1.04.2003

BRITISH ANGLICANS who cannot abide Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Communism, may switch their allegiance to an Australian of more traditional views:


Influential opponents of the new Archbishop of Canterbury and his "heretical" views on homosexuality are developing plans to bring up to 150 English parishes under the spiritual leadership of the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen.

The radical bid for "alternative episcopal oversight" is being considered by two leading conservative evangelical groups, Reform and Church Society … The groups say they have been driven to consider such an unorthodox option - pioneered by conservative churches in America three years ago - because of the appointment of Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury, the nominal head of the world's 70 million Anglicans.



Will the breakaway group be known as Auslican?

MORTICIA'S NO LESBIAN. Those who've followed Conrad's romantic misadventures at Gweilo Diaries will appreciate the significance of this development.

CHARLES MURTAUGH very kindly declares me his Post of the Year winner – which is likely to be the only such prize I ever win. (I don't enter journalism awards; in Australia the peak awards are only open to union members, unless you pay to nominate yourself.) Go me!

TO WHICH TWO ENTITIES does the "Western diplomat" refer?


"The common ground they share is deep on two issues," said one Western diplomat. "They cannot tolerate the existence of Israel, and they share a conspiracy theory that the U.S. wants to control the Middle East and the world's energy supply. It's a very paranoid world view, but they share it deeply."



Hmmm. Could be Indymedia and the Sydney Morning Herald (which, as Greg Sheridan points out, has fallen completely for the Oil War line). Or they could be the ABC and the International Socialists. Or they could be John Pilger and Robert Fisk.

Or they could be German neo-Nazis and Islamic extremists. The process by which the planet's idiots are drawn together continues apace.

AUSTRALIAN CRICKET captain Steve Waugh, judged too old at 37, yesterday played one of his finest innings. In the process of compiling his 29th century (equalling Sir Donald Bradman's record) Waugh became only the third batsman in the 126-year history of international cricket to score 10,000 career runs – ten years to the day that Allan Border reached the same milestone. It was beautiful to watch.

Let's see them drop Waugh now. Here's how the press have reacted; first, Fox Sports:


Steve Waugh yesterday rescued himself and his team with one of the most emotional innings seen on Australian soil that defined the man and his place in cricket history.



And the Daily Telegraph:


With Australia collapsing all around him, Waugh was as immovable as the giant concrete pillars anchoring the SCG grandstands to planet Earth. He is the people's hero, this man. As reliable as sunrise and as hard to shift as a cold.



More from the Telegraph:


Stephen Waugh is a contrary bastard … The younger generation of Australian cricket know all about winning. They pillage and loot with abandon. But they've never fought a desperate rearguard action while the conquering army drives its tanks through the market place.



The SMH's Trevor Marshallsea:


There are men with an appetite for fight and a sense of occasion, and then there is Waugh … The fans were still cheering some 40 minutes after stumps, when he appeared on the players' balcony to acknowledge their chanting his name.



Peter Roebuck, also of the SMH, considers what the Australian selectors should be considering:


Waugh did not look like a tired old man ready to hang up his cap. He looked sharp. In contrast, Martyn did not settle, losing his wicket to a poor stroke. Nor could Martin Love outstare the moment. Waugh played better than the men either side of him in the batting order. It is a point worth considering.



Even old Wimbledon winners were happy:


Tennis legend Martina Navratilova gave a cheer for Steve Waugh when she heard news of his remarkable century yesterday and urged selectors to focus on the Test captain's performance and not his age.



The London Times' Christopher Martin-Jenkins was moved to verse – or at least was moving to find verse:


Halfway through the evening session today I was walking round the ground in search of a cricket library (that proved to be shut) to check a verse in a poem that seemed apt for the extraordinary innings being played by Steve Waugh.



The Guardian's online reporter spotted a Waugh rarity:


I think he almost smiled on the way back to the pavillion.



And the man himself advised reporters against cliches:


"I'll be disappointed if someone writes 'gritty' tomorrow. And leave out 'determined' as well. Go for some different words tomorrow," he said.



Meanwhile, nothing at all from the New York Times. Anti-Australian bigots.

READER DAVID HARRISON should be dead, at least according to depleted uranium fearmongers. But somehow he struggled to his computer and, inspired by the DU worries of human shield Ken Nichols O'Keefe, tapped out this message with his glowing, radioactive fingers:


I worked for a US company that manufactured the DU ammunition (they actually invented the process). If there were any population that would be adversely affected by this it would be the folks who worked in the plant and I am not aware of any studies of this population (or. more importantly, any lawsuits from families of the "victims" of its manufacture). As a heavy metal, DU is a health hazard, but most of the concern is because it is "uranium" and the fear of radiation (which is unfounded as DU has radioactivity similar to granite).

All DU ammunition is used for anti-armour purposes. It is a pyroforic metal (it ignites and burns) that destroys tanks by punching through the steel armor by which time friction has caused it to ignite, burn and melt. The molten metal splashes around inside the tank causing the ammo and fuel to explode. DU weapons do not explode or release radiation; they don't "do" anything. They are merely bullets. They are referred to as "kinetic energy weapons".

As I said, the specific properties of the metal are what make it lethal to tanks. If DU weapons were used against civilians, they must have been taking refuge inside tanks. Or if they were out in the open and DU weapons were fired on them, they would have more immediate concerns than radiation poisoning or "Gulf War Syndrome"; they would be torn apart much like being shot. And unless they were made of steel, the pyroforic properties would not come into play.

Further, these weapons are made in two calibers: one for use with 105mm tank shells and one in Gatling-type guns (.50 cal) used by the Navy on ships as anti-missile defenses called the Phalanx. I don't think the Navy conducted any operations in the desert, but I could be wrong. Again, if the civilians were in the line of fire, unless they were bunched together in a tight mass, no more than one or two would even be struck by the projectile (which again, does not explode).

I suppose there could be a health risk to civilians if they travel to the battle areas and swallow gallons of contaminated sand.

So my point? The Human Shield either doesn't know anything about DU weapons and is speaking from ignorance, or he is knowledgeable about DU and is counting on the ignorance of others to make these weapons seem more "diabolical".



David's e-mail address is available upon request to any journalists planning on interviewing Dr Helen Caldicott.

UPDATE. Carl Geib, of Plano, Texas, provides extensive additional information:


While I mostly agree with David Harrison's points, I have a few quibbles. The Navy's Phalanx is 20MM, not .50 caliber, but did have a DU round available for it. However, the DU round has subsequently been replaced by a tungsten round to satisfy the "No Nukes! No Nukes!" crowd. I am not aware of any .50 caliber gun using a DU round. The A-10 Thunderbolt II (affectionately known as the "Warthog") was basically designed around the GAU-8/A Avenger 30MM cannon. This cannon also uses DU rounds and was primarily intended to be a "tank buster." I don't know if the tungsten substitution has been made for this cannon. The "Highway of Death" in Kuwait was attacked by everthing that could fly, with all of the ordinance they could let loose, which would include strafing attacks by A-10s. So, civilians picking around in the aftermath may have been exposed to DU, but were in far more danger from unexploded bomblets from "Rockeye" cluster bombs.



The Weekend Pundit has yet more:


For US Army tanks, the DU rounds are discarding sabot, armor piercing kinetic kill rounds. The actual DU slug is considerably smaller than the 120 mm bore of the M1A2 Abrams main gun. I am not aware of any 105 mm main tank guns in still use in the US military.

There are a number of calibers of DU rounds made for rapid fire weapons. I believe the Phalanx system mentioned by David Harrison uses 20 mm rounds, while the A-10 Warthog uses 30 mm rounds for the GAU-8 Gatling gun in its tank-killing role.



And Chuck P. – who signs off with "Guns don't kill people. I kill people. US Army Airborne-Ranger-Infantry" – warns of excessive trust in Army safety assurances:


What David mentions about the physical aspects of DU weapons when employed as intended is accurate; the stuff 'dissolves', 'melts', involving a whole lot of kinetic energy.

However, what neither David discusses nor I've seen reported anywhere else, by what I consider an unbiased source, is the atomic and sub-atomic aspects of that employment.

Under certain circumstances different substances do different things. Even the unexpected ... look at what was reported as by-products of the mere melting of the nuclear core at Chernobyl. Surprised a lot of people, that.

What happens when DU slams into hardened steel at sufficient speeds and 'disintigrates'? On an atomic and sub-atomic level?

Government sources and David 'affirm' that nothing 'untoward' happens.

However, when I was attending the US Army Infantry Officer Advanced Course at Fort Benning 'School for Boys', and they were telling us all about this new DU business, they, the briefers, were telling us that when the round impacted on the hardened steel of a target, it became a mini-neutron bomb.

Now, I know what the government agencies have been saying. And I read what David is saying. And I remember that briefing too. I'm still not satisfied that we have reliable information from the governmental agencies. I recall how they lied about Agent Orange. I've got friends and associates who were in Operations DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM and they have weird health problems and/or avoided things like mandatory but not-recorded-on-WHO-shot-records shots and their crew-mates have problems and they don't.

Please forgive my 'paranoia', but a health sense of paranoia keeps a soldier alive.



SADDAM HUSSEIN, party animal! An upcoming BBC documentary reports that the snarky Iraqi doesn't like anyone showing up unexpectedly and cramping his party style:


Saddam quickly identified the man who had innocently revealed the whereabouts of the party and machine-gunned him to death on the spot.



Party while you can, Hussmeister. Other "unexpected guests" should be dropping by in a few weeks.

MY ONLY New Year's resolution is to form REM Speedwagon, the world's most conceptually-awkward tribute band. "It's the end of the world as we know it … and I'm gonna keep on lovin' yooouuu."

Well, it was my resolution, until I discovered how many people (including REM) had already thought of the same obvious dumb joke.

LEFTY BLOGGER VAARA e-mails to say he'll be making his first trip to Australia in a week or so. Pity he's not visiting Sydney (Vaara has a killer sense of humour) but anyone out Western Australia way who might want to catch up should e-mail him via his (retired) site.

IT'S A TRUTH held as self-evident by the anti-Howard Australian Left that our policies on illegal immigration are racist and are only used against persons of a non-white hue:


If the Government was so concerned about people staying in Australia illegally, then why not tackle the real issue of the 58,000 overstayers who are the only real "illegal immigrants in this country." They have not had their identities or security antecedents verified before they were granted temporary visas and the prospect of some of them being terrorists does not seem to bother the Minister one bit. Could that be because most of them are white?



They could be as white as the white Scottish guy who so far is the only person to be charged over weekend riots at the Villawood detention centre. He was being held at the centre after violating immigration laws.

1.03.2003

OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM … or Operation Excellent Paintjob?

(via Lionel Mandrake)

ROBERT MUGABE continues to liberate the oppressed – from food, among other things:


His catastrophic decision to cleanse the country's farms of their white owners has forced the country – once southern Africa's breadbasket – to import food from the world's charities. And Mugabe is making sure little of it enters the south. The government has only permitted half a million tons of maize into Zimbabwe, all of it distributed through the state-operated Grain Marketing Board, one of whose managers told The Times of London, "We only sell to Shona-speakers."



Brace yourself for the next graf. After reading it, reflect on the fact that Mugabe received adoring applause when he appeared last year at the UN's South African bullshit festival:


Reports of desperate hunger have been trickling out of Matabeleland for months. And Didymus Mutasa, ZANU-PF's administrative secretary and senior bureaucrat, recently admitted that whittling down Zimbabwe's population from its current twelve million is his government's explicit plan. "We would be better off," he said, "with only six million people ... who support the liberation struggle. ... We don't want all these extra people."



I guess this is what Mugabe meant when he told the UN about his solutions to poverty.

DAVID PRYCE-JONES disassembles historian Eric Hogspawn … er, Hobsbawm:


The purpose of all Hobsbawm's writing, indeed of his life, has been to certify the inevitable triumph of Communism. In the face of whatever might actually have been happening in the Soviet Union and its satellites, he devised reasons to justify or excuse the Communist Party right to its end—long after Russians themselves had realized that Communism had ruined morally and materially everybody and everything within its reach. He loves to describe himself as a professional historian, but someone who has steadily corrupted knowledge into propaganda, and scorns the concept of objective truth, is nothing of the kind, neither a historian nor professional.



The entire piece is recommended.

MARK STEYN in the Sydney Morning Herald!? Can't wait to read the letters to the editor …

(A few weeks ago I had a drink with an op-ed person from the SMH who had not heard of Steyn – which isn't that unusual in Australia, sadly, as Steyn is so rarely published here. With luck, he might become an SMH regular.)

FROM MICHAEL KELLY'S predictions for 2003:


CARTER RETURNS NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

'Too, Too Ridiculous,' Ex-Prez Says


PLAINS, Ga., March 17 — In a move that stunned veteran narcissistic personality disorder observers, a smiling Jimmy Carter today announced that he had decided to return the coveted Peace Prize awarded to him last year by the Nobel Committee.

"I may be the most vainglorious, self-regarding, preachifying old coot since Henry Ward Beecher, but even I know when a joke has gone too far," said Carter.


1.02.2003

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS helps Robert Fisk to fisk himself:


There is probably no easier way to beckon a smirk to the lips of a liberal intellectual than to mention President Bush's invocation of the notion of "evil." Such simple-mindedness! What better proof of a "cowboy" presidency than this crass resort to the language of good guys and bad guys, white hats and black hats? Doesn't everybody know that there are shades and nuances and subtle ties to be considered, in which moral absolutism is of no help?

Probably no journalist in the current discourse has had more fun denouncing Bush as a reactionary simpleton than Robert Fisk of the London Independent. His dispatches have an almost Delphic stature among those who decry American "double standards." Yet I still have my copy of the article he wrote from Kuwait City soon after the expulsion of Saddam's forces. He described as best he could the contents of certain cellars and improv ise d lock-ups and the randomness of the carnage and destruction and waste (remember that Saddam blew up the Kuwaiti oilfields when he had already surrendered control of them), but there was an X-factor in the scene that he could smell or taste rather than summarize. "Something evil," he wrote, "has happened here."



Fisk and Dubya: allies against Saddam!!

INNOCENTLY LOOKING through some old photographs of his mother, Matt of A Bright Cold Day encounters an embryonic version of The Disapproving Maternal Glance. All sons will recognise it. Chilling.

JOHN PILGER! RICHARD NEVILLE! PHILLIP ADAMS! AND MORE PHILLIP ADAMS! Article by me in today's Media Guide examines various lefty blunders of 2002.

RESULTS OF A BBC radio poll:

31% want Cherie Blair deported

25% want radical Islamite Sheik Abu Hamza deported

13% want the Prince of Wales deported

That's who they want to get rid of …. but who do they want?

53% would confer British citizenship on Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu

18% would confer British citizenship on Bill Clinton

13% would confer British citizenship on Australian cricketer Shane Warne

9% would confer British citizenship on George W. Bush

7% would confer British citizenship on Saddam Hussein

TODAY'S COLUMN in The Australian is on modern myths, and mentions Ali Bakhtiari, George W. Bush, John Howard, Andrew Sullivan, and Michael Organ.

WEREN'T THESE people meant to be fleeing violence? The Melbourne Age classifies as "militant" those asylum seekers who attempt to advance their cause by setting fire to buildings:


A ring of militant asylum seekers planned and coordinated the fires in immigration detention facilities across the country, centre managers claimed yesterday.

Five of the country's seven centres have been hit by fire over the past week, causing more than $8 million damage.



The Uniting Church prefers to describe the freedom-loving firebugs as "traumatised":


But Uniting Church advocate Naleya Everson, who has visited Baxter detainees since the fires, said copycat actions were the more likely explanation.

"It's not a premeditated, calculated action. It's the response of one or two individuals, who are already very traumatised, to particularly harsh treatment," she said.



Maybe "militant" is the right word. According to Les Murray's definition, anyway:


For more than a century since the days of the European anarchists, we have lived on and off in the aura of the Militant, a figure who moves within a tribe of a culture or an ideology and demands support and shelter from it, often on pain of death if he is refused.

We're all aware of Green and Orange examples, as well as others. The Militant may be the worst enemy democracy has. An ethnically complex but culturally non-separatist democracy may give him difficult waters to swim in. He has been a deeply romantic figure in the West, as in postcolonial countries. His less violent derivative is the Activist.

Now, though, the Militant has morphed suddenly into a holy warrior whose criticism of exploitative Western decadence many Westerners may yearn to share – but in his eyes they are too greedy infidel modernists whom he is sworn to slaughter. Support of him gains them no reprieve, and our radicals may now see themselves in a bottomless dark mirror.



Well said. Beautifully said, in fact. On the issue of asylum-seekers, letter-writer George Finlay makes a sharp point:


What would have happened if these violent asylum-seekers had been free in the community when they were notified their applications had been refused?



After the events of the last few days, I think we know.

AUSTRALIAN CRICKETER Ryan Campbell proves in this pic that he's as much an innovator behind the stumps as he is with the bat. Campbell can expect to be denounced for succumbing to American influences.

RUSS SMITH PREDICTS:


The still-exploding number of non-institutional website blogs will slow down considerably by next summer. There are too many already and just a few will survive, those who hook up with other media, like Mickey Kaus's arrangement with Slate.


THE PRIME MINISTER asks:


To those who condemn the Government's policy on Iraq, I pose a simple question: Are they comfortable with the prospect that in five years (perhaps earlier) Saddam Hussein will have nuclear weapons that can be delivered against his Middle Eastern neighbours and maybe others?



And The Australian's readers answer:


"Iraq is weak militarily, sanctions have savaged its economy yet we are told that at some indefinite date in the future it might be a threat … Such claims defy logic."

"Ultimately, what would Hussein have to gain by dropping nuclear bombs, thereby inviting massive retaliation?"

"I am even more uncomfortable about the nuclear weapons already possessed by Israel, India, Pakistan and the former members of the Soviet Union. Not to mention the USA and UK."

"Mr Howard, military action without UN support relegates us to the same status as terrorists."

"I am uncomfortable that the US, still the only country to have used nuclear weapons, not only retains the right to use them but has threatened North Korea since the war in their peninsula, and now Iraq, with that contingency."



Some people won't be happy until we formally apply to join the Axis of Evil.

TODAY'S EDITORIAL in The Australian:


Suggestions that portray the dictator as a victim of a sinister American conspiracy to secure control of Middle East oil are particularly facile. If the US was exclusively driven by a thirst for Iraqi oil the easiest way to slake it would be to simply renew its former friendship of convenience, however distasteful, with the Iraqi dictator and this is manifestly not on the US agenda.The opponents of the Americans' desire for regime change in Baghdad appear on firmer ground when they argue that reasons for war do not exist and that the US is seeking to coerce the world into supporting an attack. However, this is equally incorrect.


RICHARD NEVILLE – who recently suggested on some daytime chat show that kids light bush fires because society has conditioned them to expect constant fun and excitement – is subject to a fine Tex slashing.

12.31.2002

THE YEAR AHEAD – 2003 FORETOLD!

JANUARY

5th Another American drone is shot down over Iraq. It is Ted Rall, on his way to Baghdad to act as a human shield.

10th Matt Welch's hat takes pride of place at the Smithsonian's Salute to Blogdom. Opening the exhibition, British journalist Robert Fisk describes the hat as "a symbol of the hatred and fury of this filthy war."

13th More embarrassment for Barbra Streisand, who attributes authorship of The Eagles' New Kid in Town to 19th century political philosopher Fredrick Engels.

FEBRUARY

2nd Coca-Cola stocks fall despite the introduction of three new flavours: Progesterone Coke, Pepsi Coke, and Meat Coke-on-a-Stick.

17th Ryan Newman takes pole position at the Daytona 500 in a Blogger-sponsored Ford Taurus. In the race, however, the Blog-Ford is slow, crashes repeatedly, and – in an incident previously unheard of in motor racing – deletes all of its archives.

22nd In a bulletin to fans, Michael Moore predicts the violent overthrow of the Bush regime in an uprising he dubs "Vengeance Wednesday". By the following Thursday, Moore's bulletin is removed.

25th The online world's own Truman Show is disrupted when Gnat Lileks becomes aware of her circumstances and flees Jasperwood.

MARCH

10th UN inspectors report the sighting of many deadly weapons in and around Iraq, but are calmed when US government officials point out that the devices are US Army ordnance and that the war against Iraq has already been underway for several days.

24th With market recognition of the Axis of Evil brand running at 90%, President George W. Bush announces plans for a luxury subsidiary. Containing Belgium, Monaco, and Switzerland, the Lexus of Evil range will be launched in 2004.

17th Al Gore replaces Phil Donahue as MSNBC's prime chat show host. His program, I Will Talk To You, Then You Will Reply, and Then I Will Again Talk, is cancelled after 17 minutes.

29th Liberals flock to a Minneapolis-area juice bar where a likeness of Paul Wellstone has appeared in a wheatgrass spill.

APRIL

1st Alex Beam dominates the Boston Globe's front page with an exclusive on US citizens becoming instant millionaires simply by providing generous Nigerians with credit card details. "I seen it on the Internet," the proud reporter tells fans.

6th Robert Mugabe launches raids on Australia, kidnapping farmers and begging them to "please make food grow".

9th NSW state premier Bob Carr denounces Margo Kingston's latest column as the work of a "maddened middle-aged Maoist mo-fo". Kingston passionately defends her piece, claiming that Carr "misinterpreted" a paragraph in which Kingston wrote: "I hate Australia and every vile subhuman who dwells within her shit-reeking shores. See you in hell, idiots!" Kingston then leaves for another holiday in Byron Bay.

26th The FBI is again in the spotlight when it is revealed that 9-11 attacker Mohammed Atta was on the agency's Christmas card list and won two lotteries run by FBI staffers to raise funds for an office fish tank.

MAY

11th Julia Butterfly Hill gives birth to a healthy 3lb 4oz branch.

16th Michael Moore moves to France but alienates citizens with his film Bouleing for Champagne, in which Moore investigates a "violent blade culture" he says can be traced to the French Revolution. The film's highlight: a tense interview with ageing actor Alain Delon.

25th Margo Kingston's curious creole is officially recognised as a distinct language.

JUNE

3rd A spokeswoman for the O'Reillian cult claims that the group has successfully cloned a talk show host.

19th The music video for Christina Aguilera's latest release is banned after parents' groups complain about its "inappropriate language" and "vulgar images". Despite the ban, Cum Drunk Fuck Slut is the year's best-selling single.

27h The Australian Democrats elect a new leader – a silent, charismatic entity known only as Uluru.

30th Mark Steyn follows David Brock's lead and converts to the Left. Subsequent link-deleting activity by conservative sites – and equally frantic link adding by Lefties – causes the Internet to freeze solid for three days.

JULY

12th Scott Ritter's new job as a McDonald's drive-thru attendant is short-lived after the former weapons inspector alternately informs customers of an abundance of Big Macs and a complete absence of the popular burgers.

16th Child-Proof Aspirin, the much-awaited sequel to Philip Noyce's Rabbit-Proof Fence, premieres in Sydney.

30th National Mime Week is cancelled amid rumours of a Ken Layne arms-buying spree.

AUGUST

9th Speaking from a Saudi prison where he has been held captive and tortured daily since April, US President George W. Bush hails the Saudis as "trusted allies" in the war against terror.

15th Jose Bove's moustache farm is bulldozed by an activist coalition led by Mayor McCheese.

21st "My bland salad dressing is a symbol of the hatred and fury of this filthy war." Robert Fisk's new career as The Independent's restaurant critic begins controversially.

28th Glenn Reynolds is fired after University of Tennessee records reveal that he hasn't delivered a single lecture in three years, while running up a $4.2 million internet connection tab.

SEPTEMBER

15th Australian Prime Minister John Howard is accused of "grovelling" to the US when he tells an ABC interviewer that America is, on the whole, possibly a slightly better place to live than sub-Saharan Africa.

20th Attempting to distance herself from a government scandal, Cherie Blair denies any knowledge of her husband, British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "I have never met him," a tearful Cherie tells the press. "I am sorry if anyone has been hurt."

26th To avoid offending local members of the Islamic community, Sydney Morning Herald editor-in-chief Alan Revell announces that his newspaper will be published only in Arabic. "We have expanded Fairfax's colour facilities at the Chullora plant," Revell tells a press conference, "so that we can now censor decadent images of even greater quality. Merciful Allah, praise be upon him!"

OCTOBER

7th After a week-long Las Vegas bender in the company of Christopher Hitchens, Noam Chomsky calls a press conference to declare himself "a convert to the cause of Western values". A halting attempt to elaborate on his conversion is cut short by Hitchens, who menacingly reminds the outspoken former leftist about "the photographs. Don't make me show them the photographs, Noam." Chomsky refuses further questions.

19th In a display of solidarity with the North Korean people, Australian Democrats senator Natasha Stott Despoja eats a live dog.

31st Another sign of blogging's mainstream influence: the most popular Halloween character of 2003 is Jim Treacher.

NOVEMBER

3rd Michael Moore's predicted "Hissy Fit Friday" comes and goes with no change of administration. Moore's post on the subject is quietly withdrawn.

8th Yet another multinational company with multi-million dollar global influence is revealed to have repeatedly lied to the public. Greenpeace vows to overcome the setback.

22nd Parent-teacher night doesn't go well for Robert Fisk, whose daughter Osamy is failing art class. Presented with evidence of his child's poor drawing skills, Fisk counters that her doodles are "symbols of the hatred and fury of this filthy war."

DECEMBER

14th Time's Person of the Year is Boy Scout Todd Meekin, who successfully aided three old women across suburban streets and broke up a schoolyard fight.

20th Following his second annual pledge week, Andrew Sullivan buys Spain.

26th Inspired by the success of Kwanzaa, US-based Australian activist organisation G'day B'rith inaugurates Bonza, an "Aussie cultural celebration".

And that's it for me this year. I'm away for a couple of days to participate in traditional Bonza rituals. Thanks to all who wrote, linked, damned, praised, quoted or donated in 2002, and my apologies to all who wrote but never received a reply. I'll try to be better in 2003.

Hopefully everything will be better in 2003. Have a great year.

- Tim

WE LIVE in a soulless land, writes Robert "Soul" Manne, who prays for a Green uprising to end Australia's embrace of "individualistic aspirationalism":


Of the left parties the only one to flourish in 2002 was the Greens, with their victory at Cunningham and their breakthrough performance in the Victorian state election. There are now a large number of young, well-educated Australians who are not only concerned about the environment and ashamed about Australia's retreat from reconciliation and its inhumane treatment of refugees, but who also refuse to accept a mainstream politics premised on individualistic aspirationalism and the abandonment of the struggle for a better world.



My idea of a better world involves ownership of a Holden HSV 427. Manne's idea of a better world is to deny me this. Stupid collectivists never understand that happiness is personal.

LOTS OF fun Michael Moore reaction amongst Little Green Football's massive readership, and over at Freeperville.

GERARD HENDERSON reviews 2002. Snappy quips abound.

AUSTRALIA AND England are planning to boycott World Cup cricket matches in Zimbabwe. Naturally, this is seen as nothing but racism:


Zimbabwe's chief government spokesman was quoted as saying Australian and British efforts to stop their cricket teams from playing in the World Cup matches in Zimbabwe are part of a plot to keep the sport "white".

"This is obviously not about safety and security, it is just political mumbo-jumbo," Information Minister Jonathan Moyo told the official Herald newspaper in Harare.

"If the British and the Australians want to keep cricket as a white and colonial sport, then they should do so alone because we are not interested in their rubbish," Moyo said.



The majority of Zimbabwe's team is white. For now. Mr Moyo's words hint that future teams, like his country's farms, may be filled with so-called "war veterans".

12.30.2002

"IN A way, we're all on Flight 92," writes Brian O’Connell, author of a blog deserving more attention in 2003. Among others: Thought Mesh, Meatriachy, and The Full of Hate Brothers.

A POLL conducted by The Independent turns up a crazy list of 2002's heroes and villains. Here's a summary:

Writer Tariq Ali picks Noam Chomsky as his hero ("His integrity and steadfastness in the face of imperial depredations … blah blah etc blah") and Ariel Sharon as his villain, accusing Sharon of attempting to "erase the political identity of a people who became the indirect victims of the European Judeocide."

Independent columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown villainises Colin Powell: "In warmongering against Iraq, he fails his people." Powell the warmonger? If only.

Lib-Dem MP Norman Baker deifies Rowan Williams, the Catweazel-like Archbishop of Canterbury: "He has attacked the Disney empire. He has broken into a US base to sing psalms on the runway … isn't it great?" Independent columnist Terence Blacker is another Williams fan, as is Astronomer Royal Martin Rees. (Mark Steyn, incidentally, is not.)

You don't want to get on design consultant Stephen Bayley's bad side, as Ken Livingstone has done: "Not since the plague has a single melancholy organism had so damaging an effect on the health and demeanour of London."

I love you, Robert Fisk! So writes scientist Richard Dawkins, more or less: "He is not afraid to tell the truth, however unpleasant. His serious sincerity redeems the profession of journalist from the dishonour inflicted by the tabloids." Dawkins doesn't like Dubya: "This illiterate buffoon cheated his way into the White House with the help of his well-connected family and friends." For all his admiration of Fisk, Richard is evidently afraid to tell the truth himself, however unpleasant.

Broadcaster Andy Kershaw opposes journalism characterised by cowardice, clichés, laziness and mendacity, but despite that, he also votes for Fisk.

Blur bass player Alex James selects Professor Colin Pillinger as a hero, and he genuinely seems to be, especially to space geeks: "He has managed to privately finance and design a British lander for Mars, which, as we speak, is being built by men in funny white coats in Milton Keynes … It's this tiny spacecraft, but the engineering on it reduced me to a gibber because everything had to be done from scratch and this thing is just an incredibly complicated machine."

Broadcaster John Peel's hero nomination deserves to be reprinted in full: "We had a family discussion about this and between us have decided that the hero is any American who questions the need for war against Iraq."

A family discussion? What a creep. And author Will Self almost redeems his selection for enemy (Dick Cheney) with his choice for hero: Warren Zevon.

UPDATE. Reader Joshue Fielek writes:


Thank you for the wonderful news!

According to John Peel, I am now a hero.

I'm an American. I've questioned the war on Iraq.

Of course, Mr. Peel may be unsatisfied with the results of my questioning; I found war with Iraq to be an absolute necessity for the long term health of the planet and my United States.


ANGELA BELL has the inside word on prominent Australian-Raelian Tora Blackman. She's an artist, of course.

THERE MUST be fifty ways to de-partner your partner. The Daily Telegraph's Malcolm Farr survived a Radio National talkfest on "relationships" to file this report:


During the talk I was stunned to hear the case of a woman who had "partnered" a man. This is a barely tolerable term for an undocumented marriage.

Apparently the pair broke up, and left hanging in the radio discussion was whether she had found someone else.

"And has she . . . " started Geraldine Doogue, as I followed the chat with nails digging into the breakfast table.

"And has she since . . . " was all she could get out before her caller interrupted.

"Yes," pre-emptively confirmed the listener, "she has since re-partnered."



Picture Mal at this point collapsing to the floor. Farr is one of the more direct commentators in the Canberra press pack; language like this causes him physical pain.


It is vile enough that two people who live together as man and wife and produce children are reduced to being called partners. That is what you call people who play golf together and never see each other naked.

What these people need is de-bunking.

Our New Year resolution should be to defy the jargon of that certain strain of social worker dedicated to crippling communication.

We should treat them as a pack of offspring from couples who were never formally partnered.


READER ALEX BENSKY has a great idea for the likes of human shield Ken Nichols O'Keefe:


In the cause of keeping your readership up to date, I know you will post immediately when the volunteer human shields offer to go to Israel, ride busses, eat in restaurants, and attend seders, all in the course of shielding innocent Israelis from psychotic suicide bombers. I'll be holding my breath, eagerly awaiting the news.



As will we all. Don't wait for a war in Iraq, Ken! Go to Israel now and absorb some shrapnel!

WENT TO see Bowling For Columbine. Because I'm a polite person, and mindful that the audience had paid nine dollars or so each to enjoy the rotten show, I tried to remain quiet throughout. Why wreck things for other people?

Only once did I snap. The pressure was unendurable. Late in the film, Michael Moore places a photograph of a little girl killed by gunfire in Flint, Michigan, outside Charlton Heston's house. The piousness, the sanctimony, the sight of Moore bending over to put the picture down …

Anyway, here's my review, in today's Australian.

THE FEDERAL Government has vowed to track down the person responsible for the drowning of 353 people on SIEV-X, the people-smuggling vessel that sank en route to Australia last year.

It might surprise Margo Kingston to learn that John Howard isn't the man they're looking for.

GETTING IN EARLY for some New Year's Eve fireworks, asylum seekers in South Australia torched their accommodation on the weekend. Now they face the prospect of jail, which is likely to be an unfriendlier place than a detention centre. Then deportation, to a country less pleasant than Australia.

Nice of them to make the decision so easy for us.

UPDATE: Burn, baby, burn.

12.29.2002

PROFESSOR BUNYIP'S tale of his journey from socialism's cold, brackish swamp to the warm billabong of capitalism is too good to ruin by excerpting. Go read the whole post.

MULTIPLE RAPIST Bilal Skaf, serving 55 years, is saving guards and fellow prisoners the trouble of beating him up by taking care of the job himself.

THE PERTH Sunday Times gets nutso letters. They're not online, but Wilbur has 'em for you. Read on through to the part about the letters the paper doesn't print ...

ACCORDING TO the New York Times, there are "fears" that "radicals" may want to impose a "harsh brand of Islam". Who knew?


Suspected Islamic militants detonated an anti-tank mine in northwestern Pakistan, destroying four video shops and raising fears that radicals are using violence to impose a harsh brand of Islam, a human rights official said Saturday.

In Peshawar, the provincial capital, 61 people were arrested last week in police raids on movie houses showing videos deemed obscene, in some cases for no other reason
than men and women appearing together on the screen.


GULF WAR VET Ken Nichols O'Keefe is returning to Iraq – this time as a human shield. He tells London's Sunday Observer why:


Day by day, the latest headlines tell us that we are moving ever closer to war with Iraq. So many people around the world are ashamed and outraged by this prospect and yet feel powerless to make their voices heard. Large rallies for peace have been held in cities around the world. Yet the bulletins quickly return to the war drums beating ever faster for what must be one of the most choreographed and longest-planned wars in history.



What is it with the peaceniks that they can't ever get to the point without rambling, ill-focused moralistic preambles about what "the headlines tell us" and feelings of mass powerlessness? And is it mandatory to mention drums?


We need not be powerless. Gandhi said that "peace will not come out of a clash of arms but out of justice lived and done by unarmed nations in the face of odds."



And look what happened to him.


So what would happen if several thousand Western citizens migrated to Iraq to stand side by side with the Iraqi people?



Beats me. Every year the opposite occurs – thousands of Iraqis migrate to the West. Maybe you should ask them.


Along with at first just a few hundred people - from hundreds of millions in the west – I will be going to Iraq to volunteer to act as a human shield in the interests of protecting human life.



Unless you're made of Kevlar or some other advanced polycarbonate, you won't be protecting anyone.


We will run the risk of being maimed or killed - but it is simply the same risk that innocent Iraqis will themselves face. I would rather die in defense of justice and peace than "prosper" in complicity with mass murder and war.



Saddam the Peacemaker thanks you.


This is not about supporting Saddam Hussein, as our governments did in the past. It is about saving the lives of those in our human family.



And how will allowing yourself to be maimed or killed achieve this, exactly?


For me, this is also an act of personal penance. In 1989, at the age of nineteen I committed the most ignorant act of my life, I joined the United States Marine Corps. In 1991 I went beyond ignorance into criminal participation in a war against the Iraqi people which ultimately included the use of depleted uranium against the civilian population. My reward as an "American Hero" was to be used by Bush Sr. as a human guinea pig along with several hundred thousand other "heroes". We have still not been told the full story about "Gulf War syndrome".



One symptom is terminal sanctimony.


As I understand it, we the "citizens" are responsible for the actions of "our" governments.



So the citizens of Iraq aren't innocent after all?


It is we who are privileged to live in so-called "democracies" and so we are collectively guilty for what we allow to be done in our name, to both to the civilian population of Iraq and to others around the world. Ignorance is no defence. The existence of other tyrants, worse or not, is no defence.



No war is ever justified. Got it.


In 1999 I renounced my US citizenship in shame and disgust having arrived at the logical, albeit belated, conclusion that my government was not worthy of my funding - through taxes - and certainly not my allegiance. Paying for roads and schools is one thing, paying for "Weapons of Mass Destruction" to the point of insanity and nurturing global oppression is another thing all together. No moral being can be compelled to fund war, death and murder.



You'll be telling immoral Iraqi taxpayers' this, I presume.


Only the most indoctrinated can not see the irony in the United States, with its long record of intervention and around the world, prosecuting this war on terrorism. A leader of a nation with thousands of nuclear weapons – and who has declared his right to use them - is ready to pulverize one of the poorest nations on the planet on the grounds that they may be planning to develop similar weapons themselves.



Good thinking, chief. You disagree with your taxes paying for US nuclear weapons, but think Iraq should be allowed to have them. That path surely will lead peace and love.


For the record, I am not with George Bush or with the terrorists. And that is why, when this war finally begins, I will be in Iraq - with the people of Iraq. I invite everybody to join me in declaring themselves not citizens of nations but world citizens prepared to act in solidarity with the most wretched on our planet and to join us or to support our efforts in other ways. In doing so I honour the principles and laws of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And if I should die in Iraq, it will be as a man at peace with himself because he saw the truth and acted on it.



Question: would you have acted as a human shield in the World Trade Centre?

UPDATE. Nelson Ascher makes an excellent point:


If we live 'in so-called "democracies"', that means these are no democracies at all and, thus, we cannot be collectively guilty of anything, not more anyway than the Iraqis themselves are for Saddam's doings. On the other hand, if we are indeed 'collectively guilty', than our countries are not "so-called", but actual democracies without inverted commas, right? He cannot have 'so-called "democracies"' and 'collectively guilty' at the same time.



Another fine point, from Dave Ivers:


As an American college professor, I tend to think of such antics as a sort of GRE for the average person. On the GRE you get 200 points just for showing up (scale 200-800). I would reckon that this guy probably scored a 100. Plus, isn't this constant mention of "war drums" some sort of ethnic slur on Native Americans? I don't remember too many "war drums" actually being beaten in any European history.



THERE'S TAINTED money, and then there's triple-tainted, taint-dipped, maximum strength tainted money:


So Prince Alwaleed ibn Talal, the Saudi prince whose $10 million donation Mayor Giuliani rejected in the days after September 11, has found a receptacle for his money tainted with blood-soaked anti-Semitism — the bow-tied preppies at Phillips Academy, Andover, founded in 1778. The prince's $500,000 donation, as our Timothy Starks reports at Page One of today's New York Sun, was to the George Herbert Walker Bush Scholarship Fund. And a government-controlled newspaper suggests that the donation was made with the encouragement of President George W. Bush himself.

It's worth remembering the context of this donation. Prince Alwaleed is the one who, after September 11, sent his check to New York with a letter asserting that America "should reexamine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance toward the Palestinian cause."



Bad Bushes. Return the cash. Or, better still, burn it.

THE MELBOURNE AGE writes a piece on Melbourne's "record-level homelessness" without once mentioning the state Labor government. This oversight would not have occurred during Jeff Kennett's reign.

IN AN end-of-year piece that strives vainly towards clarity, the Melbourne Age's John Elder imagines that Australians were as moved by a besieged Yasser Arafat as we were by the plight of our drought-ruined farmers:


Farmers' children smiled prettily when the television cameras turned up — keeping up their chins, as kids do.

Urban dwellers, however, were generally touched by the big dry in the same removed manner in which they regarded, say, Arafat under siege from the Israelis — as something happening to other people a long way away.


A FRIGHTENING MESSAGE arrives from the shadowy Carlyle people, who informant David Barry warned me about:


We at the Carlyle Consortium have had our eye on you for some time. We had planned on recruiting you later this year. The message you received from "David Barry" requires that we initiate contact with you at this time.

It is imperative that we find Barry immediately in order to 1) learn how he uncovered our role in 9/11, and 2) terminate him. Forthwith, you are requested to establish contact with Barry and determine his physical location.

This will be our last communication via e-mail. That night you got plastered in LA we installed a microchip in your ass. It is activated when it hears the saxophone solo in "Who Can It Be Now?" by Men at Work. Play the song, and after the sax riff sing "Who can it be knockin' on my door?"

Then, speaking clearly, tell us what you've learned.

Welcome aboard.

Fritz Pettyjohn

Director of Wet Operations

Carlyle Consortium

Standard, CA, USA



I knew something happened that night in LA. At the time, I was just upset that nobody bought me dinner and flowers first.