October 31, 2007

Nanny state doesn't work

Sorry folks, but asking the government to step in a fix personal behaviors and decisions doesn't work, period.

All the regulations under the sun might make everyone feel morally superior and well satisfied with their dreadfully responsible lobbying efforts, but they make no difference to the real world.


So, go ahead, surrender your lives to governments and corporations, but don't expect a different outcome to the one you have now.

"Heavy-handed lobbying by Australian manufacturers has stopped politicians on both sides of the fence from supporting bans on junk food marketing to kids, a leading obesity expert says.

Professor Boyd Swinburn from the International Obesity Taskforce has used an international consumer rights conference in Sydney to attack the Government and the food industry over their failure to help curb the obesity epidemic.

He said statutory government regulations and standards were urgently needed but direct lobbying by food manufacturers had blocked this.

He urged swift changes in government policy and regulations to curb the epidemic, and said the World Health Organisation needed to urgently develop an international plan limiting marketing to children."

In steps Greens savior leader Bob Brown, and he almost knows a thing or two:

"The Australian Greens have called for an end to junk food advertising during children's television hours, labelling it unethical and unfair to parents.

Greens leader Bob Brown on Wednesday launched a policy that would give the federal health minister the power to decide what foods could be advertised during morning and after school television programs.

Senator Brown said all food advertising directed at children should be banned unless companies could demonstrate a valid reason for broadcast."

Brown even tosses about the names of some other countries:

"Senator Brown said other nations, including Sweden, and Quebec in Canada had similar controls but both Australia's major parties were kowtowing to the political power of big food corporations."

Notice anything?

Hmm? Hmm?

Brown names countries, but doesn't cite the 15 odd years of evidence from any of them. You know, a goodly period of time from which evidence of success can be measured, established, proven, as opposed to knee-jerk, moral high ground, vacuous but feel-good, and oh, gosh, other countries have done this, so we should too, so as to show what progressive, stand-up-to-bully corporations, and vitally active citizens we are! Hooray! Hooray!

Sweden have had bans on advertising directed at children under the age of 12 years since 1991, which is when they first started worrying about childhood obesity.

Would you like to know the blowback from this intuitively terrific sounding nanny-state action?

Oh good, because I'm going to tell you anyway.

Childhood obesity in Sweden has continued to increase.

The quality of television for children has plummeted. No big surprise; there's no revenue in children's television shows.

The price of toys is 50% higher than in any other European country.

So, go ahead folks. Keep lobbying to ban food and drink advertising aimed at children. Demand that the government be proxy parents. Then wait for the kids to get fatter, and wait for the blowback.

But, yeah, everyone will magically feel good. Big success.

Pity that parents and peers have repeatedly been shown to be the only real influences on children, not advertising.

*Regulations will save us, because we have no intention of saving ourselves*

Lobbying has stopped junk food bans ...

Greens call for end to junk food ads ...

It's an election - idiot!

Minister for health, Tony Abbott, and his countless advisers and minders appear to have taken a holiday in the middle of the election campaign.

While Prime Minister Howard was filling the health coffers by announcing $444 M for health initiatives, Abbott didn't bother to turn up at the National Press Club for a debate with his ALP counterpart.

Top ten reasons for missing your own debate?

Update

He finally arrived, more than 30 minutes late. No idea what he said, or if a worm was measuring the results.

The opposition health spokesperson is still trotting out the lie that:


"
On health care, the "buck will stop with Kevin Rudd".

Well, no it won't.

A Rudd government will offer states "incentives" to cut duplication and improve waiting lists and what not.

So long as the states make "progress" - which has never been defined, nor dates specified - then the ALP will do nothing more. If the states - presumably collectively - do nothing, then, and only then, will Rudd hold a referendum, at the next election, that is, three years hence, to ask the Oz public if they want the Feds to take over public hospitals.

What are the odds that none of the states will make "progress" during three years, particularly when no measures have been defined?

It doesn't matter how low the hurdle is set, it's inevitable that some "progress" will be identified and duly touted about as a great success. In other words, Rudd will conveniently find no reason to hold a referendum.

Not, by the way, that Rudd would need a referendum to take over the hospitals. Legally it wouldn't be required, it's nothing more than expensive window dressing. A safe well-dressed-window too, we might add, since almost every referendum is defeated.

"The buck will stop with Rudd"?

Come off it.

Only a fool would believe this piffle.

Wednesday Wisdom

A friend is someone who will help you move. A real friend is someone who will help you move a body.

Unknown

October 30, 2007

Any synapses firing ... at all?

"Paris Hilton has allegedly gone ballistic at a Toronto adult store for promoting her infamous skin flick,threatening to sue them and call the police.

After walking past the store, the socialite-heiress apparently stormed in and demanded the manager take down posters outside - they were promoting her infamous sex tape.

The best part? It was all captured on the store's surveillance tapes."
Of course, this would make a great deal more sense if not for the little fact that the tape is on sale legally, Hilton having ultimately done a profit share deal with her ex-boyfriend (who is now Mrs Pammy No.3). Guess she no longer needs the money. Wonder if she considered donating to charity, rather than threatening to call the police over the sale of a legal tape?

Paris rages in Canadian sex shop ...

The sex shop is taking bids for the security tape, of course.

Glib Rudd

On the late news last night, Rudd was seen offering the following advice to Howard, with regard to climate change:
"He needs to become a leader, not a follower."
Yeerrs, let the boot of irony drop with a clunk.

What I didn't know at the time of watching smug-Rudd standing by a stream and throwing a stick for a dog to fetch (literally, not metaphorically) was that the ALP had just blundered their way through their most embarrassing day, all of it relating to their dog's breakfast of climate change policies.

"Peter Garrett's political credentials were in tatters last night after Kevin Rudd forced his environment spokesman to issue a humiliating clarification of Labor's greenhouse gas policy.

The backdown came after a Labor crisis meeting, which followed a day of sustained assault by John Howard and senior ministers on Mr Garrett's approach to a new post-Kyoto climate accord.

Mr Garrett started the day by committing a Labor government to signing a new global agreement on greenhouse gas emissions targets that might not include developing nations, such as China and India.

Last night, Mr Garrett issued a statement, reversing his position."

Garrett's blunder on Kyoto ...

Fiasco exposes Labor weakness ...

Bet Garrett is wishing he was still a rock star right about now.

Daytime viewing

The Costello and Swan debate is deemed so important it's being shown in the middle of the day.

It is scheduled so as not to cut into Days of Our Lives.

I'm outraged!

October 29, 2007

Perverse

Remember last week, when there was almost an air of excitement across Europe because Kate McCann cried uncontrollably during an interview?

Ooh, ah: she’s “almost human after all” was the unspoken and despicably misplaced assessment.

But that was before an “expression specialist” and sundry “critics” took the, apparently irresistible, bait of having their names up in lights.

“Critics”?

“Critics"???!!!!

A family has lost their four year old child, who is likely, but not necessarily dead, and the case is breathlessly dissected by “critics”?

My god, crap blockbusters, and asinine novels are given infinitely more sympathetic “reviews” than a real crime, a real tragedy.

As much as we have the history of the Chamberlain case, with hundreds of nonsense rumors, the McCann case continues to stray into far more perverse territory than our local witch hunt ever did.

Little Madeline was born with the assistance of IVF – not exactly uncommon these days. Mum and Dad McCann are her biological parents, but that hasn’t stopped some intrepid reporters in Europe from claiming they have “found” Madeline’s “biological” father.

(And even if donor sperm had been used - which it wasn't - one wonders how that bit of irrelevancy could possibly contribute to finding a little girl who was last seen alive five months ago.)

You’d think it couldn’t get much sicker, but it does.

A Spanish psychiatrist – and “facial expression specialist” – has been reported as saying:

“When people cry, they move the muscles in their face – and she did not move one single muscle, just like poker players.

This is very significant. It brings us the certainly that she is hiding something.”

He said he thought Mrs McCann “has had psychiatric problems for a long time.”

The only certainly is that the "critics" and the "facial expression specialists" are a twisted bunch of vile, cruel bastards.

There is no excuse and no atonement for such cretinous bilge.

October 28, 2007

Ugly but sexy

"One of her personal favourites is the Deep Sea Angler (Melanocetus johnsoni), a grotesque looking fish that lives deep in the ocean.

"The female angler isn't the most attractive thing but she's in the deep deep depths so it doesn't matter," says Marris.

To attract a male, she secretes a sweet smelling perfume that arouses him so much that he is compelled to pursue and bite onto her.

"This is some extraordinary love bite because he never lets go," Marris says.

"He becomes fused to her and basically becomes a blob of testicles on her skin.

"She then chemically commands him to release sperm when she wants, so she's got this permanent sex slave.

"One female brought up from the depths had 11 males attached to her, she was one lucky girl."
Before we get too carried away though, the mail Angler is only about the size of a finger, and he dies if he doesn't find a mate. He fuses with the female and receives all of his sustenance from her thereafter. More of a leech relationship than sex slave.

Whatever. There's an awful lot of sex going on in the ocean. You might want to remember that next time you go to the beach.

Extreme sex under the sea ...

October 27, 2007

Litmus

Since 1972 Eden-Monaro has been a predictor of who will hold government.

After four terms, Eden-Monaro has turned on the Liberal sitting member, big time.

Nup. Not much of a story. This is happening all over the country.

I'm starting to not look forward to the election count.

We'll only need to watch for the first 30 minutes, the way things are going.

Voters to dump Minister Gary Nairn

October 26, 2007

Rwanda spared, for now

Rwanda has been given a welcome reprieve from a hideous hardship.

US celebutard and heirhead, Ebola Paris Hilton, will not be visiting Rwanda, despite having already packed her 350 essential bags.

The planned visit has been postponed due to "restructuring of the Playing for Good Foundation".

One can only hope that the "restructuring" entails the removal of the gits who thought Hilton would bring gravity and dignity to a poor and battle scared country as she traipsed around schools and and health care clinics.

"I'm scared, yeah. I've heard it's really dangerous," Hilton told Newsweek this month.

Not nearly as scared as the Rwandan kiddies who would have been forced to gaze upon Hilton.

Duck Friday

October 25, 2007

Coal miners get sexy back

Forget three minute shoulder massages at your desk, a new company magnet on your birthday, or mandatory rock climbing *bonding* days with the people you already see far more of than you wish, Bulga coal mine management have hit on a real winner in care and commitment to their staff.

"Hundreds of men at the Bulga mine in the Hunter Valley have been attending classes on menopause and foreplay - because, according to management, a sexless miner "can get mighty grumpy at work" and affect production.

And the men, aged from 20 to 60, have been transfixed, asking why women menstruate and seeking tips on how they can "explore the wife again".

Xstrata Coal's communications manager, James Rickards, said yesterday the classes had been highly successful because most men were keen to learn about the physiological and emotional changes associated with menopause and why their sex lives might be suffering.

"There was no laughter then, just a lot of interest. I told them that they needed to start exploring their wives like they did when they were 18 and they were all extremely attentive," she said.

"And they snapped up all the flyers left out after the talk so we've obviously got some cranky men with cranky wives out there who want some help."

These educational sessions, which cover a wide range of health and nutrition matters, even have cute, yet masculine, names with the entire program being known as the "Toolbox Talks", and one course called "Big Rigs", for the obese workers.

On ya Bulga!

Five stars.

Meanwhile, Maxim Magazine's lists the world's unsexiest women:

1. Sarah Jessica Parker
2. Amy Winehouse
3. Sandra Oh
4. Madonna
5. Britney Spears

Britney Spears came in at No. 5 for "losing the ability to perform". Read into that what you will.

October 24, 2007

You can't be serious!!!!!

If all the polling is correct, the Liberals will lose as many as fifty, yes, yes, that would be five with a zero tacked on the end, as in 50 seats in the Federal election.

Even the most "devastating" losses in the past have come about with mere 5 to 7% swings away from the incumbent.

For the Libs to lose so many seats, and be reduced to some bizarre new imitation minor party, would require a relatively uniform swing of, oooh, my best estimate: 1256%.

I know I've said in the past that it looked set to be a bloodbath, but will the electorate seriously do this - will they follow though? - resulting in about 30 Libs, versus nearly 110 ALP in the House of Representatives, and with every state and territory already being ALP - are they serious? The electorate, our fellow citizens, think this would be a good thing?

Assuming a less disemboweling loss to the Libs is the most optimistic spin to put on things, but that's been true for the best part of a year. No surprises. Nothing has changed.

No matter how anyone wishes to bluster about the polling, it's becoming etched in stone that the Libs cannot possibly turn the Titanic around.

Of course, if they do, it will be the singularly most spectacular win, and loss, in Federal history.

I feel like Homer Simpson, dithering over a cup cake and a cream pie: do I want to see the Liberal bloodbath, or will it be even more fun to see the ALP defeated (if only by a couple of seats), thereby suffering the most humiliating, blood curdling, bubble-burst all over their smug faces, loss imaginable?

Either way, either outcome, election night is going to be something *special*.

Wednesday Wisdom

Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.

Douglas Adams

October 23, 2007

Unethical eating

The Age has an article today about "ethical" eating, which, predictably, is mostly about being a conspicuously indulgent and unethical middle class Western consumer. Naturally their material was sourced from someone at the ironically named Friends of the Earth.

Yonks ago, Drunka posted about organic food, and I meant to follow up. (Hmm, yes, I have a three year backlog of potential blog material, wilting on my hard drive.)

I won't tediously tackle each topic coved in The Age piece (grrrrr, don't get me started on "fair trade" coffee; or miles traveled per mouthful of food!)

But we will have have a closer look at the environmental and economic "benefits", and the kind, caring way that organic products and dead animals arrive at your table, shall we?
"Do organic production practices benefit animals? Dr. Chuck Guard, professor of veterinary medicine at Cornell University, told me that it pains him that many technological advancements in animal medicine are prohibited for use on organic farms. He described how organic farms don't use drugs to control parasites, worms, infections and illness in their herds. "Drugs take away pain and suffering," he said. "Proponents of organic food production have thrown away these medical tools, and the result is unnecessary pain and suffering for the animals."

Do organic production practices benefit the environment? In many cases, they do the opposite. Recently, Starbucks proudly informed their customers that they would no longer be buying milk from farms that use rbGH, the supplemental hormone administered to cows to increase milk production (even though the extra hormones stay in the cow, and the resulting milk is the same). The problem with this policy is that Starbucks will now be buying milk from farms that are far less efficient at making milk. Without the use of the latest technology for making milk, many more cows must be milked to produce the same number of café lattes for Starbucks' customers. More cows being milked means more cows to feed, and therefore more land must be cultivated with fossil-fuel-burning tractors. More cows means many more tons of manure produced, and more methane, a greenhouse gas, released into the atmosphere.

Consumers assume that organic crops are environmentally friendly. However, organic production methods are far less efficient than the modern methods used by conventional farmers, so organic farmers must consume more natural and man-made resources (such as land and fuel) to produce their crops.

Cornell Professor Guard told me about neighboring wheat farms he observed during a visit to Alberta, Canada: one organic and one conventional. The organic farm consumes six times as much diesel fuel per bushel of wheat produced.

Socially conscious consumers have a right to know that "organic" doesn't mean what it did 20 years ago. According to the Oct. 16, 2006, cover story in Business Week, when you eat Stonyfield Farms yogurt, you are often consuming dried organic milk flown all the way from New Zealand and reconstituted here in the U.S. The apple puree used to sweeten the yogurt sometimes comes from Turkey, and the strawberries from China. Importation of organic products raises troubling questions about food safety, labor standards, and the fossil fuels burned in the transportation of these foods."

Don't be stupid and grossly irresponsible. Don't buy "organic". Be ethical and moral instead.

Reasons you should buy regular goods ...

Costello and Swan to debate

Whoo, hoo!

Now this should be more interesting than watching Rudd and Howard adjust their glasses.

90 worm people

A mere ninety undecided voters were responsible for the ups and downs of the debate "worm" on Sunday night.

Not a representative political or demographic sample.

So much for the validity of the "worm" results.

It turns out that Channel Nine did have their live coverage of the debate cut a couple of times, because they broke the National Press Club agreement, which included that they would not sully the screen with "worms" or other crawly decorations.

October 22, 2007

Five more weeks!!!!

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

Numbers round up

  • Ben Cousins was awarded costs of $50 over his dropped drugs charge.
  • Kevin Rudd made the earth move for the CEO and shareholders of ABC Childcare, by announcing a policy to increase childcare rebates by 20%. Yes, those are the same rebates given by the Libs, which have ensured at least a 30% increase in child care costs. Expect an additional 20% increase in child care fees if the ALP get in, because that's how these rebates work in the real world.
  • It turns out the ALP tax policy was only aspirational, and shadow treasurer Swan still thinks it's a beaut "goal", even if no one in the party owns a calculator. Seems that their "aspirational" 30% marginal tax rate would need to be set at $41 K, not the $37 K released by the ALP.
  • Suggesting that the technical fallout of the Channel Nine "worm" was deliberate, Mr Rudd officially made himself the most outrageous maroon in the country. (BTW - the network did not "go down"; the "worm" had functional problems, or rather, the Press Club, the hosts of the debate, made the decision not to take the feed.)

    "Under current arrangements it's getting harder and harder for our democracy to function at many levels," Mr Rudd said.

    "I find it ... strange in an election debate that's always going to be a fiercely contested battle.

    "When someone pulls the plug on a television network, I wonder what the hell has happened."

  • Only 10 per cent of Telstra BigPond users were very satisfied with what they paid for the service. I offer no sympathy to BigPond users. There are hundreds of ISPs in the country, and all of them offer a better service at a lower cost than Telstra. These people are too stupid and too lazy to change their ISP. A better ISP, at a cheaper price is, literally, one phone call away. Pick up the phone people, pick up the phone!!!

    "They are also more likely to be hit with excess usage charges, so there was those kinds of issues with the costs that they pay and the conditions that they wear that caused this decline."

    BigPond customers were also least satisfied with connection speeds versus what was advertised and had the most problems with billing."

  • Melbourne had one warm day - yes, count it, one day - reaching a balmy 31C yesterday, which saw a 15% increase in electricity usage. Yep, save the planet folks, keep doing your "little bit" to reduce carbon emissions, not to mention preserving valuable energy resources. On ya!

October 21, 2007

Pink blowback

October is breast cancer awareness month.

Yes, breast cancer gets an entire month to itself, every year, year after year.

While October brings a flood of "pink ribbon" goodies, my perception is that they're with us all year around. It definitely starts prior to, and extends long after, the month of October.

It doesn't matter where you go, "pink ribbon" consumer products are all over the place.

Tim Tams, Kit Kats, bottled water, paper towels, teddy bears, undies, cup cakes, even coffee, and that's just the start of it.

Now I'm going to be offensive, so please run over to a TMZ gossip blog to check if Brit-Brit has flashed any new body parts if you're going to get all huffy about me bitching about breast cancer fund raising.

I'm fed up with the "pink ribbon".


Breast cancer is not the only cancer in town.

There are, I think, more than 220 types of cancer.

Breast cancer is not the most lethal cancer for women.

Breast cancer isn't even the most lethal disease for women.

Heart and strokes are the biggest killer of women, by far.

The fund raising is for "awareness and research".

Except, like climate change, we're "aware" already.

Seriously: we're alert, alarmed, astonished, compassionate, sympathetic, fawningly admiring over every plucky soul - including Kylie - who has ever been diagnosed with breast cancer. Truly we are.

But enough already. It's unseemly. It reeks of outright greed.

It has, like an FFFF sized implanted breast, eclipsed the thousands of other, equally worthy diseases, most of which are in desperate need of research money, not to mention funds to assist families going through all kinds of lengthy and debilitating treatments and subsequent hardships.

Breast cancer, must, surely, have enough funds stashed away by now to last for the next decade.

It's distasteful to hog the charitable medical dollar.

It's even more distasteful to assume that women and men won't give to a good cause, purely altruistically, unless they get a packet of Tim Tams or a new pair of undies in exchange for their "donation".

People shop because they have to; people give because they want to.

Confusing the two might be a marketing "gurus" wet-dream, but as a consumer, I find it a nightmare.

Stephanie Trigg has a more sophisticated take on it:
"... that breast cancer promotions often infantilise women. It is the distinctive coding of the feminine as principally concerned with jewellery, clothes and cosmetics. What is on sale is the generalised clutter of the bedroom, often in the form of teddy bears and fluffy toys

Most insidious, though, is the concept of "shopping for the cure", and the way it naturalises the idea of women as gleeful consumers of fashion and luxury items. There are lots of breast cancer promotions that don't depend on this idea, and many avenues for donating that assume that giving is its own reward. This is the case with many other health and wellbeing fund-raisers; we know Australians are generous. So why should breast cancer be so strongly associated with shopping?

A number of feminist voices have been critical of breast cancer support from companies whose products may actually contain carcinogens.

And where is the breast in all this? Artfully draped in pink bustiers and special-issue boob tubes — garments that are difficult to wear with dignity after the age of about 15, let alone after the trauma of mastectomy and radiotherapy.

Breast cancer research is important, and making donations for that research is crucial. It would be good if giving could somehow be disentangled from selling."

Pretty in pink, women shop for a cure ...

October 20, 2007

Jihad, Love and Botox

Internet users in Egypt, India and Turkey are the world's most frequent searchers for Web sites using the keyword "sex" on Google search engines, according to statistics provided by Google Inc.

Germany, Mexico and Austria were world's top three searchers of the word "Hitler" while "Nazi" scored the most hits in Chile, Australia and the United Kingdom, data from 2004 to the present retrievable on the "Google Trends" Web site showed.

Chile also came in first place searching for the word "gay", followed by Mexico and Colombia.

The top searchers for other keywords were as follows (in order from first to third place):

"Jihad" - Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan

"Terrorism" - Pakistan, Philippines, Australia

"Hangover" - Ireland, United Kingdom, United States

"Burrito" - United States, Argentina, Canada

"Iraq" - United States, Australia, Canada

"Taliban" - Pakistan, Australia, Canada

"Tom Cruise" - Canada, United States, Australia

"Britney Spears" - Mexico, Venezuela, Canada

"Homosexual" - Philippines, Chile, Venezuela

"Love" - Philippines, Australia, United States

"Botox" - Australia, United States, United Kingdom

"Viagra" - Italy, United Kingdom, Germany

"David Beckham" - Venezuela, United Kingdom, Mexico

"Kate Moss" - Ireland, United Kingdom, Sweden

"Dolly Buster" - Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia

"Car bomb" - Australia, United States, Canada

"Marijuana" - Canada, United States, Australia

"IAEA" - Austria, Pakistan, Iran

In essence then, the world is preoccupied with sex, death and drugs; while taking occasional interludes into the land of flibbertigibbets.

Light globes and jocks


The Mirabella brand of all things light-globey have a new advertising campaign for their energy efficient globes.

I'm not understanding why the guy isn't wearing any pants. Nor why he is, specifically, wearing an unfashionably brief pair of jocks.

I understand the Superman allusion, with the towel rack and blue towel sitting behind him at convenient shoulder level, but Superman wore tights, and tucked his dangly bits away to keep them safe from villains - and electrical currents.

October 19, 2007

Gays are precious

Daniel has a glorious post ... truly.

At his blog, Face-Puncher Central.

Oh, shut up already!

Nicole Kidman is the singularly most utterly boring obscenely overpaid suboptimal actor in the entire universe.

Yet, no matter how little she has to say, and that when she does, it is of no interest to anyone, expect, possibly, an especially needy ecru colored blank wall, the media insist on telling us about it.

Our Nic seems to have been giving the same interview for weeks now.

Oh, you haven't heard?

Nic was lonely, desperately lonely, before marrying Keith Urban - when the latter was suffering a momentary period of sobriety and under-indulgence in chemicals.

I keep wondering how Urban feels about his wife repeatedly telling the entire world that the both of them were the lamest, most pathetic, friendless rich people on earth, who, being brainless, could find not one iota of joy, interest, pleasure in life, without that "special someone" to cart up and down red carpets.

Mostly I keep wondering when the hell she is going to stop moaning and whinging about how fucking lonely she used to be!

"Nicole Kidman has fame, money and success in droves, but the Australian actress has revealed they did nothing to ease her loneliness before she married country singer Keith Urban.

"When I was alone I became very isolated and felt very lonely and it was difficult to meet someone," Kidman was quoted as saying.

"I realised you can have so many beautiful things around you and if you don't have someone in your life to share it with, it doesn't mean that much."

"We were two lonely people who met at a time when we could open up to each other," Kidman said."

Honestly, I would almost understand if Nic said she was rapidly going batty from a prolonged sexual drought, but to have so little wherewithal, so little spirit or imagination, with a lifestyle and access to a world, and the world, that we lesser beings cannot dream about - well, to be lonely in those circumstances, is insulting to the rest of us.

Kidman lonely on her own ...

Cocaine Notes

As being depicted over in the West. No, no, it's not a joke! Dylan would never toy with us like that; it really is the newly thorned "Ben Christ".
Infamy.

If people could be charged for having traces of drugs on their money the police would have to arrest most of the adult population.

(I'm making an assumption that not a lot of toddlers or young 'uns carry notes in their little purses and wallets ... 'though, with inflation an' all, who knows what staggering amounts pocket money might be worth these days.)

Just as water from sewer systems contains astonishingly high traces of Prozac and a range of illicit drugs, most money notes circulating - in Western countries at least - have traces of cocaine on them.

The elephant in the room remains: if any of us were pulled over and had our car searched, would the search take two hours, and would the police take a random $20 note into custody, which we happened to have about our person, so as to test it for drugs?

Here's the Ben Cousins latest:
"The following drugs were seized from the vehicle: oxycontin, which is a prohibited drug, diazepam, Viagra ... and a $20 note which preliminary indications and analysis show traces of MDMA, which is ecstasy and cocaine," Mr Gregson said.

Cousins now faces one charge of refusing a test for narcotics whilst driving."
Twenty dollars is not what you'd call a "suspicious" amount of money to carry around.

Why did the police take the note into possession?

Why have they announced the results of the tests?

Is there a law in Perth that will allow the police to charge BC with being the possessor of a cocaine tainted note?

If so, are the Perth police going to test all of the other notes in Perth, and charge everyone?

There is something whiffy about this entire business.

The other "update": West Coast have stated they will not revisit BC's status, even though some of the charges against him have been dropped - he's sacked, period.

The brief statements from the club refer to things like "continued indiscretions" and wishing BC well with his "ongoing treatment for drug problems", and reek, at least a little, of an awareness of matters that the public might suspect, but haven't been privy to.

Seems as if BC's arrest was the trigger, but the club have had a handgun loaded and warm in their pocket for some little while.

Update

It's most likely that BC chose his "Such is Life" tattoo through his familiarity with Ned Kelly's alleged last words. He may have chosen it because Ned is something of a continuing hero of outlaw bikie gangs, of which BC has known a few.

On the other hand, BC might be well read.


Tom Collins wrote a book by that name - "Such is Life" - in 1903. In the classic Collins explores whether people's lives are determined by their choices or by circumstances beyond their control.

The last words of the book read:
"Such is life, my fellow-mummers just like a poor player that bluffs and feints his hour upon the stage, and then cheapens down to mere nonentity."


Duck Friday



October 17, 2007

Not Ned Kelly's Last Words

Recently arrested and soon to be "former" star football player, Ben Cousins, got to show off his newly inked "Such is Life" tattoo, arched in large fancy font across his torso, during police proceedings yesterday in Perth.

Like everyone, Cousins almost certainly chose the saying for permanent etching in the mistaken belief that they were Ned Kelly's last words at the gallows.


There is no evidence or corroborated witness testimony that Kelly said anything intelligible and / or audible in his last moment of life.


Nadda.


The witnesses in closest proximity to him suggested that Kelly might have said something when asked if he had any last words. He appeared to open his mouth and mumble, but nothing intelligible was heard or recorded.

Kelly's reported last words were offered to the world - in at least three different versions - by journalists sent to cover the hanging, who were likely not close enough to Kelly to hear anything. Likewise, the rest of the spectators, none of whom were know to have ever corroborated the journalist's record of events, were not in close enough proximity to hear what Kelly might or might not have said.

It is highly probable that Kelly's extremely famous last words were nothing more than dramatic license by creative journalists.

The legend holds that Kelly said:

I guess it has come to this.” And shortly after “Such is life”.

This is the version most commonly quoted, even though an expression like "I guess" would have had little currency in the local idiom 127 years ago - unless a person was actually "guessing".

The three variously reported versions, that is, the separate versions reported by journalists who attended the hanging were:
  1. "Such is life";
  2. "Ah, well, I suppose it has come to this"; and
  3. Simply an audible sigh.

Journalist number three was obviously suffering from writer's block. It happens.

There has always been another suggestion, less frequently mentioned, that Kelly's real last words (after the "mumble"), immediately prior to falling through the trapdoor were:

'Tell the bastards I died game."

Here's hoping that Ben Cousins isn't aware of that version.

Update

Cousins has reportedly been sacked from the West Coast Eagles.

The Prime Minister, when asked to comment about yesterday's arrest, said that he hoped Ben would "get a grip".

That's about all anyone can say.

Update II

An autopsy and toxicology tests were carried out to determine whether drugs were involved in Chris Mainwwaring's death - the tox report shows that Mainwaring had cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis, anti-depressants and the acne drug, Roaccutane, as well alcohol in his system when he died.

Wednesday Wisdom

Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

Nietzsche

October 16, 2007

Wired to believe the ridiculous

You know how lots of people believe - with all their hearts and minds - seriously stupid, irrational, demonstrably moronic things?

Well, it turns out there's no cure.

Humans are hardwired to believe really dumb stuff.

That explains a lot.

"The conventional response to myths and urban legends is to counter bad information with accurate information. But the new psychological studies show that denials and clarifications, for all their intuitive appeal, can paradoxically contribute to the resiliency of popular myths.

The research ... highlights the disturbing reality that once an idea has been implanted in people's minds, it can be difficult to dislodge. Denials inherently require repeating the bad information, which may be one reason they can paradoxically reinforce it.

Indeed, repetition seems to be a key culprit. Things that are repeated often become more accessible in memory, and one of the brain's subconscious rules of thumb is that easily recalled things are true.

Many easily remembered things, in fact, such as one's birthday or a pet's name, are indeed true. But someone trying to manipulate public opinion can take advantage of this aspect of brain functioning. In politics and elsewhere, this means that whoever makes the first assertion about something has a large advantage over everyone who denies it later.

People are not good at keeping track of which information came from credible sources and which came from less trustworthy ones, or even remembering that some information came from the same untrustworthy source over and over again. Even if a person recognizes which sources are credible and which are not, repeated assertions and denials can have the effect of making the information more accessible in memory and thereby making it feel true, said Schwarz.

So is silence the best way to deal with myths? Unfortunately, the answer to that question also seems to be no.

Another recent study found that when accusations or assertions are met with silence, they are more likely to feel true.

Myth-busters, in other words, have the odds against them."

Persistence of Myths Could Alter Public Policy Approach

October 15, 2007

Eww

It's only the end to day one of the campaign and Costello already has a matching pair of bags under his eyes. He could house a family of Chihuahuas and half a dozen African refugees in those things.

Worse, and more disturbing: Rudd has a strange red half-ball - not dissimilar, 'though not as bright, as a clown's nose - sitting smack bang in the middle of his (weak) chin.

I swear I'd never noticed before, but there it was on the late news, and it seemed to glow, grow and become angry as he spoke. I have no idea what he said, because I was busy being mesmerized by his chin.

Costello needs a good night's sleep and some botox.

Rudd's chin, on the other hand, is an altogether more disturbing imperfection to attempt to fard over.

Inaction Day

12,316 blogs have signed up for "Blog Action Day", with a combined estimated audience of a bit over 11 million people.

“On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic. Our aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future.

Blog Action Day is about MASS participation."

To put this in perspective:

There are more than 70 million blogs.

It’s estimated that at least 150,000 new blogs are created every day.

Therefore - taking into account an underestimation of blogs in existence - we can suggest that fewer than 0.018% of bloggers have committed to doing their bit for “Blog Action Day”.

There are 3 ways to participate:

  • Post on your blog relating to the environment on Blog Action Day
  • Donate your day’s earnings to an environmental charity
  • Promote Blog Action Day around the web”

Guess most bloggers have chosen door number two, 'kay?

Whether the weather

Mr Rudd is so deeply concerned about climate change that if he becomes PM he will ratify Kyoto and prohibit the construction of nuclear reactors in this country.

Ah, bless his vision thingy.

Meanwhile, Dr William Gray gave a speech in North Carolina the other day:

"Dr Gray, whose annual forecasts of the number of tropical storms and hurricanes are widely publicised, said a natural cycle of ocean water temperatures - related to the amount of salt in ocean water - was responsible for the global warming that he acknowledges has taken place.

However, he said, that same cycle meant a period of cooling would begin soon and last for several years.

"One of the world's foremost meteorologists has called the theory that helped Al Gore share the Nobel Peace Prize "ridiculous" and the product of "people who don't understand how the atmosphere works".

We'll look back on all of this in 10 or 15 years and realise how foolish it was," Dr Gray said.

During his speech to a crowd of about 300 that included meteorology students and a host of professional meteorologists, Dr Gray also said those who had linked global warming to the increased number of hurricanes in recent years were in error.

He cited statistics showing there were 101 hurricanes from 1900 to 1949, in a period of cooler global temperatures, compared to 83 from 1957 to 2006 when the earth warmed.

"The human impact on the atmosphere is simply too small to have a major effect on global temperatures," Dr Gray said.

He said his beliefs had made him an outsider in popular science.

"It bothers me that my fellow scientists are not speaking out against something they know is wrong," he said. "But they also know that they'd never get any grants if they spoke out. I don't care about grants."

Gore gets cold shoulder ...

October 14, 2007

And they're off!!!

It's on!

We vote on November 24.

May the best man win!

Err.

Umm.

Arrhh.

Damn.

October 13, 2007

Not a news flash

The DPP has admitted that Dr Haneef should never have been charged.

Yeah.

No kidding.

That didn't stop millions of little Aussies from believing that Haneef was / is a frothing at the mouth terrorist.

We got it wrong ...

It begins now

For all the incessant and mostly asinine talk about baby boomers - including how they should move their old lard-arses aside to make room for the self-absorbed and flighty Gen Y's, not to mention the hideous and unwarranted medical and social burden of those old folk - you'd think the boomers had all shuffled off into nursing homes already.

In fact, the chatter has gone on for so long that it's almost puzzling that the boomers are still being spoken of at all. Aren't they nearly all dead yet?

Well, no.

The massive economic and social consequences of the post-war baby-bulge boomers leaving the workforce (yes, hundreds of millions of them - jeez you're gunna be sorry), no longer pouring money into the tax coffers; beginning, instead, to take from the communal bucket, starts in this very year, or last year, depending on how you want to count.

This - now - is only year one!

Of a trend that won't end for 15 years plus.

(The "plus" part assumes that the boomers won't all neatly die upon retirement age. The full measure of the trend will, therefore, last for around 35 years - my best guess.)

In Oz, women born prior to 1961 can claim a pension at age 60 years. For men, retirement age has always been 65.

Why is this important?

The baby boomer generation started entering the world on January 01, 1946.

Sixty years ago.

Their mass exit from the workforce starts now and will increase, exponentially, during the next 15 years.

It is a momentous point in history, with no fanfare, whose dire repercussions have long been predicted, but the full strength of the sting will not be appreciated until we are well in the midst of it.

Nobble

Al Gore has been awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

[For those of you with firefly memories: Mr Gore created a really big set of PowerPoint slides.]

October 12, 2007

Soy is evil

I can't speak.

You'll have to read this one for yourself:

Soy is making kids 'gay' ...

And everyone else obese.

Blah, blah, blah ...

Rudd is droning again.

Dissing the PM’s vision announcement, released earlier today.

“Mr Howard released his document, Australia - Strong, Prosperous and Secure in Sydney today.

The document outlined five key agenda items for the Government, with supporting policies to be released in the lead-up to the election.

The five items are: growth and opportunity; stronger communities; securing Australia; sustainable country; and national unity.”

Fair enough.

At least it sounds like a vision.

However, Labor leader Rudd:

"attacked the document as a product of a government that had "grown stale and does not have an alternative plan for Australia's future."

"Over the course of this year, I have been detailing our clear cut plan for Australia's future. We've been hard at work," Mr Rudd said.

Mr Rudd listed Labor policies he had announced this year in areas including housing affordability, education, broadband, climate change and health.

"By contrast, Mr Howard, on the eve of an election, has released a document which outlines five categories, in which he may spend some time in the future, outlining some policy."

Let me summarize that again, for the slow-witted and the bored:

Howard Vision Thingy: growth and opportunity; stronger communities; securing Australia; sustainable country; and national unity

Rudd Vision Thingy: housing affordability, education, broadband, climate change and health.

The Age ...

Respect for the Bee

Remember how chaos theory posits the idea that "if a butterfly flaps it's wings in Brazil ..."?

Maybe they should have used bees in that story.

Did you know that bees are responsible for every third mouthful of food eaten in the world?

Remember a little while ago when American articles were blaming the nice clean, healthy bees imported from Australia for the "colony collapse disorder" phenomena, even though no such thing has ever happened here? Even though we are one of the only countries still entirely free of a tiny little mite that does kill off bees?

Well, for all things bees, and to read about the only bee pathologist in Australia, who at the age of 56 is thinking of retiring, and there is no one to replace him, read the excellent feature article:

The Sting - by Shelley Gare

Oh, and the truth about our little Aussie bees being responsible for CCD?
"... he is most alarmed about the paper’s assertion that unusual colony declines began in the US in 2004 – coincidentally, the year Australia started exporting honeybees there. “CCD wasn’t even known then,” he almost splutters. “And if Aussie bees were responsible for CCD, then why is there no CCD in Australia? This is about politics.”

Not funny ... I guess

I confess, my bad, my very, very bad: I laughed when I heard that a 45 year old Melbourne woman is suing a clinic because her IVF embryos were dropped on the floor, putting the kibosh on seven of them, which were all too microscopic to be found in the debris.

I know it isn't funny. No, really it isn't.

Embryo accident ...

Senator Online

Now here's a handy-dandy alternative to any existing party, or random independents, at least for your Senate vote:

Senator Online

You don't just vote them into the Senate, you then tell them how you want them to vote on every piece of legislation (the majority will rule, of course, so they won't always vote the way you would prefer).

Democracy in intention and in deed.

I like it!

Duck Friday

October 11, 2007

Are we confused yet?

Shadow Foreign Minister, Mr McClelland, was carpeted by his leader for mentioning the ALP’s long held policy on the death penalty in a public speech.

Mr McClelland correctly positioned the ALP as being against the death penalty in any circumstances.

ALP leader, Kevin Rudd, has spent some time as Shadow Foreign Minister himself, so the policy is not only familiar to him, but he probably helped write it. Rudd's hands are all over every aspect of ALP foreign affairs policies.

Rudd publicly rebuked his minister for telling the truth, and held out the big stick that McClelland could not be guaranteed the Foreign Ministerial role if the ALP wins the election. (This, after last week Rudd left all positions “up for grabs”, them promptly twisted around to insist that his current team would be the team in place if they win.)

It would seem that if McClelland had made his speech three months ago, or three months hence, all would have been well. The policy would have been no different, but apparently you don’t discuss your real policies at insensitive times, such as a couple of weeks out from the fifth anniversary of the Bali bombing that killed 88 Australians – terrorism being an criminal offense for which some countries have the death penalty.

Once again, micro-manager Rudd had someone to blame, other than himself.

It is becoming more and more difficult to work out "which buck" does stop with Rudd, since, so far, none seem to.

Herald-Sun ...

The Age ...


October 10, 2007

Some good can come?

"China has conceded international pressure before next year's Olympics is behind its latest undertaking to crack down on illegal organ transplants. But uncertainty remains about when the pledge — this time to stop taking organs from executed prisoners except for use in their immediate relatives — will take effect.

State media yesterday reported that the Chinese Medical Association, a semi-government body, reached an agreement with the World Medical Association at a meeting in Copenhagen on Friday, that it will require its 500,000 member doctors to stop harvesting inmates' organs, even with consent, except when needed for a close relative.

China has long been accused of harvesting organs from executed prisoners without consent, but has always denied doing so — even though voluntary organ donation rates are low and the number of transplant operations vastly outnumbers the number of registered donors."

The Age ...

Wednesday Wisdom

There's a whiff of the lynch mob or the lemming migration about any overlarge concentration of like-thinking individuals, no matter how virtuous their cause.

PJ O'Rourke

October 8, 2007

84 Carat Flawless Diamond

Sotheby's Geneva will offer a magnificent 84.37 carat, brilliant-cut, D (finest white,) flawless, diamond for auction during its Magnificent Jewels in Geneva on November 14.

The diamond (above) is the largest brilliant-cut diamond of top quality to appear at auction and is estimated at $12-16 million (CHF 15-20 million.)

In addition to its extraordinary features, the diamond has also received the highest possible grading from the GIA with the report (No. 15692749) listing the stone with D-color, Flawless Clarity, and "excellent" polish and symmetry.

China Olympics 2008


“In the name of ensuring stability and harmony in the country during the 2008 Olympic Games, the Chinese Government continues to detain and harass political activists, journalists, lawyers and human rights workers.”

Contact your local Amnesty International network to get involved.

Huh? Let me repeat that: Huh?

Kevin Rudd is regarded as a greater visionary and more trustworthy than John Howard, but the Prime Minister far outranks his rival as an economic manager.

Meanwhile, in a wily attempt to set an election agenda, Prime Minister Howard has proclaimed that the election will be a (defacto) referendum on jobs. The PM will attempt a triple half pike midair tumble with a delicate twist by dredging up the ALP's "shameful" record on employment.

All in all, it's looking as though we can look forward to one of the lamest, least visionary, least trustworthy, dog's breakfast, spuriously construed federal election campaigns in living memory.

October 7, 2007

Decisions, decisions

My spam folder is awash, overflowing, inundated with offers of Viagra, nursing studies, and fake luxury watches.

I'm not sure which one to run with.

Naomi gets all hysterical ....

Arguably, Naomi Wolf has only once in her career captured the zeitgeist, with her first book The Beauty Myth. That doesn't stop her from giving it a burl every decade or so, on the off chance.

With her latest work, the histrionically titled
The End of America, Wolf seems a little miffed at the lack of blowback engendered by her efforts.

She fatally mistakes relative silence for agreement, encouragement, support.

Perhaps there should be blanket support too, since Wolf lays claim to superhero powers of prediction:
"Naomi Wolf says that through her reading of history, she was able to predict that Australian David Hicks would be the first person to face the military commissions in Guantanamo Bay.

"The blueprint is predictive. You can tell what is coming."

Wow. She should have told Hick's dad, and all those little Aussie bleaters, as it would have saved untold trouble and expense in protests, letter writing, newspaper inches, lawyers and hand-wringing.

"Pretty soon they move on to white, English-speaking people. And I predicted that some of the first people to be tried in the military commission system would be white and English-speaking, and David Hicks is white and English-speaking."

Although the common explanation for Hicks' being the first, and so far only, person to be tried by a military commission was because the Australian Government, for its own domestic political considerations, pressured the US to get him on first, Wolf sees him as a way of blurring the line between "us" and "them".

Hmm. Well. Err. No. I can't claim that I now "see terrorists" in any nook and cranny of my life. The Hicks case didn't suddenly induce me to start looking at friends, relatives and strangers with deep suspicion. David Hicks and his circumstance had no such hypnotic currency. In Australia, at base, Hicks is not much more than a dickhead. For Americans, the Hicks case would have had an even lesser currency or transformational message.

Now if only Wolf would tell us which trains will be canceled tomorrow, so commuters can plan their travel accordingly.

Better still, she should tell us when the next terrorist attack will occur, and the one after that, and the one after that.

In truth, as convoluted as Wolf's clairvoyant powers may be, with the rest of it, she is jumping on this particular train a tad late: she's the commuter gripping the door handle after the electronic beep has ended, offering up her best pleading expression to the sardine-packed passengers on the other side, who are stubbornly unmoved, unbowed, and silent.


Wolf offers nothing new, in other words, just as she didn't when she wrote about childbirth (hey,
billions of women had already been there Naomi, but thanks for your gruesome tale; uplifting stuff. You go girrrrrl!)

Being anti-American and anti-Australian is fashionable, and just like clothes fashion - and Paris Hilton - it has become it's own empty signifier. A dangerous thing in itself: we all know the story about the boy crying wolf (no pun intended). Will anyone still be listening if a tipping point is reached, a political moment that
really does threaten the foundations of democracy, or threaten global war?

We do ourselves a disservice when we yelp "plague" at the appearance of a torn cuticle. That's the real danger, the real threat: the invention of crisis, which, in the 21st Century, has taken on a self-fulfilling apocalyptic life of its own. We live in an obscenely comfortable era, yet catastrophes, the harbingers of the end of the world, are lurking everywhere.

Back to Wolf's yawn inducing, credulous, disingenuous, intellectually sloppy work.

Attempting to spit in the face of Godwin's Law, Wolf has written an entire book comparing the Bush Administration to Nazi Germany, and fascism more generally.

(Given that the Bush Administration is a passing thing, I've always wondered what will happen to the carping come, say, a Democrats Administration? Will the hysteria be instantly replaced by an outbreak of the warm and fuzzies? Will the fascist analogies dry up in a ditch? What books will be written; what will the commetariat have to say? Will we see hundreds of thousands gathering to cheer Hillary, worshiping at her feet? You know, just like the propaganda rallies that show Bush in his most flattering light, with the masses cheering?

Let's not forget that the constructs of "fascism" and "Nazi Germany" can never be appropriated unless the appropriatee has their very own political agenda. The analogies are, inherently and always, political. The agenda is neither neutral nor objective.

Wolf, using her superhero powers predicts that the Dem's won't be any better, that nothing will change. Let's start taking bets on whether or not the Dem's, and closer to home, the ALP, will have the fascist label tossed at them, shall we?)

Oops, okay, okay, enough about my thought processes, let's talk about Wolf:

"I don't know how to make this any clearer. We are facing a genuine constitutional crisis in the United States, where the president has the power to declare any innocent US citizen an enemy combatant and lock him or her up in a 10-foot cell in solidarity confinement for three years. We are torturing people. We are torturing people!

"We are facing the situation where we have made it easy for the president of the United States to declare martial law. We are facing the situation where the White House has threatened to use the espionage act against journalists, against The New York Times. This is not rhetoric. We are in a major emergency."

Ooh, ah. Sounds bad? Or a case of premature knicker-twisting?

"Her assertion that the president has the power to lock up US citizens as enemy combatants is a matter of legal debate. Some commentators say the Military Commissions Act's elimination of habeas corpus does not apply to US citizens.

And her argument that the president can declare martial law refers to the law passed in 2006 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which partially dismantles the prohibition against deploying the US military for domestic emergencies (which most other countries allow)."

Patterns, patterns, patterns. The human mind likes to order things. For some, this can even be a burden so obsessive that it's deemed a medical illness.

It is human to seek patterns and, inevitably, to find them. Look hard enough and long enough and the color of mens neckties morph into a precursor to rain; the inflection in a person's voice when they order pizza becomes code for a crash in the value of Microsoft shares.

Wolf wrote her book because of such patterns, as persistently identified by a close family friend:

"the daughter of Holocaust survivors, repeatedly drew her attention to current affairs.

"She kept saying to me about news events, 'They did this in Germany', 'They did this in Germany' and I thought she was really engaging in hyperbole."

That firefly thought obviously didn't last. Still, books have been written for flimsier reasons.

"[Wolf] details 10 steps that she says dictators and fascists employ to destroy open democracies. And the Bush Administration has already used all 10."

She almost acknowledges that her evidence is reductive, but squibs it:

"No, I don't have a smoking gun. I don't have evidence that people are sitting in a room reading Goebbels."

"What was clear is that there is a blueprint for closing down a democracy and that Hitler studied Mussolini, Stalin studied Hitler. These guys all learned from each other."

But she asks people to think about the odds of the Administration following the 10 steps to fascism by chance.

If it was just one or two of her 10 steps, that could be, as she calls it, blundering against history randomly. "But 10 classic steps, one after the other, is hard to explain away without some intentionality."

This, of course, assumes acceptance of the veracity and centrality of Wolf's "ten steps", and assumes no other political, social, cultural, or economic interplays. Which is a nonsense by any academic standards.

"she does see historical echoes everywhere. Bush supporters burning Dixie Chicks CDs are comparable to the Nazis burning books. The Administration's creation of the Department of Homeland Security is compared to the Nazi use of the term Heimat, "the Homeland".

The Administration embedded reporters in the military. The Nazis embedded reporters and camera crews with its armed forces. Vice-President Dick Cheney said America was on a war footing after September 11, 2001. Nazi leaders said that after the Reichstag fire Germany was on a permanent war footing. The Administration unloads coffins of dead American soldiers at night and forbids pictures being taken. The Nazis did the same."

Wolf speaks for every introverted, scared American:

"Those in the public eye who are afraid to be forceful in opposition because of a secret they want to keep had better talk to their families or their constituencies, or their lawyers and accountants, painful as that might be in the short term," she says.

Is this paranoia, or just sensible precaution? She seems surprised that someone would question her decision to investigate herself. "No one I've talked to in America thinks this is an overstatement. We are really scared here. Really scared."

However, she isn't prepared to rest on nothing but hyperbole, no siree:

"History is full of decent people who gave unchecked power to monsters," she says.

"But the good news is history shows that despots are bullies and bullies are cowards and that when millions of people rise up against them they cave."

Most unfortunately, the article doesn't list any of the examples upon which Wolf draws such an intriguing and historically inaccessible argument. The biggest monsters that I can think of never caved, never willingly surrendered to the wishes of the millions, and more often than not, did not ask anyone for permission for their unchecked power. From whence Wolf derives the arguments to support her simplistic call to revolt is anyone's guess.

I'm not aware that Wolf's book has been burned, privately or publicly. Maybe no-one is listening, and her craving for being the maven of controversy is being starved of attention, but her freedom of movement and speech and economic prosperity and dissent and protest are healthily intact, along with a bit of scabby paranoia. You go girrrrrl!

(Note the difference and purposefully selected signifiers in the headlines of the two papers. Note too that the journalist in The Australian leaves every assertion unchallenged.)

Who's afraid of Naomi Wolf? - The Age

Of fascism and freedom in America - The Australian