Kindle winners:

Crikey writes: As if a subscription to Crikey isn’t inherently valuable enough, there’s a reasonable chance you could pick up your very own Amazon Kindle 3G+Wi-Fi, too. We’re giving away 10 over 10 days. Friday’s winner is James Stocks — Congratulations. Five to go!  — get your entry in today.


Luke Slattery, editor of Australian Literary Review, writes:  Re. “Rundle: what you miss wouldn’t hurt, if it didn’t matter” (21 September, item 19). I have no desire to test the patience of your readers with a long baseline rally about the closure of the ALR so will limit myself to a reality check. In his initial comment Guy Rundle made several errors of fact, the most egregious of which were the following: my first edition contained a cover story by Michael Costa on Labor and the Greens; and I published not one writer to the left of Martin Ferguson.

Rundle was wrong on the first count (he’s talking here about my third edition, the cover of my first was a left-leaning piece on the frontier wars) and he is wrong on the second (I’ve provided you with a short catalogue of left-of-centre contributors to the ALR). In the normal course of events these kinds of errors on factual matters integral to an argument would bring an apology. Instead of an apology Rundle simply, in this latest screed, compounds the error. He now claims that my first edition contained transitional material from the previous editor. Wrong again!

I would like Guy Rundle to contact all the contributors in that first edition — Craig Barker, Roger Benjamin and Alastair Blanshard (all from Sydney University); Simon Caterson; Jacqueline Dutton; Richard Fotheringham; Eduardo de la Fuente (Monash); Tom Griffiths (ANU; John Keane (Sydney), Richard King, Whit Mason (UNSW), Stephen Matchett, Barry Oakley, Estelle Tang — and ask them the name of their commissioning editor. And when he’s done that he can issue his apology. My feelings are not the issue here. The issue is journalistic standards.

Guy Fawkes Night:

Alan Kennedy writes: Well spotted all you denizens of Melbourne (Friday, comments). I come from Sydney. I agree that the world does start and end in Sydney or as Paul Keating once said “if you don’t live in Sydney you are just camping out”. But really? They supported Guy Fawkes day down there? How quaint. But I was right. There was a some pommy enclave in Australia. I just didn’t realise how big it was. But Menzies did come from there.

As for my “humorous” story about fireworks exploding in the bag . I think that as well as supporting Guy Fawkes (Catholics too? Did Mannix know about this?) they don’t understand irony in Melbourne. I thought this was captured in the comment about killjoys. If you missed it, it was irony.

I suppose you are the same people who are puzzled by the fact that Eta salted peanuts do not carry a label warning that the bag may contain nuts.

Assange and WikiLeaks:

Will Fettes writes: Martin Gordon’s underlying suggestion that WikiLeaks is only fixated on exposing malfeasance within democratic institutions is self-evidently false (Friday, comments). A quick perusal of a chronology of the organisation’s leaks shows they have covered issues as wide-ranging as assassinations in Somalia, political corruption in Kenya, illegal practices by banks and scientology.

Furthermore, Martin improperly conflates the standards that one might profess for openness in relation to private dealings, with the standards that obtain for governments and corporations. Though one can indeed have a universal one-size-fits-all approach to scrutiny, there is no necessary relationship between the two cases based on first principles. It is perfectly open to anyone to accept narrow privacy-respecting standards for individuals, which privilege things like fair trials in matters of criminal justice, whilst adopting a more penetrating standard for major institutions in public life. That’s not to say Assange isn’t a hypocrite, just that Martin hasn’t substantiated that claim by pointing to a superficial tension.

Peter Wesley-Smith writes: Re. Martin Gordon’s critique of Assange’s complaints that his unfinished book was published without his permission: there just might possibly be a distinction between revealing the duplicity and hypocrisy of governments and stealing an uncompleted ms — between holding governments to account and invading personal privacy. Do you think?

Wilfred Burchett redux:

Niall Clugston writes: It is a sad testament to the decline of newspapers that the Sydney Morning Herald is currently having a debate about Wilfred Burchett. As all readers would remember, Crikey had this debate three years ago.