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A new front in the culture wars

November 22nd, 2013

The political right seems eager to open new fronts in the culture wars. The latest, from the WSJ, is running (I won’t link to their piece, but to this translation). I’m happy to say that I am on the correct (that is, left) side of this latest battle. Apparently, liberal elitist runners have bumper stickers indicating the longest distance (in miles) they have run, say 26.2 for a marathon. Real Americans, on the other hand, never leave their cars (except to move from the garage to the couch) and therefore have stickers saying 0.0.

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  1. Alan
    November 22nd, 2013 at 17:15 | #1

    I think a lot of Jamie Oliver’s food politics is dubious, to say the least, but it was painful during a radio interview when he was told ‘Americans don’t want to eat lettuce leaves’.

  2. paul walter
    November 22nd, 2013 at 18:05 | #2

    In other words you have to run 26 miles to match an average slob? tsk!

  3. TerjeP
    November 22nd, 2013 at 18:44 | #3

    Us people who tend to the political right we absolutely hate health and fitness. I inject lard into my arteries once a week and I never eat spinach. If the kids ask to go outside and play I force them to watch TV.

    Of course high profile people of the right like John Howard and Tony Abbott have completely let the side down by walking and cycling incessantly. But I’m pretty sure they would never stoop to bumper stickers.

    But then the left has a few failures of it’s own like Julia Gillard who was clearly not into marathons like she should be. And that Michael Moore dude who is carrying a bit much around the middle to be a true lefty.


  4. Ken_L
    November 22nd, 2013 at 18:49 | #4

    And it seems like only yesterday that Paul Ryan was the great white conservative hope because he once ran a marathon “in the high 2s”. Which turned out to be more than 1 hour short, but it’s the thought that counts. And didn’t Sarah Palin once pose for a magazine wearing all those fancy shoes n clothes that you buy at running stores? Yes I believe she did http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_fkpPtCdtbXg/SxLPOg-O3SI/AAAAAAAACw8/x486yjzXUJU/s1600/palin_imarunner.jpg.

    “Thank God running is non-partisan” she intoned, but obviously she mis-spoke too soon.

  5. John Quiggin
    November 22nd, 2013 at 19:51 | #5
  6. November 22nd, 2013 at 20:14 | #6

    Bikes are really bad. Any red blooded right wing motorist worth his salt knows that cyclists are just pests on the road:


  7. TerjeP
    November 22nd, 2013 at 20:15 | #7

    JQ – I assume you’re taking the piss.

  8. John Quiggin
    November 22nd, 2013 at 20:20 | #8


    Poe’s Law applies here, Terje.

  9. sdfc
    November 22nd, 2013 at 20:32 | #9

    I’m left wing and I reckon cyclists are pests.

  10. Megan
    November 22nd, 2013 at 21:09 | #10

    I’m going to write a hate column about an outdoor activity – and especially the commercial aspect of that outdoor activity, such as websites and magazines.

    Quick checklist of Magazines published by my master, just to be safe:

    Australian Football Weekly
    Australian Golf Digest
    Australian Good Taste (with Woolworths)
    Australian Parents (with Woolworths)
    Best of the Gold Coast Magazine
    Big League
    Country Style
    delicious. (with the ABC)
    donna hay
    Gardening Australia (with the ABC)
    GQ Australia
    Inside Out
    Lifestyle Pools + outdoor design
    Live to Ride
    MasterChef Magazine
    Modern Boating
    Modern Fishing
    Overlander 4WD
    SmartSource Magazine
    Super Food Ideas
    Truck & Trailer Australia
    Truckin’ Life
    Two Wheels
    Two Wheels Scooter
    Vogue Australia
    Vogue Entertaining + Travel

    Looks safe.

  11. Megan
    November 22nd, 2013 at 22:16 | #11

    The establishment media passionately hates modes of transport that do not require fossil fuel consumption.

    They, especially Rupert, hate runners walkers and cyclists.

    Today a man with apparent anger issues was sentenced over the manslaughter of an elderly lady. He had an argument with her and shoved her against a wall causing her to suffer head injuries, she later died. That was in Sydney about three years ago. He was doing community service over a driving offence (to do with unlicensed/drink driving – IIRC).

    The most important aspect of this tragic story is that the man was riding a bicycle (his driver’s licence having been suspended) before the argument with the victim.

    So the establishment media message is: “Cyclist Hate Anger Killer Fury”, or variants.

  12. Megan
    November 23rd, 2013 at 00:22 | #12

    Speaking of Culture Wars, why can’t I post a comment if I put my website url in the appropriate field anymore? It obviously still works for others.

    I’m OK with being singled out, but in the spirit of openness and honesty I’d like at least an explanation.

    I’ve been a regular here for nearly ten years, and obviously consider the discourse worthwhile, that’s why I’d like to continue – as long as I’m not being censored for some reason.

  13. Brian
    November 23rd, 2013 at 02:44 | #13

    This is silly.

  14. Neil Hanrahan
    November 23rd, 2013 at 03:07 | #14

    Oops John. One doesn’t have to disagree with your left-right analysis of the culture wars/marathon runnng/health and fitness spectrum to think you have let yourself down a bit.

    If you think the “translation” you have linked to is a better read than the gently humorous mildly satirical original in the WSJ it must be something you ate getting ready for your 5 am dash. Is this a “Bizarre Angry Rant” as the Runners World writer calls it:


    And a few days later the WSJ publishes this:


    In my marathon running days I concluded that there were plenty of right wing types, if they had any wings, who were macho competitors from the business or professional worlds asserting there potency and potential immortality. Equally there were others, maybe left wing or maybe just slightly depressed introverts, who ran to get a sense of achievement (completing a marathon, actually running the whole way) which the rest of their lives wasn’t affording them. Moi, well much more complicated of course, but let’s acknowledge that just running to keep healthy and using the aim of running for a particular time or distance as a motivating element can lead to the runner’s high which guarantees plenty of repeats…..

  15. John Quiggin
    November 23rd, 2013 at 07:14 | #15


    WordPress moves in mysterious ways. I have no idea why this should happen

  16. Ikonoclast
    November 23rd, 2013 at 08:44 | #16

    No doubt I am a closet elitist. I used to enjoy running before it was trendy and when eccentrics like Percy Cerutty were still revered gurus. I mean like in the 1970s. Now that running is trendy, I will walk or jog on bush tracks nobody else frequents. I wear daggy clothes, a floppy hat, sunscreen and sunglasses and stop sometimes to look at native animals and plants. Fun runs and triathalons are complete anathema to me. As soon as something becomes trendy and popular it is ruined for me. Maybe I am angry too?

  17. Jim Birch
    November 23rd, 2013 at 09:43 | #17

    Loosen up mate.

  18. rog
    November 23rd, 2013 at 11:06 | #18

    Fast food outlets are big business which health advisors find difficult to counter. One such chain of fast food is owned by a Jack, who is always hungry. This Jack has strong ties with other heavyweights, one who rhymes with Tina. Tina has a shipload of money and likes to play politics and certain politicians, one whose name rhymes with barn door, also finds this money attractive.

    It’s less a culture war more a race for money.

  19. Mel
    November 23rd, 2013 at 12:48 | #19

    “Loosen up mate.”

    Ikon sees himself as an old testicle porpoise whose duty it is to warn the wayward flock of impending disaster. He won’t loosen until we listen.

  20. Mel
    November 23rd, 2013 at 12:49 | #20

    oops- I meant Old Testament Prophet. WordPress really does have a mind of its own 😉

  21. November 24th, 2013 at 00:03 | #21

    I like “old testicle porpoise” better. Adds a sense of mystery…

  22. November 24th, 2013 at 01:40 | #22

    Weird, though, that I can put any old “url” in the “website” field except my own.

    Which, by the way, is ‘springhillvoice’.

  23. November 24th, 2013 at 01:42 | #23

    For example.

  24. Megan
    November 24th, 2013 at 01:45 | #24

    Badge of honour!

    My website has been censored completely from any mention here by either, or both, of ‘OzBlogistan’ & WordPress!

  25. John Quiggin
    November 24th, 2013 at 06:38 | #25


    I’ve searched my list of forbidden words, and there’s nothing I can find that would account for this.

  26. ZM
    November 24th, 2013 at 07:03 | #26

    From what I’ve heard “modal surfing” is the preferred left wing means of transport, as recommended by our good public service.

  27. Megan
    November 24th, 2013 at 09:28 | #27

    @John Quiggin

    OK, thanks. Maybe it’s the NSA?!!

  28. J-D
    November 24th, 2013 at 12:59 | #28

    I gather Chad Stafko thinks some people should get over themselves. Maybe that’s not such a bad idea. Maybe I should get over myself? But how? Would it be possible for Chad Stafko to demonstrate the technique?

  29. Al Newman
    November 24th, 2013 at 17:51 | #29

    I find it truly amazing just how anti American Australians are. The greatest creation of the Americans – the Space Shuttle had over 2 million ‘working’ parts – here in Australia you have your greatest invention – the Hills Hoist – with 3 moving parts. But 3 is bigger than 2, right? Singapore has NO natural resources and has a higher standard of living than OZ. If Singaporeans lived here – Australia would be the richest, and most inventive country on earth. If Australians lived in Singapore – you’d all still be living in Campongs, barefoot and starving.
    Norway has a $2 trillion future fund from their oil and natural gas, with < 1/3 the population. Australia has a lot of flat screen TV's.
    I suggest you ignoramouses look in a mirror if you want to criticize. In a country of 22 million, 1 million plus residents have NOT taken out citizenship – they'd be just too embarrassed!

  30. Newtownian
    November 25th, 2013 at 08:47 | #30

    Tks John

    A curious offering (article/translation) but much food for thought – or is there?:

    * Why did the WST bother publishing it? Still one could say the same for the content of many magazines, academic journals and the Daily Telegraph/Mail/Oz. Quality is clearly not an essential criterion for publication these days if it ever was.

    * The original article content is not much different to the stuff on shock jock radio and fox news so maybe its not that notable. Still there is so much more interesting out there in the world and potentially interesting for audiences. Maybe this offering is more a reflection of the depths editors are sinking to than the actual writer.

    * The translation isn’t bad though it would have been better if he’d done a bit more analysis of why some people might loathe runners. In this country you still see people walking – but in many areas of the US other than say NYC SF and probably a few other large cosmopolitan cities – nobody walks suggesting a rising anathema to people on the streets – other than gangs/the homeless who are up to no good.

    * Perhaps the answer lies in the reference early on in the primary article to the dreaded ‘Selfie’:
    – Though these have been around for a while e.g. family blog sites shared with friends, Facebook, snap happy Japanese tourists (and the name is old – Wiki seems to think its an Australian invention), this seems to be the year of the Selfie to judge by the fact its so well known but isn’t yet in this web site spell checker.
    – Selfie’s definitely have the potential for inducing over the top outrage by virtue of what appears to be the ultimate in narcissistic distortion of young people’s image and social attitudes. The focus of the article may be on bumper stickers but this may be simply the final straw for the writer/Ranter.

    In conclusion the more interesting thing here is not the article but what produced the reaction which may not be solely culture wars.

  31. Tim Macknay
    November 25th, 2013 at 17:53 | #31

    @Al Newman

    The greatest creation of the Americans – the Space Shuttle had over 2 million ‘working’ parts

    That was junk. The lunar module wins.

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