The Chaser:

Alexandra Penfold writes: Re. “The tangled Chaser chain of responsibility” (yesterday, item 3). Moderation and ordinariness is a fatal thing and nothing succeeds like success or excess. That aphorism sounds familiar and our ABC’s The Chasers War on Everything seems to have this clever approach to free publicity. And why not? It ticks all the outrageous and kinda freaky, freebie advertising boxes to an ever so grateful but silly commercial mainstream media. (Who loathe the ABC but promote them richly, by default.)

It defies reality that those funny and good old/young Chaser Boys would actually wish to hurt or be cruel to dying kiddies.

Think about it knee-jerkers. It’s all about the (ABC) economy stupid and a beautiful blast of black satire saturating our bleak landscape. Hopefully the best outcome will be a focus on the plight of all sick and dying children and children at risk, everywhere in Australia.

If you feel too uptight to understand this idea, take a very deep breath and hold it for 50 seconds. Think about the success of Steady Eddie for example, the bloke who had the nous to use black comedy to make disability feel user-friendly and best answer the hand-wringers and bleeding hearts and reject hollow indignation and self-righteous sentimentality all masquerading as compassion.

Neil Appleby writes: Re. “Say what you like about The Chaser, they’re no Sam Newman” (yesterday, item 23). Ralph Horowitz’s article reinforces my belief that he has been too close to some of the most misogynistic and sexist media personalities for too long, to be able to see reality. To criticise Sam Lane for her writing in The Age (an outstanding story I thought) is pathetic. To then suggest that she had a vested interest in seeing the Footy Show pilloried, is just plain mischief making.

One of the reasons the football public have such respect for Caroline Wilson and Sam Lane is that they are not part of the blokey “yes man” clique. They are not scared to say it like it is for fear of missing a story. Your time with the Footy Show and as Rex’s producer at 3AW, coincided with a general dumbing down in sport media and a spike in sexist, homophobic, juvenile and often spiteful humour. It’s no accident that 3AW has improved out of sight since you were removed.

Why any one at Crikey thinks your work is worth printing is beyond me.

Zachary King writes: Give it a rest Ralph Horowitz. Your petulant whining is doing the cause no good whatsoever. Don’t get me wrong, I am not offended by either Sam “This really is my face” Newman nor the Chaser “middle aged” Boys, but your whinge about the poor little misunderstood footy show and the rough trot it gets from the media is self indulgent bleating at its worst.

Think of the children:

Jill Whittaker writes: Re. “Fine to Hamilton: No evidence media images cause child abuse” (yesterday, item 24). Duncan Fine does his credibility no good with his immature and trite defence of David Jones and the photos taken making young girls look more sexual. It seems that it hasn’t crossed his mind that young girls themselves see those kind of sexualised photos as the way that girls should be. This is different from how their mother looks, as children understand that there is a difference between the world of children and that of adults.

Duncan Fine may be happy to rob girls of their innocence and childhood in this way but his sense of values is narrow. If it doesn’t affect him then it is OK. It doesn’t matter the messages that it gives girls about how to grow up.

His comment that children in a burqua or in a bikini are all the same to him is just silly. Has he ever thought that for swimming neither article of clothing is very practical for a ten year old girl? I doubt it because he hasn’t given much thought beyond his own reaction and cares not at all if advertisers limit the range of images of girls can see of themselves.

Of course the failure of the approach suggested by Duncan Fine that if we all ignore the sexually provocative photos everything would be alright is covered by his statement “We all begin to look at innocent images through the eyes of the p-edophile.” But of course they are not innocent images as Julie Gale has discovered through her diligence and there really are paedophiles out there. He states there is no “evidence” of an impact of the media on young girls. There is plenty of evidence however that body image is of great importance to teenage girls who are not helped by media focussing unrelentingly on their attractiveness through the types of images used in advertising. He would be on safer ground if he was to advocate the stricture “First do no harm”.

Duncan Fine misrepresents Julie Gale and Clive Hamilton and says that if they protest about the way girls are represented the problem is with them.

Actually, No Duncan. The problem is with you and corporate marketers who through advertising limit the way that girls are seen and can see themselves in the public sphere. David Jones seem to understand this too, now — so it should, as it was likely to suffer a massive consumer backlash from those grandmothers and mothers who regularly shop there, but want their children to have the right to be children in the public and private spheres.

Paul Gilchrist writes: Duncan Fine’s article was a fine example of false arguments – ad hominem attacks, red herrings and unproven assertions. I was trying to think of a clever response, but it wasn’t very clever after all. So I wondered: why the anger against an attempt to protect children in the first decade of their lives?

I think it is that any attempt to say an act or behaviour is wrong is treated with deep suspicion. These days, the only thing universally condemned is forcing someone to do something. Duncan seems to think Hamilton and Gale have violated this commandment, but really, aren’t the children being forced into a behaviour?

Black boxes:

Keith Thomas writes: Re. “AF447: what we know so far” (yesterday, item 4). There are too many lost “black boxes”. Can’t the data being recorded in the black boxes also be transmitted simultaneously via satellite to a ground station of the airline? It may miss a few seconds of data in a furious electrical storm, but it should include most that is important for all other incidents.

Swine Flu:

Bruce Graham writes: Re. “Crikey Clarifier: Swine flu in Victoria” (yesterday, item 20). I do not live in Victoria, and so may be “out of the loop” but there does not appear to have been any upsurge in hospital admission for influenza, intensive care admission for influenza, or deaths from influenza. Of course, such numbers go up every autumn, and in most years most of the cases go undiagnosed.

One day, no doubt, there will be a truly terrifying influenza pandemic. It is the job of epidemiologists to lay awake at night worrying about that possibility. This current epidemic is not it. It takes a lot of courage to back down from a panic, though. Do not expect any admissions that this was all (in retrospect) overkill.

European fascism:

Stephen Luntz writes: Re. “Europe’s fascists on the rise” (yesterday, item 11). While agreeing with most of Jeff Sparrow’s article on the rise of European fascism I’d like to correct his statement “The BNP is now more popular than the Greens.” It’s true the BNP won both their seats by narrowly beating Green candidates (by 0.3% in one case) so they’re apparently more popular in the north of England than the Greens.

However, across the UK as a whole the Greens outscored them 8.6% to 6.2% (excluding Northern Ireland). Unfortunately the Greens’ narrow defeats in several regions meant this translated to two seats each.

Joh Bjelke-Peterson:

Tony French writes: Re. “Newspaper shock horror: Queensland’s #1 icon is Sir Joh” (yesterday, item 15). According to Wikipedia a “cultural icon can be an image, a symbol, a logo, picture, name, face, person, or building or other image that is readily recognized, and generally represents an object or concept with great cultural significance to a wide cultural group. A representation of an object or person, or that object or person may come to be regarded as having a special status as particularly representative of, or important to, or loved by, a particular group of people, a place, or a period in history.”

In the media, there is an increasing trend for any well-known manifestation of popular culture to be described as “iconic”. Personally I think that Alex Mitchell has grasped the wrong end of the stick in his article on Tues. Joh is truly Iconic for QLD. His era and remember it was a very large significant time spanning a very large spectrum of Queensland’s history. He was representative of QLD.

Iconic does not represent “All that is good or saintly” just “regarded as having a special status as particularly representative of”. In the case of Joh and his ilk: He came to represent as being representative of!! All that was bad about life in QLD during his era, no more, no less.

Clem Just writes: Oh Dear. Alex Mitchell is in quite a tiz with Sir Joh being named No 1 icon. Joh did a lot for Qld but did not bow to the lefties and paranoid journalists who hated him. Grow up Alex there are other people in the world who have different views to you on this subject.

You will only ever publish the negative on Joh, so go on home, take a deep breadth and sit and think that not everyone has to agree with your views. By the way there are plenty of Labor politicians in NSW that fit your ranting and raving so how about writing about them?


Daniel Lewis writes: Re. “What is Gillard’s Israel visit all about?” (yesterday, item 18). Vague references to the Jewish Lobby are nothing new. For centuries, Jews have been accused of running world governments and banks, by a never ending procession of Jew-haters. However as far as the old anti-Semitic notion that Jews control the media goes, today’s piece in Crikey suggests they aren’t exactly getting their money’s worth… Former WA Premier Peter Dowding claims the Government is trying really hard to appease a Jewish lobby. But hang on; if a former Premier is going into bat for the Palestinians, then it would seem their lobbying ability isn’t too shabby.

It seems, that union lobbying is fine, greens lobbying is fine, nurses lobbies, women’s lobbies, teachers lobbies and aboriginal lobbies are fine. As they should be, in any democracy. Heaven forbid however that any Jews dare to lobby. Then it seems a different set of standards apply. Based on previous experience, the government mission to Israel will result in tangible benefit to Australian defence, agricultural, water and hi-tech sectors. There are plenty of good commercial reasons to go to Israel, regardless of your politics. In contrast, the only significant export of the Palestinians is suicide bombers. I suppose that is the difference in output of a society which teaches their seven year olds to read and write, versus one which teaches them to die for Allah.

The Australian Government, both Liberal and Labor has consistently supported the rights of the Palestinians to live in a state, alongside Israel. Indeed the majority of Israelis would also support that idea. The problem is that virtually no Palestinians (or their vocal supporters in Australia) seem to support the right of a Jewish state to exist at all. Their agenda is perverted – they want ‘no Jewish state’ much more than they really want a Palestinian state. Therein lies the problem.

Climate change cage match (now with its own blog):

Coleraine farmer Peter Small writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. I cannot believe what you write about climate change. You are so narrow and see things in such a simplistic way! Completely the opposite to the rest of your reporting. I am starting to think you may be naive and simplistic on all fronts!

Your assertion today that even if only 20% of the World’s scientist think CO2 causes global warming to say” lets press on, its a good insurance policy” is unbelievable. How about doing some serious calculations to see what the cost of this insurance policy is going to be? How many people are going to starve through lack of food because the World’s farmers will be cut to smithereens by the carbon costs?

Never mind the misery from job losses and unemployment! You might see it as an insurance policy, but it is more like a new wonder tax to get bankrupt intellectually lazy Governments out of clink. And/or a new line of business for bankrupt bankers.

For goodness sake wake up. Your readers expect more of your newsletter!

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. “Senator Fielding ventures to the climate sceptic heartland” (yesterday, item 2). Bernard Keane and your editorial push all the usual fact-free global warming arguments. Your editorial conservatively estimates more than “20 per cent of all reputable scientists in the world have voted in favour of the existence of human induced climate change”.

But when was this vote held? And is that just atmospheric scientists? Or does it include experts in, say, ro-vibrational spectroscopy? And if so why? Or are you just making numbers up in the absence of any real survey of who actually believes this?

Bernard Keane just trots out the usual “Exxon Mobile”…”dills”… “greenhouse denialism”… “conspiracy theories” stuff and slams The Australian for daring to break the media mono-think on this issue.

Not a word about the latest temperature data from UAH showing Earth was just 0.04C above the 30 year mean in May. No explanation on why Mars, Jupiter and Pluto are also experiencing global warming. No reference to the historical correlation between sunspot activity and climate. No answers on what caused past climate change. No argument on why plate tectonics, volcanic activity, ocean currents, orbital wobbles, etc, etc have no role the 0.7C of warming in the past 100 years. Crikey just asserts that we’re “beyond debating the science”. What a joke. You have never even attempted to.

Graeme Major writes: John Watts (yesterday, comments) wrote that, “The task that the supporters of the AGW theory have as yet left undone is the explanation in terms of how more atmospheric CO2 causes climate change/global warming using basic laws of physics/chemistry. I have sought this explanation from Liberals, ALP, Greens, ABC,WWF, Griffith Uni, BoM, etc. All of these opinion makers/scientists decline my request.”

Well, John, like the Little Red Hen, your dedication in seeking help from all and sundry is admirable, but your search is over. You can prove AGW in principle for yourself in a simple test, or go to your friendly science teacher at the local high school and ask him/her to set up the demonstration. Then, if your thirst for more quantitative knowledge is maintained, I can give you the precise mathematical explanation.

Prepare two test tubes, one with a stopper and plastic tubing reaching down halfway and poke the plastic tubing halfway down into the second tube. Place a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda into the first test tube. Carefully add a teaspoon of vinegar and stopper the tube. CO2 bubbles are produced from mixing the two reagents. The CO2 passes through the plastic tubing reaching down into the second test tube. (Do not have the second test tube stoppered). When the bubbling stops in the first test tube, replace the plastic tubing in the second with a thermometer in a stopper and seal any gaps with Blutac.

Set up a third test tube with a thermometer and stopper. Nothing but air is in this “control”. Place both the CO2-filled test tube and the “Control” tube in the sun for 15 minutes and record the temperatures of both every minute. Take them out of the sun into shade, place in an ice bath and similarly record temperatures every minute.

If you do not record higher temperatures in the CO2-enriched atmosphere, you have not done the experiment carefully enough. Repeat until you get the same result as all the experts. Then go and show it to Senator Fielding — and Barnaby Joyce while you are at it. The world will thank you.

Kelvin Groot Obbink writes: Dear John Watts. A simple way of obtaining your answer: Go to Wikipedia. Search “greenhouse effect”. Read. Thank you.