Crikey, what a bunch of tossers:

Roger Mika writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Crikey wrote: “Kevin Rudd’s entry in the visitors’ book at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park … Ladies and Gentlemen, we have elected a tosser.” Pray Sir, what immortal words would you have written? Or better yet why didn’t you submit your own scribble for the PM to write. How is that when the likes of Kennedy, Churchill or Martin Luther King write (or their speech writer does) these words are immortalised and when an Australian PM (other then Menzies or Gough) writes at a historic site, he is referred to as a “tosser”. The great Australian cringe is alive and well at Crikey, unfortunately!

Martyn Smith writes: I don’t know which of Crikey’s “luminaries” penned your editorial on Tuesday, but they should be aware they are the tosser. In “Rudd’s bomb-defusing plan is good; now for activating it” (yesterday, item 15) that day Ron Huisken, Senior Fellow at ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, wrote that Rudd’s idea was “courageous but timely”. He was supportive of it. Maybe you think Huisken is also a tosser? Rudd has been lambasted by all and sundry for upsetting the Japanese by not visiting Japan when he was on his world trip. Laying a wreath at Hiroshima and supporting the Japanese over nuclear weapons seems like a good way to mollify them, at least to some extent. Sometimes Crikey in its efforts to be smart is too clever by half.

David Lenihan writes: It’s all very well for you to say, but your view is not shared by Ron Huisken. His well developed and obviously greater knowledge of the subject, indicated he finds the PM’s idea not as half-baked as your good self. Perhaps I didn’t get the angle you were taking, was it maybe you objected to the words he used in the visitors book, rather than the idea behind them. What did you want him to write, “ban the bomb”? Or some similar non Prime Ministerial type line. I wonder sometimes what the composer of those leaders has in his/her coffee!

Ray D’Cruz writes: Yesterday’s editorial was a disgraceful comment by your publication. Is it an attempt at humour? If so, it’s not actually funny. Is it a serious comment on Rudd’s statement? Perhaps it’s time you identified the author of the opening statement rather than make such comments anonymously.

Lauris Gaffney writes: I generally get a chuckle from Crikey, and some thought provoking ideas, but your aspersion that we have elected a “tosser” by dent of Rudd’s comment upon visiting Hiroshima was to me insulting. What was the guy supposed to say pray tell?

Michael Durk writes: “Ladies and Gentlemen, we at Crikey are cynical, negative, yesterday’s tossers. And we were so busy being smartarses we didn’t realise we’d been overtaken and were living in the past.” You’re not even yesterday’s heroes.

Marilyn Shepherd writes: Does the editor of Crikey think it is funny taking cheap shots at a man who has just walked out of a museum dedicated to Hiroshima? It seems to me that Crikey is the tosser.

Gray Ramsey writes: Unless you can offer some intelligent explanation as to why Rudd’s Hiroshima comment make him a tosser, I think it is time you took me off your mailing list.

Robert Ginson writes: Give the guy a break you bunch of cynical b-stards. Heaven help us that the head of the government of Australia should have a vision for world peace.

John Gleeson writes: What hopeless cynic wrote this idiotic remark? If that attitude persists at Crikey I’ll be cancelling my subscription.

Geoff Fader writes: I am surprised to find that it has taken you guys such a long time to discover that! Guess what? He and his Treasurer have been talking down the Australian economy since February and how we have the self-fulfilling prophecy. Note the Sensis Business Index Confidence report last week. If you missed it, it reports the lowest level of business confidence on record. Consumer sentiment leads the economy; the economists just record the figures AFTER the event. “Stop spending to reduce inflation” Try cutting the input taxes on businesses, including fuel excise. These are the costs that multiply nearly four times when they get to the consumer. They drive the cost of living up. Not one of these was cut in the “anti inflationary” budget. One wonders if Rudd and Swann have ever actually run or been responsible for a commercial enterprise? They obviously just don’t know how it works. Or is the truth that when politics wins over purpose, the people suffer.

Chris Graham writes: Yesterday’s editorial is perhaps the funniest yet. I’m renewing my already freshly renewed Crikey out of a sheer sense of camaraderie and support. Although if you go bust before 2011, I’ll sue.

Four Corners and alcohol:

Matthew Carney, reporter, and Sarah Curnow, producer, at ABC TV’s Four Corners, write: Re. “Four Corners” (yesterday, comments). All the key people featured in the program — the Gold Coast partiers and the Melbourne group — were consulted extensively before and after filming, when they were sober. Their consent was unequivocal. As for un-named individuals on the streets and so on, we could only deal with them on the nights on which we were filming. We were completely frank with them all about who we were. The issue of public drunkenness, and the attendant violence, hospitalisations and police involvement, cannot be demonstrated in our medium by any means other than filming it. Our duty was to explore this issue of real public interest while dealing fairly and transparently with the people we were filming. This is what we did.

Michael Harvey writes: Once again I feel compelled to write in and express my alarm at our attitudes concerning booze. This past weekend Eli Westlake, 21, the youngest son of my friend the eminent Australian composer Nigel Westlake, was run down, allegedly by an (apparently) drunk 37-year old woman. Another friend who is an eminent pianist in his early 50s is unlikely to see out the year due to booze. This drug is lethal, yet is ubiquitous and affects everyone, every age-group. It is addictive, not benign and good for you, and images of it should be removed from shopping catalogues, visa statements, frequent flyer statements, sporting fixtures, arts sponsorships and especially from airports, where the latest technique is to assault arriving passengers with wine-tasting at the gates. Again, it is a harmful drug, especially when administered to individuals under 30 whose myelin sheathing (the decision-making circuitry of the brain aka white matter) is not fully mature. Alcohol should be treated as a poisonous health risk, as tobacco is. Being murdered or turned into a vegetable after a night out is not funny, and should not be tolerated in a civilised society. Perhaps self-inflicted Korsakoff syndrome, cirrhosis, kidney-failure and late-onset epilepsy among other lesser-known booze-related illnesses should be treated only at maximum premium rates by our health professionals. I sympathised with the young man on the Four Corners program who frankly admitted that without booze he would lose his friends and social network and who couldn’t stop drinking accordingly. My own booze habit was fuelled in the same way — “never trust a man who doesn’t drink” is the underlying fatal message of what being an Australian is supposed to be about, with the inevitable infantile imagery of the rum corps (average life expectancy 40) being dredged up soon after. I strongly disagree. Look at the mess the country’s in. One only sees it clearly when one sobers up I’m afraid.

The US Presidential race:

Jim Hart writes: Re. “Rundle08: Hillary concedes, let the contest begin” (yesterday, item 3). In the high-dive of political journalism Guy Rundle is too cool to use a simple double negative — he goes for the double plus triple with pike when he says the presidential race is “not only not for the faint-hearted — it is not for anyone who can not bear not to try”. I’m still working on it but I think it means “Sure, have a go if you feel like it but if you don’t that’s OK too” or something like that, or maybe not, who knows? Whatever.

The Henson fracas:

Michael Nolan writes: Re. “Hetty Johnston’s strange bedfellows” (yesterday, comments). The blustering continues from those with knee-jerk outrage about Bill Henson’s photographs. While enraged by what they perceive as the silencing of the debate by “the art world”, they continue to make what they believe to be “that’s it, end of story” moral adjudications of their own. To wit, Leon Miller’s “Bill Henson photographed a n-ked under-aged person” (yesterday, comments). “Under-aged” is a legal definition and Henson didn’t break the law. For what is a 13-year-old girl “under-aged”? Being n-ked? Being photographed n-ked? No and no. Meanwhile, Daniel Saks (yesterday, comments) writes that “the thing that is germane to the entire argument” is “whether we can be absolutely confident that she is aware of the consequences for her for the rest of her life.” What are the consequences to which Daniel refers? And what has the girl lost, for which Daniel would have us weep? Her innocence? She already has – and, I believe, that’s the subject of Henson’s photograph, which makes it more than simply an image of a n-ked girl.


Ignaz Amrein writes: Re. “AusAid conservatives have blood on their hands” (yesterday, item 10). All those against lifting the restrictions should be sent to those third world countries for at least a month to give them enough time to explain to the women there why they don’t deserve all the options and help that women in Australia get. I do get sick and tired of all those politicians who want to shove their own religion based beliefs and values down everybody else’s throat. Why don’t they build themselves a time machine and go back to the Dark Ages where they belong.

In defence of Qantas:

Andrew Sooby writes: Re. “Qantas braces for safety compliance shut downs” (yesterday, item 5). Can anyone tell a positive story about Qantas (or Virgin, or Air Traffic Control) these days? As an ordinary punter, with no personal or business connections to the airline, I’m really sad about all the anti-Qantas venom washing around via Crikey of late — justified as I have to agree it is. I’m especially sorry for Qantas pilots and cabin staff who, it would seem, have no control over the airline’s current ground-based management problems. I doubt there are better-trained or safer air-crews in the world – and they’re the ones I want up there if things were to go wrong. They must be as frustrated as their passengers, having to deal with the current litany of stuff-ups not of their own making. I have nothing but praise, too, for Qantas ground-staff at Heathrow, Singapore, Sydney and Perth, who have efficiently sorted out for me a potentially serious travel problem on two different trips (neither being Qantas’s responsibility).

Julie Cleeland Nicholls writes: As a regular national and international Qantas customer, I can share horror customer service stories with the best of them. But Qantas’s amazing response and service late last year have earned them a complaints moratorium from me for at least a year. I’d just travelled from Seoul to San Francisco, when I received a call to tell me my father had died suddenly in Australia. I had to get home immediately. Every single Qantas person I spoke to or dealt with from that moment on gave irreproachable service and help. They got me on a flight within hours; the duty manager at San Francisco Airport came out to personally check me in; I was escorted from Qantas Lounge to the plane at all stages of the two-leg journey; staff even sat with me in the lounges. It was a nightmare journey, and the only thing that made it bearable were those many Qantas ground and air staff, who offered scotch, tea, tissues, sympathy and even some gentle, dry Australian humour. I never felt alone, and I really felt like I was being escorted home in the care of fellow Australians. I couldn’t imagine staff of any other of the world’s airlines (and I travel on many of them) being so supportive and getting the comforting factor just right. If Qantas could just get that spirit of kindness and service right all the time, not just for traumatised and bereaved passengers, then they’d regain their customer service crown in no time.

The AFL’s expansion:

Les Heimann writes: Re. “AFL in League heartland makes no sense” (yesterday, item 19). Adam Schwab hits the spot… almost! It’s true that the proposed West Sydney Wranglers and the Gold Coast Sugardaddies will fail miserably. But Adam, what’s new? The endemic incompetence that permeates the operational wing of the AFL is simply breathtaking — mind you the strategic area needs a whip and a dash of whisky too, but that’s another story. Having trotted off like a very big man on a very little horse chasing nirvana the AFL has teetered between irresponsibility and egomania for a long, long time. Adam talk about the game — is it better? Are the rules clearer? Do the fans just love the whole thing? Is it a show piece or a pack of cards?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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