Sometimes, if you want to do Islamophobia right, you just gotta do it yourself. This from The Oz ‘s Cut and Paste:

Switzerland’s Corriere del Ticino on how the suggestion that Muslim countries, where people don’t eat pork, will escape swine flu could be turned into a conspiracy theory:

GOD, or nature, is punishing mankind for eating impure animals. A food apocalypse will triumph where international terrorism failed. A slice of salami will be the death of the West. Then there will be those … who interpret the swine epidemic as an anti-Western plot … This ideological explanation for swine flu, albeit utterly preposterous, could prove tenable at a symbolic level … It could indeed be a just punishment for the rich countries to fall victim to … their own greed. For those who believe in the clash of the cultures, a conspiracy in which a foodstuff that is symbolic of our society is poisoned by the “enemies” would be absolutely plausible.

Got that? No Muslims haven’t claimed that yet, but if they did it, here’s how they’d do it. But how did they get hold of an obscure Alpine source? Step forward Tom “Heidi” Switzer, ex op-ed editor. After the Howard loss in 2007, Tom had a complete breakdown and lost the ability to speak English, reverting instead to the “Rumantsch” language of his gingerbread youth (it’s a minor language of East Switzerland, the country’s fourth official tongue). Though The Australian soldiered on, letting Tom edit the page using an 1898 Rumantsch-English dictionary borrowed from the Mitchell library, it became clear that he would have to find employment where command of English was irrelevant, which is how he ended up in Brendan Nelson’s office. But not before your correspondent reached out and made the effort:

From: Guy Rundle
Sent: Friday, December 14, 2007 12:37 PM
To: _EDA-Vertretung Canberra
Subject: Romansch inquiry

Swiss Embassy
7 Melbourne Avenue
Forrest ACT 2603

Dear sir/madam,

I don’t know whether the Swiss embassy is the right place to take this inquiry, but I wonder if you could be of assistance in an unusual matter. An aged acquaintance of mine, Tomas Switzer, has recently suffered serious mental trauma related to shocks, with symptoms resembling that of a stroke. Mr Switzer is Austrian by birth, but his family moved across the border at an early age, and Romansch became his principle language. His knowledge of German and English appears to have been damaged and he seems to retain a consistent working knowledge only of Romansch.

We are thus hoping to locate an interpreter who might be able to assist us in this matter, and have been unable to commercially locate someone for this — I mean no disrespect — minor language service.

If you could assist us in any way, we would be grateful.

Mr Switzer’s carer, Chris Mitchell, his newsagent, can be reached at [email protected] I’d be grateful if you would cc me in to any responses.

Guy Rundle

Came the reply:

From: EDA-Vertretung Canberra
Sent: Thu 12/27/07 1:03 PM

To: [email protected] Cc: Guy Rundle Re: Rumantsch inquiry

Dear Mr Mitchell,

This Embassy had been approached by Mr Guy Rundle in search of an interpreter who knows to speak Rumantsch.

A search among the members of the local Swiss Club in Canberra had unfortunately been without success. Furthermore, I have to inform you that even though there are very few people in Switzerland (0.9% of the population), this language has within itself six different dialects which are very different from one another. Therefore, the task becomes even more difficult.

Please find hereafter an association in Switzerland which promoting the Rumantsch Language. Maybe they are able to help you with your search:

Uniun Pro Svizra Rumantscha CH – 7188 Sedrun / Switzerland E-mail: psr(at)

I regret that I cannot give you a more positive reply.

With my best wishes for the New Year, I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Uve Haueter (Mr)

Consul / Head of Chancery

Embassy of Switzerland 7 Melbourne Avenue, FORREST ACT 2603

At which point the logical thing to do would have been to contact the Swiss press and interest them in this touching story of a man who had reverted to his lederhosen-laden childhood due to the collapse of his world, with a photo (probably of Angry Anderson). But Mr Haueter had been so nice I didn’t have the heart. Henry Root I isn’t. There it stopped, though it’s good to see Tom keeps an eye on the things that matterhorn. Courage Tom. You know we’re all fondue. — Guy Rundle

The Kouts Cruel-o-Meter. Crikey ‘s Richard Farmer has touched on the story of SA parliamentary hoon Minister for Road Safety Tom Koutsantonis, who was forced to resign last week over his appalling driving record. South Australian media outlet Adelaide Now responded to the news with this funky looking and completely weird interactive game on their website called “The Kouts Cruel-o-Meter — the question, to pimp Kout’s car or to detonate it?

Emotional and tired? Is that ABC speak for hangover? The breakfast (5.30am to 9am) announcer on Canberra ABC local radio station 666, Ross Solly, was missing from his shift Thursday morning. A fill-in announcer did the early part of the show. When morning (9am to midday) host Alex Sloan started her on-air shift earlier than normal, at 8.30am, she explained to on-air listeners that it was because Ross Solly had been at the Canberra local radio awards last night and was “too tired and emotional” to be on air. Tired and emotional? As of this morning, ABC in Canberra was not reporting the results of the local radio awards — good or bad — so maybe Solly wasn’t over-celebrating, but was instead drowning his sorrows. — Crikey reader Marcus Vernon

Placement aporkolypse. The Townsville Bulletin places the Swine Flu story next to… a kid kissing a pig??

Hero of the week. Man travels four days for help carrying a girl with her stomach falling out:

Seeking Credit Superhero. Unfortunately this employment opportunity was taken off Seek yesterday afternoon, we can only hope that Dargan Financial found the appropriate hero for the job.

Three acquitted of playing roles in murder of journalist Politkovskaya. A jury acquitted three men on Thursday of playing minor roles in the murder of an investigative journalist whose killing underlined the risks that Kremlin critics can face in Russia. The main suspects in the case remained at large. The unanimous not-guilty verdicts ended a four-month trial regarding the killing of acclaimed journalist Anna Politkovskaya, whose probing reports on atrocities in Chechnya and abuses by Russian authorities angered the government. The trial was marred from the start by the absence of the suspected gunman and any alleged mastermind behind the politically charged October 2006 killing. Prosecutors vowed to appeal. — Editor and Publisher

More American newspaper refugees start up online media site. Back in October, the New Jersey Star-Ledger bought out 200 employees (and then hired interns to replace them). Roughly one-fifth of those employees recently launched , a local site aimed at covering the Garden State with a combination of original reporting and rehashed stories. The former S-Ler s are following in the footsteps of refugees from major papers, including the online-only Seattle Post-Intelligencer — who launched Seattle Post Globe — and Denver journos, who are trying to get InDenverTimes up and running. Everyone is currently working for free, but  they hope to secure a revenue stream soon. — Webnewser

UK Daily Express editor’s catalogue of ‘mistakes’ in evidence to MPs. The evidence given to the Commons select committee yesterday by Daily Express editor Peter Hill was extraordinary. He made persistent references to the uniqueness of the Madeleine McCann story as an excuse for his paper’s tawdry and defamatory coverage. He blamed the Portuguese police for leaking untrue stories, which he was happy to publish, he said, because he believed them to be true “at the time”. Sadly, MPs did not ask him why his reporters had failed to obtain a second source for any of those far-fetched and malicious stories obtained through anonymous leaks. — Greenslade @ The Guardian

The greatest, most heroic shampoo ad ever . This commercial from Lowe Bangkok for Clear shampoo gets to the very heart of the age-old human vs dandruff struggle: It’s an epic, poetic, otherworldly battle between ice-arrow-wielding brunette warrior-hairs and freaky white exploding dandruff fairies. If it’s intentionally campy, it’s great. If it’s meant to be serious, it’s even better.

And just try to make sense of the voiceover: “From black into darkness, shadows see follicles bent and broke and slivers of sparks as dark and dandruff collide. Rage, rage against her breath of fear! Now frozen, silence marks the danse macabre. And into the dark, the icy blackness follows.” — AdFreak

Peter Fray

Help us keep up the fight

Get Crikey for just $1 a week and support our journalists’ important work of uncovering the hypocrisies that infest our corridors of power.

If you haven’t joined us yet, subscribe today to get your first 12 weeks for $12 and get the journalism you need to navigate the spin.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey