The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

I really don’t get people

As of right now, a very large proportion of our very large population has access to almost every bit of information our species has ever discovered. At the push of a button, you can, if you choose, learn almost everything there is to know. From the advance to heliocentrism, to why we no longer suffer from smallpox or polio, to the many and varied ways we know that the Earth is around 4.5 billion years old, and that mankind evolved from apes. It’s even possible to find out why Kim Kardashian is famous, although I admit to that knowledge being currently beyond my grasp.

And yet…

We also live in an age where an increasing number of people believe that the Earth is a flat disk, with the North Pole as its centre and a giant wall of Antarctic ice as its circumference. Yes, seriously. Lots of people also believe that vaccines cause autism, or that man was created 5,400 years ago out of a ball of mud, or that the recent bushfires were lit by the Greens, or that 5G technology is going to destroy us all. Oh, and a large number of us apparently also believe that anthropomorphic climate change is a worldwide scientific hoax designed to either turn climate scientists into billionaires (somehow), or create a gay trans commie green socialist utopia where you’ll suffer the indignity of universal healthcare and free education and fewer catastrophic weather events. Which would be awful, obviously.

Like I said, sometimes I really don’t get people.


I first discovered that flat-earthers (still) exist when my brother recommended I watch the Netflix documentary Behind the Curve. The two-part series follows a few of the movement’s leading lights as they attempt to free the rest of us from the debilitating burden of curvature. It is best summarised by the opening scene, in which a man named Mark Sargent looks out across a bay towards Seattle and says, “See? It looks flat”.

No, I am not joking.

How is it that in the year 2020, some 2,600 years after Pythagoras discovered that the Earth is a sphere, and 2,200 years after Eratosthenes calculated its circumference, do we have a large number of ostensibly intelligent people with access to almost limitless information concluding that we live on a flat disk? It is almost completely unfathomable, except that we can see with our very own eyes that Mark Sargent and his fellow flat earthers have somehow managed to fathom the crap out of it.

If you listen to Mark himself, he will tell you you’re a sucker. But he will also tell you that he read a few books and thought about it for a while and worked out that there is a huge worldwide conspiracy to trick us all into believing we live on an oblate spheroid. The first thing to note is that “oblate spheroid” is a great term, and we should all use it more often. The second things to note are that:

  1. As far as conspiracies go, the oblate spheroid hoax would have to be up there with the worst ever, being neither clever, funny, nor financially exploitable; and
  2. Despite humans exploring this flat disk for tens of thousands of years, no one has ever managed to find the edge.

There are, of course, a multitude of other reasons why Mark is comically incorrect. And yet, like most people, I have never personally investigated the matter for myself. I haven’t looked into how Pythagoras managed to work out that we live on a sphere, or how Eratosthenes calculated its circumference. In fact, besides being mildly surprised that Pythagoras hadn’t concluded we live on a right-angled triangle, I hadn’t even heard of Eratosthenes when I started writing this blog, and I’m guessing you hadn’t either. Can any of us really be said to know that the Earth is spherical, if we haven’t actually investigated and concluded the matter for ourselves?

Thankfully, there is a simple answer to that question, and it begins and ends with a huge “Hell yes”.


As I mentioned above, this phenomenon isn’t just limited to the nuffies running around in the flat earth movement. Almost everything humans have ever done or discovered is buffeted by a raging sea of disbelief, from the space cadets who believe the moon landing was faked, to the outright wänkers who have similar beliefs about the Holocaust. Of course, if you don’t know enough facts to deny any, you can always just make shït up, which is why we have Mormons.

The really scary thing, however, is that this phenomenon seems to be getting worse. What on flat earth is going on?

To be honest, I really don’t know. But in true actuarial fashion, I can still throw out three different possibilities without making a definitive conclusion.

Hypothesis 1 – People are stupid

Stupid people have been around since people were invented. It’s likely that they’ll be around forever, too, because you have to be a little bit smart to open a condom. It’s possible, then, that we have the same number of stupid people we’ve always had, but we just hear about them more now because they’ve somehow learned to use the internet.

But here’s the thing. Mark Sargent gives the strong impression of not being stupid. Renowned Holocaust-denier David Irving apparently went to school and seems to be an OK speller. Tony Abbott was a Rhodes Scholar. I know a very intelligent Young Earth Creationist who believes the earth is 5,400 years old and Noah’s Ark was a real thing. Andrew Wakefield, the amazing young man that pretended the MMR vaccine causes autism, was a medical doctor until the General Medical Council kicked him out for pretending the MMR vaccine causes autism. And speaking of vaccines, apparently most anti-vaxers are “college-educated white women making decent money”.

So stupidity doesn’t seem to be the problem.

Hypothesis 2 – It’s all the Internet’s fault

As I said at the beginning, we now have access to more knowledge than in the entire history of mankind, which is an amazing thing. Unfortunately, the same can be said for our access to an unlimited supply of boneheaded, asinine nuffery.

Have a slight inkling that a moon landing would have been quite difficult in 1960? Have a google and be amazed to discover that people with absolutely no idea what they’re talking about think it was faked. Think white people are superior in every way? Say hello to The Bell Curve, and be sure to not read any opposing views. Slightly worried that anthropomorphic climate change is real and potentially disastrous? Andrew Bolt will make you feel better. Have any kind of undeniably stupid opinion that you haven’t thought about and aren’t even remotely qualified to offer? Help is on its way!

At first glance, I thought this hypothesis had some merit. But when I thought about it, I realised that moon landing and holocaust deniers, white supremacists, and climate change sceptics all existed long before the internet.

So there must be something else.

Hypothesis 3 – Arrogance

Suppose you were a world-renowned heart surgeon, and you diagnosed a patient with acute aortic stenosis. What would you call it if they told you they had googled their symptoms in the waiting room and had decided it was gas?

Idiocy? False confidence? Hubris? Idiocy? Arrogance? Idiocy?

I don’t know because I’m not world-renowned a heart surgeon, but I’m sure you’d call them something. Karen, perhaps.

Anyway, the point is that this patient apparently thinks that their pretend research overrides the actual research and collective knowledge of the thousands of anatomists, scientists, doctors and heart surgeons whose combined knowledge has led to the conclusion that the acute aortic stenosis is definitely not just gas.

Yeah, I’d call that arrogance.


So there you have it folks. For some reason unknown to most of us, certain people think that their limited understanding of a multitude of subjects overrides the collective knowledge of thousands of people past and present who have studied those things for a living.

And if that’s you, you really need to stop.

Or get your oblate spheroid examined.

Scott Morrison, Lilluputian Soldier Of God. And Strawberries.

scott morrison proves theory of evolution

Just now Scott Morrison has announced that he will kick off the new parliamentary year with a new religious freedom bill, based on the recommendations of the Ruddock Report, which has been deemed so uncontroversial and even handed that it’s not to be released until parliament ceases business. Both of these actions are, to my mind, equally courageous, and representative of just how representative this particular government has been in its long history of operation, stretching as it has over several weeks.

Now, I know the naysayers will dismiss Scott Morrison as a spineless, mindless populist, with a policy focus millimetres deep, but miles wide and covering everything in the path of this last hour’s prevailing political wind. Nasty satirists like Sean Micaleff have pointed out that Scott Morrison is routinely thrown to the ground and hopelessly pinioned when wrestling with the most basic of English sentences, and have made a string of cheap and unfunny jokes about this. I’ve included a link here, for your mature disapproval and censure. But I’m not one of those nay-sayers – I say nay to nay-saying, and in this kind of stance, I’m exactly like my role model, that admirable example of gratuitous Lilliputian aggression, Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

I personally believe that our prime minister is a man of deep integrity and courage. I mean, we only have to look at the strawberry tampering case to see a prime example of this. No sooner had some disgruntled farm worker begun secreting needles into fruit then Scomo leapt bravely into action, publicly eating a carefully chopped and searched strawberry, and then announcing admirably harsh penalties for food adulteration and tampering. Never mind that these offences were already illegal, or that no judge in their right mind would actually apply the new maximum sentence, given the already extant and well used options for escalation already within the criminal code. No, what matters is that our national leader stood fiercely up in the face of adversity and courageously created a single law which doubled up on a collection of laws already in existence, as a symbolic way of showing us exactly how effective he could be.

And as if that weren’t enough, the intrepid Captain Scott Mark II is up to his old acts of derring do once again. This time, he is leaping to the defence of that poor and underprivileged minority, those 94% of privately funded schools which are religious. Now, of course, not all religious private schools are mega-rich elite schools. And it’s nonsense to suggest that the ones which are have a Christian duty to help their poorer brethren instead of foisting their support off onto us, the taxpayer. As Scott Morrison says – we may be secular, but we’re not a godless country. And I heartily concur. I may be an atheist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in god. The logic there is simply unassailable, and a fine example for the children and educators whose rights he intends to impinge upon for their own good. It’s very simple, really – being simultaneously secular and ‘not godless’ is a classic example of doublethink, a concept from Orwell’s 1984, and Scomo is leading the nation in highbrow literary references by example and not, as some critics say, simply incapable of understanding simple sentence logic. Or words.

And it’s these very critics whom Scotty is defying with his courageous courage in the face of the dire threat posed by people who insist on letting other people think what they like – a right, incidentally, which Scomo has never had a need to exercise, since this would involve that pernicious left wing practice of thinking. The fact is that the sneering liberal elites have directed a storm of utterly unjustified abuse at… well… Scott’s Liberal elites, for defying the will of the people and going against the broader values of the nation. How could our dear leader be a rank and spineless populist when he’s doing something so unpopular? And I agree. This is just like the great battle of the strawberry, fought so heroically in that distant epoch of seven minutes ago when another aggressive Lilliputian – I mean, Liberal – woke up to find himself in C-1 with his hands covered in his mate’s blood.

Nay-sayers may say what they like (presumably, it’ll be ‘nay’), but what Scomo is doing here is identical in terms of political courage, importance, and relevance to the population at large. In a nation where there is no specific prohibition on the provision of religious instruction in private schools, where each state has radically different views on religious instruction in public schools but not a single one bans anything short of single faith proselytisation, and where the law is sufficiently vague and undefined (NSW law, for example, doesn’t really even define ‘education’) that it’s very difficult to see how anything other than the religious protections already implied in the constitution could apply – it is in such a nation that our very own high priest of happy clappy tongue-speaking is proposing a bill to cover the freedoms that religious institutions already hold by de facto.

Now, while this might seem like a waste of time, I assure you it isn’t. You see, under the current system, the school and/or state is deemed to be in partnership with the parents (the children don’t really get a look in here) in the provision of education, with the state being the senior partner. Should a parent object or be dissatisfied with something like, oh, I don’t know, the teaching of young Earth creationism in the face of all reason, evidence, and sanity, then they can either remove their child or have their objection tested in court. This is obviously a gross injustice, and by formalising religious exemptions at a federal level, what Scott Morrison is doing is enshrining the right of any educational institution to program hapless children to think that dinosaurs were planted as a trick by angels, or that gay people will burn in hell forever. And for this, he is certainly a hero worthy of the kind of adulation people in that part of the religious spectrum reserve for great leaders like… well, I can’t actually think of anyone who’s done anything on this small and redundant a scale, so let’s just call him a trailblazer. Scott Morrison should be lauded for burning this path back to the fourteenth century, and I for one am astonished to live under leadership of this stature.

It’s Okay To Be (Far) Right


I accidentally support far right causes all the time. Just the other day, I saw a friend of mine beating a black person across the road and I raised my hand to admonish him for his political incorrectness but, would you believe it, I forgot to actually wave it around and it ended up looking like a Nazi salute. And then there was a few weeks ago when I was walking through the city and, abstractedly whilst thinking of this and that, as you do, I suddenly realised that I had accidentally scrawled the Neo-Nazi ’88’ on every flat surface I had passed. I, of course, had been contemplating on infinity, but because of the curvature of the earth and parallax error I’d done my infinity signs sideways. And only yesterday I was teaching one of my students when she asked me if the holocaust was wrong and, being distracted by the sheer volume of non-white people passing up and down the street, I misspoke and said ‘no’. Could have happened to anyone. These little errors are so normal and natural, and I can only thank my weirdly Middle Eastern white male god that nobody with cameras was around, as that’s the kind of thing that can end careers and ruin lives for no reason at all in this PC gone mad kind of world.

And this is why I deeply sympathise with the senate amidst the spurious media beat up of their accidental support of a Pauline Hanson motion using a far right white supremacist slogan. How could these people, people whose business, by the way, is politics, have known that such a motion might have been racist? How could anyone have divined that a motion passed by one of the senate’s most eloquent and statesmanlike senators of sanity might be located at the gibbering and drooling extreme end of the far right? I mean, really, who could have known this?

This is just another of those unfortunate accidents. The government, worried that their crazy Christian fundamentalist pick for PM might not be far right enough for the far right silent majority we hear so much from, were innocently dipping their toes into the cesspit of race politics when they suddenly found that their hard right faction’s views on race and politics were not as popular as they thought they might be. Now some cynics might point out that these people have been consistently wrong, and some might even utter the libellous opinion that the conservative faction of the Liberals is a miscellaneous grab bag of bigoted lunatics, but they would be wrong. This is exactly the kind of innocent mistake anyone could make.

So we have a decision to make some time next year. Do we support these hard working warriors for the cause of the much marginalised middle class white male, or do we give in to the leftist extremists and let spurious considerations like slavish devotion to unrepresentative views on religion, a laudable but innocent tendency to discriminate along the lines of race, sexuality, and religion, and the natural and inevitable state of being bought and sold by their large corporate donors – are we going to let little things like this get between us and the kind of good government we used to get in the 1950s?

Well, I guess that’s up to you.


Let’s All Play Trump’s MOAB Propaganda Game

And the hits just keep on coming. I woke up this morning to a string of news articles about the use of the ‘Mother of All Bombs’ (MOAB) in Afghanistan. I suppose that’s newsworthy. What isn’t, however, is the assertion made by the Trump administration that this represents a message to the world about uptick in operational tempo. It doesn’t.

Basically, the use of this ordnance is governed by target type. The actual signal of operational uptick in this theatre would be (slightly) increased troop deployments, executive requests for UOF options and the thickening atmosphere of bull faeces gathering around White House press briefings (if that’s even possible). All of which have been wildly misreported and co-opted into various conspiracy theories over the past few weeks, proving definitively that the world’s public continues to get steadily worse at the fairly simple process of extrapolating real events from hard and obvious indicators.

What we’re looking at isn’t a sign of some firming of inherent resolve, or whatever tragic name it’s been given this week, but rather the usual political exploitation of a fait accomplis. The metamorphosis of necessity into virtue. The making of hay in conditions of solar disambiguity. A cheap, political organ grinder trick, in short.

But yes, by all means, let us jump on our various bandwagons and basically do the Trump administration’s work for them, in the name of resisting it. I like a bit of irony sauce with my Good Friday steak and chips.

Let’s All Panic About North Korea 

You know you want to. It’s a massive amount of fun, and distracts us from the mendacity central to our own stale, irrelevant internal politics.
It occurs to me, however, that some people, unaware of its status as a sort of national sport for the western global community, might be genuinely anxious about what’s going on ‘out there’. With this in mind, here’s a quick assessment of a situation which, quite frankly, is not so much a recipe for anxiety as it is for boredom.

North Korea’s nuclear tests and other acts of aggression serve a multitude of purposes. Sure, it’s generally agreed that it is genuinely working towards becoming a nuclear power, but questions have to be asked about why it chooses to do so so publicly. A big element of this is domestic consumption. One of the major pillars of the regime’s justification of its own legitimacy is the narrative of plucky little country beset by enemies – actions like this are presented at home as measures taken to protect its people. Sound familiar? It should.

But by far the most significant aspect has to do with the regime’s isolation. As far as I know, the only means of communication with North Korea involve using China as an intermediary, or, alternatively, employing one of a handful of shady, largely non-government back channels. This isn’t ideal, and also makes it very difficult for North Korea to get anyone’s attention except through increasingly loony behaviour designed to force western engagement. Some masterly articles have been written about the potential for this policy to fall victim to entropic returns, and the implications of such a fate, and I acknowledge that this is cause for deep and genuine concern.

The thing is, the current situation simply doesn’t argue for such an interpretation. Far from entropic return, the mere threat of a test has propelled the regime into the front and centre position on the US administration’s priority list. The NK government must be in hog heaven, not having received this much propaganda friendly attention since they sunk that South Korean patrol boat.

It’s odd to me that so much attention is being focussed on troop and naval movements. As I understand it, it’s very rare not to find US naval assets IVO the Korean peninsula. The fact of these movements being announced is almost certainly for domestic consumption on the US administration’s part, and the movement of Chinese troops to the border, if it’s actually happened, is a natural reaction to the American movement.

What we’re looking at isn’t necessarily the start of some apocalyptic showdown, but opening moves in a jaded, long familiar game, the only real spice being the heavy, mumble-mouthed hand of a new player. This isn’t to say that idiot in chief Trump definitely won’t corner himself by doing or saying something idiotic, thereby precipitating a real crisis, but right now we’re basically in the yawn a minute state known as ‘ops normal’.

Of course, all of the above lacks entertainment value, so by all means head over to the other publications I write for, and enjoy the chills and thrills of warnings of doomsday which I and others of my ilk provide in order to pay our rent.

Monotheism And The End Of The World

When the Romans came to Bath, they found a set of natural springs and a thriving local religion based around a deity whose name they rendered as ‘Sulis’. Sulis was not a goddess with whom they were familiar, but they did not doubt her existence, destroy her shrine, or suppress her worship – far from it. Noticing that Sulis had many qualities in common with their own goddess Minerva, they decided that they must be different aspects of the same idea. They therefore built a massive sacred complex dedicated to the worship of ‘Sulis Minerva’, and then presumably got on with their lives.
It’s important not to make the common mistake of projecting modern values onto ancient people. Constructions such as ‘Cyrus the Human Rights activist’, or ‘Hatshepsut the Feminist’, are patently ridiculous. But one thing which can certainly be said about paganism is that it was essentially pluralistic. Naturally, there were limits (the Romans and human sacrifice, for example), but the general tendency of pagan mentality was to search for commonality over difference, and to co-opt and co-exist with alien cults. Religious intolerants like Akhenaton and Nabonidas are remembered as anomalies in what was an overwhelmingly pluralistic religious world.

The Romans at Bath, the Greeks in Bactria, the Egyptians in Nubia – all demonstrate similar patterns of encounter. Contact is made with a foreign deity, inquiries are made as to their attributes, and a native parallel is found, not to replace, but rather to combine with it. This tendency must reflect a mentality which was as intellectually curious as it was tolerant. 

When we compare this with religious encounters as conducted by the Abrahamic monotheists, the comparison is not at all favourable. From Joshua (either in reality or imagination) to Cortes, it can be clearly seen that monotheism walks a much shorter track to genocidal violence. Even curious, ethnographically-minded Jesuits or Caliphate scholars all eventually arrive at the same place: ‘Your gods are false, my god is not.’

It’s easy to see why the rise of monotheism is seen as such a significant event in human history. Viewed clearly, it was nothing less than a psychic apocalypse – the death of ancient pluralism and a catastrophic interruption to the globalising movements of the age. It created an epoch of murderous intolerance and a world where religious war became not just a norm, but a near constant. It drew, much more harmfully and definitively than Sykes/Picot or the British Empire, the lines which so bitterly divide us to this day.

GBAV – Genesis 10

In which having sex with your family leads to a whole bunch of people with silly names.

Gn 10:1These are all the people who were born after Noah’s family all had sex with each other. And by people I mean boys.

Gn 10:2-5The sons of Japheth were Smeagol, and Gary, and Spencer, and Gomer, who was apparently a surprise, surprise, surprise. And the sons of Gomer were Hoochie, and Flowerpot, and Pooface. And the sons of Hoochie were Vlad the Impaler, and Snoopy, and Zoolander. And they all went off and invented new languages, for some reason.

Gn 10:6-9And the sons of Ham were Barry, and Andrew and Terrence. And the sons of Barry were ugly. And the sons of Ugly were Dumbledore, and Jabba, and Sauron. And Jabba begat Nimrod, who was a mighty hunter. Hence that really well known phrase, “OMG you are such a Nimrod, and by that I mean a mighty hunter.”

Gn 10:10-20And Nimrod begat Gilligan, and the Skipper, too. And the Skipper begat Krusty, and Stimpy, and Wolverine, and Jamiroquai. And they all went off and invented new languages, for some reason.

Gn 10:21-31And Shem was just as bad at inventing names as his two brothers, so all of his sons had silly names, too. And they all went off and invented new languages, for some reason.

Gn 10:32So that’s pretty much what happened after the flood. And everyone was happy, even though they had silly names, because at least they didn’t have to have sex with their family any more.

<< Genesis 9

On Remembrance Day…


Image sourced from the Australian War Memorial

Image sourced from the Australian War Memorial

Tomorrow marks the 97th anniversary of the end of one of the greatest catastrophes in modern history. Millions upon millions were killed, nations were swallowed up, overrun or erased and whole empires shattered. And then there was the meatgrinder of the Western Front, the shocking, mobile attrition of the battle at sea, the hellish nightmare of the sappers, the Eastern Front – I could go on, but I think we all know these things all too well. Remembrance Day, originally called Armistice Day, was instituted to remind us not so much of all these horrors, but as a memorial to those who fell. As time went on, and the hollowness of the epithet ‘war to end all wars’ became apparent, the day was expanded to include all of the fallen from all of our wars, and further invested with symbolism by the poignant burial ceremonies of Unknown Soldiers from various countries, including our own in 1993. This makes it a truly national and international day of reflection and one that should, by all the normal laws of decency and basic humanity, be free from politics, hatred or partisan or sectarian squabbling.

Would that it were so. With depressing regularity, pointy heads from both sides of the political spectrum choose this day to come out and push the more hateful parts of their ideologies. On the right, for reasons that beggar understanding, the world’s various fascists choose this day of all days to push the idea that white countries belong to white people, that exclusion is the key to national happiness and that everything is the fault of brown people. Which is ironic when you consider how many Nepali, Indian, Bangladeshi, African and Aboriginal troops were under arms for the British Empire. But, irony, logic and fact-proof as ever, the extreme right will share its poppy photos on social media and pretend to be decent citizens and human beings right along with the rest of us in the hope of gaining a new audience for the hate that they spew from their hatches.

And let’s not forget our friends on the extreme left, who are convinced that any kind of patriotism or commemoration of our war dead plays into the hands of the control of plutocrats, or capitalists, or alien lizards who have taken over the CIA, or whatever other garbage they’ve managed to convince themselves of this week. That’s right – these very same people who we applaud for throwing half-bricks at fascists have a horrifying tendency to paint the ANZACs as sex-offending, murderous war criminals. Which is to ignore the fact that such was the rate of volunteerism that pretty well all of our Imperial contingent was made up of perfectly ordinary, decent men and women. The very same ordinary people that these idiots purport to defend. And more to the point, many of them died in the belief that they were defending our future. So the hardline lefties can shut up too.

The point is that radical groups from both extremes come out of the woodwork on days like Remembrance Day, with the sole purpose of hijacking an anniversary that belongs to civilisation in order to push decidedly uncivilised ideas. The point is that we cannot and should not let them. I’m not suggesting that we attack, refute or argue with these people. That just wouldn’t be appropriate – not on a day as solemn as tomorrow. But we should definitely enforce the principle of silence. Let our moment’s silence spread so that it encompasses the silent rejection of all those who would outrage the memories of history with their hideous, politicised filth. When we see vile material from the likes of the UPF or Britain First, or any other extremist group, we should let them know by simply ignoring them that we are not disposed to discuss their lunacy on any given day, and especially not on a day that is dedicated to the heroes of generations past.

I Stand With Ahmed Or I’m With Stupid

Earlier this week, the suspiciously named Ahmed Mohamed brought a digital alarm clock to school, in clear violation of Texas State Law regarding the use of ‘hoax bombs’. He was very properly pulled out of class and sent to the principal’s office to be arrested. A storm of protest erupted when the story broke, with the Irving School Board and Irving’s heroic mayor, Beth Van Duyne, coming under quite unjustified attack for “following protocol” and ensuring the safety of their little town.

Because obviously, in the world we live in, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that any Moslem, Moslem-looking or Moslem-sounding activity is, by definition, deeply suspicious. We all know that Moslem women only wear Burkhas to conceal the fact that they are all AK toting re-incarnations of Osama Bin Laden and that every one of the 1.6 billion Moslems in the world seek the downfall of the West and the death of all Westerners, even and especially those sneaky, sneaky Moslems who have moved to Western countries and become citizens of them.

It makes absolute sense, if you just think about it for a moment. A population that has moved to the West in order to benefit from Western prosperity is clearly hell-bent on attacking and destroying that very prosperity. It’s not at all possible that the tiny number of attacks on US soil that have been carried out by Moslems (less than 10%) can be a function of anything other than the vigilance of fearless heroes like Mayor Van Duyne. The alternative, that there isn’t actually any threat from Moslems on home soil that warrants any kind of hysteria whatsoever, is plainly laughable. Van Duyne can tell you – she recently proposed a bill attempting to outlaw an imaginary outbreak of Sharia law in her community, and was stunned when the local Moslem population perfidiously refused to support it. Some of them even had the gall to be offended. Imagine!

This kind of stupidity has to stop. If people are really that concerned about the Islamist threat, then they should probably attempt to find out something about it. In so doing, they will discover that the ratio of violent extremists to practising faithful is statistically negligible. They will further discover that violent extremism in the cause of Islam is pretty well non-existent because Islamist terrorists, like all terrorists, primarily pursue political goals. They will further be able to distinguish between the kind of violent rhetoric we get on tape from lovelies like Zawahiri and Al-Baghdadi, and the frustrated yelling of perfectly ordinary people that the Telegraph so dearly loves to inflate upon. And most importantly of all, they will be able to tell the difference between the kind of raving lunatic who thinks they can turn the clock back 500 years using bombs and RPGs, and a Moslem.

And if all this seems like too much effort, then it’s obvious that these people can’t actually care that much about the Islamist threat after all. How bothered can a person really be about something if they can’t be arsed to learn the first thing about it? We have to conclude that they couldn’t give a tinker’s damn and are just using the most current anxiety as a vehicle for their perennial xenophobia, bigotry and A-grade, 100% pure and unadulterated stupidity.

So yes, I stand with Ahmed. Not because I’m some kind of liberal leftard or a traitor to my race or an apologist for Moslem ninja face-covering suicide-bombing crazies. No, I stand with Ahmed because the alternative is standing with stupid.

Tony’s Gone, And All Is Well… Or Is It?

So, the age of the Tones is over and there is much rejoicing in the land of Oz. We now have the smooth smoothie Malcolm Turnbull sworn in as Prime Minister and, from the jubilation on the internet, it would seem that some kind of golden age is in prospect for the long-suffering people of Australia. But while I hate to be the ghost at the feast, I really don’t see how this can happen.

Sure, there are a bunch of immediate and significant benefits to the ousting of the Tones. There’s the fact that now we have a leader who is capable of expressing himself in recognisable English, which is always helpful both for our own political discourse and our reputation worldwide. There is also the fact that Mr Turnbull’s appeal is much more amongst the centre right. No longer do we need to endure a PM whose broad base appeal rests so firmly with the pointy-headed, protectionist, racist and homophobic sections of our population. Mind you, I don’t accuse Mr Abbott of having been any of these things, but his disconnected mumblings over the past couple of years have mobilised these subhumans to an extent that we haven’t seen since Howard tried to tap into the “Australia for Australians” line to garner popularity.

Further to all this, Mr Turnbull has a surprising range of progressive ideas. He wants Australia to be a republic, cares deeply about climate change and is also in favour of gay marriage. Which is good, right?

Well, it depends on your definition of ‘good’. If by ‘good’, we mean having a PM whose ideas we can once again be proud of, that’s probably right. I personally don’t see the point of becoming a republic, but it’s a question that deserves a much better airing than our last farcical (and wasteful) attempt at a referendum. As for the other two, they’re no-brainers.

Except, of course, in the party that our new PM happens to be a leader of. And this means the opposite of good if, by ‘good’, we mean a return to effective and focussed government.

After a breach like this, all rhetoric aside, a frantic reshuffle needs to take place. People who had been elevated in the wake of Tony cannot all be cast aside – such a decimation would permanently, and possibly fatally, split the party. So what we’re looking at here is a significant portion of the same old people with the same old ideas. These exact same people who previously ousted Mr Turnbull for being too progressive, among other things. Which means that the Liberal Party is going to have to take some time to heal itself, smooth ruffled feathers and work out some kind of compromise between Turnbull’s ideas and what have now become the party’s core ideologies. And by the time they’ve done this, it’ll be time for an election.

And even if, as seems likely right now, Mr Turnbull can win out against the uninspiring Mr Shorten or, as I like to call him, “Mr Luckiest Opposition Leader Ever”, there’s still the small matter of every significant position he has being directly at odds with at least half his party room. So we’re looking either at a significant watering down of this promising agenda, or its paralysis in hostile home territory.

We can see the ousting of Tony Abbott as a good thing, I suppose, because in many ways it is. But there’s a few discouraging aspects to it. We shouldn’t expect an era of golden government, for a start. Our new PM is going to be far too busy with politics to even worry about government until after the next election. This leadership ballot was about one thing and one thing only – ensuring that this government can survive that election. We would be foolish if we did not see everything this administration does in the light of that single, solitary priority from now on in. Expect a Liberal Party in survival mode, attempting to win back popularity with a long-neglected section of the population and far too pre-occupied with this and with its own internal wranglings to do much else.

Basically, business as usual, only with smoother soundbites and more syllables per sentence.