Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Friday, November 20, 2020



If in any doubt that Mr. Justice Kirby was a fine man, see his impeccable politeness to a contentious litigant here

I'm over 70

Sitting at the bus stop today I was humming Joplin's 'Mercedes Benz' and I realised for the first time since hearing it in 1965 (also my introduction to Robert Crumb's art, actually) that the line was not 

"Oh lord won't you buy me a colour TV.
Darling, four dollars is tryin' to find me -
I'll wait for delivery each day until three:
Oh lord won't you buy me a colour TV."

but rather

"Oh lord won't you buy me a colour TV.
Dialling for dollars is tryin' to find me - 
I'll wait for delivery each day until three:
Oh lord won't you buy me a colour TV."

Fifty-five years. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Agey bin

 If the half-billion dollars that is to be spent on extensions to the Australian War Memorial were to be spent on good history, it might conceivably be worth paying. It won’t be.  It will be used to sell the same message as the current displays; that the Australian army was both heroic and virtuous, and that war brings out the best in us. 

No presentation of our engagements in two world wars and after can be taken seriously that does not include any reference to the Battle of Brisbane (where diggers fought GIs), the Battle of the Wazza (where the diggers burned down part of Cairo), or the massacre of Sarafand (where the Anzacs killed forty civilians and burned down a Palestinian village).  

In every war we’ve ever fought, from the Boer War and Breaker Morant to Afghanistan, Australians have been notorious for killing their prisoners. My grandfather’s letters from Gallipoli refer to it unashamedly.  No Australian has ever been prosecuted (by Australians, at least) for war crimes.  If the AWM shows us got a wall of VCs, it also needs to show us the other side of the picture.

The message – the only message - of the War Memorial needs to be General Sherman’s: war is cruelty, and you cannot refine it.  When we send our soldiers out to fight, we take that responsibility on ourselves.  We need to know precisely what it means.  

Chris Borthwick

Saturday, August 01, 2020

While I remember

The last time Native life seemed on the brink of apocalypse, at the end of the 19th century, the Indians were also dancing. They called it the Ghost Dance. It foretold a world in which the colonists disappeared, the buffalo returned, and the land was restored to the people.

That spiritual movement ended on December 29, 1890, when the United States military gunned down hundreds of Lakota ghost dancers and buried their bodies in a mass grave. A week after the massacre, L. Frank Baum, who later wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, penned an editorial in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer. “Our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians,” he wrote. “Having wronged them for centuries we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth.” 

Friday, July 24, 2020

Robert Graves on Australian war crimes

There are other accounts of downright cruelty - even war crimes - committed by Australians against the enemy. The British officer Robert Graves quotes (in Goodbye to all that, 1929) an anonymous Australian who told him: 'Well the biggest lark I had was at Morlancourt, when we took it the first time. There were a lot of Jerries in a cellar, and I said to 'em: "Come out, you Camarades!" So out they came, a dozen of 'em, with their hands up. "Turn out your pockets," I told 'em. They turned 'em out. Watches and gold and stuff, all dinkum. Then I said: "Now back to your cellar, you sons of bitches!" For I couldn't be bothered with 'em. When they were all safely down I threw half a dozen Mills bombs in after 'em. I'd got the stuff all right, and we weren't taking prisoners that day.'

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

‘Acnestis’: the part of the back (or backbone) between the shoulder blades and the loins which an animal cannot reach to scratch
(Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed.)

I wish I'd known that earlier in life.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Ever thus

It's the politicians I feel sorry for.  Morrison has set up a two billion dollar slush fund for bushfire relief, which means that at $127,000 per giant novelty cheque each of the 16 National members is going to have to hand out four of them in marginal electorates every working day from now to the election (excluding sitting days). That's a killing pace. It won't leave them much time to spend with their families, considering that many of them have several of those, too.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

T'was ever

Pea and Thimble Trick

Science Minister Karen Andrews’ talk about climate change being real may be ‘a shift in rhetoric’, but it isn’t ‘a blunt warning’.  The live rail in Coalition politics is, specifically, the word ‘anthropogenic’. After thirty years denialists have now reluctantly come round to agree that climate change is happening, but that doesn’t mean they’ve conceded that humans have caused it. They’ve moved on to talking about adaptation to change only because that doesn’t involve doing anything to stop it, and people like Andrews will happily fight on that front for the next thirty years. When Andrews refers to ‘unnecessary debate’ she means ‘science’. She isn’t actually the Minister for Science: like every other minister in the Morrison Government, she’s the Minister for Coal. The Age shouldn’t enable her evasions. We're well beyond the point where 'a shift in rhetoric' is anything but adding insult to injury. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020


Those who complain about our Prime Minister’s religious biases are surely neglecting the obvious. God is keeping his side of the bargain, in spades.  If this year’s fires had happened last year the Coalition would have lost in a landslide.

Friday, January 10, 2020


Actually, this is a great opportunity. Make an offer, toss in a few million dollars, do up Yarralumla, and Australia can have a king of its own and an Australian head of state. 
Or, alternatively, if you think it’s stupid to put our governance into the hands of a British upper-class twit of the year then why haven’t we got a republic now? 

Thursday, January 09, 2020


If these fires are spreading even though we’re meeting our carbon targets, that surely means we need more ambitious targets. 

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Ages on

Remember when at the last election Bill Shorten couldn’t say exactly how much his climate change policies were going to cost?  Just said that not acting had costs too. As if!  We sure dodged a bullet there. 

Thursday, January 02, 2020

From Quiggin

The most fundamental constant in Australian politics is that nothing is going to get better, and we shouldn't waste our time speculating about what would happen if it did.  Between Murdoch, Palmer and the electorate's I'm-all-right Jackism no remotely progressive policy can survive. The government is not going to bend: Morrison has learned from Trump and Johnson that what the electorate really want is a government that can look sincere as it tells them that nothing needs to change and all will be well. They're lying, of course, and we know they're lying, but if the alternative is facing reality then we prefer being lied to.  There's a bit of a fuss now, but he's got God in his pocket and it'll rain the day before the next election and that'll be enough to diffuse the anger.

Blog Archive

Search This Blog


Total Pageviews