Paul Keating:

Les Heimann writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. There’s more than a shrapnel of truth in that statement that Paul Keating speaks for all of us… The political troglodytes may refer to “the comrade” as a sore loser or a chronic hissy fit. But he isn’t. He tears away the curtain and joins a long line of observers in uncovering Kevvy’s “nakedness”. That colleague Rudd is the wrong man for the job has long been known — the right faction couldn’t stomach having comrade Julia as leader so the “experts” promoted a uniquely flawed individual. It’s not the fault of Kevin Rudd that he has no vision, he can not lead, he is a control freak, he broke the Myer-Briggs testing material, he is impatient, swears a lot, vacillates, loves process and hates decisions, and has an extremely high opinion of himself. It is the fault of Kevin Rudd that he has not delivered on almost all of his major promises — the ones that count like WorkChoices — and that it is becoming increasingly obvious that when he actually allows something — anything — to be delivered it is akin to a very large well wrapped parcel requiring a magnifying glass to spot the content. Not that working families are quibbling mind you — oh no — but we will, you bet we will. Onya PK! We can always rely on you to call a spade a pneumatic drill. Try and help the colleagues to convince Kevvy to spend more time with his family any time soon now so Julia can really wield the hammer and sickle — from each according to their ability PK; your country needs you.

Alan Lander writes: Re. “Keating, the greatest hits so far” (yesterday, item 17). How can you possibly have a list of Keating’s jibes without including some of his real gems, for example: When Andrew Peacock regained the Coalition leadership and walked into the chamber: (paraphrased) “But the question we have to ask (of Peacock’s return) is: Can a soufflé rise twice?” Gee, we miss you, Paul.

Roy Travis writes: It would seem the Paul Keating doesn’t like anybody, except himself of course.

The Beijing Olympics:

Anthony Leith writes: Re. Wednesday’s editorial. I couldn’t agree more with your opening comments about the “Go Aussie Go” attitude of Australia’s Media in relation to sports we only do well in, in particular swimming. I’m spending my first Olympics outside of Australia and am looking forward to being able to watch sports other than swimming for a change (I also won’t miss Bruce Mcavaney’s insipid commentary.) Remember back to Torino ’06 and how much coverage of the Winter Games was provided last time in Australia? Just taped highlights after 10pm on Seven. That’s because we can’t really ski either unless we’re prepared to break our spines, or just happen to fluke a skating race.

Rob Maddern writes: I can’t believe the crap that headed Wednesday’s edition regarding boring swimming and Tamsyn Lewis — what planet are you living on? You are obviously a very very poor swimmer and/or runner and have no idea what you are talking about. I am so glad I did not take up the subscription offer after my trial period. Now get back to your chips and beer and take your fat gut and write something useful or accurate. I am silently calling you lots of nasty names.

Ernie Biscan writes: Channel Seven’s abuse of the “the beautiful game” reached a new low last night with its coverage of the Australia vs. Serbia Olympic Games opener. With a long history of screwing the biggest sport in the world, Seven decided to start the game late and interrupt it with adverts making it almost impossible to watch. The ultimate insult however was supplying a commentator, who clearly had no understanding of the sport and, worse still, wasn’t even in the same city as the match was being played! While the Olyroos toiled away in Shanghai, he let slip his location at one point in the match commentary by saying “…here in Beijing.”

Facebook:

Duncan Riley writes: Re. “Facebook: how to defame someone without really trying” (yesterday, item 20). Greg Barns shows a complete lack of understanding of social media in when he suggests that Facebook and MySpace should be vetting material for defamation “day in and day out” in a similar way content is moderated by the mainstream media. How do you moderate over 1,365,459,713 visits in one month, the July usage figures for Facebook in the United States alone? Traditional media can be moderated due to the smaller numbers involved. A top story on news.com.au may attract several thousand comments, but most less than that. Social networking sites such as Facebook involve millions of entries weekly in Australia alone (Facebook has around five million Australian users), how exactly does Barns suggest that these all be moderated? If Facebook could moderate billions of user generated comments and posts every month without destroying the site (it’s hard to be social when you comment is waiting in a moderation queue) and financially ruining the company (through moderation costs), does Barns believe that defamation will cease as a result? There are now hundreds of thousands of Facebook style social networks (perhaps millions), and there are millions of blogs, social voting sites with comments, forums, chat, groups… the list goes on. Do we as a society even want this level of filtering and censorship? Who determines what stays and what goes, what defames and what doesn’t? The Australian Government has already turned to China for leadership on Internet censorship; perhaps the Minister can add defamation to his list? Better still, we could outsource the task to China! Robert Houghwout Jackson, US Supreme Court Judge and Chief United States prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials said it so well: “The price of freedom of religion, or of speech, or of the press, is that we must put up with a good deal of rubbish.” Unfortunately that sometimes includes a little defamation, or completely bizarre calls for censorship and moderation from people who should know better.

Stilgherrian writes: Has Greg Barns just noticed that people can write stuff on “teh internetz”, and others can read it? Even if it’s not true? Welcome to the 21st Century! Some of us have been here for a few years now and have noticed that social media websites aren’t really publishers like newspapers, but venues like cafes and pubs. We hold our conversations there — the same insulting, outrageous, insightful, inane or fun conversations we’ve always had — but now they’re also public and “on the record”. It’s a very different world. Society will need to develop new rules for interaction where everything is ephemeral and permanent and instantly available to all, all at the same time. But a moral-panic screech that we need to be able to sue someone, and introduce insanely draconian monitoring because someone might say something someone else won’t like, is not the way to do it.

Water buybacks:

Peter Redfearn writes: Re. “Water buybacks are not an overnight solution” (Wednesday, item 17). I despair at the ignorance of Arlene Buchan regarding the Murray lower Lakes and Coorong. Adelaide University studies involving sediment core sampling confirm the otherwise obvious fact that the lakes were regularly saline as would be expected. Pre-regulation, the Murray ceased to flow regularly. The Lower Lakes ecosystem was dramatically changed following the construction of the Barrages. This restricted the natural exchange of waters at the lakes mouth to the ocean. The present ecosystem is therefore much altered from the pre Barrage time. I would therefore question the supposed high value of the present ecosystem. The evidence also suggests that the effect of the Murray on the Coorong was intermittent and limited to the western end and that the main fresh water effect on the Coorong came from swampland to the east of the Coorong which has long since been drained to the sea thus depriving the Coorong. To declare that there is plenty of water in storage is a ridicules notion and hardly worthy of response, except to say with critical human needs barely covered for a year, I think not. There have been mistakes made with water resource management, but none greater than trying to create and maintain the Lower Lakes as fresh. This ill conceived notion has cost enormous amounts of water and still 1600 megalitres spill into the lakes daily. Upstream lakes have been dewatered for water savings, e.g. Mokoan, Boga and some at Menindee all small fry compared to the Lower Lakes. Removal of the Barrages and a weir at Wellington would contain the waste of fresh water and refill the Lakes. Piping to previous Lake users would also be necessary. The addition of three million Melbournians to the equation should also cause alarm to all concerned for the basins future. Where does the Arlene stand on this one?

Barry McMillan writes: You talk about political will, where are Crikey and the other publications when Cubbie Station behoves mention? They hold in storage more than eight times the volume of Sydney Harbour. Most of this storage has been harvested from flood flow hence unpaid for, if that water had been let go past we wouldn’t have a crisis in the lower Murray. Why has no one called for the release of this water? Methinks too many politicians have their snout in the trough. Come on Crikey, surely you have the balls to lead the charge.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Rundle: Vale Solzi … Solcze … Sulzo … that Russian guy” (yesterday, item 5). Guy Rundle singles out The Australian for its “spin” on the death of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. But in fact his is the only commentary I have encountered so far that is not cloyingly homogenised. And he does not go far enough. Solzhenitsyn wouldn’t have had a career without the initial support from Nikita Khrushchev and the later support from the West. His Gulag Archipelago is a rambling rant that “proves” nothing in particular. Significantly, it begins with the defence of Soviet soldiers accused of r-ping German women. The fact he degenerated into an anti-Semitic Tsarist is hardly surprising. Nor is the fact that “many Russians found him to be a cranky irrelevance”. If only all our media was so nuanced.

Show trials:

John Richardson writes: Re. “Karadzic v Guantanamo Bay detainees: two very different trials” (yesterday, item 12). Two very different trials… but both show trials nevertheless. Whilst Hamdan has been found guilty of aiding terrorists and will shortly be consigned to obscurity, think of the other guests in the American gulag who, even if through some miracle were found “not guilty”, can still be detained indefinitely under the Pentagon’s model “judicial” system: heads we win, tails you lose. As for Karadzic, perhaps his “trial” might mean something if he was accompanied in the dock by Blair, Bush and the leaders of NATO responsible for war crimes against the people of Yugoslavia? Meanwhile, the world’s greatest hypocrite and war criminal — personally responsible for the destruction of the world’s oldest civilisation and the deaths of over a million of its citizens — struts the stage and seeks to lecture China on its human rights record in Tibet and Darfur.

Rugged individualism:

Brefney Ruhl writes: Well John Goldbaum (yesterday, comments), rugged individualism — how very Ayn Rand of you. America adopted this kind of “rugged individualism” with the result that today, in the wealthiest and most developed country the world has ever known, 37 million people live below the poverty line, 3.5 million people live on the streets and 18,000 Americans die yearly because they can’t afford health insurance (the worst record per capita of any developed nation). In any society there are those who “survive” better than others, I prefer to live in an inclusive society that takes account of those less well off.

The Sydney Heritage Fleet:

Alan Edenborough, Project Director, Sydney Heritage Fleet, writes: Shirley Colless (yesterday, comments) is a tireless worker for many causes, but her information network has let her down in her piece about the Sydney Heritage Fleet and NSW Maritime. Far from the Minister for Ports, Joe Tripodi, and the NSW Maritime Authority “hating” the Sydney Heritage Fleet, both the Minister and the Authority are recognised as key supporters of the Fleet, its vessels, its activities and its future plans. What’s more, they have worked with the Fleet to plan for its future at a modernised site in Rozelle Bay once the dry stack boat store is completed. Rozelle Bay, by the way, has been the Fleet’s shipyard base for many years, not Blackwattle Bay, as Shirley Colless has been led to believe, where the Fleet has never had a presence. NSW Maritime and the Minister are also working with the Fleet to ensure that the Fleet’s essential heritage shipyard facility is securely located for the future.

Eddie McGuire:

Adam Schwab writes: Re. “Last night’s TV ratings” (yesterday, item 24). It is fashionable to attack Eddie McGuire these days, but it is sad that Crikey media sage, Glenn Dyer has had to stoop to such levels. Dyer noted yesterday “the problems at Collingwood can be found in the behaviour at Nine over the years by one Eddie McGuire and the way he grabbed large amounts of money with both hands, especially since his failure as CEO.” Eddie McGuire is not without faults, but remember this is a man who came from Broadmeadows, used his natural abilities to win a school scholarship and rise through the ranks of sports journalism. McGuire has, for the last decade, been the voluntary and unpaid President of Collingwood, leading it to nine years of profit growth (interrupted this year by write-offs) and boosting AFL attendances across the board. While McGuire should never have become CEO of Nine, he did jump aboard a rapidly sinking ship — to accuse him of being a “money-grabber” and being a direct cause of Collingwood’s woes is tall-poppy syndrome gone completely mad — Glenn should know better.

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Peter Fray

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