DON'T TRY to win, advises Hugh Mackay, loser columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald. In fact, don't even try to compete, because competition is bad:

The whole point of socialisation - of moral development - is that we learn to control such primitive urges. In fact, the great breakthrough in the process of human maturation is when we catch our first glimpse of the futility of competition and begin to see the richer possibilities presented to us through co-operation.

Now we know why Mackay is such an abysmal writer. It's because he doesn't care about improving. He's happy to be where he is. Celebrate his mediocrity.

Who seriously believes that the world's finest paintings have been created under the pressure of competition for an art prize? Who thinks the most efficient way of producing our food is to compete against each other in a savagely competitive hunt? Who imagines that the best way for individuals - or nations - to settle their differences is to fight rather than negotiate? (Isn't one of the scariest things about President George Bush the fact that he wants to go to war? And isn't it almost equally scary that his attitude strikes a responsive chord in huge chunks of the US electorate? Still, as our own experience over asylum seekers has shown us, it's easy to generate political capital by exploiting voters' darkest fears.)

And it's easy to hold down an op-ed job at the Sydney Morning Herald by exploiting that newspaper's lust for the mundane. It's a competitive market, and Hugh Mackay out-mundanes anybody who would compete with him. Hail Hugh, king of redundant columnists!

MR. CARTER, give back that prize!

Among other reactions to Carter's Nobel win, here's Sasha:

Jimmy Carter?

Jimmy FREAKIN' Carter? The Nobel FREAKIN' Peace Prize?

And from Juan Gato:

You have got to be fucking kidding me.

Brian Linse disagrees:

He was perhaps not the best American president, but is, surely, a great man of peace.

Swap "perhaps" and "surely" in this sentence and Brother Brian is almost right.

WAYNE GARDNER, the 1987 motorcycle world champion turned car racer, once told a bunch of us in a bar the story of his first race in Britain. He'd gone over there to break into big-time bike racing, but in his first minor league event he was swamped by faster competitors.

After the race, a bitter old British journalist approached the young Australian. "Were you the rider of bike 26?" he asked. Why, yes, Gardner answered, grateful to have been noticed. "Then you should piss off back to Australia," the writer told him. "You're so slow that you're a danger to the other riders."

Gardner wept. But a few years later, having claimed the world title and become a millionaire, Gardner flew from Australia to London, hired a car at the airport, and drove to the journalist's house. "Hello," Gardner said. "Remember me?"

The chap cringed, expecting a beating. His fear only increased when Gardner took hold of his arm and demanded, "Come with me."

Instead of punching him, Gardner drove the trembling git to a bar and bought him a drink. It was Gardner's way of thanking him for providing years of motivation. Every time he lost a race, he'd think of the piglike journalist and vow to win the next.

These days Gardner has nothing left to prove. In fact, after today he doesn't even have a racecar. During practice for the Bathurst 1000, Gardner arrived at a third-gear right-hander and discovered that his Ford had no brakes. Knocked unconscious in the subsequent crash, he's now fine, but the car is out of Sunday's race.

Too bad. If he'd won, he might have bought his English friend another pint.


PAKISTAN'S CRICKET team have celebrated the huge gains by Muslim fundamentalists in today's elections by scoring their lowest total ever.

Iain Murray anticipates a resultant surge in anti-Australianism. Why do they hate us? Because we've got better bowlers.

HELEN CALDICOTT, the creature without a brain, is dissected by Stefan Sharkansky.

THE WEEKLY STANDARD'S Jonathan V. Last has waded into a pool of anti-war idiots and found this dumbfish splashing about:

Linda Fuller, of Habitat for Humanity, asked, "Can you imagine the difference if we voted, as a nation, to pray for Osama bin Laden?" Fuller then recounted a story about her son. Evidently, when he was a young boy there was another kid in the neighborhood who always bullied him. Confronted with what to do about this bully, Fuller convinced her son to invite him to his birthday party. The bully came to the party, and afterwards, the two were fast friends. Paul Wolfowitz, take note.

The folks who turned up to support Fuller and her fellow opposers were even dimmer. One thought Osama's video messages were only giving "fair warning". Another wanted all money earmarked for a war to be given to America's blacks. The fringe Left: united in division.

ILLINOIS CELEBRATES 100 years since the first sighting of the Olney Ghost Squirrel. It is illegal to eat them.

IT'S US or the trees, people. Never forget that.

SOME WEB satirist is posting crazy stuff over at the ABC's site.

PEOPLE SHOULD listen to Australia's youth. Or at least to this Australian youth.

Post-youths James Morrow and Tex should also be listened to. In fact, listen to anybody except this person.


While I usually find your articles to be complete rubbish, the recent article on speeding was spot on.

A case in point is Moore Park Rd in Sydney. The council recently resurfaced the two lane road so it is perfect to drive on. They then reduce the speed limit from 60kmh to 50km/h. And the coup de grace is of course the radar traps.

It would be interesting to find out how the locations of traffic accidents correlates to the locations of speed traps. I'd bet your right leg that there is little relationship at all.

Finally I wonder what the police themselves think about being turned into government revenue collectors. (I actually asked one when I was pulled over and he looked less than impressed at my suggestion).



PS Go the Pies.

The press, generally anti-car and easily convinced by weak safety arguments, has been shameful in ignoring the growth of speeding fines as a pure revenue device. Watch for the Liberal Party in Victoria to make this a big issue during the upcoming election.

Meanwhile, other readers maintain that the speeding article was just more of the usual Blair rubbish.

POSSIBLY UPSET by recent analysis and criticism of his new book, Melbourne academic John Carroll has removed the e-mail address from his faculty profile. What kind of man are you, Dude?

MARGO KINGSTON, the popular Sydney Morning Herald random apostrophe generator, has disappeared:

# Margo Kingston is away this week. Normal service to Web Diary will resume on Monday, October 14

As Professor Bunyip notes, only days earlier Margo had promised to be at work this week. So what gives?

3/1 – Recalled to home planet

5/1 – Kidnapped by elite right wing repression squadron

7/1 – Deported after immigration authorities discovered she was asylum seeker Urziz Taraq

10/1 – Eloped

1,000/1 – Headhunted by the LA Examiner

1,000,000/1 – Competing in this weekend's Bathurst 1000

Place your bets. We'll find out Monday.



You've probably heard about the "Buzzcocks" incident, in which the band was booed off stage at a California punk-rock festival after screaming anti-Bush, anti-war comments. If you thought the story was too good to be true, you were right.

Larry Miller's Weekly Standard column, which originally mentioned the incident, has been removed from the Standard website. If I recall correctly, Miller said he heard about it from a reader. I really hope he didn't make it up.

As it happens, I did think it was too good to be true, which is why I didn't link to it yesterday. There were a few warning signs in the article: Miller plainly had never heard of the band, and seemed to think they were a teenage US outfit (they are, in fact, aging Brits); the unanimous response of the crowd seemed, well, unlikely; and the allegedly flustered reaction of the band was not what you'd expect from a group that has been around since 1976.

Visit Penny to check out the links, including the band's response.

UPDATE. Turns out the story was right, although blink-182 were the culprits rather than those grizzled Buzzcocks.

LITTLE-KNOWN Islamic beliefs: they are opposed to front-wheel-drive. "Death to the transverse-engined dogs of Asian motor vehicles! The single-camshaft alloy motor with more than eight valves is an abomination unto Allah!"

This explains why bin Laden and his friends, obeying the strict edicts of the Koran – "Prosperous are the believers who ride aloft in wagons propelled by wheels at the rear, although four-wheel-drive is OK in rugged terrain" – only use rear-drive Toyota trucks.

UPDATE. Reader Bruce Rheinstein writes:

Gotta agree with the Islama-Fascists on this one. Everyone knows that a properly constructed car has the engine in the front, the transmission in the middle and the differential in the rear. That way you can find everything and you can work on one part without having to remove everything else. (Okay, the VW Bug was rear-engined, but it was so simple that even an idiot could work on it.) Transverse mounted, front wheel drive engines are a crime against nature and an obvious plot against backyard mechanics!

I've owned two Bugs. What Bruce says is horribly true.

TOM CRUISE, recently quoted as being supportive of George W. Bush and the war against terror, is now backing away from his comments like a common Thetan:

"I was actually misquoted on that," the star told TV's Extra.

"I don't know what Bush and British Prime Minister Blair know, so I can't sit here and judge."

Cruise's new stance, that of the fence-sitting pussy, somehow earns this strident headline from the Sydney Morning Herald: "I'm no war-monger".

YOU WANT any further proof that record companies are evil? Here it is.

THE LATEST COLUMN in The Australian is about speeding fines. One Australian state, Victoria, has in three years leeched $720 million from its citizens in speeding and traffic penalties.

Victoria has a population of less than five million.

HERE'S ANOTHER slab of highlights from John Carroll's masterwork – Terror: A Meditation on the Meaning of September 11. Today we look at chapter two …

The ancient Greek word was sophrosune. Of the four cardinal virtues, it was the one favoured by Apollo. It is the virtue of nothing in excess, or moderation – that is, measure or balance … transgressively out of balance, the modern West is measured by the law it violates, by sophrosune.

So sophrosue us, old dead loser Sun God.

Two centuries ago the Industrial Revolution, pioneered in England, sunk a shaft into a hidden and hitherto untapped source of energy. Fuel would gush forth with such ceaseless profusion as to allow us to conquer the entire world.

My porn star name is going to be "Industrial Revolution".

Suddenly we humans could harness the forces of nature to our ends.

Well, we could, if we were into that sort of thing.

However, the magic well could not be capped. The geyser of production could not even be controlled.

A few people tried. Review the history of the Soviet Union to see how it worked out.

Eighty years ago, the great sociologist Max Weber speculated that capitalist progress would continue unabated till the earth's supply of oil ran dry – a prophecy that was telling, but probably underestimated our technical inventiveness.

Probably … as in totally.

By the close of the century it was clear that industrial expansion could not continue as it had. Otherwise, the resources of the earth would be exhausted – the seas fished out, the land over-farmed …

Stocks of paraffin at an all-time low, whalebone corsets almost unobtainable …

Human population growth threatened its own catastrophic multiplication, in poverty stricken areas which could least sustain it.

Too many poor people. Gotta hate 'em.

And an excessive use of antibiotics threatened their efficacy, opening the possibility once again of pandemics decimating human populations.

There's your population problem solved.

Homer records that after the Trojan War Apollo organised a nine-day flood.

"Guys! Hey, guys! Listen up! Let's organise a nine-day flood! Calculus, you go get the rain, and Iditarod, you're in charge of rivers. This'll be a blast!"

We in the modern West have abused our duty of care to the earth … as honoured guests at this bountiful feast we have gorged the food, got drunk on the wine, and fouled the white linen.

I knew I shouldn't have ordered the Olestra carbonara. That stain is never coming out.

In recent decades democracy itself tipped out of balance. Comment is superfluous when a chief executive of a major corporation is rewarded by bonuses in the order of $10 million for a year in which he sacks half his staff. He might be receiving on top of his bonuses a standard salary of $30 million per annum – sums beyond the imaginings of ordinary people, such as an American waitress toiling for $6 an hour.

So a balanced democracy places limits on wages. Carroll still hasn't looked at that Soviet history.

The Economist produced a supplement on finance in which the West's leading experts concluded that the international system was no so huge and complex that no one understood its dynamics.

Nobody except a certain bunch of wily sand Nazis, that is!

The terrorists understand it well enough, though. It has been surmised from the levels of unusual trading in futures in the few days before September 11 that their networks made in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars, using 'put options' … knowing that airline and insurance stock would plummet in value, they cashed in the difference between the old 'sell' price and the post-crash 'buy' figure.

This isn't exactly a complicated deal. They knew what was going to happen and bet on it. This is as huge and complex as a Vegas boxing fix.

To teach that Mickey Mouse is as valuable as Shakespeare, or that a urinal is as beautiful as a Raphael Madonna, or that the seduction of children is not categorically evil, but a mode of self-realization, is to corrupt the most precious of all human resources – the young.

Whoa! Where did this flash of clarity come from?

The disintegration of skyscrapers is real, even to intellectuals.

All evidence to this point would indicate the contrary.

By the time the World Trade Center opened in the early 1970s, the impersonality, sterility, and claustrophobia of the concrete box had, at least in its high corporate modes, been softened by plush fittings and spectacular views from window rooms …

Those older skyscrapers, with the cast iron chairs and no windows … they were hell.

Those who relinquish the liberty of opening a window to let in fresh air where they work all day, every day, are inviting distress.

Sometimes it's difficult to remember that this book is about September 11. Now he's upset about air conditioning.

When Usama bin Laden charges that his war is against 'the camp of unbelief', he targets an imbalance in this life, a restlessness and cowardice unleashed by fear of death.

No, he's targeting actual live human beings who happen not to follow his religion. And as for our supposed cowardice in the face of death … Carroll can't even cope with a closed window without feeling "distressed". How would he have dealt with the situation on board Flight 93?

One dimension of the September 11 reality check is for us to rediscover a right relationship to death.

Is it anything to do with being obliterated by a jet airliner while you're at work on the 107th floor, checking your e-mails? Is that relationship "right"?

In a culture of excess the serious is denied. We have been casual with what we were given, off-hand with what we should be doing with our lives. When everyone chatters 'Me-me-me', 'Give me more', the anchoring truth is: 'I have enough.'

Presumably that truth doesn't apply in the case of our $6-per-hour waitress.

Where are our deep meditations on what we have received, our acceptance of it as generous – we who live in extraordinarily abundant times and places? Where is our gratitude?

Where's yours?

What do we possess that will carry us beyond the narrow confines of our own egos, connecting us with a grander harmony beyond?

Carry us beyond … to a grander harmony beyond. What does Carroll possess that will carry him to a bookshelf, where he may connect with a thesaurus?

September 11 halts us in mid-stride. Listening to Bach should make us ashamed of what we've become.

Yes. Classical music fans.

Rushing around after billions of fragments of evidence, propelled into a futility of frenzy, it was all driven by the anxiety to know. If only we had the right knowledge, we might understand. But understand what? Why it had happened … what had happened … where we have gone astray … the roots of our unease?

That's as written, folks.

We are even unsure about what has been broken, let alone about how to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Don't bother asking all the king's horses and all the king's men. Their record in Humpty reconstruction is abysmal. Maybe master carpenter Norm Abram is your go-to guy.

This is a civilization that has lost contact with the saving truth. On September 11 it was found out.

Find out soon what chapter three holds. I'll post when the bleeding and the convulsions stop. Highlights of chapter one can be found here.


PERCY SCHMEISER, the Canadian seed mooch who's been defaming Monsanto all over the planet, has lost another court case, reports the excellent new Bizarre Science blog of West Australian Aaron Oakley, a former Wilderness Society member turned pro sceptic.

DID YOU know that George W. Bush has ties to the oil industry? It's true! The Melbourne Age has the scoop of the year.

IRAQ IS weaseling out of paying debts to Moscow. This does not please our Russian friends, who thus far have not supported a war against Saddam. They might soon decide that it's a fun way to dispose of a deadbeat.

The pros and cons of the situation have provoked the fantastically quotable Sergei Markov, director of something called the Institute of Political Studies:

"Russia does not need a military operation because it will deliver a rather serious blow to its economic interests. At the same time Russia does not need the sanctions on Iraq to be lifted either because the previous experience shows that one cannot believe military dictators whose hands are in blood up to the elbow, and of whom Saddam Hussein is one. There is absolutely no guarantee that these $40-billion contacts will be honored."

Even Saddam "Elbows" Hussein's oldest pals are turning against him.


Iranian police have arrested 120 party-goers at three private gatherings in wealthy districts of the capital Tehran and charged them with mingling with the opposite sex and dancing, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

They must have been on drugs. You know, the drugs that make you go crazy and start mingling.

The conservative daily Jam-e Jam said the unusually large haul of young lawbreakers were released after paying fines and signing pledges to stay away from future parties.

Jam-e Jam … that's either a British hip-hopper ("tonight at Clubb Dubb – Jam-e Jam and Marmalade ul-Haq!") or the clothes you tell your toddler to put on before going to sleep.

Under Iran's strict laws, implemented after the 1979 Islamic revolution, unrelated men and women are not allowed to dance together.

And how did this revolution win popular support, exactly?

Despite the strict rules, Western-style parties, held in private homes in wealthy Tehran neighborhoods, are a nightly occurrence and in recent years they have rarely been raided.

"So, Jahangir, are you coming to my party?"

"I don't think so, Naveed. My mother is 92 years old, and she cannot dance very well."

"Did I mention that it was a … Western-style party?"

"Well, why didn't you say so! I will not be missing this decadence! Naveed, you rule so hard!"

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Sunday called for a police crackdown on immoral behavior in public following a storm of protest over a kiss between a well-known actress and a director at a film awards ceremony in the central city of Yazd.

That's outrageous! Why didn't he just throw rocks at her?

MELBOURNE AGE opinion cadaver Kenneth Davidson might soon receive a please explain from his employers.

BOB ELLIS says that George W. Bush's grandfather funded Adolf Hitler's rise to power.

Bob Ellis is published by Random House.

Random House is owned by Bertelsmann.


NOW WE know how Instapundit manages to post so often: he exists in five dimensions! Type in your own name to discover your product values. Damian Penny's are eerily accurate.

And the result for warbloggerwatch is, well, perfect.

COUNTRY STORE HAS located one of the great journalistic corrections of our time, and also has news of a World Cup soccer tournament for homeless people. Where did organisers send the invites?

THERE'S SHOCK JOCKS, and then there's these guys.

AUSTRALIAN OPERA is state-funded. Should it be? Tex thinks not.

DIANE E.'S COMPLAINT. It's about Philip Roth, the best-selling author, putz, little man, and pitiful wretch.

UPDATES TO the John Carroll item, posted below: ABC Watch, who I should have linked to long ago, points out that Carroll is a serial guest on our national tax-funded waste-of-life broadcaster. File that information under "absolutely no surprise at all".

Reader Erin B. writes:

"I am absolutely repelled by the idolatrous language Dr. Carroll uses to describe bin Laden. Even Osama would despise him for it, particularly the way in which he uses the most alluring icons of western civilization to paint that civilization's self-appointed attacker. 'Defender of the Muslim faith'? Very pretty title. It's nowhere near as dismally mundane as 'the elected representative and defender of almost 300 million human beings on United States soil'.

"Defenders of any kind of 'faith' always have such a drool-inspiring glamor about them to the more moronic members of academia. Carroll has turned his chosen science into a gothic romance novel."

Classy new LA femme blogger Dr. Alice asks:

"What was this guy's editor thinking? What's with the Apollo and Icarus crap? And a book that has only seven chapters, 112 pages … thinner than your average paperback. Looks like a cash-in effort to me.

"This is some of the very, very, very, very worst writing I have ever seen. Please continue with each of the following chapters."

Will do, Doc! Reader J. says:

"Perhaps Dr. John Carroll follows two distinct slogans -- 'Know Nothing', and 'Too much thyself.'"

Edward B. discovers a theological flaw in my analysis:

"Flintstones with AK-47s? Wilma and Betty could never get away with those short dresses in Bin Laden's world."

He's right. So is Kal:

"A swarthy, lanky, bearded blow-up doll would sell well at universities … "

David Burge indicates that he was first to hit on Carroll's strange Dude theme. Dude!

And the Freepers – wickedly resourceful, as usual – have spotted a couple of Separated at Birth possibilities. Could Carroll be the infamous Batboy of American legend?

The next chapter will be posted tonight. Pray for me, as typing every paragraph of Carroll's copy reduces my IQ by ten points.

DR. JOHN CARROLL is a reader in sociology at Melbourne's La Trobe University. That is to say, he is paid to educate young adults.

This bland statement of fact may mean nothing to you now, but let's see how you feel after we've finished examining the highlights from chapter one of Carroll's awesomely pretentious and imbecilic new book, Terror: A Meditation on the Meaning of September 11 …

The highjacked planes were flown through the bright early-morning American east-coast sky. This is the hour of Apollo, the sun god, who presided over ancient Delphi. His oracle dwelt high on the side of the sacred mountain, with two mottos carved over its portal. Two sayings watched over the foundation of our civilization, in exhortation and warning: "Know Thyself!" and "Nothing Too Much!"

Not to mention "Nothing Over 99 Cents!" and "Si habla Espanol!"

Ignorantly and flagrantly, the modern West has violated both.

As will shortly be revealed, Carroll follows a combination of both: "Know Nothing!"

We all know the story – about the events of September 11 and their aftermath. We all share the shock, surreal image of the second plane slicing through the World Trade Center tower like …

All together now …

… a knife through butter. We will take to our graves the slow-motion horror of watching, many of us as it happened, the tallest skyscrapers in the world crumpling, one after the other …

The World Trade Center towers weren't even the tallest skyscrapers in the United States.

… each no more substantial than a child's house of cards. Nothing was left of where 50,000 people had once worked but dust and smoke, numb pain for those trapped inside, and speechless awe at the power that had done this.

Nothing was left? The how come it took eight months to clear all that nothing away? Lazy teamsters!

These, however, are surface facts. The heart of the matter lies deep beneath. This is a story that is hard to read, essential to read.

He's got that half right.

Our culture has developed the shrug of the shoulders into a cosy reflex while we pour another drink, switch on the amusement parade, and wait for the house prices and stock market to rise.

"Honey, I'm home! Get me a Scotch and switch on the amusement parade!"

Will this culture be able to relearn how to take itself seriously?

Carroll isn't making it very easy.

Will anyone again choose to work in a skyscraper?

Beats me. I guess you could ask all the people worldwide who work in them every day.

Which insurance company will cover a landmark tower?

Er … the ones that do?

Indeed, were the twin 110-storey towers to be rebuilt they would stand like pyramids, colossal empty tombs, in memoriam to a lost civilization.

I'm no architect, but I'm pretty sure that rebuilt towers would stand like towers. Pyramids are lots more pointy and triangly. Here's a picture.

And if the age of the skyscraper is over, so is that of New York. Nothing big is safe anymore. Icarus never flew twice.

Icarus's problem was that he flew too close to the sun. New York's problem was that scum flew too close to it. Slight difference.

What has been exposed is chatter about who I am, why I am here, and what happens to me at death – the mumblings of a secular humanist age, which have been shown up for what they are, illusions masquerading as truth.

Those don't sound much like illusory mumblings to me. They're the kind of questions that kill dinner parties, or that you ask yourself at 3am after you've been arrested outside your ex-girlfriend's apartment.

They are no more secure than those 110-storey towers demolished by disciplined men not paralysed by the thought of death.

This is the first hint we get of Carroll's lust for the Brave Warrior Kings of Araby. As a warning, it's insufficient, to say the least.

It had all been brought about by one man, alone on horseback, riding through the wastes of Afghanistan, stealing America's own myth, its hero, its projection of valour. He is tall and handsome, with clear skin and full lips, sun tempered, looking the West and all its might nonchalantly, with a mocking smile, straight in the eye. He wears a fine, longish black beard streaked with grey, a cross between desert nomad and Confucian scholar, yet his bearing is elegant.

And those buns! Are they made of tungsten?

A capacity for brilliant long-range planning, mobilising technical expertise, carried out by clear-minded and self-disciplined individuals, has been the key to our civilization. Yet which of our institutions could match the successful hijacking, in unison, of four passenger jets, flown skilfully, three of them proceeding to hit their targets …?

Any of them, probably, were they insane enough. A bunch of librarians armed with boxcutters and religious mania could've done what Sammy's boys did.

The thing of it is, see, that the terrorists attacked a trusting nation. It's still a trusting nation; people will stand close to the edge of subway platforms, trusting that nobody behind them will shove them into the path of a train. When that happens, as it sometimes does, it is not usually hailed as a tactical masterstroke. It is condemned as evil.

For that it is.

By the way, which of bin Laden's "institutions" could build an aircraft? A couple of Western bicycle mechanics were able to, back in 1903. Binny's gang specialises mostly in killing people, and digging caves to live in. They're Flintstones with AK-47s.

Usama's face speaks of great sadness. This makes him difficult to place; his persona is not simply Hitlerian, a human contagion to be exterminated, after which all will be well.

There's only one way to find out.

Moreover, this defender of the Muslim faith did not attack the West's religious institutions – the Vatican, Wesminster Abbey, or an American synagogue.

No, but he wanted to. Carroll doesn't read newspapers. And I wonder how most Muslims feel about Carroll describing this mass murderer as a "defender of the Muslim faith"?

Usama released a pre-recorded video speech the moment America launched its first retaliatory strike, against Afghanistan. This speech – in its precision of rhetoric, its poetic mobilisation of theological and moral phraseology, the subtle force of imagery – strikes at the nerve centre of the West like nothing since its own Martin Luther nailed the Roman papacy to a Wittenburg church door in 1517, and marked the turn away from the squalor and stagnation of the European Middle Ages.

Yeah. That speech sure had the "subtle force of imagery" working real hard. Here's an extract: "I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Mohammed is his messenger. There is America, hit by God in one of its softest spots. Its greatest buildings were destroyed, thank God for that. There is America, full of fear from its north to its south, from its west to its east. Thank God for that."

This repetitive, toxic swill only lasted for 588 words, and nobody sane bothered to read it twice. Thank God for that.

The modern reformer from outside, with slow and measured enunciation, preaches against 'debauchery' and 'injustice'.

Bin Laden is the modern reformer? I bet that's news to any western women waiting to be freed from 'debauchery' and 'injustice'.

Nine days into the new and unmapped order the president makes his address to his nation … television shows him addressing this large assembly of the men and women who lead America in a vast, open chamber with no screen in front of him. Nor does he glance down to the lectern to read pages that may be placed there. The truth is that he faces a sheet of glass, invisible from the outside but reflective on the inside so that he can read at eye level, word for word, a teleprompted text projected from the floor.

Carroll likes his speeches pre-recorded on videotape. None of this new-fangled "invisible from the outside" glass nonsense for him.

Commentators rhapsodise over his Churchillian eloquence. But Churchill wrote his own great rallying wartime speeches, rehearsed them, then delivered them off the cuff to his nation and the democratic world.

How is it possible that Churchill was able to deliver, "off the cuff", speeches that he'd written and rehearsed?

On the one side is this image of the leader of the Western world like a bewildered schoolboy, wide-eyed in his lack of comprehension, shadowed by his advisors to minimize the gaffes … On the other side, the television screens show the lone Arab on horseback living by his wits, moving invisibly from cave stronghold to secret camp through the Afghan wastes and into the north-west frontier of Pakistan, or wherever he may be.

Many of you are being sick right now, I know. My apologies. I only ask that you consider this: Carroll will only admire George W. Bush if Bush abandons Washington for an Appalachian shack, from which occasional directives to Dick Cheney are delivered by invisible mules.

Usama's two leisure activities are horse-riding and reading – his reading, Islamic thought and current affairs. Wherever he has travelled in the past, his large personal library has gone with him.

Carroll is angling for some sales. Buy his books here, Usama.

Swarthy, dark, mature bearded men in white turbans and long, comprehensive robes, ruthless fanatics, some of them Islamic scholars, in targeting the West are challenging: You, you prove yourself. Let us see what you are made of. What kind of man are you, Dude?

John Carroll is well on the way to proving what kind of idiot he is, and we've only finished the first chapter. Six more await … Dude.



M Chirac faced the strong possibility that the vessel, which was still in flames last night, was the target of a daring attack by al-Qa'eda.

Osama bin Laden's network has a strong presence in Yemen and the United States Navy had given warning only weeks ago of such an attack.

IF WARBLOGGER WATCH were a neighbourhood, you wouldn't park your car there. Not even this car. Hell, not even this car.

The site began embarrassingly, then enjoyed a brief period of almost-sanity before descending to some place deep beneath the asthenosphere. Bad thinkers aren't always bad writers, but at WBW it's difficult to tell which is worse: the execution of their posts, or the ideas behind them.

Leave aside their arguments against war, which often aren't, and the poor bastards can't even come up with any snappy insults. How difficult can it be? Us warbloggy types are wide open, posting stuff every day, exposing ourselves to potential ridicule. And WBW hasn't the skill to deliver a single painful slap.

In fact, all they've delivered to me is my single biggest cash donor, who arrived here via a link at their site. Warblogger Watch is a Warblogger Enrichment program. Keep the dollars coming, kids!

E-MAIL IS acting all weird again. Maybe my computer has the Huggy Bear virus or something. Messages that were there yesterday are gone today, or have mysteriously rearranged themselves in an exciting new non-chronological way.

As tech problems go, things could be worse. Just ask Billy Idol.

PAUL SHEEHAN stomps Malcolm Fraser, the pantsless man of Australian politics.

THIS IS so cool, for so many reasons:

Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock has made such an impression on one Iraqi asylum seeker that she has named her baby after him.

His mother has been proved to be a refugee, and the baby is with her in the detention centre on the Papua New Guinea island of Manus Island, where she is awaiting settlement.

UPDATE. James Morrow pens a Johnny Cash tribute for baby Phil.

IRELAND FOR THE IRISH! And Hollywood for the Irish, too, writes Joe Queenan.

WASSSUP? Osama's bin talkin', according to the London Observer:

Osama bin Laden is alive and regularly meeting Mullah Omar, the fugitive leader of the Taliban, according to a telephone call intercepted by American spy satellites.

In the conversation, recorded less than a month ago, Omar and a senior aide were discussing the American-led hunt to track them down. The two men, using a mobile Thuraya satellite phone, spoke about tactics for several minutes. Omar then turned to a third person who was within a few yards of him, voice analysis has revealed.

That "third person" is said to be none other than the O-man his bad self, although some have their (quite well-founded) doubts. Over at al-Jazeera's Mosque See TV, meanwhile, "Osama" has delivered a cute little speech:

The Arab satellite TV station al-Jazeera broadcast an audiotape today in which a male voice attributed to Osama bin Laden said the "youths of God" were planning more attacks against the United States.

"By God, the youths of God are preparing for you things that would fill your hearts with terror and target your economic lifeline until you stop your oppression and aggression" against Muslims, the voice on the tape said.

Bin Laden said his message was addressed to the American people, whom he urged to "understand the message of the New York and Washington attacks which came in response to some of your previous crimes".

"But those who follow the activities of the band of criminals in the White House, the Jewish agents, who are preparing for an attack on the Muslim world ... feel that you have not understood anything from the message of the two attacks," he said.

Quite the contrary, Osama. We received the message loud and clear. That's why you're fucking dead.

LOCAL SPORTS team wins!

BARBRA STREISAND behaved like a moron. Matt Drudge called her on it. The New York Times now dismisses Streisand's idiocy as "grist for Mr. Drudge's publicity mill" and wonders why Streisand responded to Drudge pointing out her mistakes.

Tells you a lot about the mindset of these people, doesn't it? The issue for the Times isn't Streisand's dumbness; it's that Drudge brought attention to her dumbness. The Times obviously feels that this news wasn't Fit To Print.


IF I'VE said it once, I've said it a thousand times – only a fool allows himself to lured from his home by the sound of a squeezed goat:

Budumbuli village in Bugembe, Jinja is rife with talk of thieves who battered a man and stole his money. The thugs lured him out of his house by squeezing the testicles of his goat tethered in the compound outside.

Attempts to make an alarm were fruitless as he was beaten, gagged and ordered to produce money, which the knife-wielding thieves knew he had been given to him earlier in the day by a grain dealer in Kampala. With no option, he handed over sh500,000 to the thugs who sped off on a boda boda.

Those boda boda gangs are ruthless. Your goat could be next. Remain vigilant.

AMINA LAWAL, sentenced to be stoned to death, has been vomiting blood due to stress. Imagine the media outrage over this if Lawal was a Gitmo prisoner.

THAT SURE WAS one great business plan, Rosie:

Here's 'the Queen of Nice', on why a magazine bearing her name would succeed. 'I knew two million Americans would buy it. How? Because that's how many bought my CD - and I can't sing.'

Upon such unvarnished marketing certainties are magazine empires built in modern America. Or so it was once believed.

Note to self: abandon idea for Tim magazine.

SALON PREMIUM, the Internet's boldest tautology, now costs only five cents a day. That's five times as much as a Salon share. David Talbot's next great innovation probably involves PayPal.

ACCORDING TO THIS, even though I have a minimal education and need a calculator to divide things by two, I should still live until I'm 150.

MOTOR RACING team bosses deal with death more often than most sports managers, and are consequently hard-headed about such matters. None more so than Enzo Ferrari, founder of the company that bears his name.

A recent Nigel Roebuck interview (no link available) with actor Peter Ustinov contains the following Enzo anecdote, as relayed by former Ferrari driver Peter Collins:

"Peter once told me a terrifying story about the Commendatore. He was with Ferrari in the office, and suddenly the phone went. Ferrari picked it up and said, 'Pronto! Ferrari!' Then he listened, and he became pale. 'Non e possible … Castellotti? Castellotti morto?' A slight pause. 'E la macchina?'"

That phone call was made in 1957. Collins himself died in a Ferrari the very next year.

CURSE THAT devious a beam. He's on his way to New York to trash my reputation even before I get the chance to go there and do it myself. I've got powerful friends in that city, beam! One word from me and Dunleavy will spring at your throat like a cobra.

AN AUSTRALIAN family court justice will soon launch a website aimed at helping people handle legal cases without expensive lawyerly assistance. Lawyers aren't happy about this. Ken Parish has some words for them.

ROOSTER MADNESS! Because I'm a journalist, and therefore ignorant and unobservant, the significance of tonight's National Rugby League grand final had totally eluded me (also, being Victorian, I don't follow rugby league at all). I knew that it was a trans-Tasman battle between teams from Sydney and New Zealand, but I didn't know that the Sydney Roosters were formerly known as Eastern Suburbs.

That's where I live. Go local sports team!

A house opposite mine is decorated in Roosters colours. Roosters fans are swarming through the streets. A car parked up the street has a Rooster head attached to the roof. An angry old woman at the local shopping centre (sponsors of the Rooster cheer squad) sold me a Rooster badge: "Roosters to Win!"

I've attached it to a huge concrete rooster I bought in Mexico. Now I am a Rooster booster. Think I'll go watch the game at the Nelson Hotel.

UPDATE. Reader Ron Mead says my Rooster support is appropriate:

Well may you cheer for the Roosters. Even Collingwood has won a premiership since they were last victorious in a grand final!

STARTING MONDAY: The Fisking of an entire stupid book.

JAMES McGOVERN'S claim that his conscience wouldn't allow him to sleep at night if he voted to support war on Iraq earns this rebuke from brand new blogger Roger Bournival:

My conscience tells me that Saddam shouldn't get his hands on an atomic bomb. I couldn't sleep at night if he did, because my body temperature would soar to 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bournival's other targets, all swiftly obliterated, include Robert C. Byrd – or, as he shall from this point be known, Senator Pork.

AUSTRALIAN TAXPAYERS are funding a documentary that portrays al Qaeda dingo David Hicks as a victim of American evil. Director Curtis Levy says jailing the idiot amounts to "throwing away democracy", which is kind of the way I feel about my taxes being used to make anti-Western propaganda.