Alan Jones is no longer just Gloria, but Gloriana, the reigning queen of radio, and the Crikey Bird Watching Team is keeping an ear on what Australia’s most powerful shock jock has to say. This week, the Prime Miniature braved our feathered friend again but came prepared .

Remember when the Parrot interviewed the Prime Miniature at the beginning of last month? It wasn’t a pretty sight a blur of beak and claws and a furious beating of wings that finished with his popular press sec Tony O’Dreary fishing the poor little fella out of the Parrot’s water dish.

It was no surprise that he cancelled another spot a few weeks later, and when the Parrot reacted with a threatening, throaty caw “I would have raised this with the Prime Minister today, but at the eleventh hour, he has opted not to come on to the program. I think he knows he is going to get asked questions about the disabled. He promised answers a fortnight ago and they still aren’t forthcoming” his caution seemed only prudent.

Then, it appears, someone discovered something.

The Short Man appeared again on Wednesday. He was a little wary, but by the end of the intro it was clear that only one real menace remained the ever present fear that if there’s one accidental slip when you’re being brownosed by a parrot the beak will disembowel you:

PARROT: Prime Minister, good morning.

PRIME MINIATURE: Good morning, Alan.

PARROT: Prime Minister, you’re a real stayer, aren’t you? Now, you were out till the middle of the night at the Dally M’s, have you already done the walk?

PRIME MINIATURE: I have indeed. I came back to Canberra last night, done the walk. It’s a beautiful day here. And now I’ve got to go 15 rounds with you.

PARROT: Oh well, at least you’re well prepared.

And so it continued. Enough free kicks on Iraq to win a grand final. No mention of disability services and only the briefest frisson of unpleasantness when one of Amanda Vanstone’s characteristically ham-fisted remarks was mentioned. Sweetness and light and this interesting announcement:

PARROT: Prime Minister, just on another issue altogether and you know that I have written to you and the Health Minister about this awful problem of chronic Myeloid Leukemia, and there are over 1,500 people in Australia suffering from that at any one time. And there has been a strong case put forward to approve on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme the drug Glivec, which until now has only been approved for the accelerated or blast phase when people basically are going to die from the disease anyway. I believe you have some information

PRIME MINIATURE: Yes, well I’mAlan, I am aware of the very strong campaign you’ve run on that. I’m very pleased to tell you that later this morning Kay Patterson, the Health Minister, will be putting out a statement indicating that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Council has recommended the listing of Glivec for the earlier stage of treatment and that recommendation has been accepted by the Government.

PARROT: So, given that it is very expensive, does that add to the total bill for the PBS?

PRIME MINIATURE: Oh yes, the estimate is that it will add something like $10 million, could add $10 million a year to the PBS.

PARROT: But you are aware that in almost all cases where patients have taken it, their blood counts have returned to normal. So, it’s a very, very powerful thing.

PRIME MINIATURE: It is a very powerful drug. There was a lot of the experts were [inaudible] over it all and we are a bit in the hands of the experts on this, but the experts have said list it and we will list it. And Kay will be saying something about it later this morning.

PARROT: That’s just fantastic news for so many people here. As I said to you, I think there are 1,526 people who were relying on that as a matter of life and death.

PRIME MINIATURE: Well, it’s just another reminder that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is a wonderful lifesaver, but it is also very expensive. And what our responsibility is, is to curb the expense that can be curbed without threat to life, so that when these wonder drugs come on we can always afford to list them.

PARROT: Yes and you think that will be effective from October something, will it?

PRIME MINIATURE: Yes, I’m not quite sureKay will make all the

PARROT: I think it’s about October 26

Yep. Give it away that you’ve already been briefed up fully, Gloria but $10 million dollars, hey? That’s your discovery? Ten million dollars and a concession real or perceived to the Wisdom of the Parrot? That’s all it takes to guarantee you a soft interview?

Cheap at half the price if it maintains your dignity, Prime Miniature.

From all of us at the bottom of the cage, until next time, goodbye.

The Crikey Bird Watching Team can be contacted at [email protected]


And now, let’s take a look at last week’s Parrot Droppings column:

Polly filler and plagiarism

Last week was shaping up to be a dull week in the bird watching world. Our favourite feathered friend was scarcely entertaining. He kept going on about why taxpayers should be forking out the readies to pad the sugar industry. Since the industry needed our own dinkie-di Aussie version of slavery euphemistically known as blackbirding to even get it off the ground and make it viable a century and more ago, he couldn’t have chosen a more hopeless case.

And even the Parrot seemed bored himself. He was even recycling his own editorials a squawk on 2GB would turn up on the Today show. Then, not that he knew it or admitted it, anyway he did some spectacular recycling and quite made our week.

The Parrot would like to think, God bless him, that he is Improving Improving with a capital “I” in good Victorian style, just like the way all of Gladstone’s visits to fallen women were Improving.

And with that in mind and to pad the program, on Wednesday, he offered us some Improving polly filler Bill Gates’ Rules for Real Life:

“You know, people often say that life out there is tough.

“But you have to get up in the morning, get out of bed and believe that it’s going to be the best day of your life.

“Recently, Bill Gates gave some advice in a speech at a high school about things student learn in school.

“And he talked about how feel good politically correct teachings have created a generation of kids with no concept of reality, and how this concept sets them up for failure in the real world.

“Amongst the things he said were these:

” ‘Rule #:

1. Life is not fair, get used to it.

2. The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.

3. You will not make $40,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone, until you earn both.

4. If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.

5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping – they called it opportunity.

6. If you mess up, it is not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes: learn from them.

7. Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So, before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

8. Your school may have done away with winners and losers. But life has not. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades, and they will give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This does not bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.

9. Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off, and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. You have to do that in your own time.

10. Television is not real life. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

11. Be nice to nerds. Chances are, you will end up working for one’.”

Lovely words. It’s just a pity that Bill Gates never said them.

Remember the “sunscreen” speech the speech attributed to Kurt Vonnegut, set to music by Baz Lurhman and then turned into cause for moral panic by John Safran? “Rules for life” is something similar. The Urban Legend Reference Pages click here has this to say about it:

“No, this list didn’t originate with Microsoft head Bill Gates. (It’s frequently cited on the Internet as having come from his book Business @ The Speed of Thought, but it didn’t.) Why it’s attributed to Gates is a mystery to us; it doesn’t really sound the least bit like something he would write. Possibly, the item the Internet-circulated version of the list generally ends with (‘Be nice to nerds’) struck a chord with someone who views Gates as the ultimate successful nerd of all time.

“One version that appeared on the Internet in June 2002 asserts this is the text of a commencement speech given by Bill Gates to the graduating class of Mt Whitney High School in Visalia, California. It isn’t — he didn’t give such a speech, and folks at that school are mystified as to why they’ve been dragged into this apocryphal story.

“Nor is this list is the work of Kurt Vonnegut, another person to whom authorship has been attributed. A clue found in those versions (‘From a college graduation speech by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’) explains why folks want to lay these random words of wisdom on his doorstep: In 1998, the Internet was swept with a narrative that has come to be known as the sunscreen speech. That work of inventive fiction was actually the product of Chicago Tribune writer Mary Schmich, but Internet-circulated versions claimed it was a college graduation speech given by Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut thus became associated in the minds of some people with pithy advice to young adults.

“This list is the work of Charles J. Sykes, author of the book Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can’t Read, Write, Or Add. (The list has appeared in newspapers, although not necessarily in this book.) Many versions of this list omit the last three rules:

12. Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you’re out cruising, watch an 11-year-old with a butt in his mouth. That’s what you look like to anyone over 20. Ditto for “expressing yourself” with purple hair and/or pierced body parts.

13. You are not immortal. (See Rule No. 12.) If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven’t seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.

14. Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents are a pain, school’s a bother, and life is depressing. But someday you’ll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now. You’re welcome.

“Advice columnist Ann Landers has printed the first ten items (uncredited) several times, and the list has been used by radio commentator Paul Harvey. The prize for misattribution, however, has to go to The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, which printed the list twice in three weeks in mid-2000, the first time crediting it to ‘Duluth state Rep. Brooks Coleman of Duluth'” and the second time to Bill Gates.”

The Parrot joined the long list of people who have been taken in. It should be bleeding obvious that this is not Gates’ work. As the intro said, it isn’t politically correct, while Microsoft is one of the most politically correct corporations in the world. And talking about the that

This is what the Parrot said in his lead in: “He talked about how feel good politically correct teachings have created a generation of kids with no concept of reality, and how this concept sets them up for failure in the real world.”

The speech, attributed to Gates, turns up on the homepage of “The leading Internet plumbing mail-order supplier since 1995”, believe it or not with this intro:

“In his book, Bill Gates talks about how feel-good, politically-correct teachings have created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this sets them up for failure.”

Oh dear. The Parrot and his minions haven’t only been fishing for filler on the internet and not checking its accuracy. They’ve also been plagiarising. What a bad, bad Parrot.

He should remember that urban myths, parrot misconduct and plumbing can come together.

After all, who can forget the fearful story about sewers haunted by foul flocks of budgies that have been flushed down the loo?

From all of us at the bottom of the cage, until next time, goodbye.

Hillary Bray can be contacted at [email protected]