Friday, 28 September 2012

Yikes! Part II

I knew it was too good to be true! This evening (EST) the Australian Financial Review spiked my weekend edition story on grantsmanship in the arts and humanities.

The legal people didn't like it, apparently, and felt that while writing something like that in Quadrant was OK, putting it in the AFR wasn't.

I would like to say something trenchant here, but it's Friday afternoon (Perth time) and it's a long weekend, and the sun is shining at last, and the Grand Final is tomorrow, so I'm just going to have a nice G & T instead.

PS. The editing process did enable me to pick up one error: Professor Rebekah Brown's sociology grant was actually $195,000 and not $238,698. This has been corrected in the Quadrant Online version of the article, but not in the print edition.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Nakoula v Assange - Some PR Advice

Nakoula B. Nakoula, the so-called film-maker apparently responsible for The Innocence of Muslims, is just a smidge away from becoming a multimedia celebrity of global proportions.

He's already got the slightly ridiculous name; all he has to do now is follow my easy step-by-step guide.

1) Seek asylum in the nearest Ecuadorian embassy;

2) Appear on the balcony to hordes of fans waving placards, and make a pompous speech;

3) Annoy everyone in the embassy so much that they encourage you to beam a live telecast to the UN and insist that the United States government get off your back about those piss-ant fraud charges, when really everyone knows that they are just persecuting you for your exercise of the right to freedom of speech;

4) Make sure your next movie is really offensive to Christians and/or endangers the lives of even more US military personnel;

5) Be feted on At the Movies by David and Margaret;

6) Have a mini-series made about you.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


There I was, just on my way out to yet another birthday dinner in a swanky restaurant (this is my annual excursion into How The Other Half Lives) when I was phoned by Keith Windschuttle and told that my forthcoming Quadrant piece will be - with any luck and some pruning - appearing in the Australian Financial Review this weekend.

For those of you who are interested, it's called 'Taken for Granted: funding arts and humanities research in Australia'. AFR's Shelley Gare assures me it's 'an original argument', but given that it recommends dismantling the ARC in a context of massive tax and university reform, that could be like a politician making a 'courageous' decision.

So with a faint and growing sense of being in front of a firing squad, I am off to Coco's for oysters and good times. Hope youse guys enjoy whatever it is you're having ...

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Free Speech Saves Lives

The problem in Libya is not the West in general. Look at the images - if you can bear it - of those men dragging Ambassador Stevens to death. They’re all wearing Western clothes, and the man dragging him has his mobile phone clasped in his mouth.

There may be Western clothes in Libya, but what there isn’t is a history of free speech. Free speech is pacifying. Yes, it allows you to spread vileness - but it also allows vileness to be countered with argument, amendment, correction, and apology if necessary. It may whip up strong feelings, but it also disseminates them equally effectively.

More to come at Quadrant Online (quite possibly).

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Incest? No Wukkas

This just in: film director Nick Cassavetes says he's fine with incest, as it's pretty much like being gay.

After her rant on Q&A the other night at Anglican Archbishop Peter Jensen, I'm eagerly awaiting Catherine "Marriage was invented, love wasn't" Deveney's comments on this fascinating development.

It would also be nice to hear round about now from 'Neil Pharaoh, co-convenor of The Australian Rainbow Labor Network', as we did over the gay-sex-v-smoking thing.

Or is that the chirping of crickets I hear?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Yup. Totally Causes Cancer.

UPDATE: I'm not saying a thing ...

Just a quick update vis-a-vis the Lewandowsky furore:

1) I am a climate skeptic.

2) I believe smoking can indeed cause cancer. I am happy to accept that the links are proven, and that smoking has caused and continues to cause cancer in a great many other people.

It hasn't caused cancer in me yet, and it hasn't caused it in any of my blood relatives who smoked like utter choo-choos for decades, including my grandmothers, both of whom rolled their own. (Granny No 1 had to quit in her late 70s because she had dementia; Granny No 2 also quit in her 70s for reasons that escape me. Both died of non-cancerous illnesses.) So even with my total lack of first-hand experience of smoking causing cancer, I can accept the science.

Just to clarify a few other issues:

- Princess Diana's driver was drunk
- Neil Armstrong walked on the surface of the moon
- I don't know or particularly care who shot JFK, but I will concede that a large number of people had excellent motives to do so, starting with his wife.

More on Lewandowsky from Joanne Nova.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Up in Smoke

Jules needs to do a quick head count:

1) are there more gay activists or smokers in this country?
2) And who's raising the most revenue?

As a smoking person, I am deeply offended at Gillard's decision to withdraw from speaking at the Australian Christian Lobby because she believes that smoking is more harmful to people's health than homosexual acts.

This is offensive, heartless and wrong. It's really disgraceful, and Gillard should be forced to apologise to the smoking community immediately.

As co-convenor of the Australian Conservative Rainbow Smoking Lobby, I denounce her comments as smokophobic in the worst degree. Haven't we progressed at all in this country?

More at Quadrant Online.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Fix the Schools? No Wukkas

The ALP Federal government is going to save the school system by the tried-and-true method of throwing huge sums of money into a mysterious black hole. Out of the other end of this hole will emerge a magnificent, glittering, internationally competitive school system that will be the envy of less blessed nations. 

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, because actually you have heard this one before. Here are some of the other ways in which the current Federal government has helped to solve the school system’s problems:

Project: Building the Education Revolution, $16.2 billion
Impact on educational outcomes: Unknown.

Project: Building 3742 school libraries in the last 3 years (as part of BER), $4 billion
Impact on educational outcomes: Library closures as schools move to virtual libraries.

Project: One Laptop Per Child project 2012 Federal grant, $11.7million
Impact on educational outcomes: No published evaluations available.

Project: Labor’s ‘literacy and numeracy partnership’ (4 years), $540 million
Impact on educational outcomes: No measurable improvements in either literacy or numeracy.

Project: Solar panels for school roofs, $324 million
Impact on educational outcomes: Unknown.

More to come at Quadrant Online.