Paris v China — a newsworthy priority?:

Nigel Catchlove writes: Dim-witted celebrity followers (intentional use of a dangling participle) may well steal air-time from Chinese emissions policy but their time is fleeting. Remember Anna Nicole Smith? Sam Fox? Mark Latham? They’re all in the same boat, interesting but fundamentally useless for any purpose. They are quintessentially oxygen thieves, mere spectators at the passing parade of life’s challenges. We all keep little ornaments, small sometimes colourful nick-knacks which we keep for no other reason that we can’t be bothered getting rid of them. Celebrities like Paris Hilton are the same, they fascinate us; they amuse us; but in more serious moments we don’t spare them a single firing synapse of our thoughts.

Peter Adams writes: Further to your editorial on the growing media/public obsession with fluff … Is it any surprise? Our society pays actors, singers and professional sports people more money and gives them more adulation than its does its teachers, scientists and researchers! Such people receive attention for their behaviour instead of their questionable achievements, while one of the top-rating shows on Australian television (Big Brother) glorifies a gathering of unknowns for doing not much of value in particular. Reams of newsprint and hours of TV and radio time are eaten up in the pursuit of footballers while following the same tired old formula of sports journalism: who won, who lost, who’s injured. Who cares?! And when it comes to glamorising the vacuous, shallow and banal in our culture… America’s Entertainment Tonight is the shining beacon. Here’s a show which hijacks the language and methods of hard news and tries to convince us that the “stars” (ie. overpaid, talentless, self-obsessed actors and singers) actually matter. And to think, these people vote as well!

Jim Hart writes: So the poor old Crikey bunker is experiencing outrage overload because Paris gets more news mentions than China’s emissions. Some of us could make a similar comparison about the coverage given to footballers. As you so eloquently put it: “Who are these people? … Why on earth does anything that they could conceivably do matter?” Quite so.

John Redeker writes: What a great intro (yesterday, editorial)! Thank you for refocusing us from the drivel that surrounds the collective meaninglessness of Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, and distracts us from the main game.

Tomtwice writes: You ask in yesterday’s opening editorial: “Are we there yet? Have we finally arrived at some point at which the public imagination has at last been saturated by the low-life likes of Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton?” Obviously not, mate, or you wouldn’t have added to “…the incarceration of Paris Hilton has received 485 broadcast mentions across all Australian electronic media in the past 48 hours” mentions. So with Crikeys contribution, amend it to 487 mentions, or will this mention increase the total to 488? And if you intend to stop reporting on “low-lifes”, it’ll make Crikey a very short read indeed. I counted at least a dozen mentions of arguable low-lifes in yesterday’s edition, and that doesn’t even include the famous four above … What a fatuous little rant of yours, Crikey…

Ben Wood writes: After bagging the amount Paris is reported in the media in your editorial intro, why did you make this story one of the few that us squatters can read about? Please don’t tell me it was a clever ploy to get us to subscribe or that it was tongue in cheek.

China and global warming:

Jon Jenkins writes: If you want to know why China does not give a rats about GW it’s contained in the most recent scientific paper by China’s leading climatologists. They identify a 60-year cyclic global (and Northern Hemisphere and China) temperature trend, and argue that it indicates cooling over the next couple of decades. Furthermore, the China cooling index precedes the global one by about seven years, and as the IPCC data has already confirmed, it has already started to cool! This latest research aligns perfectly with the latest science in which some of the world’s most prestigious research institutes (ie. CERN) investing vast amounts of research dollars into: no they are not investing into flawed computer models but into what is known as the “Copenhagen Effect” which all the evidence appears to be saying is the real driving force behind climate! I know… I know… It’s those pesky facts interfering with the social and political agendas of the far left again but nevertheless it’s still important to report the scientific facts … isn’t it?


Bruce Apps writes: Re. “Who do you trust too clever by half?” (Monday, item 4). Many articles about our John Winston Howard have been written but as for him making “Trust Me/Us” a central election issue is an absolute joke. I believe in the old saying “A leopard never changes its spots,” and it is not bloody likely come election time this year. From a media article it told that he has been in contact with nephew Lyall of the mining industry and god only knows how many other cronies within the same industry. As for saying that he will be retiring after the next election I’ll like to bet that he will be given a place on a board or a consultancy somewhere within the mining industry.

Christopher Ridings writes: “Who do you trust?” I’m not sure now that it is forgotten that it is meant to be “whom”.

Spotting the difference:

Jon Fairall writes: Re. “Labor and Liberal: spot the difference” (yesterday, item 10). Richard Farmer’s rant on TweedleDum and TweedleDee is a little unfair. What has happened is surely that a credible opposition has put up a bunch of policies on IR, climate change, education, broadband etc, and the Government has copied them. The real question voters should be asking themselves is: do you trust Howard to implement Rudd’s policies on climate change. Think about that while asking whether it’s a good idea to let Rudd implement Howard’s policies on terrorism. It’s not as daft as you think. Howard has spent a decade running Keating’s economy and implementing Bob Hawke’s refugee program.

Land clearing in Queensland:

Glen Daly writes: Re. “The land clearing that decimated Queensland on Beattie’s watch” (yesterday, item 16). As a Queenslander and a greenie (and getting deeper green by the day) the article on the Beattie Government’s shenanigans on this issue got me bloody angry all over again. Yes, Joh may have invented the ball and chain land clearing method but he sure didn’t invent dishonesty, corruption and manipulation, although he practised these black arts effectively. Beattie and his motley crew are worthy successors. I well remember seeing posed photos of Pumpkin Head with his big, false, cheesy grin pushing Joh around in a wheelchair up at Bethany. Birds of a feather! From what I have seen, and experienced, this Queensland Labor Government and a significant proportion of the senior bureaucracy is every bit as morally corrupt as Joh and his fellow travellers. So much so that I have taken to calling our Premier, Peter Petersen Beattie. Moral corruption leads inevitably to actual corruption, criminal or otherwise. The Dr Patel, Nuttal, Merri Rose cases are just the mere tip of the iceberg. The CJC, established post Fitzgerald Royal Commission, was a bit of a goer, but has been effectively nobbled and turned into a sad broken-down moke by the name of CMC. Smart state? Yeh, sure. This sorry excuse for a government should have lost power at the last election, given the record. Sadly, the Queensland electorate, in the main, are a rather conservative (read stupid) bunch. The weak and divided state of the Opposition didn’t help. There was an honest effort from both the Queensland National and Liberal parties a few months before the election to amalgamate but this was effectively blocked by John Howard. So you could say that Honest John helped Pumpkin Head retain power. He owes you one, John, come December.


Ruth O’Neill writes: Re. “RU-486: abortion drug still a hot potato” (Monday, item 3). I find the entire RU-486 debate rather unsavory when pro-lifers such as Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott oppose RU-486 which seems so much more humane than the current practice. Women, who (for their own personal reasons) want a termination, wait until seven weeks’ pregnancy to ensure the procedure is successful. This extended waiting time of three to four weeks could be eliminated by the use of RU-486 and surely this has a less detrimental effect on all involved.


Rob Gerrand writes: Re. “Black Adler v. Little Britain: Conflicts in the Meanjin takeover” (yesterday, item 2). You correspondent Simon Hughes omits the most likely option – Meanjin will continue to appear as a printed magazine, together with an online format. Which is what Louise Adler has been quoted as saying will happen!

It’s time:

Russell Bancroft writes: Re. “Take me to your Lieder: Songs for John and Kevin” (yesterday, item 11). My copy of It’s Time (a 45 — remember those?) has Allison McCallum, not Little Pattie singing. And for your information, the B-side is titled Hippy Gumbo. I have never listened to it so don’t know what that one’s about. And whilst we are on campaign songs; I seem to recall that at their campaign launch for the 1979 Victorian election, the Libs did their own version of Come on Aussie Come On titled Come on Liberals, Come On. I also have a memory of a threat of legal action over copyright breach.

Hugo Chavez:

Guy Rundle writes: Both Matthew Weston and David Lodge (yesterday, comments), in criticising Jenny Haines for defending the record of Hugo Chavez, argue that Chavez has more or less abolished free media. This is utterly incorrect. 85% of Venezuelan media remains in private hands — a higher proportion than the UK, France or Australian broadcast TV for that matter. Chavez may be doing a lot from the executive, but that is what presidential government is about — and the process is backed by a solid parliamentary majority. Comparisons to Stalin and Hitler are hysterical — Venezuela is a social-democratic, mixed economy (with less public ownership than Scandinavia), a fair electoral system and a free press.


Mary McNamara writes: Re. “Fairfax crosswords: making it hard for their readers” (Monday, item 20). Maybe the SMH could swap DA’s Friday quick crossword for NS’s Thursday quick crossword. The clues on Thursday are generally so ludicrously easy that they are no challenge at all. This might be less irritating on the last day of the working week.


CRIKEY: In yesterday’s article ‘My name’s Bob, I’m from Queensland, and I’m here to help Kevin’, Item 13, a subbing error meant that the following information was not indented to denote that they were a direct quote from The Courier Mail:

“If you were trying to antagonise me you could not be doing a better job,” he said, pointing to the recent decision to allow imported bananas into Australia and the apparent lack of interest in helping the ethanol industry.

Conversely, he heaped praise on the Labor leader and claimed credit for Rudd’s decision to denounce Premier Peter Beattie’s merger plan for councils. Three weeks ago, Rudd surprised many when he appeared at a press conference in Townsville with Katter to criticise the proposal and introduced Katter as “my friend”.

Yesterday’s typos (house pedant Charles Richardson casts an eye over the howlers in the last edition of Crikey): Item 14: “In Beattie’s first term, he secured minority government with the backing of two conservative regional Independent MPs.” No, only one — there were indeed two independents, but one of them was solidly in the Nationals’ corner.

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