Saturday, November 29, 2008

Duffy, the Don, Adelaide, zero tolerance, window breaking, graffiti, litter, illegal fireworks, and the Dutch

So it turns out that there's no question about Sir Donald Bradman on the citizenship test for migrants wishing to pass and become fully fledged, true blue, dinkum members of crikeyland.

Think about it. That means you don't have to know about the noble Don, nor do you have to know about Sir Donald Bradman Drive (such a cute name, though maybe Off Drive would be better), that mighty stretch of tar that links the brand new domestic/international airport to the heart of the handsomely designed square of the City of Adelaide (oh brave light on the hill). 

And by extension, it means you probably haven't caught the bus past the straw colored grass remnants of the once green and gracious playing fields and parks around the square, or noticed the brand new west end underpass, an engineering marvel, or seen how Wallis cinemas in Hindmarsh square have been torn down as the movies shift to the hideous Marion mall and the suburbs, or wondered just how Hindley street keeps avoiding being firebombed, razed and built anew.

It also means you've probably not noticed how the wretched Murdoch, imported to lecture Australians on education, has reduced The Advertiser to a newspaper with a fine, glass-fronted building, and absolutely nil intellectual content - a tabloid worse than the tabloid News he killed off, in his usual way, forsaking heritage for cash in the paw. 

The man's a cockroach, a colony of termites, a virulent brain virus come to life from Colin Wilson's The Mind Parasites, talking up the role of business in education while promptly using his empire to reduce the actual brain space available to any end readers of his product. In the good old broadsheet days, The Advertiser used to get its best copy from The Observer, or The Evening Standard, or direct from North Terrace - what a fine colonial rag it was -  but now its former golden era editor, Don Riddell, scribbles a retirement column for The Independent.

You probably also aren't aware that the festering fundamentalist Catholicism of the ponderous celibate gay Christopher Pearson, published for no discernible reason by Murdoch's Australian, first grew to pompous size while he was editing The Adelaide Review, and that the town still celebrates its convict-free settlement and development - no bird-like scratchings on sandstone for this town. 

It also means you probably can't remember that Don Dunstan wore pink shorts and safari suits and created his very own cook book and did his own olives and built the fabulous satellite city of Monarto - in his mind - as a way of matching the doings of that wonderful man Sir Thomas Playford the fourth, who, while in his capacity as longest serving ever premier, set in motion the ghetto for English folk called Elizabeth.

But ah the lifestyle. Anywhere you go, even amongst the poor people, and there are plenty of them, there's a devotion to tidiness and lawns, and a remarkable absence of graffiti. If you happen to spot the odd tag, it's almost chaste, and certainly no worse than that on view in Pompeii. 

Eight dollars for parking all day in the heart of town (provided you're out at a seemly 7 pm) and cafes and restaurants for all to nibble at, with the most modern cuisine, and movie tickets at seven bucks on a Tuesday, and a brand spanking new tram service that runs from North Terrace to Glenelg and nowhere else, but never mind, there's a fantastic bus service, and a set of trains that make like dinky toys no one wants to play with. 

Yep, it's a town on the move. Why even the old Edmund Wright House, once home to births, deaths and marriages, is now home to a Migrant Centre, and there's a much more lively mix of ethnic and racial groupings in the city centre. The old wasp culture is under threat. As Paul Kelly put it so evocatively, Aaadeelaayeed. And yes the aunts were still on the verandah as we zoomed past, but now there's a tinge of Africa in the air. But decent, lawn tending Africa, though there's a few who will mutter that the town has gone to the dogs of late.

But what's this all got to do with Michael Duffy, esteemed columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald? Well for a start you'd have to think the Duffster would be appalled at everyone not knowing about the Don, and by extension, not knowing about the noble one million Australians going about their daily business in Adelaide. The Duffster cherishes all outlanders, and who could be more outlandish than the insular crow eaters, with their hatred of Melbournians and Victorians and their paranoid suspicions about the evil intent of all eastern staters (dig only an inch below the surface, and the inferiority complex will spill out into the bright daylight like a corrupt and diseased spleen).

Yes, the Duffster and his paranoia would be right at home amongst Adelaaydeans, which brings us to this week's column, "Don't break windows, don't litter, don't expect that alone to stop crime", wherein the mighty Duffy smites and delivers mortal blows to scientific sceptics who think that there are a hell of a lot of academic researchers out there who waste their time and taxpayers' money on stupid experiments which prove nothing. 

True, the Duffster would normally be on the other side of the track, with his intelligent design heroine Sarah Palin and sweet old John McCain, bemoaning the waste of money on fruit fly research and polar bears, but the Duffster is always a lion ready to change his spots, a leopard in zebra stripes.

You see, like a lot of right wing loons, the Duffster is compelled by broken window theories - the zero tolerance idea that if you make sure everybody doesn't litter and has a tidy lawn and is punished for even the smallest infraction, then society will be a better place. The largest and most devoted experiment in this direction of course involved Hitler's re-working of Germany.

And Stephen Conroy is about to attempt to do the same to the Internet via filtering, keeping the intertubes clean for healthy family living.

The Duffster yearns for the neatness and civility of the past, though he doesn't quite mention where and when this was to be found - perhaps in some nirvana in the fifties in Adelaide, or did he mean amongst the match girls of London's east end in Victorian times, or perhaps amongst the Irish in the eighteenth century after the English had introduced a bit of discipline? Such a stupid notion, the golden past, and so clung to by conservatives, you have to worry about their genes. They have no sense of history, at least at it applies to poor people, and the golden glory they usually yearn for involves Versailles, and Earl Grey spending years perfecting his contribution to the theory of tea.

And of course the broken windows theory provides hope for the Duffster in disciplining teenage children, and ensuring society is safe for neatly ordered lawns and the middle class, whom he often affects to despise, at least if they live in the inner west of Sydney. 

But in the even handed way of the Duffster, he's not certain about the theory, caught as it is between the right loving it and the left hating it (anarchist ratbag graffiti loving window smashing pilfering lawbreakers that they are), and it being part of the culture wars and how P. N. Grabosky wrote a paper suggesting it was all nonsense, or at least not particularly useful up against other factors (not to mention the Freakonomics theory that suggests abortion is the best cure for crime).

So Duffy, bemoaning the lack of solid research, turns to the worthy academics at the University of Groningen, who did a series of tests involving bikes and littering - testing how bicycle owners behaved disposing of a flyer, in a 'before and after' involving no graffiti and an abundance of graffiti. Similar 'before and afters' involved fireworks being illegally let off, and a mailbox containing a five euro note, where once graffiti was applied to the box, thieving went up.

There's various statistics arising which are cited by Duffy, which suggests graffiti and the presence of anti-social behavior so inflames the senses of the Dutch citizenry that they immediately cycle down the street to the porn end of town, pick a woman out of the window display, smoke some dope, shove any number of mushrooms down their throat, and then fornicate the night away. But wait, that must be the English tourists, driven to this kind of desperation by all the graffiti they see in Manchester and Liverpool, and it's certainly the graffiti that drives them to riot whenever their team is involved in a soccer match in Europe.

It has to be said that only the Dutch (and likely enough behavioralists at that) could use bicycles, graffiti, fireworks and cash in the paw in this way and think that the resulting theories amounted to more than a hill of beans. Even the Duffster (and the authors of the research paper) admit that merely fixing broken windows or removing graffiti may not be sufficient in terms of deterring crime 'these days' (because we've fallen so far below the gold standard of good civilized behavior, as exemplified in World Wars One and Two and sundry genocides).

Well, I guess it's a bit like my theory that the Dutch are completely anal retentive, and are proud of their historical attachment to miserliness (or so the Dutch I know assure me - national stereotypes are valuable and true they say). Which in turn suggests only the Dutch could construct such an arcane, bowel stifling and hopelessly contrived piece of research.

There are so many elements askew in Duffy's report of the research experiments and the results are so mind bogglingly minor as to make you wonder why Duffy took it seriously enough to write about it, and offer it as 'some consolation' to conservatives, and then make us read about it - us, that loyal band of ever shrinking Duffy lovers, who cherish him for his plum duff cluelessness. Yes if ever a conservative deserved to wear leather patches on his elbows and work for Radio National, Duffy is our exemplary middle class man.

First a disclaimer: I've picked up cash off the street and celebrated the find, and yes I've had freshly planted plants stolen from the front yard the week before christmas, and not once did I see any graffiti nearby, though there's plenty in other parts of the neighbourhood. And in my student past where poverty beckoned I never did graffiti but I did lift a few books.

More to the point, when I lived in graffiti-less Adelaide, with its wonderful Victorian urban design, and grass mown to army shortcut standards, it was the time of the Truro killings, and a solicitor's body being stuffed in the fridge by his young lover, and a lecturer being thrown into the Torrens and drowned, because that's the way the cops had fun, and a boy killing a taxi driver for no particular reason, and lately bodies being stuffed in barrels in Snowtown, and so on and on (not to mention the gangs, and the bikies, and the level of domestic violence, and of rape and so on and on). 

Well it makes as much sense to quote random senseless killings done in the absence of graffiti, as the Dutch experiment trying to set up its subjects for a fall, in search of a way of securing zero tolerance theories in the scientific pantheon - in a way that confuses conformity with a a tedious urban lifestyle in the manner of the very polite, bicycling Dutch. 

You have to think that the good Dutch academics and Duffy are completely clueless about human nature, and human desire, and human misdeeds. My suggestion: send Duffy at once to live in Adelaide for a year, writing a low brow column for The Advertiser about the perils of living in that dangerous town in the middle of a crime wave induced by the owl-loving Rann and his left-wing cohorts.

Within the year, I suspect he'll be involved in a crime of some magnitude, anything to break the quiet desperation, whether it's secular (like a little back stabbing) or biblical (like attending a key party and driving away with the owner of a Volvo).

There is of course a solution - bring back the Don to the citizenship test, with anybody caught doing graffiti made to spend an hour in the nets and then a day out in the field, properly kitted out in whites given a good clean and a dose of starch. That'll sort them out, and the world will be a safer place.

Anyhoo, it was a good and chucklesome read this week, and it suggests the Duffy is heading towards peak holiday season form. He's scored another palpable hit:

Willingness to flay academics for useless and irrelevant research that's a drain on the exchequer: 11
Willingness to flay academics for indulging in research with a political intent, especially in the case of climate change: 11
Willingness to praise and quote Dutch academics for useless and irrelevant research that doesn't offer any useful findings but offers right wingers a 'scientific' talking point:11
Yearning for a golden time when the world was safe, gardens were mowed, everybody went to a Presbyterian church, and there wasn't any murders or killings or war: 11
Capacity for thoughtful use of science in constructing an interesting column:2

Damn, and there was the Duffster heading to another perfect score. Oh well, next week we can hopefully read about how science is driving the world to doomsday because scientists are so busy politicizing everything and ripping a fortune out of the taxpayer so they can live in indolent idleness faking results. Perhaps they can tackle a research project that demonstrates how graffiti directly leads to fundamentalist Islamic terrorism and the Catholic Inquisition.

Funnily enough, between these scientists and the Duffster's musings, I'll take the scientists. And the Don of course. Never forget the Don. And pray you never have to live in Adelaayde.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Duffy, Policy Free Zones, Subsidy, Scoring, Breeding, Roasting and the Banning of Beetroot

A friend reading a recent outburst about the infidel Duffy and his evasive third column activities in The Sydney Morning Herald had the temerity to suggest that the scoring of Duffy's work lacked objectivity and credibility.

He noted that the criteria against which Duffy was marked seemed to be arbitrary, and the scoring, if not whimsical, tended to be fey, hovering either in the vicinity of 0 to 3 or tipping over ten into the 11 category, as required by legendary mockumentary standards. Duffy never seemed to be able to occupy the mediocre range of an average student, somewhere between five and seven, and rarely scored in the high distinction range.

Well it's true that perhaps mediocre markings would be a sound indication of a mediocre mind at work. But that would totally fail to capture the charm of the Duffster's eccentricities, contradictions, and waywardness. As a result, the Duffster's scoring is erratic, but frankly both the categories - inspired by his work - and the marks - inspired by his work - are designed to be extremely responsive to Duffy's inevitable failings.

Inevitable because Duffy would like to treat politics as a football match, except that he never gives much of a sign that he understands any form of football. But as a contrarian he does like to pick up the ball and run the wrong way, which might be a good way to invent rugby, but is an extremely foolish way to achieve consistent scoring if the rules of the game say 'use feet only, or maybe the head, if the head is solid enough to use'.

He also likes to cheer the wrong team, the wrong idea, and the wrong moment as a way of demonstrating that he's an independent thinker, which inevitably means he either scores highly for being totally in the wrong, or leaves the score board attendant untroubled for being perversely silly.

This week's column provides a good example of why scoring Duffy is a bit like trying to catch an eel and stuff it into a pork pie. Just when you think the Duffster couldn't be more perverse he comes up with "Memo, Liberals: Labor's incompetence alone won't carry Barry".

But wait this is the man who only the day before on radio joined in a rich and compelling discussion on how Obama would ruin the American economy, without managing to notice that the American economy was already ruined. It was a surreal discussion, melting clocks cranked up to eleven. Perhaps it's time to campaign against Radio National's ongoing waste of money on this eccentric extravagance, an hour of Duffydom.

In his Herald column, the Duffster is often concerned with more parish pump matters of a NSW kind, and really only of interest to eleven readers in Macquarie street, and maybe that's an exaggeration too, more like three or four. As usual, his perversity consists in praising the wretched Labor government and berating the wretched Liberals. It's even handed perversity without a point.

If anything, there's something Jesuitical about it, since the Duffy seems to like economic pain, the more suffering the better, and the hapless Labor government offers pain all the time. They did right, according to the Duffster, cutting the free travel to school subsidy, because it favored the rich and was, well, a subsidy.

As an anti-breeder, I'm with the Duffster on this. It's probably best if we all adopted the advice of Dean Swift, who always had excellent if modest proposals, and solved the problem of feeding an aging population by arranging for the roasting of all school age children (salad minus beetroot in preferred Obama style an optional extra). 

The Duffster is outraged at the whining of the well off minority of parents, who we know cluster with him in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. Personally, I'm reminded of my niece and nephew who bussed themselves in to and from school every day on a 60 kilometre, hour each way, trip. The whingers never thought of shifting from their remote village into town to live in a humpy, and that's what's wrong with this country today. All rural folk should be bussed into town camps so they can learn to live like the blacks in the Alice.

The Duffster rightly chides the Liberals for mounting a feeble website dedicated to the issue - a more wretched website you couldn't imagine - and berates the opposition leader for being a policy free zone. This at once establishes the Duffster's socialist credentials - slamming a subsidy for the rich and for minority breeders - and his radicalism - always finding something righteous in State Labor - and his liberalism, warning the wretches that they still might manage to do a Debnam, who notoriously lost an unlosable election by budgie smuggling in his Speedos. (Yes, that's how we judge policy in this state). 

You see, it seems Barry O'Farrell has swallowed a thesrauras, and the one thing NSW doesn't need is a smarty pants, smart alec politician who wants to speak intelligent English using a wide range of adjectives. Worse still, he lost a lot of weight, demonstrating a resolve few fatties can muster. You can't trust a thin man, or a fat man whose gone thinnish.

Lordy, you can see where this is heading - the Duffy manages to quote the Treasurer Eric Roozendaal as making sense by calling O'Farrell a policy free zone - which is a bit like the blackened pot calling the charcoal pan a carbon free zone.

The Duffster concludes by calling on the public to send policy donations to the Leader of the Opposition, and asks for people to give generously (this  passes for whimsy in the world of the Duffster and Gerard Henderson).

So let's send in some Duffster ideas - like no more building on the upper north shore to house people (let them live in cardboard boxes in the parks); no more public transport but lots more motorways, preferably run by Macquarie Bank (the trains never work anyway); no more immigration (it's ruining the country) and for those who have managed to get in somehow, let them be given a healthy dose of Christianity; abandon right now any expenditure on global warming, since it's probably a furphy, and if it isn't we'll just have some new beach side suburbs; and let's revive the North West metro, since it's not so much a functional policy idea as a dream for Kellyville, heartland of Duffydom. 

In fact let's revive all the ramshackle policy ideas the Labor government has introduced over the last farcical year, then abandoned within the month as they realised they'd run out of money. The real trouble is, we've run out of panem et circe, no more Olympics - oh for the good old days of Bob Carr, run down the infrastructure to ruin, while talking of the Civil War and the ten best books the world has produced, while offering the natives athletics and fireworks. What a huckster, what a spruiker, what a snake oil salesman, what a natural for Macquarie.

What's that you say? The Labor government is pissing away a fortune on a motor race out at the Olympics precinct, money which could have been spent on putting computers in schools or fixing public transport. Clearly you haven't been listening to the Duffster - computers are in fact profoundly anti-educational and the Intertubes are just a way to waste time.

Here's an alternative idea - instead of brand new spanking policies and philosophies, let's hand the state over to the receivers, and get in a decent bunch of managers. All they have to do is make clean trains run on time, cull lunatic bus drivers from the fleet, make the ferries seem like a form of transport, provide decent educational facilities for students and staff, develop a functional strategy for roads which avoids everyone driving into the city at 8 am and out again at 6 while attending to urgent rural needs for road maintenance, plan a little for the future (a little will be a lot more than what's happening now), and so on and on. But whatever we do, let's not send in the Duffster's policy ideas. 'Nuff is 'nuff, and sometimes too much already. 

Here's another idea - send letters to the editor of Sydney Morning Herald and to the head honcho at Radio National (she who slashed at the Religion Report in preference to hacking the Duffster) explaining why reading/listening to the Duffster has induced premature baldness, deafness in the left ear, blindness in the right eye, a tendency to stuttering and bed wetting, and an inability to think logical, coherent thoughts. As a result, we all intend to sue the socks off them, and allocate the proceeds to the destruction of federalism and the institution of a republican government of Australia.

With the Duffster gone, and the beetroot-hating Obama as president, we can concentrate on real policy matters - first of which has to be the banning of canned beetroot and canned pineapple from the land. And yes, let's save the children from tedious free bus travel, let's save them from school, and let's give them a new, happier role in helping out the baby boomers as they totter towards the grave (I prefer a nicely oiled and salted crackling if you're doing the roasting, Mr Duffy).

And so it's on to the score:

For the Duffster's unrepentant willingness to support and quote state Labor politicians approvingly: 11
For the Duffster's willingness to slash and hack at the hapless state Liberals: 11
For the Duffster's socialistic attacks on the rich, privileged and subsidised: 11
For the Duffster's free market willingness to attack any kind of subsidy for the poor: 11
For the Duffster's consistent maintenance of a policy free zone on his own turf: 11
For the Duffster's willingness to attack children - let them eat cake and walk he cried: 11
For the Duffster's beatific vision of NSW still run by the Labor party in 2020: 11

Can it be? A perfect eleven. The Duffster will shortly be inducted into the Spinal Tap Hall of Fame, a perfect rebuttal for those who believe scoring in this blog is arbitrary and comical.

Thanks to the Duffster and the Labor party, City Rail will be free of meddlesome, obnoxious, noisy, energetic - let's face it, young - school children, and the Scrooges can travel in peace. No joy here for Japanese salarymen.

Let's join the Duffster in boycotting City Rail - so, at last, the vision can be realised. No subsidy, no young 'un fuss, no passengers, no trains, no public transport, everybody walking and O'Farrell thin. Phew, what did the Duffster bake in those cookies?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Duffy, Patents, Copyight, Private Property, Public Domain, Public Enemy and the joys of Piracy

Every so often, Michael Duffy delivers a stand which befuddles and bemuses, and that's why the esteemed columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald and part time token right wing broadcaster for that nest of basket weavers at Radio National is such a shimmering, silken, gossamer web of inconsistencies and incoherence.

It' what makes Duffy the proud Duffster, fierce Quixotic tilter at windmills, and you never know who or what is going to experience his fierce vorpal blade as it goes snicker snack. Last week it was wretched scientists, who had embarked on a vast global conspiracy to conceal the truth about global warming because of their lust for gold and coin and research grants - you know, seeing as how being a scientist is the fast lane to untold wealth and riches, and getting a PhD in physics on $20,000 a year allows for all kinds of mental and physical depravity (in much the same way that blacks living on the dole for a couple of hundred bucks a week are luxuriating in the wealth they rip from the Malcolm Turnbulls of this world by way of taxes).

This week the Duffster has decided that scientists and governments and real estate agents and drug companies and Radio National are all being hard done by - for in his wondrous way, in "Economic and cultural gridlock is creating disastrous detours", the Duffster denounces patents, copyright and private ownership of property.

Yep, one week it's crocodile tears for the good folk of Ku-ring-gai as they experience the ravages of government planning, and the next it's a full on cheer squad shout out for the necessity of government planning. Has libertarian socialism ever had such a pronounced and schizophrenic supporter?

You might almost think the Duffster's gone Communist, but at the least he's starting to mutter the kind of socialist thoughts you'd expect of Wasilla Alaskan natives.

The Duffster cites a couple of disastrous and tragic examples of the way so much of the knowledge boom in recent decades is "locked up in dispersed private ownership". There's patents, which protect biotech drug companies at the expense of inhibiting other drug companies (such as one which had thought it had found a cure for Alzheimer's but was forced to shelve it because it couldn't obtain rights to dozens of patents). And there's copyright which prevents poor old Radio National from streaming music around the world at a whim and via podcast because of nasty copyright owners (well not really but because they get 1% of the market and have no budget and are just too cheap and socialist, they refuse to pay the going rate).

Shockingly this has caused the demise of hip hop and its sampled ways. So there you go, knock me down with a tail feather, the Duffster is a supporter of Public Enemy and hip hop, which as a result of rights restrictions, he thinks has become arguably less interesting. Could this be the reason the Duffster plays torpid musical treats from the nineteen thirties on his show? 

And then there are the documentary film-makers forced to pay squillions to obtain rights to use footage, music and material in their shows, and worse to pay even more when these rights expire (though if you approach the average documentary film-maker and ask them for the rights to their own films for free they seem to take a somewhat intemperant and volatile stand).

But worst of all it seems is private ownership of property, since a couple of landowners in Parramatta are thwarting the Parramatta council's desire to build a massive retail and residential development, including a new library, art gallery and heritage centre. And we all know that packing them in like rats is perfectly acceptable in the west, if not in the north.

The Duffster is concerned at this kind of medical science and cultural and physical gridlock, inspired as usual by his idea of the week, this time obtained from Michael Heller's book The Gridlock Economy (and reinforced by the death of novelist Michael Crichton from cancer after Crichton railed against gene patents, though the Duffster provides no list of gene patents which have prevented a cure for cancer) .

And as usual the Duffster's hint at a solution involves the use of eminent domain, which has become popular in some American circles of the right wing kind, and provides a mechanism whereby government can forcibly acquire property - and in America, as is the way, this often involves government acting for and on behalf of speculators and developers who can't use standard, market-based mechanisms to practise their thievery.

This means of course that eminent domain can be deployed not just in the case of helping that icon The New York Times build a relatively hideous high rise as its new home, but could also be used to benefit any gaggle of private property owners who might decide they have a grand vision for a city block or two, and don't want to have to face down the current private owners. How best to solve this kind of smackdown? Bring in the government and trample on the people! You can almost feel the New South Wales government salivating at the prospect.

The Duffster has, in his usual way, managed to conflate all kinds of issues regarding private ownership in ways that even Stalin might find difficult to accept, though I guess in the long run you can still see a collectivist mind at work in the Duffster's thinking.

Most of the problems originate in the United States, and most could be solved - but won't - by changes in U.S. law. It just so happens that American cultural exports make up the second biggest strand in the economy, behind defence, and copyright, including the Mickey Mouse extension clause, has been re-designed over the years to service the needs of big U.S. corporations.

The term of patents could be cut to ten years - they were once 14 years, then extended to twenty (design patents currently have a term of fourteen years). The term of copyright for individuals could end at the time of death of private holders, thereby protecting the rights of creators during their lifetime but ending the gravy train for family and friends who go on mining their goldmines for ever after. Corporation ownership of copyright could be limited to twenty years. That'd sharpen up the Disney mob. Forget creative commons, let's degut the Mouse.

Of course it will never happen, and that's why piracy is the new way forward. The marketplace has already spoken about copyright, and in terms of digital content, it's simply that information and ideas want to be free and will find their way around the world by other means than the usual channels. A few companies and organisations have already worked this out - hence You Tube deciding to run long form shows with advertising support, hence other companies video streaming content around the world using advertising as a base. 

There are problems with this - the streaming has proven so popular in some cases, advertising isn't covering costs, while others, still unable to understand that there is now a global economy, try to limit their streaming on a territorial basis so as to conform to studio limitations. But in the same way that a region coded  dvd is now a folly, courtesy of a simple act of ripping, so will these kinds of practices begin to feel like Noah's Ark.

So being a pirate is actually and suddenly a noble and ethical stand against unhealthy copyright practices, and will in due course force proponents of the old copyright model to realise that new revenue models are required. The times are rapidly changing.

Private ownership of property however isn't so easily tackled, especially with any power that allows government to override that ownership for whatever collective good is on offer. Where the Duffy suddenly seems to think that property development and governments and speculators are good and wholesome people, only interested in turfing out owners for the common collective good, I have a sudden desire to reach for my shotgun. 

This land is my land, not your land, and if you want my land, you have to pay for it. And if I don't want to sell it, if I want its unencumbered pleasure and enjoyment, that's my right because I own it. That used to be the creed of ownership, which only Ruskies and Alaskans would deny, and now it seems the Duffster is proposing in a socialist way - or is it Napoleonic - that if a street full of peasants gets in the way of a grand development, then they can be swept away out of sight. Well I guess that's how you end up with the grand spoke-like streets of central Paris, and who gives a toss about a few peasants, except for the peasants.

Oh I know, I know, let's face it, putting all the peasants in grand high rises with exceptional city views has worked very well in both Melbourne and Sydney, allowing for the crime rate and graffiti, and it's also allowed the middle classes to colonise the inner cityscape. 

I guess we should have allowed the government to build that motorway right through our front yard instead of suffering from the delusional notion that (a) any motorway promoted by the government of NSW is an exercise in futility and folly and (b) we'd actually prefer a suburb not bifurcated by a motorway and (c) while there's only five feet of front yard attached to the house, it is in the Sydney way a splendid place to grow dicksonia antarctia ferns and monstera deliciosa.

The fun bit is that next week we can look forward to a rant by the Duffster denouncing the development practices of the NSW government in the northern suburbs of Sydney, or a rant on the way government is infringing on the private rights of companies by suggesting that they should share the wealth around, or a rant, a cri de coeur, on the way hip hop has ruined the noble minds of blacks these last twenty years.

But then if the Duffster were to be consistent or logical, he'd lose his charm, because the quark would have been tamed and become the staid world of the atom. Or some such metaphor. Meanwhile, we can feel his pain, forced week in and week out to play Minnie the Moocher when he could be playing Public Enemy.

Power to the people
Put your hands in the air
Peace sign high
Like you really do care ...
Rather be sitting just a gettin it
Power to the people not the governments
Capitalists, Communists, Terrorists
Swear to God I don't know the difference
Makin' new slaves outta immigrants
Wanna know where all that money went
Another trillion spent by the Government
Here the bomb go. Sent by the President.

Yo man, get down and jiggy with it. The Duffster be the man, be cool with it. And so to this week's scorecard, a relatively tame affair as Duffy takes in a whiff of Radio National socialistic thinking without understanding how smelling that weed week in, week out, while lurking behind the mike is slowly turning him into a ganga man.

Capacity for confusing patents, copyright and private property: 11
Capacity for proposing solutions in relation to ownership issues:2
Willingness to embrace the novelty of eminent domain without thinking of its consequences:11
Love of inherent contradictions in thinking:11
Failure to care about the future of Mickey Mouse and the Disney folk: 8
Failure to mention the elephant in the room, piracy, or to consider its relevance to current private ownership practices: 11
Implied endorsement of the NSW government and Parramatta Council's right to trample on property rights, together with the implied benefits of bringing back Michael Costa to run things, and introduce single carriage trains in a system designed for dual carriages: 11

Well maybe that last score is stretching things - maybe the Duffster will tackle City Rail next week - but it's a high scoring, high five time for hipster Duffster, with points on the board every which way we look. But in the world of the Duffster, a high score is actually a low score, because nothing is but what is not, and words mean what we chose them to mean, and when the Duffster speaks of overturning patents and copyright and private ownership, we might only be weeks away from the peasants personning the barricades. Aux armes, citoyens, formez vos bataillons, and keep on downloading.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Duffy, the new Messiah, the Dirty Digger, Global Warming, and the Scientific Method from the people who built Frankenstein's monster

What a fine week it's been. A black man heading to the White House and the forces of evil routed, though as we know from various films, the Darth Vaders of politics can never be truly defeated.

It's almost too good a week to spend any time with the wretchedly narrow and circumscribed Michael Duffy, but the thought did arise that if ever Duffy was to be taken away from his esteemed column in The Sydney Morning Herald - snatched from us in the prime of his intellectual life - then  there'd be nil effect on that butterfly roaming the Amazon - though on third thoughts maybe the world would be a little bit more cheerful and the outer west of Sydney would be free of his baleful eastern suburbs concerns.

And this blog could turn its attention to other fruit loops and loonies, with the ascendancy of Hussein bringing out standard, grudging responses from local right wing standard bearers. Gerard Henderson is typical. This is a man who said he was rooting for Sarah Palin, thereby abandoning any intellectual pretensions, any claim he stood for anything other than cheap, superficial, sordid, supercilious partisanship (not so the McCain seagulls as they now proceed to crap on her from on high). GH kept whining about how the media was in love with Obama, especially the ABC, and guess what - the American people, or at least a majority thereof, were also in love with Obama.

Even Christopher Hitchens, enthusiastic cheer leader for colonial adventurism in Mesopotamia (a land which exists in the bible and his imagination) knew that support for Sarah Palin involved nuking the fridge, jumping the shark, or gerunding the Gerard  (as in, I love Palining). Sure enough, Henderson, at a time when his dour posturing was receiving scant attention, came out with a baleful piece about Hussein that was a fragile echo of Tom DeLay. By the company they keep so shall ye know them. Little Billy Kristol with a tangy eucalyptus smell.

And then of course in The Australian came the usual ranting from Janet Albrechtsen and Greg Sheridan, as they saw the tedious censorious world of the neo-cons shrink. They can spend the next four years polishing and burnishing the image of George W. in a private temple far away from the rest of us. He'll need plenty of elbow grease and the kind of rose colored glasses (such a nice shade of red) these wretches have been wearing for years.

Time for me to polish up my 'Obama for President' T Shirt and wear it with pride in the dusty western streets of Sydney. (Oops, am I suddenly in trouble as a furtive foreign influence trying to affect US domestic politics by sending money to the Man? Just where did he get all that private cash from, moan the rightwingers, when they suddenly realise that no one loves them, not even their momma. Or wait, maybe it's just good ol' fashioned capitalism. These are quality T shirts, manufactured in Nicaragua and sold abroad with a hefty USA premium, and don't Americans want to export their political ideals, at a fair price of course? It's a win-win for northern and central America - get Sarah Palin to point it out on a map - and a decisive blow against cheap Chinese manufacturers).

You have to love America. If it's not the World Series in baseball, it's World Championship Wrestling or some other self-bestowed crown in which only Romans compete against Romans, as if the new Rome is the world. Go to any small town, and you'll find some hot dog vendor boasting about being world famous or world renowned or the best in the universe. (Well Nathan's really is famous I guess). But this time they've really done it. They've been positively, definitively and categorically unique. The day a Jamaican or an Indian gets to be PM of Britain is the day vindaloo replaces warmed over baked beans at breakfast, and the chance of an indigenous citizen running Australia is so slim I'll have been in grave fifty years or more before it happens. 

As a result, those who had any emotions, danced in the streets and celebrated with joy. It might just be a tentative beginning - the way ahead is hard, thanks to the Republicans, and Obama will face all kinds of turmoil, and he is of course a Chicago politician, but all the more reason to celebrate a black Carcetti getting to the top. Plus any new beginning with a "liberrrul" is way better than the eight years of purgatory America has endured with the gang of three, Bush, Cheney and Rove (the gang was bigger once, but who remembers Rumsfeld or other members of the reactionary clique). Monsters, Paul Krugman called them, but he's always understating things because he's so nice.

I'm looking forward to being in New York for Christmas and being amongst real Americans - the ones the terrorists attacked, not the hixs from the stix who think that being rustic and dumb somehow makes you Palin super plus real.

The chief danger - it being America and every lunatic having the right to bear arms - is that some useless twit in search of his John Lennon moment in the sun, will take a shot at the man, thereby adding Obama to the list which includes a couple of Kennedys, Martin Luther King and Ronald Reagan. But that's where hate speak of the kind favored by shallow right wing ratbags invariably takes society, and there's no reason to expect the hating generated by talk back radio and right wing television will suddenly moderate because someone intelligent has been elevated to the White House. 

They play it hard in America - there was an amusing story in The New Yorker about a couple of men trying to get to the ballot box, with one shot and one killed for their troubles, and the results upheld because the judge determined that an ordinarily brave man could get to the ballot box to cast his vote (so it was in the nineteenth century, so it seems now for all the gilding of the new age lever-laden switcheroo machines in a few wilder parts of the woods. Why they even tried to nobble Tim Robbins, but on the other hand, maybe that's not such a bad idea).

Never mind, the wheel's turned now, and I'm not such a 'liberrul' that I can't do a little hating, and here's hoping the reactionary forces in America and Australia get a good pasting. I'm thinking particularly of Faux Noise, which surely has to make Pravda on a bad day look like exemplary journalism.

That makes it all the more poignant that this was the week that Rupert Murdoch, an American citizen, had the cheek to come amongst Australians, and pretend that he was still one of us, and lecture us on the future - like, we should all sell out our Australian citizenship and move to America to make a motza? That's being Australian, like the fearless Rupe?

I hear you can pick up a house for nothing or next to nothing if you don't mind the crack heads next door. Well on the principle that anything Murdoch touches is tainted, it's a pleasure to suggest you can survive really well in the world by never buying The Australian, and by saving the monthly fees to the cable TV monopoly racket known as Foxtel. 

Better still, I'm told by my partner that if you chose the right hairdresser, you can read The Daily Telegraph once a month, for at least five minutes, and surely you lose a few brain cells, as they store key information about which show biz bimbo is fucking which Alaskan jockette, but it's a Tele guarantee that this will allow you a full minute of vivacious water cooler chit chat. Did you hear about Madonna and Guy Ritchie? What, you didn't, it's all in the Telegraph, saving the world for us and Rupert Murdoch.

By end of week the news got even better, with a heavy downturn in News Ltd revenue, and a nineteen per cent drop in the stock price. Has the recession caught up with Rupe, or is it the Revenge of the Liberals? Either way it's happy days. Now switch off the telly, stop buying The Australian or The Wall Street Journal or The Weekly Standard or The Times, and find some other form of kitty litter. You can do it, yes you can.

Despite being Murdoched by the Sun King for a moment (I switched off as soon as he started to speak, since it's not only rightwing ratbags who reserve the right to be intolerant), it's a testament to Obama  and his oratory that it still feels at the moment like the potential for change is amongst us, and if only for a moment, it feels like a Louis Armstrong song, such a sparkling and wonderful world.

As a corollary, it almost filled me with dread this Saturday to do my duty and to open up the Duffy files, and see where our intrepid, legendary columnist hero - if only he were the donkey to someone's Shrek - has arrived in his meditative musings on the state of the world, in a week when 'liberrruls' finally had their long overdue moment in the sun ...

Last week's effort - where he wrote about the way Christians were bringing peace and enlightenment to the heathen Asians of Fairfield - was stomach churning, and reminded me that Western thinkers needed a good dose of Confucius, not to mention a lashing of Zen Buddhism. This week's effort is even more tragic, for Duffy has decided to go back to doing his Andrew Bolt impersonation on climate change.

Yes, "Truly inconvenient truths about climate change being ignored", shrieks the Duffster's column heading, as he plunges back into the debate on global warming. Last month, it seems, he witnessed something shocking, and since the Duffster is rarely shocked, this kind of shock indicates something truly shocking. It turns out it was another scientist saying that global warming was on the rise, when in fact we all know that global warming was either plateaued, or falling. You know, all those stupid people affronting sceptics like the Duffster with images of the North Pole shrinking or polar bears drowning, when any sceptic like the Duffster and Sarah Palin knows that the only thing causing global warming is scientific hot air.

Why is this so, the Duffster asks, how could this be, that scientists so willingly deceive him? Well it turns out that thanks to Professor Richard Lindzen, he's discovered that the scientists, those devious bastards, are just doing it to make money. It's all due to government funding of science, a real tragedy, because the private sector does such a good job of funding science, like the way they fund research into drugs and establish museums showing dinosaurs walking the earth with people. 

"Much of that funding since World War 11 has occurred because scientists build up public fears (examples include fear of the USSR's superiority in weapons or space travel, of health peoples, of environmental degradation) and offer themselves as the solution to those fears. The administrators work work with the scientists join in with enthusiasm: much of their own funding is attached to the scientific grants."

Yes, at just the right moment in time, the Duffster reverts to a jihad on scientists, and I quote him at length so the absurd tone of paranoia can be fully felt. You see, it wasn't politicians building up public fears - like the demonstrable fear of the USSR's superiority in weapons or space travel. You see, it wasn't politicians (or indirectly everyone engaged in the struggle) who assembled scientists to build weaponry that would become destroyer of worlds. No, it wasn't the Nazis, or the Japanese code of the Samurai,  it was that meddlesome scientist Einstein who insisted that the Bomb be built. If we just got rid of scientists, and left the world to politicians, how peaceful and advanced it would be.

Yes indeedy, it's always been scientists meddling and insisting on doing things. Mad bloody scientists playing on the fears of the public, since they are given a weekly column like the Duffster and Andrew Bolt to rant each and every week on disturbing matters designed to instill fear in the populace because they're after public grants to study fire flies in Paris. You can hear the echo of John McCain and Sarah - let's all root for her - Palin in this mantra. 

What's that, you say - there is actually no column in the Herald on a regular basis dedicated to science, and instead we have the rantings of Duffy, who's qualifications in science are exactly and precisely, zilch, nada and nil? But, but it was scientists who invented Frankenstein's monster, it was scientists who gave us vampires, and garlic, and zombies, and voo doo childs. It was scientists who ruined the fifties with the Bomb and plunged the sixties into a world of LSD and free sex, and nothing's been good ever since (damn you baby boomers, damn you to hell).

What's that, you say - science funding in Australia has fallen, with the government in 2006 cutting funding of the CSIRO (one of the main arms of scientific funding) so that Australia spends around 0.1% of GDP. A pitiful amount. Of course. It's all a clever plot by scientists, who having fallen so far behind in public funding, have to invent imaginary crises to get that funding back. You know, because the earth is running so well, just needs a few repairs and a little oil in the sump, but otherwise it's all fine, don't you worry about a thing, let's just fund the Duffster's think tank on keeping government out of everything.

As a capper, the Duffster evokes a 2005 paper by John Ioannides, and uses it to claim that most published research findings are proved false within five years of their publication. This is is a remarkably crude summary of the point and meaning of the paper in relation to biomedical research - available here with some relevant commentary - and it makes you wonder just why the Duffster strays into this turf. Amusingly, the moment Ioannidis's contention that most published research findings are false was published, there descended a flock of scientists to prove that his published research finding was false.

But that, as Ionnidis himself conceded, is part of the scientific method, and no cause for alarm. Scientists jostle and contend about the truth about the nature of things. Okay, let's agree the scientific method is a fine thing. It's just a pity the Duffster is incapable of practising it.

But he does know how to do an insinuating analogy. Duffy has a brand new,  knockdown, lay down misere explanation for every scientific problem. It's not the scientists, but the journal editors eager for a big splash, who are concerned with selling their publications. Gasp, publication practices might be distorting science.

Ergo cogito sum ipso ferret angus dei, climate science is a load of malarkey, and inconvenient truths proudly promoted by the Duffster are unwisely ignored. To which I say, go Duffster, and publish your scientific findings in a respectable science journal, and let's see where you sit after a half dozen scientists have dissected your feeble brain.

It's all so familiar and so utterly tedious, and it's been going on ever since Al Gore offended the right wing in America, and it's got bugger all to do with science or global warming. It's columnists like Duffy who want to see science politicised - since  it's the Duffster, not the scientists, promoting panic and confusion. You have to wonder why the Herald bothers with this kind of lame duck neo con controversy at a time when America and the world has moved beyond George Bush's end of world rapturism (let us not forget that the people most opposed to science in the United States are the ones who believe the world is about to end, people will flee to Alaska in the end days, and the chosen will be whisked off to heaven).

Duffy's scientific method is to cherry pick one talk and one paper and thereby build a monumental souffle that fails to rise. While Herald readers would do well to drop their subscription, and go to Scientific American or the New Scientist for a little generalist science writing - check them out, they're both online - it almost seems like the Duffster's putting up his hand for a job with Rupe.

But it's equally likely that in this new climate, the dirty digger - whose always managed to blow with the wind - wouldn't be likely to take him. It's strange and sad that the nickname for Rupe - that dirty digger tag - derived very early from his addiction to sleazoid, tabloid afternoon papers (like the long lost News and Daily Mirror), no longer applies - even if the English cable and papers he owns dig for dirt in consummate style and the English adopted and still cherish the nickname with a ferocity reserved for colonials who thrash them at business and cricket. 

Rupe and his minions might still dig the dirt, but Rupe is definitively a dirty ex-digger. Australia's gain, America's loss, the world's loss. But we still have Michael Duffy. Can someone arrange passage for him to work on a right wing blog headquartered in say Waco, Texas or Wasilla, Alaska, where he can live amongst real outer western Americans, and be so much closer to the second hand neo con opinions he recycles here as original thinking. Better still, pass me that gin and tonic so I can drop a few tears into it ...

I can barely muster the enthusiasm for a score this week but I guess it has to be done:

Duffy's scientific method: zero to the power of zero, to infinity and beyond.
Duffy's understanding of global warming: zero to the power of infinity in a galaxy far, far away.
Duffy's contribution to rational public debate: zero to the power of stupidity.
Duffy's willingness to continue neo con rants at a time when no one's sipping the cordial: 11
Duffy's refusal to acknowledge the earth has shifted under his feet: 11
Duffy's fine tribute to Obama's arrival: forget it, group hug time as the Man comes to save the world and maybe even the Thermians. But can Rupe make money and can the Duffy be saved? Stay tuned next week.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Duffy, Conroy, the Intertubes, the Catholics, the Baptists, the Presbyterians, and the Harmony of the West

Have I mentioned lately that Senator the Honourable (I use the term loosely) Stephen Conroy, Senator for Victoria, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, is a knave or a fool, or both?

His plan to filter the Internet will see this new and wondrous beast run in Australia as it runs in Iran or China, or even worse. His profoundly stupid plan is naturally opposed by the industry and by any sensible adult with an interest in their right to interact with the world on a level playing field. The ponderous and bureaucratic plan he proposes in effect shows a desire by government to reduce the Internet to the level of an innocent ten year old's view of the world, stripped of piracy and pornography and all evil things that the government of the day might determine is evil (such as my liking to visit Comedy Central to view, gasp, left wing comedy).

His plan is so much worse than anything the Howard government threw up that it makes me profoundly glad I didn't vote for Labor, and now can only slobber at the bit waiting for the chance to express a view about State Labor. The rumor is that Conroy - a minor Rooster with no native intelligence or wit - is beavering away at his plan to please almighty Chairman and Christian Rudd, who apart from being plainly scared by Bill Henson's photography, has expressed even less interest in or understanding of the arts than John Howard - and that takes some doing. For Rudd, the Internet is probably some unruly Sendakian wild thing that must be tamed, and taught to like beer and football like any decent Queenslander.

The further rumor is that the hapless, hopeless Conroy is beavering away in a desire to please Senator Steve Fielding (let's forget the term Honourable), the leader of Family First in the Senate, a lobbyist for hard right Christian fundamentalist values who picked up under 2% of the vote in Victoria and still got into the Senate courtesy of Labor's strategic bungling and perfidy. Now he's an albatross around their necks and around every living soul in Australia because of his balance of power vote.

Hence the Conroy plan - block everything bad on the Internet, slow the devil tubes down, fill it full of Christian goodness - and the jolly Fielding will be more likely to help us out in the Senate. God knows, Conroy might even be dumb enough to believe in what he's doing. What a dumb Rooster. 

Of course the industry has to show a kinder public face, but behind the scenes people are fuming at the folly. Labor is already on the downhill slide towards being a one term government, and this kind of nonsense fuels an interest in the inestimable ego of Malcolm Turnbull, who's shown an interest in selling out everything and anything in his bid for power, but who has never shown much interest in kowtowing to Christian lobbyists and fundamentalists. And who, having been around in the early days and made a killing with OzEmail, is likely to be a little more sane about the way the Internet should function in Australia.

Which brings us to the esteemed (let's forget the term honourable) Michael Duffy, columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald, who somehow by chance has this week jumped the Christian shark, or more likely, nuked the fridge by doing a Spielberg and raping the minds of his readers.

His column is poignantly entitled "A place where religion, harmony and vitality can be found", which is devoted to establishing just how wonderful the outer west is because of the tremendous job that three churches are doing in helping immigrants settle in Sydney. And just to be fair, he covers Catholics, Baptists and Presbyterians, and leaves out the Islamics and other ratbags who might spoil his vision of harmonious bliss.

Let's forget for a moment that Duffy is opposed to immigration of this kind, and that he doesn't believe in public transport which might connect the outer west to the rest of Sydney - his mates in Labor have just dumped the north west metro, as long predicted, and not a word from the Duffster.

No, let's accept the visionary dream, as far reaching and wondrous as Rosseau's romantic vision of nature - but wait, scrub that, in his Social Contract, Rosseau argued that followers of Jesus would not make good citizens, thereby alienating the Calvinists and the Catholics, and copping the usual bucketing from the Papists, who've always been happy to abuse their power in pursuit of mindless conformity. Stupid enlightenment philosopher.

No, in Duffy's dreaming, all is good and Catholic in the outer west of Sydney. Could this be the same church as ruled over by the reactionary Pell, a man so problematic that Melbourne was pleased to see the back of him? You see, there's barely a need to think about actual religion in Duffy's dreaming. It's all about being multi-cultural - 45 different national flags in the one church! - and having international nights and people bringing along their own national food. It's like an old fashioned bowling club, without the bowls - just a crazed and vengeful god lurking in the corner.

It seems the main achievement of the Catholic Church in this far flung outpost was to send more busloads of pilgrims to the World Youth Day (13) than any other Parish, so they could hear the words of Pope Ratzinger, former member of Hitler Youth, anti-aircraft gunner, and deserter (in America and Britain they shoot deserters and traitors to the motherland). 

And if it's not the Catholics being so harmonious, it's the Baptists, who just want play groups and bible studies and programs for drug addicts and victims of sex abuse. Or the Presbyterians who hold services in Mandarin, and can get toilets fixed in big public housing estates with a phone call or two.

Duffy's final heart warming wrap up quotes Nick Lalich, the Mayor of Fairfield, as saying "Mate, there's 12 places of worship within two square kilometres. All these communities live next to each other with absolutely no problems. If you could bottle what we've got here and export it, you'd save so much trouble in the world."

Sure, where drive by shootings are a way of life, and they even managed to assassinate - the first such in Australia history - John Paul Newman, member for the seat of Cabramatta, and former acting mayor for Fairfield (despite appeals, Phuong Ngo, a political rival of Newman's, remains locked up for the killing). You can go for a celebratory, multi-ethnic, peace and harmony swim in the local swimming pool named after Newman.

In our local area, we have the same peace and harmony. In the square at night, peaceful hordes gather to lick up the lentils doled out in thoughtful packets by the Hare Krishnas, while just up the road, a school peacefully indoctrinates its young in the thoughts of L. Ron Hubbard, helpfully aided by Government grants dedicated to furthering the cause of non-government and non-systemic educationists. The kids seem normal and cheerful, though if you do shout out Xenu, they jump a little and their eyes dart about wildly.

You see, however you cut it, they're cults. That people believe in Scientology as a religion is one of the great conundrums of the modern age, though it helps explain how eccentricities like Mormonism got started, and it also helps explain how long enduring cults like the Catholic church, with its gobbledegook transubstantiation stuff, keep attracting an audience (presumably lured on by the cannibalistic notion of having a munch on Christ's body and a sip of his blood). 

The Baptists are no better, long removed from their Anabaptist origins (which had a few good philosophical points, including living apart from the rest of the world). Now they're a disorganised grouping without any central leadership and a tendency towards Pentecostalism.

Well here's a thought - a pox on Duffy, Conroy, Fielding, and all the lickspittle Christians who seek to do down the calm and even life of the sensible atheist. What this country needs is a Christopher Hitchens, a tool when it comes to the Iraq war because of his fear of Mesopotamia, that figment of the colonial mind, but ever willing to wield the scalpel when it comes to the nonsense the Christian churches trot out as they try to stay relevant in an increasingly secular world (well increasingly secular in the sensible non-Duffy bits, like Europe and China). 

I can accept that deluded fools will seek to persuade others to be as deluded as they are. It's in their nature and they think they do it for a good cause, in much the same way as the Inquisition thought it was carving out a better world from the blood of disbelievers. But to have this nonsense aided and abetted by Duffy, with his 'pie in the sky by and by' romanticism, and  his infatuation with the outer West, all doled out and laid bare in the Herald ... it's just too fucking much, it produces a kind of Nietzschean, syphillitic scream of despair at the sky

Why the fuck doesn't Duffy just shut up about the place? Why doesn't he just shift out there to live in peace and quiet and leave the rest of us alone? Better still, why doesn't he just shut up if he doesn't have anything sensible to say?

He doesn't live in the west, he doesn't believe in the kind of immigration that has generated the Fairfields and Bonnyriggs of Australia, and in the past he hasn't shown any signs of bible bashing. But I fear for him. It's likely he's a closet Chrisopher Pearson, and as he's aged, and become fearful about the world, he's decided to convert to Christianity so he can be closer in body and soul to his much beloved Sarah Palin. In which case he's triply damned forever, because if he believes all the various religions of the world can live in peace and harmony together, he's a bigger fool than I ever took him for - he's a monstrous fool.

(By the way, the food in Cabramatta is truly excellent, with duck and pork freely available in time honored recipes, and not a hint of religion on view in the throng of people in the street as they go about their lives apparently free of western religiosity).

Next week, having given the Christians a run,  I look forward to the Duffster's column on the way Islamic thought and teaching is bringing harmony to the outer West, with specific reference to the way being a youth worker is likely to see you shot down in the streets of Auburn. Because after all religion is such a good force for good. But I suspect that the Arab presence and the issue of Islam fundamentalism might just be too much of a nuke the fridge moment for even the huckster Duffster ... (maybe he could do Falun Gong instead?)

So to the score this week, and what a depressing total it is on the tape:

Capacity for lick spittle fellow traveling with crazed Christians: 11
Capacity for doing a Conroy from the safety of an eastern suburbs bunker: 11
Actual insights into religion and its ideological activities amongst westerners: 0
Glassy eyed, glazed acceptance of cults while chanting 'angus dei': 11
Capacity for injecting sanctimonious pontificating smarmy tone worthy of a Sunday sermon: 11
Willingness to be the bearer of glad tidings and joy while at the same time reserving the right to be cynical and snide when needful to sound hard edged and tough on immigration: 11

Yep, the stench of hypocrisy and celebration has produced a record score.

So this is what we have to look forward to. A denuded Internet and Duffy ranting about the joys of religion. Well at least I won't have to read Duffy, because surely in the first cull of content, Conroy will ban him. And sure as hell I won't be buying the Herald so long as he keeps writing this kind of guff and I can insult my eyeballs by reading it for free as it comes on down the tubes (and let's have a big shout out for convicted Republican senator Ted Stevens, who first understood that the Internet was a series of tubes, and so helped Senator Conroy understand that you can easily shove a large cork up a series of tubes and the people will be ever so happy and joyous and dancing down in Duffyland).

"From the churches to the jails tonight all is silence in the world
As we take our stand down in Jungleland".

Bring it on Conroy.