The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

So, We Wrote a Book About a Robot Dolphin…

0730 Sunday morning is a time when I am usually thinking about crawling home to sleep off whatever bestial excesses I have committed the night before. Last Sunday, however, was different. I found myself standing outside an office block with a crazy biologist while waiting for a bunch of women to let me in. Okay, so it wasn’t all that different apart from the fact that I was sober and ready to work.

The work in question was the Write A Book In A Day (WABIAD) Challenge. The idea is that some foundation I’ve never heard of challenges teams of writers and illustrators from around the country to write, illustrate, print and bind a children’s book in 12 hours flat. Those participating in the challenge spend a few weeks whoring around for sponsorship, then show up on the appointed day where they are given a set of parameters. If the project is completed successfully, the book goes in for awards consideration. Whether we write a damn word or not, all the money we’ve collected goes to the Westmead Children’s Hospital Cancer Unit. At 0800 sharp, the email came through with our parameters. I can’t remember them exactly, but the basic idea was that the book had to be for 13 year olds and had to include a dolphin, parliament, a waiter, an entertainer and crossing the country. We also had to use five random words. Our fearless leader, the Ditmar Award winning author Zena Shapter, has a much better idea of what the hell we were supposed to be doing, and has written about it here.

As for me, I was still disoriented by unexpected sobriety, and much of the early part of the morning is a blur. Suffice it to say that we brainstormed and came up with a kickass, knife-throwing circus grandmother, a junior hacker protagonist, a race across country pursued by sinister mercenaries dressed as waiters and the fact that ‘dolphin’, in certain circles, means underwater surveillance robot. I’ll leave you to guess where that little chestnut came from.

It was an amazing day. I’d never written collaboritively before, and it was a joyous surprise to discover that a room full of writers – arbitrary, precious, moody, self-involved and supercilious as we often are – were able to suppress ego, frustration, pride and all our other wonderful character traits in order to co-operatively create a cracking good story. It was a refreshing reminder of just what exactly this writing palaver is all about – the central goal is to create, and everything else takes a back seat, including one’s self.

It was also interesting to see other writers’ working rituals. Zoya, who was sitting opposite me, had the same habit of putting in headphones in order to blank out the world. I doubt she was listening to the same Wu Tang Clan album I was, but it’s the principle that counts. Kris, on the other hand, just went into a trance. I could see her on the other side of the room, hunched over and furiously storming at her keyboard like a mad scientist playing the pipe organ in a subterranean basement. Kylie, professional as always, leaned back ergonomically and tapped away, looking for all the world like someone who had nothing on her mind but her hair, whilst clearly punching out an astonishing volume of high quality, professional narrative. Leah, sitting over behind me, spent her time frowning intensely at her screen, clearly and inexplicably unhappy with everything appearing on it – a state of dissatisfaction that became even more mysterious when I read her pages. And let’s not forget Madi, lumped with the hardest chapter of the book – exposition – a ball of cheerfully nervous energy, cranking out the spine on which all our work would have to rest. Our fearless leader, Zena, took on the difficult and thankless task of opening the literary show with chapters 1 and 2, and sat quitely in her corner, tapping away at her laptop and patiently answering the stupid questions we would all fire at her from time to time.

Except me, of course. I was too busy bopping along to Rage Against the Machine and frantically deleting repeated occurrences of the word ‘fuck’ from my manuscript.

In the midst of all this, Mijmark, the crazy biologist, scribbled away at astonishigly good character portraits on photoshop, uncomplainingly chopping and changing as our various verbal vagaries morphed the characters miles and miles away from their initial, agreed physical descriptions. And then there was Sue, eminent art historian and academic, sketching and painting breathtakingly perfect scenes and objects, pointing at her extraordinary creations and complaining that she’d really ‘mucked’ them up. Not in any way I could detect, Sue.

So basically, I got to watch a crack team of creatives at work, united in a good cause and inexplicably taking a foul-mouthed, dissipated idiot like me along for the ride.

At the end of the day, we wrote over 12000 words and created an impressive portfolio of beautiful illustrations. Leah’s heroic work on the design software meant that we were able to submit electronic copies of the book bang on the 2000 deadline, while an elite unit of scissor wielders put the paper copy together. I was outside having a smoke.

We called it ‘A Dolphin For Naia’. It’s got car-chases, gungfu fighting, knife throwing, angsty teen psychological drama and, of course, a robot dolphin. What more could anyone ask for?

I feel privileged to have worked with so many distinguished and talented creatives, and to have been able to make my own small contribution to making the world a slightly better place. I also feel slightly astonished that I was able to put down 3300 words without a single sex scene, fatality or occurrence of the word ‘fuck’. Even if it was a very near run thing…

I want to sincerely thank all those who sponsored us for the day, and I hope this little insight into our particular madness is some small return for your investment, over and above the very real assistance and (hopefully) enjoyment you have been able to give to all the kids fighting cancer in one of Australia’s, and the world’s, best hospitals.

Big ups go to Australian Doctors International for donating their office space, and to Leah for asking them to. Equally big ups to all our anonymous sponsors – you know who you are.

I’m aware that many of you will be kicking yourselves at having missed out on the chance to chuck money at our masterpiece… I mean, Westmead. For you I have stirring and beautiful news: Sponsorship is open until the end of the month, so please feel free to jump on board this excellent cause by going to WABIAD and sponsoring us. Our team name is the Northern Beaches Writer’s Group. Every cent goes to the foundation and every little bit helps.

And for those of you who want to read the book – watch this space!

 

Can We All Stop Screaming About Iraq and Think for a Second?

Recently, a friend pointed out that the left has been strangely silent on the subject of IS and its atrocities. He posited that this argued an unreasonable degree of Islamophobia-phobia: i.e., an unwillingness to criticise Islam in any way for fear of being branded an Islamophobe, presumably by hipsters who believe that vegan females should free range or something. I thought about this for  while and decided that, whilst correct, this is completely beside the point.

I’d like to illustrate the idea using a thought experiment of sorts. Imagine I have created a meme. Imagine that it’s like the unimpressed African child who points out the stupidity of first world problems and behaviour, only specifically appropriate to Iraq. Which is why I have called him ‘Headless Baby’. Which is also why you need to imagine it. I’m not trawling Google for images of a headless baby – I’m on enough watchlists already (probably).

So, we have the Headless Baby meme. What would it say? I don’t believe it would say anything. I reckon any meme that represented the Iraqi people under IS would scream. It would scream things like:

Headless Baby does not give a fuck about your ignorant, retardedly simplistic opinions of Islam.

Headless Baby does not give a fuck about your internal politics.

Headless Baby does not give a fuck about your paranoid fantasies about immigrants.

Headless Baby would like IS to stop murdering his remaining family, defiling his country and pissing all over the spirit and laws of his religion.

And you know what? I’m pretty sure that we can agree that point number four is the one that’s really of the essence. We can deal with the other stuff when it’s time to be mean and xenophobic to the displaced Iraqis and Kurds that we’ll get a tiny trickle of in the near future.

What we need to do now is to wrap our heads around how we can get this done. We need to stop shouting in the language of outrage and begin performing the calculus of force/resistance, victory/defeat. Because, for better or worse, we live in democratic countries where our governments require broad-based public support to make any policy decision viable in the longer term. This represents an opportunity to show the rest of the world that we deserve the power that we hold, by discovering the best solution and backing it. So what might that be?

If we are to believe what we hear, boots on the ground is out. Apart from military advisors, it seems unlikely that this will change unless and until Irbil and/or Baghdad is threatened. Or maybe not even then. So, having knowledge from recent history that airstrikes alone do not a total victory make, what are we left with? Proxies.

I hear a lot of talk about the Peshmerga. With generous and entirely proper feelings, people declare that we should arm the Peshmerga and give the Kurds their own state already. Five seconds of thinking will make people realise that doing this will cut the territory of three major Middle Eastern powers and cause geopolitical chaos. And I think we can all agree that now is probably not the best time to be causing additional ructions in the region. As for arming them, that’s been done (repeatedly in secret, before any of this mess ever started and once now in public). There are a couple of problems, however, with the Peshmerga as a solution, however brave and committed they might be.

Firstly, they’re small. Too small to counter the IS threat by themselves, much less eliminate it.

Secondly, their focus is split. They are currently fighting three insurgencies in various nations – they had their hands full before these murderous bastards ever came knocking.

Thirdly, for very excellent reasons, they view the West with profound distrust. They are much more comfortable acting as proxies for Iran, which they have been doing for quite some time. In fact, it is believed that Iran is ramping up support for the Peshmerga, deploying Al  Quds unit(s?) to fight alongside Peshmerga forces in Mosul.

Which leads us to Iran as ‘surprise helper’ in the Middle East. In the case of IS, the interests of Iran and the West co-incide. Iran is not an Arab nation and is also predominantly Shia and, crazy mullahs aside, generally practises religious tolerance. Which means that they are as afraid of and disgusted by groups like IS as we are. Co-operation against radical Islamists also has an historical basis – Iran were key allies in the invasion of Afghanistan. They helped locate and target Taliban, as well as capturing and holding approximately 2000 Al Qaeda fighters on our (the coalition’s) behalf. Granted, they let them go again, but only after Dubya publicly spat in their faces by calling them a part of the ‘Axis of Evil’ for no reason at all that I can conceive of other than the currying of domestic favour. Remember that, as we go on.

They’re ready to help us again. They have boots on the ground – eager, formidable boots. The Quds force is known throughout the region and is believed to have conducted audacious and successful operations all over the world, including on US and Israeli soil. Usually to our horror and chagrin, but not always.They’re not supermen by any means, and, by some Western standards, they’re not even proper soldiers, but what they are is willing, battle-hardened, committed and – above all – free. Free in the most important sense being that their deployment should not cost us a single drop of blood.

And there we sort of run to the end of the list of immediately viable options. The Iraqi armed forces are disheartened and overwhelmingly absent, riven by sectarian-driven mistreatment and antagonism, they simply cannot represent a coherent or responsive force for some time to come. The Peshmerga are an excellent piece, but they are by no means even close to constituting man materiel sufficient for an entire campaign. Turkey’s not talking to us because we armed them, and also because they have problems of their own. Syria, to whom we would have turned in the past, is… well… Syria. Our biggest ally within a thousand miles is unable to move outside its contested borders without the entire damn world screaming and is, in any event, locked in its own murderous and toxic struggle.

We’re down to Iranian help. Again. They have the militia, they have the will and they have a history of (secret) co-operation with the US. They have a long history of supporting beleagured religious minorities throughout the region, and not always for hard-nosed political reasons. A longer history than ours, probably because they know the names of these minorities and how to spell them. This could work – Iranian boots, NATO planes… But it must be remembered that if and when Iraq is resolved, there’s Syria to go. And on Syria, Iran and the West fundamentally disagree. Iran wants Assad, or at least a Shia-like bloc, to stay in power. This presents a future problem, against which I think we would be advised to store up some good will.

So, can we please stop shouting about Moslems for a bit and get this problem sorted? Because Iran does, in fact, give a fuck about our opinion of the Islamic world in general and of Iran in particular. They’re famous for it. So if we want to help, we can start by not poisoning any chance of co-operation with the big players in the region. We do this by shutting our stupid mouths about Islam. Not Islamism or Islamists – criticising those things is the right and duty of every right-thinking individual. Islam itself though? Just leave it alone. Especially if all you know about the difference is based on spelling.

In which Bill Muehlenberg writes a book that is the same as his other book but with a very different title so you have no idea it’s the same as his other book

Once upon a time, Bill wrote a book. Then one day, he wanted to write another book. But writing books is hard. So he came up with the brilliant plan of writing the same book all over again, and changing not one, but two words in the title, so everyone would think it was a new book. The result is [Insert bad word] Relations – The [Insert bad word] of Homosexuality. And it’s brilliant.

Now, let me say from the outset that I haven’t read this book. But I’m going to review it anyway. Why? Because I can. And why can I? Because that’s what Bill does. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Bill, it’s that I’ll turn gay if same-sex marriage is legalised. And that cardigans are awesome. Oh and that we can make judgements on books and movies without reading or watching them. Take his review of Dinesh DiSouza’s film, America, and the book that it’s based on:

I have not seen the film as yet, and my copy of the book is still coming in the mail. But we know enough about the volume to say this: it is a stirring defence of America and a powerful critique of our current POTUS who is doing all he can to destroy America.

Or his review of Noah:

Some misguided Christians claim I must experience this film, otherwise I cannot speak to it. But I haven’t had firsthand experience of a satanic church service either – so what? There are plenty of things I can rely on others about, and/or I don’t need to experience myself.

Or his review of Cory Bernardi’s book:

Now I don’t happen to have a copy of his book as yet. But I know Cory and I know what he stands for so I can imagine pretty well the sort of stuff he says in his book.

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! Isn’t that handy? I can just review things without reading or watching them! Such a time saver.

Anyways, Bill’s book. It’s amazing. Kind of like carrotless-vomit, or a piece of poo shaped like a 1979 Corolla, which are both also amazing. I mean, it has footnotes. FOOTNOTES! And as everyone knows, footnotes are a sure sign that the author knows his stuff [1]. And the more footnotes an author uses [2], the better his argument [3].

The best part about the book, however, is the creative title. It’s very different to the title of his previous book, to indicate that the contents are also very different. Strained Relations – The Challenge of Homosexuality… it just has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Oh sorry that was his first book. Strained Bumholes – The Problem with Pooftas is what I meant to say. Oh no wait that was the working title. Dangerous Attractions – The Threat of My Own Personal Fear of Being Gay is an awesome title. Or it would be, if it ever made it out of Bill’s subconscious [4]. Thaaaaat’s right, now I remember the title of the book I haven’t read that I’m reviewing [5] – Dangerous Relations – The Threat of Homosexuality.

I wonder how long it took him to come up with that title. I mean, thesauruses can be tricky [6]. I can just imagine Bill, sitting there in his study in his cardigan and brown corduroy pants, saying “Pablo! Stop massaging me and fetch me that book that tells me what words mean the same as other words! And no, you cannot put your shirt back on”. And he flicks through to “strained”, and wonders aloud… “Hmm… Tight Relations? Stiff Relations? Hmm. Pablo! What do you think of Stiff Relations?” [7]

This method appears to have worked for the actual book, too. Take this passage from Laboured Relations [8]:

Gay people are bad. They make me sad. But being a bigot makes me glad.

And now compare it to this, from Nasty Relations [9]:

Gay people are crappy. They make me unhappy. But being a fanatical religious zealot makes me dance in the streets with joy [10].

See how easy that was? And how awesome? I mean, the book practically writes itself.

Anyway, the important thing to remember is that gays are bad, and Bill needs twelve dollars and seven cents to tell you that gays are bad. If that sounds like a lot of money, that’s because it is – he tells us gays are bad every day on his blog. FOR COMPLIMENTARY.

Sorry, I meant for free. These thesauruses are tricky.

P.S. I have posted this review to Amazon. I encourage anyone who hasn’t read this book to do the same here.
_____________________

EXTENSIVE FOOTNOTES TO SHOW THAT I AM SMART
[1] Like this one.
[2] Bill uses lots.
[3] Not really, I’m being sarcastic.
[4] Cough cough… Ted Haggard.
[5] Because I can.
[6] Not for normal people though, obviously.
[7] Yes these are actual synonyms.
[8] aka Strained Relations. Laboured is a synonym for strained, see.
[9] aka Dangerous Relations. Nasty is a synonym for dangerous, see.
[10] But not in a gay way.

I Don’t Care About the Great Barrier Reef

Scrolling through my social media feeds recently, an item entitled: “If you care about the Great Barrier Reef, read this article…” popped up. I scrolled past it. This made me realise something. This was that, basically, when you get right down to it, I don’t give a flying toss about the GBR or the environment in general.

If you were to press me for an opinion, I would say that I am in favour of measures (even drastic ones) to protect, conserve and preserve. But if you were to ask me how I felt on the issue, I would honestly have to say that it leaves me cold and indifferent. It simply isn’t one of the things about which I have any deep or visceral feelings. Poverty, injustice, greed, violence, oppression – stuff that involves doing bad stuff to humans – that all makes me gut-twistingly furious. Outrage pours out of me in great, profanity riddled waves on subjects like ignorance, bigotry, racism and conservatism, reliably and instantaneously.

But I’m only one person. And one person can only truly care about so many things. By extension, then, a small group of people may be able to care about a few more things, collectively, but it’s going to be far from comprehensive.

And this is why we all need each other. If we want to live in a world that is moving as fast as it possibly can toward a solution to its many and varied burning issues, then the best likelihood for achieving this is if we all – every single one of us – participates, acts or contributes in some way to the various causes that we as individuals care about.

It is simply unacceptable to subcontract caring and activism to a few organisations and individuals. From a global point of view, we all live in the same house and it is therefore the responsibility of each and every one of us to take a hand in cleaning it. If we leave it up to just a few, things are going to get missed. This kind of communal covering of the bases is one of the key components of the grand experiment of civilisation.

This is why I find the insidious growth of slacktivism, learned helplessness or just straight up selfish apathy to be so disturbing. We can’t expect to concern ourselves only with filling our faces and pimping our investment properties and expect everything to just come up roses. Communities, cities, nations and civilisations are all made of only one tangible working part – the part that gets up off its arses and actually tries to do something to leave the world a better place than they found it.

Oh, is Ian Thorpe gay?

So Ian Thorpe is gay, and everyone seems to have an opinion. Well I have an opinion, too.

Ian Thorpe can do whatever the hell he likes.

He can stay in, or he can come out, and he can do it whenever and wherever he wants to. No one has the right to tell him he did it in the wrong way, or at the wrong time, or to the wrong people. No one. My opinion, then, is that I have no opinion, because I don’t have a right to one.

I do, however, have an opinion on everyone else’s opinions.

To the people who say he shouldn’t have come out at all – I will just say, as politely as I can, fück you.

To the people who say he should have come out sooner (that means you, Kerryn Phelps) – no, he shouldn’t have. Being a supremely gifted athlete doesn’t mean you suddenly have to let the rest of us make your decisions for you. He came out when he wanted to. That’s it.

You might also like to consider if a guilt-trip is the best thing for someone suffering from depression.

To the people who sarcastically say they didn’t see it coming (take a bow, Joe Hildebrand) – your lack of empathy and ability to stereotype is noted.

To the people who say they are sick of all the media attention this sort of thing generates – media companies aren’t manufacturing the market for these stories, they’re exploiting it. If you don’t think it should be a big deal, stop making it a big deal. Because it really isn’t.

To the people who Ian has inspired, to those that are now remembering their own internal struggle, and to Ian Thorpe himself, I say this – I am sorry you live in a society that obsesses over whether someone is gay or not.

Because it’s nobody’s business but yours.

12000 Years Without Boats

Should you ever feel sufficiently bored to pay a visit to Scott Morrison’s website you’ll notice two things. Firstly, you’ll notice that it’s time to take a good, long look at your life and, secondly, you’ll see a series of triumphal proclamations claiming that there have been x number of days without ‘boats’.

Now clearly this statement cannot be taken at face value. Simple logic begs the question – if there have been no boats, what have the Navy been turning back all this time? We therefore come to the conclusion that this statement needs to be examined. So let’s examine it.

Clearly, boats are still arriving. Sources that I am unwilling and unable to name inform me that the pace of boat interceptions hasn’t really changed since I was serving in the comparatively benign Operation Resolute. We have, however, ceased the practice of transporting asylum seekers to Christmas Island and have instead been either sending them back outside our EEZ or taking them to Manus Island. So what’s changed?

Basically, the LNP is now in a position to say that no boat arrivals set foot on Australian territory. I suppose this is a major triumph and, considering that this is done merely at the cost of turning all boat interceptions from benign to hostile, endangering the lives of asylum seekers and Navy personnel and housing people in a facility that wouldn’t pass muster as an abandoned dog shelter, it’s probably cheap at the price. Largely because the Restricted OP RESOLUTE has turned into the Secret OP SOVEREIGN BORDERS. And any price is cheap, really, if you don’t know you’re paying it.

Of course, there have been a few minor hiccups. An unintentional breach of Indonesian waters generated much derision for the Navy (I’d like to see any of those smarmy commentators navigate a boat out of the harbour, much less the open ocean) and soured not a little our relationship with our Northern neighbours. Allegations of cruelty and torture tarnished the reputation of the Navy somewhat, with a little of the mud splattering our venerable aunty – the ABC. And, of course, a large number of newspapers spent a few glorious weeks misidentifying RAN vessels and splashing pictures of ‘orange’ lifeboats, being curiously obsessed with the fact that they were orange (all lifeboats are orange).

Which is as it should be, I suppose. The task of the military is to enforce and facilitate government policy and, I guess, to absorb the blame along with the hard knocks.  But it’s okay, because it’s been 180 days without boats. Which means what, exactly?

What it means is that due to the population voting for a policy of deliberately treating people so badly that they don’t attempt to seek refuge with us, the government has been able to combine xenophobia with the official secrets act to produce a situation where they can say ‘there are no boats’, when the truth is that there are boats, just not in our troglodytic, provincial, goldfish-brained and fucking stupid backyard. So, the number of boats hasn’t changed. We’ve just misused the military and the secrecy provisions designed to protect the nation in such a way that different rhetoric is now possible. And tapped into poisonous xenophobia in order to secure public buy-in. Which is a tactic as old as civilisation.

So considering that nothing has really changed, why not go the whole hog? The situation we’re in is as old as civilisation so I think that we can justly claim that it has now been 12000 years without boats.

Too: Steve Noyce, Re: Todd Carney

Hi Steve,

My name is Tim, and I’m writing too you too share my thoughts on your recent sacking of Todd Carney.

I should first point out that I’m not a particularly huge fan of the Rugby Leagues, as the scrums are just to fiercely contested for me. Every time I see one I think “OMG they look like they’re actually pushing this time”. It’s very stressful. I’m also not a fan of oceanic mascots for land-based sporting teams. Sorry, Steve, but a shark just isn’t believable. They can’t move backwards, for starters. And I hear they get quite emotional at the sight of blood. Assuming, that is, that they haven’t just suffocated a few seconds after kick-off. Armadillos are land animals, though. And I’m quite good at drawing armadillos. Well, I’m good at tracing them. I’d be happy too trace you a new mascot if you like. His name could be Adillo and he could be accompanied by a speech bubble that says “I’m Adillo”.

As for Todd Carney, well… I don’t know him from a bar of soap. Sorry that’s probably an exaggeration. I’ve never met Todd personally, but I’ve seen photos, and he doesn’t look to much like a bar of soap, so I think I probably would know him from bar of soap. Although I guess it if was dark and the soap was a life-sized replica of Todd Carney, then maybe I’d have too ask them both a few questions too make sure. Whatever. The point is I’d never wash myself with Todd Carney. Not with his mouth anyway, as it’s probably full of urine.

Which brings me too the subject of my letter.

As much as everyone has been asking what was going through Todd’s mind when he pïssed in his mouth, I want too know what was going through your mind when you sacked him for it. Do you remember when you were a kid, and you went too the bubbler on a hot day, and the water came out warm at first, and you let the water run on your hand for a while so you knew when it was cool enough too drink? Well I do, Steve, so naturally my first thought was “Why didn’t Todd piss into his hands first?” I didn’t want too play the blame game though, so I stopped wondering that and just hoped that he hadn’t had any asparagus for dinner. Then I decided that he probably just likes too recycle.

But what were you worried about? What concerned you so much that you felt you had too end his career? Did you think his poor aim at the urinal would affect his kicking game? Because if you did, I think I should point out he wasn’t aiming at the urinal, he was aiming at his mouth. So his aim seems pretty good, and you should probably let him kick more. Then maybe you’d stop coming last.

Oh sorry, I just saw your media release! Let’s see if it sheds any light on your motives. You sacked him because you are

committed to building a successful club, a club with strong values and a club which sets and respects high standards in all aspects of its operations and activities.

Is it a shame thing, Steve? Has he brought the Sharks into disrepute? Will people start showing less respect too a bottom-of-the-ladder team that has never won a premiership and was fined $150,000 for salary cap breaches and $1,000,000 for the use of illegal supplements, just because a single person pïssed in his mouth while not at work? Now that I think about it, do you think that maaaaaaybe you might have more reason too terminate your own contact?

Or is it a role model thing? Are you worried that hordes of impressionable young children will start skipping off too the urinal every time they’re thirsty? Because if you’re worried about role models, Steve, there are bigger issues too worry about. For example, you might have too start sacking people who throw to many forward passes. Or who punch another player. Or spear tackle. Those are some pretty heavy issues, Steve. And I haven’t even mentioned the most heaviest.

You may have noticed the odd grammatical error in this letter (if you haven’t, look again, they’re not to hard too find). They make the letter quite difficult too read, don’t they? But it’s not my fault, Steve, it’s Todd’s.

You see, Todd is a huge role model, and has a profound impact on the actions of all impressionable Australians. Well I’m an impressionable Australian. And I saw Todd’s tattoo.

Todd Carney tatt

So yeah, now I write like an idiot, and anyone else who’s seen Todd’s tattoo writes like an idiot to. That’s the real danger here, Steve. People can pïss in their mouths all they like, and they only harm themselves. But bad grammar… bad grammar is infectious, and just to annoying too tolerate.

Think about it, Steve. Take a stand against bad grammar and media hysteria and hypocrisy. Re-hire Todd, make him fix his tattoo, and sack yourself.

Take it from someone who doesn’t care about Rugby League, or the Sharks, or Todd Carney – it’s the right thing too do.

Yours sincerely,

Tim

Left or Right? I’ll Go With Clever, Thankyou…

The relatively recent extreme polarisation of American politics has revealed some disturbing things about Middle America, the influence of evangelical Christianity and End-Times thinking and the ease with which fringe elements can gain traction in a democracy.

One of the most disturbing facts of American politics is the Tea Party – not so much its influence, which I think is a little bit overblown by a panicky liberal media, but rather the very fact of its existence. It is difficult to understand how we can live in a world where ideas like Libertarianism cause any reaction other than incredulous laughter, but the bare fact of it remains, staring us in the face every time we see a poorly spelt banner demanding that some federal government personage be banished from some room in the banner-holder’s house.

But it’s not just the right who appear to have been infected with this particular brand of stupidity. The partisans of the left have begun to show a worrying tendency to look and sound rather like their Tea Party opponents, right down to the poorly spelt, practically meaningless banners being waved about. It’s a phenomenon that has been aptly described as ‘shouting past each other’, where both sides of the political debate take such extreme positions that there are no grounds for discussion on any issue. Which is the opposite of what adversarial politics is supposed to be about.

But only in America, right? Why does any of this matter to us?

Well, you’ll be pleased to know that Australia has caught up with it’s bigger, older cousin and developed a Tea Party all of its very own. And not just that, we have managed to elect one of the most divisive PM’s in our brief history, beginning the alarmingly rapid process of similarly polarising our own political debate.

And here, as in the US, the left is beginning to sound as shrill and loony as the right.

I understand the rationale. The fringe right uses bully-boy tactics, rank and obvious populism and catchy slogans. It must therefore be necessary for the left to do the same, to avoid losing ground, no?

NO!

Our position is always going to be more complex, more subtle, less packagable than the right’s for the simple fact that it is always and without exception a more intelligent and considered position. Okay, so we seem academic and distant by comparison, but this is what happens when you throw away the comforting certainty of thousands of years of prejudice and superstition and attempt to solve problems using the intellect as the primary tool. This is why most Western democracies have become more or less progressive. This is why humanist ideas have so quickly found their way into law and into popular morality, a bare century after their conception. It is because in the real world – the real, complex, difficult world that we live in, cleverness is what is required to make things actually work.

We cannot, on the left, lose even the superficial imprimatur of that cleverness. It may be very appealing to put on the warpaint and shout back at the idiots on the other side, but it cannot be done without causing severe damage. Looking and sounding like the Tea Party is not going to convert people of the right – they are largely intransigent. All it will achieve is the alienation of supporters and partisans we already have.

In short – stay classy, progressive left-wingers. It works better in the long run, believe me.

You know what would be better than chaplains?

If there’s one issue that highlights the contempt this government has for the people of this country and the democratic process, it’s the budget. And the treatment of asylum seekers. And the planned destruction of World Heritage areas. And the denial of anthropogenic climate change. And the NBN. And the surfboard Tony gave to Obama. Oh, and the National School Chaplaincy Program.

Lots of people are unhappy about chaplains. One man, Ron Williams, has put his whole life and livelihood on the line to fight against chaplains on our behalf. And Chrys Stevenson has been documenting the idiocy like nobody’s business. But, for some reason, they want to replace chaplains with qualified, secular counsellors and psychologists. Sorry guys, but with all due respect, that’s madness. MADNESS I TELL YOU!

What our vulnerable school students really need are gigolos.

Yes, you heard me – gigolos.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’ve seen the Deuce Bigalow movies, you think all gigolos own huge fish tanks and have giant wangs and have a large collection of ancient weapons. But you’re forgetting about Deuce. He was nice. He looked after all the weirdos and the bullied and the freakishly tall. Which is really what chaplaincy is all about, isn’t it? Nice people being nice and looking after people who maybe aren’t doing as well as the rest of us. Deuce was great at listening and talking and being nice and making people feel better. Sure, the other gigolo in the movie was a dïck, but that’s just your confirmation bias talking. Deuce was nice, focus on him.

But now you’re thinking something else. “Professional gigolos? In schools? That’s a recipe for disaster! They’ll just hit on all the hot schoolgirls and Marist brothers.”

This is, I admit, a real and concerning possibility. But I have the perfect solution.

All we have to do to stop gigolos being gigolos in schools is to make a rule that says they’re not allowed to be gigolos in schools. It’s genius! I’m sure Deuce will follow the rule. He’s nice. And if there’s one thing a terrified, confused, suicidal young transgender person needs, it’s a really nice skilled professional who we’ve asked nicely not to use their professional skill.

Say no to chaplains. Say no to qualified secular counsellors and psychologists. It’s time for a new program. I give you:

The National School Gigolo Program – Gigolos are nice, and we’ve asked them nicely to not be gigolos in school

And it’ll only cost you $200m.

Miranda Devine is a fücking idiot

Well, she is. But don’t worry – I’m not being Mirandaphobic, because “fücking idiot” doesn’t mean what you think it means.

You see, a few weeks ago, a rugby league player called one of his opponents a “fücking gay cünt”. The NRL then suspended him for lack of creativity homophobia. Miranda was outraged:

There was no problem with the players trying to punch each other. No problem with the foul language. No problem with the sexist c-word. But woe betide the player who ­offends the gods of homosexuality. Let’s get one thing straight. “Gay” no longer just means “homosexual”. The word has changed meaning over the last decade. Young people use “gay” to mean lame, or dumb or stupid, as in: “That’s so gay.”

I don’t know who the “god of homosexuality” is, but I think it might be Jesus, since he not only seems to be the one making all the gay people, but can rock a tunic and sandals like nobody’s business. In any case, it would seem that according to Miranda:

  1. Yes, “gay” does mean homosexual; but
  2. It also means “stupid”; so
  3. It’s not homophobic.
  4. P.S. Calling someone a “cünt” is sexist.

That’s all fine, but how does it make Miranda Devine a fücking idiot? Well, to make things easier for us, Miranda claimed that calling someone a “cünt” is sexist. And that allows us to say this:

  1. Yes, “cünt” does mean vagina; but
  2. It also means “fückwit”; so
  3. It’s not sexist.
  4. P.S. Calling someone “gay” is homophobic.

Ergo, Miranda Devine is a fücking idiot.

Now, at this point, you may be thinking that I’m being Mirandaphobic. But you’d be wrong. You see, dear reader, words can change their meaning over time. And since I started this post, “fücking idiot” no longer just means “a person of colossal stupidity” – it now also means “a person of Devine-like intelligence, capable of both making an argument and defeating it in the same paragraph”.

Which means I’m off the hook.

But she’s still a fücking idiot.

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