Gregory Lister writes: Boo hoo Toyota! Now, let me think – who was it who ambushed Holden’s Olympics official car supplier sponsorship? Oh yes, Toyota! Who announced their AFL sponsorship deal at Telstra Dome recently, at exactly the same moment that Holden was unveiling VE to the media? Not Toyota? Oh yes. Holden must be loving this, because the more people write and talk about it, the more awareness they get. By the time they are finished, there won’t be anyone who can’t recognise the blimp.

John Parkes writes: A view of the Holden blimp air raid at the football is that it couldn’t be much more Australian. The Anzacs earnt a reputation for rabble-rousing and thumbing their noses at convention and authority. What better fits that description than the blimp gatecrashing Toyota’s party on Saturday? And better still, no laws were broken. Behind the scenes Toyota execs might not have been happy but at least for public consumption they appear to see the funny side of it. And as it’s got people talking about it Holden gets some publicity and Toyota gets more than it would have without the extra attention because we are now talking about it. Another point to ponder is this… just because Toyota was the official sponsor of the football, does that actually sell any cars? If so, and they are a Japanese company could it be argued that the AFL football is un-Australian and should only have locally owned sponsors?

James Pedley writes: I’m sick of this “Australian Values” debate (yesterday, editorial): Australians value being able to do, think and say whatever the hell we feel like. There’s only one thing that is “unAustralian” and that is the word “unAustralian”.

Len Heggarty writes: I have never seen an editorial about what is un-Australian before. Australian editorials are about what is Australian. So… your editorial is un-Australian.

Michael Mullin writes: In today’s Crikey the word “Australian” was used 87 times, in 30 stories. A few of those references were to The Australian newspaper, and some were about the “un-Australian” debate, but the vast majority were gratuitous references, such as “The only major Australian commentator”, “All young Australians are materialistic”, “multi-religious policies pursued by the Australian government”, “Most Australians recognise these donations for what they often are”, “Australians with more money than sense”, etc etc. I’ve just trawled through some comments pages in a few English newspapers and found no use of the word “English”, and only one of “British”, and that was a link to an American website. Why don’t we just use “the only major commentator”, All young people are materialistic”, “multi-religious policies pursued by the government”, “Most people recognise these donations for what they often are”, “People with more money than sense”. Have we got such a problem with our identity that we have keep reminding ourselves who, or what, we are?

Paul Gilchrist writes: John Howard, in praise of Quadrant, says: “The fact is we are part of a global campaign for the very ideals that some people wistfully dreamed were unchallengeable after the Cold War.” I think he means that there is a war against Islamic terrorism, just as there was a war against Communism. The problem is that there are very big differences between these. First of all, it is important to remember that the final fall of communism was almost miraculously peaceful. All the predictions of holocaust, revolution and the military force that the West had to be ready to use, proved wrong. At the moment, John Howard is supporting massive military campaigns supposedly to stop terrorism, but clearly this is not working, and will never work. By the way, that other affront to Western ideals which Mr Howard did not mention, namely Apartheid, also collapsed peacefully, against all predictions. There are many other differences: communism was monolithic, terrorism is fragmented. Communism was a direct economic and military threat to the West (and maybe still is, from China), but terrorism is crime which is being effectively addressed by police actions, not by thousands of troops in Iraq. But, of course, whipping up fear of terrorism is an effective way of winning elections, just as fear of communism was effective for Bob Menzies. As always, John Howard is very good at the political tactics, but not good at serious analysis of problems.

Michael James writes: For an interesting analysis of the Heathrow terror plot from a standpoint of chemical practicality have a look on The Register. In summary: Synthesising TATP is delicate, very slow and smelly. If young Einstein tried it in the back shed, the smell would get him caught before he had a useful quantity. In an airplane toilet it couldn’t have worked. To make enough explosive to down an aircraft would take hours. It’s two steps more unlikely than Hollywood drama and still a step beyond Hollywood farce.

David Michie writes: NSW MLC Jon Jenkins wrote (yesterday, comments): “If Russell has a strong maths and physics background he can go to www.climateaudit.org/ to see some of the world’s most eminent scientists discuss this very issue!” www.climateaudit.org is actually the personal blog of Steve McIntyre, a former mining executive and climate change skeptic. He is not a climate scientist and neither are the contributors to his blog.  McIntyre has been critical of the statistical methods used to create the so-called “hockey stick graph” and these criticisms have been shown to have some validity, but even McIntyre admits that a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere is a serious problem.

Graham Marshall writes: Re. yesterday’s unsubstantiated tips and rumours (item 7). Qantas Frequent Flyers might have tried to change flights because of Australian Government travel advisories about Thailand, but I’m on the side of Qantas. The travel advisory on 20 September, the first day after the coup, was “Reconsider your need to travel”.  Fair enough.  On 21 September the travel advisory was back to “High Degree of Caution”. Sounds like a safe coup to me, and no need for anyone to change any flights.

Ryan Heath writes: Kate Crawford (yesterday, item 8) is right to pull Adele Horin up for suggesting that the Düsseldorp Skills Forum’s focus groups with Gen Y show there is no idealism amongst this group. Firstly, it’s manifestly not true – look at the surge in volunteer work and groups from GetUp to the National Union of Students. Secondly, making the claim is simply airbrushing baby boomer history into one montage of peaceniks intent on forging a more caring left-wing world. Active Politics has always been the concern of the minority – for this generation and the ones before it. And of course most young people care about achieving their own financial security – just like their parents. To make these points sheds no light on the particular attributes of today’s young and doesn’t do much to foster their engagement with public institutions. What the Düsseldorp research really shows is that young people don’t have anywhere to hide from scrutiny in today’s information rich world. Myths about their idealism are not sustainable, and so all we are left with is the (in some nostalgic minds) awful truth about them. This would be a lot more bearable if older Australians were equally honest about their own priorities and histories.

Alan Lander writes: Mike Finley wrote (comments, yesterday), “Geneva Conventions are laughed at by the enemy, who will carry out any activity that suits them, regardless.” Oh, right, so that means we are free to drop any pretences to civilisation which, last time I looked, described evolution from this type of tribal behaviour. Okay, let’s go back down to that level. Bring on the torture – which of course is exactly what “they” want – and the breakdown of our democratic, tolerant, civilised society with it. Keep taking the steroids, Mike. Stone Age, we miss you – so we’re coming back! 

David Lodge writes: In regards to the whole climate change/exclusive brethren/Greens thing Christian Kerr has going I’d just like to say keep up the good work! Like many of those on the right, some lefties love reading only things they agree with, and while I’m not completely in agreeance with all his views on climate change or the “war” on terror, this is the exact kind of journalism this country needs more of – in-depth, challenging words that make us question the world. This is precisely why I paid my $100 subscription. Keep up the good work!

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name – we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

Peter Fray

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