Michael Jackson:

Arley Moulton writes: Re. Friday’s editorial. When a King dies his death warrants “over the top” coverage. Michael Jackson was most certainly the King of Pop and his passing deserves even more than over the top coverage. Everyone who breathed even a second of air in the 80s and 90s would know of MJ and those who don’t would know at least a few of his songs.

I’m sitting here with a desire to read more about MJ than the Iran slaughter. A quick poll around my office has netted the same result. We want this, you can keep your precious Iran blogs and we’ll keep our “simply ridiculous” coverage of MJ.

I didn’t realise we were running out of room on the internets for both…

Gavin Robertson writes: Re. “Dead Wednesday on Friday: Michael Jackson RIP” (Friday, item 2). Tim Dunlop wrote: “…not enough people were going to feel comfortable about showing up at a Michael Jackson gig to bop along.” But enough people were comfortable that he’d sold out 40 nights at a stadium in London?

Vincent Burke writes: It was inevitable that a report of Michael Jackson’s death would contain fashionably snide commentary (as per Tim Dunlop), but to me it is a genuinely sad event. I remember watching a younger enchanting Jackson — both live and on the screen — with absolute awe. What a waste his adult years became.


Paul Gilchrist writes: Michael Byrne (Friday, comments) says that Labor “gagged” a censure motion on Wednesday, so “the Opposition did not have the opportunity to structure and deliver their case before the Australian people…” Good grief, can’t we get some perspective in all this nonsense? I need to get a life myself, because I watched most of the question times last week.

Sure, the eponymous Turnbull was gagged, but does anyone think he would have said anything new? He and Hockey Joe spent hours and hours last week repeating themselves, so frankly, the gagging just saved the taxpayer some wasted parliamentary time and money and we didn’t miss any “structured” case.

Let’s put the worst possible construction on Swan’s behaviour… Used car dealer sends an enquiry and Swan says, “gee he’s Kruddie’s mate, I’d better get onto it.” Then he rings UCD and says, “mate, I’m looking after you and I’ll make sure your request is handled pronto. I’ve told my mate in Treasury to fax updates to me at home. Never mind, mate, you’ll be ok, provided you keep on giving us utes.”

I don’t know what really happened, but I think this is the worst possible interpretation of it. But so @#[email protected]# what! The UCD had a hand in filling out an application form by his political mates, but he was perfectly entitled to the financial help, and anyway didn’t need anything in the end.

If this is the best we can do for a political scandal in this country, we should give up now.

Christmas Island:

Sandi Logan, Immigration’s spokesman, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (25 June, item 8). There is absolutely no truth to your suggestion that “immigration chiefs” are worried about overcrowding on Christmas Island on the “back of unannounced boat number 14” (we use the terminology “unauthorised boat arrivals”, actually). Our facilities on Christmas Island can accommodate around 1200 detainees, including surge capacity, across a range of facilities.

Currently there are less than 500 people in our care there. There is quite some way to go before reaching full capacity and contingency plans are in place to accommodate and support increased numbers — of staff and detainees — on the island, if required.

Where’s Wayne?:

John Goldbaum writes: Re. “Rudd, a PM with ‘four-o’clock-in-the-morning courage’” (Friday, item 1).

Is he still in the parliament? NO, it’s on holidays.

Is he on Radio National? He was, but they didn’t ask exactly the right question.

Is he on The 7.30 Report? NO.

Is he on Meet the Press? NO.

Is he talking to Laurie Oakes? NO.

Is he on The Insiders? NO.

Is he in Ipswich? You’re getting warm.

Is he sitting by the fax in Brisbane? You’re getting warmer.

Is he hiding under his bed? YEAH, you found him.

League tables:

Angus Sharpe writes: re. “Lowbottom High: and so the reporting cycle rolls on endlessly…” (Friday, item 16). I usually really enjoy Trevor Diogenes’ missives from Lowbottom High, but was disappointed with today’s episode. The advantage of Trevor remaining anonymous is that he can say whatever he likes about the education system. So when I saw the title of today’s post, I thought, great, Trevor is about to tell us what an insider really thinks about reporting and league tables. Basically, I want to know whether Trevor thinks that:

“being required to submit reports regarding VCE results is stupid. It puts too much focus on VCE results, and will destroy Schools in poorer areas”; or

“reporting, if done the right way (i.e. no stupid Victorian Education Learning Standards) will bring long term benefits for all. For example, we could build a teacher payment system that gives the most pay/bonuses for improvements year on year, thus benefiting the schools that start from the lowest base”.

But no, Trevor just complained about VELS, and money for unfinished swimming pools for private Schools. Valid, but not interesting. Like Spiderman, with power (posting on Crikey is a form of power, isn’t it?) and anonymity comes great responsibility. Don’t be weak. Tell us what you think Trevor.

Richard Wilkins:

John Allison writes: Re. “And the Wankley goes to… Richard Wilkins” (Friday, item 19). It’s bizarre but I heard a rumour on Friday around midday that Richard Wilkins had died. I put the question to his Australian agent and he replied that he often makes the same mistake.

Burqas in France:

Kate McFerran writes: Re. “Getting behind the burqua in France” (Friday, item 15). Shakira Hussein claims French President Nicolas Sarkozy is targeting the Muslim population with his views against women wearing the burqa in public. In addition to misspelling his name, Ms Hussein failed to mention that in the same speech President Sarkozy affirmed that France “must not fight the wrong battle…the Muslim religion must be respected as much as other religions”.

His speech made clear that this issue is about not being ashamed of the country’s values, and of not being afraid to defend them. France has the same right as any other country to determine the laws and uphold the societal values of its choice — the hallmark of a free democracy. The alternative for people of any religion who choose not to accept those laws and societal values is simple.

Choose where you live more wisely, and show respect for the country that accepts you.


Michael Byrne writes: Re. “First Dog on the Moon” (25 June, item 7). I thought I would wait for someone else to take this up but it seems no one has, unless you did not publish any such response. How deeply offensive was the comment in the First Dog on the Moon thing on Thursday 25th June. I just do not know how you people can get all sanctimonious and emo on matters “racist, sexist, misogynist etc…” and be comfortable with that offensive comment. So bloody hypocritical.

All Greek to me:

Doug Clifford writes: Re. Kim Lockwood (25 June, comments) who wrote:

I assume your sole subscriber has noticed the plug at the top of each day’s email for “ABC Fora”, the website that links listeners and viewers to Aunty’s, er, forums. After Fairfax’s Don Churchill recently wrote about the amalgamation of “bureaux”, we now have this god-awful homage to Latin plurals from our premier broadcaster.

Will the ABC now treat us to aquaria, photo alba, condominia, fulcra, rostra, vacua and the like? How about the other Latin borrowings? Will we be served corneae, retinae and, yes! echidnae? We could go on: agapanthi, hibisci, uteri … Oh, the stigmae, Aunty, the stigmae.

Except that the plural for stigma is stigmata, a (ancient) Greek, not Latin word! Incidentally’ retinae, corneae and uteri are legitimate plurals used by the medical profession. (I am a doctor).

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