5.18.2002

VODKAPUNDIT – whose writing about his feisty, chain-smoking grandmother, and her recent death, has been a privilege to read – wondered a few days ago:


Which blogger was it who claimed all forms of idiocy were merging into one huge glob of stupid?



It was me, but the evidence of idiocy-merging is so obvious that many others probably noticed it earlier. As the process continues, the various disparate yet overlapping idiot groups will likely soon form a united global coalition: Humanity's Associated Movements Against Stuff.

Death to HAMAS!

DAMIAN PENNY'S comparison of the suffering endured by dissidents Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Andrei Sakharov, and Noam Chomsky is too good not to repost in full:


Solzhenitsyn: spent years being tortured in slave labour camps.

Sakharov: spent years under house arrest in obscure provincial cities.

Chomsky: spent years as a highly-paid, tenured professor of linguistics at MIT and drives a snazzy red Audi A4.

Solzhenitsyn: had his writings banned by the state.

Sakharov: had his writings banned by the state.

Chomsky: has his writings available on Amazon.com. (Buy before May 27 and save!)

Solzhenitsyn: was barred from leaving the country.

Sakharov: was barred from leaving the country.

Chomsky: jets around the world to tell the masses about the Great Satan.

Solzhenitsyn: ignored and/or demonized by the Western "peace movement".

Sakharov: ignored and/or demonized by the Western "peace movement".

Chomsky: worshipped by the Western "peace movement".



One correction: Chomsky's Audi A4 isn't "snazzy red". It's "Khmer Rouge".

SILENCE, FRENCHMEN! I AM VOLOKH! Eugene Volokh, the go-to guy for all your Second Amendment needs, is travelling to Paris. Hopefully he'll make good on his vague promises to post from the City of Light Cheese. A Volokharian analysis of the Parisian mood would be compelling reading.

BLOGGERS: MORE OBSESSIVE THAN GAMERS? An energetic, entertaining piece on blogging at WomenGamers.com ("Because women DO play") includes this line:


Gamers take their games seriously. Hard-core gamers are obsessed. Gamers have nothing on bloggers.



I'm mentioned in the piece … as a "well-known Australian". Take that, Crocodile Hunter!

WAYNE & KELLI & ANTHONY & SALLY update: Anthony is now taking Wayne to court over injuries he received some years ago at a bar owned by Wayne.

RUNDLE REVIEW, SMACKDOWN II: Jason Soon attempts to beat some sense into Rundle's thick-as-permafrost skull.

5.17.2002

LEFT OVER. Intellectual blastocyst Guy Rundle reviews the newly-released Blaming Ourselves: September 11 and the Agony of the Left. His article begins with this analysis of the US:


The government and corporate sector of the US has used coercive military and economic means to extend its power throughout the world since World War II. Full capitalism has been pushed into vastly different societies, often at the point of a gun; when market forces crowd out other ways of life and draw the whole society into the cash nexus, the event is retrospectively described as "free choice".



Full capitalism? Rock on, Indymedia boy! Well, it reads like Indymedia, but Rundle actually wrote this for The Bulletin, a general news magazine owned by Australia's richest man, Kerry Packer. Brian Linse wondered the other night about the Australian media's lefty tilt; here's an example of it, brother.

My contribution to the book is quickly dismissed:


Tim Blair confines himself to making fun of the names of letter writers to the papers: " … David Lyons, plonker, of Hallidays Point, cast bin Laden in the role of Ecowarrior … Jif Morrison, cleaning product, of Clovelly, took … " and so on.



Here's an edited version of my piece, which doesn't include all the name-fun-making. Read it and decide for yourself what I "confined" myself to.

(Incidentally, Rundle has a secondary – very secondary – career as a television comedy writer. Yet he doesn't know the difference between an insult – calling David Lyons a plonker – and making fun of someone with the same name as a common household cleanser. This facility with words may explain why Rundle's comic writing is so hilariously Engels-like.)

Rundle then provides another few lines of the sort that prompted this book in the first place:


One would think the terrorist destruction of New York's largest buildings (not to mention the Pentagon) would focus the mind on the US world role and criticism of it.



Exactly right, Runty. Forget any examination of the attackers; it's the attacked who must be put on trial. By the way, weren't a few thousand people killed in these attacks? Or was bin Laden just making a point about modern architecture?

You can purchase the book here. It costs $22 in Australian money, which is about $12 in American oppression currency. Or just send your cash to Rundle, so he can buy a clue.

RUPERT ROCKS! This transcript of an ABC radio piece on Rupert Murdoch ends with a line from Murdoch that I've used thousands of times:


RAFAEL EPSTEIN: The now deflated mania surrounding technology stocks and media mergers is savaging media companies around the world. So how did Rupert Murdoch begin an international conference call with investors, analysts and journalists?

RUPERT MURDOCH: Good morning friends. Like Peter and Dave I feel this has been a very successful quarter for our company. I do not know of another company among our peers with as bright a two-year growth outlook as we have.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Mr Murdoch didn't want to talk about the write down. How do you feel about the fact you're already being written up in Australia as having the biggest loss, corporate loss in Australia's history?

RUPERT MURDOCH: Don't read the Financial Review so we don't exercise ourselves about that.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: But how did it affect the company in general?

RUPERT MURDOCH: You'd rather not have it.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: And what about the fact you'll go down in history as Australia's biggest corporate loss?

RUPERT MURDOCH: That's a pure technicality.

RAFAEL EPSTEIN: He clearly wasn't impressed with some of the questions. Listen carefully and Mr Murdoch can be heard muttering expletives after the final goodbyes.

RUPERT MURDOCH: Thank you very much operator and thank you all for joining the call.

OPERATOR: Thank you.

RUPERT MURDOCH: Fucking ABC.


JEFF SACKMANN presents his excellent new edu-blog. Don't be discouraged by Jeff's interest in and authority on matters educational; there's also lots of sex. A sample post:


HILARIOUS: Dancers at high-school proms are resembling porn stars, and school officials are drafting rules to combat it. Not much to say about this, but the guidelines are a riot, as is this reporter's attempt to describe the phenomenon within the parameters of good taste.


IF YOU ever meet Brian Linse, as I did last week, force him to tell you the story of Gabor, the passive-aggressive Hungarian film worker. Make sure to demand the unedited version, so you get a complete picture of Gabor's sullen, sulking indifference. It's a hell of a tale, and Linse tells it beautifully.

And while you're in Linseville, take a masterclass with baseball coach Matt Welch:


It's pretty entertaining to witness a lifelong cricketer take his first rips at the batting cages. It's all about a dipped back shoulder, inside-out Derek Jeter swings, a raised lead elbow, and a dragged back foot. He hit some impressive shots to right-center, though.



Dipped back shoulder, inside-out swing, raised lead elbow, dragged back foot … Matt is describing a near-perfect cricket technique, which will shock anyone who ever saw me play the game. At one point the ball-hurling machine sent a pitch low, which I instinctively drove along the ground through cover. Any cricket coach would've applauded. Welch was revolted.

Matt really can play. Bats right- and left-handed, sees the ball early, hits hard. Apparently these skills were developed in childhood, when Matt conquered the elusive Wiffle Ball.

DON ARTHUR has me worked out. He's deduced that I envy Margo Kingston.

And he's correct, obviously, although it would make more sense for me to envy someone who could actually write, enjoyed the respect of the non-bipolar, and wasn't disgusting. Still, jealousy is an irrational force, and my own is as inexplicable as anyone else's.

Sigh. I wish, I wish I was Margo Kingston. Sometimes I even wish I was Don Arthur, so I wouldn't have to bother ever arguing about anything; I could just answer any criticism with accusations of envy.

SO LAYNE drops me at LAX, and then the trouble begins. I am subject to a full-removal Shoe Search. Several others who fit the shoe bomber profile – an 80-year-old woman, a young black guy in a Lakers shirt, and a confused New Zealander – were similarly probed.

"There is no need for this," I said. "I am a warblogger!"

Actually, I didn't say that, or else I'd be typing this in the LAX punishment room using chopsticks taped to the remains of my eyelids. The shoe exam was almost fun, especially when the guards discovered a cache of Maxim magazines in the New Zealander's luggage and threatened to confiscate them for "security purposes".

We were stuck there for a few minutes, the other terrorists and I, and while shoeless pitched in to help other passengers find their scattered belongings. "Is this your purse, ma'am?" asked the black guy as a woman rifled through the possessions piling up on the x-ray conveyor. I instructed a couple of people on search-wand protocol ("they prefer it if you face this way") while their interrogators were otherwise engaged.

Eventually my shoes were returned and I was allowed to board. Never did see that old lady again, though …

TOM TOMORROW abandons satire.

IS AUSTRALIAN sport becoming too Americanised? If only, says me in Thursday's Australian.

5.12.2002

JASON SOON delivers his verdict on Anne Summers' latest junk in the Sydney Morning Herald.

HOW COME we don't know more about Peter Costello, the man most likely to be Australia's next Prime Minister?

Scramble-witted Sydney Morning Herald jabbertron Margo Kingston has her theories, as recently told to the ABC's Lateline:


"The problem with Costello, as distinct from Keating when he was a challenger, is he's still opaque.

"He seems to have been very careful for us not to know much about him at all, except IR and economics and he needs to broaden his appeal before he gets to be PM for a year."



The problem for Costello is that he's a conservative and not a Labor media sweetheart. He isn't known because the press doesn't want to know him. Imre Salusinszky and I learned a great deal about Costello last year in an interview we conducted for Radio National; naturally, our interview received no media attention at all -- and the ABC provides no link. (Oh, and if anyone doubts the anti-conservative bias at the ABC, they should have witnessed the hostility from ABC staff towards Costello and his press secretary, Nikki Savva, before and after that interview. It was disgraceful.)

Later in her Lateline ramble, Key Margo offers a dopey opinion on the murder of Pim Fortuyn, which leads her to this:


"One thing I'm trying to explore in my web diary is the idea of a set of core values, that we could come together and say, 'This is the essence of Australia and that we would like and would expect, that migrants who are acceptable to us will subscribe and agree to these values.'"



Stupid Margo first advanced her "migrant subscription" notion last year:


"I also think there has long been a real need to articulate core Australian values to which all migrants need to subscribe."



Once she'd realised the implications of what she'd written, Margo quickly recanted:


"The core values debate is not just something migrants must 'subscribe' to, an unfortunate term which I regret, but that we as a nation agree to. A set of guiding principles."



And now she's demanding immigrants "subscribe" again. Margo Kingston is out of her mind.

WHY THE hell am I still in Los Angeles? Well, talk
continues here of a new newspaper, and I've been meeting various folks to discuss said new newspaper. Millionaires and such. Who knows what will come of it?

Not me, which is why I reverted to type today and spent a day at the races, gambling like an idiot. In Australia, horse racing has a class structure; officials and track members wear hats and ties. At Hollywood Park (where the great Seabiscuit famously triumphed) people wore shorts -- to receive trophies! And in the middle of the course is a huge sign reading: "GO BABY GO". Who permitted this?

Experienced gambling failures Steve Coulter and Os Tyler were my guides. Somehow we were able to sneak into the "elite" zone of the grandstand (dress code: whatever you woke up in). A series of catastrophic losses forced a move to the general public area (dress code: whatever) because Coulter felt the atmosphere would produce improved horse selections. His logic was sound; there's nothing like being surrounded by people whose every bet could bankrupt them to sharpen your gambling instincts.

Tyler and Coulter enjoyed minor wins. I didn't make a cent from nine damn races, despite backing horses descended from Secretariat. Stupid useless champion Triple Crown horse.

Differences between Australian and LA horseracing:

Australia: Bookies.

Los Angeles: No bookies.

Australia: Turf.

Los Angeles: Dirt (and also turf, on the inner track at Hollywood Park.)

Australia: Hats.

Los Angeles: Caps.

Australia: Course commentators who aim to excite.

Los Angeles: A course commentator suffering advanced narcolepsy.

Australia: I sometimes win.

Los Angeles: By the seventh race, I was begging Coulter for taco money.

ANNE SUMMERS thinks a new book examining the Australian left's reaction to September 11 -- to which I contributed a chapter -- "falls very short when it comes to persuasion, let alone insight." She'd know!

Summers, by the way, is the international head of Greenpeace. But she rarely, if ever, writes about environmental issues, and her massive, reeking autobiography mentions environmental concerns not at all. Insight? Tell us all about it, Anne.

A SLIGHTLY kinder review has appeared in spiked.

PIES WIN again. Well, of course. We are now second on the ladder. Who dares mock us now? A more complete report will shortly follow, hopefully, via Doug Buckser.

MR KNOW-IT-ALL's debut Fox column provoked many inquiring readers. Cary Bonner, of Dallas, asks:


"Stand By Me was on cable the other night. Seriously, what the hell is Goofy?"



Goofy is the result of an unspeakable coupling between Robin Williams and Buddy. From Daniel Dindinger in Zaragoza, Spain, comes this:


"Why is it that the Ivy league is against Israel? Surely these highly educated people know more than us ordinary folk, eh?"



They surely do, Daniel. That's how come the UN has been able to end global violence and misery. Someone called "receptionist" wants to know ...


" ... HOW THEY PUT THE 'M' ON M&M CANDIES."



They use the blood of baby Muslims, my dear! It's all part of the Jew-controlled M&M company's crafty global plot. Another all-caps correspondent, Paul Dever, has an unusual conspiracy theory:


"DID THE TERRORIST BOMB OF FEB.26 1993 IN THE BASEMENT OF THE WTC TOWER,CAUSE ENOUGH DAMAGE THAT THE BLD. NEEDED TO BE TAKEN DOWN,AT ENORMOUS COST?"



Well, umm, yeah, I guess. Bill Wallace, of Everett in Washington state, accuses me of stealing another Fox act:


"How can you arrogantly assume the nom de plume 'Mr. Know-it-All,' when
everyone knows it is the exclusive property of Bill O'Reilly on the Fox New
Channel?"



I've already heard from O'Reilly's lawyers, Mr. Wallace. He's furious. And finally, from Eugene B. Keith:


"Do you think we will ever see a reporter that is more interested in asking an intelligent question than checking his makeup?"


I've forwarded Eugene's question to NBC.

YOU DON'T have to do much to win Margo Kingston's admiration. Just be abusive towards conservatives. Only a few months ago, Margo denounced Labor MP Mark Latham as a devious greed-loving right-winger:


"Mark Latham's views hold sway. Here's what he said in Saturday's Australian: ‘Working families working hard want to be rewarded for effort. On the flip side of that they have zero tolerance for illegality. They don't support illegal migration ... I've got to say I haven't got much sympathy for people who pay people smugglers and arrive in boats that are funded by corruption.'

"What Latham is really saying is that the aspirationals care concerned only with self-interest - ie more money in their pockets - and eschew empathy for people in different circumstances. Us and them. We and Other. This is the antithesis of the progressive vision."


Recently Latham described conservative Tony Staley as "deformed". This was perhaps unfortunate, given Staley's physical condition; he gets around on crutches due to a serious, spine-ruining car crash twelve years ago. I know Latham, a little, and feel that he was (as he later claimed) referring merely to Staley's politics. Even so, regrettable.

But Margo was delighted! She called Latham's assault "high octane", and snickered that conservative leaders who complained about it were reviving political correctness:


"I found Howard and company's response highly amusing - the blokes who abolished political correctness revive it for a day?!"


That would be the same political correctness that Margo herself believes is a good thing:


"I believe that the nation will come to regret the end of the politically correct era, in retrospect."


Can Margo maintain a consistent belief for more than a week? And if she's fine with descriptions of Staley as "deformed", might she enjoy similarly direct descriptions of herself?