Thursday, October 30, 2008


During the election campaign last year, our esteemed PM, then Leader of the Opposition, appeared on the 7.30 Report and opined about the cost of his environmental plans.

KEVIN RUDD: In terms of the whole economy what the modelling from MMA demonstrates is that the total impact on the economy will be marginal over time. That is that they calculate that between now and about 2045 that you'd be looking at a total impact on the economy of somewhere between $600 and $800 million or something in the vicinity of $45 per person over that period of time or something like $1 per person per year.

That figure has since been revised. The cost now, according to new modelling done by the Treasury Department, is about a dollar a day.

HOUSEHOLDS are expected to pay on average $7 a week extra in electricity and gas bills once the Federal Government adopts an emissions trading scheme.

So, the cost has gone from a dollar a year to a dollar a day. There’s inflation for you.

Who will get hit the hardest?

Lower-income households are likely to be "slightly more affected'' by the
introduction of an emission price, according to the modelling, "as they generally spend a higher proportion of their disposable income on emission-intensive goods''.

The party of the working man indeed.
If the cost has risen by 354 times in 11 months, how much will the burden on the poor schmucks who elected him and his sniveling cronies be by the time the plan is introduced in 2010?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rachel Lucas can get in line like the rest of us.

Rachel Lucas wants to legalise gay marriage so she can marry Megyn Kelly. She needs to join at the back of the queue. Although to be honest, it would require a change in the law to allow polygamy. I'm cool with that. I'm not sure that Mrs Sharpe would be though. The video that has so swayed both her and my moral compass is below.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I have a confession to make.

In light of all the media attention on Sarah Palin’s wardrobe, it is time for me to make a confession. I spend my working day comfortably attired in clothing provided to me for free by the Australian taxpayer. It gets worse though. When those clothes start to get a bit worn and tatty, I just hand them over and I get brand new ones for free. I don’t pay a red cent. The Australian taxpayer covers the cost of my fashionable wardrobe. I know they are fashionable. I see the cool kids at the shops wearing them while they skateboard around the mums with 80 bags of shopping, two kids and a pram. Those suckers had to fork over their hard earned allowances to dress as well as I do. I get them for free!

It has been absolutely astonishing how readily I have been furnished with these taxpayer funded clothes. There was a new line introduced recently. They just gave me the new design. I didn’t have to ask. I didn’t even have to give my old ones up. It’s a rort I tell you. I was also recently preparing for a little business trip overseas. The clothes I had been given were the wrong colour, so they just gave me new ones in another colour. They were exactly the same as the other ones, just a different hue!

Sarah Palin has got nothing on me. Her clothes were purchased by her party, not the taxpayer, and they’ll be sold for charity at the end of the campaign. The taxpayer gives me my free clothes, and when I’m finished with them they get cut up into cleaning rags. You poor suckers, all bent out of shape because money donated to a political party is used to dress their candidate for the second highest job in the country, and all the while I swan around in clothes you paid for with no political aspirations at all. BWAHAHAHA!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

And this guy thought it appropriate to tell Americans how they should vote?

Russell Brand, the non-entity that no-one had heard of until he managed to offend all but the most partisan lefties at the MTV awards, has made the news again. It seems that he’s been prank calling British actor Andrew Sachs (AKA Manuel of Fawlty Towers), and making absolutely hilarious suggestions about how he’s slept with Sachs’ granddaughter. Funny stuff, I’m sure. This is the same guy who called Sarah Palin a VILF, George W. Bush a retarded cowboy, and Trig Palin a PR stunt. All of which absolutely convinces me the he is the man that Americans should be looking to in order to make the informed choice about which of the candidates will receive their vote. It’s all about the nuance, don’t you know?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Proud to be Australian

As a follow up from the post about the heroic actions of our SAS friend, here's a quick tune to remind us all of why we ought to be proud to be Australian. Enjoy.

h/t Blackfive

Friday, October 24, 2008

Suicide in the ADF

The Australian media have picked up on the common myth that the ADF is rife with bullied, suicidal soldiers. This old chestnut gets hauled out every time a member of the ADF commits suicide. Additionally, it gets wheeled out after every inquiry into said suicide, and then again when family members drag it up again. It’s a fairly natural response from members of the family who have lost a loved one. It’s a traumatic experience for all involved.

Whilst my heart goes out to anyone who has lost a family member or loved one through suicide, blaming the system is just an easy way out. Statistically, the ADF has a suicide rate about half that of the broader community. Given that the ADF targets and consists primarily of the peak demographic for suicide; that is an impressive achievement.

Admittedly, psychological screening on entry to the ADF does rule out some of those predisposed towards suicide, which would fudge the figures. On the other hand, members of the ADF are exposed to far greater stress situations than their civilian counterparts. By that, I’m not referring exclusively to the operational environment, as stressful as that is. There are also a number of other factors that create significant levels of stress and could lead to mental health problems.

The ADF targets its recruiting specifically at school leavers and young adults. The reason for that should be fairly self-evident. The training required to make the transition from civilian to soldier/sailor/airman is necessarily quite intense. These young people are taken out of their familiar environment and comfort zone, and exposed to a strict and sometimes overwhelming training environment designed specifically to prepare them for combat. Once that is complete, they are sent to another training institution for further development into their specific trade. Only then are they sent to a unit and life regains any semblance of normality, although that normality is not the world they left behind at the recruiting centre.

They are immersed in a world where discipline is key, where the chain of command controls almost every aspect of their lives. They are different people to what they once were. That is not to say they become inhuman. They will have friends like they never had before, people with whom they have conquered adversity and come out laughing on the other side. They are instilled with values like courage, initiative, teamwork and mateship.

At no stage in a military career can they expect to have what anyone else would refer to as a “normal” lifestyle. They are expected to maintain a high degree of fitness. An injury can cause serious career problems from that perspective. They can expect to move every 3-4 years, sometimes more frequently than that. Not across suburbs, but interstate and occasionally overseas, and often to remote locations away from their family and friends. They can expect even in peacetime to be away from home for extended periods for exercises or courses. They can expect to work long hours for no additional remuneration. They can expect that as defence tries to save more money each year, that they will fill two or even three jobs at the same time. Then there is operational service.

Operational tours cause a whole raft of difficulties just in and of themselves. Six to eight months overseas in a dangerous environment with limited ability to communicate with loved ones and in almost always very basic living conditions is difficult enough. Throw in actual combat or situations that are beyond the realm of rational understanding, and it only gets worse. That is why significant effort is made to screen all returning servicemen for psychological trauma during and after a deployment, but no routine program will ever identify every problem that lies dormant in the subconscious.

That is why military training institutions are hard. They are designed to be so that they can prepare, as much as humanly possible, a person for the career they’ve chosen. It says a lot about the military in this country that even accounting for initial entry screening, the rate of suicide is still half that of the rest of the community. Remember that ADF members, whilst exposed to all of these additional stressors, are also still people, and will experience all of the usual emotional disasters that befall the rest of the community. Relationships will fail (more so than outside the military for all of the reasons stated above), there will be deaths in the family, and poor financial decisions will cause additional hardship.

There are a number of support mechanisms in the ADF to help people deal with all of these additional burdens. The Defence Community Organisation exists to help families cope with the demands of service life. There are equity advisers in every unit and formation and are outside of the chain of command to deal with complaints about harassment, bullying or unfair treatment. There are people trained specifically in suicide prevention. There is a medical system that is trained to deal with mental illness and a dedicated Australian Army Psychology Corps (with appropriate counterparts in the other two services). There are philanthropic organisations like the Salvation Army and the Everyman who deploy to the field and even overseas sometimes. There is the circle of mates that only ever grows throughout your time in the service, and of course there are the Padres.

The padres deserve their own special mention. Chaplains in the ADF are a very special breed. The churches of the world could take a leaf out of their book for the advancement of humankind. They live and breathe ecumenicalism. The unit padre might be a Catholic and you a Protestant, Jew, Buddhist, Muslim, or devout Atheist; he couldn’t care less. When your world is turned upside down by absolutely anything from a fight with the missus to a close mate dying in your arms, the Padre will be the first by your side. He is often as filthy, wet and tired as you are, but he’ll make a hot brew and listen to you pour your heart out. He has powers that other officers couldn’t even comprehend. He’ll shirtfront Generals if need be, to see a problem resolved. Anyone who says that they had no one to turn to with a problem whilst serving in the ADF is either ignorant or lying, and from personal experience, it is very hard to be ignorant of the existence of the Chaplain.

Bullying does exist in the ADF, like it exists in any other workplace. Sometimes there is a fine line between discipline from a superior and bullying. Sometimes there is a fine line between training and bullying. It is worse in training institutions because they are necessarily hard. Some examples of workplace bullying have led to suicide. That is tragic. To tar the whole ADF for the few and isolated instances where that has taken place is ignorant, inaccurate, unfair and just plain lazy.

bingbing gets all musical 'n' stuff

Over at Tizona's, bingbing is having a whimsical day posting some of his his favourite music clips. Yours truly gets a shout out as well.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Take a VC out of petty cash

If this guy doesn't win a VC, there is no justice left in the system. Bravo Zulu brave son of ANZAC.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hypocrisy or just blatant stupidity?

Listening to 4ZZZ is a bit like intercepting enemy transmissions that happen to be broadcast in clear. The latest cause is the upcoming Land Warfare Conference in Brisbane 27-31 Oct 08. They plan to try and stop the event taking place, much like they managed to achieve in Adelaide. If they can’t achieve that, they’ll be protesting outside the Brisbane Convention Centre for the duration of the conference. You’ve really got to admire their idealism naiveté stupidity. Do they really think that by protesting at a conference, they will deny the ADF the opportunity to discuss the future of Land Warfare, and by default, stop war from happening? Do they really think that by protesting at a conference they will stop DSTO and DMO from trialling and procuring new weapon systems for the ADF? Do they think that by denying the ADF the best in modern weaponry that they will prevent the ADF from doing the job that the government (currently a flavour they are so very fond of) dictates to it?

The next activity on the calendar is a workshop (I detest that term; words have meanings, a workshop is not a place where hippies gather to talk shit) that will deal with plans to make Qld nuclear free, and to discuss plans for disrupting Exercise Talisman Sabre 09, the biennial exercise between the ADF and the US.

I must confess to being a little conflicted about that one. If they have their way and get the exercise cancelled, it will save me months of work and several weeks living in the dirt at Shoalwater Bay. On the other hand, the exercise will provide the ADF and our US allies to exercise in a relatively benign environment before teaming up to do the real thing in far less accommodating environs. I also just can’t bring myself to put my own comfort and laziness over the dual prospect of seeing the ADF denied the biggest training activity for the next two years, and seeing reality starved hippies get their way.

The twisted logic of these people has managed to determine that a conference held by the sworn servants of their elected officials to improve the capability of the taxpayer funded ADF is something that should be shut down, but a workshop (aaarrgh!) to plan subversive activities to disrupt an exercise endorsed by the elected officials of the people of Australia, held the very next weekend, is fine and attendance should be encouraged. Power to the people, man!

In the interest of fairness, I propose that people in Brisbane opposed to the plans of the appeasers at Peace Convergence form their own protest group. I’m thinking the People Against Convergence Organisation. We could stage our own rally at the convention centre demanding the right of our elected officials and their legitimate employees and business partners to discuss better options for the employment of the ADF. We could also demand that they cancel their workshop smoke-in because it plans to hinder the operational capability of the ADF, impact on the capability of the ADF to operate in conjunction with our major ally, and deny Queenslanders the option of a cheaper and cleaner source of energy.

On second thoughts, I have better things to be doing on my weekend than trying to thwart the plans of an irrelevant and impotent fringe group.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tim Blair over-reacts

Whilst I am normally a big fan of Tim Blair, he might have gone a little overboard in his recent post about Sarah Palin’s fictitious encounter with Terry Tate. That is not to excuse the other fairly vicious material he highlights in his post, but the Terry Tate thing is a long running gag. Whilst violence against women is always particularly nasty, a little perspective here may be in order. We’ve been poking the opposition recently about an inability to see the humorous side of things, so in the interest of balance, here’s the Terry Tate story.

Terry Tate – Office Linebacker

Terry Tate – Vacation

Terry Tate – Draft Day

Terry Tate – Sensitivity Training (a personal favourite)

Terry Tate - OSPN

Monday, October 20, 2008

A beacon of hope

In a world where daring to ask a question of a politician is sufficient cause for a gross invasion of privacy, and it is OK for the media to solicit schoolgirls for inside dirt on the wife of a presidential candidate, but it is somehow racist to apply that same scrutiny to an actual candidate, there is some good left after all.

The concept of a “fair go” has been hijacked by all sorts of malcontents over recent years, but it is uplifting to know that real examples of giving someone a real fair go still exist. Even if this is an American example, it really typifies what a fair go is all about. It will warm the cockles of your heart.

I’m also moved to sit down and watch the LOTR extended edition following Rachel Lucas’ stirring post.

Hold your ground! Hold your ground!

Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers,I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.

A day may come when the courage of men fails,when we forsake our friendsand break all bonds of fellowship,but it is not this day.

An hour of wolves and shattered shields,when the age of men comes crashing down,but it is not this day!

This day we fight!!

By all that you hold dear on this good Earth,I bid you stand, Men of the West!!!

I’m such a geek at times.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Open Thread

The Debunking military myths thread got a little sidetracked, so here is an open thread to post bawdy Infantry drinking songs, or bawdy Rugby drinking songs, or if you feel the need to raise the bar; poems, stories or reflections.

I have the Monster-In-Law in this weekend. Pray for me!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Debunking military myths

Boy on a Bike has an updated post about the Soldiers podcast on Counterpoint. In his post he discusses the continuing fallacy that the military is almost exclusively recruited from the working class. I agree with him on that point. In my decade and a half of experience, most soldiers are from middle class families. Most are educated to at least Year 10, and a significant proportion to Year 12. There are also quite a number with tertiary qualifications, and not just in the commissioned ranks either. It is not unusual for an officer to have fewer academic qualifications than some of his subordinates. Whilst there is some acceptance in the wider community that this is true of the ADF, there persists the perception that the US Army is made up of the poorest of America’s citizens who view the military as a way out of squalor and poverty. This is true in some cases. Information is publicly available from the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank in the US, that refutes the belief that the US Army is primarily recruited from lower income brackets. This graph shows a breakdown of the neighbourhoods that US soldiers are recruited from. It clearly shows that the lowest income bracket neighbourhoods contribute 11%, whereas 25% come from the wealthiest. The graph also shows a progressive rise in the number of recruits as the income bracket goes up.

But what does that information mean? It fairly comprehensively refutes the myth that military service is a last resort for people unable to forge a career in other areas, as well as the myth that it is primarily made up of people who see it as their only avenue of escape from abject poverty. It means that there is something else that draws young people of all backgrounds to service. Are they just too stupid, despite their family’s wealth, to have any other career? This graph would suggest otherwise. It shows enlisted recruits outperforming their civilian counterparts in the qualifying testing than their civilian counterparts in all but the highest and lowest brackets. It should be noted that 20% of the civilians tested scored in the lowest bracket, but the military representation is exactly 0%, although it probably indicates a recruiting standard more than anything else. Is the US military exploiting minority groups to attain recruiting targets? Quite simply no, this graph breaks down the percentage of recruits by identified racial group as a proportion of the whole US population. Variances between the two figures are minor, with the exception of Native American/Alaskan, which is nearly three times the general population. That is an interesting statistic.

All this ties in with an argument I’ve been having with a former Australian National Serviceman, about motivations for soldiers in combat. The data indicates that a vast majority of military personnel have alternatives to military service. This means that they have chosen the military, not out of desperation, but out of a sense of duty, or pride, or morality, or honour, or all of the above. It means that soldiers are not the tools of exploitative governments, but willing volunteers who see service as a reward unto itself. They will serve their country, be separated from their families and loved ones, and even sustain wounds or die in combat because they see it as the right thing to do.

There are those whose ability to separate soldiers from the decisions of their political masters rests on the premise that they are somehow pawns, that they were too poor to do anything else, or they were coerced into service. This negates their moral responsibility for their participation in a controversial conflict. That is not the case. Soldiers are responsible for their own decision to enlist, in the full knowledge that they may be required to do violence on Her Majesty’s behalf. They are the servants of the Australian people. They fully understand their role. They will conduct operations, violent and deadly if necessary and mandated, against Australia’s enemies as dictated by her elected government. Whilst the government are the elected representative of the Australian people, soldiers will do what the government tells them to. This is not a surrender of their own conscience or intellect, but the acceptance of their role as servants of the people.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An ABC interview about soldiers

Boy on a Bike has a link to this discussion on Counterpoint, an ABC Radio programme with Michael Duffy. John Farrell is the founder of Australia and New Zealand Defender, a magazine that follows Australian soldiers throughout the spectrum of military operations and exercises. It is an interesting conversation. Duffy displays some of the tired old cliché beliefs about the military and the US, but to his credit, does actually ask some engaging questions and tries to get his head around what Farrell is telling him. I’m not completely sold on Farrell’s point about soldiers enlisting to seek adventure, but otherwise he seems to have a good handle on what’s going on for a journalist and ex-reservist. He makes some very good points about Rules of Engagement (ROE), and their impact on operations, and about some of the environmental conditions that soldiers on operations deal with. Well worth a listen. h/t Boy on a Bike.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The importance of studying history

Over at Bolta’s, Andrew discusses an Op-Ed by New York Times columnist Frank Rich that accuses the McCain Campaign of pumping up “Weimar-like rage at McCain-Palin rallies”. Now, Bolta does a fair job of refuting these claims and then slips the quick ball on the inside to Michelle Malkin who storms through the middle and deals with the real Germany circa 1930’s campaign. Kae in the other hand is discussing the new Australian history curriculum over at Bloodnut Blog. How are these two issues related? In using the Weimar Republic to evoke an image of rampant hate fuelled rallies, Rich is demonstrating a poor understanding of what the Weimar Republic actually was and therefore invalidates his own point.

The Weimar Republic was the democratically elected government of post-war Germany. One of the new Republic’s first acts was to sign the Versailles Treaty, which accepted responsibility for the First World War, which led to the disarmament of Germany, and the acceptance of responsibility for the massive war reparations demanded by the allies. This led to the hyper-inflation and massive unemployment that gave the Nazi Party a fertile ground for their own rise to power which, coincidentally, saw the end of the Weimar Republic.

Rich has just used a cool sounding German word to push his point about the McCain/Palin rallies. This historical inaccuracy by a columnist for the New York Times proves how important a real understanding of history really is. History is all about cause and effect. To understand that there needs to be a chronological and fact based approach to teaching history. For students in the free west, that means a detailed and sequential study of the significant events and personalities that led to the society we enjoy today. That also means a significant European and specifically British bias, for the simple reason that the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and a host of other nations all owe their political freedoms to the evolution of British democracy and then the rise and fall of the British Empire.

For Australian students, that means studying British history from the fall of the Roman Empire, through the rise of the monarchy, the Magna Carta, the Reformation, the English Civil War, and the rise of the Empire. This leads straight into the American Revolution which created a need for another penal colony, hence New South Wales. At that point Australian history should be focussed on the opening of the Blue Mountains, exploration of the continent, the establishment of the colonies, the Gold Rush, the Shearer’s Strike, and the colonial wars abroad. None of this can be viewed in isolation though. The Royal Navy’s campaign against slavers, the American Civil War, and the Industrial Revolution all impacted on Australia’s development. When looking at the 20th Century, Australian students should study our involvement in both world wars, the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency and Confrontation, the Vietnam War, East Timor and the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns. Whilst students should know what Australians did in these major events, they cannot be studied in isolation. International factors drove Australia’s involvement, and so should be studied. That would include the inter-war period in Germany, the Weimar Republic, and the rise of National Socialism.

Hopefully then, no Australian student would confuse the Weimar with whatever it was that Rich was trying to say.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Motivation for war

1735099, a former Nasho and general pain in the arse, has a review of Paul Ham’s “On War” from the Weekend Australian Magazine from 4 Oct at his site. The article includes one of the most pretentious and demeaning memes about military service.
"We were fighting for our lives and the lives of our mates" seems to be the most common thread that binds men in battle.

Whilst I acknowledge that in times gone by, young men would enlist because it was the thing to do, or because all their mates were and they didn’t want to be left behind. The days of the massive armies made up of rapidly mobilised civilian populations are now behind us. Modern professional armies are made up of volunteers. Not volunteers who enlist for the duration of hostilities, but career minded young men and women who are fully aware of the ramifications of their decision to join.

"We were fighting for our lives and the lives of our mates" is a very narrow approach to the motivation for soldiers to fight. By scorning the more altruistic ideals behind military service, it actually demeans ability of soldiers to rationalise their involvement in conflict. Whilst the example of conscripts like 1735099 provides a convenient escape clause for ownership of a decision process that led them to war, the same generalisation cannot be made for the Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts. The soldiers fighting in those theatres are volunteers. They enlisted with the knowledge that going to war may be required of them. To focus on the immediate and visceral reaction to combat oversimplifies a broader understanding that the modern soldier has about his role in any operation. It is an attempt to paint soldiers as pawns rather than the masters of their own destiny and the bearers of responsibility for their own decisions. By so doing, it comes across as the condescending and paternal reassurances from our “intellectual betters” that assume that because we’d be involved in a conflict that they see as repugnant, the only answer that doesn’t lead to the same sort of horrendous treatment of soldiers that the veterans of the Vietnam War experienced, is that we are too stupid to know better. The motivation for going is that all our friends are. The only reason we fight is because we are in the immediate danger that the “evil government” put us in and we are defending our own life and those of our mates. It is demeaning, condescending and insulting.

We know why we deploy to these places. We know the geo-political manoeuvrings that put us there. We know the historical and cultural roots of the conflict. We know our mission and our role in it. I am yet to receive a deployment briefing that runs along the lines of “You are going to country X in order to protect your own life and the lives of your mates”. Those are what we call implied tasks. They are important, but never the primary mission for any deployment. They are also usually the first questions asked; our ROE hold a very important role in the maintenance of morale. Overly restrictive ROE in dangerous situations makes people tense. Rwanda, specifically Kibeho, is a textbook example of that. Even that example though, of soldiers in the heat of the moment concerned with protecting their own life and those of their mates, were able to clearly see the more important concern was for the civilian populace caught up in those terrible events. They are now horribly traumatised by that experience, not because of the danger that they were in, but because they were denied the opportunity to serve the greater good in accordance with the altruistic ideals that they believed they were there to implement. To reduce those experiences to "We were fighting for our lives and the lives of our mates" cheapens their suffering and ascribes to them a baser level of their understanding of their own involvement than is painfully evident to even the most naive observer.

That does not obviate the primal desire to protect your own life, nor does it the quintessentially Australian ideal of prizing mateship above all. These things are highest in mind when rounds are cracking nearby, although concern for one’s mates doesn’t end when the adrenalin fades either, it is often in the most mundane that the true regard for and from our mates is evident. To condense that into the rationale for involvement in conflict or to ascribe to it the thematic principle of operational service misses the point. Without a higher purpose, fighting for your life and your mates overseas is no better than thugs who will do the same in a pub or back alley on a Friday night. Servicemen and women who accept the risks of joining the military and who serve the ideals of the mission when deployed deserve better than "We were fighting for our lives and the lives of our mates".

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Aussie Pride

A furore has erupted over the Logan City Council’s insistence that an ex-soldier remove the Australian flag from his front yard following complaints by a neighbour that it was “offensive”. The council then back flipped, with the Mayor declaring that "I am offended that somebody should complain to the council about the Australian flag, and whoever they are should hang their head in shame." Never underestimate petty bureaucracy though, a “council spokeswoman said there was a concern the flagpole could fall down in high winds. She said Mr Wilson, who is a salesman, needed a building permit, because the pole was only 4.5m from the kerb and, under the Queensland Development Code, it should be at least 6m from the front.”

That the Logan City Council were even willing to entertain a complaint that an Australian flag is somehow “offensive” speaks volumes about the slippery slope we are on to becoming Britain.

What rapidly got out of hand was the comments thread following the article. Some people lacked any reading comprehension ability, not being able to differentiate between the neighbour’s complaint about the “offensive” Australian flag, and the bureaucratic pedantry about the siting of the flag pole. Comments are as posted on the website, I take no responsibility for any spelling, grammatical, factual or logical errors contained therein.

Good point Hebs and Stuart, The provocative headline creates a stir, with subtle racist tones. But then....we get a story about not conforming to planning guidelines. Can we just have the news without the manufactured hype, please.
Posted by: Lisa of Geelong 9:39am today Comment 110 of 289

If the media were more accurate in their reporting, we would all know the whole truth that the flag pole was offensive (rattling guide ropes etc) not the Flag!!
Posted by: BARRY WALKER of Gold Coast 9:38am today Comment 109 of 289

Its amazing how many people dont take the time to actually read the story but rather go on what the sensational headline reads . People, its all about the safety of the flagpole please read the full story.
Posted by: Karen 9:37am today Comment 108 of 289

Then we get the people who see the flag as a symbol of division rather than unity. These people completely miss the point that the Union Jack in the Australian flag is not a symbol of Anglo-Saxon superiority, but of a link to our national roots. By that I mean that we are a former British colony, and now a Constitutional Monarchy with HM QEII as Queen of Australia. We have a Westminster style Parliament and our legal system is based on the Common Law. The flag acknowledges that. These people (among many others I may add) don’t seem to get that.

Personally I find the Australian flag very offensive. It contains the Union Jack which is a symbol of slavery and I think it makes our immigrants / muslim friends feel uncomfortable.
Posted by: d of Sydney 9:24am today Comment 97 of 289

Slavery? Awesome! The Royal Navy sure did nothing about that! d of Sydney also obviously didn’t get the memo about not mentioning the “M” word.

There is an part of the Australian flag that too find offensive, the part with the Union Jack on it. We need to be an Direct Election Republic with a new accompanying flag.
Posted by: John Iurincich 10:29am today Comment 152 of 289

Flying the current Australian flag is hardly "patriotic" - I find it particularly disrespectful to our abORIGINAL owners who have suffered enormous social injustices UNDER that same flag people "proudly" wave. If anything, it should be a flag of shame and replaced with a modern 21st century flag which is inclusive of people from all lands and creeds.
Posted by: Steve 11:06am today Comment 179 of 289

The “abORIGINAL” people have a flag Steve, it is representative of a very small portion of our population and is exclusive and divisive. That still doesn’t take the moonbat award though, read on. The other meme that got a good airing was that to be a proud Australian is to be a racist. Given the current US Presidential race, I’m starting to think that racism is a term that morons use to fill the space between other words, a bit like a Tourette’s sufferer with no medical condition to excuse the behaviour

Is this just another media beat up to try and increase racism? I have been astonished at the number of storys like this lately that seem intent on causing rifts in communities. There has been numerous storys published and broadcast of the last couple of weeks that seem intent on causing resentment towards immigrants and other nations.
Posted by: aussie born and bred of melbourne 9:34am today Comment 106 of 289

It is offensive, because the message that it send is that some are more Australians than the others. I am hoping that is not also a racist gesture, given the abuse of flag in Cronulla riot.
Posted by: A. A. 9:35am today Comment 107 of 289

wonder if this man has been making racist remarks to others in his neighbourhood, and then put the flag up to make a point. In that case he was misusing the flag and what it stands for and therefore making it offensive. We don't seem to get both sides of the story here....
Posted by: Cee Cee of Sydney 9:50am today Comment 119 of 289

Nate of Woolongong takes both the Dale Carnegie and the Godwin’s prize for these two gems.

like being in the army is a real job COME ON! only if you have no skills and like killing poor people! fly that flag!!! be proud...
Posted by: Nate of Wollongong 10:44am today Comment 167 of 289

,(Not me by the way, I didn’t wade into this quagmire) i pretty sure some jews found the Nazi flag offensive... and i'm pretty sure some PROUD germans said "love it or leave it"
Posted by: Nate of Wollongong 10:47am today Comment 169 of 289

Second place for utter moonbattery goes to Ginger for proposing that we surrender our own culture to accommodate those who have left other countries to embrace what Australia has to offer.

We live in a multi-cultural society and must respect the wishes of our new friends from other places of the world in our neighborhood. It's just a flag - take it down for the sake of community harmony.
Posted by: Ginger 10:58am today Comment 176 of 289

First place has to go to Sarah from Brisbane for mind-boggling naiveté.

Patriotism is overrated. If there were no military organisations there would be more war. If there were no political boundaries there would be no war. There is more that is needed but that would be a start. We're all human beings why fight, why cause feelings of disparity by raising a flag?
Posted by: Sarah of BNE 10:14am today Comment 138 of 289

Proud Australians all.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Military Intelligence is often cited as the default example of an oxymoron. Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has bettered this example when discussing Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith’s recent pessimistic statements that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable. According to The Australian, “Mr Fitzgibbon agreed the door should be open for political negotiations with Taliban moderates”. What differentiates a Taliban moderate from an extremist? Are they prepared to allow girls to go to school, but not allow them to learn? Will they fill soccer stadiums with crowds of jubilant Jihadists, line up all of the homosexuals, apostates, adulterers and women who have allowed a man other than their father or brother to see their face, and cut their heads of just a little bit?

A Taliban Moderate

Why, after nearly seven years of war in Afghanistan, when the Taliban are hiding in caves in the mountains, fleeing into Pakistan to evade coalition arse-whoopin’, and are splintered and disorganised, would the Australian Defence Minister be talking about a negotiated peace? The reason we went into Afghanistan in the first place was to oust a regime that had harboured Bin Liner and his cronies and provided them with a safe haven to train for and plan the September 11 attacks on the US. Are these the same “moderates” that the Defence Minister now thinks should be invited to the negotiation table to discuss their future role in the governance of Afghanistan?

The military will not provide a comprehensive victory in Afghanistan. There will be no triumphant parade through Kabul announcing the cessation of hostilities. Any workable peace for that troubled country must involve a political element. The Afghan people deserve a functioning political system that will provide the stability they need to begin the rebuilding process. There is no room in that political process for medieval thugs. To do so would only give them access again to political power, and Afghanistan would suffer for it.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mother of all conspiracy theories

There really is the most amazing stuff on the internet. I thought that this Flat Earth Forum was a bit of a piss-take initially. It even makes reference to the four elephants and a turtle of Discworld fame. It does seem to go quite in depth though. If they are having a lend, they’ve gone to a lot of effort. The premise seems to be that the Earth hurtles upward through space creating an inertial force that we call gravity. The Sun and the Moon orbit the Earth, and a giant ice wall in Antarctica keeps the ocean from falling off. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sexism in naming conventions

I had a little disagreement with a former teacher and “person who used to be in charge of a school” about grammar and naming conventions over at Blair’s. He took umbrage with my use of the word headmaster, and claimed that it was sexist. Now, when I went to school, an appointment with the Headmaster usually meant bad things. For the sake of disclosure, I went to an all male school. We had a sister school across town .They had a Headmistress with an equally cantankerous reputation. The respect that these two people engendered in the student body had nothing to do with the name of the title they held, but from the power and responsibility that came with the position.

On those occasions when both schools came together for social interaction, the boys didn’t sit in a corner and snigger that the Headmistress was a woman and therefore deserving of ridicule. We ran a mile to avoid confrontation with a successful and powerful woman who would see us for the lustful little teenagers intent on pushing our luck with the delightful girls in her charge that we were. So why then is a term for a respected position incompatible with modern language? What is the point of androgenising all language to obfuscate gender? In the PC world imposed upon us, terms and names that are gender specific have become outdated or even offensive in the drive to promote women as the equals of men. This seems to me to be a contradiction. Women are every bit men’s equals. Why then are we ashamed to promote the fact that a woman, rather than a man, might be involved in an endeavour?

Take for example, the use of the term chairperson. If a man holds that position, he is a chairman. If a woman holds the position, she is a chairperson. Why can’t she be a chairwoman? What is wrong with acknowledging the gender of the person who holds the position? The other one that annoys me is the use of the term actor for both male and female practitioners of that art form. What is wrong with identifying a female performer as an actress? I realise that in the early days of Hollywood, actresses were exploited. I also acknowledge the rationale behind the move for actresses to become actors in order to put themselves on equal footing with men. The problem is that changing language does not change reality. You could demand that I refer to dog shit as luxurious carpeting, but that doesn’t change my innate desire not to step in it. Now, I don’t mean that to infer that women are dog shit, quite the contrary. Women didn’t achieve better remuneration, conditions and recognition by changing the name of their job title. They did it by demanding those things and having the talent and dedication to back it up. Most of that was achieved whilst they were still calling themselves actresses. Adopting the masculine title didn’t make them better at their jobs, it just confused language. We now have categories of awards for best male and best female actor. If the move to a single title was a move towards an equal recognition of talent, why the two categories? Why not just have an Oscar for the best actor, regardless of gender?

All that is not to say that English is not an evolving language. There are words that quite rightly have been done away with. They are words that cannot be used in any other way than to invoke evil. The “N” word is an example of that, despite its continued use in it’s former target. Gender specific terms do not in themselves cast judgement or incite ill will. They can be used just as positively as they can be negatively. To consign them to the dustbin of history, along with thee and thou, only robs our language of accuracy and denies women the same right men have to be successful in their own right.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Crushing dissent

I raised the issue of Gwen Ifill at the post at LP about the VP debate. After the screaming howler monkeys had thrown their poo, I thought I might actually be making inroads into the discussion. Apparently not, it seems there is no room in a thread about the VP debate to discuss the conflict of interest of the moderator, and it is really a forum to throw poo at Sarah Palin. My mistake.

Modern-Day Trafalgar

It seems that it is Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson’s 250th birthday (h/t Blair), or at least it would have been if he hadn’t died at Trafalgar and then somehow managed to stay alive for 250 years. I’d love to claim credit for this, but it was an email. Enjoy.

Modern-Day Trafalgar

Nelson: "Order the signal, Hardy."
Hardy: "Aye, aye sir."
Nelson: "Hold on, that's not what I dictated to the signal officer. What's the meaning of this?"
Hardy: "Sorry sir?"
Nelson (reading aloud): "England expects every person to do his duty, regardless of race, gender, sexual
orientation, religious persuasion or disability". "What gobbledygook is this?"
Hardy: "Admiralty policy, I'm afraid, sir. We're an equal opportunities employer now. We had the devil's
own job getting 'England' past the censors, lest it be considered racist."
Nelson: "Gadzooks, Hardy. Hand me my pipe and tobacco."
Hardy: "Sorry sir. All naval vessels have been designated smoke-free working environments."
Nelson: "In that case, break open the rum ration. Let us splice the main brace to steel the men before
Hardy: "The rum ration has been abolished, Admiral. Its part of the Government's policy on binge
Nelson: "Good heavens, Hardy. I suppose we'd better get on with it ..full speed ahead."
Hardy: "I think you'll find that there's a 4 knot speed limit in this stretch of water."
Nelson: "Damn it man! We are on the eve of the greatest sea battle in history. We must advance with all
dispatch. Report from the crow's nest please."
Hardy: "That won't be possible, sir."
Nelson: "What?"
Hardy: "Health and safety have closed the crow's nest, sir. No harness. And they said that rope ladder
doesn't meet regulations. They won't let anyone up there until a proper scaffolding can be erected."
Nelson: "Then get me the ship's carpenter without delay, Hardy."
Hardy: "He's busy knocking up a wheelchair access to the fo'c'sle Admiral."
Nelson: "Wheelchair access? I've never heard anything so absurd."
Hardy: "Health and safety again, sir. We have to provide a barrier-free environment for the differently
Nelson: "Differently abled? I've only one arm and one eye and I refuse even to hear mention of the word.
I didn't rise to the rank of admiral by playing the disability card."
Hardy: "Actually, sir, you did. The Royal Navy is under-represented in the areas of visual impairment
and limb deficiency."
Nelson: "Whatever next? Give me full sail. The salt spray beckons."
Hardy: "A couple of problems there too, sir. Health and safety won't let the crew up the rigging without
hard hats. And they don't want anyone breathing in too much salt - haven't you seen the adverts?"
Nelson: "I've never heard such infamy. Break out the cannon and tell the men to stand by to engage the
Hardy: "The men are a bit worried about shooting at anyone, Admiral."
Nelson: "What? This is mutiny."
Hardy: "It's not that, sir. It's just that they're afraid of being charged with murder if they actually kill
anyone. There's a couple of legal-aid lawyers on board, watching everyone like hawks."
Nelson: "Then how are we to sink the Frenchies and the Spanish?"
Hardy: "Actually, sir, we're not."
Nelson: "We're not?"
Hardy: "No, sir. The Frenchies and the Spanish are our European partners now. According to the
Common Fisheries Policy, we shouldn't even be in this stretch of water. We could get hit with a claim for
Nelson: "But you must hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil."
Hardy: "I wouldn't let the ship's diversity co-ordinator hear you saying that sir. You'll be up on
Nelson: "You must consider every man an enemy, who speaks ill of your King."
Hardy: "Not any more, sir. We must be inclusive in this multicultural age. Now put on your Kevlar vest;
it's the rules. It could save your life"
Nelson: "Don't tell me - health and safety. Whatever happened to rum, sodomy and the lash?"
Hardy: As I explained, sir, rum is off the menu! And there's a ban on corporal punishment."
Nelson: "What about sodomy?"
Hardy: "I believe that is now legal, sir."
Nelson: "In that case ...kiss me, Hardy".

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What bias? What conflict of interest?

The moderator for the Vice-Presidential Debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden has been named. Gwen Ifill will be the “impartial” moderator for the event. Michelle Malkin investigates her impartiality, particularly in light of the fact that she has a book due to be released on 20 Jan 09, coincidentally the date of the inauguration of the next POTUS, called The Breakthrough – Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. Would the author of such a book have any vested interest in seeing Senator Obama reciting the oath of office? Is there any way that there could be the slightest perception of bias against Governor Palin?