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Get well

January 26th, 2008

A slightly belated get well to Tim Blair, one of the pioneers of Australian blogging, who recently underwent surgery for cancer. Tim and I have had our differences, to put it mildly, but this is a time to put such things aside. I’m sure everyone here will join me in hoping for a full and rapid recovery.

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  1. wilful
    January 26th, 2008 at 14:48 | #1

    Here’s hoping for a death-bed epiphany.

  2. silkworm
    January 26th, 2008 at 17:41 | #2

    What wilful said.

  3. January 27th, 2008 at 01:04 | #3

    Well, he was always a faux-rightist.

    A stick-to-the-cistern kind of guy.

    Let’s hope his flushing is peacable.

  4. Spiros
    January 27th, 2008 at 06:50 | #4

    Speaking of cancer, it’s just killed Paddy McGuinness.

  5. Jack Strocchi
    January 27th, 2008 at 11:42 | #5

    I hope Tim makes a full recovery and returns to work more virulent than ever.

  6. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    January 27th, 2008 at 17:42 | #6

    Let’s not go overboard.

  7. Jack Strocchi
    January 27th, 2008 at 22:25 | #7

    Sorry to hear about Paddy shuffling off the twig. At least he was a character and his own man, whatever one thought of his views on things.

    I interviewed him a number of times over the past decade. He was always uproariously funny in conversation.

    Unfortunately he came across as a little cantankerous and cranky in print/pixel.

    Its a vice that most of us are susceptible at one time or another.

  8. philip travers
    January 28th, 2008 at 08:37 | #8

    Is this a closed shop!?

  9. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    January 28th, 2008 at 09:18 | #9

    Paddy was a proud white supremacist. And most of his SMH columns were pretentious gibberish – the one rerun today is a fine example.

  10. Hal9000
    January 28th, 2008 at 10:51 | #10

    Paddy was one of those left adventurists of the 1960s who, having failed to ignite world revolution through hard partying, worked out that shifting their polemical style to the right would ensure a lifetime supply of agreeable meals. Others of his ilk include Paul Johnson, Bob Catley, Keith Windschuttle and Christopher Hitchens. They share a pretentious, grumpy, pseudo-scholarly ad hominem style that seems to suit the requirements of MSM publishers admirably. I get the feeling, though, that they never fully surmount their own guilt at having betrayed their friends and abandoned their principles. McGuinness, named for the Irish revolutionary Padraic Pearse, ended up achieving little more than the decline of Quadrant from an engine room of intellectual conservatism into a lunar right fanzine.

    I would note one thing in Paddy’s favour – he stood by and supported his hopelessly alcoholic mate Ian Parker until the latter’s grisly death (dragged behind a car having collapsed comatose on the footpath and hooked his hand in the bumper bar).

    Here’s hoping meanwhile that Tim Blair has a speedy recovery. Perhaps the brush with mortality might lead him in future to tone down the volume of the (mainly American) hyenas who use his blog to bay at the moon.

  11. Hal9000
    January 28th, 2008 at 11:34 | #11

    PS – Suharto dead. Hooray!

  12. Ikonoclast
    January 28th, 2008 at 12:54 | #12

    Open the pod bay door Hal.

  13. Fred Nurgly
    January 28th, 2008 at 13:11 | #13

    Yes the evaluation of P.P McGuiness’s economic contributions should be undertaken by an economist.
    It seems Paddy demise precedes Goughs ; an event he hadn’t foreseen.

  14. Nick K
    January 28th, 2008 at 13:27 | #14

    It is sad to hear about P.P. McGuiness’ death. McGuiness was a sensible down-to-earth bloke who did a good job of debunking fashionable claptrap.

    Hal, regarding all those former lefties who have since turned right, can you consider the possibility that maybe people abandon the left precisely because they begin to see the flaws in left-wing ideas. As the old saying goes ‘if you are not a socialist at 20 you have no heart. If you are still a socialist at 40 you have no head.’ As for the argument that people move right in order to advance their careers, people who abandon the left usually give up any hope of advancement in the university sector.

  15. Donald Oats
    January 28th, 2008 at 18:23 | #15

    Re #14 Nick K
    And what does a right wing or left wing political viewpoint have to do with being a research mathematician? Or physicist, chemist, geologist, biologist, psychologist, economist, medical researcher, law researcher, or any of many other university research careers?

    Absolutely nothing.

  16. Spiros
    January 29th, 2008 at 09:34 | #16

    Donald Oats, in a certain mindset, university equals arts faculty. In that minset, thinking about the non Arts part of a university is like thinking about what lies beyond the end of the universe. It is inconceivable.

  17. Hal9000
    January 29th, 2008 at 12:06 | #17

    “people who abandon the left usually give up any hope of advancement in the university sector.”

    I realise from the Bushites that the right makes its own reality, but here in the hopelessly outdated reality-based community we like to have a bit of evidence to back up our sweeping generalisations.

    On the issue of middle-aged conversions to the right, it’s noteworthy that the trajectory appears to be from left-adventurism to the lunar right, bypassing social democracy and conservatism. I suppose it could be because these individuals come to ‘see the flaws’ in the ideas they’ve been spouting all their adult lives, but then you’d expect a gradual toning-down and drift toward the centre. And this is not what we see. Instead the norm appears to be the Damascene conversion (or, in the language they themselves would so lately have used, the ‘sell-out’) – Trots to hyenas between going to bed and getting up the following morning. No, gradual erosion of ideas doesn’t explain it at all.

  18. Nick K
    January 29th, 2008 at 13:11 | #18

    Donald and Spiros, I’ll explain it step-by-step so you can understand. The terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ usually relate to politics. Politics is usually housed within the humanities or arts faculties of universities. If the arts and humanities faculties are dominated by lefties, which they invariably are, it makes life somewhat difficult for anyone who wants to study political or social issues from a non-leftist perspective.

    Of course politics is less important to other university disciplines like mathematics, so what does this prove exactly? This is simply a red herring to confuse the issues.

    To some extent a left-wing bias invades certain other disciplines as well. For example, how many medical courses would involve material that outlines the problems with government funding or control of medicine? How many would simply demand more public funding? How many legal courses would outline the costs to society of excessive litigation or regulation? How many economics courses properly assess the economic costs of higher taxes or regulation?

  19. January 29th, 2008 at 13:17 | #19

    The argument seems to be ‘politics is less important in areas which are less political’. Every heard of a circular argument guys? Or tautology?

  20. Spiros
    January 29th, 2008 at 13:34 | #20

    Nick, it was you who said that “people who abandon the left” cannot get promoted in “the university sector”.

    You didn’t say humanities or arts faculties (which is probably not true in any case). You said universities as a whole. Which is just a nonsense.

    “How many economics courses properly assess the economic costs of higher taxes or regulation?”

    Probably every course that taught by well-known bloggers Sinclair Davidson and Harry Clarke, amongst many others.

  21. January 29th, 2008 at 14:12 | #21

    Spiros, it is a pretty pedantic point to say that I didn’t specify which university departments. Obviously anyone who refers to a specific field of study is, by implication, referring primarily to the academic departments that deal with that field of study.

    I won’t post again, as I know that John doesn’t want this forum to be dominated by extended exchanges like this.

  22. Hal9000
    January 29th, 2008 at 17:13 | #22

    “If the arts and humanities faculties are dominated by lefties, which they invariably are…”

    To set up an equally stongly evidence-based straw man: “if right-wingers are fools, which they invariably are…”

    “I won’t post again, as I know that John doesn’t want this forum to be dominated by extended exchanges like this.”

    Translation: please let me troll again.

  23. Donald Oats
    January 30th, 2008 at 00:30 | #23

    Hopefully for Tim it’s treatable, and doesn’t require extensive chemo. It’s no laughing matter for anyone who goes through that experience.

    As for Nick K, thank you for your clarification in #18. And especially thoughtful of you to write it slowly for me so I’d have time to think about it.

  24. peterd
    January 31st, 2008 at 23:26 | #24

    Nick K: “It is sad to hear about P.P. McGuiness’ death. McGuiness was a sensible down-to-earth bloke who did a good job of debunking fashionable claptrap.”

    “Sad”? Speak for yourself. There’ll be no tears shed in my house. McGuinness was a boring, tedious hack who seems to have imagined that an Irish name qualified him to join the compnay of the great blatherers.
    I remember some of the excruciating pieces he did for the Age/SMH in the 1990s. In one of them, he tried to convince readers that the Russians considered Germans stupid because (so he said) the Russian word for “stupid” was the same as their word for German. Really? Actually, the Russian word for “to become dumb” (nemet’) is somewhat different from the word for German (nemets).

    Paul Keating wrote a perfect summary of McGuinness in today’s Fin. Review.

    If McGuinness represented intellectual culture in this country, one can only despair.

  25. peterd
    January 31st, 2008 at 23:31 | #25

    Nick K: “Hal, regarding all those former lefties who have since turned right, can you consider the possibility that maybe people abandon the left precisely because they begin to see the flaws in left-wing ideas.”

    Have you considered the possibility that so-called former lefties turn to the right because they were never really leftists, only rightists in disguise (e.g., Christopher Hitchens)?

  26. jikajika
    February 1st, 2008 at 08:11 | #26

    ‘Actually, the Russian word for “to become dumbâ€? (nemet’) is somewhat different from the word for German (nemets).’

    nemet’ and nemets have the same etymology. It was a disingenuous argument because sharing etymology does not mean sharing an identical meaning.

    The scores of Russians I have spoken to about the matter thought it both hilarious and most appropriate that their forebears considered the peoples of Germany to be so nonsensical in their attempts to speak, they deserved to be designated as ‘the speechless’.

  27. jikajika
    February 1st, 2008 at 08:17 | #27

    It was most ungracious of PJK to use PPM’s death as an excuse both to lay the boot into PPM and to trumpet his own achievements as PM.

    PJK did some good things. His desperation to ensure his place in the pantheon of Good Australian Prime Ministers is beginning to tarnish his current conduct. If he continues in this vein, he will – inevitably and ironically – tarnish his historical record too.

    Take a chill pill, Paul. Get off the back of dead men.

  28. peterd
    February 1st, 2008 at 16:46 | #28

    jikajika: “It was most ungracious of PJK to use PPM’s death as an excuse both to lay the boot into PPM and to trumpet his own achievements as PM.”

    At least he announced that he intended to break his own self-imposed rule not to speak ill of the dead.

    I am not entirely convinced by Paul’s last paragraph, however.

  29. peterd
    February 1st, 2008 at 16:48 | #29

    The scores of Russians I have spoken to about the matter thought it both hilarious and most appropriate that their forebears considered the peoples of Germany to be so nonsensical in their attempts to speak, they deserved to be designated as ‘the speechless’.

    The Russians I speak to (incl. my wife) do not consider that Germans are speechless. Rather, German is considered as the barking of dogs.

  30. jikajika
    February 1st, 2008 at 17:42 | #30

    Yeah? MY Russians venerated Germans. Thought Russia should emulate Germany in every way possible.

    Respected the Japs.

    Admired the seppos.

    Thought Australians were brave fools.

    Sums P.P. McGuinness and Tim Blair nicely, no?

    No clowns, these Russians.

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