LET THE FOREIGNERS IN! NO, WAIT … KEEP THE FOREIGNERS OUT! The interior of Pilita Clark's head must be a chaotic place, what with all those contradictory ideas of hers zooming around and smashing into each other.

Back in December, Clark whined in The Sydney Morning Herald about Australia’s frightening intolerance towards refugees. "If you turn up on a boat without a visa, passport or other necessary travel documents, you will be detained immediately until your application for asylum is processed by the Department of Immigration," she complained.

Well, yes. Immigration authorities tend to be alarmed by people who turn up from the Middle East without passports or visas. Who knows why?

There are some foreigners, however, who Clark wants to ban forever from out shores. Rich foreigners.

Especially the kind who might want to invest in Australian media. The government is trying to alter laws that restrict foreign ownership of our press, and Clark is furious about it. Last week Clark defended the current laws, pointing out that "many governments" restrict foreign investment in domestic media, because "it is thought to be in the public's interest to do so."

She's talking about places like Slovenia.

Clark also disputes that the information age has brought any advantages to Australia: "How much new information are we truly getting from Foxtel or AOL or any of the other companies that did not exist when the media laws were first introduced? The answer, unfortunately, is very little … It is the same story on the Internet. The most popular news sites are run by the ABC, the Fairfax and News Ltd newspaper groups and ninemsn, which provide online access to news these organisations have already produced for television, radio or print."

Popularity, according to the random idea-collider within Clark's skull, equals lack of choice. By Clark's reasoning, if I walk past fourteen restaurants every day on my way to the McDonald's, my dining options are therefore limited to McDonald's.

A law should be passed restricting Clark's writing. It would be in the public's interest to do so.

THE SEARCH for the real killer continues …

GAY ALCORN, the Sydney Morning Herald's version of a Washington correspondent, reports major breaking news on the war in Afghanistan. Her first paragraph from today's paper:

"Marc Herold, a University of New Hampshire economics professor, was so disturbed by the lack of coverage of civilian deaths in the war in Afghanistan that he began keeping a tally himself."

Um, the Herold study (which claimed that 3767 Afghan innocents had been killed in American attacks) is about a month old, and has been chewed over by everyone from Don Rumsfeld to alienated left-wing bloggers. Still, Gay believes it's newsworthy, because "Herold's report received extensive coverage in the European media but almost no mention in the American press".

Except for Time magazine. And the San Francisco Examiner. And the LA Weekly. And Wired News. This US government site carries a C-SPAN transcript of an interview with Rumsfeld in which the Herold study is mentioned. Such awful censorship!

Here's Rummy's take on this issue, which Alcorn – who is quite adept at not mentioning things herself – saw fit to ignore:

"I have asked somebody to try to provide some facts as to how in the world he could have conceivably come up with such a breathtaking statement. I think that if he or others investigate carefully, and analyze it, and talk to people on the ground, we will find that there probably has never in the history of the world been a conflict that has been done as carefully, and with such measure, and care, and with such minimal collateral damage to buildings and infrastructure, and with such small numbers of unintended civilian casualties."

BLOG WATCH I: Your guide to who is saying what, where

Andrew Sullivan: The hunting of Osama; Enron no big deal; Bill Clinton never, ever, ever, ever, EVER, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER, blames himself; NYT struggles with changed realities; Slate's bias

Glenn Reynolds: Will Cornell West take his show on the road?; Daschle's tax evasion; Saudi lies; Ted Rall obviously a CIA stooge

Natalie Solent: Blair left out the best jokes; Catholic guilt covers Indian woe; the magic of micropayments

Bjorn Staerk: Christians responsible for every wrong; puzzling Somalia-Yemen terrorism shift; follow Pakistan's first leader

Rand Simberg: Mark Steyn reports from Hoogivsadamistan; imprisoned Al Queda to be guarded by women

Virginia Postrel: Dallas in grip of wallboard-snorting epidemic; surviving the fierce US winters

Ken Layne: The book is good; Lakers too damned good; expose them Saudis; toast the war with a Rummy and Coke; Nigella Lawson's food porn snares another victim

Shiloh Bucher: That Lawson tramp is unclean; to her credit, she’s also a wine-fuelled sex machine; disturbing Martha Stewart image; here's to the big guys

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: Dragging political communication into this century; electoral implications of the Washington fear freeze

Lawrence Haws: An elegant pacifist debating technique; old woman who complained about "sexy" slur used same slur herself; does the death penalty save lives?

James Lileks: Grease is not the word, nor is it anything else; defending the '80s; rolling up sleeves Miami Vice-style; perfect video game would involve bottle-wielding drunks; new highway design exhibits pro-car bias

Iain Murray: Signs of the dreaded 'Thrax; Tony Blair losing mind

Jay L. Zilber: Crazy Bishop boy a real chip off the old suicidal block

Bill Quick: Binny's kidneys might have Saudi friends; Castro's uncashed cheques; Wash Post sees no need for missile defence; Osama's next stop – Norway?

Rallying Point: Utter ignorance breeds anti-Americanism; crushing of Napster provoked dotcom collapse; beating up moochers, for the good of society

Christopher Johnson: Tearing Charley Reese to pieces; Reuters flexible on bias; Saudis exhibit XFL-like PR skills

Jason Soon: Defending Dessaix; money does buy at least some happiness

It’s 2002, and we can Blog Watch your ass.


THE AUSTRALIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION is often accused of pandering to stupid left-wing urban intellectuals. To refute this stereotype, the ABC (completely taxpayer-funded, of course) recently gathered together a bunch of stupid left-wing urban intellectuals to discuss 2001, and their hopes for the future.

They were novelists Matthew Reilly, Tom Keneally, Linda Jaivin, John Birmingham, Marion Halligan, and Robert Dessaix. All of them agreed with each other on almost everything, but that didn't stop Sylvia Lawson from describing the horrid luncheon event (hosted by Maxine McKew) as a "debate".

Former Liberal Party deputy Neil Brown wasn't so kind. I'll be even less so. Wounded by not having been invited, I've retrospectively invited myself, using the magic of the Internet to include myself in their happy conversation:

MAXINE McKEW: Tom, let me say, perhaps start with you. If you could characterise 2001, as some have, as the year of living cautiously, what would you say about 2002? What are your hopes?

THOMAS KENEALLY: Well, I hope it's the year of living incautiously. We haven't resolved the question of whether we're a brave or a timid nation yet.

We are simultaneously bronze Anzacs and tenuous maidens likely to be raped by foreign strangeness and we have to decide which we really are.

TIM BLAIR: Can't we be sort of half one thing and half another? You know, like your beard?

MAXINE McKEW: Matthew? How do you see it? Do you think that Tom's right, that we're a mix of the timid and the brave?

MATTHEW REILLY: I think 2001 can be characterised as a year of fear and, if I'd like to see anything change in 2002, it is, I'd like the dialogue in Australia to change from our first response to some new challenge, not being fear, but being understanding, trying to know something first before you're afraid of it.

(long pause)

TIM BLAIR: That made no sense at all. Are you feeling all right?

MATTHEW REILLY: I think we leap and under the current sort of political leadership, I think our first instinct - or from 2001 - is leaning towards fear.

ROBERT DESSAIX: But aren't some things worth being afraid of?

TIM BLAIR: Yes! Your books. They're almost as bad as that history of Sydney by …

JOHN BIRMINGHAM: Well, some things are but nothing in our experience the last year or so.

LINDA JAIVIN: Refugees aren't worth being afraid of.

JOHN BIRMINGHAM: No, I mean this whole country's built on refugees.

TIM BLAIR: My whole lawn is mowed by refugees.


JOHN BIRMINGHAM: Two hundred years of them coming in. This place has always been the last best hope for people coming from the most wretched holes all over the face of the globe.

MARION HALLIGAN: In a way, we are them, aren't we? I mean, my grandfather was a boat person. My great-great-grandfather was a boat person of a kind.

LINDA JAIVIN: I'm a migrant.

TIM BLAIR: I'm a moon alien.

ROBERT DESSAIX: Well, why do you think - I mean, I think that that's a very simplistic sort of thing to say. Why do you think people are anxious? I mean it's not necessarily irrational.

LINDA JAIVIN: I think the current leadership has set up a whole atmosphere of name-calling and other people have responded to it. You know, the whole thing about all this name-calling is so destructive, it's polarising, it's really terrible and it also means that we're incapable of actually sitting down and having real dialogue within the society.

TIM BLAIR: Will you please stop looking at me like that? I'm trying to eat.

LINDA JAIVIN: I think to achieve courage, compassion, justice - which would be my wish for the next year, all of these things - I think we all have to pull back from that and I would really, really like to see the Prime Minister show some serious leadership in this regard and stop calling everybody who doesn't agree with him 'elite' or 'politically correct'.

MATTHEW REILLY: Un-Australian.

LINDA JAIVIN: Un-Australian.

TIM BLAIR: Un-derpants.

MARION HALLIGAN: See, I think this is a language problem. Really, I think that's what we have.

TIM BLAIR: No kidding!

MARION HALLIGAN: I was very interested after the events of September 11 how that noble, American, patriotic speak immediately swung in and people could put their hands on their hearts and sing noble songs and say noble things, which I found utterly chilling.

TIM BLAIR: Chilling?

MARION HALLIGAN: But I think we're at the other end of that spectrum. We don't have any words in which we can say noble things.

We're so fond of being cynical and world weary and self-critical in a whole lot of ways, that we lack that language.

And I think that, in fact, what happened at the last election was that Howard commanded a kind of language that got him elected and none of his opponents could find words of their own for dealing that.

MAXINE McKEW: Well, I was just going to say, aren't you putting a lot on one man? I mean, why do we only look for leadership from the political class?

LINDA JAIVIN: I think, you know, Australians never look to cultural figures for leadership. You know, we look to sports figures for leadership.

TIM BLAIR: Linda, given the quality of cultural figures around this table, it'd be more sensible if we looked to sports equipment for leadership.

MARION HALLIGAN: We don't look to articulate people for leadership but I suppose we are thinking of this because we've just had an election where I think there was no vision, there was no imagination and I felt it was a very low point, that there was no sense of any ideas, let alone ideals.

TIM BLAIR: (whispering) Marion, take your hand off my knee!

MAXINE McKEW: Let me just interrupt there because I mean the assumption here is that the country then is, if you like, less dynamic, less interesting than it once was. Is this right? I mean, do you all remember a more dynamic Australia? Say, John? I ask you as a fellow Queenslander.

JOHN BIRMINGHAM: Having grown up in Queensland like you, I mean, I know what a repressive right-wing government's like and I know that it's very, very different from what we're living under now.

In Queensland, when I grew up, if you stepped out of line or stood against the system, it would reach out and touch you in the night and it would take you away and you know, you might have to flee the state.

TIM BLAIR: Yes … the Killing Fields of Paddy Gully. I know of them well.

THOMAS KENEALLY: There are some things that happened in the last year which, as a child of a digger, I find a bit sinister - the SAS being sent out to the Tampa, the Armed Forces, which are a noble and very highly trained force in Australia being used for reasons that aren't really military …

And, so, we've taken the first step, on the way, the first couple of steps, in a way that we never did before. We've taken the first couple of steps along the long railway line that leads to an oppressive regime …

TIM BLAIR: Walking on train tracks leads to oppression?

THOMAS KENEALLY: … and I think that's why we members of the elites … God help us, any elite Linda and I belong to is in real trouble!

MAXINE McKEW: Chardonnay-drinking elites!

LINDA JAIVIN: Absolutely.

TIM BLAIR: You sicken me.

THOMAS KENEALLY: But the elites and the 'chattering classes' are always chattering because we don't want to go down that railway line.

TIM BLAIR: Well, at least not without a train.

MATTHEW REILLY: Are we not noble or are we just apathetic? Are our politicians preying on the Australians' natural apathy towards political matters?

MARION HALLIGAN: Can you be apathetic and noble at the same time?

MATTHEW REILLY: I think you can.

TIM BLAIR: I think you can be pathetic and in this room at the same time.

MARION HALLIGAN: I think if you're apathetic you're not noble.


ROBERT DESSAIX: Well, think that we're less apathetic than cynical and I think that part of our cynicism and part of our lack of interest in the elections has to do with the fact that we understand that, basically, it doesn't matter who's in power.

The Australian Government isn't running our lives and what they do doesn't matter very much. Our lives are run from over there.

MAXINE McKEW: Over where?

TIM BLAIR: New Zealand? Chad? Honduras? Where, Robert?

ROBERT DESSAIX: They're run from Washington, of course. We're a satrapy of the great American empire and we have been for a long time.

MAXINE McKEW: Robert, if this is right - if we're a satrapy of the US. And, Tom, if you're right, that we've taken the first step along the path to, perhaps, a more oppressive regime. Like, if you're right, let me say to you all, that this is great raw material for writers. You are talking the stuff of tremendous conflict and tension. And I'm - you know, I risk buying into a tremendous argument here, I'm aware, but why is it so few of our writers are addressing these big contemporary issues?

TIM BLAIR: Like, you're kinda old lookin' to be talking like, you know, a teenager.

THOMAS KENEALLY: You're absolutely right. We - there was no novel by Australian writers on the Timor situation.

MAXINE McKEW: John wrote a history.

TIM BLAIR: Did anyone buy it?

MAXINE McKEW: Let me then move this conversation on to this. Do you think, in this new century, that the myths, the symbols that have sustained us, the fair go, egalitarianism, I suppose, the Anzac tradition.

Is this going to be enough for us in the 21st Century as the country changes even more?

LINDA JAIVIN: I think 'Tampa' will become a symbol.

MAXINE McKEW: Symbol of what?

TIM BLAIR: Symbol of a big fucking boat (gulps wine). Could I have another bottle over here, please?

THOMAS KENEALLY: I'm fascinated, Marion, by what makes people extremists. Because I think we incapacitate ourselves by calling it 'inhuman', 'barbarous', 'insane', because that means these people are not part of the fabric of our life and we can't do anything about it.

Whereas the origins of extremism have a basis in very concrete conditions of injustice which we need to understand so we can deal with it, purely for our own self-interest. It's not good enough for America to say, "These people are not like us. These people are fanatics."

TIM BLAIR: So what are they? Come on, writer dude. You're meant to know lots of words.

MARION HALLIGAN: We're all novelists and I think that the way we work as novelists is having an imagination that makes us able to see other people's points of view and I think that's the really important thing we can do.

Terrorists, whatever - I was appalled when they were described as 'terrible cowards'. I thought they were incredibly brave, actually. They might have been totally misguided and clearly extremely dangerous, but they were not cowards.

TIM BLAIR: A toast to Mohamed Atta, heroic killer of office workers, fire fighters, women, and children!

MAXINE McKEW: Let me bring you back, perhaps, to where we started, because we're almost out of time. 2002, from the way you're talking could be the year of living violently again. Would anyone put their hand up for the year of living imaginatively?

MARION HALLIGAN: I would put my hand up for that.

MAXINE McKEW: Creatively?

JOHN BIRMINGHAM: How about honourably?

MAXINE McKEW: Honourably?

LINDA JAIVIN: I like that. Courageously, compassionately.

TIM BLAIR: Retardedly?

ROBERT DESSAIX: It's interesting that it's people like us who are talking about these ideas normally. No-one would look to people like us in this country to talk about these things.

MAXINE McKEW: That's my hope for 2002, that we do a bit more of this.

TIM BLAIR: (throws self under passing truck)

(Dr. Blog here, trying to restore some mysteriously missing Blair posts. They will be slightly out of order, but they will be here for Posterity.)

Tuesday, January 08, 2002

HITS and LETTERS: This blog has been running for one month. In that time we’ve received 43,000 hits and swarms of email. A small selection follows:

Michael T., of Melbourne, says bushfire coverage was as bad in Australia as it was overseas:

"I'm pretty pissed off about the pathetic coverage of what's going on up in Sydney. Apart from the ABC web site (and even that's not exactly overflowing with info) there's hardly any coverage of consequence anywhere. Even ABC Newsradio (which I thought was perfectly suited to this sort of thing) is running today's episode of NPR’s All Things Considered. (I won't get on to my feelings about that piece of crap -- otherwise, this e-mail will get way too long.)"

According to Doug F., of Florida, the red gum lerp psyllids currently eating Los Angeles are Bugs of Glory:

"Heck, we need to send those guys over to the Florida Everglades pronto. A red gum invader species has been a problem there for some years, with the Park Service spending several million annually in (only partially successful) attempts to control them. Eucalypts have no natural controls here in the States, of course. And since you're not allowed to spray herbicides in a National Park, they've been obliged to send out hoards of people armed with machetes instead. And the gums have been gaining ground."

Michael S. has these memories of Geoffrey Robertson:

"I didn't know much at all about Geoffrey Robertson until I went to a studio taping of his 'Hypotheticals' programme. I haven't seen any other studio tapings, so maybe they're all fixed up in the editing process, but this one -- particularly his performance -- was unspeakably awful. He had good guests -- Germaine Greer and Bill Bryson for two -- but he would skip from them to very much less interesting (usually because they were stupid) guests, such as some woman who's the director of the National Museum in Canberra. He once addressed Tim Flannery as 'Reverend Tim Flannery'. I had desperately wanted to see good Australian TV and there I was, cringing in my seat."

Who says sarcasm is the lowest form of wit? Not Randy A., of South Carolina:

"I wanted to let you know that I greatly appreciate your writing for its sarcasm and succintness. Your most recent dismantling of Robert Fisk is a beauty. Too bad mainstream media won't show him for the fraud and charlatan he is."

Alan R. corrects me on the UAW:

"You write 'No Democrat jobs for you, friends. Not unless you submit to the products of the United Auto Workers union.' Um, if yer gonna rip on the UAW, as well you should, at least get it right -- UAW stands for 'U Ain't Workin'."

A question about lemon-flavoured Coke drew this response from Tom B., of Pennsylvania:

"Pepsi and Coke both launched lemon flavored versions, diet and regular, in recent months. Lemon diet Coke doesn't quite work but lemon diet Pepsi is pretty good by itself. (Oh shit, or is it the other way around. I know I have a firm opinion on this but I forget what it is.) Check your shelves. I'm sure they'll be there soon if they aren't already."

He also adds this clever note: "Your blog is terrific (imagine
getting that message, and understanding it, oh, last New Year’s let's

Richard D. liked a particular description of Terry Jones:

"'You carping suckweasel.' This is very nice, and I hope to recycle it sometime soon."

He's very welcome. As were the kind thoughts of Francie D.:

"Please know that my prayers and the prayers of my family are with you all in New South Wales, especially your many courageous firefighters. Many years ago, I witnessed the Santa Anna fires firsthand in Southern California, and I know how terrifying it is for those who are threatened by the fires and also the families of the firefighters. I also wanted to thank you for your kind words regarding our great president, George W. Bush, and your unmasking of the stupidity of most mainstream media 'personalities' - so-called journalists and screen stars alike. Australia has been a great friend to our country, and I for one am grateful for the big hearts you and your countrymen possess. Stay safe and know that the Yanks love you Aussies!!!!!"

Carl W., it's safe to say, enjoyed opinions expressed here on the subject of a certain Monty Python member:

"Re: Your relentless dismemberment of Terry Jones: BWA HA HA HA HA !!! … sorry, carry on, sir."

Brian B., stationed with the US Army in Germany, writes:

"I'd like to say thank you. We need more 'cut and dry' journalists like yourself, as opposed to the more prolific 'cut and paste' journalists. Have a happy new year."

You too, Brian, and thanks. Mary L., of Canada, reveals that I have been recognised in the Great White North:

"Did you or did you not appear in a fairly recent show called 'Good Girls Do Swallow', where you chatted to the camera a bit about how Marilyn Monroe was overweight but that men didn't care about that? (Umm, this was a documentary about women and body image, just in case you appear in way too many Aussie productions with dodgy names and can't quite place this one). I was half watching this one on a Canadian specialty channel when I noticed this pleasant looking guy with specs identified as 'Tim Blair, Journalist' get his 30 seconds of screen time as described above."

"Pleasant looking"! Yes, that was me. The program, made by Rachael Oakes-Ash, aired on Canada's WTN.

Steve S., of Massachusetts, is forced to endure lame alterna-comedians:

"Being a resident of Boston I get to enjoy all of these wondeful 'comics' and intellectuals firsthand. Have you noticed how the most sensitive and compassionate members of society seem to have no problems demeaning and insulting anyone they dislike? Bush is an idiot, Christians are the Taliban, conservatives are Nazis … A couple of years back another hilarious left wing comic, Al Franken, titled his book 'Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot' and that seemed to be okay. Wait'll I come out with my new book: 'Hillary is a Dog-Faced Lying Piece of S#!^!'"

A reader known only as RG sends a sound idea for dealing with Sydney’s arsonists:

"I propose they have half their wages garnisheed for the rest of their lives, until they as a group have paid off all the property damages and medical bills associated with these fires (with interest, of course.) Maybe we could be merciful with the younger ones (like 14 or less) and only hit them for 20% of their earnings for their first twenty years in the workforce."

"Horus" takes things a step further:

"Those samizdata guys have the right idea. Handcuff the fucking
arsonists to a tree and let 'em cook. God bless the Aussie fireys."

Gareth Parker, who maintains his own Aussie blog (complete with an excellent Australian flag), sends compliments:

"As a journalism student, I must say I'd love to be able to carry out intellectual assassinations as well as you do. Your recent McDonalds and Barry Crimmins analyses were simply devastating."

It’s not really that hard, Gareth. Lots of fish, small barrel, big gun. And finally, from Dan in New York:

"Just want you to know how much I look forward to and enjoy your blogging. Thanks from Brooklyn U.S.A.!!"

Not a problem, Dan. Glad you and everyone else like it.


IS GEORGE W. BUSH insensitive for using the term "Pakis"?

According to this Reuters story, "Bush used the term in remarks to reporters on Monday when discussing the possibility of nuclear rivals India and Pakistan going to war."

The article continues: "Most Americans are unaware of the sensitivity of the term. In Britain, however, it is considered an ethnic slur toward Pakistanis who emigrated there in large numbers in the 1960s and '70s."

What the article doesn’t mention is that the term isn’t considered a slur in Pakistan, or anywhere else outside of the UK. It’s not a slur; it’s an abbreviation, and a friendly-sounding one at that. No wonder Bush, with his fondness for nicknames, used it.

For more information, go to PakiSearch.com, where you can catch up on the "Latest Paki News", consult a "Paki Shopping Guide", and receive your "Free Paki Email". Shabash, shabash!


FIRE LATEST: First we had good news: that rain we had the other night continued during the day for several hours, wiping out fires in the Blue Mountains.

Then we had bad news: thousands were forced to flee the South Coast after new fires (suspected, yet again, of being deliberately lit) menaced their homes.

And now, more good news: those people have returned.

The fires are still not over, but at least now they’re no longer all over the state.


MORE AMERICAN ARROGANCE: The Washington Post has sought opinions from pundits worldwide about how the US should behave – and completely ignored Australia. Thanks, bastards!

Is it because we’re too little a nation to be bothered with? But it can’t be that – the Post invited comment from Peru and Uganda, countries that have only a few more million people than us. (By the way, what advice was Uganda expected to offer? "Don’t eat the citizenry"?)

The anti-Australian bias of the mainstream US press will one day be a root cause of something or other, you mark my words. After James Morrow penned this piece about Jimmy Breslin’s racist attack on Col Allan, the Australian now in charge of the New York Post, an Aussie living in NY began plans to establish G’day Brith – the anti-Australian defamation league. Let my people be free!

Monday, January 07, 2002


BLOG WATCH I: Your guide to who is saying what, where

Glenn Reynolds: Ollie hypocrisy provokes shocked silence; NYT terrified by delightful sparkly devices; Chris "The Hit Man" Hitchens; is Ambrose getting a pass?

Natalie Solent: Jonah Goldberg not a heartless butterfly; listen to your inner hyena; planet’s consumption by sun delayed

Bjorn Staerk: Bjorn Fisks himself!; Saudis’ appalling anti-women attitudes

Rand Simberg: Plane crash kid was a Binny boy; LA Times falls short of false premise quota; a return to the Clinton era foreshadowed; why the Moussaka trial should not be televised

Ken Layne: When is terrorism not terrorism? When Tom Ridge says so; Castro-related conspiracy minted; winning and winning with web business

Shiloh Bucher: New Year’s Resolution abandoned

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: Cornell West, Daschle defended; plagiarism and blogdom; Democrat tactics may be sound

Bill Quick: Bloggers and the Fair Use doctrine; the flipside to Kaus’s Ambrose position

Rallying Point: PETA celebrated (that’s People Eating Tasty Animals); smug, dumb Sean Penn

Christopher Johnson: Saudis goofy, wrong; a "Maureen Dowd" column worth reading; brainwashed American woman claims Jews and CIA behind Sept 11

Jason Soon: Sense against cloning; uninfluential intellectuals

I’ve been to Paradise, but I’ve never been to Blog Watch II


RAIN! WE’VE GOT RAIN! It’s not much – a few hours of scattered falls – but it might provide the damp we need to stem these fires.

Latest news:

Fire chief Phil Koperberg warns that today’s forecast 40 degree heat (110 Fahrenheit) combined with low humidity and high winds might return the fires to their original strength. "It’s about as bad as it gets," he said. "These are atrocious conditions. It could put us back to square one."

The Sydney Morning Herald runs an open letter to the arsonists from a fire victim. "Do you know me? Do you know what you've done to me?" writes Dai Rimmer. "Have you any idea of the loss you have caused and the grief you have inflicted? Can you imagine returning to your home tonight only to discover that everything you love has disappeared forever?"

In a few hours the helitanker Elvis will be joined by two more Elvii. Bring them on.

WESTERN ARROGANCE is blamed by many as a root cause of September 11. And what have we learned from this? Nothing! Nothing at all! If anything, sickening Western arrogance has only increased.

Open any newspaper. Arrogant Westerners are everywhere.

Stephanie Salter, for example, speaks for Jesus. Even a good beating can’t sway Robert Fisk from his haughty convictions. Little Teddy Rall, cartoonist, believes himself capable of analysing complex interglobal events. Another cartoonist, Australia’s Michael Leunig, commands us to love Osama bin Laden.

What arrogance! And how about Peter FitzSimons, a sports columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald, who took it upon himself to apologise to Osama and his gang of murderers on behalf of the entire Western world:

"Hello. We are sorry. We are desperately sorry that the world has now moved to the point where it is on the edge of an abyss from which there can be no return. We accept that such hate as drove the planes into the World Trade Centre towers can only have come from incredible suffering, and we are desperately sorry for that suffering, even if we are yet to come to grips with its specific cause."

Is it any wonder the world hates us so? If the Sydney Morning Herald keeps allowing FitzSimons to write about anything other than football, I might join Al Queda myself.

Terry Jones has recently added his voice to the chorus of arrogance. He’s only a comedian, but he knows more about the war in Afghanistan than anyone. In his latest column, he tells us It Is Wrong to put bags on prisoners’ heads:

"The prisoners suspected of belonging to al-Qaeda had their arms pinioned behind them and had bags over their heads, secured with metallic tape … the placing of a bag over the heads of suspects protects those of us who are not involved from unpleasant feelings of sympathy for the prisoners."

The victims of September 11 were carried out, in pieces, in body bags. This presumably saved the Left from any "unpleasant feelings of sympathy".

"There is nothing more offensive to ordinary, law-abiding newspaper-readers than seeing rows of sorry-looking peasants being herded into the backs of cattle-trucks by our lads in the Army."

How does he know they are cattle-trucks? How does he know the prisoners are peasants? Why, by the magic of Arrogance, of course!

"Once a bag has been placed over their heads, however, it is impossible to feel much for them. They cease to be human beings and as such make no unreasonable call upon our emotions. The placing of a bag over the suspects' head also has another highly desirable effect: it makes them all look guilty."

How so? If they cease to be human, how can they have human capacities, like guilt? Notice, too, that Terry doesn’t have any difficulty mustering feelings for the bagged. This is because he is a much better person than the rest of us.

"The only faces that matter are British and American faces. These are the only 'people' who count now, and - to be quite honest - the rest of the world might as well go around with bags over their heads."

Except for all the women in Afghanistan who, thanks to British and American and Australian troops, no longer have to. Has Terry ever heard of something called a "burqa"? He’s written an entire column about people in Afghanistan being forced to cover their heads and not mentioned burqas once. Did he think nobody would notice?

Now, that’s arrogant.


FLYING WAS SAFE IN 2001: According to statistics to be released in the next edition of Time magazine, flying last year was safer than ever.

There were a total of 34 fatal crashes worldwide involving multi-engined aircraft, the lowest figure since 1946.

In all, 1,118 passengers and crew died in those crashes. This is massively lower than the average over the past 30 years, which works out at 1,451 annually.

Given the crashes over the past 24 hours, 2002 might not turn out so good ...

FIRE LATEST: Three coastal towns are threatened by fires described by state Emergency Services Minister Bob Debus as the "the worst in Australia’s history".

How long will they burn? Weeks, according to current forecasts. But there is good news: friendly weather allowed for property-saving backburning on the South Coast, where a formerly dangerous blaze now looks defeated.

And the fireys – overwhelmingly volunteers, as reader Russell Leslie reminds me – continue to be honoured. Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh (whose own home was endangered) announced during his victory speech at the Sydney Cricket Ground after the Third Test against South Africa that his team will donate all their prize money to the fire relief fund.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Brian Toohey, meanwhile, takes his chance to exploit the fires as an anti-market propaganda device. Disgraceful.

BLOG WATCH I: Your guide to who is saying what, where

Andrew Sullivan: Ali floats like a butterfly, talks like Al Sharpton; people with a direct line to God; like Buddy, Zeke was also silenced

Glenn Reynolds: Victory is its own reward; Layne on a roll; losers should pay

Natalie Solent: PC, EU save hated pigeon; mockery of vital kangaroo saga; Instapundit success occurs despite Solent lethargy

Bjorn Staerk: Islam’s democratic potential, really; history over but still happening

Rand Simberg: Casualty watch; forged Euros; James Morrow – now living in Sydney, by the way – offers wisdom on airline security; Sean "Bull" Penn

Ken Layne: The Great Escape, starring Mullah Omar; Rev. Pat in hole, continues digging; local team doing well; numberplate slammed

Will Vehrs and Tony Adragna: Too old to dine out; Rev. Pat’s abundant madness

Lawrence Haws: A dating service for obsessive bloggers; elves adored in der fatherland; the US viewed from abroad; Tehran movie watcher gives two thumbs down

Iain Murray: Soccer violence foreshadowed; BBC gun alarm; praying for rain in Australia … mostly during the last three days of Test matches

Jay L. Zilber: All the news that’s fit to have a vague attempt at

Bill Quick: Election is the elephant in the room; blinding Saudi hypocrisy; SmarterPundit better sharpen his act

Rallying Point: Pakistan somehow made to look badder; words mean nothing; Bamiyan Buddhas reason enough to attack

Christopher Johnson: More soccer threats; Rev. Pat to be "slayed before your eyes"

Were all the Blogs Watched here, or just half? To tell you the truth, in all the excitement I kinda lost count myself. Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do you?