Thursday, 29 November 2012

A Godwin Grech Moment? Hardly

The difference between Julia Gillard's up-to-the-neck-and-higher involvement in AWU dodgy doings and Malcolm Turnbull's gullibility is this:

*Godwin Grech, then a Treasury official, faked one email. Malcolm Turnbull believed him.

Against this, we can pile a mountain of written evidence of wrongdoing from multiple sources:

*including two other people critical to the whole process - Bruce Wilson and Ralph Blewitt;
*including Julia Gillard's own testimony, out of her own mouth, to her employers Slater & Gordon, who were investigating her because they were concerned about her dodginess;
*including her famous Press Conference when she Proved Her Innocence by not answering any questions, but by using the words 'slush fund'. These were misreported as 'trust fund', and Mrs Mathieson went ballistic at the Australian for doing so, and clarified that she actually meant 'slush fund'.

If you would like to read any and all of this evidence, you can. It's all at

This is a long, long way from the Godwin Grech stupidity. This has lifted the lid on union corruption on a grand, national, impressive and profitable scale.

We Are Ashamed

From this afternoon's lively Question Time:

"JULIA GILLARD: We are ashamed to sit in a Parliament with a man of negativity and sleaze and smear."

Myself, I'm ashamed to be living in a country led by a woman of negativity and sleaze and smear, not to mention the following terms she overlooked: obfuscation, circumlocution, lying, bluster, name-calling, dysfunction, histrionics, misandry, spite, viciousness, incompetence.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

I Know No-thing! No-thing!

Julia Gillard's media advisor might like to watch a few Hogan's Heroes re-runs to get some fresh ideas for her next press conference.

More in Quadrant Online.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Meat-Free Monday and Other Traumas

Apparently a group of busybodies nutritionists and whinging nuisances social activists have declared that Mondays should be 'Meat-Free Mondays'. This will calm the oceans, reduce carbon emissions and avert a zombie apocalypse. What it will do to the already-suffering Australian meat industry is anyone's guess, but now would be a good time to start saving up for imported steak.

Happily I spent last night eating a lot of roasted sheep. This meat-free initiative, incidentally, promises that eating less meat will genuinely reduce our environmental impact. I dare him to sit near a certain friend of mine several hours after he's eaten falafel and tell me that without a gas mask.

To clarify an unrelated matter: - yes, that's 'wither' and not 'whither', on account of it being a pune, or play on words, on the part of QED's editor.

And this turned up on the Bourque Report in Canada, which was a nice surprise:

Friday, 23 November 2012

Late Night Public Transport

And here we go again. A French woman (or, according to UK rag the Daily Mail, a group of four French girls) was threatened with violence and insults on a Melbourne bus late at night because she/they started singing in French.

A Racist Attack (the French are apparently a race). A Sexist Attack (it involved women). Scandalous. Outrageous. Terrifying. Moral outrage across the globe.

Most of the moral outrage, however, seems to becoming from people who don't ever use public transport in a large city, especially at night.

Based on my own happy experiences in a number of large cities here and abroad (including Paris), the kind of people who take public transport at night - on, say, a route that runs through a poor and crime-ridden series of suburbs in Melbourne's south-east - are not really the kind of people you might also meet on a Sunday morning, enjoying their double-decaf frappiatocino at a nice cafe near a select row of terrace housing.

They are the kind of people who threaten you with box-cutters and talk about Seeing You Next Tuesday. They can't afford taxis, and they are very often drunk. Not amusing-drunk on good champagne, but nasty-drunk on something like antifreeze. Sometimes they're also on drugs, or off their meds. Sometimes they wear woolly hats and like to stare at you without blinking. Sometimes they're too busy scratching or scrawling tags all over the bus or train windows to notice you at all, and this is usually a good thing.

So when someone decides to start singing in French, and they don't like it, they will tell her to shut up, often in a rude and aggressive way.

If she then decides to continue singing, only louder, they will escalate their abuse.

As yet, I'm still waiting to hear an explanation of why anyone would be singing in French on a bus late at night, running on the Frankston route through Melbourne's poor, crime-ridden south-east, loud enough for everyone to hear in the first place. Now there's the real story.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

True Confessions

Update: In a bizarrely backhanded article, the Sydney Morning Herald puts us all straight about Confession!

Kudos to author of books of dubious orthodoxy and retired bishop Geoffrey Robinson, perennial lefty Catholic Fr Bob, and illicitly-married priest Fr Kevin Lee for all coming out and saying openly that they'd break the seal of the confessional to report paedophilia. And murder. And domestic violence. And maybe a few other things, if they were feeling cranky that day.

I like to know this kind of thing so I don't accidentally pop in to their church on a Saturday morning when I've had a big night out. Who can tell where my (much less exciting) sins would end up? They're all pretty media-savvy, so the sky's the limit.

A priest in a sticky spot can actually ask the penitent for a release from the sacramental seal to discuss the Confession with either the miscreant themselves or others, including the police. This is the obvious solution for any priest when a paedophile comes to confess, and it's the one no-one has yet mentioned.

While we're on this subject, when Fr Kevin Lee went to Confession to admit that he'd married a Filipina bar hostess without first being laicised - a woman who didn't even know he was a priest at first, principally because he didn't tell her - did the priest to whom he confessed immediately go and ring up Fr Lee's bishop and report him?

I seem to recollect instead that Fr Lee managed to keep the existence of 'Mrs Lee' a secret from most people, including his congregation, for about a year. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. Clearly Fr Kevin Lee had not done anything wrong in having sex with a woman he wasn't married to, then attempting marriage with her when he's not been laicised, and then keeping the whole thing secret so that he could continue to be a priest and get paid and say Mass and other fun stuff, and then appearing in a rather self-pitying article in the Weekend Australian magazine where the full extent of his self-justification became apparent.

I like the Sacrament of Confession. I like the fact that it's just between me and God. I also know that if I killed someone and then went to Confession, the priest would withhold absolution from me until I'd done the right thing legally - especially if someone else was in the frame for what I'd done.

Robinson, however, has had the sense to admit that most paedophiles don't actually go to Confession, and those that do, don't confess this crime, so demanding that priests break the seal of the Confessional is pretty pointless - as is his public expression of willingness to break the seal, which actually incurs the penalty of ipso facto excommunication.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

NZ Psychology Dept In Line for Nobel Prize

This just in from the University of Canterbury, NZ: postgraduate psychology researcher Carsten Grimm has discovered - and proven - that doing things you enjoy can make you happy. Conversely, doing things you don't enjoy as much makes you less happy.

I understand that future psychology projects in this department will include rigorous explorations of whether what goes up must also come down; whether sleeping makes you less tired; and a critical testing of the hypothesis that 'if you lose something, this means that you can't find it.'

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Customer is Always Right

The lamentable current state of Australia's universities - and not just in the ARC grants department - can be seen in some of Curtin University's recent vicissitudes. Crisis breeds opportunity, but I'm not sure that these activities can be entirely justified in the name of a market approach to higher education.

In 2011 Curtin's IELTS English language testing centre had to be closed when one of its more enterprising staff members was found offering falsified IELTS results for a tidy fee.

Now, another of Curtin's lecturers has been caught allegedly asking for a bribe to get an international student to a pass grade in an exam.

It's quite a good bribe, too: $100 per mark, a total of $1500. So if you had a student - or a few students - who really failed in an exam, it could be a nice little earner. 

The pressures on universities are many - but they are mostly of their own making. Having entered into a Faustian bargain with the Federal government, they now find themselves chained to the galleys in the doldrums, and there are now the first flickers of pirate sails on the horizon. The reckless drive to secure and retain large numbers of fee-paying international students means that immediate and very obvious opportunities emerge for this kind of scheme, and others.

What this also goes to show is that the entrepreneurial spirit is actually alive and well in Australia, but that it's being crushed, stifled and misdirected by a sclerotic university system. These academics could do really well in the business world; they just need to get out there and get to work.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Crystal Balls

This just in from the successful 2013 ARC grants list (thank you to Greg Melleuish):

Rationality and modernity: a history of fortune telling in modern America
2013 $45,000.00
2014 $50,000.00
2015 $50,000.00
Total $145,000.00

This project will produce the first scholarly history of commercial fortune telling in modern America, told from the point of view of customers as well as practitioners. The history of the persistence of the trade in prophecy well into the twentieth century will shed new light on the relationship of rationality and modernity in United States history.

More at Quadrant Online.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

If Only

Seen at the Post Office today:

Alarmed by what, I wonder? Certainly not the crippling amount of debt they've piled up, or the years of squandering a perfectly good surplus, or introducing taxes that actually lose them money, no matter how much Bruce Springsteen they listen to in the process.

But alarmed about being called corrupt? Check.
About being challenged on their waste? Check.
About having their top spot on the Senate ticket pinched? Check.
About having their integrity questioned? Check.

Wayne Swan's Glorious Five-Year Surplus

This is from Catallaxy in August this year, but it's well worth revisiting.