gained. In a vitriolic letter that surfaced during one of the court cases after his death, he said he wanted to remember her as the “neat, trim, capable and attractive young lady” she had been rather than “the slothful, vindictive and devious baby elephant that you have become”.


    This is evidence of a troubling relationship between father and daughter. Evidently, Rinehart’s obesity coloured her relationship with her father, who ascribed her behaviour to her overweight condition. This presumption may or may not be correct. Nevertheless, the fact that Hancock uttered these words invites the world to contemplate the extent to which Rinehart’s being confronted by her father by this criticism of her obesity motivated her vindictiveness or her vindictiveness motivated her obesity.

    Normally, these matters are of no public concern. However, Rinehart is one of the world’s richest persons. Her combative and confrontational behaviour and ideas merit explanation. On the face of it Lang Hancock chose the terrain of Rinehart’s body shape for his struggle to impose his power over her.

  35. Guy

    Joe, I’m not sure the cure for our national obesity problem is fat jokes. :)

    I just think it just lowers the tone of the debate. You could perhaps argue that the fact that Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer mustn’t manage their weight effectively implies about the way they do their business – or that there is some essential unhealthiness about it all. But for most, “being fat” is a symptom of certain behaviour (e.g. eating too much and/or not exercising enough) – I’m personally more interested in focusing on the behaviours that lead to the outcome rather than the outcome.

    Katz, that’s an interesting article – certainly sounds like Hancock was fixated on her weight – perhaps again as a kind of lazy shorthand for his underlying problems with her?

  36. Katz

    Laziness or not, by these means the issue of Rinehart’s obesity was woven into the fabric of the struggle for, and perhaps disposition of, on of the world’s great fortunes.

  37. akn

    yep, you just can’t beat the very, very wealthy for healthy and well adjusted interpersonal relations. A model of compassion and decency the Rineharts and Hancocks of the world. The letter cited by Katz above is a shining example to us all of how we should relate to our intimates. And every one else too. Beyond that, however, after listening to a Professor of Fat Studies (NZ) yesterday I’ve decided to throw my energies behind the Fat Liberation Front (FLF) as a matter of urgency. Eff the Zapatistas. They are nowhere now man. Free fat is the future. Be realistic and demand the impossible – Free Fat, we cry in anguish and hope. And fries with that please.

    In semi solidarity – Lard Liberation!

  38. Geoff Henderson

    Kim, and others looking towards a return of Paul Keating (or Mr Rudd) – “A soufflé can’t rise twice”

  39. Terangeree

    Meanwhile, here in Japan, it is bloody cold and I wouldn’t mind being corpulent at the moment if it would keep me a little bit warmer.

    The television programmes are still bizarre, the escalators still talk and today the beloved gave me some early Valentines’ chocolates — and then ate them for me.

    Sometimes, life isn’t quite perfect.

    New Matilda has a piece about Lang Hancock’s daughter’s sudden predilection for the printed word.

  40. Fran Barlow

    I should say that without retreating a millimetre from my objection to trading, amongst other things, on body type for condemnation, for most of human history, though not recently, being overweight was a claim of success in life. It’s easy to see why those who objected to privilege made it a marker of ill-gotten power, and why most therefore either resented it, or envied it.

    One suspects that the contemporary usage owes much to this history.

  41. Joe

    Just watching East-is-east out of the corner of my eye and I was thinking how the film is such a great mixture of drama and comedy. I mean without the comedy it would be unbearable.

    A bit like the figure of Palmer, if you really think about it. Selling Australian minerals to the Chinese. And this is what you can read on the wikipedia site about Lang Hangcock:

    Mining in Australia occupies less than one-fifth of one percent of the total surface of our continent and yet it supports 14 million people. Nothing should be sacred from mining whether it’s your ground, my ground, the blackfellow’s ground or anybody else’s. So the question of Aboriginal land rights and things of this nature shouldn’t exist.

    In 1990, he probably still thought that 14mill was the entire Australian population.

    These are fat-cats. Vain power hungry and they are certainly not your fat grandmothers or your fat selves!

  42. Guy

    Fran, certainly in some parts of Africa (e.g. Mauritania, Nigeria – see links below), being fat is viewed as being culturally desirable as a sign of being wealthy and worldly or indeed as being of assistance for child-bearing:



  43. Mercurius

    Thesis procrastination!

    Lit. review…check.
    Ethics clearance…check.
    Mid-point panel review…check.
    Fieldwork completed…check.
    Data reduced…check.

    But can I get started on writing up the results?? Nooooooo……

  44. grace pettigrew

    Yes you can Mercurius, just do it.

  45. Katz

    Yes indeed FB.

    See here representations of fat men in Australian cartooning:


    “Mr Fat”, a trope of Australian invention, represented greed and ruthlessness. In other words, obesity was a marker of evil success rather than incompetence.

    It would be interesting to trace when obesity started to become a marker of incompetence. My guess is, like so many popular cultural transitions, it began in the late 1960s.

  46. PeterTB

    The claim is to subjective to refute or prove

    It’s Saturday Salon Fran – relax

    At the moment, we have two shameless apologists for boss class rule playing out a vacuous and reactionary contest for the right to protect the privileges of the elite.

    You’re talking about Abbott and Gillard? Seriously? I just can’t see that about Gillard.

    She seems to me to be the classic leftist ideologue with her election leaflet sloganing, unshakeable certainty of her own righteousness, and her apparent inability to discern the connections between actions and consequences. A class warrior to her boot straps, masquerading as a moderate for electoral purposes..

    I think that what brings her undone is that she is, how shall I say it, only of average intelligence, and is accordingly forced to rely on advisors to give her the line of the day, and the “smart move” of the week. This is disastrous because her office is clearly staffed by a pack of morons.

  47. Ootz

    According to this google book excerpt, Göring insisted for his wife Emmy, an ex actresse, to be addressed as ‘Hohe Frau’ since she assumed the title as ‘First Lady of the Reich’. Young actor Bernhard Wicki, was overheard making the rhyming derisive remark “Hohe Frau, die fette Sau” (Lady fat piggy) after her visit to an acting school in Berlin. These words made it to Hermann, who was at the time also Lord over Berlins theater world. Wicki got arrested, banned for life from acting in the capital and stuck in KZ Sachsenhause for 4 month.

  48. Geoff Henderson

    @45 Mercurius, Grace is right. If I may suggest, just write stuff but don’t expect great quality. Just discharge some stuff, have a glass of strong wine and rest. Then later, read what you have written. It might tell you about what not to write, or it may instruct you otherwise.
    Just start something; pretty soon all your research will distil into clear dialogue.

  49. akn

    Mercurios: drugs man! Drugs!

  50. dylwah

    Mercurius – Turn off your inner critic.

  51. Fran Barlow

    PeterTB said:

    {Gillard} seems to me to be the classic left|st ideologue

    I see no evidence at all for such a claim. One will seek in vain for any public statement from her that fits the reactionary appellation ‘classic left|st ideologue’. Her cultural claims fit very comfortably within conservative populism, and her economic ones echo Samuelson. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Howard had uttered verbatim almost every one of her claims.

    I’m often called things equivalent to ‘classic left|st ideologue’. (Just the other day over at PP I was called ‘an unreconstructed c*mmun|st’. While I don’t accept the terms, there’s little comparison between my claims and those of Gillard.

    I think that what brings her undone is that she is, how shall I say it, only of average intelligence

    She’s almost certainly of greater cognitive accomplishment than Abbott, but as we have seen, that’s not pertinent. Rudd was almost certainly better equipped, intellectually, than her and yet he was rolled. What drives policy is not IQ but class power and the success or failure of classes and their fractions in mobilising their resources. Both the major parties are reliant on and products of tensions within the boss class, which forces both their figureheads to utter evident stupidity on a regular basis.

  52. Fran Barlow

    Guy said:

    Fran, certainly in some parts of Africa (e.g. Mauritania, Nigeria – see links below), being fat is viewed as being culturally desirable as a sign of being wealthy and worldly

    Oh yes, but I was thinking principally of the advanced industrial economies rather than in the LDCs.

  53. Fran Barlow

    I’m finding it interesting that the LNP in NSW is moving to ban solariums, ostensibly to protect the public, whereas modest innovations on poker machine usage proposed by Wilkie are damned as a ‘nanny state’ regime. Perhaps I missed the news, but despite the LNP’s oft-stated love of ‘cost-benefit analysis’ I’m not aware that any such was undertaken to warrant the move on solariums. I’d be surprised indeed if banning solariums went close to, for example, a complete ban on poker machines in public utility terms. Maybe if solariums were kicking in as much to the LNP as gaming interests, things would be different.

    Now don’t get me wrong — I have no ethical problem with banning these salons, or at the very least introducing some expensive and intrusive regulation based on the cumulative harm from mechanical tanning. Yet it does seem seriously inconsistent to cry ‘nanny state’ and propose counselling for gambling addiction while banning outright solariums on the basis of harm to the public.

  54. FFranklin

    All this talk of Lang Hancock’s daughter reminds me of one of his appearances on the Ray Martin Midday Show in the eighties. I’m sure many of you might have seen his comment posted about recently re: the dangers of asbestos ie. “someone has to suffer for progress”. In the interview when asked about the dangers LH got worked up denying any dangers and saying he would be prepared to eat some here on set in front of the nation. The look on Ray’s face was classic. If only he’d had some out the back in readiness. Then again there was probably enough in the building if they’d really tried.

  55. Fran Barlow

    From Lang Hancock‘s book, Wake Up Australia on “how we can change the situation so as to limit the power of government”:

    “It could be broken by obtaining control of the media and then educating the public,” he wrote.

    There were several ideas on how to gain control of the press. One was for Australian retailers to refuse “to give advertisements to any paper which did not support a change in the constitution to reduce government to an absolute minimum”.

    “Control of the press could also be obtained by several of the big mining groups banding together with a view to taking over one or more of the present giant newspaper chains which control the TV and radio channels, and converting them to the path of ‘free enterprise’,” he said.

    Acknowledgement: [email protected]; 1 Feb 2012

  56. Brian62

    Perhaps the unconscious perception of politically extremist/opinionated billionaires is the visible association with their uncontrollable “greed is good” lifestyles and business practices.

  57. Mercurius

    @57, so, in other words, Fran, according to the Hancock dynasty corporate fascism = FREEDOMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!


  58. Fran Barlow

    I wouldn’t call it “[email protected]” but certainly, in Hancock’s view, the mass media ought to be an instantiation of the aspirations of corporate interests with an especial focus on the welfare of his fraction of the boss class, where this is at odds with other boss class goals.

  59. Katz


    It’d be a tough gig to persuade Australians to accept a major rollback of current taxation regimes on miners, given that those taxes underpin Australians’ current lifestyle and given that the mining industry is such a poor multiplier of domestic economic activity, except by means of tax revenues.

    The Libs know this too. They are tasked with the problem of extracting sufficient taxes from the mining sector without looking too much like the ALP. As Howard demonstrated, when it was necessary to win elections, the Libs could tax and spend higher and faster than the ALP.

    But if Gina Rinehart thinks she can change Australian minds via the pages of the Fairfax press, I’d be fascinated to watch how she approaches this task.

  60. dylwah

    Well if we are going to start quoting from “Wake Up Australia”

    “In dealing with the growing menace of environmentalism it is futile to quote facts to counter their lies and propaganda. One should aim at their jugular vein; why do they wish to subvert the nation? Where does their money come from? Who activates and controls their movements from behind?”

    That was ’79, so it really does look like Monkton is is just rephrasing Lang H as he goes along, pretty classic toady like behaviour as you take a sponsor for all you can get.

  61. silkworm

    The delusional Viscount Monckton plots with the baby elephant and other fat cats on undermining Australia’s democracy. No joke.

    video from Mannkal boardroom

  62. Geoff Henderson

    What seems to be Hancock’s direction as suggested here is something of a mimic of the American experience over one hundred years ago.

    You can perhaps argue that America was “captured” by the banks, rail roads, steel-makers, media (press and film), oil and automobile industries. Democracy was also captured by money – you can see from the Republican campaign that it still is.

    The influence has been on-going, and continues today, although there are signs that the 99% are beginning to become actively aware of their situation.

    The same influences seem to be present here – the influence of Big Business, the Press, Mining etc. The influence is bipartisan, both major political persuasions seduced by enhanced likelihood of being elected. Grubby stuff, and at the expense of us all.
    Maybe Hancock was just too upfront with his wishes, and today’s politicians more subtle.

  63. patrickg

    Disappointing to see someone here arguing that taunting and shaming the overweight is for their own good. FFS, what century is it again? Never mind the idea that fat jokes are a-okay (let’s make some jokes about her tits, too hey? What about her racial background? Anything there?).

    Little bit of compassion and respect would go a long way.

  64. Fran Barlow

    PatrickG, speaking of body-image-based abuse directed as Ms Rinehart, said:

    Little bit of compassion and respect would go a long way.

    It depends on whom the compassion and respect is for. The reason for eschewing this style of abuse is that it can form no part of a coherent critique of class power. It does nothing at all to foster the mobilisation of the disempowered against the class power wielded by folk like Rinehart. We left|sts are first of all respecters of humanity and its potential for equitable and rational collaboration and as well, opponents of every cultural claim that would be corrosive of that collaboration. Inviting people to trade on reactionary or arbitrary prejudice would be a win for the Rinehart’s of the planet. We need to be fighting her class power, not her body type.

  65. Nick

    Katz @ 47, fascinating. It was a long time ago that I stole it from somebody’s bookshelf, but I think the Affluent Society marked the Great Depressions (1870s, 1890s, 1930s?) as the big turning points (in America at least I guess)? It became progressively more and more unfashionable to display your wealth so obviously. Being well-fed to the point of fat, driving the latest luxury mobile, being photographed dripping with jewels and partying on your enormous family yacht, even talking about money in public – this was all plainly in bad taste (and potentially dangerous!) when the masses were starving and desperate. Old wealth began to retreat out of the spotlight into thickly hedged estates – and hire managers and CEO’s to publically front its industries and workplaces. New wealth – rags to riches movie moguls, celebrity actors and singers – began to fill the society columns instead. Having ‘real money’ meant not caring less about driving around in an old bomb, or what clothes you wore. Aspirational displays of bling on the other hand are more or less (still) the very definition of modern vulgarity.

  66. Wantok

    It seems that the Lord Monckton has grasped the baton from Lang Hancock and Ms Rinehart is leading the charge to give Australia a Fox News equivalent, evidently at Channel Ten along with Lachlan Murdoch :


  67. Ootz

    [email protected], Déjà vu a many nation being “captured” by the mighty bucks. Oligarchy is usually punctuated with industrial strength war. Thus, not surprising views such as these from the LaRouchian world.. Apropo, Louis Nowra in his Essay The Whirling Dervish: Tony Abbott made the point, that he, …. would make a great war PM, which did not make much sense to me at the time. However, the above context puts this statement into a different light.

    [email protected]

    But if Gina Rinehart thinks she can change Australian minds via the pages of the Fairfax press, I’d be fascinated to watch how she approaches this task.

    Heh, it appears the Gruen transfer seems to work pretty well on the ‘Hardly Normal’ crowd.

  68. Katz

    Yeah, but no, Ootz.

    Folks who allegedly lose themselves in the Gruen Transfer mall maze believe that they can afford the crap they buy. In the short run most of them are correct.

    On the other hand, if Gina Rinehart gets her way, millions of Australians will find themselves foreclosed out of their too-expensive houses. Their inability to afford their accustomed lifestyles will be presented to them as an objective fact that can be rectified by taxing miners more, because miners make huge profits and mines are the ultimate non-offshoreable resource.

  69. Ootz

    Oh, dunow Katz. As long she dangles the carrot of cutting wastes, renewed growth, opening up opportunities, ‘moving on’ and coralles them with white picket fences of confidence. While on the other side whips the enemies of freedom, liberty and our Nation that hold us back to fulfil our desires, indeed destination. Hate particularly works well to focus on the real enemy. Plus, making sure the popcorn stand is well supplied and the wheels of teh economy are greased the right way. Further, there is always the Cockroaches being hammered by the Toads (or v-v) diversion with relevant coloured inserts of party hats. Maybe not that hard, particularly if she demonstrates gestures of some belt tightening and plants the odd Victory Cabbage to debase the Watermelons.

  70. Katz

    Don’t forget monorails!

  71. Ootz

    Perhaps an opportunity for the Master of market innovation to get his old job back and we our ABC again.

  72. Mercurius

    Thanks all, got some thesis written — coming soon to a dusty library archival storage room near you!!

  73. joe2

    Ever wonder about the IPA influence on the climate change debate in Australia and why the hell Mark Scott has allowed them to set up office in the ABC? This link is helpful in the first case.


  74. Jacques de Molay

    The Greens Christine Milne on the IPA:

    “The Institute of Public Affairs is not public, it is a cash for comment organisation,” Greens deputy leader Christine Milne tells The Power Index.

    Milne says that until Roskam releases a full supporter list detailing who funds the IPA, a promise once made by his predecessor, the charges won’t go away.


    Indeed. Most of the IPA’s $2.5 million annual budget comes from its highly-engaged individual and corporate membership. When the government sought to legislate a carbon tax last year, the IPA put together a fundraising drive fronted by climate sceptic Ian Plimer which raised $70,000 from members in four days. That’s valuable money set to funnel into sceptic research.

    Then last year, when Andrew Bolt was found guilty of offending nine fair-skinned aborigines, it was the IPA who stepped in with prominent newspaper ads supporting the right-wing columnist’s right to free speech. Again, the money came from members, with $100,000 pouring in over the first two days.

    A thankful Bolt is effusive in his praise for friend Roskam (who denies it was a favour for a mate):


    You won’t hear too much criticism of the IPA out of the Labor Party though as Bill Shorten was best man at John Roskam’s wedding.

  75. Joe

    So, there’s an article in the Spiegel about how IBM is going to sack 8,000 people in Germany as part of a radical re-organisation plan, which in the future will see IBM employing only a small core team. (A fat core team, might be more successful?)

    They then plan to use an internet platform to advertise jobs internationally. The model will be based on something like facebook (aka social-networking!), where people are given jobs based on the feedback that they get from previous positions, etc.– but crucially, there will be a radical change in the number of full-time jobs created by IBM.

    This will allow the company “to get around the restrictive national regulations that exist in countries like the US, Germany, etc.”

    Wow, the national broadband network sounds like a great thing in this context. When nobody in Australia has a job anymore, downloading pr0n quick might be just the kind of consolation we need? But honestly, is this the future or just “the future in the past”?

    Because if it is, we are going to need to radically rethink social welfare… Can you base a society on no financial security? According to the article, in the ten years from 1999-2009, the number of full-time positions has sunk by 18.5%. Currently, only 50% of the workforce in Germany has a full-time job. Currently, every week there are articles in the German press about burn-out and how stressed out everyone is.

    with lots of rats
    and lots of racing…

  76. Joe

    The Syrian crisis really just goes to show how ineffectual the UN is, when it’s really needed. There can be little doubt that the Syrian regime is committing grave crimes against humanity at the moment…

  77. Mercurius

    @75 — yep, kinda figures he was best man at an IPA wedding — Bill Shorten is another one who repeats the IPA and denialati favourite that the Y2K bug was no big deal…

    “There’s a lot of issues floating around in Canberra which I would describe as something akin to the Y2K Millenium bug. Everyone was talking about some great issue and then the morning after nothing happened,” he said.


    He’s right (about endless media leadership speculation), but for the totally wrong reason (Y2K no big deal?)!!


  78. joe2

    It maybe that Bill Shorten is a friend of Roskam because they grew up together at school.

    Yep, another of the long list of politicians and wingers and wannabes who were tutored by the Jesuits.

    In this case Xavier College.

  79. Paul Burns

    Haven’t veen on line for quite a while because I cant see. However got the news this morning that my op is on the 16th Feb. So eaxpect me back with all bells ringing by about the 18th. Otherwise am very well. Have taken to swearing at Julia Abbot and Tonyt Gillard when they come on TV. Can’t read any comments yet. Anywayt see you all mid Fed.

  80. tigtog

    Paul, really glad to hear from you. Good luck with the op!

  81. David Irving (no relation)

    Good luck, Paul.

    I swear at Abbott and Gillard too, BTW. Who wouldn’t?

  82. Fran Barlow

    Yes indeed Paul. You go to surgery with, I imagine, the very best wishes of everyone here for a successful outcome.

  83. Helen

    Yay Paul! So nice to hear from you! Good luck with the surgery.

  84. Ambigulous

    Good to hear from you Paul. Best wishes for your op.

  85. Jacques de Molay

    Good luck mate

  86. Ootz

    Thanks for keeping us informed. All the best Paul.

  87. Mindy

    Best of luck with it all Paul. May you be back swearing at pollies soon.

  88. Tim Macknay

    Look forward to hearing from you on the 18th, Paul.

  89. Helen

    I googled about a DIY question and found this gem which I absolutely need to share.

    my neighbors called the cops…… not because of the sound of me working in the garage was too loud, but because i taped a cardboard box to my back, covered my self in vaseline and pretended i was a snail on their lawn.

  90. Brian62

    No doubt if this incident occurred in the ACT the riotous police would have snailed him to the wall.

  91. Lefty E

    Just an comment on LP lately: does anyone else have trouble finding the newest posts these days? Including the lead / opening post?

  92. Paul Norton

    Lefty E @93, I’ve noticed the same problem.

  93. Nick
  94. Nick

    Crap, wrong thread!

  95. joe2
  96. su

    Lefty E: For me, using mozilla, the home page still has the 2 latest posts, and there is a link just above to “chronological blog layout” that I use to read the slightly older posts. Are you getting a different layout?

    On another technical question: Does anyone have any idea why akismet might have taken such a dislike to my comments, I go straight to spam, not just here or ozblogistan but everywhere. Apart from checking blacklists and making sure I have no malware/rootkits, is there something else I should check for or is this just Akismet? Has anyone else had this problem? It’s been happening for at least three weeks now and I feel kind of sullied at this point!

  97. adrian

    Yes, and bloody good it is too. Check out the latest Mojo mag when it finally arrives here – a Cohen special.

  98. Nick

    LeftyE @ 93,

    Yep, it’s been doing that for a while now…there looks to be some server-side caching going on.

    If you append a nonsense query string (question mark followed by anything), you should get a properly refreshed page…

    eg. http://larvatusprodeo.net/?1234

  99. Fine

    So, a print ad for the QTC’s production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ has been banned for showing “a teenager in a highly sexualised situation”. It’s freakin’ ‘Romeo and Juliet’. What sort of situation is she supposed to be in?


    This makes me so angry. I hate the way that a legitimate feminist campaign to interrogate and counter misogynist images has been turned into this Puritanical fantasy, in which all teenagers must be pure and innocent and goddess forbid they should ever be represented in any other way.

  100. Fran Barlow

    Fine said:

    I hate the way that a legitimate feminist campaign to interrogate and counter misogynist images has been turned into this Puritanical fantasy, in which all teenagers must be pure and innocent and goddess forbid they should ever be represented in any other way.

    This is the trouble because however legitimate the desire to ‘interrogate and counter misogynist images‘ may be, the pointy end will, most of the time, be interpreted by people with at best a superficial grasp of the images. Context is a hard thing to write into policy.

    In my opinion, all culture is open to interrogation, but that doesn’t entail attempts to excise from public space all things one finds offensive. One may, for example, find certain imagery about bodies likely to predispose or affirm various kinds of dysmorphia, and one may wish to locate that within marginalising paradigms of female or other identity. There’s nothing wrong at all with critique. Individuals may decline to publish when this is brought to their notice. On the other hand, we ought to be careful not to create the impression that we demand of others censorship. It’s precisely the context-dependent character of texts (and other manifestations of culture) that should discourage us from adopting a too prescriptive model of “meaning”. Our critique ought to aim at locating texts in relation to paradigms of equity, inclusion and empowerment, precisely so that broader audiences can do critique.

    It’s hard to imagine that an audience so equipped could not unpick the misogynistic from the empowering.

  101. Fine

    “This is the trouble because however legitimate the desire to ‘interrogate and counter misogynist images‘ may be, the pointy end will, most of the time, be interpreted by people with at best a superficial grasp of the images. Context is a hard thing to write into policy. ”

    I think this is the problem. Images aren’t transparent and always easy to interpret. They are always context based and open to contestation. This is how feminism actually approaches imagery, in my experience. It’s also true that all because I find something offensive, even with very good reason, it should be removed form public space.

  102. Brian

    su @ 98, you should write to us, setting out your experience. There’s a button “Where’s my missing comment” at the foot of the home page under “Navigation”. You’ll find an email facility there.

  103. su

    Thanks Brian, will do.

  104. faustusnotes

    To change the topic just a little, I went to Minami Soma City in Japan’s disaster-affected area on Tuesday, for a two day business trip. It’s 23km from the Fukushima power plant and was also damaged by the tsunami. In the midst of a fairly hectic schedule of meetings and travel (and, of course, drinking), I managed to visit the coastal area that was hit by the tsunami. I’ve put a post about it with some pictures on my blog, and also uploaded a more complete set of photos to flickr. It’s a sad and terrible place by the sea, especially in the grim weather, but the people there were inspiring and strong.

  105. Fran Barlow

    Caught some of Question Time today. Julie Bishop asked Kevin Rudd the “which economies have an economy-wide carbon tax” question.

    While Rudd was answering, Abbott interjected: Tuvalu … it’s sinking.

    Hmmm … You do have to wonder about whether he has internalised the concept of thinking before opening his mouth.

  106. duncan
  107. Mercurius

    @106 Holy crap, faustus, those are postcards from the end of the world. Thanks…I think…

  108. faustusnotes

    I guess that’s a compliment, Mercurius. I guess it’s also testimony to the power of the setting (and perhaps also my luck with the light), because the camera I took those pictures with was basically the cheapest camera I could find in Japan. It’s an olympus from the stone age, maybe $60 or $70 new, but in that situation all it had to do was go “click.”

    (Also, incidentally, it is completely silent – no shutter sounds or beeps of any kind – which does away with a common myth about Japan, that cameras are designed with an irrepressible sound to stop perverts doing upskirt shots).

  109. akn

    don’t know what all the fuss is over rinehart buying the fairfax group. she inherited the money from some stuff that her dad found and now she’s worth an estimated 18-29 billion. hell, she’s entitled to buy media with that sort of money. what’s more, finding stuff and selling it is the australian way. the country should be renamed rineland in her honour. the point in supporting her media play is that we’ve had it too good for too long in this country with media managers and editors pretending that they are independent and have ideas of their own. this way when we read the fairfax group we’ll know exactly what the score is.

    the newcastle morning herald once had the banner ‘newcastle morning herald and miners’ advocate’ because the original owner, one john fletcher, was a bit of an owenite who paid good wages and insisted on all employees being members of the union. i look forward to the sydney morning herald having the banner ‘smh and mining advocate’.

    nb – no caps due to spillage over keyboard rather than a lurch to typographical simplicity.

  110. akn

    james fletcher, not john.

  111. Lefty E

    Well, credit where its due: well done ALP (if it passes) for means-testing public subsidies to the well off for private health insurance.

    What a worthless ‘health’ policy that was too. It was upward redistribution, with zero health systems benefits.

    Indeed – worse – it was a net negative, taking money out of the public health system, handing it to insurers, who effectively flushed a large % of it down the dunny by immediately raising premiums. Why not, the punters can suddenly afford 30% more!

    The. single. worst. piece. of. social. policy. ive seen in 25 years of watching Australian politics. I doubt even the Libs will resurrect that dog.

  112. Helen

    Cue ACA / TDT stories of adorable infants / apple-cheeked grandmothers dying of medical neglect because the guvmint means-tested private cover.

  113. adrian

    Don’t leave the ABC out of that lot, Helen. No doubt their flagship current affairs program 7.30 will have an insightful and searing analysis. Chris Ulhmann’s just the man for the job after his stunning interview with the PM the other night. What an intellect!

  114. Mindy

    See health funds squeal when people who decide to keep their cover start getting their health fund paid for teeth clean at the dentist every 6 months and claiming other stuff they are entitled to claim that they haven’t worried about previously.

  115. Katz

    Healthcare lobbyists threaten that wealthy sick people will flood the public system:

    But Private Healthcare Australia, which represents private healthcare insurers, has cast doubt on Treasury modelling that says the changes will result in just 0.3% of people, or 27,000, dropping their coverage.

    “The Booz & Co report demonstrates that nobody should rely on the Government’s modelling and that there are not the savings to be found from this measure as claimed,” its chief executive Michael Armitage said in a statement.

    “The report supports claims that means-testing the 30% rebate is poor public policy. All private health fund members will pay extra for their health insurance in subsequent years if this legislation is passed.”

    But the body might not be able to count on the Coalition repealing the legislation if it wins the next election. This morning, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the party would fight the legislation but declined to promise the party would reinstate the rebate if elected.

    Welcome to the corridor gurneys, suckers.

    And note that Tony Abbott has declined to protect this contemptible exercise in Howardite wedge politics. He’ll oppose the reform, but he won’t commit to restoring the status quo.

    Abbott blinked.

  116. Mindy

    Wealthy sick people will quickly remember why they had private health insurance if they try to flood the public system, I suspect. Having had the same minor day surgery in both the public and private systems I know which one was better in terms of outcome, waiting times and pain management, and quicker, even if I had to put my hand in my pocket.

  117. Lefty E

    The Booz & Co report

    yes, sounds credible 😛

    All private health fund members will pay extra for their health insurance in subsequent years if this legislation is passed.

    LOL. My bet is either a. no change (the stick is still there, even if the carrot has gone), or b. premiums go down as competition re-enters this rent-seekers paradise and they dump useless “extras” and focus on core services.

    Abbott blinked.

    yep, deep down, even Tories realise it was indefensible.

  118. Chris

    Mindy @ 116 – private health funds would *love* it if their clients went to the dentist for checkups regularly. Its far better for them financially in the long run which is why some give you financial incentives to visit the dentist at least once a year.

    LeftyE – I think the premiums will go up at least in the short term even if its just to show the government that they were right. I’d like to see an analysis of those extras like massages which get criticised – from what I’ve seen they always have pretty low yearly caps and low rebates – they’re great selling points for marketing pamphlets but I doubt they actually cost the health funds much.

    Long term I think the government/green strategy is to let inflation eat away at the thresholds to gradually exclude more people. Although I benefit from the health fund rebate I think it’d probably be better if it didn’t exist at all, but thats simply not politically possible at the moment.

    I wish they’d remove the medicare levy too and just incorporate it into the income tax scales. Its very misleading because many people actually believe that the small amount they pay actually covers funding for the health system.

  119. Paul Norton

    I can feel a Piers Akerman column coming on portraying Gillard as Stalin, Plibersek as Kaganovich and wealthy private insurance holders as Ukrainian peasants in the Gulag.

  120. Lefty E

    LeftyE – I think the premiums will go up at least in the short term even if its just to show the government that they were right.

    yeah, until one of the major insurers decides to cash out on that bullshit, and rake 1000s of new customers.

    I give it a month.

  121. Mindy

    @Chris – you are probably right, I was thinking of my health insurer who gets their fortnightly stash of my cash while I rarely claim stuff that I’m actually entitled to. Although from memory each child born cost the health fund more in $$ than we had paid in the previous year, and the couple of private hospital visits I have had have cost them a fair whack to, while they are probably still a bit ahead in terms of $$ I have paid in and $$ they have paid out if I do get regular massages, teeth cleans etc it will a) cost them more and b) probably improve my health so not a bad result really.

  122. Chris

    LeftyE – I’m not so sure about that. I’d be rather surprised if in absolute terms any premiums drop. Healthcare costs are going up at a much faster rate than inflation. Its just with private healthcover more people are aware of it because they explicitly pay premiums, whereas in the public system it comes out of general revenue and they can also control costs through rationing (eg let queues get a bit longer, don’t subsidise certain drugs etc).

    Mindy @ 123 – and most funds will let you claim up to 12-18 months after the event too so its worth digging through old receipts. I’ve had enough hospital visits and tests in the last couple of years I’m definitely way ahead. But really I’d rather not have had them and be behind :-)

  123. Lefty E

    Maybe Chris, but lets not pretend the rebate was keeping prices down. Premiums marched up every years isnce its introduction. Partly because it was a clear price signal the punters could bear 30% more.

  124. Chris

    LeftyE @ 125 – I don’t really know and I can’t find any historical data on premium rises. People in general don’t want to pay insurance (it appears that there’s a significant number who don’t even get house & contents insurance) so I’d guess its in general pretty price sensitive – maybe the lifetime rating feature changed people’s attitudes a bit though.

  125. Joe

    Have come across a couple of interesting articles during the last couple of days:
    How American made its children crazy

    Insight: The dark side of Germany’s jobs miracle

    And I’ve been thinking about what the end of state communism has meant for free-market socialism, which increasingly seems to be utterly defeated. Many of the emerging structures in society are actually a reemerging of structures which existed pre-socialism. Whether you look at the distribution of power (and it’s inevitable abuse) or the effect of social class on one’s opportunities. Of course, there is no surprise here, this is just the result of the logic of capitalism, where I think some people have been naiive (myself included) is the ability of politics to shape society, to take historical experience and craft a good and human society.

    If you look at the response to the financial crisis, the treatment of Greece, it’s looking like total failure, if you measure the success of response in terms of protecting the majority of the population as opposed to the interests of “the big end of town.” Might is increasingly right.

  126. Joe

    Just a quick comment on the article about “American children”, this is. in my opinion, a great example of how opinion pieces should be written– it’s obviously not to be taken literally, its polemical, critical but crucially, it offers a valuable and different perspective on an accepted power position. If only there were a few Australian authors capable of such articles– well, I’m sure there are, but if only they would get printed in the MSM, because this is a button which can be pushed and which can effect politics. We disparately need the introduction of new topics and perspectives into mainstream commentary.

    I’m amazed at how uncreative we seem to have become– if you like, how domesticated we are!

  127. Mercurius

    …it offers a valuable and different perspective on an accepted power position.

    Joe, you have got to be kidding me. That ‘How America made its children crazy’ rant you linked to was a tour-de-farce. The only thing he left out was yelling at the kids to get off his lawn.

    It was a transparent piece of tub-thumping for reactionary forces. All those meddling psychologists, and Bill Clinton, and computers, are to blame, for, like, everything!! The writer is a poor man’s Kevin Donnelly, and obviously hasn’t been near a classroom in about as long as our Kev. The writer isn’t offering a ‘valuable and different perspective on an accepted power position’. The writer is offering a highly suspect, arch-conservative account of education that would only further entrench privilege by asserting the same old same old — its is obvious the writer has made no effort to engage with his ‘subjects’ on their own terms — he just wants to reel off an account of the world based on his own prejudices. And his “facts” are scarcely supported by evidence, other than the trumped-up kind..

    ….this is in my opinion, a great example of how opinion pieces should be written– it’s obviously not to be taken literally, its polemical, critical…

    If you think that was good opinion writing, you’ve been spending too much time reading News Ltd.! It was a leaden, third-rate rant trying to run a marathon on very little nutrition. It would convince nobody but the choir.

    Any two-bit panic-merchant can whip themselves into a polemical frenzy, and hook into a bit of moral panic with a few poorly-chosen cliches. I should know, I’ve done plenty of it in my time, so I know crap when I read it…from the article…“It is mouth-foaming, howling-at-the-moon madness,”. Is it now? What a great piece of opinion writing. He must’ve been up all weekend thinking of that line!

    Go back to your room young man, and don’t come out until you’ve read your Montaigne.

    Here’s a thought: get to know Gen Y, on their own terms, before you join the panic merchants on the wrong side of the generational chasm. You’d be surprised…

  128. jumpy

    Good article Joe ” How America made its children crazy”
    It’s frightening some people in our education system prefer drugs over discipline and structure , laziness I guess or stupidity.

  129. Joe


    Well, I would also like to read more people write replies like yours just now too, and that’s not a kind of live and let live gesture to you.

    The psychologists of the 1960s also advocated instant gratification in all aspects of life, particularly sex, with the silly presumption that all individual and social problems were to be blamed on suppressing our urge to be gratified. Once children had limitless opportunities for gratification, abetted by ever-more-realistic (and ever-more violent and perverse) computer simulations, the psychology profession observed that attention spans shortened drastically, and presumed that a genetic deficiency was to blame.

    Read it again, Merc, this is good stuff!! (sarcastic)

    But at the same time, without being immediately associated with the likes of Tom Cruise, there is a real confidence problem with academia, not least because of the financial crisis. Not least because academia seems to have been captured by powerful lobbies– it’s lost the freedom to act in an unconstrained way. (And this was a conscious effort, btw.) The author, in his/her lucid moments is saying, maybe there’s an unhealthy relationship between drugs companies and psychological treatment. And maybe there’s an unhealthy relationship between the computer industry and computer science courses. And anyway, why are the rich people getting a different education? Just how is it different, anyway?

    So, it’s a bit tea-partyish-fantasist, but if it represents a neo-conservative point of view, I don’t get the same cat-amongst-the-pidgeons feel, that I got reading this, as I do when I read Gerard Henderson, or Bob Carr, or whoever.

    So, it’s a bit low-brow and Clinton’s always up for a bit of a bashing, because he’s way too nice to have been US president. I dunno, you’re probably right. I guess, I get a bit worried sometimes that there’s too much pressure on people to be normal! Is that normal?

  130. Mercurius


    So, it’s a bit tea-partyish-fantasist, but if it represents a neo-conservative point of view…

    Yes, Joe, that’s absolutely what it does. No wonder Jumpy enjoyed the piece so much. It tunes right into all the tinfoil receptors, that the psychologists put, in the fluoride that goes, in the water that quenches, the thirst of the indoctrinators, who program the computers, which model the climate, that administers the vaccines, at all of the schools, where Bill Clinton got blown, who live in the house that Jack (Kennedy) built.


    It’s frightening some people in our education system prefer drugs over discipline and structure

    As Andrew Bolt would put it…name ten.

  131. jumpy

    I heard this Fidler interview with Robert Spillane, very interesting fellow .( towards the end is relative to this subject).

  132. jumpy

    And the link

  133. adrian

    Surely, surely jumpy’s someone’s idea of a joke.

  134. Mercurius

    Naah, he’s not a troll, he’s rooly rooly real.

    And stop calling me Shirley!

  135. Nick

    Joe @ 131, I came across this and thought of that opinion piece you linked to:

    Young scientists show off projects

    Check out some of the stuff these kids are doing…they seem to be “learning to to learn” just fine with the aid of computers in the classroom.

    I’m a bit jealous in fact.

  136. Joe

    Well, I’m glad you think everything’s ok, Nick.

    Article about a couple of smart kids has reassured your faith in the existing system. Lucky you?

  137. Nick

    Article about a couple of smart kids has reassured your faith in the existing system why kids should be banned by their schools and parents from using computers and watching tv was…ah bugger it, what Merc said.

  138. Nick

    mods, you didn’t accidentally delete my duplicate comment *with strikethrough* did you? Above makes makes no sense :) Anyway, I’m sure Joe can figure it out…

  139. tigtog

    Sorry Nick – they looked the same on the admin screen, have now edited to replace your strike tags with del tags.

  140. Nick

    Cheers, tigtog. I think I finally have my head around all the deprecated tags now!

  141. Joe

    Most people love Zimbardo.

    “By the time a boy in the US is 21, he has spent at least 10,000 hours playing video games and probably more watching pornography…”

  142. Mercurius

    There sure are a lot of kids on your lawn, Joe…

  143. Nick

    Joe, I think my ADD kicked in when Zimbaro asserted the average American boy spends more than 3 hours every day watching porn on top of the 2 hours a day he spends playing video games, and then immediately went on to state that teenage girls get pregnant because their ‘present hedonists’ who’ve had their brains rewired by technology. Oh, and that apparently kids have only just recently begun to find so-called ‘analogue classrooms’ boring.

  144. Joe

    “This must be the end of the world! All the people turning into pigs and ponies I can’t let it happen to me!”

  145. Fran Barlow

    More from the idiocracy

    Obama’s timely about-turn on the pill

    The US President, Barack Obama, has retreated from a culture war with America’s Christian right, agreeing to amend his health care system so Roman Catholic organisations do not have to buy the morning-after pill for employees.

    Amid claims from Rick Santorum, the conservative Republican presidential hopeful, that he was leading the country down a path ending in ”the guillotine” for persecuted Christians, the President agreed to allow religious groups to omit contraception from staff health insurance packages. {…}

    What can one do but shake one’s head at the sorry condition into which this nominally educated society has fallen?

  146. Mercurius

    @145 Well Nick, I wasn’t going to go for a cogent critique, but since you have kindly provided the model, I might also point out that the assertion of a hierarchy in which the ‘Protestant work ethic’ constitutes the highest form of human existence, well, it got on my goat. ‘Protestant’ countries are the most advanced, and ‘Catholic’ countries are backward….W.T.F.???

    The Japanese have no future-tense in their language either, but it doesn’t seem to have held them back any — and many Shinto and Buddhist rituals are all about being in the ‘present’ (with some of the Shinto ones rather focused on ‘Present Hedonist’ too, I might add) — so there goes Zimbardo’s little attempt at linguistic essentialism (linguistic/cultural essentialism is the socially acceptable way to be racist in polite company, ever since eugenics went out of fashion…).

    Look, pop psychology is fun and all, but I wouldn’t use it as the basis for ranting at young people. You can do that without any prior knowledge or preparation!

  147. Mercurius

    Here’s a thought: If you don’t ‘get’ young people, perhaps it is not they who are deficient…

  148. Joe

    Who said anything about “get”-ting them. But you’re doing your over-confident-imitation-thing again, Merc. On top of your, I’m-the-best-teacher-blow-hard-act. Present hedonism is not your thing, obviously… But, I’m enjoying your attempts.

    And maybe you should have paid more attention when you were learning maths, nick? You did go to school right Nick? After all, it’s not that hard, elementary arithmetic.

    But keep criticising a well-respected academic. I’m sure your own curricula vitae are more impressive.

  149. Mercurius

    All I did was provide glib counter-examples to Zimbardo’s glib assertions.

    One doesn’t need to compare CVs or blow one’s own horn in order to dispel nonsense. Nonsense deserves nonsense in reply, and I delivered.

    No need to get sniffy about it.

  150. furious balancing

    I think the idea of different time perspectives is really interesting. Peter Hoeg’s Borderliners explores that theme, but I think he is more concerned with an exploration of linear versus non-linear experiences of time, which I related to more than Zimbaro’s past/present/future piece. The Hoeg book is about the strict imposition of time and structure within an educational institution, with the aim of civilising or enlightening the ‘borderline’ students. It’s presented as an extremely abusive process.

    We seem to have education policy that is driven by the idea that if something isn’t working then the solution is more of it. Yanking welfare payments of parents who’s kids don’t attend school being the worst manifestation of this.

  151. Mercurius

    Another glib counter-example:

    I have, in the presence of witnesses, observed Gen-X and Baby boomer-aged folk losing their temper at how long their computers take to boot up.

  152. Mercurius

    * Even though they were, to the best of my knowledge, good hard-working Protestants who knew their way around the future tense, watch little to no porn, it’s been yonks since they were last teenagedly pregnant, are hopeless at Halo 3 and whose brains have not been digitally re-wired.

  153. Nick

    Geez, Joe. When I posted that link it was a fairly light hearted Saturday morning attempt to broaden the discussion, not shut it down. I’m sorry you took it the wrong way.

    To point out computers and the internet can quite obviously do a lot of good for kids, as well as very much teach them to ‘learn how to learn’…a lot more imo than, worst case, sitting in an analogue classroom (analogous to what?? A church? Zimbardo needs to work on his buzz word terminology) repeating times tables and historical facts by rote for years on end.

    When you have kids, if you want to send them to a Waldorf school and ban them completely from computers, or listening to music while they study, or choosing what music they should and shouldn’t or listen to. Go for it. Do whatever some influential psychologists think is best. If you think we shouldn’t be feeding our kids drugs as the answer, even better. Don’t do what some influential psychologists think is best.

    Personally, I like to think I’d try to actively engage and not switch off towards them a hell of a lot more than a lot of those parents whose kids exhibit ADD symptoms. Attention deficit disorder – funny name isn’t it. And kids in a class of 9 don’t seem to suffer from it as frequently, you say? I’d venture children of CEOs don’t eat Maccas and other shit salty preservative laden refined rat killer sweetener containing food every day either. Choose your poison on that front, lethargy or hyperactivity.

    I really didn’t think too much about the figures…say 15 years of playing video games before you’re 21 = 10000 hours out 140000 = 1 in every 14 hours, or roughly 2 hours a day (yep, sounds a lot like my childhood). Since I’m assuming most boys don’t start watching hours of porn a day at the age of 6, I settled on >3.

  154. Nick

    Another thing I’d really like if and when I’m a parent is not to have to rely on studies to tell me how many hours a day my kids are spending doing something. And funnily enough, a lot of links I found back to that study were from…marketing companies. Interesting.

    Oh, and kids don’t wear wrist watches any more for the same reason *nobody* wears wrist watches any more. Zimbardo pop psych fail number…how many is it now?