Friday, December 30, 2005
LEAST UNPOPULAR AUSTRALIAN LEFTOID BLOGS
Leaving aside Crikey.com.au (ranking: 47,736) here are Australia’s top ten lefty blogs, as determined by Alexa traffic counts (which may or may not be reliable; beats me how these things work). Note that the count for some sites are combined due to sharing a common domain:
1. Tim Lambert: 122,559
2. Troppo Armadillo: 131,292
4. Catallaxy Files: 225,663
5. John Quiggin: 320,092
6. David Tiley and Cast Iron Balcony: 382,880
7. Gary Sauer-Thompson: 388,696
9. Tim Dunlop: 708,228 (Note: Dunlop’s daily ranking is 266,229, which may be more representative)
10. Daily Flute: 825,427
It’s possible I’ve missed a couple. Add any omissions in comments.
WARMING CONTINUES TO MEAN COOLING
Almost as soon as the Kyoto Protocol on global warming came into effect on February 15, Kashmir suffered the highest snowfall in three decades with over 150 killed, and Mumbai recorded the lowest temperature in 40 years.
It is inevitable that one of tomorrow’s headlines will be that scientists have dramatically scaled back their projections of sea level rise associated with global warming. Had they paid attention to data (and snow) that began accumulating as long as 15 years ago, they would never have made such outlandish forecasts to begin with.
Gerard Henderson presents his annual roundup of Australian idiocy:
William Mitchell says “Australia is steadily becoming a totalitarian society”. Judith Armstrong writes that it is “tempting to wonder whether democracy is not wasted on voters”. Mitchell and Armstrong are humanities academics. Surprised?
December saw Sydney University vice-chancellor Gavin Brown label opponents of compulsory student unionism as “red-necked philistines”. Alas, he could not outdo Latham for the most incisive comment of the year. Turn to page 377 of The Latham Diaries, where the diarist asks: “Why is it that every time I come to Adelaide there’s a problem?”
Simply do as I do, Mark; never go to Adelaide!
Thursday, December 29, 2005
“HE HATED GOVERNMENTS TELLING HIM WHAT TO DO”
The Bulletin closed for the year a week or so ago, but re-opened in the wake of owner Kerry Packer’s death. Some staff flew back to Sydney from holidays interstate; others cancelled planned trips. (Get this: nobody complained.) We had about 72 hours to produce a 96-page tribute edition. Any later and we’d have been beaten by the weekend newspapers.
And—mostly thanks to the incredible work of creative director Jeff Young and chief sub-editor Andrew Forbes—we did it. The magazine is on sale today. A few highlights:
It was not initially expected that he would do well in the realms of commerce, not simply because he was the third generation of the powerful Packer family to serve in the role. Kerry’s ascension, in May 1974, to the twin posts of chairman and managing director of Consolidated Press was noted by The Australian newspaper under the modest headline: “K. Packer takes reins”. The article was a mere 47 words in length ...
He hated governments telling him what to do and what to think.
“Tell you what should happen, son. These governments are always passing these new laws, right? Every day there’s some new law. Now I’ll tell you the law I’d like to see passed. Goes like this: every time the government passes a new law, it has to repeal an old law. Be good, wouldn’t it?”
Editor Garry Linnell quotes the boss:
“Tell me this, son. Out there [he gestures and you know he’s pointing to the suburbs] there are many of them earning – what’s the average wage? About 50k? They’re earning that, and some a lot less. How do they get by on that? How do you raise a family and pay a mortgage and just do what you have to do? Don’t forget ’em. You journos always do.”
The main course arrived and the meat wasn’t to his liking. He pushed the plate away arguing: “I own more cattle than anyone else in the world. I own more land than any man in Australia. Why can’t I get a decent ****** steak in my own house?”
As head of sport, David Hill remembers being on duty late one night during a nightmarish broadcast in which the satellite kept dropping out, spoiling coverage of a major British golf tournament. At 2.30am, a great hulk suddenly loomed up behind him in the gloom of studio control.
“Kerry, what are you doing here?” Hill asked in alarm.
“I think this might arguably be the greatest disaster in the history of television,” Packer chided. “I just wanted to watch it up close.”
We stepped on to the footpath with Packer casting an eye around for his driver, who was nowhere. Seeing Packer’s frustration and feeling faintly ridiculous, stranded in a darkened street with Australia’s richest man, I suggested we catch a cab. “OK,” Packer replied, feeling his empty pockets. “Have you got five bucks?”
Packer is in Bermuda at some joint where they teach you to stop smoking. His horse is running in the Derby at Randwick on Easter Monday. So he calls in and gets Darrell Eastlake, who wouldn’t know a horse from a cow.
“Kerry Packer here – how’d Easter go?”
“Oh, good thanks, Mr Packer. I had a surf and took the kids ...”
“Not that bloody Easter, you idiot, my horse Easter. The Derby.”
Big Dazza’s flying around the cottage searching for the results – Easter, sadly, flopped. Before hanging up, a gruff Packer says: “Who am I talking to?”
“Ian Maurice,” Eastlake says, and hangs up.
Jockey Greg Hall was feeling chipper. He’d just won the 1987 Sydney Cup on Major Drive, his first big win for owner Kerry Packer. That night he sat in Packer’s Sydney home, wide-eyed with delight – kids who left school at 13 don’t often grow up to dine in mansions. Packer led Hall to his office, which was littered with race trophies dating back decades. He told Hall how proud his deceased father, Sir Frank, would have been and Hall, warming to the flattery, started to relax. Then, seemingly as an afterthought, Packer said: “Even though I had $7m on the second horse, you little bastard.”
At one dinner, he asked the table what they thought about John Howard’s new gun laws. (A gun lover, Kerry didn’t approve.)
Treasurer Peter Costello, sitting at his side, remarked that after the horror of Port Arthur the government had to do “something”.
“Well, you know nothing,” said the media mogul to the man who would be prime minister.
“What about you, Mr Martin?”
I told him I thought the gun laws should be much tougher.
“Well, you’re also a dope.”
Kerry Packer was a great Australian. There’s much more in the print edition; also, check this picture gallery.
UPDATE. Tubs Grogan, Australia’s leading investigative drunk, recalls a bizarre meeting with Packer.
UPDATE II. An excellent article by Nick Cater.
In 1975, the ACB coffers were overflowing, they had banked a massive A$78,000 from the 1975 England tour and even bigger takings from the 1975/76 Windies tour of Oz. From this players earned something that amounted to between A$180 to $240 a week. Barely enough, in some cases, to cover expenses.
UPDATE IV. Packer was a friend of the rhino.
UPDATE V. Thoughtful analysis from the Currency Lad.
UPDATE VI. Packer was also a friend of the shoeless.
UPDATE VII. Rural folk loved him.
* From Cathy Seipp’s year in review:
I discover I’m included in some lefty blog’s nominations for world’s worst blogger. By “worst” what these types really mean is “rightwing blogger that most gets under their skin.” But naturally I’m pleased to be there, even if I’m only mentioned as having a “head like a Q-tip.” (Too big? Too small? I guess it’s a reference to my hair.)
* “Fake but accurate” is kinda played out, notes Jim Treacher. Click to vote on his alternatives.
* Hmmm. Looks like Australian authorities are just as oppressive as those Homeland Security guys who don’t investigate Mao readers. (Speaking of which, Josh Tinley writes: “When I think about my first reaction to the [Little Red Book] story, I find it absurd that, as someone who cares deeply about civil liberties, I was so excited to report on an incident in which those liberties were apparently violated.”)
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
On account of I don’t got nothin’ to say right now!
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Monday, December 26, 2005
Kerry Packer, Australia’s richest man and one of the nation’s most colourful and visionary business leaders, has died at 68.
UPDATE. John Howard: “Of all the impressions that he left with me, none was greater or more indelible than his passionate commitment to the interests of Australia and the interests of the Australian people. In all of the many conversations I had with him over the years, he was always concerned about what was right for this country.”
Richie Benaud: “We first met during the formation of World Series cricket. There was never anything mundane or orthodox about him.” A minute’s silence was observed before play in the Second Test, which thereafter featured a brilliant Australian fightback.
UPDATE II. Rupert Murdoch: “He was a man who you could truly say was larger than life, a fierce competitor who had friends in areas of great influence and was often surrounded in controversy but at the same time, capable of great generosity.”
Kim Beazley: “Kerry Packer was a tough Australian nationalist who produced great innovations in the Australian media. In the course of my political life, I have had many conversations with Kerry Packer, most of which were about the future of our nation and its economic direction.”
UPDATE III. The sayings of Kerry Packer. Please read.
UPDATE IV. London Times: “Kerry Packer was a revolutionary; a man 20 years ahead of his time in sport and whose influence was particularly felt in cricket.” Legal background to Packer’s WSC revolution here. Packer recently met Australian opening batsmen Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden:
Langer asked whether Packer felt luck plays a big part in life.
Packer responded by telling Langer he should know, because he has played and missed more than anyone he had ever seen.
Lefties are angry that US citizens aren’t being spied upon:
OK, if the Boston Globe is right, the story about the student at U-Mass Dartmouth is wrong. Understand that it angers me. Many of us who have opposed the Patriot Act since its genesis were waiting for the day that something like this would happen; this is a major setback.
Interesting; this individual would have been happy if some kid had been hauled away by Chimpeachment W. Turkeyburton’s secret brain cops. Over in Cuba (literacy rate: 1500%!) the press still hasn’t wised up to the story being corrected:
Agents of the Homeland Security Department questioned a Darmouth University Student for having requested an inter-library loan for Mao-Tse-Tung´s Little Red Book, on the grounds, said the agents, that the book was on a “watch list” and that the significant time abroad spent by the student triggered them to investigate further.
The paper that broke—and then corrected—the Little Red Book claim now runs this:
Thumbs down for the UMass student who lied to professors and The Standard-Times about being visited by federal agents after he ordered a copy of Mao Tse Tung’s Little Red Book through the inter-library loan system. This bogus story went around the nation and gave the public a false impression of our government at a time when our government is under intense pressure to defend the homeland from terrorism and does not need the public to turn against it.
Actually, judging by recent opinion polls, it hasn’t hurt at all.
SWIM FOR YOUR LIVES
Attention, Manhattanites and Floridians and half of the US: prepare to swim! You have no time to escape 20-foot sea rises, according to an NYT review of Mariana Gosnell’s latest:
She learns that if these seven million cubic miles of ice were defrosted by humanity’s addiction to fossil fuels, the world’s sea level would rise 20 feet, sending Florida, most of Manhattan and almost half of America’s population to swim with the fishes, literally.
Except for the smart folks who might notice water lapping around their ankles and move inland. Or to a higher floor. Speaking of smart folks, our old pal Wayne Sanderson could find himself facing the kind of dilemma with which Chinese mothers of twins are familiar. You see, Wayne is a motorcycle enthusiast—in his own words, a long-term, confirmed Ducati-nut—yet he also believes that “global warming is THE great issue facing the planet”. So how’s he going to cope with this news:
Motorcycles collectively emit 16 times more hydrocarbons, three times more carbon monoxide and a “disproportionately high” amount of other air pollutants compared to passenger cars, according to a Swiss study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology ...
Particularly worrisome are the high levels of hydrocarbons emitted by Japanese, German and Italian two-wheelers, according to the study.
Oh, no! Wayne’s going to have to choose between Ducatis and his faith in warming! I’d go for the Duke.
WHO YOU GONNA CALL?
Michael Gawenda sees a ghost:
Bush’s argument that the world had changed since 1978 and that America faced an unprecedented terrorism threat, that America indeed was at war, doesn’t wash.
What does wash is this from Cheney, who defended the wiretaps by saying that a contraction of presidential power since the Vietnam War and the Watergate era had to be reversed.
“I believe in strong, robust executive authority and I think the world we live in demands it,” he said.
And so bugger congress and bugger the courts. You could almost see the ghost of Richard Nixon hovering above him as he spoke.
Cheney said that during his visit to the Middle East. Gawenda was in the US at the time, apparently hallucinating.
Alaskan lefty Gryphen ponders the ideological divide:
I have been the recepient of an unusual number of visitors of late. They are coming almost exclusively from a link placed on a right wing bloggers site called Tim Blair. Now I have to say that the few comments I have recieved from these individuals have been polite and respectful. This led me to wonder what is it that really causes our ideological differences?
To be brutally honest I usually assume that there is some intellectual disparity that seperates us.
Looks like he’s right. Meanwhile, due to a surge of intellectual dissidents eager to test Homeland Security response, Mao’s Little Red Book has jumped to an Amazon ranking of 6,207—up from 12,646 the day before.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Soon it will be impossible to ridicule these people, seeing as they do such a fine job of it themselves. Here’s Professor Juan Cole:
The story of the interlibrary loan request for Mao’s Little Red Book that produced an interview by the Department of Homeland Security turns out to be a hoax.
However, it is one of those hoaxes that bespeaks a reality ...
Strange, as reader chrisbg99 observes, that the same logic isn’t applied to pre-war WMD claims. Didn’t that “hoax” also “bespeak a reality”?
The SMH publishes a map of Sydney racism:
Residents of Mosman and Woollahra have joined those in the Sutherland Shire as among the Sydney people least tolerant of cultural diversity and multicultural values, a map of the city’s racial attitudes reveals ...
The survey is part of work by Associate Professor Jim Forrest, of Macquarie University; Kevin Dunn, of the University of NSW; and others, from which Professor Forrest has produced the map.
Here it is; the chilling map itself. Naturally, according to Professor Forrest, “the least accepting groups were in outer suburbs where populations are mostly solidly Anglo.” So let’s look at the means by which this damning socio-cartography was produced:
In the survey on racial attitudes, residents were asked to respond to two statements: 1) It is a good thing for society to be made up of different cultures. 2) Australia is weakened by different ethnicities sticking to their old ways.
A little simplistic, don’t you think? After all, would the people who agreed with the first statement also agree that, say, white supremacists (a different culture) added to society’s goodness? Would the tolerant Green voters of inner Sydney welcome to their suburbs differently-cultured fundamentalist Christians? Would a culture of difference indicated by female circumcision be a good thing?
As for the second statement (which one must reject to signify tolerance) what of the “old ways” represented by opposition to female employment? Or homosexuality? What if the ethnicity sticking to its old ways happens to be Anglo-Saxon? Speaking of old ways, the survey upon which the SMH’s story is based seems to have been completed in 2001:
Responses to other statements by 5056 people in Queensland and NSW immediately after the September 11 attacks showed 12 per cent held beliefs akin to racial supremacy.
More details about the original survey here. The only new element to the SMH’s front-page lead might be the map. Which would mean the SMH headline (“After the riots: city’s map of racism”) isn’t exactly honest; the data for that map was collected more than four years before the riots.
Editors with a little tabloid finesse may have been able to sneak this bunch of crap past sleepy Boxing Day readers. The SMH, as usual, can’t fool anybody, any time. Oh, and there’s this sidebar piece on a multicultural festival:
At about 2.30pm, said Jamal Daoud, a Blacktown community worker who thought up the festival as a gesture of reconciliation, about 10 “Anglos” gathered near his group in a menacing way. “One of them said something racist but we could not quite make it out.”
But he knew it was racist! Possibly the speaker was someone from a different culture, bitterly sticking to his old ways.
(Compiled with massive assistance from J.F. Beck)