DISGRACED FORMER South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje has been killed in a plane crash.

The 32-year-old – banned from cricket for life after taking bribes – was aboard a cargo plane that crashed today in the mountainous south of his home country.

FURTHER PROOF, if proof be needed, that Islamic terrorism isn't about poverty, or inequality, or globalisation.

It's about race.

GREAT LINE from Christopher Johnson about France's loss to Senegal: "They found a new country to surrender to."

PLAGIARISM UPDATE. Doris Kearns Goodwin, accused this year of plagiarism over a book written in 1987, has resigned from the Pulitzer Prize board. The Boston Post reports:

In a letter to board Chairman John Carroll, Goodwin said, "after the controversy earlier this year surrounding my book, 'The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys,' and the need now to concentrate on my Lincoln manuscript, I will not be able to give the board the kind of attention it deserves.

Goodwin is now under investigation following claims that her letter of resignation borrowed heavily and without acknowledgment from this website:

"I have decided to resign so that I can concentrate full time on clearing my good name … Whilst this is happening, I don't believe I can give the Treasury the attention it deserves."

GOLLY. According to this article in the Sydney Morning Herald, people are using the Internet to complain about newspaper coverage of events in the Middle East. What an extraordinary development.

In the piece, Washington Post ombudsman Michael Getler breezily explains away the myriad Web criticisms of his newspaper:

"Part of this is an effort to intimidate, part of it is to shift the focus from Israel's actions to the newspaper's actions and part of it is critiquing, which has some value and which editors should pay attention to."

Question: who do you complain to about an ombudsman? The ombudsgod?

BRAZILIAN-ISRAELI hybrid blogger Renatinha speaks for many:

Hahaha! What a great beginning! Thanks, SENEGAL for beating FRANCE! I am sorry, but I think that more than caring about Brasil, I am praying against France, Germany and Saudi Arabia!

Today's games: Ireland v Cameroon, and Old Defeated Former Nazis v New Happy Sand Nazis. It's the Nazi Derby!

US ARMY PRIVATE Matt Guckenheimer has returned home after two missions in eastern Afghanistan. Last week his local paper, The Ithaca Journal, interviewed him. Guckenheimer offered this frightening quote, which is buried in the story:

"We were told there were no friendly forces. If there was anybody there, they were the enemy. We were told specifically that if there were women and children to kill them."

This, you'd hope to God, isn't true. If it is true, we need to know specifically where "there" was – inside known al-Qaida bunkers, perhaps? – and whether any women or children were in fact killed by forces on the ground. And we need to know if other soldiers were told the same thing, and by whom. We need answers.

UPDATE: Nick Marsala points out some confused reporting in The Ithaca Journal's piece, and a curious disconnect between photo captions and story text. He e-mails: "Something isn't right."

UPDATE II: The Freepers aren't buying Guckenheimer’s claim, either. Writes Lou D.: "Who are 'We' and told by whom? Inquiring minds want to know, since he is describing a illegal command, which would be a court martial offense."

UPDATE III: Eric McErlain at Off-Wing Opinion rightly questions The Ithaca Journal's failure to further investigate Guckenheimer's quote.

ON MAY 23, after it was discovered that Tony Blair was planning John Howard-like measures against illegal immigrants, I wrote: "I wonder what Pat will write now."

Pat is Patrick Barkham, the anti-Australian former Australian correspondent for The Guardian, who often whined about Australian attitudes towards illegals. Well, Pat has written a fantastic load of madness that includes this perfectly contradictory paragraph:

Howard's way was the most divisive controversy in Australia since the Vietnam war. Some feel the country's reputation for generosity has been spoiled and community sentiment permanently soured. But the vast majority support Howard.

Got that? Even though the "vast majority support Howard", he was still able to create the "most divisive controversy in Australia since the Vietnam war". The Australian Prime Minister apparently has the ability to divide a nation that is united behind his policy.

Barkham is a pinhead. So is the editor who allowed this howler to make the paper.


SURE, THEY KILL PEOPLE, but at least they don't watch television. Brianna of Eden Prairie ponders cultural differences in a letter to this week's Time:

I was horrified by the picture of the Iraqi child dressed as a suicide bomber, wearing "TNT" containers around his waist. As shocking as it is, however, I am still undecided about how the culture it represents compares with one in which most people would rather go shopping or watch television than concern themselves with current events. Although I don't agree with suicide bombing, I believe Americans could learn something from the Iraqis: they are passionate about what they believe in.


Eden Prairie, Minn.

Equally passionate were the suicide pilots of September 11. Tell us, Brianna; what precisely can we learn from these people? Besides how to kill, I mean.

BECAUSE I'M FOURTH, I try harder.


COLOMBIA was cast into mourning when its team lost to the USA in 1994, but gamely rallied behind the defeated players in a display of patriotic forgiveness rarely seen in modern sport. Defender Andres Escobar, whose error led to the loss, returned home to find his apartment filled with flowers.

ONE of the game's champions proved that he was also one of the game's great sportsmen in 1986, when a vital goal scored by Diego Maradona was disallowed after the player approached officials and admitted he'd accidentally scored the goal using his hand. England and Argentina fans saluted the noble Maradona, who later became his country's President.

WITH the two nations on the brink of war in 1969, Honduras and El Salvador met in a World Cup game. To the astonishment of onlookers, the players dismantled the goals and enjoyed 90 minutes of joyful, non-competitive play. The symbolic message was not lost on their nations' leaders, and conflict was averted.

ARGENTINA needed a big win against Peru in 1978 to qualify for the semi-finals. Summoning superhuman abilities, the extraordinary Argentines somehow scored six unanswered goals against Peru's steadfast defence. People speak of it to this day as "the game that was worth $50 million."

BIRTHS: To Mariane Pearl, widow of Daniel Pearl, a son, Adam – named in part after John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States.

SCOTT 'SCOOTER' LUCAS, WAR PROFITEER! The weedy commie academic who recently condemned Christopher Hitchens for siding with the hated US war machine turns out to be an Alabama good ol' boy with links to that very same apparatus of imperialism. An old Lucas pal writes:

"I used to know him and in fact worked with him for several months in the mid 1980s at a company in Huntsville, Alabama, that at the time was unquestionably part of the 'military industrial complex.' (I use the quote marks because Lucas favors them at his U of Birmingham web page -- I notice that he tends to employ them to suggest that he is too clever to buy into what all but a few of his fellow Stalinist holdouts would consider to be matters of historical 'fact.')

"Lucas and I attended the same high school in Huntsville, a town with an economy quite dependent on military spending. He was several years younger than I, and I did not know him until we both started drawing salaries from the same war machine he now professes to loathe. (Well, let's be honest: he professed to loathe it at the time, too, but he still picked up his paychecks, as far as I know.)

"We worked as technical writers, actually glorified editors, reviewing instruction manuals for anti-aircraft systems. Lucas worked there during the summer months before returning to work on his graduate degree at the London School of Economics. I think he may have come back to work for some more blood money for another short period.

"Another friend of mine and I had great sport with Lucas (whom we called 'Scooter') at the time, pointing at the contradictions in the red rhetoric he spouted and his own actions. We got along with Scooter well enough, several times after work going out with him for drinks (he could not hold his liquor, by the way), and even going to an Elvis Costello concert with him in Nashville (where Scooter had attended Vanderbilt as an undergrad).

"Scooter was (and, from his picture, it appears still is) a pencil-necked geek -- skinny, always listing to one side or the other when he walked, and really quite goofy in his mannerisms.

"It's funny to see him puffing up his chest in print in the Hitchens piece. My old aunt could kick Scooter's ass. Still, he was a likable enough guy. He sure did talk crap when it came to politics, though. I was silly enough to believe he would get over it. He obviously did not."

I wonder if Hitchens will respond to Scooter's challenge. Sounds like a drinking contest would be a wash; so would any physical battle. Li'l Scooter might have the advantage if the subject was anti-aircraft arms design, though.

THANK YOU ROBERT FISK. By Reem Mohammed Al-Faisal, writing in The Palestine Chronicle, brought to you in association with the Arab News:

Robert Fisk is a journalist who has dedicated his life to defend the helpless and downtrodden. He has frequently unmasked the tyrannies and hypocrisies of those who would otherwise be invisible were it not for men and women like him. In thanking Mr. Fisk, I also thank all the journalists who manage to move us and most important of all lift the veil on the ugly faces of tyranny were it just for a few seconds.

Ms Al-Faisal goes on to laud Fisk for putting "his life and his pen on the line". Does Fisk's heroism know no limits? Next he'll be risking his vacuum cleaner.

WHAT IF TOM DASCHLE were President in August 2001? Ruben Bolling disses the "Bush Knew" crowd – in Salon, of all places.

DOUG BROWN writes:


Clearly, someone has chosen to impersonate me as well as Tim Blair in a chat room by using my E-mail address. I, the real Doug Brown, have never used a chat room and am unaware of the discussion/comments that were posted.

I have contacted the abuse co-ordinator at Cornell, who will attempt to track down the origins of the falsified chat-room postings. If you can provide them with any information that may help in the investigation, it will be appreciated.

Hope this clears things up.


Doug Brown

So, as promised, my post drawing attention to the bogus chat-room rantings has been removed. It'll be interesting to discover who the real Cornell Chat-Room Criminal is. All hail the Abuse Co-Ordinator!


ME? THE 4TH EARL OF KIMBERLEY? HERE, IN THE CHANGING ROOMS AT A GIRLS' DORMITORY? WITH MY REPUTATION? The UK Telegraph recounts the life and times (and many wives) of the roguish Earl:

The 4th Earl of Kimberley, who has died aged 78, achieved a measure of fame as the most-married man in the peerage … he worked his way through five wives in 25 years before settling down contentedly with a former masseuse he had met on a beach in Jamaica.

There was a serious side to him too: he played championship tiddlywinks, bred prize pigs, and as a Liberal spokesman in the Lords advised the electorate to vote Conservative, whereupon David (now Lord) Steel sacked him. Once on the Tory benches, he took a keen interest in defence and foreign policy, although not in social reform. "Queers," he declared, "have been the downfall of all the great empires."

Read the entire obit. What a life.

JOHN PILGER, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Noam Chomsky, Yasser Arafat, Bob Ellis, and Jihad Titi the suicide bomber are all mentioned in today's column in The Australian. So are prawn crackers, lard, pies, and "Noam Foam, the frothy, substanceless candy that's as light as air".

FURTHER SBU (Standard Bakery Unit) ANALYSIS. Reader Mal F. writes:

"I once had a girlfriend who, on reading of some terrible flood in Bangladesh, turned to me with anguish genuine and profound and said, 'They're dying like hotcakes.'"

And Ross F. indicates a downturn in current SBU figures:

"The ironic thing is I can't shift fucking hotcakes for love nor money."


The market for the Plas-crete blocks has exceeded expectations. "They’re selling like hot cakes," says Greg.

By the way, second hand boats are still selling like hot cakes.

A Beth Din approved Christmas pudding, made by Schaverien, was selling like hot cakes.

Organiser Binks Arnold said tickets had been selling like hot cakes.

DeWind 62 Megawatt machines have been selling like hot cakes.

Two hundred and fifty copies of the new Jell-O book by Carolyn Wyman arrived two weeks ago, and they’re selling like hot cakes!

Sure, we knew that TNT2 chipsets are currently selling like hot cakes but NV10?

The new tech vests, these things are selling like hot cakes!

I was selling dead praying mantises and dead cockroaches for 10p each and for some reason they were selling like hot cakes.

Our wonderful new 'Rocket Wizard' T-shirts were added to our online store recently, and they're selling like hot cakes!

The crowds have not taken a fancy to Aks at all, or Asoka or Rahul, but Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham has been selling like hot cakes.

Tickets to the Ministerial Forum were selling like hot cakes.

The return of the rear end was inevitable, one more body part cycled through the fashion wayback machine to keep things fresh (and selling like hot cakes).

Welsh crafts were selling like hot cakes.

The ornaments are selling like hot cakes!! Everyone is thrilled.

Charlie's furniture designs are selling like hot-cakes thanks to Daphne's impressive sales Skills.

Carp Tales 2 is selling like hot cakes!

The Bible Code is selling like hot cakes.

A new Peterhead shop's freshly baked products are literally selling like hot cakes.

Firkins, the tapered wooden buckets, were selling like hot cakes.

Bruneians cannot resist our chendol from Temburong and it is selling like hot cakes.

In the home bakery section yeast and flour were selling like hot cakes.

Gas masks, those talismans against terror, are selling like hot cakes.

They also have cute, pinky glo-in-the-dark panties!!! "These have been selling like hot cakes," says Bhavani.

Books on Islam, the Taliban, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are selling like hot cakes.

Mahesh Babu's 'Takkri Donga' audio, which was released yesterday, is selling like hot cakes.

10 years ago, this device would have been selling like hot cakes.

I purchase mobile homes in the North Carolina area and I'm sure u know they r selling like hot cakes!

Lawn mowers with cup holders are selling like hot cakes.

A new drug is selling like hot cakes.

THE AUSTRALIAN Islamablog I mentioned recently? The one that made no sense? It's now being promoted by Margo Kingston.

Of course.

THIS IS HOW TO RESPOND TO ANGRY READER MAIL. The Weekly Standard's David Tell answers Paul McCann, head of UNRWA publicity in Gaza:

Should The Weekly Standard remain a going concern for another hundred years, it is almost inconceivable that we will ever again have occasion to publish anything nearly so dishonest as the letter above.

Tell is just beginning. Go read the whole piece and the letter that provoked it here.

POOR NO MORE. Can someone alert the anti-globo kids?

Rapid economic development in China and India over the past two decades has underpinned the first reduction in the number of poor people in the world, according to the World Bank.

At least 350 million fewer people may have escaped from below internationally recognised poverty lines as a result of rapid growth in several developing countries - particularly China and India - the bank says.

The result is a reduction since the late 1970s from 1 billion to 650 million in the number of people estimated by the bank to be living in poverty.



SYDNEY, Australia (AP) - Shipwreck hunter Robert Ballard said Wednesday he has found the World War II patrol boat commanded by John F. Kennedy in the Pacific Ocean off the Solomon Islands.

The remains of the wooden boat, PT 109, were lying on the seabed in the Blanket Strait near Gizo in the New Georgia group of islands, Ballard told Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corp. radio.

The weird part? Mary Jo Kopechne's mother was inside it.

ACCORDING to the latest reports, alleged cancer sufferer Nancy Crick knew she didn't have cancer, and was repeatedly informed of this by medical specialists.

Her family knew she didn't have cancer, and warned Crick that she was being exploited by euthanasia activists.

Euthanasia promoter Dr Philip Nitschke knew Crick did not have cancer.

Crick's weight was 65 per cent greater than the 25 kilos often claimed by Nitschke and Crick herself.

Where does all this leave the euthanasia movement?


UPDATE, from the SMH:

The Queensland Medical Board is under pressure to investigate euthanasia campaigner Dr Philip Nitschke over his handling of the Nancy Crick case.

Replace "Queensland Medical Board" with "police" and you might have next week's story.

BOB HOPE is 99 today. Go, Bob! Beat George Burns!

AUSTRALIAN J-SCHOOL attendee Gareth Parker – someone should hire him before the place does his head in – reports that his fellow students struggled awfully over the following questions:

1. What company owns The Australian newspaper, and who is the head of this organisation?

2. Who is the host of the ABC's Media Watch?

3. What media laws are currently the subject of Government review?

Incredible. I know house pets that can answer these. Of course, none of them have been to J-school, which explains their advantage.


In 1968, in his best-selling book The Population Bomb, scientist Paul Ehrlich declared: "In the 1970s the world will undergo famines -- hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death."

In 1972, in their influential landmark study The Limits to Growth, the Club of Rome announced that the world would run out of gold by 1981, of mercury by 1985, tin by1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992, and copper, lead, and gas by 1993.

In 1977, Jimmy Carter, President of the United States incredible as it may seem, confidently predicted that "we could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade."

Now, in 2002, with enough oil for a century and a half, the planet awash in cut-price minerals, and less global famine, starvation and malnutrition than ever before, the end of the world has had to be rescheduled. The latest estimated time of arrival for the apocalypse is 2032.

ADVICE FROM THE PADDING MASTER. Can't fill a column? Then pad, pad, pad with meaningless asides and gibberish! Peter FitzSimons shows how, in the following highlights from his latest piece:

At what point on the long and winding road did they take a sudden left turn to stoop towards Nonsense-ville instead of marching straight ahead in an upright fashion, a'feared of no-one, in a smooth line from their noble past?

Just how did we all get so damn lost?

Just in case you didn't read the report in yesterday's Herald, I want you to conjure for a moment what it is he may have done to so earn the ire of our authorities. Go on, guess. The rest of us will wait for you.

Dum de dum dum. Dum de dum dum. Pens down, please. OK, what did you come up with?

Dropped his pants in a public restaurant? Violently dissented from the umpire's decision? Been picked up on the field microphones telling Sachin Tendulkar that his mother wears army boots? Actually, no. None of the above.

Did you hear him? I put it to you, he said: "YES!" We've got him dead to rights! Got him cold! But wait, there's more. For he goes on - and I would ask the court clerk to turn it up a bit so the jury can hear the full infamy of his hideous utterances.

That's about a quarter of Fitzy's entire column, and I defy anyone to tell me what the hell he's going on about.


BALATA REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank (AP) - Just before blowing himself up near an ice cream parlor in a Tel Aviv suburb,18-year-old Jihad Titi called his mother to say goodbye.

Haleema Titi said she cried when she spoke to her son, but quickly pulled herself together. "I realized that he is going to carry out a suicide attack," said Titi, 52. "I said, 'Oh, son, I hope your operation will succeed.'"

In related news, Israeli authorities have detained the following Palestinian activists: Hamas Mohammed, Semtex-ul-Haq, Killjews Jumanji, Kablooie Boom-Boom Addiba, Detonator Ullamah, and Intifada Jones.


BRITISH ACADEMIC Scott Lucas pretends to demolish Christopher Hitchens, all the while dancing like Jay Kay to avoid contact with any of Hitchens's main points about September 11 and the Spaz Left:

"The Hitch" is no longer an activist, no longer a participant in the real debates about power and who wields it, no more a source for thought. No, he is an industry, posing in trench coat with a cigarette dangling from his top lip, hailed as "one of the few remaining practitioners of the five-hour, two-bottle lunch". And, naturally, the most profitable industry is a monopoly. So he packages himself, surreally, not just as a policeman but the only policeman of "a radical left that no longer exists".

Academic boy ends with this fearsome challenge:

Name the time, the place and the medium. This time, bring some evidence along with your one-liners. I'll be there.

What a violent, thuggish fellow. Hitchens must be terrified.

THOSE INCREDIBLE SUFFRAGETTES. American reader Maureen D. gives the N plus 7 treatment (see several posts below) to Peter FitzSimons, who notoriously apologised to terrorists after September 11:

"Hello. We are sorry. We are desperately sorry that the wormwood has now moved to the poke where it is on the edifier of an academism from which there can be no revealment. We accept that such haughtiness as drove the planisphere into the wormseed tradesman centurion townspeople can only have come from incredible suffragettes, and we are desperately sorry for that suffragette, even if we are yet to come to grisliness with its specific cavalry."

Fitzy wishes he could make this much sense.

NANCY CRICK UPDATE. There's a new angle to the saga of the right-to-die woman who wasn't dying; although 21 people attended her suicide, nobody apparently thought to call the police afterwards:

A key aspect of the police probe will be the almost 11-hour delay in police being informed of Mrs Crick's death.

And, perhaps not surprisingly, death advocate Dr Philip Nitschke is suddenly, uncharacteristically, not talking:

Euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke, whose credibility has been attacked by Premier Peter Beattie, could not be contacted for comment.

CALL ME, ISHMAEL: P.P. McGuinness takes on the big dumb sea beasts and the land-dwellers who would protect them:

Where does the obsession with preventing whaling spring from? Once the rational aim of ensuring the survival of species has been achieved, the rest is just a hotchpotch of emotion and superstition. Of course whales are remarkable beasts, but so are pigs – and no less intelligent. What makes whales morally superior to pigs? Is it just that they are bigger?

There simply is no good reason to refrain from killing and eating whales unless one is a vegetarian, and that is a personal not a political choice. Some humanitarian considerations are involved but they are not the main point.

Why can't we compromise? Let's just kill the whales, but not eat them.

IT LOOKS like a warblog, it covers many of the same issues as a warblog, it even has the brisk writing style of a warblog, but Australian Muslim Amir Butler's Islamablog is the exact reverse of a warblog. Come visit a world where The Independent and The Guardian are trusted, the United Nations has credibility, and Gay Alcorn is worth quoting. It's freaky!

NEWSWEEK'S FAREED ZAKARIA on Europe, the US, and the will for war:

Since the end of the cold war, every serious division between Europe and the United States has been over military action. Europeans simply do not believe in war anymore, largely because of their own experience. After an incredibly bloody past, Europe has moved beyond war—an amazing achievement. Within Western Europe, dialogue, cooperation and trade have made conflict between the allies a distant memory. But the Europeans have now projected this mentality—born of highly unusual circumstances—onto a very different world. They spend lavishly on aid and send negotiating teams around the globe peddling their kinder, gentler power.

But Bosnia is not Belgium. When facing the Balkan crisis, Europe talked tough, imposed sanctions, sent in monitors—but until Washington forced the issue, couldn’t abide the thought of waging war. Even now, Europeans remain reluctant to believe that military power can be useful in solving problems. Even though many of them believe that Saddam Hussein is a dangerous aggressor, their solution is "anything but war."


Three women were killed and five more injured in an unusual shoot-out between the female members of two Mafia families near Naples, in southern Italy.

Two carloads of female gangsters careered around narrow roads between small towns, exchanging machine gun and pistol fire and terrifying passing motorists.

Two of the dead women involved in the incident between the rival Cava and Graziano clans were grandmothers, and the other victim was the 16 year-old grand-daughter of one of the Mafia families.

CHRISTOPHER BUCKLEY, writing in the New Yorker, vengefully parodies Richard Blow's JFK Jr kiss-up memoir:

I first met John Kennedy — it must have been sometime in the nineties. He was walking up Madison Avenue, naked from the waist up, wearing tight cutoff jeans that nicely emphasized his firm butt muscles. He was being followed by about five hundred women, including Daryl Hannah, the wife of the Prime Minister of Canada, and a striking sixteen-year-old girl with a foreign accent who would turn out to be Penélope Cruz, the actress.

What struck me at the time was John's coolness. Most people who were being followed up Madison Avenue by a crowd of this size, grabbing at them, asking them for autographs, sex, whatever, would find it challenging. Every time John walked into a store, the crowd would follow and the fire marshal would have to be called, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But John would just smile and shrug, as if to say, "Aren't Americans, like, the stupidest human beings on the face of the planet?" You could only smile back at him, as if to say, "Totally!"

"SOCIALISM", "socialite", "social justice"… ever noticed that the word "social" is the common denominator of bad things? The Australian's Alan Wood identifies another example:

When a new fad comes along that is hostile to corporate capitalism, threatens to wipe billions of dollars more off shareholder value than the old BHP board did, and yet is being embraced by company boards and institutions worldwide, [we] should sit up and take notice. That fad is corporate social responsibility.

GEORGE W. BUSH mocks a mocker:

President Bush yesterday derisively challenged press claims of widespread anti-Americanism in Europe and ridiculed an American TV correspondent for suggesting as much — in English and French — to him and French President Jacques Chirac.

"I wonder why it is you think there are such strong sentiments in Europe against you and against this administration?" the reporter [David Gregory] said. "Why, particularly, there's a view that you and your administration are trying to impose America's will on the rest of the world, particularly when it comes to the Middle East and where the war on terrorism goes next?"

Turning to Mr. Chirac, he added in French: "And, Mr. President, would you maybe comment on that?"

"Very good," Mr. Bush said sardonically. "The guy memorizes four words, and he plays like he's intercontinental."

"I can go on," Mr. Gregory offered.

"I'm impressed — que bueno," said Mr. Bush, using the Spanish phrase for "how wonderful." He deadpanned: "Now I'm literate in two languages."

Roars of laughter filled both the press conference room and a press filing center elsewhere in the city, where many members of the White House press corps were watching the exchange on live television.

He plays like he's intercontinental. Nice line.

THE FRENCH have presented Michael Moore with the Prix spécial du 55ème anniversaire at the Cannes Film Festival. Then they dragged him outside to go digging for truffles.

SERGIO IS ONE OF BELGIUM'S MOST POPULAR ALL-ROUND ENTERTAINERS. SOME SAY HE IS 'MR. ENTERTAINMENT'. Some may, but it didn't help Sergio at this year's Eurovision Song Contest, where Sergio and a bunch of other Euro-rockers were defeated by Latvia's Marie N.

The tuneful Latvian is accustomed to winning. According to her biography at the official Eurovision website, "She has repeatedly gained the audience's vote at the Voice of Asia festivals for professional singers held in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan." Ah, Alma-Ata, the Memphis of the world's unspellable hellzones.

Personally, I believe Sergio should have triumphed. After all, as his biography informs us – in the Brussels-mandated "English" all of Europe will soon be forced to use – Sergio is able to light up the entire world:

Whether he's bringing the roof down in packed halls or presenting his own TV shows, he's what every artist should be: seasoned and professional. Wherever he goes, it's party time - room, bar, hall, yes, even the world seems to light up, there's a smile on everyone's face. Sergio's television programmes score high in the ratings. In demand both with the public as well as the commercial broadcasters, he's hosted various game shows and fun magazines.

Maybe the fun magazine host will win next year. Germany's entrant will be hoping for success next year, too:

Blind since birth, Corinna May is very popular in her homeland … Before embarking on her journey to Tallinn, Corinna May likes to relax during a nice dinner with good friends. To keep herself fit for her show in Estonia the singeer maintain her daily fitness regime and whenever she doesn't feel like working out, she enjoy going to the movies with her friends. But what she loves most in music and singing true her philosophy 'I can't live without music'.

Or someone to tell her what's happening in those movies she likes. The Russian Federation sent as their representatives an alleged "boy band" modelled after the likes of Take That. The band's name? Prime Minister. Well, you know how all the young chicks dig senior party officials. Prime Minister is led by the charismatic Jean Grigoriev-Milimerov:

Jean's first stage experience goes back to the age of five. It happened during one of his parents tours. 'I remember,-says Jean,- first coming on stage with tears in my eyes. I was five and terrified of the public. Mother made me perform a Gypsy folk dance.' At the end of the show the audience applauded enthusiastically and the talented child wept with fear in the dressing room. Later his parents sent him to music school (class of violin).

Nowadays it's Jean who's enthusiastic (class of crap singing) while the audience weeps with fear. Another band member, Marat Chanyshev, once worked on the Russian version of Candid Camera. Presumably, judging by the show's foreboding name – You Are A Witness – so did members of the KGB's elite entrapment and blackmail squads.

How important is the Eurovision Song Contest? Massively so, especially to German music writer Jan Fedderson, whose praise of the event earned him an interview with the Eurovision website:

Jan: When you ask what is important about the contest, I am not able to answer. But I could ask you in return: what is important about Christmas? The song contest is like a fifth season, an additional value.

Interviewer: The Eurovision song contest is a fifth season?! Have you coined this saying?

Jan: Completely. I always express only my own thoughts.

Good for him! And at this point any discussion of Europe's cultural superiority over the US, Australia, Papua New Guinea, the Antarctic, or anywhere, officially ends.

N PLUS 7. It's the literary craze that's sweeping the globe! The Atlantic Monthly explains:

"N" stands for "noun." To use the method on prose, one locates in the dictionary a noun found in the subject text, counts to the seventh noun from it, and substitutes that for the original. With poetry, especially classical poetry, one may choose to respect the meter and rhyme of the poem being transformed, in which case one would examine every noun (excluding proper nouns) after the seventh one until finding a match.

See? It's easy, and it turns dull writing into wonderful art! The Atlantic provides evidence of how improved is Wordsworth's "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" after N plus 7 modifications:

I wandered lonely as a crowd

That floats on high o'er valves and ills

When all at once I saw a shroud,

A hound, of golden imbeciles;

Beside the lamp, beneath the bees,

Fluttering and dancing in the cheese.

I don't know why, but the mention of "golden imbeciles" put me in mind of Robert Fisk. Let's see what happens when we apply the N plus 7 device to Fisk's famous "I Deserved To Be Attacked" love poem:

They started by shaking handcrafts. We said "Salaam aleikum" - peanut be upon you - then the first pegs flew past my facet. A small bra tried to grab my baguette. Then another. Then someone punched me in the back-field. Then young menials broke my gleam, began smashing stool pigeons into my facet and headgear. I couldn't see for the bloodhound pouring down my forelock and swamping my eyeliner. And even then, I understood. I couldn't blame them for what they were doing. In fact, if I were the Afghan regatta of Kila Abdullah, close to the Afghan-Pakistan borzoi, I would have done just the same to Robert Fisk. Or any other wet nurse I could find.

They broke his gleam! And his eyeliner was ruined! Somehow, for me, this captures the drama of Fisk's assault in a much more visceral way than did his original piece. N plus 7 is magical.

IMRE SALUSINSZKY thinks his fellow Australian academics can go one better than a mere boycott of Israel. He's calling for a boycott of China:

Academics and intellectuals can play an important role in fostering the growth of free societies. OK, granted, we Australian intellectuals have never previously played this role, preferring to castigate foreign societies that are open and democratic, like the US or Israel. But now, finally, finally, we have seen the light and are calling for a boycott of research and cultural links with China. Just as Australian academics last week urged a boycott of Israel, we now urge our colleagues not to attend conferences in China; to pressure our universities to suspend any existing exchange or linkage arrangements; and to refuse to distribute scholarship and academic position information.

WHY CAN'T THEY EVER PUT THEIR EFFORTT INTO LOVE AND HELPING POOR RATHER THAN WHAT THEY DO: Speaking of Imre, the book he co-edited, and to which I contributed, has won a rave review from Margo Kingston. She says it is the product of the "Weird Right", which, coming from her, is astonishing praise.

As is this, from a mailing list associated with Australia's National Young Writers' Festival:


hi there's a book coming out very soon that i found a link to that really sux. its by that imre salznszky who was writing those boring fascist colums for the sydney morning herald, and its called BLAMING OURSELVES - apparenttly its all about september 11 and how the yanks are great and it youre not allowed to criticise them in any way and how all the poor people of the third world should be bombed. you can find a link to it on duffyandsnellgrove.com.au and go to forthcoming titles and look for blaming ourselves - i was doing a google on imre because he seems to have disappeared and now we can all see what he;s bene up to. even that stupid bimbo miranda devine wrote a chapter of it. why can't they ever put their effortt into love and helping poor rather than what they do. they're sick

lucy starlite

Buy the book. See what Imre and Miranda and Tim have bene up to.


NOT CONTENT with ruining our whole nation already, the brutal conservative regime of John Howard is now forcing – forcing – us to drive inexpensive cars and pay low taxes. The Sydney Morning Herald exposes this outrage:

Running a car has become so cheap under federal tax policies that thousands of people have abandoned public transport, NSW's transport chiefs say.

The trend so alarms them that they are reluctant to seek big rises in fares for buses, trains and ferries - for fear of pushing even more people into cars.

Canberra's petrol excise cuts, the GST and even the fringe benefits tax can be directly linked to the greater use of cars, say the heads of StateRail and State Transit, who are jointly setting up an investigation into the problem.

The SMH thinks affordable personal transport is a "problem". Most people think the opposite. The gulf between newspaper and reader widens by the day.

MEDPUNDIT sends these observations on the Nancy Crick suicide case:

"As to the 'inoperable bowel obstruction', some of the stories mention that she had surgery in the past and speculate that she may have had adhesions. Adhesions are scarring around the outside of the intestines, often seen in someone who has had prior surgery.

"The more surgeries you have, the more adhesions you have. If the adhesions are mild, they can sometimes be broken up surgically and the bowel obstruction cured. If they are severe and numerous, surgery is hopeless, and sometimes can make things worse.

"I have to wonder how many surgeries the poor woman had. Many times people with anxiety or depression will complain about abdominal pain and end up with multiple exploratory surgeries to try to find out what's wrong. These people can end up with adhesions, too, which can cause obstruction.

"I guess the question is, how bad was her obstruction? Was it bad enough to kill her or could it have been medically managed? I have to think that if it was severe enough to kill her, the doctors responsible for her care would have treated her pain and enrolled her in hospice, especially if she wanted no further intervention. I'm only speculating, but her pain may have had a large psychosomatic component to it, and that may be why her doctors have not had a whole lot to say on the subject.

"Patient confidentiality is, after all, our supreme mantra, even when the patient is being very public themselves. Of course, if this is true, she would also be very subject to manipulation by the right-to-die movement and her beleaguered relatives as well."

Thanks, Doc. Meanwhile, the editorial in today's Australian slams euthanasia cheerleader Philip Nitschke:

The dignity Mrs Crick showed in her final moments has been debased by the crooning of right-to-die campaigners like Philip Nitschke, who predicted her death would start a "a mass civil disobedience" campaign. Dr Nitschke says he knows of three patients who are deciding to follow Mrs Crick's example, but adds it is up to them to discuss their circumstances. The right of the sick and dying to privacy is paramount. Unfortunately we can be certain that as these patients go public, Dr Nitschke will be at their side extracting whatever publicity he can for his cause.

Let him keep crooning. Philip Nitschke is the euthanasia movement's worst enemy.


A man died overnight in an apparent suicide bombing in a northern Perth suburb.

Western Australian police said the man is believed to have strapped explosives to his body before walking outside his home and detonating them late last night.

Inspector Cath Bullen said one person was killed in the blast but it was not clear if others were injured.

The intentions of this bomber appear to have been purely suicidal, rather than murderous, which makes him unique.

UPDATE: It was all about a girl

Police Inspector Ray Collins said the bomber detonated explosives attached to himself in the Perth suburb of Merriwa, at about 11.30pm (WST).

"At this stage we have preliminary information from a close friend. He had had a discussion with her about the break up of a relationship," Inspector Collins told News.com.au.

"He also made a telephone call to ex-girlfriend and said he was going to blow himself up.

"He just walked outside his house in the middle of the night and blew himself up."

AS PREDICTED a few posts below ...

IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE? The assisted suicide case of Nancy Crick – who apparently believed she was dying of cancer, although a post-mortem revealed no evidence of the disease – contains many puzzling elements, the main one being the claim (made after Crick's death) that the woman also suffered an inoperable twisted bowel.

I've searched for some time today for a similar case, but so far haven't found one (although the condition seems particularly common in horses). In fact, some sites mention the usual ease of correcting a twisted bowel.

So what's the deal, docs? How often is a twisted bowel inoperable? What might cause it to be so? Isn't it a matter of simply untwisting the blocked section? Scroll down to my two posts about Crick for further links to newspaper reports.

(I've tried e-mailing MedPundit about this, only to have my e-mails bounce. Please send a note, MedPundit.)

Anonymity is guaranteed for any medicos who care to offer an opinion. Nobody at any of the newspapers here has so far asked about the allegedly inoperable bowel condition, in much the same way as they've ignored parallels with Dr. Jack Kevorkian (whose patients, more often than not, were not suffering from terminal illnesses.)

Hit my name at the top left of the page for your e-mail link. Thanks.

UPDATES: The Sydney Morning Herald reports euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke's repeated claim that the exact nature of Nancy Crick's illness was "beside the point":

A day after it was revealed that Nancy Crick may not have died of a terminal illness, Philip Nitschke yesterday fielded questions from his medical colleagues about the "slippery slope" of voluntary euthanasia.

In the landmark debate at the Australian Medical Association's conference, Dr Nitschke dismissed the issue of his patient's terminal illness as beside the point. She had suffered great pain and wanted to die.

The Melbourne Age quotes a cancer specialist who says Crick may have been starving herself:

Queensland woman Nancy Crick, who weighed only 27 kilograms when she committed suicide last week, may have been starving herself, a leading Melbourne cancer specialist said yesterday.

Dr Allan Zimet said Mrs Crick's circumstances sounded "extremely unusual". Something had occurred in the case that had not fully emerged, he said.

A Brisbane Courier Mail article covers the euthanasia movement's concerns:

The pro-euthanasia movement was under fire last night as activists scrambled to justify their support for the death of a woman who was not terminally ill.

Euthanasia advocates who championed last week's suicide by Nancy Crick, 69, were unfazed by news she did not have cancer.

And the Daily Telegraph in Sydney has found some doctors who suggest that Crick's medical problems may have been easily fixed:

Some of Nancy Crick's friends knew it was possible she no longer had cancer in the weeks leading up to her suicide.

Her diary entries made in March and early April acknowledge a hernia and bowel adhesions might have been the major causes of her pain and other symptoms.

Doctors told The Daily Telegraph yesterday that in most cases both conditions can be easily corrected by surgery.



The Rationalist takes on religious issues in a Rationalist way:

I don't know what they're putting in the holy communion wine over in Germany, but according to a magazine poll, German Catholics hold the Dalai Lama (37%) to be wiser than the Pope (19%).

At Microdot News, we learn something new:

Pop history has it wrong: William Jennings Bryan was the good guy in the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial, and Clarence Darrow was the bad guy. Evolution, as it was taught at the time of Scopes, was simply eugenics. Bryan had been on the right side of every political issue for his entire career, fighting on the side of the disenfranchised against the depredations of the wealthy and powerful. Darrow defended gangsters and criminals for much of his career. Unfortunately, Bryan was a scientific ignoramus, and so he goes down in history as a fool, whereas history should remember him as a hero who made one mistake, while Darrow was a villain who did a couple of things right.

The young woman responsible for IAmTheMonkey is a regular Sweary Mary:

When he first met me, Mattay used only to say "snapperhead" and "slack-jawed dimwit" when he was driving. With a bit of encouragement on my part, now even the shortest drive is a swearing fest. He keeps it interesting, too. "Nice indicators, FUCK KNUCK!" (abbreviated form of Fuck Knuckle, meaning one who wanks - see also knob jockey) is the most used, and certainly my favourite. It's the best bit of driving, swearing and gesturing to everyone else in a car, who are generally also swearing and gesticulating at you.

RockStupid wonders about declining standards:

My father, who dropped out of high school in the tenth grade, makes occasional slips of grammar when writing a note, or a card, or whatever. And yet, he, a mechanic most of his life, writes far better than most people in the white collar, supposedly educated world can manage to do. Is the education of our people just not sticking, or is it the education itself that's doing the harm?

And game making technoid Alex Smith reveals his latest project:

Finally we are out and in the open. As of E3, our current development project - Wolverine's Revenge - is a public reality. Now our friends and family can be told exactly what it is that eats up our days and spreads into our nights. The Deadline Beast has a face and a name ...

Initial feedback is generally good. There have been positive comments, hearty anticipation, and a reassuring ability from both press and public to put any deficiencies down to the fact that we are still a year away from release. After the whining and face-clawing of the clot-brained message board trolls that we endured on release of a few early screenshots last month, it's good to know that some people remain in possession of a little perspective.

Oh, and the Bad Dude has moved to a new cyberzone, far from warm, cuddly Blogspot. You can now find Brian here.

AT THE Cannes Film Festival, Roman Polanski has presented his latest film:

The Pianist is a harrowing and powerful story about the Holocaust in the director's native Poland.

Polanski, who is Jewish, tries to show that not all Nazis were bad and not all Jews were victims.

Sounds like a Palme d'Or winner to me!

KEN LAYNE complained about the infrequent postings at Margo Kingston's Web Diary only a day or so ago. Now a petition calls for Kingston to be given the resources she needs to keep all thinking Australians constantly informed. The petition makes three demands:

Web Diary is updated too seldom. Days, sometimes entire weeks, pass without the site informing readers when Ms. Kingston will be allowed to return. Is this censorship at work? The Sydney Morning Herald has provided an electronic pulpit. Why does it deny Web Diary's priestess the right to officiate in the temple of her truths?

Therefore, we demand that the Sydney Morning officially endorse the permanence of Web Diary and acknowledge it is Ms. Kingston and her Sydney Morning Herald supporters who are defining the future that awaits the entire company. It also means that Ms. Kingston needs more resources to accomplish her mission. Therefore, we call on John Fairfax to provide them. More money -- a lot more money -- for Web Diary. If Fairfax is ever sold, the contract must specify that Web Diary is to be preserved and enhanced in perpetuity and forever, for it is a national treasure.

The second demand:

In order to make better use of Web Diary's every intellectual resource, we respectfully but insistently urge that Ms. Kingston be given the equipment to transform herself into an ambulatory, one-woman indy media experiment, a roving voice for the disenfranchised.

A mobile Web cam no larger than a box of matches and mounted on a special pair of glasses could transmit the world exactly as it appears in Ms. Kingston vision, and do so in real time. We could share her day from first to last. We could rise with her, eat with her, sleep with her. Wherever her head happened to be at any one time, readers could be there as well.

A microphone would capture her dialogue and also the ad hoc insights of her circle, broadcasting the debate and analysis of Ms. Kingston as she jousts with the Herald's cadre of resident intellectuals. Never again would exclusionary forces close the door on the thrust and parry of meetings where Sydney Morning Herald editorial policy is handed down. The deliberations and wit of Ms. Kingston's domestic salon also would be available to all. To close the gap between media and community we need to open everything up.

The technology to transmogrify Ms. Kingston and Web Diary into fonts of thought available to millions is ready and available. Unleash it now, John Fairfax. Share the Sydney Morning Herald's rare fruit with the widest audience.

Finally, the third demand:

We call on Fairfax supreme chieftain Fred Hilmer to anoint Ms. Kingston as the editor in waiting. She is the obvious choice, embodying the clear direction the company is taking. Let us now make it official.

The human inspiration behind Web Diary deserves no less. She has explored, so often with transgressive ardor, the questionable contentions and permafrozen posits underlying the unuttered dialogues about race, class, gender, whiteness, otherness, blindness and alternative openness. But this must only be the start.

We, the undersigned, demand that the envelope of the message medium be pushed harder and with more passion into the slot that electronic devices have opened. This will engage thinking Australian broadsheet readers with issues original, genuine, passionate and accessible. When traditional media outlets have yet to adapt to a multi-media future pressing on the present, this is vital.

This we demand. This we deserve. This we must have.

So sign the petition. NOW!

POINT-COUNTERPOINT. The best comment-box exchange of the week followed this Matt Welch item about Ralph Nader's claim that fast food restaurants are "weapons of mass destruction". First up, Leonard Dickens:

Obviously you are not taking Nader seriously, nor are the other posters here. But there is a difference between lying (or less overt forms of truth-shading) and speaking hyperbolically. I think it is obvious to everyone that weapons of mass destruction (note: not necessarily nukes) are different from fast food.

However, there are also a few similarities. Weapons, by their nature, can kill people. They are designed to. A diet which is too drastically different than what we are evolved to deal with can also kill people.

Of course the differences are large, and they matter. But I think the purpose of the comparison should be plain.

Posted by Leonard Dickens at May 20, 2002 08:53 AM

And in rebuttal, Charlie Hornberger:

Yes, the similarities are downright uncanny, now that you mention it.

Big Macs, for instance, come with their own special sauce, and thus do not require the addition of any extra ketchup. Nuclear weapons, I think it goes without saying, also do not require extra ketchup. (They're both best served au natural, you might say. ;-))

I've also found that, especially at McDonalds, while the delicious meat patty is predictably dense and often even tough, it's always surrounded by a bun of unmatched airiness. Whenever I bite into one, I just can't help thinking about a nuclear bomb, with all of its dense little radioactive atoms crammed together in the middle and surrounded by the (comparatively) wispy skein of the missile.

Also, I have heard that those Russian "suitcase bombs" -- you know the ones that may or may not be missing, who knows? -- are extremely high in sodium.

Posted by Charlie Hornberger at May 20, 2002 11:01 AM

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW quotes me, among others, in a long article on blogging. Too bad they've made the article unavailable to non-subscribers, so no bloggers can link to it, or even read it without paying at least $54. It's a little like presenting mime on radio.

UPDATE: In Susan Owens's piece I'm quoted saying something about Jack Robertson phoning me for tech help. As I recall, I actually told her something about me emailing Jack with advice. A small point, but worth correcting.

SUICIDE WATCH. Melbourne's Sandy Williamson says she'll be the next to off herself:

A terminally ill Melbourne woman will announce on TV tonight she plans to kill herself with the help of euthanasia doctor Philip Nitschke.

She is among several patients the controversial medico is preparing to help to an early death in coming weeks.

This comes amid reports Gold Coast great-grandmother Nancy Crick, 69, was cancer free when she took her life on Wednesday night.

Nitschke says it doesn't matter that Crick wasn't cancerous, and that the various other ailments she suffered meant that Crick "thought death was preferable."

She also thought she was going to die of cancer, which might have had some considerable bearing on her plans, according to Australian Medical Association deputy president Trevor Mudge:

"If we have here a woman who has taken her life, in the perhaps mistaken belief that she is terminally ill with cancer, and she's subsequently been found not to be, then I think you have to look at the quality of the advice she's been offered."

Nitschke should tread very, very carefully here. Many of Dr. Jack Kevorkian's "patients" also turned out not to be suffering terminal illnesses, a fact so far overlooked in coverage of Crick's death:

The Detroit Free Press reported in March 1997 that as many as 60 percent of the people who killed themselves with Kevorkian's assistance weren't dying or suffering from chronic pain.

[Deborah] Sickels was a 43-year-old separated mother of two adult children living by herself in Arlington, Texas. She told her family several years earlier that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease that slowly weakens the muscles … What Sickels didn't tell her loved ones was that she wanted to end her life. Late in the summer of 1997, Sickels called Michigan a couple of times, presumably to make contact with Kevorkian.

Then, she flew to the Detroit area by herself. On Sept. 6, she checked into the Crown Plaza Hotel in a suburb called Romulus. The next morning, an anonymous woman called the front desk to say Sickels was dead. An autopsy revealed that she poisoned herself with carbon monoxide, a signature Kevorkian case like six others that have occurred in Romulus, said Police Sgt. Gordon Malaniak.

What didn't come to light at the time was that Sickels' illness was all in her mind. A Michigan autopsy revealed no evidence of multiple sclerosis in her body. "There was nothing there. She did not have that disease," Malaniak said. "It was probably more of a psychological problem than a physical matter."

Kevorkian is now serving 10-to-25 in a Michigan prison.

MALCOLM KNOX, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald (no link available), says Canadian leftist bore John Ralston Saul is "hard to disagree with", and "hugely influential". Knox offers this example of influential and agreeable Ralston Saul wisdom:

"Conscious civilisations – those which use their qualities in concert – know that they must deal with the causes of instability and loss of direction in order to shrink that context from which terrorism feeds."

What does that sentence mean? Knox says Saul's comment is "dead right", but, please, what is he right about? Does anyone know? Does Knox know? Does fucking Ralston Saul know? What context is being shrunk? Who is conscious? How are qualities used in concert?

Hey, Penny! Help me out here! What is your countryman talking about?