Climate change and the end of the world:

Tim Hollo, media and communications adviser for Senator Christine Milne, writes: Re. “Details don’t matter — it’s the end of the world” (Tuesday, item 13). Christian, you’re absolutely spot on, as usual, that “If you don’t offer facts, if you don’t spell out implications, you’re not actually having a debate. You’re making assertions. You’re indulging in gesture politics.” If you had bothered to read Senator Milne’s paper, Re-energising Australia, you would have discovered that that is exactly her point. The most important implications in the climate-change debate are the implications for the global climate. The most important first step in defining action on climate change, then, has to be how much climate change we’re prepared to risk. Neither the Government nor the ALP have set out what they see as an acceptable level of climate change risk to carry, so their policies — inconsistent and incoherent as they are — are just so much “gesture politics”. Re-energising Australia sets out the facts on climate change and oil depletion and uses those to set targets for emissions reductions. Those reduction targets are then translated to policies to get us there. As for costings, it’s worth noting that, back in 2005, when the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, announced his executive order to bring California’s emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 — the same as the Greens’ target — he had done no costings. He decided that, on the evidence, those cuts were necessary and that it was up to government and bureaucracy to work out how to meet them with the least economic impact. For those who, unlike Mr Kerr, would actually like to find out for themselves the detail in Re-energising Australia, you can download it from

Ebony Bennett, media adviser, office of Greens Senator Bob Brown, writes: Once again Christian Kerr’s analysis of the Greens’ policies is as sharp as a wet sponge.

Mike Martin writes: It is unreasonable to criticise the Greens for not costing their target to reduce the nation’s Greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. They don’t know yet how to achieve this — in fact, nobody does. So it is difficult to cost. Were the Greens to specify a particular solution, like John Howard’s with atomic energy, they would be rightly criticised for trying to “pick winners”. What is needed, as Newt Gingrich explains in the link supplied in “The negative middle ground of John Howard” (Tuesday, item 10), is to set clear targets and provide worthwhile commercial incentives — prizes, carbon taxes, caps & trading regimes, whatever — to stimulate commercial innovators to find solutions. Just this week there was news of a new process to make ethanol fuel from a toxic waste by-product of iron smelting. Yes, it might be a hoax, it might turn out to be commercially unviable, but perhaps it will work. Who would have included that in a Greenhouse gas abatement strategy even a week ago? Who knows what other possibilities there are waiting in the wings? It’s amazing how when it comes to global warming, even free market commentators abandon their principles and expect a fully-costed, 40-year strategy, instead of leaving it to market innovation.

Nigel Mackay writes: I took out a Crikey subscription in part because of the claim that while the rest of the media is owned by a few big barons, Crikey “tackles the stories…(that) other media can’t or won’t cover”. Yet some of Christian Kerr’s pieces are exactly the kind of articles — badly argued, misleading, and based on popular prejudice rather than journalistic research — that one can see in the media to which Crikey presents itself as an alternative. My criticism is not just about which side of the climate change debate one falls on, but about bad journalism: substituting self-confirming rumour for fact, and fallacy for argument. But then again, perhaps he is just taking the p-ss, and his writing on such topics areas is satire, too subtle for me.

John Parkes writes: As our state government continues to do nothing in actual terms other than prevaricate and hold endless and worthless meetings of public servants, it is clear that, in South Australia at least, the Government’s chosen method of dealing with potential economic and physical disaster in the form of no or little water being available for consumption is to do nothing and hope for rain. We see that the state and federal governments are talking up the possibility of no water from the Murray being available for irrigators next year. Well, maybe that makes some sense, but what about industry both primary and secondary of other sorts, mining, manufacturing, (luxury) food production, and by this I mean wine, beer and soft fizzy type drinks which use a tremendous amount of water but can clearly be seen as non-essential? Why are these not restricted and/or eliminated in the name of saving precious water? I take the point that irrigation is the most prolific user of water, and also the easiest restricted, but to deprive the vine, stone fruit and other crop irrigators, most of them “little” people with weak political strength, will not just deprive them of income for a year but will destroy them economically because their trees, vines etc. will die without water for a year, taking vast amounts of cost to replace later and meaning no income for those growers for up to five years. A brewery on the other hand could be closed down to a maintainance only level, and re-opened with little cost when water is available. Mines, steel mills etc. using vast quantities of water could have production and thus water useage radically restricted, but could be re-started very easily when water is available. More importantly for our future, the Prime Minister has suggested that we should pray, and the Catholic archbishop of Adelaide has announced that he is praying for rain. Should rain not come in short order and sufficient quantity does that prove that the God to which they are praying does not in fact exist?

Getting to emo:

Clinton Barnes writes: Re. “Getting to emo, getting to mo all about you” (Tuesday, item 5). I just had to mention that you only half explained where Marilyn Manson’s stage-name comes from. While you explained that the latter half comes from Charles Manson, it’s a very important detail as to where the former half comes from, Marilyn Munroe. As I understand it, he purposefully chose the names America’s sweetheart and America’s worst nightmare.

Caitlin Johnstone writes:

Great little wrap of emo, thought you might like to add this to the mix…

The Tuesday Top Twenty:

Libby Arnold writes: Re. “The Tuesday Top Twenty” (Tuesday, item 6). After reading Christian Kerr’s “The Tuesday Top Twenty”, I believe there is a direct connection between John Howard’s overwhelming media coverage and his growing unpopularity. I can’t be the only person who wonders who is actually running the country while the PM gads about getting himself on every news channel. There is not one issue that he doesn’t comment on (even while he is overseas) from the birth of the new Danish Princess, to the latest football win, an overseas catastrophe, mining disaster, and his favourite – troop deployment. In the meantime, we face growing environmental problems, shortage of water, and serious lack of infrastructure. Perhaps we need a PM who actually sits at his desk and works, rather than a media celebrity.

John Howard’s negative middle ground:

Bro Sheffield-Brotherton writes: Re. “The negative middle ground of John Howard” (Tuesday, item 10). I thought Richard Farmer had to be joking or disoriented when he suggested that neocon flying wedge Newt Gingrich “had addressed the question confronting conservatives around the world of defining a fundamentally different approach to a healthy environment and a healthy economy”. Clearly Richard was one or both of these. Looking at Newt’s article it can be said he scarcely addressed that question at all. What we got was the standard name-calling of environmentalists without attending to any matter of substance, followed by a handful of meaningless general principles (we “favour clean air and water” etc). And the key driver for green conservatism is “energy independence from dangerous dictatorships” but clearly not from benign entities like Exxon Mobil. As a sustainability manifesto I can’t see anything in this in advance of the offerings of our near-septuagenarian Prime Denialist. With Newt running for President thank the Earth Mother that the Democrats are close to a shoe in. Even if the kids won’t take the hint, I’d hate to think of my grandchildren being born into a post-dubbya era that actually incorporated a dumbing down of the US Presidency.

Tim Flannery:

Ken Lambert writes: Re. “Flannery may return award to put more climate heat on Howard” (Tuesday, item 1). Tim Flannery is showing all the signs of being a religious convert. The denomination is globalwarmist. The sermons are hot and hotter. The speech is in doomsday tongues. Tim is in a no lose situation. The worse the drought in SE Australia – yep… global warming. Floods and cyclones up in north Qld and WA – yep… climate extremes must mean global warming. That Dorothea Mackellar had all her love misplaced; it could not have been the “sunburnt country, the droughts and flooding rains” she loved so much; She was loving human induced global bloody warming! How else could you explain that Aussie bloody climate last century? Well it could not be natural variation could it? Imagine for a minute that it was a natural bloody cycle. Well, that means it could repeat, and come back again as cycles do, and we all know that can’t happen. Why? Because bloody brains like Tim Flannery have said so, and the debate is over you bloody idiots!! Sorry Tim, I will move to the back of the congregation and restrain myself, I think I hyperventilated – give me some more of that CO2 will ya??

The big taxing Peter Costello:

Dan Buchler writes: Re. “It’s no porky: Cossie really is our biggest-taxing Treasurer” (Tuesday, item 4). Michael Pascoe’s article which quotes Rory Robertson reference to the “Future Fund”, leaves one with the impression that the fund was set up “to cover pension costs of federal employees”. This is not strictly true as the pension costs of federal employees are an obligation that has to be met from future budgets irrespective. What the Future Fund in fact does is to hypothecate a pool of funds to meet that future liability. In so doing the Future Fund will relieve future budgets from that liability, thereby freeing up funds for other purposes. This is a subtlety that seems to escape most commentators.

Sherry Stumm writes: I am outraged that the Federal government does not spend more on regional infrastructure and that it by-passes the states to give its road to recovery funding to local councils which then put it into general revenue. The result is that country dwellers and small business operators like us have lousy dirt roads which are pot holed and we have to plead and argue with council to make minimal repairs. When I read that the Feds under Costello take more tax than they admit to and have decreased funding to the states, it makes my blood boil. In regional Australia we have Canberra centric and city centric politicians who don’t give a dam about regional Australia, our roads, our rivers, our lack of public transport, the list goes on. We are over taxed, over governed by layers of bureaucracy and still nothing gets done. There is no move to decentralise business to create jobs for regional people, no move to build rail so that local depots can get long distance trucks off our highways and there is little funding for hospitals, community centres, home nursing, broadband communication (bravo Mr Rudd for a broadband Australia wide policy). Don’t start me on education and university. What a poor country we have under John Howard. On a wave of prosperity we have such poverty of vision and such lopsided distribution of wealth. Bring on the election!

The lunatic fringe of religious extremism:

David Hand writes: Re. “One law for the mufti, another for the pastor” (Tuesday, item 16). In other more innocent times, we could happily consign both Sheik Hilaly and Danny Nalliah to the lunatic fringe of religious extremism. The problem today is that the Sheik’s many alarming statements are widely seen as encouraging Islamic men to end their lives violently one morning on a crowded train or go round raping women. That worry brings his views much closer to our collective consciousness than Danny Nalliah’s. I doubt very much that young Christian men would interpret Mr Nalliah’s views as giving them permission to assault their partners. Though the Sheik might protest vigorously at us connecting his extremism to terrorism or violence against women, he hasn’t done enough to put our minds at rest. When he does, we can happily consign him with total equality back to the religious fringe with Danny Nalliah.

Telstra’s AFL website:

Kevin Green writes: Craig Middleton (Tuesday, comments) should be a politician, he would fit in well with all the monkeys in Canberra with all his spin. The AFL website, and all Telstra operated websites for that matter, are absolutely shocking. I’d love to know how he comes up with this magic “70,000 web pages” figure. There is no way the AFL website contains that many pages… and if it does, where they bloody hell are they? Oh, of course, we can’t find them because the site’s navigation is useless. It baffles me how a company of their size, with all the people and resources they have, can produce such garbage. Telstra’s own website ( and the BigPond website are both very poorly designed. Navigation is extremely difficult, information is hard to find, and there’s so much “fine print” scattered across every page that it makes it very difficult to follow what’s going on. There’s no design consistency anywhere either. Mind you, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. Telstra don’t know how to do anything right. Their products are all over-priced with ridiculous contract periods that no person with half a brain would sign up with. The only reason Telstra are still raking in the cash is because the Mum’s and Dad’s of this country don’t realise there are more companies out there who’s product offerings are far superior to that of Telstra, don’t cost anywhere near as much, and don’t lock you in to these ridiculous 24 month contracts. Considering most of these Mum’s and Dad’s are Telstra shareholders, Telstra is essentially ripping off their own shareholders with phone and internet so that their annual profit report looks good. One day the shareholders will wake up to the fact that they’re being ripped off, and Telstra will be in serious trouble then. Eventually the AFL will realise their website is hurting them, and they’ll ditch Telstra in favour of someone who will do a far superior job than Telstra could ever do.

Brett Howard writes: AFL website… what AFL website? Do you mean the dodgy BigPond website that apparently has a little bit of AFL news on it? The same site that deliberately disabled their own “site feedback” section because they didn’t want to get any more complaints from disgruntled users. Are you trying to tell me that the site you are referring to is supposed to be the official AFL website? That’s ridiculous… the AFL wouldn’t damage their brand by selling out to the highest bidder without actually seeing drafts and beta versions of what the bidder was proposing would they? Would they?!

Terence Hogan writes: Just as a further, and probably redundant, dispatch from the interface: I have successfully accessed many sports websites relating to cricket, rugby and the rest, and happily watched video replays, interviews, live scorecards and listened to live commentary from the other side of the world, and had very little trouble indeed. On reading the poor reviews of the AFL site, and being curious, I booted it up and tried to play various bits of vision from the weekend, with no luck. I then tried a recent interview, “not available, check back later”. I tried the goals of the round compilation and after a bout of blinking and apparent confusion my Safari quit completely. And let’s not get into just how dull the site looks. As a Richmond supporter I get enough grief via the AFL without this, so I think I’ll give it a miss.

James Anderson writes: I use a Mac with latest operating system and so on, but AFL grandly informed me that they “don’t support my browser”, ie. Safari. Oh that’s right, I forgot, only idiots and deviants use Macs. I told AFL that they need me more than I need them.

Ian Gordon writes: I can only endorse yours and other comments about the inadequacy of the AFL website. I live in London and am regularly left fuming at 5am on Saturday and Sunday mornings when trying to listen to games live. It regularly takes several minutes to load the front page, the links to the radio-cast are obtuse and when I get there they often do not work. When I do get access I have no access to before game discussions or any of the ABC commentary. On a slightly different tack why are there no live television broadcasts of the footy on free to air or subscription services. I have asked the AFL this by e-mail and received no reply. It isn’t that difficult as we have every version of Australian, New Zealand and South African rugby available. It should be virtually given away and, as the east coast day games start at 5am and the Friday night games at around 10.30am on a weekday morning I cannot imagine they would upset local schedules. Fans in London get a really crook deal.

The never ending sledging debate:

Justin Templer writes: Russell Bancroft (Tuesday, comments) asks “Why would we want to stamp out sledging?”, as sport is about mental toughness. Following this logic sledging should surely form a part of all sports: tennis, dressage, gymnastics, lawn bowls. Russell suggests that there need to be clear rules – presumably along the lines of “A player may make comment or suggestion in regard to the supposed abnormal sexual activities of another player’s mother or grandmother, but not in regard to a child of said player unless that child has achieved the age of 21 years”. I watch cricket to see professionals about their craft – batting, bowling, catching. I do not view sledging as part of that craft. When I take my son to the nets to help meet his dream of one day being a professional cricketer should I mouth obscenities at him before pitching the ball? I, and many others, would be proud to support an Australian team that had a reputation for refusing to indulge in sledging – unfortunately the opposite is true.

The John Howard ringtone:

Tony Adams writes: Re. “Get it here: the John Howard ringtone” (Tuesday, item 7). I loved the Keating ringtone but hyperventilated over the Howard ringtone! Abso-gobsmacking-lutely hilarious! Please keep them coming.

Catherine Phillips writes: An unexpected soothsayer moment courtesy of iTunes. After downloading the delightful John Howard Ringtone I find that iTunes has listed the tone’s genre as “Blues”. Apple knows all and sees all!!! Sorry John, time to book the removalists.

Robert Askin:

Kevin Taylor writes: The fuss regarding the christian name of premier Askin (Tuesday, comments) is easily put to rest. His name was Robin which he probably disliked as I do my middle name. Following his mother’s passing he changed by deed poll to Robert (just in time for his knighthood). This seems to reflect his respect for his mother and also for his view to history.


Yesterday’s typos (house pedant Charles Richardson casts an eye over the howlers in the last edition of Crikey): Item 18, an oldie but a goodie: “… a Sunni area from whence many of the mortar attacks come.” Since “whence” just means “from where”, the extra “from” is redundant. Admittedly, it’s a common usage. It’s said that CP Scott, the great editor of the Manchester Guardian, once upbraided a reporter for it and was told “But, sir, Fielding used ‘from whence’.” He responded, “Mr Fielding would not have used ‘from whence’ on my paper.”

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