Thursday, 25 December 2014

The Continuing Crisis - Quick Round-Up

1) The Pontifical Council for Women has produced what has to be the most lame video ever. Patronising. Dumbed-down. At times unintelligible. I am with Creative Minority Report - Lord, just send the meteor, already.

UPDATE: Hallelujah! The English-speaking version of this video has now been removed from YouTube. Thank God.

2) The English Bishops accusing faithful Catholics of Donatism can get stuffed.

3) If you want to know what Pope Francis really said to the Curia, read it for yourself. It's absolutely unarguable.

At times like this, there's nothing for it but to break into some serious boogie-woogie! 

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Good Servants Are So Hard to Find

Courtesy of Tim Blair, my laugh-out-loud moment of the weekend:

Every week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it’s up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday’s paper. 
This week’s question
A pay cut means we have had to sack our cleaner to save the £25 a week she cost, but, a month on, nothing’s being cleaned and the house is starting to resemble a squat. We set aside two hours on a Saturday morning but it’s not happening. How do other couples divvy up the cleaning without major rows? 
What do you think? 
Do you have a problem readers could solve? Email your suggestions to or write to us at Money, The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU
 Some of Blair's correspondents have proposed some excellent solutions:

Open the front and back doors, fire up the leaf blower, done in 2 minutes.
Their only option appears to be to sell their house.
Worker of Sydney (Reply)
Sat 13 Dec 14 (03:55pm)
If you clean just a small spot, entropy will gradually clean the rest of the house for you as it continuously fills in the cleaned spot.
rhhardin of Ohio (Reply)
Sat 13 Dec 14 (10:42pm)

Friday, 5 December 2014

Giving 'Feedback' to Your PP

Over at Fr Z's Blog, I found this in the combox from Fr Angel Sotelo. It strikes me as a very wise list of pointers to remember when you want to tear a strip off your parish priest for real or imagined infractions.

Some other rules in “correcting” a priest whose behavior you do not approve of: 
1) This is your personal disapproval. DO NOT act like you speak for the parish–because you don’t, e.g. “Other parishioners have remarked that you….” Perhaps there are also parishioners who like Father very much, and would slap you if they saw you correcting him. So don’t make yourself the spokesperson of “the parish." 
2) Stick with very specific examples and do not turn into a mystical fortune teller, e.g. “If you keep this up, you will drive people away” or “Your actions are the reason the Church is going in a bad direction.” Beware of such prophecies, for many a parish has thrived under a harsh and rude pastor who had other good qualities that you didn’t notice. 
3) Describe behavior without judgments about the cause of Father’s behavior. Do not make yourself Miss Cleo the psychic and attempt to know Father’s inner intentions: “You’re constantly acting from your need to be the center of the universe.” Gee, and here we thought that only God can read interior motives and intentions. 
4) Do not get personal and lob nasty ad hominems, because even if Father forgives you, he may never forget, and his demeanor with you will be permanently harmed. Comments such as “I just knew you would not listen to my constructive criticism–I feel so sorry for the people who will suffer under your leadership” or “Priests like you make me ashamed and embarrassed to be a Catholic.” 
5) Remember that if you forget that Father is the human being he is, and push him too far, he could decide to give it right back to you, and blurt out something like, “Speaking of people who are suffering, your teenage son two weeks ago said he had the worst mother in the parish, calling you Queen B**ch to his friends while waiting for confirmation class to start. I can perfectly see now what he was talking about.” Many a parishioner has been left with lifelong scars that he or she picked up in an ugly showdown with a priest that got personal.

A masterly list, which is why I'm reproducing it here so that I can always find it again ...

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Julie Burchill on Islam

'Julie Burchill' and 'Islam'. Now there are two concepts you don't often see put into the one sentence ...

But I believe she's really nailed it in this Spectator article. I - and Tim Blair as well, thank goodness, so I know it's not just me - continue to wonder why Australian feminists are silent about the authentic misogyny that is gaining ground all around them, while relentlessly pursuing matters of complete and utter irrelevance to everyone else but them.

Meanwhile, Brendan O'Neill has noticed that students aren't perhaps quite as radical as they used to be. Oh man. Reading this article took me back (flashback-style) to Helen Garner's book The First Stone and the fallout over the so-called Ormond College Affair in Melbourne.

This has been going on for decades now; we must be into our second generation of self-righteous students, surely?

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Public Lecture: Martin O'Meara VC

In case any of you were wondering why I was being interviewed by the ABC and getting into trouble about Martin O'Meara VC - it's because I'm giving the Frederick Bell VC Memorial Lecture this year. And you are warmly invited, if you happen to be in the area!

'More than Ordinary Care: Martin O'Meara VC'
Friday 14 November
Cottesloe Civic Centre, Broome St, Cottesloe
6pm for 6.30pm start

Please RSVP to Dr Neville Green, RSL Cottesloe Sub-branch,, by Friday 7 November for catering purposes (light supper beforehand).

Gold coin donation at admission; all funds go to the RSL.

About the Presentation:

Born in Ireland, Martin O’Meara came to Western Australia as a young man and worked as a labourer and sleeper-cutter before enlisting in 1915. He showed conspicuous bravery during the Pozières offensive, repeatedly going out into no man’s land to rescue wounded men and to carry up ammunition. He was awarded the VC by King George V in London in July 1917. 

O’Meara returned to Western Australia in November 1918, and was quarantined at Woodman’s Point because of the Spanish flu pandemic. But within a week of his arrival, he became violent and incoherent, and was diagnosed with ‘delusional insanity’ and taken to Stromness in Cottesloe, a home which was used for returned servicemen with shell shock. From there, he was transferred to Claremont Hospital for the Insane, and remained confined there and at Lemnos Hospital until his death in 1935. 

From this stigmatised obscurity, O’Meara has since become a cult figure for military, Irish, mental health and local historians. This presentation will provide an introduction to: 

• O’Meara’s known biography and war record;
• existing sources of information about his life in hospital; 
• his diagnosis and management in the context of Western Australian psychiatry at the time; 
• the way in which his illness was presented in local newspapers during his life; and 
• the subsequent historiography of his life and death.  

Conflict of Interest

My take on the Nova Peris thing, at QED.

Query: did the organisation for which Peris worked at the time have a conflict of interest policy/procedure?

And if not, why not?

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Martin O'Meara VC

Journalist Andrea Mayes interviewed me via email the other week, and has written what I think is a sensitive and balanced article about Martin O'Meara VC on her online news page.

(I wouldn't have used the word 'debunked', myself, because that's not what I'm trying to do, but that's a minor quibble.)

This article, though, has caused something of a stir. Some of the responses I've had indicate that people think it is insulting to suggest that O'Meara may have had something already in his makeup that turned out to be both a strength and a weakness, and that it in some way diminishes his courage under fire.

So here's some broad responses to some of the criticisms I've received:

1) We can't say with any precision WHAT O'Meara's diagnosis was, because the records are too old and too imperfect. And even if we did have good records, psychiatry is still such an inexact science that we'd still only be speculating. People tend to forget that psychiatry is still uncertain about the origins of almost all mental illnesses.

2) It's not casting aspersions on O'Meara, or on any other war veteran, to speculate that he may have had a pre-existing condition or a genetic predisposition that led to his serious problems after the war, which included a lot of violent outbursts and delusions.

3) Martin O'Meara may not have had what we now call PTSD; he may have had trauma-induced psychosis. This is slightly different, and bears more examination in the light of some of his symptoms. And there's nothing wrong with speculating about this, as long as it's acknowledged as speculation.

4) If pre-existing conditions and genetic predispositions are as widespread in the general population as some psychiatric researchers think they are, then they are going to be represented in the military, as well as in other walks of life.

5) Not everything to do with mental conditions is relentlessly negative. People with diagnoses have reported all kinds of new insights, new talents and new ways of seeing life, as a direct result of their diagnosis. Hence the Churchill comparison; a man whose mental illness was an inescapable part of his life, but which also moulded his character in ways that we can all be grateful for.

6) O'Meara's courage is unquestioned, as is his contribution under fire. It doesn't diminish this to speculate that some of that courage came from an inner disposition which, once the trauma of war was over, also led him to become so very unwell for the rest of his life.

After WWI, most men with psychiatric injury who returned to Western Australia were sent to Claremont Hospital for the Insane. After a huge amount of public campaigning, and some very good machinations by the State government, Lemnos Hospital was built and opened in 1926.

This Hospital came into existence because enough people saw a difference between 'people who went mad of their own fault' - the alcoholics, people with tertiary syphilis, and other undesirables who filled Claremont at the time - and 'people who went mad in a noble cause', such as war veterans.

Do we still think that way about people with mental illnesses? And do we treat them differently because we make judgements about the origin of their mental problems?

Monday, 20 October 2014

Poor Old Gough

UPDATE I: Miranda Devine gets out the pin and pops a few party balloons ...

UPDATE II: Thank you, Tim Blair, for reviving one of the greatest moments in Australian television:

Poor old Gough Whitlam. I can forgive him a lot, because he always made my dad laugh.

Also, God was good to him, in that Whitlam lived long enough to see his own appalling time in government bested by the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd catastrophe. No longer could any of us say, 'Whitlam's government was the worst in Australian history'. Not after that.

I never thought I'd cite The Age favourably, but their article this morning on what they call 'the right' and their recollections and opinions of the Whitlam government is actually well worth reading. It's a painful reminder of just how bad Gough's government was, and just how damaging its legacy was to ordinary Australians. And I think the last paragraph is the unkindest cut of all.

The announcement of Gough Whitlam's death was only minutes old when Alan Jones delivered 2GB listeners a critique of the Labor icon's time as prime minister.

"He damaged the economy through the absence of any prime-ministerial control," Jones said.

Jones was one of many conservative figures attempting on Tuesday to walk a fine line between respect for a deceased Australian prime minister, while standing by criticisms of his time in office.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Andrew Bolt was one of the most strident critics. "Whitlam explored the gulf between seeming and doing, and tumbled into the chasm," he wrote in his blog on the Herald Sun. "The Abbott government is even today dealing with the costly consequences and culture of entitlement bequeathed by Whitlam's decisions to give free universal medical care and university education."

Jones, for his part, acknowledged Mr Whitlam's intellectual ability and dignity. "They [Mr and Mrs Whitlam] were people of significant dignity, notwithstanding whatever your differences might be in relation to their politics." He did, however, tie Whitlam's welfare policies to Jones' own long-running crusade against "dole bludgers".

"He was the man who allegedly created the mentality of the dole bludger," said Jones, referring to the Whitlam government's reformist welfare policies that provided a multimillion-dollar increase in funding for the unemployed. "Mr Whitlam was of the view that if someone lost their job, then we should all pitch in for what would be one transitional payment from one job to the next."

Jones added that Mr Whitlam could not have foreseen "dole bludgers" remaining on welfare payments for long periods of time. "That ideological purity was abused and people became dole bludgers; he never envisaged that people would sit on that forever."

James Paterson, deputy executive director of the Institute of Public Affairs, a conservative think tank, praised Mr Whitlam for ending conscription and cutting tariffs, but said that his other policies were "regrettable".

"No prime minister changed Australia more than Gough Whitlam. He was a transformative prime minister," said Mr Paterson. "He oversaw one of the largest increases in the size of government in Australian history. It will require a Liberal prime minister as bold as Gough Whitlam to reverse that regrettable trend."

Other conservative commentators avoided discussing Mr Whitlam's controversial dismissal or domestic policies and praised him for fostering a relationship between China and Australia.

"Whatever doubts conservatives and Liberals have raised about Gough's domestic and foreign policies during the last 40 years, there is no question the PM deserves high praise for his overtures to China," said Tom Switzer, a conservative commentator and academic at the University of Sydney.

"He not just spectacularly wrong-footed Liberal prime minister Bill McMahon and even preceded Richard Nixon's historic visit, he established one of our nation's most important diplomatic relationships that has helped guarantee a prosperous Australia that is fully engaged in east Asia."

Malcolm Fraser, the former Liberal prime minister who replaced Mr Whitlam after his dismissal in 1975, and long ago cut ties with the right, chose simply to remember him as a "great Australian".
So poor old Gough, God rest his soul. He knew not what he did.

Friday, 10 October 2014

That Synod on the Family

I watched this first on Fr Z's Blog, and I'm reposting here - it's pretty full-on, so don't watch it if you're easily offended!

If this is too much, you might like to try Bruvver Eccles' alternative solution.
And if this is not your cup of tea either (gosh, you're hard to please), try Dr Gregory Popcak's new book, When Divorce is Not an Option, published by Sophia Institute Press.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Fr Benedict Groeschel - RIP

I was delighted to hear of the death of Fr Benedict Groeschel CFR on 3 October, the vigil of the Transitus of St Francis (the patron saint of this wise old Franciscan).

Why delighted? Two reasons: I knew he'd been in pain for a long time since his car accident, and now I can pray to him, as well as for him. This to me looks like a win-win situation. Plus, what an amazing time to go to God - what a sign of God's favour and a confirmation of Fr Benedict's mission in reforming his corner of the Franciscan family. (PS I was also thrilled at the death of St John Paul II, for all the same reasons).

I have been reading Groeschel's work for years now, starting with The Courage to be Chaste, and through Arise from Darkness and A Still Small Voice. I've listened to him on audio recordings, and watched him on YouTube.

I also met him once, when he came to give a talk at Tyburn, during which he uttered the unforgettable line, informed by decades of psychological practice and solid common sense:

"Most people are depressed because they live depressing lives".

(But you have to imagine this with a Bronx accent.) He was kind enough to give me a blessing afterwards, which I think did me good.

So here, by way of a treat, is the Fr Benedict Groeschel that none of us remember, just so you will be sure to recognise him in Heaven when you meet him there:

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Yes, That's Right

This is why I wrote that piece in QED today.

It's to do with being a Catholic.

When it began to emerge that numerous priests and even some bishops within the Catholic Church had been sexually abusing children, impregnating women and then disappearing, and raping young men, there was a huge outcry in this country. This is the 100% correct response to this kind of outrage.

When Cardinal Pell was accused, he immediately stepped down from office, pending an investigation. There weren't enough ways we - ordinary Catholics - could apologise to those who had been injured and scandalised.

We tried, and tried and tried, including me, to make sense of what had happened, and to learn from it, and to learn how to make sure it never happened again.

So now there's policies, and police checks, and standards, and precautions of all kinds to ensure that everyone who has contact with anyone in an official position in the Catholic Church is safe from this kind of predation.

These powers were put in place by individual dioceses, by the State, and also by the Vatican, which in 2009 gave local bishops the power to laicise clergy for certain proven offences, to save time.

What I am asking in QED is that Islam in Australia shows itself willing to go through the same purification, to disassociate itself from terrorism, IS and other forms of destructive jihad.

The Catholic Church has centralised authority which can make rules about this kind of stuff, but Islam is actually far freer in its structure. There is very little stopping local Muslim congregations from making these types of decisions themselves.

And yet they continue to avoid this.

The Catholic Church did the same thing for many years - moved priests, hid the truth, demonised complainants, and covered up for each other. That's because those in power were complicit in the wrongdoing, often quite personally.

I would suggest that the same is taking place with Islam. There is far more tacit and open support for IS, terrorism of all kinds, and militant jihad in Australia, than anyone is admitting.

This is the only reasonable explanation for the continued silence and occasionally lame response from Islamic senior figures in Australia.

Monday, 22 September 2014

On The Road Again

I will be giving a couple of talks in the Eastern States in the first week of October.

Tuesday 7 October: 9am, keynote address (one of several! I can share!),  Australian College of Mental Health Nurses 40th International Conference, Melbourne

Thursday 9 October: 'Christianity and Feminism', Christopher Dawson Centre for Cultural Studies, Hobart

I will be leaving Perth on Monday 6th, and won't be back till Friday evening. During this time, I won't be checking my gmail account, so don't be offended if I don't get back to you till the weekend (I don't do the whole device thing).

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Happy Birthday to Me!

It's that time of year again, so I'd invite you to be upstanding and join Stevie Wonder in a singalong with me this Sunday.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Good News - Now Brought From Aix To Ghent

If you weren't able to make it to the presentation last night (but thank you to the nearly 100 people who did make it; how nice to meet you!), you can listen to it below:

'Catholic Spirituality and Mental Health', Dawson Society, Perth, 2 September 2014

(I don't remember the chamber orchestra being there at the beginning, that's all ...)

Thank you very much to Tom, Elizabeth, Daniel and all other organisers of the Dawson Society for inviting me to speak - it was a pleasure.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Tochter aus Elysium

Last night we went to see/hear Beethoven's 8th and 9th Symphonies performed by the WA Symphony Orchestra (WASO) and the WASO Choir, at the Perth Concert Hall. (Actually, we went to hear the 9th, but were prepared to take the job lot ...)

We had dinner beforehand at a Nice Restaurant, where the ManChild picked the olives out of the garlic bread, but otherwise behaved perfectly.

The music was magnificent. In fact, it was DAMN fine. Double in-fact: the 9th got a standing ovation.

I've only once been at the Concert Hall in the past when there was a standing ovation, and that was the first time I ever heard the 9th performed live, with the Wiener Singverein, in around 1990. My friend Helen and I had tickets from someone/somewhere, and we sat in the boxes, almost on top of the double basses. So of course, when that theme was introduced in the fourth movement, we not only heard it, but felt it vibrating up through the floor.

The performance was later panned by the music critic of the West Australian newspaper, which triggered a very cranky response from people asking whether the music critic had even been there that night.

I don't think that will happen this time, though.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Vindicated (Part II)

This morning Matthias Cormann told the Australian public something I'd suspected as long ago as May-June this year.

He's announced that the Medical Research Future Fund is basically a piece of economic legerdemain - a way of showing an asset on the balance sheet.

This is being sold to the media as Cormann 'supporting this marvellous humane medical research agenda with sound economics', but methinks it was actually the core idea all along.

Unless - awful thought - I gave Cormann that idea by writing about it in Quadrant, July-August issue, when I decided to ask whether the Commonwealth should have anything to do with medical research funding, seeing as they normally couldn't pick a winner in a one-horse race.


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?

I think everyone should be able to spend a quiet evening at home from time to time, making pate with a donated truffle (thank you, Nini) and watching oneself on television.

Who Do You Think You Are? 19 August, with Lisa McCune. My bit comes in at around 38:14.

And in the very next section is my chum Dr Deb Rosser, who works with the WA component of the Find & Connect Project! That was a nice surprise; I didn't realise she was taking part in this episode as well.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Too Harsh - or Too Soon?

My brother linked to my previous post on Ricochet, and I only just worked this out ...

So anyway, I went and dutifully read the comments, in light of the recent news that Robin Williams had early-stage Parkinson's, and that this may have been a factor in his decision to commit suicide.

Point One: The 'bipolar genius' crowd can just pipe down for a second. Williams appears to have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder reasonably late in life - after years of cocaine and alcohol abuse. I am no clinician, but even I know that drug and alcohol abuse can lead to bipolar-style disorders. Especially cocaine, which is like dropping Alka-Seltzer into the brain. So Robin Williams' celebrated 'curse' of 'bipolar genius' may have been caused by his own freely-chosen recreational behaviours.

Point Two: Way to slap the Parkinson's groups in the face. No wonder Michael J Fox was so surprised - there's nothing like killing yourself to say to someone, 'Your life as a person with Parkinson's is so appalling, I'd rather be dead.'

Don't get me wrong. I feel terribly, terribly sorry for Williams. I thought he could be hugely funny. I also knew he could act seriously. He is in one of my favourite movies, The Fisher King. (Mind you, I'd still love this movie even if it had someone else playing Perry, because it's a Terry Gilliam movie with my kind of themes.)

It now turns out that he was also someone who spent his whole life running away from things, and/or who didn't have the kind of love in his life that gave him the courage to face the future with a long-term illness.

But I feel more sorry for his family, because they will now have to live - for the rest of their lives - with the awful trauma and damage done to a family by a suicide.

I wish people would think about this more often, rather than glamorising celebrity suicides. Try calling Lifeline instead? 13 11 14.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Not Joining the Grieving Just Yet

UPDATE: Guys, look at the next post as well ...

So I could mention a Hollywood actor who died by suicide, even though he was very talented, still had money, still had career options ahead of him, was doing OK with the alcohol issue, had no less than three wives, one of whom was still very fond of him, and three kids, all of whom were very fond of him, but who decided for reasons not entirely clear to end it all, and leave a lot of people gutted.

Or, I could mention a Hollywood actor who died of natural causes after a long, tough, productive, and interesting life, much of which was lived outside of the movie business. Because talented people who are prepared to work hard, and try other things, actually can and do find ways of getting by that don't involve public adulation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Guess who won?

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Artist's Impression

Yesterday I gave my first lecture in Pharmacology 1101 (Drugs That Changed the World) at UWA for this year. The lecture was on 'Health and medicine(s) before the age of science'.

One student was so engrossed in my elegant rhetoric on shamanism, Hippocrates, Paracelsus and humoural theory, that she spent most of the lecture drawing a picture of me.

She very kindly presented this to me afterwards. And here it is.

I have removed the artist's name, just in case she fails this unit on account of not having listened to a word I said ...

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


Most of the contributions to the website SleeveFace are nothing short of brilliant.

I think, however, that my personal favourite will always be this one.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Happy Birthday Two You!

And yes, dearly beloved - we are gathered here once more today in the sight of God to celebrate the fact that on 15 July this blog turned a whole TWO years old!

This year I am celebrating this important event with the repeal of a carbon tax. Please be upstanding for Kool and the Gang.

My stats since starting this blog in 2012:

97,954 page views - minus 601 vampirestat hits, of course
Most popular post: David Murray on the Continuing Crisis Redux (4292 views)
Second most popular post: The Best of Maggie (3436 views)
Most popular referring URL: Catallaxy (1769)
Most popular referring site: Quadrant (5795)

RePEALings ... Woh Woh Woh RePEALings ...

And now you too can thrill to the moment when we decided to grow up.

Now all we need is Section 18C, and perhaps a few other things, to go down the same path.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Ex Cathedra, Not Ex Chequer

Poor old Pope Francis. He's only infallible when he's teaching ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals.

And "matters of faith and morals" DON'T include economic theory.

But don't be too hard on him - there are very few Spanish translations available of good economic books like The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, The Road to Serfdom and Victory of Reason.

And even if you sent him a copy, he wouldn't have time to read it.

Anyway, don't worry - the next Pope will be an economic rationalist and hardline capitalist. Promise.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

I May As Well Admit It

OK. I am now willing to go public. Inspired by Lisa Curry-Kenny's brave admission, I too can admit that I suffer from Rushing Woman Syndrome. I just rush, rush, rush all day, and it makes me a bit of a cow sometimes.

The trouble is that I also suffer from a rare female form of Horizontal Couch-Related Imbibing Syndrome, recently identified by David Penberthy.

Tragically, this syndrome has caused me in the past to be unable to move from the couch, but because I am female, I have found that there is usually a packet of biscuits, a nice cup of tea and a good book, all within arm's reach. I have been spared most of the vocalisations described by Penberthy, unless the book happens to be by E F Benson, in which case I tend to laugh out loud for no apparent reason.

But the important thing to realise is that this is a medical condition, and so I am in no way to blame for any of this. It's genetic, and I am certain there are some nice drugs I can take that will make it go away, or at least make me a nicer person without having to make any effort to improve myself or overcome my laziness and tendency to nag.

I might even write a book about my battle with it, and make a few quid.

Monday, 9 June 2014


How can I not be a tiny bit sad at the passing of Rik Mayall at only 56, after a quad-bike accident left him with a seizure disorder?

Mayall made a wonderful and long-lasting contribution to my upbringing. Via the TV series The Young Ones, which I first watched during its very first run on ABC TV, late at night, while I was still in high school (I had read about it in the NME, which my brother bought faithfully), he brought me 'Rik', the loathsome, badge-studded, middle-class Trotskyite perpetual student.

On many occasions since - and notably during our recent public outbreak of sooky university student-ism - I have had recourse to Rik as a shorthand summary of everything that's wrong with the young Left in Australia.

I wonder how he and the hated 'Thatcher' will get on together in the afterlife ... May he rest in peace.

And now - some classic Rik moments, just so you can see what I'm talking about.

Friday, 30 May 2014

The Royal Commission Continues

And so it transpires that Detective Peter Fox, the policeman whose whistleblowing was instrumental in setting up the current Royal Commission into child sexual abuse, is an unreliable witness: "
The Australian today cites an independent NSW inquiry's report:
The commission formed the view that Fox had developed what amounted to an obsession about both the Catholic Church and alleged conspiracies involving senior police ... Other parts of his evidence given before the commission were “implausible” and “deliberately untruthful”.

I’m still glad the Royal Commission has happened, in a way, because it’s lifted the lid on the Salvation Army and the Anglicans and the other institutions where child abuse was taking place.

What angered me was that it was so obviously a ‘Get the Catholics’ exercise in pandering to the ABC and Friends, while ignoring the huge amount of sexual abuse that’s taken place of children in state care and in state foster placements, and the current huge amount of sexual abuse of Aboriginal children in remote areas.

The inevitable calls for married priests arise. These conveniently overlook the problems with paedophilia in churches where married clergy proliferate, and also conveniently overlook the vastly disproportionate numbers of male-on-male sexual assaults that have taken place.

There are two immediate and up-front solutions for Catholics faced with this kind of challenge.

1) Dioceses need to vet the seminary applicants a lot more closely – tick; being done already. Inspired by the example of the late Ronald Conway, they also need to vet the vetters a lot more closely.

2) If you are a Catholic, support your priests to live a celibate life by word, by prayer, by practical assistance, by example. I’m trying to do this; I’d invite any other Catholics to do so as well.

I’ve personally been blessed by knowing a great many celibate priests who were genuinely celibate. Celibacy actually put them in an ideal position to give me wise advice, and to give me the sort of kind-hearted, generous and fatherly support and protection that I’d been lacking for much of my life.

Married priests can counsel the married, but they will draw primarily on their own experience. Celibates can also counsel the married, but they can draw upon the huge range of experiences that they’ve had with hearing the problems of other married couples and counselling them, and the families with whom they’ve been involved.

People think celibacy means being dead, or living in a cupboard and hiding from reality/sex. It’s not. Practising it faithfully opens your heart and your mind in ways that you simply can’t imagine or expect, and it gives you greater objectivity as well. The good priests I’ve known have had an inner freedom and self-mastery that gave them a joyous and positive outlook on life, and they were in turn able to transmit that to me when they gave me counsel.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Return of the Jedi

The IPA's Julie Novak recently took on Simon Copland in a Guardian-sponsored debate over libertarianism and sexuality. Catallaxyfiles very kindly drew my attention to this.

Julie Novak says that libertarianism is good for gay people. Simon Copland repeats some rather tepid first-year-sociology-lecture material about heterosexuality being a direct product of Friedrich Engels (or something; I have to admit I wasn't really paying attention by that stage, because it was like listening to Rik from The Young Ones all over again.)

I disagree with Simon Copland, but I think he speaks out of ignorance. He is simply repeating what he’s been told over and over, rather than doing some broader reading and a bit of really independent thinking.

Given Simon’s current employment and occupational provenance, I’d say he’s used to trotting out the well-worn line that ‘marriage has always been oppressive to women’ because he CAN say that, as a man, and get murmurs of approval from every gay man and woman in his (self-selected) audience. This makes him feel good, and they all seem to like it as well, so naturally he believes it to be true.

If he bothered to learn a little REAL history, he would soon realise that marriage in general, and in Western Europe in particular, had until recently developed into an effective legal and social way of protecting women, and the children they become pregnant with, from desertion and abandonment by feckless men.

We have managed to undo that in the last few decades with easy divorce, with the results around us: sole parent families, almost all female-headed, form a substantial underclass of poverty in Australia. Fatherless children continue to underperform across a broad range of social indicators.

Meanwhile, men, set free by 24 hour / 7 day contraceptive protection for women, do what they like, when they like, to whoever will let them, and then for some reason ‘refuse to commit’, much to their disappointed sexual partners’ surprise.

The state has taken on the responsibility of protecting, feeding, clothing and otherwise providing for these fractured casualties of our commitment to deconstructing marriage. It has not done a good job. I’m not saying all husbands and fathers do a good job, but most of them can do a better job than the state.

Until we find a proven, effective, and legalisable REPLACEMENT for marriage, I’d be a bit less hasty in demolishing it. In the meantime, women and children continue to suffer even more grievously precisely because our society does not value marriage any longer.

PS Julie, I respect you both as an economist and a pushy broad, but we have to face some facts here: gay people form a tiny minority of the Australian population.

The 2011 Census produced a count of 33,714 same-sex couples in Australia. That’s 67,428 individuals. If we are generous and include the shy couples and the singles, we might just make it up to 80,000 with a good tail wind. (If we can’t count accurately, we can all just guess, and this is my guess.)

That’s around the same number of people who listed their religion as ‘Jedi’ in the 2001 Census. I am all in favour of religious freedom, but I really don’t think we need to change marriage laws to accommodate Jedi, either.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

We Shall Not Be Moved

And how. I don't fancy the coppers' chances of moving some of these young ladies in a hurry. Not without a block and tackle, anyway.

PS Note to people who bring their small children on demonstrations - any demonstrations of any kind:

1) You are either despicable (children are not to be used as human shields so that the police won't get involved), or -

2) You are criminally stupid and culpable (if the protest turns violent, the police can't wade in with riot shields or horses, for fear of hurting your kids. This leaves you and your small children completely undefended. Had you thought about that?)

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Home Again, Home Again

Ahhhh, it's good to be home again. But it was worth it. I had a splendid time at the Liberty and Western Civilisation Symposium in Melbourne.


* Roger Scruton's eloquent and almost hour-long discourse, with minimal notes, on Everything Pertaining to The Topic;

* Claudio Veliz's equally eloquent and almost as long 'three minutes', ditto;

* Asking Michael Kroger to get out of the way because he was between me and a nice hot cup of tea;

* Catching up with various chums like Paul Collits, Dr Mark McAndrew (also from Perth), Elizabeth Bogoni from the Dawson Society in Perth, David Daintree from the Dawson Centre in Tasmania, Greg Melleuish (top marks for his pithy presentation), and the inimitable John Roskam;

* Putting faces to names: David van Gend, Ian Callinan, Nick Cater, Kevin Donnelly; Tony Thomas; and finally Roger Franklin (who was kind enough to drive me to the airport today);

* Meeting the much-maligned and misunderstood Bolta, who stepped in for John Howard at the Roger Scruton session;

* the Socialist Alliance demo (!!) that appeared shortly before afternoon tea, but it was out in the lobby, and it was twelve or so spotty students chanting about university fees. There were around 400 of us, so we had to stay indoors until they'd moved the demo to a safe location, for fear of them being crushed under a stampede of angry libertarians exercising the Fisk Doctrine.

John Roskam went outside and pointed out to them the irony of them trying to shout down a symposium discussing the loss of freedom of speech in Australia. This was rather above their heads, so he asked if he could have some selfies with them instead - which annoyed them enough to make them go away.

But anyway ... Here is one happy snap, at least:

Paul Collitts (left) is not quite quick enough to escape, but hardcore Roger Scruton fan Elizabeth Bogoni (right) is having fun. The drinks afterwards were rather good, even though I didn't have my gold frilly frock to hand. PS Got a super haircut on Thursday at swanky salon Rokk Ebony in Collins Place - and it cost me less than Maurice Meade. I can see why people move to Melbourne.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Off to Melbourne

I'm off to the Eastern Wilderness on Thursday morning. This is so that I will be fresh and awake enough to take part in the Liberty and Democracy in Western Civilisation Symposium on Friday. Keynote speaker: Roger Scruton!

The program and all the other details are here. I don't think I will get any selfies with prominent members of Australia's Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (VRWC for short), but you never know your luck in the big city.

There are drinks afterwards. With any luck, it should end up looking like this - just as long as I pack my gold frilly frock ...

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Telling It Like It Is

There has been an awful hoo-har in the last couple of weeks in the United States, where not one but TWO Catholic speakers have been invited to nominally Catholic schools and have delivered fairly straightforward talks on the basics of the Catholic moral life.

This has so offended, horrified and shocked their audiences that both speakers - Sr Jane Laurel from the Nashville Dominicans, and Fr Francis Hoffman from Opus Dei, have been 'apologised for' by local small-c 'catholic' 'authorities'.

More details are on Fr Z's excellent blog, but I also found this excellent summary of the whole problem in the Catholic education system in the comments section, from OrthodoxChick:

Many are openly gay or have parents who are gay. Many describe themselves not as Catholic, but as atheists. They go to Catholic school because the education is better than in the public schools. They don’t go there to be Catholic. Who does that anymore?  
Heck, I have a close relative who is a cradle Catholic. She was married in a Catholic parish in RI. She also rarely goes to Mass (usually just weddings, funerals, Sacraments of relatives’ kids), contracepts, and just became an ordained minister. But she sends her son to a Diocesan Catholic school and weekly CCD classes because that’s what Catholics do.  
They live how they want to live, and as long as they self-identify as Catholic, then they’re Catholic. That’s the rationale that people like Fr. Hoffman and Sr. Jane are confronting, and when they explain the Church’s teaching to people such as I’ve just described, well yeah, all hell’s gonna break loose in a hurry.

Metaphysics and Metamucil

I think you'll enjoy this lecture from Dr Edward Feser. It's called 'What We Owe The New Atheists'.

Here's a snippet from the introduction:

The theme of my talk is “What We Owe the New Atheists.” It might seem an odd one for the author of a decidedly non-irenic, highly polemical book like The Last Superstition.  
In that book I described Richard Dawkins as a man who “wouldn’t know metaphysics from Metamucil.” I proposed, accordingly, that the book Philosophy for Dummies might be reissued in a simplified version under the title Philosophy for Dawkins.  
I said that Christopher Hitchens’ synthesis of boozy self-confidence and theological incompetence made of him “a riddle, inside an enigma, wrapped in a cocktail napkin.”  
I wrote that Sam Harris’s work makes that of Madalyn Murray O’Hair look profound, and suggested that we might be forgiven for suspecting Harris’s entire literary career of being an elaborate hoax, a Sacha Baron Cohen-style publicity stunt. (Sam Harris as a philosophical Borat or Ali G.)  
Then, with Daniel Dennett, I got a little mean.
Seriously, though, Feser goes on to more high-minded stuff later on. I especially enjoyed his exegesis of that little-known spiritual classic, Rocky III.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

No, No, Noah

Hmmm. It looks like fundamentalist Islamicists and I have something in common. We both won't be seeing Russell Crowe's new flick Noah.

'Hang on!' I hear you cry. 'Aren't you the same woman who watched The Last Temptation of Christ before she'd make any comment on it?

Yes, that was me. In fact, I think I watched it about four times, over a period of several years.

But as far as Noah is concerned, I figure I sat through Avatar, and once was enough.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Your Face on Drugs

You won't enjoy this, but at least it confirms that drugs can help you lose weight. And your skin. And your looks. And your life.

Repealings ... Nothing More Than ... Repealings ...

Here is my submission to the Attorney General's Department in support of the repeal of Section 18C.

RE: Submission on Proposed Amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (FREEDOM OF SPEECH (REPEAL OF S. 18C) BILL 2014)

I endorse this proposed change to the legislation, and give it my full support.

The Bolt prosecution was a deliberate attempt to stifle debate on a series of issues critical to our understanding of Australian identity today. We need the freedom to discuss and debate issues of race, socioeconomic privilege and ethnic identity. These are all powerful and enriching aspects of modern Australian culture.

What is less enriching – for most of us – is the use of these factors to obtain privileged access to taxpayer-funded largesse. Those who currently enjoy this privileged access have been very quick to try to shut these debates down, for obvious financial reasons.

Existing defamation laws can take care of any attack on personal reputation. Existing laws against incitement to violence, stalking and other forms of harassment can take care of any other potential damage. People like me – open supporters of the State of Israel – are also quite happy to defend the Jewish community here and abroad against any re-emerging anti-Semitism. (I am proud to be on the public record as having done so when I saw an Israeli-owned business being targeted by anti-Semitic demonstrators at a local shopping centre.)

I note with interest that on 16 March 2014, Newcastle Trades Hall Council secretary Gary Kennedy told a public meeting that a gay man, Alan Joyce, should be shot in the back of the head for making mistakes in corporate leadership. He has since been forced to apologise for this comment, and for offensive and misogynist remarks about other business leaders.

This is what we do in a civilised and free society when someone does something as obviously crude and bigoted as this – we give them the freedom to show their bigotry, and then we shine a powerful light on it and refute it. Everyone has a chance to see how small-minded and ignorant people like Gary Kennedy are, and this is why they should not be denied their moment in the limelight.

I look forward to both Houses of Parliament showing their commitment to true freedom by taking a strong stance against bigotry and injustice, and passing this Bill.

Philippa Martyr.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Power to the People!

It's time to sit down and be counted.

Join Tim Blair's campaign to Work on Wednesday!

Blair says:

Protesting isn’t for everyone, and we make no judgments against lazy, shiftless types who decide against joining the movement.

For the rest of us, Work on Wednesday will be a wonderful, history-making day of spontaneous interactive awareness-raising. From the very first nightshift workers in Sydney to Adelaide’s busy crime scene investigators and all the way across the nation to the industrious west coast, Work on Wednesday provides the opportunity for nearly everybody to show their concern for our shared future.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Nothing More About Cats, Honest

Except that I suggest you visit Oh look - my first guest post!

It may well be my last guest post as well, but we'll see ...

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Just This Once

I have so far managed to avoid any semblance of cat-related information on this blog.
But I do think it's important that if you haven't encountered Henri Le Chat on YouTube yet, this should be your introduction. He is an education in himself.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Craig Thompson - The Final Cut

Does anyone here remember a man called Craig Thomson?

Time was when he was pretty much the most important man in the country. Although under investigation for misuse of a HSU credit card, he managed to stay in Parliament during the hung Labor government, thus avoiding the spectacle of an early election.

He was also given the opportunity to speak to Parliament about the accusations.

In that speech - which lasted an hour - he cried. He told Parliament his life and work history, and about all the good he'd done in the union movement. He attacked former HSU colleague Kathy Jackson and accused her of having access to endless perks which were, he implied, a possible misuse of union funds. He implied he had been set up by internal enemies. He claimed that on some of the occasions he was accused of booking prostitutes, he wasn't even in the places mentioned.

Thomson also had an interview with Laurie Oakes in which he claimed he had been set up.

And above all, he maintained that there simply wasn't enough evidence for anyone to accuse him of anything.

Except that there was, which is why he was finally arrested on charges - 145 of them, in fact - relating to all of the above. And lo and behold - his lawyers had to drop the line that he had been set up, and that a mystery person had faked all the phone calls, the visits to prostitutes, the porn movie hire, and the other stuff.

In fact, his lawyers made it quite clear that they'd be arguing that Thomson had the right to use his union credit card for all these perks, which is in effect arguing that Thomson did these things but that they weren't wrong or illegal.

So much so that they struck a deal to make sure that a horde of sex workers and brothel owners didn't have to appear for the prosecution, because the defence was no longer contesting the truth of Thomson's use of the cards for exactly these services.

This is probably a good thing for other reasons, as some of the sums spent on these ladies are rather large - in fact, rather too large for just one customer.

a) So who was with Thomson on those jolly nights of roistering?

b) And is that person's identity critical to understanding the three-year go-slow by Fair Work Australia, the media free pass given to Thomson, the kid-gloves treatment in Parliament, and Thomson's continual smug grin throughout, convinced he was going to get away with it?

On this blog, I have repeatedly affirmed that I didn't believe a word of Thomson's excuses:

I did the same at Quadrant Online:

Today, I feel vindicated. I know he'll probably get a slap on the wrist and 300 hours community service, but I can only hope it involves cleaning toilets in a hospital somewhere - like the HSU members he defrauded.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Euthanasia for Children

I think this is one of the best posts I've read on this topic (thank you, His Hermeneuticalness).

All that the Belgian parliament has done is ratify something that has been going on for years in Belgium.

It's going on in other places, too, legally. And it's also going on closer to home than you might think.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

That's What I Call a Media Release

From the inestimable Michael Smith News:

Media Statement from Bob Kernohan, former Victorian AWU President
Media Statement from Bob Kernohan, former AWU President, Victoria Branch.
I congratulate PM ABBOTT on the announcement of a Royal Commission into corruption in trade unions. I am perplexed however at Bill Shorten’s opposition to a Royal Commission and his claim that a police taskforce should investigate corruption in unions.   Bill Shorten knows a lot of the detail about Julia Gillard and Bruce Wilson’s corrupt activities involving the AWU because he was there at the time it happened.   So was I.   Bill Shorten’s had 18 years to go to the police if he was serious about helping police investigate corruption and he hasn’t lifted a finger.   So Bill, I can only think that you oppose a Royal Commission because you’re afraid of what it will report.
I recruited Bill Shorten into the AWU in 1992. Bill was my campaign manager in AWU union elections for the leadership of the Victorian Branch. My opponent was Bruce Wilson whose de facto Julia Gillard was a partner at the AWU’s law firm Slater and Gordon. My bitter campaign against Wilson was focused on serious financial irregularities in the union books. In 1996 the then AWU General Secretary, Ian Cambridge called for a royal commission into the AWU. I supported Ian Cambridge at that time.  
Bill Shorten knew at least as much as I knew about the frauds - we discussed it at the time, but since then I’ve seen no positive actions at all from Bill to bring offenders to justice, in fact Bill's done the opposite.
Bill Shorten urged me to participate in the cover up - "think of your career, Bob” he said.   I know that Bill Shorten has not assisted either the Victoria Police or the WA Police to bring offenders to justice.   He did nothing as State Secretary in Victoria, nor as AWU National secretary in 2001 thru 2007.  He never called in the police to investigate. Bill Shorten chose to cover the fraud up; and to add insult to injury, he was a key player in installing Julia Gillard into the Lodge! 
A Royal Commission where persons of interest are compelled to give sworn evidence is the only way that corruption in unions will ever be fully exposed and people made to be accountable for their criminal actions.
I can be reached on 0438901594 and I am happy to talk on the record.

That's telling them.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

What Is The Sound of One Penny Dropping?

You might like to ask the New York Post, where disgruntled journalist Kyle Smith realises that the young and happenin' folks who read Rolling Stone have been duped. Why, this new-fangled Pope Francis person is peddling the same autocratic crap as the last one!

Given that the average Rolling Stone reader is a single white underemployed urban male, I'm not sure how pressing this news is to them. But it's clearly pressing to Kyle, who pretty accurately captures the Rolling Stone demographic himself.

It’s hard for liberals (and maybe some conservatives) to wrap their heads around this, but Catholic doctrine doesn’t line up neatly with American views of left and right. The church is steadfastly pro-life on abortion (we associate that with conservatives) but equally pro-life on capital punishment (a view we call liberal). Nor has the Vatican altered its commitment to uplifting the poor or its related suspicion of capitalism.

You don't say?

More at the NYP site.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Our Cate

It's very rewarding and gratifying to note that Cate continues to carry the flag for non-sexism at another awards ceremony this week, the ACTAA Awards - wearing this very modest and sedate number (see below also).

No chance of any sexist pig photographers lingering inappropriately upon Cate in this frock, after all.

Our Cate recently thrilled the contributors of Daily Life when she criticised a photographer for lingering too long over her frock and face.

Was this down at the supermarket, when she had her curlers in? Or perhaps when she was getting the paper off the front lawn in her nightie?

No, I do believe this was on the red carpet - the customary photo op for Stars Like Cate - while she was wearing a floor-length Givenchy gown.

Candice Chung over at Daily Life went into raptures:

In the words of Barney Stinson, THE HIGHEST OF FIVE to you, Miss Blanchett!
While we're there, let's revisit Elizabeth Moss's reaction to E!'s "Mani Cam" at the Golden Globe Awards Earlier.
Here's to the badass ladies of Hollywood!

I have no idea who Candice Chung is, except that she seems to have gone to the Walter 'Dateline: The Copa' Monheit™ (the Movie Publicist's Friend) school of movie industry journalism.

And as for Ms Blanchett, well - slightly more than her inconsistency is showing ...

Your ABC

From Quadrant Online this happy morning:

It's surely time to consider some fresh ABC series like The Hamster Decides. This could become an exciting new iview program which can also be watched on older content platforms such as the Marconi wireless, home-made crystal set and ABC1 television.

In The Hamster Decides, those whacky pranksters, the Chaser ‘boys’, are locked in a room with three baseball bats, a bag of cement and a hockey stick. They battle it out to find out which one of them gets his contract renewed. This edgy, ironic new series is bound to be a big hit with younger viewers.

Monday, 13 January 2014

World Double Vision

Tim Blair is once again to be congratulated on stirring the pot, this time on World Vision and child sponsorship.

His original article is here, where he asks why the young man he's been sponsoring for years - and who is now 17 years old - is still producing drawings like this to send to him:

I would strongly recommend that you also read the comments section attached to this piece - other people who have sponsored children via World Vision have had similar experiences.
World Vision Australia CEO Tim Costello then responded, and Blair noted this. Once more, read the comments section. 

Friday, 3 January 2014

What Would Hitler Do?

You wouldn't catch ol' Adolf surrounded by sea ice in Antarctica. Or would you?

Hitler Gets Trapped in Sea Ice

And if you want to know how they got stuck there in the first place, see Watts Up With That - lingering tourists doing sightseeing on the pack ice delayed the departure of the ship. (Greens Senator elect Janet Rice told us all about it inadvertently in her online blog ...)