You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Monday, December 22, 2003


Saw this a few months back but now it's very relevant.

From the site:

"NEWS RELEASE and Photo-call Issued 02.09.03

PROFESSIONALS from the world of advertising have been enlisted to create a striking poster and series of commercial radio ads which was unveiled by the Churches Advertising Network (CAN) in London on September 9th.

In a radical twist to the traditional nativity scene and Christmas carols, the new series of Christmas adverts will follow the theme: 'Ask Him for something' and offer an alternative to the usual commercial Christmas - encouraging people to tap into a spiritual dimension instead.

CAN, the Churches Advertising Network, is an independent and ecumenical group of Church communicators which for the past ten years has produced a series of striking and often controversial poster and radio adverts.

Last year's award winning radio campaign,' Losing the Plot', which scooped the Andrew Cross Award for best radio advert or promotion, was aimed at a youth audience and broadcast on 24 radio stations including the Galaxy network and London's Kiss 100FM in the run up to Christmas 2002.

Church groups from various Christian denominations across the country will be invited to buy airtime on their local commercial radio stations in the fortnight before Christmas, with the aim of reaching young people in their area. Sponsorship has also been received to place the advert on the Galaxy network of stations and London's Kiss FM.

Picture here


recently i found the following website after follwing this blurb and link:

"Be sure not to miss Santa this Christmas Eve by tracking his progress live online. Track his journey and see exactly how he does what he does with live video and audio reports. You can start following his epic journey from 5am Christmas Eve. "

This got me to thinking - haven't those guys on 24 hour misslie watch at NORAD got anything better to do than track Santa now that the Cold war has frozen over? Aren't they worried about rogue nuclear states like Iran and North Korea, and other "Axis of Evil" wannabes, or other unidintified and undefined terrorist threats?


the whole thing is a huge cover-up and . . .

Osama bin Laden = Santa Claus!

Friday, December 12, 2003


[...] In a front-page story Monday, the [Cleveland Plain Dealer] quoted Daschle declaring, in reference to the United States, "The evil ones now find themselves in crisis, and this is God's will for them." In a correction, however, noted by the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web, the Cleveland daily said because of an editing error the quote from an audiotape purportedly of Saddam Hussein was misattributed to the South Dakota senator. The paper said, "It was the speaker on the tape, not Daschle," who said the Ba'athist leadership should return to power. The story had Daschle saying the only solution for Iraq was for "the zealous Iraqi sons, who ran its affairs and brought it out of backwardness ... to return ... to run its affairs anew."

-- “Newspaper confuses Daschle with Saddam", (20 November 2003)

WASHINGTON, DC -- Denouncing the American electoral process as "immoral and corrupt," President Clinton announced Tuesday that he will not step down on Jan. 20, 2001, declaring himself "President For Life."

Proclaiming Nov 14 a new national holiday as "Day One of Americlintonian Year Zero," Clinton issued a directive of total martial law over "all territories formerly known as these United States, from now on to be called the Holy United Imperial Americlintonian Demopublic (HUIAD)." He added that all election results are "hereby invalidated under Demopublican provisional law."

"The American people have spoken," Clinton said. "By failing to generate a 51 percent majority for either candidate, they have shown their inability to muster the drive to collective action. The time has come for a new America, a strong Americlintonian Empire, capable of providing the indecisive electorate with direction through one man's sheer force of will."

Dressed in full military regalia and flanked by members of his elite Demopublican Guard, Clinton told reporters, "Let all peoples of the land know this: The era of bipartisan inaction and paralysis has ended. The Age of the Great Cleansing Fire begins today." [...]

"Let them bring their pitiful reprisals to the impotent courts. Their lawyers and lawsuits shall face the wrath of a people united by the almighty fist," said Clinton, whose divinity as HUIAD's first Emperor-God was ratified late Tuesday night by the Americlintonic High Priest Council. "Let them recount their puny, paper ballots. They shall wither, as will the bankers, lawyers, and lobbyists all, before the Holy Cause of Americlintonia's glorious, righteous might." [...]

In a test of the new regime's power outside the nation's capital, Senator-Elect Hillary Clinton, rechristened "Bride of The Lord Clinton On Earth," summarily ordered HUIAD troops to fire on Manhattan crowds, leaving more than 2,500 dead on Wall Street and quickly dispersing protesters loyal to defeated Republican challenger Rick Lazio. [...]

Clinton has publicly dismissed such insurrections as "pathetic," confident that nothing will stem his authority over "the former US". "The rebels are but mewling kittens who shall taste blood instead of milk," said Clinton, threatening to deploy HUAID-controlled nuclear weapons against members of resistance movements. "The holy power of the atom shall, if it must, cleanse this nation of all infidels."

-- "Clinton Declares Self President For Life", The Onion, Vol 36 No 41 (16 November 2000)

Thursday, December 11, 2003

ON THE TOPIC OF ACCENTS, Tom, your blog reminds me of the time when I was browsing through the main "Resource Centre" (University euphemism for Library) at Griffith when I stumbled over a book dealing with film stereotypes. The name of it will forever escape me but I know exactly where it was shelved in 1997!

Items to note: In Hollywood Robin Hood films of the 50's, Robin Hood and his merry men always had American accents, while the Lords had toffee English ones - as opposed to the reality, where the merry men would be grunting in Anglo-Saxon gutterals while the Lords "wipe[ed] their a** with silk" (thanks Merovingian) in speaking French, as the Norman conquerors.

This phenomenon was repeated in K. Costner's "Prince of Thieves" (try saying "I will not rest urn-til my farrrthr is a-ve-an-ged like Kevin and you will hear what I mean) with British thespian Alan Rickman as the baddy. This American / British conflict apparently reflected the concerns of the American Revolution, and was much more appealing to US audiences than the centuries-old England France debacle.

However, the Patrick Bergin version of Robin Hood (made in the same year) has an Irish Hood (Bergin), and an English Prince John (Edward Fox), although I suppose this is an English production, not an American one, the heroes are Irish (proto Americans) but the evil-doers remain the same. Robin Hood is thus sort of like a modern-day IRA terrorist going about his business of restoring justice to the common folk.

As an aside, the parody, Men in Tights had a British hero in Cary Elwes, a Welsh Sheriff of Nottingham, and an American King John. Almost a role-reversal of the traditional Anglo-American antagonisms.

Interestingly, in the stumbled-over book there was also a chapter about horror movies, with one of the key characters being the "last girl" who survives until the end. Apparently this genre is true to form in movies such as IKWYDLS, Scream etc (although I claim no responsibility in having actually seen these films, so my comments are doubtless unreliable. Readers are urged to draw their own conclusions.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003


... reminds me of other cartoonish super-villains, especially those depicted by Disney, whose villains collectively have so many sneering British accents that, if they ever formed a sort of Coalition of the Evil, they could almost be mistaken for an episode of Blake's Seven. My 3-year-old even thought for a time that Scar from The Lion King and Jafar from Aladdin were one and the same.

But it's not just Disney who love to hate British accents. As Giancarlo Cairella notes in his canonical list of movie clichés, there are certain rules for Villains:

• The bad guy is the foreigner.
• Corollary: the foreigner is the guy who speaks English with an English accent

However, this is not broad-brush stereotyping at work here, heavens, no. It's fine-brush stereotyping:

Dear British person: could you could be the next Euro-villain? Are you a Crown subject? Have you performed leading roles with an internationally recognised theatre company? If you answered yes to both questions, you are hereby eligible to portray a villain in a major Hollywood film. In accordance with the laws of the European Union, the British villain will now be known as the Euro-villain – but we all know, deep down, that he’s British to the core. Adhere to the following guidelines and you’ll be well on your way.

Choose your character

Type A: Sneering, disdainful, urbane villain who wants to regain his degenerate aristocratic family’s squandered fortune while grinding everyone else down into the dirt. (Examples: James Mason, Alan Rickman, Dirk Bogarde, Paul Scofield, Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List, Jason Isaacs in The Patriot.)

Type B: Sneering, resentful working-class villain who rages against those who made his father a snivelling failure, his mother a whore, and generally kept him down in the dirt all his life. (Examples: Steven Berkoff, Tim Roth, Gary Oldman, Robert Carlyle, currently Vinnie Jones in Gone in 60 Seconds.)

“How to be a Euro-villain: Have you got what it takes to be a Hollywood bad guy? If you’re British, you’re already halfway there”, by Justine Elias, The Guardian (Friday 21 July 2000)

In fact, using English accents as shorthand for villainy is a way of proving you're not racist!

“Darth Maul speaks the King’s English, and he is the most evil, most awful guy – but the Royals aren’t getting on our case. Are English butlers getting upset about C3PO?”

-- Lucasfilm spokesperson, quoted in “Something to offend everyone”, by Andy Seiler, USA Today (27 June 1999) [sorry, URL link's expired]

When I first heard that someone (not Disney, I forget who) was making a cartoon version of Anastasia, I thought: "Great. The bad guy will be Lenin with a toff English accent. And his snivelling sidekicks will be a talking hammer and sickle". Well, close -- it was Rasputin, with a non-BBC accent, and his sidekick was a talking bat. But my irony-meter had already overloaded, only 30 seconds into watching the video, after realising that the main hit on the soundtrack for this movie about a deposed Romanov princess was a song by Richard Marx.

Habeas Papam!

[UPDATE: They say some of these hyperlinks are broken. Specify which ones in the comments box, will you? It's eye-scrunching to do this in the matchbox-sized window that Blogger gives you for editing.]

Well, if a Papacy can re-unify Andrew Sullivan with Mark Shea, ending the Iran-Iraq Gulf War would’ve been easy. A meme is now emerging…

[I]f the problem with Islam is that it seems constantly to give rise to sects violently hostile to secular institutions, to reason, and to cultured sentiment; that the countries in which it predominates have a chronic tendency toward theocratic despotism; and that as a religion it exhibits no institutional structure that might finally impose some discipline on the chaotic and lawless spiritual impulses that it generates - if all that is the problem (which it surely is), then it is absurd to hold that the solution is for Islam to find its Martin Luther. It has already had its Luther, not to mention its Calvin and its Henry VIII, all rolled into one: his name was Muhammad. What Islam needs is a Pope”.

- Edward Feser, “Does Islam Need a Luther or a Pope?”, Tech Central Station (4 December 2003)
As Mark and others have noted, Feser (Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles) is “cribbing” from an argument made by Jonah Goldberg, in very similar terms, about 18 months ago:
In the Islamic world, the Caliphate - a very poor analogy to the throne of the Holy Roman Emperor or the Pope - came to an end in 1924… Until then, the Caliphs or their surrogates could speak with one voice for much of the Islamic world. With them gone, the Islamic world has spun off into a wild orbit, in
which nations without a mature notion of civil society also lack an outside moral authority like the Catholic Church. Hence, today every fanatic and murderer can “shop around” for a cleric willing to issue a fatwa condoning almost any crime or atrocity, like an addict looking for a corrupt doctor to scribble some prescriptions. Too many of these retail Islamic Martin Luthers compete with each other to be more devout, more angry, more willing to deflect the anxieties and shame of their societies onto outside forces, be they "
crusaders" or “Jews”… And that’s why the Islamic world doesn’t need any more Martin Luthers. It needs a Pope."

- Jonah Goldberg, “Islamic Rites: Why Muslims need a Pope”, National Review Online (4 April 2002)

Now, to be honest, my initial assumption was that the TCS article was a parody of Goldberg’s piece; firstly because the author comes close to plagiarising Jonah’s arguments (unintentionally, I guess) and secondly because of his name: I expected a follow-up parody by “William D. Konkra” entitled “No, Muslims Need A Dalai Lama”, in the manner of those “Point/ Counterpoint” satirical debates you read in The Onion. But then I really shouldn’t make puns about other people’s surnames. This “Muslims need a Pope” trope lends itself more to the making of a Top 10 list (“No #10: Election is announced by a puff of white smoke … from a hookah. No #9: When disembarks from an airplane, takes care to face Mecca when kissing ground. No #8: All condoms are intrinsically evil, but those made from pigskin are really intrinsically evil. No #7…").

I agree with one of the comments chez Shea: Islam would be better off (or less worse off) with the Pope, the Catholic one (or the Coptic Pope for that matter), by converting en masse (as it were) to Christianity. Catholicism would be more familiar to Muslims than Protestantism, while Orthodoxy - as William Dalrymple notes in his book From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the Shadow of Byzantium (NY, Holt, 1998, p 168) - would be closest of all:

Today the West often views Islam as a civilisation very different from
and indeed innately hostile to Christianity. Only when you travel in Christianity’s Eastern homelands do you realise how closely the two religions
are really linked. For the former grew directly out of the latter and still, to
this day, embodies many aspects and practices of the early Christian world now
lost in Christianity’s modern Western incarnation. … Certainly if [Saint] John
Moschos were to come back today it is likely that he would find much more that was familiar in the practices of a modern Muslim Sufi than he would with those
of, say, a contemporary American Evangelical”.

But simply grafting a Pope, empowered to infallibly interpret the Qur’an and the Hadith, upon the existing body of Islamic teaching and practice, would be no improvement. The leading candidate for a Muslim Vatican would be the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose monarch’s titles include “Guardian of the Two Holy Shrines” of Mecca and Medina (the nearest Christian analogy might be if both Nazareth and Jerusalem were in Rome). Possession of the keys to the Ka’aba would be an even more powerful bargaining chip than the Pope’s property title to the Vatican, or (say) Jesus’ tomb in the Holy Land, since for Muslims pilgrimages to these places are not just works of supererogation, but non-negotiable religious duties. So I remain unpersuaded that a Muslim Pope would not simply instruct the faithful they'll receive plenary indulgences if they fall in battle against the infidels, and be met with joyous cries of "Allah le veult!"

Both Feser and Goldberg take a few swipes at Protestantism, along lines familiar to anyone who's ever opened Belloc and read a page at random:

If you travel around peace-loving Switzerland, for example, you’ll
discover that a couple of centuries worth of art is simply missing, because
Protestant iconoclasts burnt it in giant bonfires to fuel their fondue-pots of
religious fervour. The Catholic Church, meanwhile, has a very nice art
collection, which includes depictions of lots of pretty-naked ladies and a few
naked pretty ladies.
” (Goldberg)

The Taliban who dynamited those Buddhist carvings thereby demonstrated their kinship, not to the Medieval Catholics who venerated Plato, Aristotle, and other great writers of pagan antiquity, nor to the Renaissance Popes in their patronisation of the arts, but to the Protestant mobs whose vandalism purged so many once-Catholic European churches of their stained glass, statuary, and beauty". (Feser)

Who in turn demonstrated their kinship to Moses, King Hezekiah, King Josiah, and Saints Paul and Silas - although not to King Solomon. But hey, the Borgia Popes did leave us great artwork. Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image … at least not an unattractive one. (But I agree, it was unnecessary for the Taliban to destroy the Bamiyan Buddhist statues, because there are no longer any Buddhists left in Afghanistan using them for worship - a point that a number of the Taliban’s own theologians made at the time. not enthusiastic about centralised systems where one single person, on top of the pyramid, has power to decree what shall henceforth be permitted or forbidden, or to prevent different solutions being experimented with and adopted if successful. In fact, one of Hayek’s main arguments is that decentralised systems are capable of coordinating themselves without a top-down ruler. By contrast, the Catholic position is that you get not just annoying disagreement but intolerable anarchy if you say “Let each be fully persuaded in his own mind”, and deal with heretics by separating yourself from them rather than by forcing them to recant. Those of us who’ve witnessed Baptists, Presbyterians and Anglicans sharing the Eucharist together, or watched the Jesuits and Opus Dei duke it out with barely disguised hatred, might not be "fully persuaded" that much is gained simply by agreeing on a common infallible arbiter whose teachings you then interpret in widely conflicting ways. Contrary to the much-repeated Catholic argument that the role of the Papacy is to stop different people from reading their Bibles and coming to different conclusions, in fact the role of the Papacy has been to stop different people - in different centuries and countries; the Waldenses, Hus, Tyndale, Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Cranmer - from reading their Bibles and coming to the same conclusions.

Note also that Hayek was rather scathing (using terms like "mirage", "road to serfdom", "fatal conceit") about one of the favourite projects of the recent Popes: "social justice".
... such opposition makes the defender of tradition the true upholder
of freedom and rationality: for there can be no true freedom divorced from the
rule of law and the equal submission of all to rules whose authority does not
rest on any individual’s arbitrary will… The teachings of a Pope are never
strictly his teachings, but merely those of the 2,000-year-old institution of
which he is a temporary steward and to which he must submit as dutifully as any
of the faithful
”. (Feser)
But what if he doesn't submit? “… if a minor spiritual power err, it will be judged by a superior spiritual power; but if the highest power of all err, it can be judged only by God, and not by man…" - Pope Boniface VIII, in Unam Sanctam (1302).
... this distinction between Church and State has survived the
Reformation to become one of the most prized elements of Western Civilisation.
Or at least it has in those countries in which some Protestant sect or other
hadn’t captured the apparatus of government: it must never be forgotten that it
was Calvin, and not some Medieval Catholic, who founded in Geneva the world’s
first Christian totalitarian state, that it is Lutheran bishops who were
traditionally the paid employees of German and Scandinavian governments…"

Ah, so this explains all those worrying reports coming in of Catholics being arrested on the streets of London, New York, Geneva and Amsterdam and being tortured until they agree to sign a statement professing their belief in Double Predestination … What, not a single word about France under the Bourbons, or about Spain or Austria-Hungary under the Hapsburgs? Did they develop the “prized element” of distinction between Church and State before those heretical separatist Protestants in America did? I mean, seriously. What colour is the sky on Planet Feser?
“… and that it is the Church of England, and not the Church of Rome,
whose head is a secular monarch”.
And if the Pope, as Head of State of the Vatican City, is not a “secular monarch”, by what right does he have a seat, an ambassador and a vote at the United Nations, and sovereign immunity under international law, when the Southern Baptists or the Wesleyan Methodists or the Lutheran World Federation don't?
This is a Tradition that the Church herself does not create but merely
preserves and passes on - emendations to that Tradition occurring only very
infrequently, deliberately, gradually, and minimally, and always in a way which
merely draws out the implications of what was there already rather than
introducing some novel or foreign element".
Forget the Protestants for a monent, and take this up with the Orthodox. (It may be true that Henry VIII terrorised almost everyone in England into rejecting Papal supremacy, but he could hardly have influenced the thinking of Greek Bishops half a millennium before he was born.)

Heaven knows, the excesses of triumphalist Whig history can always do with reining-in by sober reminders of the skeletons in Protestantism’s closet. But this wave of recent Catholic revisionism - switching from centuries of condemning democracy and liberalism to claiming to have invented them - fails the Chestertonian “common sense” test. Professor Feser’s argument is long on generalities and short on specifics: by naming, for instance, one Catholic-majority country that can match the record of the Protestant-majority countries in upholding democracy and the rule of law for several centuries (three for Britain, two for Switzerland and the USA).

Protestantism’s worst excesses and cruelties were committed in periods when it was the most “Catholic” - when it still held to the belief that allowing doctrinal “live and let live” meant anarchy, that it was the duty of the civil magistrate to prevent heretics from sending themselves to hell. The solution is and was never to revert to Catholicism but to return to the Gospel - to remember Christ’s words about wheat and tares, for a start.

A much better solution is put forward by one “Zathras”, who in the TCS comments box (nearest link is here) argues that if you really want the Islamic religion to become more compatible with democracy and free debate, then the best form of “church” governance is one based on democracy and free debate. Who would've guessed?!!
A Pope - the electée of previous Pope’s appointees, the head of an
enormous, entitled institution - would be overkill. Something like a
Presbyterian General Assembly would suffice. It would not prevent
misinterpretations of Islam, but it would make it more difficult for extremist
clerics to act as spokesmen for their religion without fear of contradiction by
other learned senior Muslims. It would also be an example of the kind of open
discussion practiced in the North American and Western European democracies that emerged from the Protestant tradition

oldberg and Feser are absolutely correct, though, on one point. We don’t want an Islamic Luther. The reason is that, unlike the situation with the late-mediaeval Catholic Church, Islam’s scriptures are no more liberal than its traditions are. A Muslim Reformer who went back ad fontes (“to the sources”) would strip away accreted centuries of conservative Hadith only to be left with… a conservative sola Qu'rana. Rather than a Muslim Luther, or a Muslim Pope, what the world really needs is an Islamic Melanchthon.

Monday, December 08, 2003


At last! The Final Solution!


"Does anybody know how to clean up paints on cloth, leather, carpet, plastic, viynle [sic] , and metal??

I bought a spray paint and put it inside the car, but it somehow got caught under the seat. I didn't know so when I adjust the seat it punched a hole on the can and the paint blew out like a jet engine........"

Friday, December 05, 2003

WASN'T SHE, ERR ... I always had some vague idea that Bridget Fonda was, you know, although that may have been me just mixing her up with her near-clone Jodie Foster. Anyway, be that as it may, BF recently opted decisively to commit to the home team with the man who composed The Simpsons theme music and who is also Jenna Elfman's uncle-in-law:

Actress Bridget Fonda and composer Danny Elfman have become the latest Hollywood newlyweds, after exchanging nuptials on Saturday. Fonda, 39, and 50-year-old former Oingo Boingo singer Elfman became husband and wife at Los Angeles' First Congressional Church in a candlelit evening ceremony.

"First Congressional Church"? Is that a typo for "Congregational", or has someone taken Whig history (the New Jerusalem, the Elect, the Shining City on a Hill, the Constitution as the new Ark of the Covenant, etc) to an even weirder extreme than before?

Thursday, December 04, 2003

LISTEN, CHILDREN, TO A STORY/ THAT WAS WRITTEN LONG AGO ... When Michael Moore denounced Dubya at the Oscars -- "We live in the time where we have fictitious [sic] election results that elects [sic] a fictitious [sic] president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious [sic] reasons" -- he said "ficti[ti]tious" like it was a bad thing. But now, other opponents of Dubya's illegal imperialist war have decided that ficti[ti]tious characters is people too, and shall not be silenced or otherwise denied inclusion in the political process on the trifling ground that they don't actually exist:

The classic children's book icon, Grandfather Twilight, broke twenty years of silence to endorse Congressman Dennis Kucinich for President in 2004. "In these extraordinary times we must act with extraordinary sincerity," he said. [...] There is a brave, truth-telling man from Ohio. His name is Dennis Kucinich, a Congressman who is running for President. As you know, I tend to be a calm old man, but when I heard Dennis speak, I got excited. He plans to create a Department of Peace. At last! Why has no one done it before? This is exactly how a wise President should think, what a good President should do!

Yes, that's right! Why has no one created a Department of Peace before? It's so bleedin' obvious!

On the other hand, Commander Adama yesterday endorsed Bush on the ground that it was foolish to wish for peace with such implacable enemies as the Cylons. "This war must continue until either we are destroyed, or until they are" he told the Quorum of the Twelve, opposing the "roadmap to peace" being put forward by Sire Uri.

My gosh! The ficti[ti]tious characters disagree? How's a mere real life flesh and blood boy supposed to vote?

The other famous quotable quote from Mr Toad's Oscar's speech was his warning to Bush that "The Pope even came right out and said it: this war in Iraq is not a just war and, thus, it is a sin [...] any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up."

I was reminded of this devout Catholic piety when leafing through the Mooron's latest book, Dude, Where’s My Country?. In Chapter 10, "How to Talk to Your Conservative Brother-in-Law", he demonstrates that streak of occasional and utterly random sensibleness that makes him so infuriating. Yes, he agrees, violent criminals actually should be locked up, although not executed. Then, discussing abortion, after arguing that opinion polls show large majorities of Americans favour abortion on demand, he uncovers the true agenda of the Right to Lifers: fear that abortion rights will give power to women. RTLs, he argues, prefer the old way to "We Impregnate, You Decide".

This from a man who justified his speech opposing the overthrow of Saddam & Sons Inc by relating how, on the morning before Oscars Night, "I found myself last Sunday morning, at the Church of the Good Shepherd on Santa Monica Boulevard, at Mass with my sister and my dad." Hey, Michael: any time you got the Pope, Susan B Anthony , Nat Hentoff , and Patricia Heaton against you, your time is up.

THE GUARDIAN DEITY OF THE PLANET... I'm Protestant enough by conviction to be outraged, rather than simply amused, at this list of the grandiose titles the Emperor of North Korea has bestowed upon himself:

Eternal Sun, the Guardian Deity of the Planet and the Sun of Socialism are among the titles used to refer to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. [...] The North’s state-run Korean Central Broadcasting Station says a total of 1,200 titles and phrases have been created and used to refer to Kim. “Prominent leaders from 160 nation [sic] across the world have used at least 1,200 tiles [sic] to honour our Great General (Kim Jong-Il)”, it said in a recent report. The references include Lode Star of the 21st Century, Peerless Leader, Beloved Leader, Great Leader, Dear Leader, Great Suryong (chieftain), the Sun of Revolution, the Sun of Life, the Sun of Juche (self-reliance, the ruling idea of the country), and the Fatherly Leader of all Koreans, among others.

The oxen reckon that if you put melted butter and some coriander on the grass you're eating, Kimbo, it tastes better. It'll soften the pain when American troops shoot your sons and anointed heirs like dogs and display their bodies in downtown Pyongyang while you hide behind your dyed Elvis quiff in a bunker somewhere. (Who knows what grandiose blasphemies Saddam might have bestowed on himself had his pals Chirac and Putin managed to hold off the US invasion until he could get his nukes?).

And you might want to be careful with the "Peerless Leader" title, too. Makes you sound not unlike cartoonish super-villain, yes?

MOTHER OF ALL TONGUES? If you are an anorak, you will find this article extremely interesting: “Language tree rooted in Turkey: Evolutionary ideas give farmers credit for Indo-European tongues”, by John Whitfield, in Nature (27 November 2003). But even if you are a person of normal tastes, you may, like me, be especially intrigued to find that something you always thought was fictional actually has some basis in history:

[…] there is no consensus on where Indo-European languages came from. Some linguists believe that Kurgan horsemen carried them out of central Asia 6,000 years ago. [...]

Kurgans?!! That is way cool. I always suspected that "Me pardona Pater, vermis sum", "Haec nocte in averno dormis!" or "Terra sacra haec est, Caledoni!" or "Solus unus potest esse!" must have come from an older proto-linguistic source...

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

LATHAM IN THE ISLES Congratulations to Mark Latham MHR on his election as the latest Federal Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Labor Party. He continues the ALP's long tradition of recycling surnames – although, in this case, it's the surname of a previous Opposition Leader on the conservative side. It means he’s already got a Canberra suburb named after him, 15 months before he's even taken office as Prime Minister – move over, Ronald Reagan and Senator Robert Byrd.

SINGING FROM THE SAME HYMN SHEET Over at the ever-entertaining Boar's Head Tavern, Amanda Nordstrom notes that “Amazing Grace” can also be sung to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun”.

I've been to a few services where someone does this and yes, it sounds awesoooome. You can also sing "Amazing Grace" to the tune of the "Gilligan's Island" theme. Expanding on this theme (which has a long and venerable history: "The Star-Spangled Banner", like a lot of Charles Wesley's hymns, is set to the tune of what was originally a raucous tavern drinking song), Cliff Richard’s "Millen[n]ium Prayer" last century set the words of the "Our Father" (the Protestant version) to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne".

However, I was seriously disturbed when it occurred to me that you can sing the lyrics of "Stairway to Heaven" to the tune of "The Old Rugged Cross".

One of my ambitions -- one day -- is to do a cover of MeatLoaf's "Bat Out Of Hell" to the tune of Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road". Try it yourself...

"HERE WE ARE NOW, ENTERTAIN ALL ELEVEN OF US..." Krist Novoselic, former rock star from “Nirvana”, is now promoting proportional representation (PR) for the Oregon State lower house: nine 11-seat “super-districts” with closed party lists (although candidates would still be selected and ranked by the party's registered supporters in a primary election, so it wouldn't be quite as closed a shop as the Australian Senate). Thanks to Seattle's own Mark Shea for that link. If the cleaned-up bassist does get elected as Democrat candidate for State Lieutenant Governor, as is being discussed, they can change the State motto to "Krist Before Us".

Waaay back in 1992, when Nirvana were at their peak and Kurt Cobain was still alive, I was writing an honours thesis about electoral systems. One of my friends informed me that this marked me as a total “anorak”, as the Brits would say. Now here’s a member of Nirvana whose new life’s obsession is electoral systems. I’m as bemused as if Jewel was travelling around campuses passionately promoting amendments to the Federal Code of Civil Procedure.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

THAT'S WHY THEY WERE CHEERING FOR THE MACHINES IN MATRIX: REVOLUTIONS ... If you were the editor of Jewish World Review, and you were commissioning an article that exposes the falsehood of Islam's image as a "religion of peace" by showing how Muslim doctrines teach hatred of Jews, wouldn't you choose a pseudonym to publish it under if the author's actual surname happened to be "Elder"?

Monday, December 01, 2003


From CNN - true!

Joke turns sour

An AirTran Airbus A320 packed with 156 passengers bound for San Francisco, California, was delayed four hours Sunday when an airline worker noticed a sticker reading "Terrorism Equals War" affixed to the cabin door's exterior, airline spokesman Tad Hutcheson said.

Once notified, the captain returned the plane to the gate, where the sticker was deemed a possible security threat, Hutcheson said.

All passengers were ordered off with their luggage and re-screened by 12 TSA employees pulled away from their duties at the main terminal, he said.

After almost three hours, the passengers and crew were allowed to re-board, including a man who admitted having placed the sticker on the door, Hutcheson said.

The flight departed at 1:32 p.m., more than four hours behind schedule.

"It was a practical joke taken a little too far," Hutcheson said.

No charges were filed against the passenger, but he suffered another kind of punishment: "The worse thing is to fly with the 155 people he delayed," Hutcheson said.

Friday, November 28, 2003


The Onion recycling news? Sad but true. Anyone remember

It's now been re-packaged and re-launched, but remains essentially unchanged.


Thursday, November 27, 2003


One very effective way to waste otherwise-productive work time is imagine what sequels you could produce by combining together two different movies with similar titles – such as A Beautiful Dangerous Mind, or Steel Magnolia Dawn, or Zoolander II: The Quickening, or The Soylent Green Mile, or The Wedding Singer Planner, or Urban Legends of the Fall, or Who Framed Gilbert Grape?, or Accidental Paperback Hero, or The Invisible Bicentennial X-Man, or … you get the idea.

To really make it fun, though, you’ve got to try to work out a coherent plot summary:

The Juneteenth Warrior – a segregationist Southern US Senator is murdered by the mysterious Eaters of the Dead. Seeking to avenge his killing, an Arabian swordsman finds himself Orientalised, constructed as "The Other", and rendered the "Invisible Man" by his twelve Nordic companions.

The Matrix: Loaded – In a Sydney back street, Keanu Reeves and Alex Dimitriades … actually, you probably don’t want to know any more details.

24-Seven – a serial killer is stalking candidates in the California presidential primary, plotting to set Bill Clinton’s pants on fire and to puncture Howard Dean’s skull with a pair of surgical scissors.

Bring It On The Road – Blonde cheerleaders on acid pile into a kombi-van and steal one another’s best moves.

Charlotte Kray – Charlotte and her twin sister, Charlene, do gruesome things to members of rival French Resistance gangs, all the while addressing them as "sunshine".

Ciderhouse Dune – The malign sisterhood of the Bene Gesserit, unable to dominate Michael Caine, plot to assassinate him after they realise that one of the many unborn he’s aborted was the future Kwisatz Haderach.

Dorsey’s Creek – An ambitious young high-school senior, Ned "Dorsey" Litter, wants to be a prefect – but his teachers and fellow students are wary of him because he doesn’t seem to have a steady girlfriend. So he enters into a sham dating arrangement with Stacey, the girl-next-door and his best friend since childhood. However his best friend Payson Weary is angered by this betrayal and so, to get back at Dorsey, has a one-night romance with Jen, who in turn seduces Rico, whose girlfriend is Stacey’s sister… Eventually, by third season Stacey has decided she secretly loves Ned after all and tells him she wants to start dating for real. Ned refuses: "This is what we agreed, Stacey! Don’t you remember that? Don’t you respect that?" But Stacey is not deterred: "We have something between us, Ned! It was real! Don’t try to tell me that it wasn’t real!" (and so forth until the actors have all turned 37 and can no longer convincingly play teenagers...).

Meet Joe Black Dirt – Death takes human form, wearing a disgusting blonde mullet that’s obviously been lemon-bleached …

Remember the Titan AEs – After Earth has been destroyed by alien invaders, Terrans roam the universe as wandering refugees, treated like outcasts until one day a boy has a vision of a legendary gridiron football team that will restore them to their rightful place…

Sorority Report – new technology allows frat boys to see into the future to watch co-eds undressing in that very room.

The Hannibal Run – Last one across the line gets eaten by specially-trained wild pigs.

The Princess Turner Basketball Diaries – a free-thinking but unpopular teenager puts on a black trenchcoat and flies a plane into the Genovan embassy in Washington DC as a protest against the New World Order. THEN her classmates finally appreciate her for Who She Really Is.

Now: anyone want to devise a plot for Random Hearts in Atlantis: The Lost Empire?

Wednesday, November 26, 2003


A quote for the header of this site:

This speaks for itself really.


Bishop S.C. Johnson (deceased)
Edited and Revised
Bishop S. McDowell Shelton (deceased)

The Truth Now Being Declared
Bishop Shelton Rapha Chabash Luke
Apostle and General Overseer
The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith


Have you seen this website? It is an abomination that causes desolation - it is without form and void. Peddling the word of God for a profit would be a complement to this tangle of mismanaged images and links that would surely rival the Gordian knot.

Look very closely and you will find a "Do Not Click" button somewhere on the page. Imagine where it will take you if you do ...

Monday, November 24, 2003


Just discovered, and in time for The Return of The King! A site which tells the FOTR is simple words and thumbnail characters pictures.

Find it here

There is a similar site parodying Gladiator here. I will call it "Gladiator for Idiots" because, like the Dummies / Idiots duopoly on stupid books for stupid people, the Dummies version has primacy because it came first, and it is better.

Sunday, November 23, 2003


Just found this quote by Ms Shue re: Cocktail. Thanks IMDB

On Cocktail (1988), Shue said, "If I'd known that it was just going to be about these guys throwing drinks around then I might have had some second thoughts . . ."

Saturday, November 22, 2003


Recently I finally finished watching the movie Cocktail starring Tom Cruise, Bryan Brown and Elisabeth Shue. What made it interesting for me was not the fact that I had to watch it in three separate sessons (the movie is only about 1 1/2 hours long my I am pinched for time so often now I shouldn't even be writing this), but that it represents one of the great canonical texts of the 1980's that I did not see as a youth.

I think it is up there with Cruise's other work from the decadent decade, Top Gun, which filled and fuelled adolescent male fantasies about militarism and hot older chicks. I even heard that it was deliberately made as a recruiting film for the US military. That would not surprise me.

Other "canonical" 1980's texts that I did not get to see at the time include that new age pot-boiler Ghost , and Swayze's other neurotic romantic sludge fest, Dirty Dancing. I am still yet to see Ghost in its entirety and have never more than looked at the cover of the latter flick. And yes, although Ghost does bust the margins of the 1980's as it is actually a 1990's release, it is heavily imbued with the prevailing 1980's zeitgeist.

The list goes on (Flashdance, Wall Street), but my point is that while others have seen digested and excreted these works of historical fiction, my contact with them is only indeirect through the attitudes, behaviours and values that my age-peers have osmotically imbibed from these texts.

As the "1980's" is a little "hip" at the moment, it seemed to be that this nostalgia fest was analogous to a form of psychoanalysis, where the antecedents of todays' behaviours and outlooks may be discovered through careful investigation of one's past - in this case, the collective past of 1980's pulp cultural garbage.

So let us turn to Cocktail - this is not intended to be a review. For an excellent take on the cultural smear campaign that was Cocktail, see this quasi-review from IMDB.

IMHO, Cocktail needs a series editing job, and as a budding proto-amateur film maker, here are my suggestions.

Cut the entry of Mr Cruise into the Big Apple - it is long and turgid, and also contains scenes which may offend some viewers (images of the WTC - we only spell them now, as writing "World Trade Center" merely inflames the passions of Those Who Would Attempt To Poison and Destroy My Brothers)

Also ditch all the job interview and college nonsense - absolutely irrelevant and quite pathetic. Indeed in the hope that Cocktail was the Cheesiest (C) movie of all time, I imagined that the professor from Business college who trashed Tom's essay might have appeared in the final scene as a drtunken Irish-Catholic boozehound, willing to let bygones be bygones and shout another round of drinks.

Keep the secnes with Bryan Brown and Tommy Boy yarning in the bar - it provides agood intro to the characters.

Cut straight to them throwing drinks arond, and then straight to the Cell Block where they throw drinks around. Bothe these scenes have excleent footage of the enormous coiffes sported by the male and female customers. Nothing like a coiffe (a kind of puffy mullet) to get the heart pumping, eh boys? And Tom's hairdo grows larger and smaller and then large again as the movie progresses. Watch for it next time.

Eliminate the loveless sub-plot with the photographer, but keep the fight between the two male protagonists over her. It will confuse the audience. You also need a little footage of her as she is in the key scene where Tom wants to go to Jamaica.

Keep all of the Jamaica footage, especialy the romantic plot with E. Shue. Cut after Tom walks off with the older, haggier, wealthier woman. The last scene is poor of Elisabth trying toforce some tears out on the beach.

It struck me later than any half-sensible audience should feel any sympathy towards her, as she has been dating one of the resort staff while on holidays,. Of course it's a fling. As far as she knows, the local bartender gets a new girl every Sunday when the next crop of tourists fly in from the States.

Eliminate all the scenes of Tom as a toy boy. Adds nothing to the film - but maybe keep the fight with the sculptor at the schmooze-in just for laughs.

Return to the main thrust of the narrative when Tom shows up at the diner and then at Elisabeth's pad in NYC, and continue from there. By the way, this reminded me of the scene from Family Man when Nick Cage shows up at Tia Leonie's apartment as she is moving to France, and it struck me that this is an archetypal film scene, where the male shows up at the female's house only to be rejected. With persistance, he wins her love. I am sure this scene is in dozens of films.

Continue film until end, including talk with uncle at bar, death of Bryan Brown etc.

What you have left is a schmatzy romantic comdedy with a tinge of sadness. Tom is not a sex-charged Lothario on heat for 98% of the film, and he comes across as a much more decent caharcter. There is tragedy in the death of Brown, but he has a much smaller role to play. The relationship between Cruise and shue seems much more genuine too, and its consumation in marriage seems based more on love than the "White Wedding" promised by contemporary, Billy Idol.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Mocktail.


MINNEAPOLIS, MN—In a turn of events the 30-year-old characterized as "horrifying," Kevin Widmar announced Tuesday that his mother Lillian has discovered his weblog.

From The Onion

This will have to be one of the most blogged about web pages of the year.

Friday, November 21, 2003

WWJD or Where would Jesus Dance?

Not new news, just news. Dancing allowed at Wheaton U! Reminds me of the song with the lyrics "we were cool on Christ . . .". from Dance Hall Days by Wang Chung. Unfortunately, the lyrics are NOT "cool on Christ" but "cool on cries" OR "cool on craze" BUT I still like "Cool on Christ" - and it goes with the story, too.

BTW "Wheaton" is a type of chocolate biscuit / cookie here in OZ, similar to a "Digestive"

Thursday, November 20, 2003

I have been wasting a lot of time lately on eBay and recently heard this song by Weird Al Yankovic (It's probably years old but I just heard it OK? Don't think I'm not cool because i just dsicovered a recent song! I maen, if it was 20 years old like "Eat It" I'd be sooo coooool, right? So, at least it's by the same guy. Anyway, here it is in full (to the tune of I want it that way by the Backdoor Boys):

A used ... pink bathrobe
A rare ... mint snowglobe
A Smurf ... TV tray
I bought on eBay

My house ... is filled with this crap
Shows up in bubble wrap
Most every day
What I bought on eBay

Tell me why (I need another pet rock)
Tell me why (I got that Alf alarm clock)
Tell me why (I bid on Shatner's old toupee)
They had it on eBay

I'll buy ... your knick-knack
Just check ... my feedback
"A++!" they all say
They love me on eBay

Gonna buy (a slightly-damaged golf bag)
Gonna buy (some Beanie Babies, new with tag)
(From some guy) I've never met in Norway
Found him on eBay

I am the type who is liable to snipe you
With two seconds left to go, whoa
Got Paypal or Visa, what erev'll please
As long as I've got the dough

I'll buy ... your tchotchkes
Sell me ... your watch, please
I'll buy (I'll buy, I'll buy, I'll buy ...)
I'm highest bidder now

(Junk keeps arriving in the mail)
(From that worldwide garage sale) (Dukes Of Hazard ashtray)
(Hey! A Dukes Of Hazard ashtray)
Oh yeah ... (I bought it on eBay)

Wanna buy (a PacMan Fever lunchbox)
Wanna buy (a case on vintage tube socks)
Wanna buy (a Kleenex used by Dr. Dre, Dr. Dre)
(Found it on eBay)

Wanna buy (that Farrah Fawcet poster)
(Pez dispensers and a toaster)
(Don't know why ... the kind of stuff you'd throw away)
(I'll buy on eBay)

What I bought on eBay-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y

Loooking for a way to while away a lazy afternoon? Try these reviews of the weirdest stuff.

Case in point: SPAM reviews. Who would have thought there was something worth reviewing here? Dunno

What about SOAP reviews? Yes, folks, soap. Here it is:

Don't these people have anything better to do with their time? That's me speaking isn't it? And I run a blog. You get the rest. Ciao.

Friday, November 14, 2003

WORST ALBUM COVERS EVER. (Spoken in a miffed tone with a faint lisp.)

UPDATE: Even more unspeakable: Worst Swedish Album Covers Ever, ja. Link via Andrew Sullivan.

UPDATE II: Still more. The madness continues!

Thursday, November 13, 2003

MORE TO KEEP THE BOAR'S HEAD TAVERN GUYS ENTERTAINED ... This one was composed nearly a decade ago, when the Pet Shop Boys released their cover version of the Village People hit, so some of the references are a bit dated now. But blowed if I'm going to tamper with the word that stands written ...

"Keep Left"
THATCHER - she is dead and gone
MAJOR - he is living on
CLINTON - is a redneck sleaze
KEATING - wants to bring back fees
YELTSIN - should be tried and jailed
CASTRO - is a light that failed
FRED NILE - shall face a People's Court
'COZ - he won't let you abort

Keep Left - life will be so great
Keep Left - once we've smashed the State
Keep Left - there'll be no more losses
Keep Left - once we've killed the bosses

TERRY - will be a commissar
EVAN - will drive a big black car
MELISSA - will make abortion free
BRYAN - will run the KGB

Keep Left - 'cause out hearts are pure,
Keep Left - and our numbers fewer
Keep Left - have no worries, darling -
Keep Left - we won't end up like Stalin

And then if the air ain't clean
we'll form a front between Red and Green
And too, 'cause we're so pragmatic
We'll tell the masses we're democratic …

Keep Left - now we'll seize the hour
Keep Left - set up workers' power
Keep Left - with our theory strong
Keep Left - how could we go wrong?

My last few parodies have been aimed at the Left. I'll post something soon to redress the ideological imbalance.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

ELECTED A LORD, TWO VOTES TO ONE... No, this is not a spoof from The Onion. It's a genuine news report ...

[UPDATE: Apparently, how it works -- if I've got this right -- is that when Tony Blair's government legislated a couple of years ago to make the House of Lords a mainly appointive chamber, 92 of the 1,000-odd (some very odd) hereditary peers were allowed to stay in the Upper House for a few years longer. This grandfathering provision laid down a specified number of Lords to be elected by and from the former members of each party in the Lords -- X number by the Conservatives, Y from the Labour peers, and so forth. So this particular casual vacancy in His Lordship's seat was filled by a vote of his, err, peer group, not by a direct vote of the great unwashed; hence the very small turnout -- fewer votes were cast than there were candidates standing. Never let anyone tell you that Britain's small-C constitution isn't arcane.

[To be fair, though, I myself have voted to elect a Lord over a decade a go -- Brisbane's Lord Mayor, James "Lord Jim" Soorley, Hizzoner from 1991 to 2003. He didn't get the red ermine cloak, though.]

"Hereditary Peers By-Election Result"

"Nominations for the by-election to replace Lord Milner of Leeds closed on 24 October.

11 candidates registered to stand for election, as follows:

• Lord Biddulph

• The Earl of Carlisle

• Lord Clifford of Chudleigh

• Lord Grantchester

• Lord Hacking

• Viscount Hanworth

• Lord HolmPatrick

• The Earl of Kimberley

• Lord Monkswell

• Viscount Samuel

• Lord Vaux of Harrowden

The result was announced by the Clerk of the Parliaments in the House at 3 pm on Thursday 30 October 2003.

Three votes were cast. Lord Grantchester received two first-preference votes and Viscount Hanworth one. Lord Grantchester was therefore the successful candidate".

How can one help but be reminded of ...

King Arthur: I am your king!

Woman: Well, I didn't vote for you!

King Arthur: You don't vote for kings.

Woman: Well, how'd you become king then?

[Angelic music plays...]

King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king!

Dennis: [interrupting] Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government! Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony!

from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Friday, October 31, 2003

THREE HOWARDS? The favourite to replace Ian/ Duncan/ Smith as parliamentary leader of the British Conservative Party is Michael Howard MP. This means that, depending how the party insiders and the general electorate vote in the UK, the USA and Australia in the next year or two, future Coalition of the Willing leadership summits might see George, Tony and John replaced with Howard, Howard and Howard. Perfect in power, love and unity...

ADDENDUM: The Anglosphere could have ended up with something even more unthinkable over the past two decades: no fewer than four different Clarks.


From former Power Team member Scott Ward, writing at the Boar's Head Tavern:

Dark Dungeons

Ch ch ch... ah ah ah... It's the...

Third Special Halloween Edition of the Chick Tract Translator

Yes, Ladies and Gents.... number 3 in our week of spoooooky translations of some of the spooooookiest Chick Tracts. So far, we've hit "Bewitched" and "The Little Ghost". Today's guest of honor is an oldie but a... well, it's a Chick Tract. Something that should scare the hell out of you! Get it? It's a joke. Hell? Like, make you want to convert and avo... uh... it's Dark Dungeons.

Our story opens with one of the most unbelievable scenes in all the Chickiverse. We open in someone's kitchen, where a bunch of teenyboppers are playing "Dark Dungeons", which sounds suspiciously like "Dungeons and Dragons But We Don't Want To Get Sued". Around the table, the kids are heavily into gameplay and character building. Someone rolls a +20 HP and the result is a Spell o' light. Here's the problem. As we go around the table, I find, not one... not two... not three... but FOUR females. Four. Out of Seven.

Now, as a card-carrying nerd, I can readily assure you that the chances of getting four teenage chicks from the same neighborhood - good looking ones at that - to hang up their homework, telephone conversations, and shoe shopping, and then replace all that with spending quality time with a bunch of greasy nerds who call themselves "Lothar the Invincible" while they solve calculus equations with their calculator watches... well, it just ain't happenin'. In all my years of nerddom, the only time I've seen four good looking women together was when they were laughing at my Emperor Palpatine costume. Realism, Chickie Boy, realism...

So, anywho, the gamemaster...ess... ix... See? It doesn't even work right. These games were not designed for good-looking women. They were designed for guys with Atari 800's, acne problems, and lots of lonely Friday nights...

"Four out of Seven" sounds like a bad Trek fanfiction character.

Friday, October 24, 2003

UPDATE: I was wrong about this. The "elect two extra members per Legislative Council electorate" deadlock-breaking rule is still in the South Australian Constitution Act [section 41(1)(ii)], even though section 19 of the same Act now says that there is only one single, Statewide electorate for the Upper House. Politically, it's weirdly incongruous -- but all quite legal. Lesson: Check via Google or AUSTLII, even if you are blogging late in the day and running for a bus. Thanks to my colleague John Pyke for setting me to rights on this.


"His [then-Prime Minister Paul Keating's] description
of the Senate as "unrepresentative swill" [...]
exemplif[ies] his indifference to constitutional
niceties and due process".

-- Tony Abbott, The Minimal Monarchy, And Why It Still
Makes Sense for Australia
(South Australia: Wakefield
Press, 1995), pp 109-110.

Yes, folks, there was once a time, once upon a time, long long ago and far far away, when The Oaf Of Allegiance and his party thought it was a good thing for the Senate to block government legislation. When it was a Labor government, you see. Liberal Party governments are so renownedly trustworthy that they don't need an Upper Chamber to keep them in check. You can rely solely on their self-control, and on the threat of the next election.

My confidence -- which, admittedly, wasn't very high to begin with -- in the PM's position paper on Senate reform has suffered the kind of blow that such confidence tends to suffer when a clock strikes thirteen. The following is from Table 10 of the said paper -- "Deadlock Provisions in the State Parliaments" -- in the column for South Australia:

"Section 41 of the Constitution Act 1934 allows the
Governor to dissolve both houses if the upper house
blocks a bill, there is an election for the lower house,
and the upper house blocks the bill again.
Alternatively, the Governor can issue writs for the
election of two additional members for each upper
house electoral district."

Err... There haven't been "upper house electoral district[s]" for the SA Legislative Council since 1973. Since Premier Don Dunstan got his reforms passed, the SA Upper House has been elected at large statewide. I'm assuming the "two extra members elected" deadlock-breaker rule (reminiscent, curiously, of Canada where the Governor-General may appoint additional Senators to break a deadlock) was repealed when SA moved to an 11-member statewide electorate. Don't they have any South Australians working in the OPMC? Wouldn't Senator Nick Minchin have been called in to look over a draft of this Senate-reform paper to make sure it wouldn't disadvantage the Liberal Party?

Given how often John Howard is accused to taking Australia back to the 1950s, it's something of a relief that he and his staffer-chipmunks are "only" thirty years behind the times.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

MY DAUGHTER - OR MY DUCATS? OR MY DAUGHTER? Steven E Landsburg’s “Everyday Economics” column at has a two-parter on why (NB: not whether) having daughters increases the risk of a couple divorcing. (Full disclosure: I have two sons.)

Landsburg offers some plausible explanations: daughters not only correlate to a higher divorce rate, but also to a lower re-marriage rate (among widows as well as divorcées). He seems, though, even after posting a follow-up that involves a partial retraction, to miss the 800-pound gorilla in the living room. That is, boys are harder work to raise. They are more active and more trouble.

Landsburg gets it partly right when he notes that a single mother with daughters might be reluctant to remarry for fear of exposing them to a potentially predatory stepfather. The flipside though is that a single mother with sons might be more likely to remarry - to accept overtures from Bob or Joe at the office, because even though she’s not passionately in love with him he seems decent enough - because she wants a stepfather for her sons. While step-families are fraught with emotional minefields (refer Brothers Grimm), a new man can at least do things with stepsons - take them to sports, go fishing, etc. My limited experience with divorced mothers of daughters, though, is that mother and daughter(s) tend to become even closer emotionally. A new male emotional support for mum is not as urgently sought and may threaten the bond with her daughter. It's all Steve Biddulph-101.


Down this tiled corridor, light does muscular, noisy work. Lasers dig dirt and weld metal. They pound aircraft parts into shape. In Bob Yamamoto’s lab, light devours. He straps on emerald green goggles. A technician stabs a fire button and calls out the computer countdown. “Three… two… one…” Then… nothing. Just a buzz of electronics and an ephemeral glow in this darkened room at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. But inside Yamamato’s target chamber, a block of steel spits flame and molten metal. In those two seconds, 400 blasts of light poured into slabs of clear, manmade garnet. Swollen in energy, the crystal’s atoms then unleashed torrents of infrared light to ricochet 1,000 times between two mirrors and multiply, finally escaping as 400 pulses of pure, square beam.

Kilowatt for kilogram, this is the world’s most powerful solid-state laser. Its invisible beam drilled Yamamoto’s inch-thick steel plate in two seconds. Add larger crystals and it will eat steel a mile or more away. “What we’re building,” Yamamoto explains, “is a laser weapon.”

After sinking 40 years and billions of dollars into beam weapons, defense scientists are on the cusp of what could be a military revolution - warfare at the speed of light. “We’ve made a quantum leap here,” said Randy Buff, solid-state laser program manager for the US Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command. “We’re anxious to get out there and do something.”

No longer are laser guns the stuff of Hollywood and Strategic Defense Initiative fantasy. Instead of laser-guiding bullets and “smart” bombs, the Pentagon inside of a decade could be armed with a beam weapon that is near-instantaneous, gravity-free and truly surgical, focusing to such hair-splitting accuracy that it could avoid civilians while predetonating munitions miles away. [...]

-- From "Warfare at the speed of light", by Ian Hoffman Oakland Tribune (Sunday 19 October 2003). Thanks to Clayton Cramer for the link.

"Limbaugh Says Drug Addiction A Remnant Of Clinton Administration"

WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- Frankly discussing his addiction to painkillers, conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh told his radio audience Monday that his abuse of OxyContin was a “remnant of the anything-goes ideology of the Clinton Administration.” “Friends, all I can say is ‘I told you so,’” said Limbaugh, from an undisclosed drug-treatment facility. “Were it not for Bill Clinton’s loose policies on drug offenders and his rampant immorality, I would not have found myself in this predicament.” Limbaugh added that he’s staying at a rehab center created by the tax-and-spend liberals.

-- The Onion, Vol 39 No 41 (22 October 2003)

Monday, October 20, 2003


No, not that Locke.

Congratulations to Red China, by the way, on getting its first man into space last week. We predict that Mao-Deng-Lenin thought will be able to replicate the capitalist running dogs' invention of beehive hairdos and Rolling Stones LPs by early next year. What's a mere 42-year delay to a civilisation that thinks in millennia? On the one hand, Alan Shepard's rocketship (can't speak for Yuri Gagarin's) wasn't built with slave-camp labour. On the other hand, neither Gagarin nor Shepard had any landmarks in their home countries that are visible from outer space. So there -- chalk up one first.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

"TRADITIONALIST"? OUCH!!! The ABC really knows how to hit a low-church evangelical Sydney Anglican below the purple-and-white belt:

LINDA MOTTRAM: "One of the Anglican Church's leading traditionalists is the Archbishop of Sydney, Doctor Peter Jensen, and he's responded to Martin Reynolds position, speaking a short while ago to our reporter Jo Mazzocchi..."

-- "Jensen disagrees injustice committed against gay Anglicans" (ABC AM, Tuesday, 14 October 2003)

DON'T GET ME WRONG, SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE ... Professor Daniel C Dennett wants people to use the term "bright" as a happier euphemism for atheists, agnostics and other religious unbelievers. Sort of like "gay" as an alternative to "homosexual", etc. Unfortunately, the term "bright" is already in use. When applied to people, it means "[h]aving a clear, quick intellect; intelligent". And has done for, oh, several decades. (If religious believers sought to label themselves "clevers", DCD would be first to complain.) The equivalent term in Latin has other connotations.

This new Bright Power movement [no, wait -- that sounds too much like a laundry soap] says on its website that "[t]here is a great diversity of persons who have a naturalistic worldview. Under this broad umbrella, as Brights, these people can gain social and political influence in a society infused with supernaturalism."

But the Bright Ones may be waiting a while before they gain political influence in proportion to their numbers:

"[...] a Pew Religion Forum study [...] tried to assess which religions carried the most electoral baggage. When they asked people if they would be less likely to vote for someone because of religion, the big losers were not Jews or Catholics. Rather, the groups with the most political baggage were atheists, evangelicals, and Muslims. (Interestingly, many even atheists didn't like the idea of voting for an atheist.)"

-- "How Prayers Poll: Debunking myths about the religious right", by Steven Waldman, (Friday 10 October 2003).

NOT Jews or Catholics? That'll only last until the cinematic release of The Passion and Luther have caused outbreaks of synagogue-smashing and nunnery-burning across the Western world.

It's not surprising that voters would be prejudiced against supporting avowedly atheist candidates, possibly on Dr Samuel Johnson's principle that if someone believes there is no distinction between virtue and vice, then when he leaves our houses we should count our spoons. [UPDATE: No, I didn't mean to say that atheists are immoral. By the same token, a lot of Christians would not like to automatically vote for every fellow Christian ...]

But evangelicals? America is supposed to be Protestant-dominated. In theory, anyway. Hollywood is happy to show President Josiah Bartlett as a devout Catholic -- provided, of course, that he’s anti-death penalty and says nothing about abortion. Secular culture likes the “seamless garment” view, because it means you can’t ever deal with one problem unless you can solve them all at once. It also means that a government can't consistently ban partial-birth abortions if it doesn't also ban married couples from using contraception. In theory, anyway. But it’ll be a cold day in hell when Hollywood shows, sympathetically, a US President reading his King James Bible for guidance. Or if it does, it’ll only ever be because he’s decided God wants him to nuke Mecca so that Josh Hartnett and Halle Berry have to stop him.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Sheep of Fools

Since the Saudis rejected Australia's shipment of sheep we have the strange situation of 50 000 Australian refugees floating around the waters of the Middle East. Much like the Tampa Crisis except in reverse: instead of Middle Easterners of dubious origin trying to get into Australia, we have Australians of dubious health trying to get into the Middle East. The Howard Government's response to both crises? The Pacific Solution for humans, the Indian Solution for sheep.

Jihad widows keep the faith

Interesting article from the Australian about the widow of a Hezbollah "suicide bomber". . .

In death, Ghandour is hailed as a martyr – the Western term "suicide bomber" is considered offensive – and honoured for sacrificing his life for his country.

So . . . he is a martyr, and this, blowing himself up and in order to kill as many people as possible, must constitute a form of religious self-expression, a form of "Islamic Evangelism" if you will - spreading the message as you spread yourself over as large an area as possible . . .

Thursday, October 09, 2003

A COSMIC "OUT OF OFFICE" MESSAGE. As far as I can tell, this is not a Ned Flanderish parody. Thanks to the Boars Head guys again ...

The Rapture: When all the believers in Jesus Christ, who have been born again, are taken up to heaven. After the Rapture, there will be a lot of speculation as to why millions of people have just disappeared. Unfortunately, after the Rapture, only non-believers will be left to come up with answers. You probably have family and friends that you have witnessed to and they just won’t listen. After the rapture they probably will, but who will tell them?

We have written a computer program to do just that. It will send an Electronic Message (e-mail) to whomever you want after the rapture has taken place, and you and I have been taken to heaven. If you wish to do something now that will help your unbelieving friends and family after the rapture, you need to add those persons email address to our database. Their names will be stored indefinitely and a letter will be sent out to each of them on the first Friday after the rapture. Then they will receive another letter every Friday after that.

This Rapture letter service is FREE and will hopefully gain the person you send it to an eternity in heaven. If you would like to see one of the letters which will be sent after the rapture, click here. This is a personal ministry, if you have any questions or comments please address them to: Thank you and God Bless You!

Your friends'll be just as Rapt as you are .

Wednesday, October 08, 2003


Some of the gems ...

[...] 1. "Dear Bishop Newkirk: You need to act on the problems at St. Malachi's in Elyton--now! Our previously-referenced problems with the Mass here have taken a decided turn for the worse. During last Sunday's 10am Mass, Fr. Dingleman screamed "IA CTHULU FTAGHN!" during the consecration and immolated a ferret on the altar. This happened while auxiliary bishop Newman was here for the annual parish visit, so you can ask him. Afterward, Fr. Dingleman said "greater sacrifices would be needed to inaugurate the reign of the Great Old Ones." Given that the Children's liturgy is next week, we are especially concerned and believe you must do something about this--now!"

This was very interesting. Very, very interesting! Does anyone else notice the problem here? Yes, of course--the tone of the parishioner. Why, if you got such a precipitous, demanding ultimatum ("do something now!"), what would you do? If you didn't tune it out, you'd throw it out! And the diocese gets lots of these kinds of demands every week. Come on, try again--but first with Fr. Dingleman, who's a great speaker! We're people, too--and we deserve to be treated nicely. As the proverb goes, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

2. Dear Bishop Newkirk: Why is your Cathedral hosting a conference by the National Association of Rebellious Nuns (NARN)? Every last one of them has been either excommunicated or disciplined by the Vatican, and amongst the conference topics is "Reclaiming the Office of Cultic Prostitute for Our Time" and "Invoking the Great Earth Mother to Crush the Masculine"? What gives?

Sorry--we just don't respond to e-mail from outside the diocese--it's not fair to us or productive of our time! [...]

Thanks to Mark Shea for that link. Every denomination has its equivalents...

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

AM: "With the world's Anglican leaders meeting next week to try to stop the church fracturing over homosexuality, one of its most controversial bishops has begun a lecture tour of Australia. The retired Bishop of Newark, John Shelby Spong, of the American Episcopal Church, has in the past upset Anglican conservatives by questioning fundamental interpretations of the Bible and supporting the ordination of women and gay men."

See the full transcript for the classic line about Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen's conservative evangelicalism: "Peter speaks to a world that, as far as I can see, doesn't exist anymore, except maybe in Sydney."

I don't think it exist in Sydney either - home of the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, liberal Uniting Churchmen who don't find a bit of a blue and of course, the ABC itself.

NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH ROBERT PLANT. To commemorate the recent passing away of 1980s rock legend Robert Palmer (who achieved the rare double of having two of his song titles later used as film titles) I offer the following hymn for use by sincere Arminian, Catholic, Marsilian and other synergist Christians everywhere:

“Grace Ain’t Irresistible”

His power’s undeniable
But if you burn, He ain’t liable
He’s offered you the way to live
But your assent you must first give

Though the angels rejoice, there’s no coercive force
You’re allowed to say “No”, for you’ve got a free choice
You’re gonna stay dead in sin, unless you choose Him …

Grace ain’t irresistible, Grace ain’t irresistible
Grace ain’t irresistible (He’s so kind, He lets anyone say “No” to Him)
Grace ain’t irresistible (He’s so kind, He won’t stop you sliding back – Oh no …)

He’s got a covenant, and He upholds His Law
follows your consent - not comes before
If you should lock Him out, he won't smash down the door
You’re gonna stay dead in sin, unless you choose Him …

Grace ain’t irresistible (He’s so kind, He lets anyone say “No” to Him)
Grace ain’t irresistible (He’s so kind, He won’t stop you sliding back – Oh no …)


His will is not unsearchable
(The Pope has sent the Church a Bull)
Salvation’s offered free to all
And all mankind can hear His call

You must turn now, or burn: so yourself you must shift
Don’t be like those dumb fools who reject this free gift
He’d like to save everyone, but they must help Him –

Grace ain’t irresistible (He’s so kind, He lets anyone say “No” to Him)
Grace ain’t irresistible (He’s so kind, He won’t stop you sliding back – Oh no …)
Grace ain’t irresistible (He’s so kind, He lets anyone say “No” to Him)
Grace ain’t irresistible (He’s so kind, He won’t stop you sliding back – Oh no …)

Monday, October 06, 2003

HUNT MEETS THE HUNTER: Oztraya's Pryminster John Hunt was praised by Steve "The Crocodile Hunter" Irwin last week. A political story that should get front page on, for all the obvious reasons. Ironically, the day before this story broke, I was watching an episode of Kath and Kim wherein Glen Robbins' character "Kel Knight", in the throes of filling out his GST paperwork, repeatedly curses our Prime Minister for inflicting this new tax upon the small businessman. But now The Crocodile Hunter -- who, like US Senator and Presidential aspirant John Kerry, was mistaken by this scribe for a Glen Robbins comedy character when first sighted on television -- is praising J. Winston.

PS. The horrors of Googling to cyber-footnote one's blog-statements ... I [a] now know there's an Ohio town named Glen Robbins, and [b] came across someone else who's wondered what I've often wondered:

"The new Premier [of Ontario] is Liberal Dalton McGuinty. (Where do Canadians get these wonderful, sturdy frontier names – Lester Pearson, Lloyd Axworthy, Dalton McGuinty? They just roll of the tongue with old-fashioned Canadian solidity. ...)"

-- "Evil reptilian kitten-eater wins Ontario", by Hillary Bray

Not to mention Preston Manning and Stockwell Day. You almost expect Fess Parker as well.

Google Search: Laura Schlessinger: "Dr. Laura"

Dr laura Schlessinger seems to be saying the same thing as [below]. . . but in the land of the free and the home of the brave there are always those who hate others expressing their own opinions publicly, and feel such issues must be kept to oneself, and only practised at home between consenting adults behind closed doors . . .

Stop Dr Laura

"Two months and 14 million–plus hits since its March 1 launch, has become one of the most impressive weapons in the American lesbian and gay activism arsenal. Like a cyber machine gun, it has hit its targets with precision: the people and institutions involved in the creation and distribution of homophobic radio talk-show host Laura Schlessinger’s planned syndicated talk show for Paramount Television. The moment people’s names and numbers went up on the Web site, their phones began to ring incessantly, their fax machines began to churn, their E-mail accounts filled to capacity, and all were forced to realize that something was very, very wrong out there — something they each had a role in precipitating...."
"Takin' it to the streets," by Mike Signorile, the Advocate, 2000

Thursday, October 02, 2003

WAS CS LEWIS EVER NOT RIGHT? Warning: the first link is to an article that CONTAINS RUDE WORDS and REFERS TO ADULT THEMES AND CONCEPTS. Nonetheless it makes some points worth thinking about. (Thanks to Boar's Head Tavern for the link. Link requires subscription, but will give you a "day pass" if you watch a short ad.) I cannot confirm or deny how true Ms Marlow’s generalisations are concerning the wider populace. What is striking, though, is how her report confirms what an unmarried Oxford don predicted sixty years ago:

(1) “It was after seeing “Thirteen” and noticing the display rack of handcuffs at Sam Goody on Sixth Avenue that it hit me: The polymorphously perverse, gender-is-just-a-construct future that radical feminists and academics used to dream of has actually arrived. Men no longer have any authority, either in their own eyes or in women’s, the genders are distinguished socially mainly by stuff they buy, and eroticism has fled from the bedroom to the store. It’s sexier for most of us to go shopping than to make love, and so we do. As a friend said when I told her I’d spent much of the weekend in bed with a man, “Who has time for that? The weekend is the only chance I have to do my shopping”. […]

“The collapse of the patriarchy was supposed to make women happy – we were supposed to get more sex, freer sex, better sex, more loving sex and better relations between men and women. If you went to an Ivy League college in the last 20 years or had a professor who did, you probably heard something about this.

“But instead men treat women worse than ever, women are retreating to 1950s notions that sex is something men like, and the nearly successful effort to stamp out gender contrast has made upper-middle-class American sex miserably dull, with or without handcuffs. Men and women are just too much alike stylistically now for much erotic energy to arise from their conjunction. […]

“The new American ideal is an equal relationship, satisfying our craving for justice and for simplicity. When I hear American women in their 20s and early 30s talk about their boyfriends, they seem preoccupied with whether they do 50 per cent of the dishes and whether they spend 50 per cent of the time talking about their problems and anxieties. Of course this is compensation for years of institutionalised unfairness, but it also sounds a lot like a defence against the powerful feelings they have for the men they love. […]

“What’s often lost in the insistence on equality is quality – how the people feel about each other, how much love they can give each other. We now feel queasy about the romantic language of our ancestors, who used the metaphors of slavery and devotion unabashedly. But is there another language with which to speak of love? Love does involve two people putting themselves in the power of each other. We’ve forgotten that what we are looking for between men and women is fairness and compassion, not identity, and there can be justice between people who acknowledge that their balance of power is unequal. The heterosexual act of love does involve women putting themselves literally in the power of men. And we no longer trust enough to do so.”

-- Ann Marlowe, “No intercourse, please – we’re enlightened: Sensitive, feminised and resentful, today’s young men no longer have the sexual authority to please a woman – no matter how much oral sex they perform”. (1 October 2003).

(1) “Men have so horribly abused their power over women in the past that to wives, of all people, equality is in danger of appearing as an ideal. But Mrs Naomi Mitchison has laid her finger on the real point. Have as much equality as you please – the more the better – in our marriage laws: but at some level consent to inequality, nay, delight in inequality, is an erotic necessity. Mrs Mitchison speaks of women so fostered on a defiant idea of equality that the mere sensation of the male embrace rouses an undercurrent of resentment. Marriages are thus shipwrecked. [fn: Naomi Mitchison, The Home and a Changing Civilisation (London, 1934), Chapter I, pp 49-50.] This is the tragi-comedy of the modern woman; taught by Freud to consider the act of love the most important thing in life, and then inhibited by feminism from that internal surrender which alone can make it a complete emotional success. Merely for the sake of her own erotic pleasure, to go no further, some degree of obedience and humility seems to be (normally) necessary on the woman’s part.”

– CS Lewis, “Equality”. Orig pub in (1943) The Spectator (27 August 1943), p 192. Rep in Present Concerns, ed Walter Hooper (London: HarperCollins, 1986), p 19.