91 thoughts on “Monday message board

  1. Not much Christmas cheer for Costello this year.
    The Gerard affair, his comments concerning HIS reluctance for further tax cuts in HIS next budget and the news that HE was informed that low income earners would be worse off.
    What a merry Christmas Howard, Downer, Abbot and co. will be having.

  2. Any thoughts on the global eco impacts of the new trade deal?

    My designation of it as the “new trade deal” implies I have not read much about it as yet (waiting for my copy of the AFR) but I understand it will eventually lead to unimpeded access for the poorest nations and less rich-country subsidies for ag.

    If so, would suggest that ag prices will trend upwards (particularly when coupled with India/China ‘graduating’ to meat) and the hollowing-out of Aus mfg will accelerate.

    Wouldnt it be funny if we entered 2030 the same way we entered the 20th century – riding on the sheep’s back (and, at the risk of mauling analogies, propped up by the minerals crutch and wheat walking stick).

    What about the impact on investment flows? Rich countries (and ones with huge forex reserves, not necessarily the same thing) piling into farms in Africa?

    Wouldnt it be funny if there was a second scramble for Africa 200 years after the previous one?

    At the risk of sounding like a dot-commer resurrected, I almost wonder if ‘everything has changed’ and we are entering a new age of unparalleled globalisation. Yes, I know it probably has some parallels with the 19th-early 20Cs, but it seems like the actors will be fairly different (China, India and East Asia plus the perennial Euro and Nth American economies), and the action more widely dispersed across so many more sectors and countries, and with so much more hot money to make things so much more interesting.

    Speaking of which, why do there appear to be so many asset bubbles around in so many asset classes and countries? Where did all this money come from??

    Just thinking out loud….

  3. Well, I guess it’s possible that the reason I can’t comment on the previous post is due to some kind of bug. Not likely though.

  4. Nothing from you has come through to moderation, Yobbo. If you got an error message, I suggest you look for any words in your post to do with cas*nos, pharma and so on – my host has aggressive antispam policies .

  5. Thinking out loud is a very fine and wholesome hobby, but it should be pointed out that writing on a screen is silent. %–)

    The terrible ifs accumulate:

    IF humanity doesn’t self-incinerate by rioting On The Beach with WMD in a fight for the last Peak Oil and

    IF the Gulf Stream continues to flow past Cornwall and

    IF the Greenhouse doesn’t become the Sauna and

    IF we don’t lose our family and social circle to a pandemic of Budgerigar flu and

    IF the world continues to become wealthier THEN

    what will people be eating in 2030?

    Wheat and meat are such a dead scene, Daddy-o. In 2030, the yuppies of Kerala will demand the best hand-milled GE macadamias, next week’s global fad will be coffee-flavoured tubers from Belize and every corner deli will be packed to the rafters with exotic biodiversity. For its monopoly on anti-aging potatoes, the wealthiest nation will be Costa Rica.

    Just a thought.

  6. I’m worried. Have I accidentally caused offence to anyone with my zany global scenario? I hadn’t intended to insult one; only to make a humorous comment on global fashions. Foody-ism is funny.

  7. I thought it was very amusing, Will. I don’t think Jason’s reference to ‘chips’ was in anyway related to you or your Costa Rican potato scenario. It’s worth noting however that potatoes do best in temperate to subtropical zones and Costa Rica would thus probably not be ideal in a global warming context. The anti-aging habanero chili does however have considerable potential.

  8. Oh good, JS, that’s a great relief. An erratic imagination can sometimes veer catastrophically. Thanks for the geography lesson, Geoff, I should have realised that Costa Rica is the worst place for growing spuds; I’ve spent a little time in PNG and they’re a staple in the Highlands. On the other hand, by 2030, the vagaries of the world climate might make Costa Rica a leading exporter of reindeer. ‘Habanero chili’ sounds as if it should be handled with tongs and kept out of reach of children.

    And in our eyes extended, we can see the vision splendid: Tasmania’s famous sugar cane.

    For many years, critics have been warning of the growing homogenisation of international agriculture. Perhaps the future of consumption is directed toward greater diversity (McDiversity?)

    I’ll conclude on a sombre and pious note, full of high sentiment. I sincerely hope that in 30 years everyone WILL be able to afford the latest fad.

  9. Two things in the os media recently were monday-interesting i thought: one is about a ‘bono’ who is tied to aid and another is about a free man.


    “There are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can’t think of one at the moment.”



    “Every now and then, a celebrity says something intelligent:

    Morgan Freeman says the concept of a month dedicated to black history is “ridiculous.”

    “You’re going to relegate my history to a month?” the 68-year-old actor says in an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” to air Sunday. . . . “I don’t want a black history month. Black history is American history.” . . .

    Freeman notes there is no “white history month,” and says the only way to get rid of racism is to “stop talking about it.”

    The actor says he believes the labels “black” and “white” are an obstacle to beating racism.

    “I am going to stop calling you a white man and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man,” Freeman says.”

    (Now there is a man amongst men)

  10. Hmm, WT, lets try that for other problems: crime, yep, we can solve that by not talking or thinking about it; global warming, for sure, the same; war, undoubtedly (hear no evil, see none, that sure banishes stuff). And why did those silly yanks bother with their civil rights struggle? The good ‘ole boys were just going to let their coloured brethren sit beside them on buses in their own unrushed time.


    (it’s always funny that the same side of politics that exploits racism to the hilt is the very same on that denies its existence or significance. The foul TB site a case in point).

  11. On the other hand, Morgan Freeman is highly regarded in the US and his comments about Black History Month seem spot on (and part of the 20 year PC wars). He sounds disillusioned about the usefulness of more debate about race.

    I’ve always admired him as an actor, but have never taken any interest in that Irish guy or read anything he’s said.

    Americans seem to take show business figures seriously, to an extent that is weird to Australians and Brits. They might only be actors/carny folk, but the American public listen to them.

  12. not really CB, its just that you can choose to live in the past in perpetual struggle over absolutely everything if it makes you feel better and i can choose to live with morgan.

  13. I think Freeman makes a lot of sense except in that comment about ‘not talking about racism’. Perhaps he meant to say ‘not obsessing about race’. That I certainly agree with.

  14. WT: those of us not suffering from things can choose to take them on as causes or not, of course. That’s our luxury. But a person stomped on by
    racism, serious crime, war, etc just may not find it such a neutral issue. One way or another in that situation, you have to deal with it. Politics isn’t everyone’s way, but it’s a legitimate one.

    And if you really think ‘racism’ is an issue ‘in the past’, then you live in a Schlaraffenland purely of your mind’s making. It’s very present in Australia, the US, and Europe; and the fight against it has even barely started in most other parts of the globe.

  15. Jason: “Perhaps he meant to say ‘not obsessing about race’. That I certainly agree with.”

    You can’t not agree with a tautology. By definition an obsession is unbalanced. The question is: how much attention is enough?

  16. Jason is absolutely right: Freeman might be referring to obsession and for obvious reasons, Americans are obsessed with race. Their obsession looks pathological. Freeman might have been looking for a radical cure for the pathology.

    I noticed that in the new Indie film, ‘Me and You and Everyone We Know’, the most unusual aspect of the story was the biracial marriage and the fact the no-one commented on it. It was the dog that didn’t bark in the night.

    Quite honestly, as a non-American who likes Hollywood films, I often feel bored to tears by our distant relatives’ weird obsession and angst. It’s like living with a maniac.

  17. Will, you might well be bored by issues that don’t affect you. It probably isn’t an option for an American ensnared by racial problems to be ‘bored’ by them.

    I won’t disagree with you that America’s culture is bizarrely twisted by racial issues. But you seem to be assuming that anti-racism (or “PC”?) is the cause, rather than part of the mess along with a seemingly perpetual racism.

    Again, I’d ask the question, why does this particular problem, as opposed to crime or whatever, merit a hear-and-see-no-evil response? Is it because you don’t really think it’s a problem? Why might that be?

    One further point: I’d argue that only one (significant) part of the reason why race is such an overwhelming issue there compared to here is to do with scale. It also seems true to me that Australians are less advanced in the process of admitting and dealing with the extent of their racist present and history. Denial, indifference, and an exceptionally odd combination of pride in the good with no shame regarding the bad (ie. the official Aussie Battler stance) seem to be the norm.

  18. Maybe someone has remarked on it but I should like to say that I am sorry Terry Lane has finished his “The National Interest”.
    I’ve been a regular listener, Sunday noon on Radio National, for many years. He is an extremely competent interviewer and his bemused, self-deprecating leftist position made him liked by interviewees of all colours.
    Over summer there are some repeats of highlight programs of 2005. The programs can be heard on the abc.net.au/rn as well.

  19. CB just remember racism is not the province of the “white” man nor did americans invent it.

    When i lived in asia we ignored loud and very publicly humiliating remarks about “round eyes” like me who were by definition unclean and uncivilised. When i lived in the middle east they threw stones at me and my sister and pulled our hair in the markets. Last month, an australian friend came back from eqypt and told me he had been called an “English Jew” whilst out walking in the markets, presumably because he didn’t “look” egyptian.

    The genocidal racism happening right now in the Sudan is a classic case where we cannot ignore its terrible presence. I just think Freeman knows it is quite intellectually dishonest (like it is here in Australia) to carry on like a pork chop all the time as if racism is at exactly the same level and as terrifyingly immediate for everyone in every country.

  20. Mike, quite agree with you on Terry Lane. He seemed able to interview people of all persuasions and always create an openly-discursive kind of atmosphere, despite having a clear slant of his own. I’d be interested to hear if any on the right also think so, or if my perception’s just an artifact of my sharing much of his political slant.

  21. WT, to quote myself above: “[racism is] very present in Australia, the US, and Europe; and the fight against it has even barely started in most other parts of the globe.”

    I agree entirely with you.

  22. On a similar theme on my blog, we are running a poll about which celebrity the ALP should preselect to run in the next election – a bit of fun. Pls vote when you can

  23. Crispin
    Terry Lane, in my non-atheistic estimation, has always come across as honest as well as disinterestedly investigative in all his questioning of interviewees.
    Whether the ABC can replace him with somebody of equal worth is a moot point considering the current decisionmakers.

  24. Lesley,

    Stephen Crittenden or Kate Evans come to mind amongst the current ABC RN crop. Probably both lefties, but good enough interviewers perhaps for that not to get up right-wing noses too much. It’d be hard to find a politically-neutral person sufficiently interesting to replace Terry Lane. Even harder perhaps to find a right-winger on RN’s payroll, unless you count Michael Duffy, but let’s not.

  25. I will miss Terry Lane. He was civil, honest about his biases, prepared to hear alternative and opposing views, and could take the piss out of himself. A rare combination.

  26. Crispin said

    ‘I won’t disagree with you that America’s culture is bizarrely twisted by racial issues. But you seem to be assuming that anti-racism (or “PCâ€??) is the cause, rather than part of the mess along with a seemingly perpetual racism.’

    No, no, I never assumed that, only that the proposal for a Black History Month is the sort of thing that fanatics on both sides of the ideological – not just the racial divide – divide have been squabbling about since the 1980s: that’s what they call the PC wars. After watching them shriek at each other for so long, I regard both the Rightists and the Left (very often ‘PC’ people) with wariness and sometimes contempt.

    If anything, my own outlook has usually been in sympathy with PC, but elements of it are oppressive.

    White American racism is repugnant, but so many Black Americans seem pretty twisted and angry. I’m glad I’m not American.

  27. Will, my objection was to the notion (implied by Freeman) that racism is a unique category of social problem that can be dealt with by the delicately modulated tactic of pretending it doesn’t exist (or doesn’t matter).

    I’m not so concerned with the Black History Month thing. Actually I’m constantly amazed to find that my every day/month/year/decade/century seems to have been claimed by someone else as the time for me to acknowledge their cause. It would be exhausting if any of us actually took any notice.

  28. You mean The National Interest has gone FOR GOOD… not just for the summer?

    To quote Luke Skywalker: Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!

    Is this Janet Albrechtsen’s doing?

    And please, don’t mention Michael Duffy as a possible replacement. He comes across as a bright-but-clueless Year 11 student eager to butter up the “teachers” (the right wingers he interviews), with an undercooked, jejeune-sounding voice to match. Please! He doesn’t even compare with Lane’s droll, grumpy, individual speaking and interviewing style.

  29. I’ll take the collective commentary so far as tacit admission of left-wing bias in the ABC. What, two comments? Give up.

  30. David M: of course there’s left-wing bias in the ABC. There is such a bias generally amongst educated and intelligent folk, and those are the people who will get the jobs.

    Anyway, where else is a lefty supposed to go these days? Give us a break.

  31. Terry Lane, to my sadness, has been elaborately taking his leave from the ABC for the last six months.

    Even more painful, his replacement on the conversation hour is also called Lane, but a Tim who knows about sport. A nice man but not the same.

    Personally I think we should give it to Nabakov.

  32. Left wing bias among educated & intelligent folk? What not the workers?

    Hmm, if there is not going to be an uprising of the proletariat, perhaps I can shelve my contingency plans?

  33. Crispin wrote : ” of course there’s left-wing bias in the ABC.

    I don’t think so. It is ‘left wing’ in a sense compared to the other newsmedia, but in absolute terms it sits far to the right of what was once considered the middle ground.

    I happen to agee with David Marr when he said once in a talk on Radio National late last year that good journalists had to be naturally suspicious of established powers the status quo, and therfore, by definition, left wing. He went on to say, “If you aren’t left wing, then get another job!”

    ABC journaiists should not be concerned about accusations of left wing bias, or even right wing bias, for that matter. They should just get on with the job of properly scrutinising all public figures be they of the right, left, centre, extreme centre, or wherever.

    ABC Radio journalist Catherine (spelling?) Jobe did this brilliantly prior to the elections of 1996, where she, in turn, savagely tore to shreds both the Labor Government Health Minister and the Shadow Health Minister. She brilliantly exposed, one after the other, their hypocrisy and self contradiction. Even though I had intended to give my preferenced to Labor ahead of the Coalition, I did not mind one bit that her questioning of teh Labor Health Minister was so devastating. She could not possibly have been accused of unfair bias, although I suspect her style of journalism would have been seen as a far greater threat to this Government than any perceivable timid pro-Labor bias in most of today’s crop of ABC journalists.

    Given the appalling record of this Government, that would have been previously unimaginable, since the day it came to office, the ABC has been derelict in its duty in not having been a little more ‘left wing biased’ when dealing with this atrocious Government and its ministers.

    Had they done so, more people would have seen right through the Government by the 1998 elections at the very latest, and its reign would have been no more than a bad memory from the distant past by now.

    Rather than the the ABC’s ‘left wing’ bias being the subject of controversy, it would have been the right wing extremism of most of the commercial newsmedia which would have been put under the public spotlight.

  34. James,

    I quite agree with you. My own comments were a bit flip, because, to be honest, the compulsory right-wing political propaganda flung at us from all directions, especially via marketing, seems to me so overwhelming that I don’t really give a toss whether “the ABC” is biased or not. It’s marginally relevant.

    Even if there are lots of left-wingers around in the ABC, that admission shouldn’t be allowed to delete nuance. There’s a huge difference, for example, between TV (moderate to right) and RN (moderate to left, inasmuch as the labels mean that much at all). And then there’s the difference between left-wing bias (Philip Adams, God love him) and left wing presence (Terry Lane).

  35. I can cap that story about racism from non-whites. When I was child, our family lived briefly in the Congo. The blacks tried to kill all the whites. We (the Luluabourg white community) were rescued by Belgian paras after three days besieged in a block of flats.

    JQ, I was deploring your censoring of pro-Windshuttle contributions because it went further than insisting on a sincere search for truth on his part. In a manner worthy of Cardinal Ximenes himself, old Mr. error-has-no-rights, you made the test of truth whether or not Windshuttle came round to your point of view. The diligent search for truth must indeed allow for falsifiablity and such, i.e. remaining open to contrary evidence – but this was precisely what you were ruling out. You were unwilling to measure the seacrh for truth, which is a process relating to the truth, by any procedural test but only by whether the outcome of the search matched your pre-established position.

    While I agree that you have as much right to refuse to countenance arguments you dislike for emotional reasons as you would to bar Jehovah’s Witnesses from your home if you felt uncomfortable around them, nevertheless the reasons supplied would be more intellectually balanced if you applied the same restrictions in reverse. Yet, by implication – and despite the explicit statements made – you seemed to be allowing a much laxer standard from anti-Windshuttlers. To me, the only way you had to reconcile your personal comfort and intellectual rigour was to refuse any debate from either side, but merely state your own views for public reference and let debate flower wherever else on the blogosphere it could find a home.

  36. We are talking about the demise of an endangered species.
    ‘Left-wing’, commentators look close to becoming extinct. Though, I hate that term AND ‘right-wing’.

    Having total control of commercial media the ‘right’ ,I suspect, are working hard to close down debate completely.

  37. Speaking of ‘left v right’ I wonder how the Bushites will view the workings of democracy in Bolivia.
    With Morales being described as the U.S. ‘nightmare’ how long before another pinochet will be thrust upon a Democratic nation.

  38. James Sinnamon: “ABC journaiists should not be concerned about accusations of left wing bias, or even right wing bias, for that matter. They should just get on with the job of properly scrutinising all public figures be they of the right, left, centre, extreme centre, or wherever.”

    You sound incredibly naive James. With the Liberals in control of Government ABC journalists must be very concerned about perceptions of left-wing bias. Have you already forgotten Senator Alston and his claims of biased coverage of the Iraq War and the resultant inquiries? I seriously doubt any ABC employee can afford to be as blase as you suggest.

  39. Having total control of commercial media the ‘right’ ,I suspect, are working hard to close down debate completely.

    Thats like suggesting that the left has total control of the ABC or all government departments.

  40. Left vs Right is very unhelpful to everyone but it seems that there are different sets of values at work. The Reason that Mr Howard opened up the values debate last January was because he believes his values are the best. This is generally what characterises a racist, who insists that his/her values are universal ( as Bush did recently). Australia is not alone in this as others in this thread have observed.

    Those who are more interested in an evidence base rather than fundamentalist beliefs recognise that disenfranchisement and alienation are sure fire ways to create gang or tribal warfare. There is plenty of that in Australia both now and in the past. The Ned Kelly story is after all quintissentially Australian . Racism is very often about supporting conflict. Mr Howard has been very good at doing this along with President Bush. The one eyed support for sporting teams is a lesser variant of that phenomenon. Did someone mention cricket tragic?

    However we do have a problem of a generation of citizens brought to Australia to escape conflict. Their community’s strong group identity has meant they have been unable to find a happy place in the host country – the cultural attitude to women is a big impediment for some.

    Most Australian women have no interest in living in a Muslim country because of the restrictions put on women in those areas- women visiting those regions put on a veil to adhere to local customs but it is largely resented by those who are used to a great deal more freedom in choosing their clothes. Coolness and comfort are the important factors although fashion is another love. Hajibs are neither cool nor comfortable and restrict movement and airflow. They are rarely fashionable.

    We have leadership in this country that has shown itself incapable of responding in a way to these tensions to ensure peace. Was it coincidence that the riots at Cronulla took place immediately after the Terror and sedition laws were passed along with the Industrial Relations bill which has those with English as a Second Language at a clear disadvantage?

    An eruption was inevitable where relations are already strained through close living and poverty with an arrogance of the same kind Marlon Brando showed as a young man in the movies. Women don’t like the bullying that men have engaged in.

    Will a left/right debate help? Not as long as the Liberals maintain that their way must be imposed on everyone else.

    Mr Howard has reached a point where he is able to impose his will on the nation. We are in for rough times on left and right and both Muslim and Australianised women will be bullied and humiliated by men.

    If a community has young males separated from suitable women they will prey on women on beaches and in trains and in car parks when their culture derides independent women as prositutes for the way they dress and behave. The message that prostitutes are not worthy of respect and can be treated badly by men who couldn’t possibly be able to prevent themselves from this act as the women excite them through their dress. This argument was rejected by the wider community many years ago.

    The insanity of women determining that they can wear the hajib as a sign of modesty in deference to a religion which also shelters large uncontrolled gangs of dangerous young men whilst offending large sections, both men and women, of the nation is clear. A woman who walks down the street not only proclaiming her religion but her sex and her identification with the women observed on the TV supporting terrorists. It will be as a red rag to a bull to those who feel supported by Howard’s government.

    Women are low in priority of the Howard government. We can see the ads on TV but the worsening position of women in this country is there to see, whether left or right. Who will have the answer in a debate so vital to the country?

  41. 292. James Sinnamon Says:
    December 21st, 2005 at 12:32 am

    Steve Munn,

    It really comes down to whether or not you believe that journalists should do their job.

    Very few who cover Federal politics are, in fact, doing their job, rather they are dishoneslty helping this Govenment to create a facade of accountability whan, in fact, almost none exists.

    I think if any high profile journalist were to do his/her job consistently and persistently, to go on night after night asking the hard and difficult questions and to not be intimidated by this Government, it is more than likely that they would quickly gain a lot of support and respect from the Australian community.

    It would be by no means certain that even this Governmetn would come out on top if it tried to punitively retaliate against such a journalist.

    So, I think journalists actually do have a choice in these matters, and we should not be making excuses for them.

    Nearly all who are in a postion to hold this Government to account have, instead, opted for the easier path. This has helped to bring the state of Australian politics to the dismal state that it is in today.

  42. Dear oh dear.

    The head of the federal government’s new Fair Pay Commission was a director of a company that went broke, owing workers more than $700,000, according to a report.

    There were also concerns that the company of which economist Ian Harper was a director may have breached corporations law.

    …The ABC’s AM program today reported that Professor Harper, chosen by the government in October to head the Fair Pay Commission, was a director of the Australian Derivatives Exchange (ADX).

    ADX was a futures exchange that went into administration after just a few months of trading, amid concerns that it may have traded while insolvent.

  43. “The Reason that Mr Howard opened up the values debate last January was because he believes his values are the best. This is generally what characterises a racist, who insists that his/her values are universal”

    To believe in your values is racist? If you didn’t believe in them, they wouldn’t be your values, would they?
    As for universal , surely it is opposite. Someone who believed in one set of values for their own race and different values for another race, would be the racist.

  44. May have pushed it a little ,Terje, in my remarks. I withdraw on the matter of the ‘right’ having “total control” of commercial media. There is some token opposition to the current regime, amongst a few employed by Newscorp and Fairfax. Mostly cartoonists.

    Not sure, where you are going with the rest of your argument. Cheers

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