Clare Buchanan, Group Corporate Communication Manager, Woolworths Limited, writes: Re. “Naughty naughty Woolies compares apples to oranges” (yesterday, item 26). In reference to your piece about the Woolies Q1 sales numbers, as media and analysts are aware, we have followed this same method (comparing one quarter to the preceding quarter) for the last four sales periods and the numbers are all fully disclosed. The basis for our comparison is to show the most relevant trend. You may disagree, but we rather thought this might be useful given the collapse of world markets, downturn in consumer confidence etc etc. After all, in the current economic climate there’s no point comparing apples with oranges, is there? But while we’re on the topic of accurate figures, we note that our internal inflation rate (3.2%) has once again closely tracked the food component of the CPI (3.4%).

Radio National:

Andrew Roff writes: Re. “Radio National program cuts don’t add up” (yesterday, item 5). Andrew Dodd got it dead right in Crikey yesterday when he questioned whether podcasting is really the delivery method of choice for young RN listeners. I am a hip 20-something with an IT background, and even I can’t be a-sed downloading programs and then transferring them to my mp3 player. If I don’t catch a program when it’s on the radio (or when it’s replayed) I don’t bother trying to track it down later on.

RN is one of the last bastions of intelligent media left in Australia, and it would be a great shame to see it dumbed down (especially if this was blamed on trying to appeal to a younger crowd). RN even put me on to Crikey, via Christian Kerr’s chats with Phillip Adams on Late Night Live. So, y’know, it must be good. On a completely unrelated note, Guy Rundle is a champion.

Margaret Clinch writes: They should leave RN alone, it’s not broke. Enhance it with archival access through technology, but do not reduce programming. There is plenty of radio programming on commercial dials for those who want to vegetate. The only changes we need to radio national is more original programming, the number of repeats can be reduced. Do the critics really understand how fundamental the topic “religion” is to understanding human kind?

On RN we can enjoy things we have not even heard about before. We enjoy the balanced assessments. We enjoy being better informed. We enjoy listening to talented earnest presenters. For those of us who work at home, it is a boon. We already have local area. That is very important for talkback and analysis on local events, but rarely is it as in depth as from the RN experts.

Julie Squire writes: The announced cuts to Radio National are a shame and a disgrace. Will those responsible keep in mind those of us in the country who listen faithfully to our beloved RN but don’t have the option of podcasting? No such thing as unlimited broadband where I live, and my unlimited dial-up rockets along at 28kbps with regular dropouts. Audio on demand, podcasting, and online multimedia are beyond my reach. But I can still listen to the radio the old-fashioned way and I dare say I’m not alone. Don’t ruin RN — and don’t forget that the “future” hasn’t arrived for everyone yet…

Keen v Henderson:

Sean Hosking writes: Re. “Gerard Henderson: Steve Keen is no psychic” (yesterday, item 14). Steve Keen shouldn’t worry too much about getting a mauling from Gerard Henderson, guardian of the passive and mindless status quo, who scours the media looking for any old thing on which to unleash his shop-worn brand of corporate sponsored reactionary conservatism.

Gerard brings to mind the recent US study on “Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition” which describes conservatism as constituting a “set of neuroses rooted in fear and aggression, dogmatism… an intolerance of ambiguity and a preference for moral certainty”.

In this respect, apart from being a thoroughly recalcitrant “taxpayer funded leftist academic type” (the Keynesian t-shirt gave it away Steve), the sheer heterodox nature of Mr Keen’s economics (that is his rejection of dogma) and its somewhat negative implications (which perennially fearful Gerard equated with “doom”), combined with his “populist” non legitimacy within the economic establishment (thus his status as “doom celeb”) was always going to prompt Gerard to view him as an uncertain moral proposition and to therefore aggressively reach for his shonky old one shot Winchester.

It also wouldn’t have helped that Gerard had noticed in a newspaper photo that Mr Keen’s partner was “standing close and looking admiringly in his eyes”. Gerard also hates “leftist luvvies”.

Darryl Calderwood writes: Fantastic! This is one of the main reasons I subscribe to Crikey … to see these two go at it! I am not usually a fan of Gerard’s; however I am starting to swing. I loved his offer to Keen to take his house off his hands … the bloke has a sense of humour! And really is Steve just a little p-ssed of that all those other academic duds have been able to get their snouts in the trough but not him? Great stuff!

Tony Barrell writes: Interesting to see Gerard Henderson complaining that Stephen Keen is “playing the man rather than the ball”. Has Henderson ever done anything else?

ACT election:

Malcolm Mackerras writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). Wednesday’s issue of Crikey engaged in some misleading analysis of the ACT votes. It referred to Jon Stanhope’s “dismal” vote of 12,000 in Ginninderra and compared that with the votes of Zed Seselja and Katy Gallagher in Molonglo. It is true that Seselja received 16,521 votes and Gallagher 13,708 in Molonglo. Meanwhile Stanhope received 12,897 in Ginninderra.

However, it should be noticed that the number of electors in Molonglo is 103,719 while the number in Ginninderra is 68,358. Molonglo returns seven members while Ginninderra returns five. Consequently the sensible way to describe the result is to say that Stanhope received 22 per cent of the vote, Seselja 19 per cent and Gallagher 16 per cent. So Stanhope’s Saturday night claim that he topped the poll is correct.

Britt Lapthorne:

Duncan Beard writes: Polly Tembel (yesterday, comments) seems to think that the Australian government is responsible for law enforcement in other countries. The “agony” of the Lapthorne family has nothing to do with anything and to continually appeal to how sad their situation must be is a red herring. Richard Farmer has been right on the money on this issue; personally, I think he hasn’t gone far enough: It’s one thing for the family to use the media to apply public pressure, but to characterise the police force leading the investigation as “provincial” and little more than “a traffic police force” is beyond the pale.

Geoff Perston writes: Re. “Britt Lapthorne and ugly Australian nationalism” (yesterday, item 15). Britt Lapthorne reprised: Meanwhile, in the real, non-media driven world, we have an innocent and defenceless Sudanese refugee assaulted in a Melbourne street, and subsequently dying from his injuries — inflicted at the hands of a gang of racist thugs. Was that front-page news for weeks? If not, why not? Oh, sorry … silly me. Ms Lapthorne was a young, Anglo, white-skinned female, with photogenic blonde hair and perfect teeth.

John Robinson:

Mike Carey writes: Rob Kbak (yesterday, comments) blames John Robinson’s stance on electricity privatisation for Labor’s poor showing in the weekend’s by-elections. Wrong, wrong and wrong again. Poll after poll showed that 70% of people wanted the utilities to stay in public hands. It was the Costa visigoths and the Iemma vandals who got up voters’ noses, especially after having guaranteed, in the lead up to the last NSW general election, that the privatisation would definitely not go ahead. People don’t like being lied to and they remember. It wasn’t “Robbo” who was out of touch with the wishes of the electorate, he was its champion! It’s encouraging to note that Verity Firth and Kristina Keneally are so far out of the loop that they have listened on Callan Park too! Can Currawong and Catherine Hill Bay be far behind?

First Dog on the Moon:

Richard Scott writes: Re. “First Dog on the Moon” (17 October, item 5). The cartoon last Friday about what Australian culture has become and the contrast with our mythology was devastatingly well crafted. It brought tears to my eyes. When I open First Dog, I can never tell if I am going to laugh till my sides split, sob silently, or look bemused. Maybe that means I should consider lithium, but I take it as a mark of First Dog’s talents.

Vent your pedant spleen:

An anonymous Crikey reader writes: Re. “Australia could reap windfall if UK pensioner’s win” (yesterday, item 17). For f-ck’s sake Crikey, learn to use friggin’ apostrophes. Can someone at Crikey tell me what purpose the apostrophe serves here? This is not a one-off; it has been going on for months and months alongside an absurd number of basic grammatical, syntax and punctuation errors. It’s like fingernails down a blackboard. So, the next time any Crikey reporter accuses Fairfax/News/whoever of falling editorial standards in print/online publishing, please spare a thought for us who actually pay for Crikey. Sure, Fairfax may not be perfect, but at least it’s free.

James Stocks writes: Re. “England, Ireland set to suffer a worse recession than the US” 9yesterday, item 25). Glenn Dyer wrote: “…and get the choir singing You’ll Never Walk Alone from the terraces at Wembley…”

a) Only Liverpool and Celtic fans EVER sing that song.
b) It would only be sung at Wembley if either team played a match there – it’s never going to happen for Celtic unless an occurrence akin to winning lotto happens and A) Wembley host the UEFA Champions League Final and Celtic make it. Liverpool yes much more possible.
c) There haven’t been terraces in ANY Premier League ground or Wembley for close on twenty years.

Always trying to be cool and funny and always a bit off the mark…

Diana Lyons writes: “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Yesterday you had a go at Grazia‘s Alison Veness-McGourty for spelling “Spartacus” as “Sparticus” and for committing the dreadful crime of omitting a few commas. Then Glenn Dyer referred to Rebecca Gibney “walking down the isle” and you didn’t even notice. Lift your game boys and girls.

Gerard Sheehan writes: “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). Sir. Talking about spelling errors in the magazine Grazia. Isn’t there one l in instalment not two as you have written?

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