TOO DUMB for words. George W. Bush's enemies continue to be his best friends, as the Denver Post reports:

A picture of Saffer and Josephine Silla of Fort Lee, N.J., appeared in Wednesday's Post showing the two protesting President George W. Bush.

Trying to paint the first president with an MBA (from Harvard, yet) as stupid, Silla carried a sign with the pseudo-Bushism "W: Resignate now."

But the real joke was on Saffer, whose own sign asked: "How dumb is to dumb?"

THIS WEEK'S Hormone Replacement Therapy cancer scare was the result of flawed mathematics and dubious analysis, according to Brit site NumberWatch.

IMPORT a salacious Kylie Minogue video into Malaysia and you'll be fined $14,000 and thrown into jail for up to three years. Tough but fair.

KIDS ARE better off today than in the good old days, writes the Sydney Morning Herald's Adele Horin, who generally complains about ever-worsening social breakdowns. According to academic Michael Dunne, whom Horin quotes, teen sex is one reason why youngsters are happier and safer:

Today's greater sexual openness, including a media saturated with sexual imagery , has produced precocious children. But the loss of childhood innocence is a positive development. Dunne believes it is helping to protect children from abuse. They can recognise sexual advances, some may be able to avoid them, and more will be able to tell of them.

AN ANXIOUS WORLD waits for confirmation; will it be Ernie, or will it be Bert?

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sesame Street will soon introduce its first HIV positive Muppet character.

Actually, neither has been diagnosed – the HIV muppet is brand new, and will be first introduced to South African Sesame Street viewers.

Adding this element of reality to the popular children's series raises troubling questions. How will the character's contraction of the disease be explained? Sharing a needle with Oscar in his squalid street dwelling? Sex can be ruled out – Muppets don't have genitals.

A blood transfusion doesn't make sense; where would any donated Muppet blood come from? Each Muppet is the only living example of its species. The fluid oozing through Big Bird's avian veins is unlikely to sustain whatever the hell Elmo is.

Do these brutes even have blood? From what I've seen, most of them they don't even have eyelids. Or normal lifespans. The only Sesame Street fatality so far is old Mr. Hooper, whose 1982 cancer death was brought to you by the number 4.

The puppet-beings who oversaw Hooper's demise are ageless, like Gods. No virus will stop them.

THE LIKELY next archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, was in New York on September 11. The experience did little to provide Williams with any sense of injustice, as Peter Mullen writes:

Dr. Williams will not even allow us to describe the terrorists as evil: "Bombast about evil individuals doesn't help in understanding anything." Well, bombast about anything is pretty futile; but there is a world of difference between bombast and the true judgment that lets us see evil for what it is.

The archbishop wants us to "understand" the terrorists' motives. "We have something of the freedom to consider whether or not we turn to violence and so, in virtue of that very fact, are rather different from those who experience their world as leaving no other option."

I'm all for understanding the terrorists' motives, but can't work out whether to do this before or after we've killed them all and danced on their graves. Maybe afterwards, when we've got a little more time to reflect. In a bar somewhere.

ITALY'S EXCELLENT police conquered the Red Brigades and stopped the Mafia. Now they're rounding up al Qaeda scum:

MILAN, Italy (AP) - Seven foreigners were arrested for allegedly supplying fake passports and documents to members of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, Milan anti-terrorism police said Friday.

Police said the suspects - six Moroccans, a Tunisian and a Romanian – were part of "vast trafficking in false documents." All were accused of criminal association and counterfeiting documents.

Forza Azzurri! Bravo!

SUMMERTIME, and the Fiskin' is easy … Crazy Bob Fisk is frightened by the mighty Jews and the devious Christians. His latest piece for The Independent identifies the various ways these secretive, malevolent groups manipulate society:

A combination of Israeli lobbyists and conservative Christian fundamentalists have in effect censored all free discussion of Israel and the Middle East out of the public domain in the US.

They've also got D.B. Cooper's money, which they keep in a vault at Roswell along with the plans for the 100 mile-per-gallon carburetor. Guarding the hoard is Jesse Presley.

A right-wing Christian "Free Republic" outfit posted my name on its website, and described me as a "PLO butt-kisser" and asked its supporters to "freep" my lecture. A few demonstrators turned up outside the First United Methodist Church in Sacramento where I was to speak, waving American and Israeli flags. "Jew haters!" they screamed at the organisers, a dark irony since these were non-Jews shrieking their abuse at Jews.

How could Bob tell they weren't Jews? Unless he's some sort of racist, and made his judgment based on stereotypes. "Hmmmm … the noses appear to be in proportion, none of them are complaining about their children not being married to doctors, and nobody is kvetching about bagels. Nope, no Jews here."

Pro-Israeli groups initiated an extraordinary campaign against some of the most pro-Israeli newspapers in America, all claiming that The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle were biased in their coverage of the Middle-East conflict. Just how The New York Times – which boasts William Safire and Charles Krauthammer, those giants of pro-Israeli bias, among its writers – could be anti-Israeli is difficult to see.

In Fisk's eyes, two columnists are all it takes for a paper to be condemned for pro-Israel bias. Make that one columnist; Krauthammer doesn't write for the New York Times. He writes for the Washington Post.

There is, of course, a fine and dangerous line between justified investigation – and condemnation – of the lobby's power, and the racist Arab claim that a small cabal of Zionists run the world.

Bob doesn't want to cross that fine and dangerous line, so he claims that a small cabal of Zionists merely runs the US. He supportively quotes pro-Palestine Israeli Uri Avnery, leader of "peace group" Gush Shalom (or so Bob tells us; for all we know, Uri is a columnist for The Milton Ulludulla Times):

"Its electoral and financial power casts a long shadow over both houses of the Congress," Avnery writes. "Hundreds of Senators and Congressmen were elected with the help of Jewish contributions. Resistance to the directives of the Jewish lobby is political suicide. If the AIPAC were to table a resolution abolishing the Ten Commandments, 80 Senators and 300 Congressmen would sign it at once. This lobby frightens the media, too, and assures their adherence to Israel."

Sure does! That's why you never, ever read in any American newspaper any criticism of Israel. Ever. The bodies of those who tried are suspended from poles at the edge of town as a warning to others. Heed the warning, Fisk!

UPDATE. Damian Penny has yet more Fiskal errors.


EVERY DAY is Whacking Day in Australia. Chris Textor's new blog is Australia's latest; be sure to check out the Hats of Meat.

ENVIRONMENTALISTS have responded with characteristic wit and good humour to my column in Thursday's Australian.


WHEN IN ROME … blow the place up. The UK Telegraph reports on a apparent al Qaeda plan to strike back at their Italian oppressors:

Terrorists with links to al-Qa'eda planned to blow up pilgrims in St Peter's Square, at the heart of the Vatican, it was disclosed yesterday. But the plan was frozen two months before the September 11 attacks.

Details of the plan, which appeared in the newspaper Corriere della Sera, were contained in a report given to magistrates by Italy's Digos anti-terrorist police. They included intelligence provided by Britain.

GO READ this Juan Gato post.

It is about columnist Helen Thomas.

It is very good.

MY COLUMN in today's Australian will help you decide which WWF is the right WWF for you. An extract:

World Wrestling Federation: Appeal based on comically threatening entities named the Undertaker, the Rock, Latino Heat.

World Wildlife Fund: Appeal based on comically threatening entities named the Greenhouse Effect, Global Warming, Overpopulation, Kyoto Protocol.

EXHAUSTED BY her obsession with John Howard's murderous government, the Sydney Morning Herald has assigned Margo Kingston to netball coverage.

SALON WONDERS why it's going broke. Hey, maybe it's because of sneering, bullshit stories like this. Just a guess.

THE NAMELESS people who run sievx.com, where it is suggested that the Australian government may have killed 300 women and children, aren't nameless after all. The atrocity is the brainchild of Marg Hutton, chief old bag at Zarook and apparently part-owner of a Melbourne commie book store.

Hutton, a veteran of many failed causes, is a prodigious online campaigner. Be alert for more Hutton dressed like spam.


THE GOOD part of this story is that private citizens take it upon themselves to remove anti-Semitic signs as soon as they see them. The tragic part is they get killed when they do. From the Wash Post:

A man was killed Wednesday when a sign with an offensive slogan exploded as he was trying to remove it from a park in the Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, officials said.

Two similar explosions hit other cities in Russia in recent months when passers-by tried to remove roadside signs reading "Death to Jews," injuring three people. The incidents came amid mounting concerns about racist violence around the country.

WHY AREN'T more women involved in politics? Natasha Stott Despoja thinks it's because of awful double standards that expose women to greater criticism. Or maybe it's because politics in Australia – particularly Labor politics – is riddled with perverts and sex criminals who women don't want anything to do with.

Some offenders remain in the ALP even after they've been jailed for messing around with kids:

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie was "gobsmacked" today to learn that disgraced former Labor MP Bill D'Arcy remained a paid-up member of the ALP despite being a convicted pedophile.

D'Arcy, 62, is serving a 10-year sentence on three counts of rape, 11 of indecently dealing with girls and four of indecently dealing with boys.

You meet the nicest people in the ALP. As for Natasha's double standards argument, Gold Coast Bulletin columnist Brian Mossop points out that not all women are easily bullied.

EVER SINCE George W. Bush outlined his "now with less Yasser!" conditions for Palestinian statehood, folks have been lining up to slam the fuzzy old Baby Wipe junkie. A Fatah leader is the latest:

Yasser Arafat was denounced yesterday by a senior figure in his own Fatah movement who accused the Palestinian leader of sheltering corrupt officials and setting his people on a path to 'hell'.

Hossam Khader, a populist member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, told Israeli Radio that Mr Arafat was trying to hoodwink the world with his claims to be implementing reforms by announcing a streamlined cabinet.

The path to hell is paved with Baby Wipes. Thus has it ever been so.

ACTIVIST JUDGES. The term is contradictory; in a perfect world, activists would only be brought before judges, not be judges themselves. Janet Albrechtsen writes in today's Australian:

When Family Court Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson took off his judicial robes to attend a charity luncheon last Thursday, he may not have looked like a judge. When His Honour called for laws to treat smacking a child as a criminal assault, he may not have sounded like a judge.

But Nicholson is a judge.

Yes … an activist judge. Down with them all.

NOBODY CAN accuse American banks of any racial-profiling unpleasantness ….

WASHINGTON, July 10 (UPI) - The Sept. 11 hijackers opened 35 bank accounts in the United States using fake Social Security numbers, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

The banks did not verify the authenticity of any of the numbers, the Times quoted Dennis Lormel, head of the FBI unit that is investigating how the Sept. 11 plot was financed, as saying.

Lormel said banks now paid more attention to applications.

"That is one of the lessons learned from Sept. 11," he said.

No kidding. We're talking about 35 bank accounts here? And not one check on the social security numbers? Unfuckingbelievable.


LET'S SEE what some of the lefties have been talking about:

Vaaara is off to Fiiinland, leaving in his wake a link to someone who equates talk-back radio with terrorism and an argumentum ad logicam brazenly deployed to knock down an argumentum ad populum.

Don Arthur links to the Couric-Coulter slapfest, cleverly exposes John Howard's wig fixation (and an apparent Prime Ministerial plagiarism, also wig-based) and provides all you need to know about the recent fish controversy in Crofton, Maryland.

Atrios takes a swing at Mickey Kaus, announces Joe Conason's Salon Premium semi-blogging deal, presents some mangled Bush-talk, and questions InstaPundit's professorial qualifications. (By the way, Salon Premium? Talk about your big-time tautologies.)

Amir Butler incorrectly assesses the writing abilities of John Chuckman, links to a "picture" that isn't, and has some other stuff, I guess.

Eric Alterman is dull and difficult to read.

DID THE Australian government contribute to the deaths of 300 women and children? No, but that hasn't stopped some anonymous garbage from claiming so on one of the most repellent websites you'll ever see.

THE BBC reports that another "militant" – ie, terrorist – has bought it in Jenin:

The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad says one of its leading members has been killed in a dawn raid by Israeli special forces.

The organisation said Moammar Darghne, 30, died in an ambush as he was driving in his car near the West Bank town of Jenin.

PAT TILLMAN quit his $1.2 million per year football career with the Arizona Cardinals to go kill Osama bin Laden. In other sports news, major league US baseballers – who on average earn twice as much as Tillman – are planning to go on strike for more money.

THE GANG of strap-ons over at WarbloggerWatch have added me to their list of "The Watched". Keep watching, babies! You might learn something.

LOCAL POLL NEWS: Support for the Australian Democrats is down to 3%; the Greens are "up" to 5%; and John Howard has a 33 point break over Simon "Dukakis" Crean.

THE AUSTRALIAN'S Angela Shanahan launches a savage taste attack on Cheryl Kernot:

You can tell a lot about a person from their taste in music. Cheryl Kernot's is execrable. On the day her affair with Gareth Evans was revealed, she was interviewed by Margaret Throsby. That familiar, breathlessly enunciated rising inflection, marking the cadences of her delusionary apologia, was punctuated by sheer musical schlock. The woman lives her life against a background of ABC Swoon muzak, the sort of thing they play in yoga classes. Talk about the banality of evil.

Rock on, Ang!

FURTHER TO the points made by James Morrow about Australia's anti-fun police, Wimbledon winner Lleyton Hewitt is being condemned for smoking a cigar. Back off, freaks.

THE DEEP linking debate is becoming serious:

In one of the first legal decisions to ban so-called deep linking, a Danish court has ruled that a news site cannot provide hyperlinks to certain Web pages without the permission of publishers.

Under the ruling, news aggregator Newsbooster is banned from providing some deep links – or links to Web pages other than a site's front door – from its site or newsletters.

BOOZEWATCH. David Hasselhoff has checked himself into the Betty Ford Centre. Meanwhile, Kitt is undergoing treatment for glycol dependency.

MUHAMMAD AMIN SALAMEH has a message for all you American infidels:

"Sheikh Osama bin Laden, who preferred Jihad and life in the mountains and caves to the pleasures of [this] transitory world … although he is a wealthy man, the son of wealthy men – is one of our noble heroes whom history and generations to come will recognize as restoring honor to this [Islamic] nation. No one can monopolize history or distort the truth all the time. It is my right as an Arab and a Muslim to choose my hero, as the Americans choose theirs.

"Therefore I say to them, in the loudest possible voice, that Osama bin Laden is my hero of this generation."

And from where does Muhammad send his message? From the US. Muhammad lives in California.

NEW YORKER James Morrow, now resident only a few streets away from me in Sydney, Australia, loves his adopted country. He actually said that out loud the other night while we were in a bar watching Nine's appalling The Footy Show. "This program is in the worst, most despicable taste," he said. "I love this country!"

But there are things he doesn't love about this wide, brown land, a land as old as time itself. The nanny culture here horrifies him (and, for that matter, me). It's the subject of his latest Reason article:

Australia – the rugged land of the Outback, famously shark-infested waters, and an inscrutable version of football whose basic point seems to be inflicting physical punishment – is now threatening to become the free world's leader in restricting anything that smacks of fun.

Today, school kids aren't even allowed out at recess unless their heads are covered, lest they become future skin cancer cases, as part of the education establishment's suggestive-sounding "no hat, no play" campaign.

Go read the whole piece. It's time to reverse the wimpification of a once proud nation.

YESTERDAY an anti-scientific, anti-capitalist hive of envirodoomsters told us the earth would die within 50 years.

Today a profit-driven American drug company tells us they may develop an AIDS vaccine within five years.

Who's your money on?

MR. POPULARITY: Lleyton Hewitt had a million fewer Australians bother to watch him win Wimbledon than losing finalist Pat Rafter did last year.

Let's be fair – for once – and note that last year's final between Goran Ivanisevic and Rafter was a killer game, and this year's was an error-riddled walkover with not a single serve and volley winner.

ADELAIDE'S OTHER ill-mannered celebrity, the Al-Qaeda Dingo, is shocked – really, really shocked – at all the awful lies being told about him:

Australian-born Taliban fighter David Hicks has denied threatening to kill Americans, as alleged by his captors at a US military prison. "I am shocked at some of the lies circulating in the media about me; this makes me angry," Hicks says in a letter.

Adelaide-born Hicks said he was shocked and angered at "lies circulating in the media about me.

"One story was about how I slipped my hands out of the handcuffs on the plane coming over here to Cuba from Afghanistan, fighting and yelling to the Americans 'I will kill you'.

"Of course, this is a load of crap.

"My interrogators admitted that the story was a lie."

Typical interrogators. First they lie, then they admit it. It's part of their good interrogator-bad interrogator mind games. Don't let 'em break you down, dingo boy!


IT'S FOOTLOOSE II, starring Kevin Bacon as Mohammad Khordadian, the dancin' fool from out of town:

A Tehran court has sentenced the country's best-known male dancer to a 10-year suspended jail term for promoting corruption among young people by setting up dance classes in the United States, newspapers reported Monday.

The sentence, handed down Sunday, bans Mohammad Khordadian from leaving Iran for 10 years, giving dance classes for life and attending public celebrations or wedding ceremonies of people who are not close relatives for three years, according to Iran daily.

Khordadian lives and performs in Los Angeles, but was jailed in May during a visit to Iran.

AN ENTIRELY organic, all-natural substance has spontaneously begun gushing from a British Navy vessel. Praise be! It's a miracle!

WHOEVER THEY are, they're not welcome in France:

According to a poll taken in 2000 by the National Commission on the Rights of Man, 63 percent of French people think there are "too many Arabs" in the country. This may be evidence of racism, but not of knee-jerk racism: Only 43 percent of Frenchmen say the same of blacks, only 21 percent of Asians, and only 19 percent of Jews.

Christopher Caldwell's Weekly Standard piece is a thoughtful look at the problems of a non-assimilated French Muslim underclass. Worth reading.

LLEYTON HEWITT'S feminine Adelaide football team lost to Collingwood yesterday. That explains all the shouting and punching.

AHMED the columnist meets Howard the blogger. It's an East v West insult duel to the death!

HELEN KELLER is alive and proof-reading at Sydney's Daily Telegraph, where Monday's front page ran as follows:

At 1.55am this morning, Australian Lleyton Hewitt stepped into sporting history with a three set defeat over David Nalbandian.

The Tele's Ray Chesterton also became tennis-addled, claiming this:

Tennis is now arguably the most widely played sport in the world.

People forget the World Cup quickly, don't they?

WIMBLEDON LATEST: Finally, after more than an hour's on-court action, Lleyton is shaking his fist, pointing at things, and shouting "Come on!" for no reason. Why don't people tell him to shut up? Anyway, he's wiping the floor with the Nalbster; the second set went to Lleyton 6-3, and he's presently a game up in the third.

The Nalb has revealed his own patented gesture: a hand-slap to the forehead. The crowd is underwhelmed. Work on it, Nalb.

UPDATE. The shouty Australian won.

MORE WIMBLEDON RAIN. The Nalb clawed his way back into the contest before the latest delay, breaking Lleyton's serve and playing some wily lobs. They're tied 3-3 in the second set.

WIMBLEDON UPDATE: Hewitt takes the first set over Nalbandian 6-1 and leads 1-0 in the second. The Australian is keeping his fisting habit in check, but the crowd is clearly on the Argentine's side. When Lleyton double-faults, they cheer; when the Nalb double-faults, they groan.

Now it's raining. In England, of all places.


THE ABC & THE GCP. Australia's national broadcaster is finally leading news bulletins with the Kernot/Evans GCP (Grand Consuming Passion) – because Kernot is now threatening to sue reporters who seek comment from her. In other words, the ABC is still treating this as a media story:

Ms Kernot has been besieged after allegations of an affair with former senior Labor figure Gareth Evans were aired in the media.

A letter sent to media outlets complains of unreasonably robust efforts by journalists to contact Ms Kernot.

The letter says this included attempts by some to force themselves on her sister and niece and persistant intrusions on privacy, including overnight surveillance of her elderly parents' home.

Excuse me? Journalists tried to force themselves on two women? Is the ABC aware of the seriousness of this claim? And "surveillance" is a terribly sinister way to describe a couple of reporters hanging around Kernot's parents' place in case Cheryl drops by.

At least the ABC is looking after her.

APOCALYPSE SOON. The Guardian delivers the latest environmental news. As usual, we're dead meat on a stick:

Earth's population will be forced to colonise two planets within 50 years if natural resources continue to be exploited at the current rate, according to a report out this week.

A study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), to be released on Tuesday, warns that the human race is plundering the planet at a pace that outstrips its capacity to support life.

If The Guardian actually believes this, why haven't they halted production of their resources-eating, earth-raping newspaper? We’ve only got 48 years left and those bastards are wrecking the place. Close The Guardian! Save the planet!

Things really are that desperate, as The Guardian points out:

African elephant numbers have fallen from 1.2 million in 1980 to half a million now. In the UK the songbird population has fallen dramatically, with the corn bunting declining by 92 per cent in the past 30 years.

How will humankind survive without the corn bunting, and its nutritious … erm … head? Beak? And no more elephants means no more elephant pie. If this trend continues, we may eventually be forced to subsist only on beef, lamb, fish, rice, fruit, vegetables, chicken, and pork.

JOHN FRANKENHEIMER, director of the movie Grand Prix, has died at 72.

Might there be an omen in his famous racing film for today's British Grand Prix? In the film, James Garner's character drives for a new-to-Formula One Japanese team. Toyota is new to F1; lead driver Mika Salo has qualified eighth. Will Frankenheimer direct a shock Salo win from beyond the grave?

Not likely. Garner's character also wore Chris Amon's helmet colours, and the unlucky Amon never won a single Grand Prix in his life.

CHERYL KERNOT, anti-feminist! Miranda Devine comments on a Kernot line that Australia's twisted sisterhood is furiously ignoring:

Every time she opened her mouth last week she damaged the feminist cause. The woman once touted as a future prime minister had been a will-o'-the-wisp blown about by the whims of men, the Labor Party, blokey cultures, the media, her hormones. When Kerry O'Brien asked her on ABC-TV on Tuesday about her undisciplined outburst on election night in 1998, she said: "It revealed to me that I was extremely menopausal."

Menopausal! After generations of proving themselves, women had just about escaped the accusation they were prisoners of their hormones. Men no longer regarded them as over-emotional or unreliable in business because of "that time of the month", or at least they knew they shouldn't say it aloud. Yet, now here is licence, from a self-proclaimed standard-bearer of Australian women's aspirations, to wind back the clock and reduce any woman over 50 to a ticking hormone bomb.

Has Cheryl Kernot ever admitted fault for anything?

AUSTRALIAN LLEYTON HEWITT will tonight attempt to become the 2002 Wimbledon men's singles champion. If you can bear to watch, you'll also see Lleyton's advanced repertoire of irritating triumphal gestures:

The Fist is a Lleyton standard, typically deployed after any winning shot.

Here Lleyton demonstrates the Layback Open-Mouthed Fist, a variation popular for baseline celebrations.

On this page we see Lleyton performing a Pre Fist. This image was captured in 1995, before Lleyton had perfected the difficult fist-clenching component of his art.

The Knees Fist usually follows victory.

The rare Jumping Fist, generally displayed when Lleyton is closing out a set or a match.

Another Jumping Fist, this time with a one-foot takeoff and primal scream.

The graphic Birth Fist. One more push, Lleyton!

A classical Fist of Fury. Lleyton is never more upset than when he hits a ball past the other man in a tennis game. It enrages him.

The Fist of Infant Anger. Someone has taken Lleyton's Pokemon cards away. He wants them back.

Sometimes the Knees Fist evolves into a fully-blown Reclining Fist of Infinite Glory. I'm betting we might see just such a show tonight.

Here we see the Non-Fist, or the Random Pointing Gesture. Lleyton isn't actually pointing at anyone or anything; he's just pointing. He does this because he's won a point.

The Toss. When he wins, Lleyton tosses a match ball into the crowd. He is a tosser.

A Single Knee-Drop Pumping Fist (with Happy Face). One of the most complex of all Lleyton's moves; note the near-perfect vertical aspect of the racquet, and the sharp poise of the right toe. Ten out of ten!

He was so much nicer before he took up tennis.

UPDATE. Reader Richard P. writes:

"Have you noticed that 'Lleyton' spelt backwards is 'not yell'? How funny is that, then?"

CHERYL KERNOT still doesn't get it. Today she yet again complains that "they" are responsible for everything:

A deeply hurt but resigned Ms Kernot has told friends she has moved beyond this week's events and needs time alone to patch up her life.

"I don't care much any more," she told the Sunday Herald Sun through a close friend yesterday.

"What more can they do to me? They've taken my job, my family."

It's not "they", Cheryl. It's you.

WHAT'S GONE wrong with the Arab world? No chickpower, for one thing. Laura Crane has the news.

PHILLIP ADAMS apparently hates the US so deeply he can't stand to look at her flag. His latest column, mentioned below in more detail, included this paragraph:

"Yes, it does present a design problem for Washington, squeezing a 51st star on to Old Glory. There are five neat rows of ten and 51 isn't easily divisible. But if the Americans can put a man on the moon they can fit Australia into their flag. Sorry, our flag."

An alert New Yorker sends Adams a flag update:

"Errrr, Phillis, if you bothered to, say, look at an atlas or other reference book (too right-wing and bourgeois a concept, sweetie?), you'd know what any half-educated high-school student knows – the stars on the flag are arranged in NINE horizontal rows, five rows of six stars and four rows of five."

When the US has been comprised of a number of states not easily divisible, presenting the flag's stars in a pleasing manner hasn't proved a great difficulty. Unlike arranging the ideas in a Phillip Adams column.

UPDATE. Reader Lloyd P., of Long Beach, notes this Adams claim:

Australia will simply join the list of other states, like Texas, Kansas and California. With alphabetical order in our favour, we will enter the list at No 3, just after Alabama and Arkansas.

"He hasn't heard of Alaska and Arizona," writes Lloyd. "Australia would be fifth on the list."

And Sydney mathematician Stephen W. points out that 51 is in fact very easily divisible, by 17 or 3. Joining the US is going to be simpler than Adams thought.

QUELLE FUCKIN' SURPRISE. Experts say anti-French sentiment in the news media is on the increase:

A few have even begun to talk of an outbreak of francophobia, marked by the revival of age-old stereotypes about the dirty, arrogant, anti-Semitic French.

Francophobia is to America what anti-Americanism is to France, said Justin Vaisse, a professor at the Institute of Political Science in Paris who was in Manhattan last week.

"Francophobia is not a fair criticism of France," he said. "It is a systematic bias against the country, a willingness to see everything painted in black. It is a disease in the intellectual and political debate."

Systematic bias … sees everything painted in black … a disease in the intellectual and political debate …. sounds like he's talking about French hero Michael Moore.

LIKE MOST Australians, I only have one ambition: to appear in the "What I'm" profile questionnaire in the Fairfax weekend magazine. It asks high-profile people these sorts of questions:

What are you reading?

Who would you most like to sit next to on a plane?

What talent do you wish you had?

Who do you find inspiring?

And so on. The people always turn out to be reading something worthy and impenetrable ("Foucault's Madness and Civilisation – in Gaelic"), they like sitting next to a planet-saving humanitarian, they wish they could sing like Callas, and they are inspired by Gandhi or Mandela. My answers would be different, but due to reasons nobody can explain I've never been called.

At least, however, I've been mentioned in "What I'm". SBS TV comic John Safran, this week's celebrity profilee, nominated the very thing you're glaring at as his favourite website (along with The Onion). Nice of him. And what is John reading? Conversations in a Brothel, by Jacquelynne Bailey.