US election 2008:

Bruce Graham writes: Re. “Rundle08: I hope I hope I hope” (yesterday, item 1). Guy Rundle, Ken Lambert (yesterday, comments), and others may be correct when they forecast the end of America. I am no pundit. But it is likely that neither remember the last time America was scheduled to end. A passing number of Americans (including my parents) emigrated to Australia in the late 1960s and early 1970’s because it was the farthest you could get from the USA and still speak English.

Some (like David Hackworth) were escaping a military industrial complex they had supported but come to despise. For others, the inevitable prospect of nuclear war, black activism, and all manner of apocalyptic visions appeared. Then there was an oil crisis (hmmm. seems familiar) and western civilisation was doomed. After that, it took the USA 25 years to rebuild confidence to recent delusional heights. I do not believe in the March of History. More a drunken random stagger.

Phillip Adams writes: Guy’s coverage of the election has been remarkable — far and away the best — and yesterday’s essay is a masterpiece. I am lost in admiration.

Julian Gillespie writes: Guy Rundle’s item yesterday was mesmerizing — I’m sure Frauka and Horst weren’t expecting that cab ride!

Phillip Musumeci writes: Have you figured out how Guy Rundle will be rehabilitated before release from the customs area of Melbourne airport? Obviously, he’ll need some serious religious/alcohol/spin detox and it probably isn’t going to be easy. I thank reader Leah Marrone (yesterday, comments) for alerting me to this impending difficulty (disaster?).

Stephen Magee writes: So Despina Anagnostou (yesterday, comments) wrote that NY taxi drivers are “practically soiling [their] pants, org-smic, anticipating an Obama win”? Is this: (a) a comment on the s-xual preferences of NY taxi drivers; (b) a horribly mixed metaphor; or (c) a prediction of the effect on the USA that an Obama win will have?

Trevor Hedge writes: I found Bud’s response (yesterday, comments) to my observation interesting but his last comment is one that brought a smile to my face. While riding through Indiana I passed a tree with a large painted sign affixed to it, “We don’t care about what goes on in the rest of the world, just this little here corner of it.”

Despina Anagnostou writes: Re. “Your guide to the talking heads to watch today” (US Election Day: Early Crikey special edition, item 6). I’m disappointed that in “Your guide to the talking heads to watch today” (US Election Day: Early Crikey Special Edition), you profiled the slightly unhinged, excitable smarty pants, Keith Olberman, but neglected his buddy – more conservative but nonetheless prone to clearly and unselfconsciously articulating his love (cringe worthy, real love) for Obama – Chris Matthews. Incidentally, an article profiling Matthews in last Sunday’s New York Times featured a cameo by a certain Australian journalist — and his “cream-colored corduroys”.

ISP filtering:

Les Heimann writes: Re. “ISP filtering: who’s exploiting the kids?” (Yesterday, item 5). Wowsers unite — the wheel has turned full circle and now there exists a genuinely holy alliance of religious fundamentals, cynical pollies, metrosexual neuters and simply narrow minded fools all echoing “censorship is good”. Well censorship is the most fundamental form of dictatorship— the naked (pun intended) abuse of power. What happened to freedom? What happened to the expression well abused “I hate what you say but I will defend your right to say it”? The internet is the last bastion of freedom on this planet — and our representatives wish to strangle same. Shame on them as the do know what they do. We do not deserve their ilk as they are lesser types — killers of freedom and deserving of our wholesome disrespect.

Rowen Cross writes: Re. “Core arguments of the internet blockers explained” (yesterday, item 15). Bernard Keane wrote: “The biggest and oldest myth on the internet, up there with the Neiman-Marcus cookies recipe and the exploding whale story.” The exploding whale story is NOT a Myth.

Middle-ranking power:

David Havyatt writes: Re. “What does the G20 giggle say about Kevin Rudd?” (Monday, item 4). Bernard Keane wrote “Let’s face reality: we’re a middle-ranking power with the international clout of Belgium”. I don’t know how one defines “middle-ranking” but if we go on size of economy Australia with 1.5% of world GDP ranks 15th in a list of over 200. The area of mainland Australia is just over 5% of the total area of all the continents. So sure — we are not a superpower, but middle-ranking is a gross understatement.

Neil James:

Harold Thornton writes: Sadly, because my name is not Neil James (yesterday, comments), I won’t get to see my beloved turgid, boring and lengthy prose reprinted verbatim in today’s Crikey. I assume that as a mere subscriber my comments will be edited, unlike his thesis-length attempts to obscure reality and defend the indefensible.

I write however to note that James’s comment regarding Australian aircraft purchases “This is particularly so because we rarely have enough troops and ships for them to fight without air support, and it is plain immoral for us to ever put them in such situations as we did, for example, in Greece, Crete, Tobruk, Malaya, Singapore, Java Sea, Ambon, Timor, Rabaul, Arafura Sea, Darwin, etc.” is nothing more than a fatuous debating trick.

In none of these situations was the Australian military’s lack of air support the result of parsimony by Australian governments. In all of them our forces’ lack of air support resulted from slavish adherence to the imperial defence doctrines of the day, which held Australian contribution to be that of a cog in the imperial machine. RAAF highly-trained personnel and aircraft there were aplenty, but most of them were involved in defending Britain and in the ill-conceived strategic bombing of Germany, rather than in support of the defence of, um, Australia.

There is no reason to suppose that in future conflicts Australian air assets would be use differently, especially if James’s doctrines inform our defence posture. Are our diggers aware that their representative is an advocate for their future sacrifice on the imperial altar? If not, perhaps they should be told.

Losing interest:

Gabriel McGrath writes: Re. “Last night’s TV ratings” (yesterday, item 19) Glenn Dyer wrote: “Australian Idol, 965,000 for the verdict episode. Sad really that Australians don’t want to know about the results of these programs in the same numbers as they watch the performances. It was the same for The Biggest Loser and Big Brother. There’s a real lack of engagement there with the program. Australian Idol‘s producers should stick a late performance ‘get out of jail’ segment into the start of the verdict episode that might change the voting.”

So, Aussies are now more interested in the “entertainment” bit of Australian Idol than the long, drawn out “who has their hopes crushed on TV and hopefully cries” bit? And — the same thing has been happening to other reality TV shows? No Glenn, there’s no “lack of engagement” with these programs. After seven years, there’s just less interest in “manipulative reality stuff” and more interest in “entertainment”.


Bill Priestley writes: There’s a chap who keeps writing in, and whose stuff you keep printing, whose pedantry I find particularly irritating. I won’t disturb myself further by going back and looking up his name, but you should recognise him by the fact that he seems to devote himself to pointing out what he thinks are errors in the way words are used in your publication, affecting to display erudition which is sometimes wrong, affecting also an air of omniscience which has a pretty insecure basis, and even when he is on the right track pointing out the tiniest faults.

He is a time waster, and although I abhor censorship of any kind, I wish you would use more selectivity when deciding what of his stuff to print. Perhaps you could divert my irritation, without censorship, by publishing his stuff under a heading Pedants Corner. That would give him the opportunity of unloading some pseudo knowledge about apostrophes.

Climate change we can believe in:

James McDonald writes: I wonder when the question will turn up on a job application or visa form somewhere: “Are you, or have you ever been, a Climate Change Denier?” I’ll say this: if it weren’t for these allegedly big-business fifth-columnist provocateurs in our very midst coming out at the full moon to question the case for human-induced global warming, and some of the calmer replies they elicit, I would be at best far less knowledgeable on the subject and at worst still a Climate Change Denier myself.

As it is I’m still open-minded on the issue but prepared to vote (and pay) on the safe side. I gather the label is adapted from “Holocaust Denier” with the implied hope that some illiberal jurisdiction somewhere will make Climate Change Denial an indictable offense. I say cheers to the sceptics who keep on challenging the new orthodoxy, and cheers to those of scientific background who continue patiently to respond with evidence. I read it all with interest.

Mark Byrne writes: It’s curious that Jeffrey Coombs (yesterday, comments) should claim that I am “seeking to discount the 600 million years of Earth’s climatic history”. It is not clear whether Coombs believes citing multiple proxy paleoclimate data, or referring to the massive change in solar irradiance is “discount[ing] the Earth’s climatic history”? Coombs also links to the authoritative source TSCdaily for some choice interpretation.

The solar sun spot data used in the selected article is similar to the data used in the great global warming swindle that conveniently ends at 1980, which happens to be the point where the correlation between temperature and sun spots breaks down. This break down is consistent with the overpowering of one cycle (0.12 W/m2) with a more powerful anthropogenic forcing (1.6 W/m2).

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name — we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

Peter Fray

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