Amanda Armstrong, executive producer of Life Matters , ABC Radio National, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). Crikey owes us an apology and a correction. ABC Radio National Life Matters reported on the collapse of the Dore Program in Australia and the UK on May 29th 2008. We spoke to critic of the Dore program Professor Max Coltheart, Scientific Director of Macquarie University Centre for Cognitive Science. We also interviewed Michael Greenwood, Economic Development Manager at the Parkes Shire Council where the local community has lost $15,000 because of the collapse. On March 12th 2007, Richard Aedy did a rigorous and challenging interview with UK scientist Dr David Reynolds about the research he was involved with into the Dore method. This interview was supplied to 4 Corners as research background. A simple search would have shown that Life Matters has covered the story from all angles and was one of the first Australian media outlets to cover the collapse.

Iguana-gate, righteousness and demon babies:

Ben Perez writes: Re. “Pot and kettle trade blows in Neal affair” (yesterday, item 3). Bernard Keane has given a lot in his short time with Crikey. Brendan Nelson will never be anything other than Emo-man. However his (dubious) attempt at humour in describing the ridiculous situation of a “Gates-gate” misses something even more tiring than the ongoing coverage of Della Bosca and Neal (which, given it’s similarity, could easily be packaged as a doco on SBS and entitled Sylvania Waters 2008 ). What is the ongoing need by those in the media to attach the word “gate” as a suffix whenever the latest two minute scandal arrives? Coming up with stuff like this takes a quantum of brain activity and serious(!) journalists giving it credence by repeating it diminishes the profession as a whole. Bernard, I know it’s tempting to latch on to this rubbish (I could have titled this email Bernard-gate but for the irony and self loathing it would have unleashed) but please take a lead in retiring some of the world’s worst idioms. It’s time to be less profligate (pun intended) with the lame journalistic humour.

Vincent Burke writes: I am glad Bernard Keane has nailed Joe Hockey for his “puffed up self righteousness”. Having portrayed himself for so long as the Mr Nice Guy of the Liberal Party, I am not sure if he is now putting on an act with his boorish behaviour, or whether we are seeing him in his true character. Either way, he has clearly concluded that his best chance of self-advancement is to adopt the role of bully boy — the prop forward using his bulk in a highly unpleasant and menacing manner, matched only by that of the Blessed Abbot.

Cathy Bannister writes: Since standards in Parliament have now changed, let me be the first to say that no, thinking evil thoughts will not turn Sophie Mirabella’s unborn babe into a demon. Only genes could do that.



Miranda Devine:

Paul Gilchrist writes : Re. “Media briefs and TV ratings: Miranda “loud and proud” Devine?” (Yesterday, item 18). What a hoot! Your correspondent noticed the SMH article a week ago almost spells a rude word. I bet you rolled around the floor laughing! I thought Crikey is aimed at adults, not developmentally challenged adolescents, but clearly it isn’t. How about reading a bit further on in the same SMH article to the quote by an arts correspondent on the work of Bill Henson: “a flagrantly erotic series [from 1977] of 16 photographs shot from above of a skinny elf-like boy, sprawling naked on a cushion on a wooden floor”. Might it be better to consider the danger of images like that rather than indulging in toilet door humour?

Babcock and Brown:

Ivor Burt writes : Re. “Reconsidering BNB’s executive pay” (yesterday, item 21). Adam Schwab wrote: “Since then [2006], Babcock’s share price has been decimated…” I (and many others I’m sure) wish the BNB price had been only ‘decimated’ (i.e. reduced by one tenth). With BNB’s price around $18-$20 in 2006, it would mean that today’s price would be around $16-$18. At the current $5.79 I’d say the price has been a little more than decimated! Suggest you try another verb.

Religion, war, Eurovision:

Walt Hawtin writes : Re. “Wars and religion” (yesterday, comments). While the high number of polemical comments uttered in the name of, or against, religion is not surprising, I was hoping for a reasonable voice to emerge. That voice, far more articulate than mine, would have argued that religion, or religions, are the mere constructs of human beings. Just like football clubs, political parties, and Eurovision participants, religion inhabits a space that we humans feel requires filling. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does the human condition. Just as belting a ball of horsehair with a stick 200 years ago has evolved to became Twenty20 cricket today, similarly the desire to believe in a creative force tens of thousands years ago has developed into the organised religion we have today. The two interesting and common threads that tie all the above and ruin them at the same time? Human beings and economic growth. But this fact doesn’t make religion any more contemptible than it makes politics or soccer contemptible. One final word: Frank Birchall (Monday, comments) says, quote: “… faith means irrational belief”. He’s right. It is very similar to the irrational love that I have for my wife, my parents, and my children. I can’t explain it, but more power to it!

Shane Nixon writes : Bruce Graham (yesterday, comments) believes that communist and socialist regimes are examples of atheists starting wars. I’d suggest that none of the regimes or countries he mentioned went to war in the name of atheism. They’re usually fighting and killing in the name of the communist revolution. Communism is the religion of the state and is every bit as dogmatic and irrational as any religion. He then raises the old myth that there are no atheists in foxholes. It is just as well to say that many theists leave their foxholes as atheists. Extreme experiences can undermine faith as much the same experience can reinforce the faith for another person. In the USA today there are a number of organisations like Atheists In Foxholes that are comprised of veterans and currently serving servicemen that belie the myth.

Top Gear :

Doug Clark writes : Re. “Last night’s TV ratings” (yesterday, item 18). Thanks Glenn Dyer for mentioning Top Gear amongst “The Winners” for Monday night, (even though you hate it while many love it), making it SBS’s top rater. What a lot of us fear though is that this Top Gear Downunder creation is going to be a very poor imitation indeed. There you go: there’s a hook for a negative story on Top Gear !

Mythbusters :

Dave Horsfall writes : Ken Lambert (yesterday, comments) attempts to correct my assertion that hydrogen was not responsible by the demise of the Hindenburg , and quotes “No lesser authority than Mythbuster s…”. Sorry Ken, but I don’t really regard Mythbusters as being authoritative; perhaps you should watch the quality science shows on the ABC instead.


Mark Byrne writes : Re. “State of the Planet” (yesterday, clickthroughs). I’m struggling to find “the sunspot enigma” in the article promoted by Crikey. According to the author, “[n]ot even solar physicists know why our sun has lost its sunspots”. And yet the data looks quite revealin . Sunspots activity is shown to go through a regular cyclewith activity bottoming-out every 11 years. The real enigma is, why are we still carrying on business-as-usual in the face of strong evidence as to the extreme risks of global heating. Are we expecting that someone else will solve this problem for us.

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