Ah people, so many horse droppings out there and it is only going to get worse…

As captured brilliantly this morning by Loon Pond responding to the Australian.

The bullshit is coming thick and fast in Pravda these days as SloMo and the reptiles head into full-scale Pravda election mode …

First there was the crap announcement relating to EVs – so many installations, so few EVs – and today comes this pork-barreling boondoggle, though the pond has yet to discover whether a supply of whiteboards was included in the proposed costing … 

Indeed. on FB last night I responded to a Sydney Morning Herald story whose headline was: Morrison flicks switch to campaign mode:

Asked by journalists if his previous views on electric cars were “silly, shortsighted or just a lie?”, Morrison did what he does best: went full throttle at Labor and, in doing so, gave a new insight into how he will frame the next election.

To that I replied: Yeah, I noticed and I found the “switch to campaign mode” so obvious, so calculated, and frankly so ineffective as a deflection from his own idiocy on EVs last election, that it was just plain irritating — the spin and sales pitch being far more important to him than the substance — which was sadly minimal really. Today I added: Here we go again as the badly damaged Morrison resorts to what he does best — spin and manipulation — to wedge his opponents wherever possible so he can cling to power. The substance is lacking.

And here is a nice mashup of Morrison’s form!

Yes it worked for him before…

I have to say that I was in full manifesto mode on FB this morning. There was an item from a Green site that triggered me:

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND — Scotland’s second city has rolled out the green carpet to world leaders and thousands of delegates arriving for climate talks.

The city and its leaders have been eager to present a green image of Glasgow over COP26, with advertisements and billboards across town promoting its climate-friendly projects and initiatives. 

However, Glasgow remains home to major polluting companies, and historically played a significant role in triggering both industrialism and colonial expansion — with profound effects for people and the environment.

To get a better understanding of the city’s legacy, DeSmog tagged along to an activist-led tour organised by Brussels based advocacy group, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and local activists at Glasgow Calls Out Polluters. Their goal was to expose Glasgow’s darker side as highlighted by important city landmarks, along with speakers including climate and racial justice activists and frontline communities from the global south discussing the current impacts of the city’s activities.

So I fired back:

Honestly, while I often proudly accept the word “woke” for much that I say, and hate tribal badges like “virtue signalling” trotted out regularly by the dinosaurs and reactionaries of this world, I also abhor these games of historical goodies and baddies, this search for black and white hats in a complex and to a degree irrecoverable past. It does smack of self-righteousness, of the puritan mindset, of a yearning for a binary solution to everything.

What we need in both the study of history and in addressing the massive problems of the climate crisis is a willingness to see and cope with complexity, with ambiguity, with imperfection — to borrow from an old as the hills and totally unfashionable aim of literary criticism — and I would say of life — and to paraphrase Matthew Arnold: to see things steadily and to see them whole.

Our goodies and baddies binary politics fails us again and again. So in some ways this article gives me the sh*ts, as do others like it. Which is not to deny that much in it is true. I simply ask: OK, fine — but how exactly does this help?

That emerges also from much of my recent reading on such things as the “history wars” — and it is genuinely where I am coming from. Some of you may hate it, but I really have been thinking on such lines for sixty years now. So there you are.

But before leaving environmental issues I will toss this one in, Makes sense to me.

Monday night brought another Media Watch! A cracker! A brilliant episode of one of the best things on Australian TV — or any world TV! Protect our ABC from the attack dogs of the Right,

Hello, I’m Paul Barry, welcome to Media Watch.

And that was the news that brought joy to the nation: four-year-old Cleo Smith found safe and well after she went missing from a WA campsite for 18 days.

And as reporters beamed in from Carnarvon to deliver the joyful news, viewers at home were treated to this heartwarming image.

And soon enough, politicians on both sides of the aisle were scrambling to insert themselves into the nation’s hottest photo op, with PM Scott Morrison tweeting within minutes: “Our prayers answered.”…

Seven was among the first to name the suspect, the first to get the details and certainly the first to show his face:

BEN DOWNIE: We know right now he’s still in hospital and Cleo’s been taken out of hospital. She’s now with her family. And the reason why Terrance Kelly was taken to hospital, you can see some pictures of bandage wrapped around his hands because of self-harming inside his jail cell in the middle when he was being interrogated by police.

– Seven News at 4 (Sydney), 3 November, 2021

Yes, not just a name but multiple photos of the accused on the Sydney bulletin….

The true owner of that face is now suing Channel 7. You guessed it — a monumental case of mistaken identity which sure had an effect. Consider this thread from my FB feed at the time.

All because 7 was chasing ratings! See the whole program and you also get Alan Jones and an “amazing” acne cure being promoted as news, another bottom of the media barrel act.

Fact check and more factoids

Love the ABC’s Fact Check. The government is closing it. That is itself reason enough to consider putting the Coalition last on Election Day.

The axing of ABC’s fact-checking unit is a disgrace.

In an era of shrinking newsrooms, breathless reporting, and “hot takes”, we need it more than ever…

Fact Check was created in 2013, with a small staff, two months before the federal election. It exists to determine the accuracy of things politicians say – and advocacy groups, and other public figures.

It was funded through a three-year, $20 million-per-year deal with the previous Labor government. (This money was used for other news initiatives, too.) The Turnbull government renewed that deal, but slashed the annual allocation to $13.5 million.

Fact Check is a headache for everyone it scrutinises. Especially politicians. At the time of writing, its main story is about Malcolm Turnbull. It presents evidence challenging Turnbull’s comments about Labor’s negative gearing policy. It concludes the prime minister’s claims don’t “stack up”….

The unit’s verdicts have been referred to an estimated 50 times in the last session of the Australian parliament, and were often mentioned on ABC TV and radio programs. Even rival media outlets used them (when it suited them).

At a recent Senate estimates hearing, ABC officials confirmed politicians have made formal and informal complaints about these verdicts. Though none were upheld.

Now, Fact Check, as we know it, is dead.

Is anyone surprised?

Fact Check can embarrass Labor too, as in the latest one: Fact check: Is Labor’s economic plan the most comprehensive in living memory?

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Finance Minister Mathias Cormann probably likes that one, but he sure didn’t like Fact check: Was Labor responsible for ‘a record deficit’?

Was Labor responsible for “a record deficit”? ABC Fact Check runs the numbers.

The verdict

Senator Cormann is wrong.

This fact check is based on research from a previous claim on debt and deficit made by Deputy Liberal Leader Julie Bishop.

Budget figures and historical data show that Labor inherited a surplus close to $20 billion, but the deficit they “turned that into” was far from a record.

Experts told Fact Check that in order to make comparisons over time, deficits must be measured as a share of GDP, and the largest deficit as a share of GDP in Labor’s last term was in 2009-2010 at 4.2 per cent.

This pales in comparison with deficits sustained during World War II, which were over 20 per cent of GDP, and World War I, which were over 10 per cent….

Yes, Fact Check ought to be cherished as a jewel in the ABC’s crown. Thank God it is still running despite everything.

There are interesting factoids in a side column also. For example, a link to Overseas born Aussies highest in over a century.

The proportion of Australians who were born overseas has hit its highest point in over 120 years, with 28 per cent of Australia’s population born overseas, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

“Australia has traditionally had a high proportion of migrants, but we’ve now hit a peak not seen since the late 1800s,” said Beidar Cho from the ABS.

The percentage of Australian residents born overseas has increased every year for the last 15 years.

“The number of Australian residents born in India has almost tripled over the last 10 years and residents born in China have more than doubled in this time.”

The change in our migrant mix can best be observed in the differences in median age of certain groups.

“Migrants born in Italy, for example, had a median age of 64.7 years in 2005. This increased to 69.3 years in 2015 – indicating a drop in recent migration and the aging of existing migrants,” said Ms Cho. “On the other hand, migrants from our Asian neighbours, such as India, have seen a reduction in median age from 37 years in 2005 to 33.4 years in 2015.”

On TV lately – 3 – great documentaries

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That’s from The Great Wall of China: The Hidden Story (2014) – a four-part documentary that finished on SBS last Sunday. I was impressed, though I do see what this reviewer is driving at:

Who’d have thought it? The “secret” in Secret History: The Great Wall of China – the Hidden Story (Channel 4) was sticky rice. Because, according to the documentary, that was the unlikely ingredient ancient builders mixed into their mortar to help the wall last for generations.

Historians have long wondered how the mortar in the wall held up so well. Now, the programme announced, scientists had found the secret: three per cent of sticky rice in the mixture.

This is pretty surprising, so it probably justifies the description, in commentary, of “extraordinary new scientific research”. But that was one of the more low-key superlatives in a programme that kept hammering them home.

The producers did not seem satisfied that “The Great Wall of China” already suggests something pretty impressive. So, the wall was “one of the most extraordinary feats of engineering in history”. It was “the most iconic man-made structure on the planet”. Later, “the world’s greatest megastructure”. Then, slightly bizarrely, “a tremendous piece of hardware”. It was “part of the world’s geography”. “One of history’s most iconic structures”. And it went on. People didn’t just find things out, they discovered “one of the wall’s greatest secrets” or made an “amazing discovery”. It was as if the programme makers felt we had to be convinced.

But at least we also had the genial knowledge of William Lindesay, who has walked the wall’s length, and the rather more manic company of military historian Mike Loades, who showed us how bombs were dropped from the wall on to attacking forces and even rode a horse and fired arrows to show us what attacking forces would do…

Yes, sticky rice in the mortar.

SBS has quite a bit to offer this year. One local production I am rather dreading is:

Hanson: The Years that Shook Australia As the 90s most divisive politician, Pauline Hanson is the woman we love to hate: the blue collar battler who said what some Australians were thinking, and was destroyed for it. Hanson has made an indelible mark on the racism debate. Twenty years after her maiden speech this feature documentary, produced by CJZ for SBS, will reveal how her extreme views have influenced race and racism in politics today. Her rise and fall was remarkable, and Hanson: The Years That Shook Australia will reveal telling new insights for the first time.

On ABC last night a really superb series came to an end. If you think you know all about life before birth, think again. I was sometimes challenged, sometimes gobsmacked by Countdown to Life.

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Mosley met Nell, a seven-year-old who received a double dose of her father’s growth gene in the womb and so towered over her classmates. Melanie Gaydos, a New York model, suffered from a slip-up in the womb which caused catastrophic damage to her hair and teeth. Randy Foye, a top American basketball player, was born with his heart on the right-hand side of his chest, because his embryo had developed wrongly. Fourteen members of one family had six fingers on each hand because there was too much of a particular protein – charmingly called Sonic Hedgehog – in the womb.

This could so very easily have descended into distasteful freak TV. But Mosley treated his subjects with such gentle, scholarly care that you didn’t feel they were being taken advantage of. You never laughed at them; you just ended up thanking God you passed those intensely precarious eight weeks with fingers, teeth and heart in the right place.

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See also Nine things that shape your identity before birth.

Tony Abbott makes one more promise…

…and moans about the media…

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That montage comes from Loon Pond:

The big lie:
I’ve never leaked or backgrounded against anyone. And I certainly won’t start now.

So if you wear rubber gloves and your office does it for you, you didn’t do it?
Makes the pond wonder about that other promise:

There will be no wrecking, no undermining, and no sniping.

And as for the rest of the blather:
The nature of politics has changed in the past decade. We have more polls and more commentary than ever before. Mostly sour, bitter, character assassination. Poll driven politics has produced a revolving door prime ministership which can’t be good for our country. And a febrile media culture has developed that rewards treachery.
And if there’s one piece of advice I can give to the media, it’s this: refuse to print self-serving claims that the person making them won’t put his or her name to.
Refuse to connive with dishonour by acting as the assassin’s knife…

The deeply coarsened, crude and feverish media circus that brought him to power, and now he complains about it …
So now will the persons or persons who debriefed the Terror on a weekly basis come out of the closet?

Points well noted.

Brings back memories:

Oh wow! VOTING DAY!!!!

Posted on September 7, 2013 by Neil

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Here in West Wollongong people were out early to vote. As was I!  This is around twenty minutes after the polling station opened:

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If you really want to see the main architect of Mr Abbott’s “assassination” look no further than his display of automatic speech on 7.30 on September 9 2015. He done himself in:

LEIGH SALES: Let’s quickly run through some other issues, Prime Minister, starting with the economy. When Labor left office, unemployment was 5.8 per cent; it’s now 6.3 per cent. Growth was 2.5 per cent; it’s now two per cent. The Australian dollar was 92 cents; it’s now around 70 cents. The budget deficit was $30 billion when you took office and now it’s $48 billion. How do you explain to the Australian people that you were elected promising, in your words, to fix the budget emergency, yet in fact, Australia’s economic position has worsened under your leadership?
TONY ABBOTT: Well I don’t accept that. The boats have stopped. The carbon tax has …
LEIGH SALES: We’re talking about the economy.
TONY ABBOTT: The boats have stopped, the carbon tax has gone, the mining tax has gone. We are now on a path to sustainable surplus and we’ve got three free trade agreements finalised. If only the Labor Party and the CMFEU weren’t trying to sabotage the Free Trade Agreement with China. And we’ve got …
LEIGH SALES: Prime Minister, I just ran you through …
TONY ABBOTT: And we’ve got 335,000 more jobs. Now, …
LEIGH SALES: I just ran you through a series …
TONY ABBOTT: … that is the one achievement of which I am most proud, if I may, the 335,000 extra jobs that are there …
LEIGH SALES: Yet unemployment is still going up.

My favourite commemorative cartoon comes from the great Leunig:

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Some truly informative Anzac centenary TV

Yes, there has understandably been concern along such lines as these: Gallipoli 2015: Lest we forget to turn a buck.

Why should we be surprised when the Anzac centenary becomes little more than a carnival of jingoistic schmaltz and corporate opportunism? It just represents our wallowing in the Anzac myth, writes Jonathan Green.

Freed from actual memory, unchained from any linear connection to observed reality, commemoration can be whatever you want it to be…

But full marks to ABC-TV for some programs I have seen in the last few days, and will see later in the week.

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First, Lest We Forget What? Sunday 19 April 8.30pm ABC2; Wednesday 22 April 9.30pm, ABC1.

The real failure in any military is to believe your own myths and legends.

– Major General (Ret.) Jim Molan AO DSC

Kate Aubusson is 27. She grew up in the suburbs of Sydney and she started working as a journalist a few years ago. She is part of the generation that saw the resurgence of the Anzac legend in the 90s as a defining story of what it means to be Australian. For her, it’s all about Gallipoli, the Anzac Spirit. Boys from the bush, sacrifice, mateship and being born as a nation the day the Diggers landed at Anzac Cove. In the next 4 years we’ll spend over $300 million to remember the First World War – more than any other nation. This is important to her. She had relatives who fought in World War One. When she was a kid she would stand for the minutes’ silence and say ‘Lest We Forget’, but in that silence she never knew exactly what she was supposed to remember… and in many ways she still doesn’t. So she is going on a quest that follows the path of the ANZACs. Starting at Gallipoli, and travelling to the Western Front. What she wants to find out is…When we say, “lest we forget” – Lest we forget what?

I have to confess I was irritated by Kate Aubusson at first, but as the program proceeded I applauded what it was doing – very honest, very respectful in the proper way, very useful as a crap detector in these times. From the program website:

There is a huge divide between the military history taught to our Defence Force as opposed to the soft military history we, the general populace, are taught:

There’s lots of myth about Anzac. Everything you know about Simpson is largely myth. The story about how troops went ashore in the face of thunderous machine gun fire is rubbish. The biggest myth about Anzac is that it probably would have succeeded.”
– Dr Roger Lee (Head, Australian Army History Unit), speaking about the Gallipoli Campaign in a lecture at RMC Duntroon

See also Melinda Houston in the Sydney Morning Herald.

I’m of a generation that grew up regarding war – and its celebration – with suspicion shading into revulsion. Kate Aubusson, on the other hand – whose documentary this is – was suckled on Peter Weir’s Gallipoli and came to adulthood in the full flourishing of Australia’s resurgent nationalism. She’s also a journalist, though, and in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing, is wondering just how much of her own emotion and sentiment about the event is grounded in fact. Starting with that contemporary Australian rite of passage, the beer-fuelled group tour to Anzac Cove, she proceeds to gently dismantle the various myths…

Aubusson is very likeable and this is completely accessible. But it’s also a powerful, frank, very moving and immensely important contribution to the Anzac conversation.

Earlier ABC1 showed Australia’s Great War Horse, more conventional but very informative. 130,000 Australian horses  served in the war but were never to return home. It included the amazing story of the horse “Bill the Bastard”:

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[Michael] Shanahan persuaded his captain, Banjo Paterson, to let him take Bill into battle when 100,000 horses headed out into the 50C desert for the pivotal Battle of Romani. Both sides desperately needed a win to take control of the wells. “August 5, 1916, should be a date writ large in Australian history,” said Prof Perry. “It was a magnificent effort.”

Spotting others in trouble, Shanahan was able to get four Tasmanian troopers from the Light Horse Brigade on Bill’s back with him, obtaining him a Distinguished Service Order. “Bill went for six hours, his stamina was monumental,” said Prof Perry. “One general went through 17 horses in the night.”

See also Bill the Bastard: the story of Australia’s greatest war horse.

Compass offered a feature on Lieutenant General Sir Stanley George Savige, one of Australia’s most decorated soldiers, a founder of the ex-service family support charity Legacy. This part I never knew before:

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See Australian-Assyrians commemorate life of Lt General Sir Stanley Savige.

Lieutenant General Sir Stanley George Savige, at that time a 28 year-old captain serving in the specially assembled Allied unit nicknamed “Dunsterforce”, was second-in-command of a supply column assigned to re-supply the Assyrians fighting in Persia. Unable to complete the task due to the fall of Urmia he nevertheless persisted in his endeavour to assist the Assyrians by persuading his British commander that he should remain with them.

For six weeks Captain Stanley Savige used all the means at his disposal to protect the refugees against the perpetual onslaught of the Turkish forces. Reasoning that the Turkish commander would concentrate on killing him before harming the refugees, he strategically placed his command at the rear of the refugee procession and deliberately drew enemy fire. By offering his command as a target, even though outnumbered one hundred to one, the captain managed to slow the Turkish advance long enough for most of the refugees to flee. This act of courage and self-sacrifice is far beyond what is expected of a regular junior officer in the field.

Coming up on ABC1 on Tuesday is Why Anzac with Sam Neill: the actor remembers his fallen family.

… “I do sort of have a foot in both camps,” says Neill, a New Zealander who also has a home in Sydney.

The result is a program that crosses the globe from Gallipoli to France and Crete to Australia in an effort to make sense of New Zealand and Australia’s shared history.

At the outset, Neill makes a clear distinction that can be lost among the flag-waving and cheap patriotism that tends to sit at the margins of the Anzac legend. “I hate militarism,” he says. “I loathe nationalism. But I honour those who serve.”

One of those in his own family whom Neill honours in the program is Guy Bridgeman, his grandfather’s cousin. Neill brings Bridgeman’s poignant story to life through a series of letters, photographs and family stories. A “gentle, kind and thoughtful man”, Bridgeman evidently also took seriously his patriotic duty and enlisted in the Otago Mountain Rifles as soon as Australia and New Zealand followed the mother country into war against Germany.

Bridgeman landed at Gallipoli twice and survived to fight at Passchendaele, where he was badly wounded. Incredibly, he was still insistent that he be returned to the front when he succumbed to the flu.

“Of course, he is remarkable, but he is also one of millions of remarkables,” says Neill…