You know this site has the warmest and deepest regards for the good folks of Mercer, deep in southern Iron County Wisconsin.
The hamlet gives shelter to two thousand souls, give or take, but most importantly it is cosmically and internationally famous as the "Loon capital of the world", based on a wildlife study that found Mercer had the highest concentration of common loons on the planet. They have a loon day, replete with loon calling contest and a 16 foot 2,000 pound statue lovingly named "Claire de Loon" (see above for a snap of Claire). (The town was also a favored destination of the Capone boys but we're not about to get into a shootout between Big Al and Christopher Flannery).
Anyway, we know this is a tourist ruse and so we won't get too excited about this outrageous claim, because inch for inch, there's no doubt that the opinion pages of Australian newspapers would easily smash any record, any statistic, offered up by the good folks of Mercer regarding the concentration of common loons.
For a start, there's the lead footed speedster and serial fine collector Michael Duffy, the inspiration for this site, and as common a loon as you could find anywhere in the world. Come on in Duffster and tell the good folk of Mercer what loonery you have on offer today (and remember the call of the loon is a haunting, yodelling cry).
Steady Mercerians, we expect you to be made of sterner stuff, no whimpering please. Yes that's right the Duffster is offering up such a hefty dose of addle pated romanticism about Australian farmers and the land in his column Heed wisdom or perish that it's beyond indigestible, it's nauseating, and of course the subject, in the Duffster's usual late breaking way, is the bushfire wars. In the process his portrait of the noble Aussie farmer would make Rosseau writhe in his grave.
How does the Duffster do it? Well he takes one farmer, one Peter Spencer, a friend of his from around the high country in Cooma, and contrasts his land management practises by burning off through controlled application of fire (inherited from the aboriginals to keep the land almost like a park) with the practices of government in a nearby national park.
To this one example he adds anonymous anecdotal evidence from dozens of farmers (like,assuring him everything he says is true), and then he branches out into generalisations which are breathtaking in both their banality and their romanticised stupidity, as he wonders why we've lost "the knowledge of the land" (and no, it's not because we kicked the blacks off it, but thanks for thinking that and asking).
I think we resist this knowledge, or just don't care for it, for a very fundamental reason: we've lost touch with those who live in the landscape, and therefore with the landscape itself. The number and proportion of Australians who live on the land has shrunk, which means the number of people who live in cities and have relatives on the land has also diminished. A third of us now come from overseas anyway, and many immigrants naturally have no feeling for the bush. And of course, the land has long lost much of its former economic significance.
Well blow me down Duffy has gone Germaine Greer, that well known anarchist marxist feminist hater of transsexuals and worker of the land whenever she can find a decent hundred acres near London.
So it seems this abuse of farmers, this ignorance of the land comes from immigrants (never mind that we're all immigrants at one time or another). But the Duffster isn't content to let it rest there, though he manages through his misty rose colored glasses not to mention greenies, because that would be too crude:
The nation has pretty much turned its back on the land, which has allowed a new class of theoreticians and their disciples to move in and take over government policy affecting it. Land use policies that can literally destroy farmers' livelihoods are now determined by the votes of urban environmentalists, whose view of nature is often a fantasy depending on nature documentaries and a desire to feel superior to alleged "rednecks". Evidence-based knowledge based on living in the landscape is treated with contempt and replaced by the politically motivated science of city kids.
Lucky none of those city kids live in Kellyville, hey Duffster, or you'd have a real conflict of interest. Say what? They do? Oh no.
I just love the way farmers are naturally green and being destroyed by urban environmentalists (code word for tree hugging touchy feely greenie). Of course farming practices have done wonders for the Murray Darling basin, that's why the senate has just passed legislation offering them a bucket load of money to get off the land and somehow fix the water flow. Funnily enough a heck of a lot of the money is coming from urban based taxpayers with stupid misty eyed concerns about the future of the land.
Frankly I haven't heard as big a load of codswollop since I saw the high country Cool Change, in which the government and the greenies are all bad and the cattlemen just damned heroic (it's a little known sequel to Man From Snowy River, and so it should be - little known I mean - because funnily enough it didn't work with urban audiences).
Duffy then manages to slip in a note about how all this carry on about native vegetation is ruining his mate's right to run his farm the way he wants, and that this bio-sequestration means that urban Australians have been able to produce as much greenhouse gas as they like under the Kyoto protocol. "It is a great injustice". Come on Duffster, Australia's only been a signatory to the protocol for a year, for god's sake talk some sense. What's it matter if urban Australians produce as much greenhouse gas as they like - global warming, or as your mates like to call it, AGW, is a myth.
Then it's on to one last swipe, where Duffy allows all this disrespecting of farmers to be called majoritarianism. And ignorance.
Actually if you want a different insight into Duffy's mate, all you have to do is google, and that will take you to some legal items.
You can also head off to Peter Spencer's letter to the Attorney General.
While you're there on that bit of the intertubes, you can explore plenty of Peter Spencer's other thoughts and opinions, and while you're at it, why not drop into the hosting site, SOS News.
There you'll find the Eureka flag and a fine flagellation of our people masters (now cringing in fear) and a defiance of the main stream media because it somehow always strangely fails to mention SOS-News.
Come to think of it, the Duffster also fails to mention SOS-News, or suggest links to Peter Spencer's deeper thoughts, as it seems the Duffster prefers romanticised humbuggery and obscurantism as a way of servicing his own set of idiosyncratic beliefs. There's ignorance of an urban kind, and then there's outright misrepresentation of a Duffy kind. When he gets to telling the real, complex truth, then we might have grounds for a debate.
Meantime onto the score:
For abuse of ignorant urban dwellers in Kellyville (last year's heroes): 11
For abuse of migrants who know nothing about anything, especially the land: 11 (so that explains my Scottish uncle leaving the farm to run a car dealership!)
For irrelevant introduction of Kyoto into a debate about the bushfire wars: 11
For selecting one farmer as an exemplar of land management across this wide brown land:11
For studiously ignoring the thoughts and practices of others in relation to land management: 11
For abuse of anonymous governments and their bureaucratic minions, as they cast a shadow of fear across this wide brown land: 11
For damning urban dwellers and their filthy ways and elevating farmers to sit alongside Zeus: 11
For failure to mention SOS News and failing to provide a link to Peter Spencer's other thoughts: 11
Yep, there you have it. A perfect storm of a score for a column which manages to be offensive, patronising, disingenuous and truly ignorant.
Okay citizens of Mercer. The jig is up. We've got you cornered. Put your hands in the air and do exactly what we say. Pack your statue of Claire into an unmarked brown paper bag and ship her to Sydney at once. Okay you can lower your hands if that'll help. And remember to pay the postage before shipping.
Well done Michael Duffy. Now sing along:
We are the champions
No time for losers
'Cause we are the champions - of the world -
Think of it. Having Duffy here in our very own pond makes us world champeen winners. Stop crying you wimps or I'll tell on you to Miranda the Devine. Sheesh, I hate men who cry.