September 14, 2004


Remember Uli Schmetzer, the Chicago Tribune reporter who invented a racist Australian psychiatrist?

"These people always complain," said Graham Thorn, a psychiatrist. "They want it both ways: their way and our way. They want to live in our society and be respected, yet they won't work. They steal, they rob and they get drunk. And they don't respect the laws."

Uli lost his job for that little flight of creativity. Now The Guardian’s Bill Condie claims to have met a bigoted Australian cardiologist:

A cardiac surgeon, during Australia's 'friendly' Olympics, told me in a Sydney bar that if it was up to him he'd 'drop the big one and turn the Middle East into a glass car park - that'd stop the bastards coming'.

I don’t buy it. Who the hell combines "turn into glass" with "turn into a car park" to create "turn the Middle East into a glass car park"?

Posted by Tim Blair at September 14, 2004 01:35 PM

I love a good mixed metaphor like "cry wolf in a crowded theater" but that's just artless.

Posted by: Andrew at September 14, 2004 at 01:52 PM

I think it makes sense. I mean, what the hell else are we going to do with three million square miles of glass, other than park cars on it?

Posted by: Jorge at September 14, 2004 at 02:06 PM

Here we have parks for children. Y'all must really love them cars over there.

Posted by: Donnah at September 14, 2004 at 02:07 PM

This story is totally believable. How dare you question the author's credibility!

Cardiologist are notorious racist war-mongers. Have you ever had the misfortune to meet a drunken Cardo in a bar? Believe me, you better watch your step. And what ever you do, don't go near those Cardo clubs.

Posted by: John in Tokyo at September 14, 2004 at 02:25 PM

How about a bitumen ashtray? All the pissheads from Queensland who won't be able to smoke in pubs soon could hang out looking surly and paranoid in the Middle East.

Posted by: Habib at September 14, 2004 at 02:26 PM

Lots o' refs to turning things into glass parking lots. Maybe it was one of my neighbors on vacation, translated from American to English.

Posted by: Doug at September 14, 2004 at 02:29 PM

Maybe an association with crystal(kristall)nacht. Both equal extermination. Hey, I know its a stretch, but what the heck.

Posted by: YoJimbo at September 14, 2004 at 02:30 PM

Maybe Condie's obsessed with crystal.

Posted by: Habib at September 14, 2004 at 02:30 PM

It was the election that brought One Nation Party leader Pauline Hanson to parliament on a ticket of anti-immigration, anti-Aboriginal aid and anti-globalisation.

She currently isn't the leader of the party (or even a member?), and the party didn't exist when she got elected.

Polls showed racial intolerance, especially against Muslims, growing.

What poll questions were asked?

On the eve of the last national poll in October 2001, a group of 200 desperate asylum-seekers, mainly Iraqis, jumped with their children from a sinking boat off the Australian coast.

Wouldn't there have been a number of Afghanis?

Posted by: Andjam at September 14, 2004 at 02:39 PM

I've heard "glass parking lot" quite a bit here (American midwest). It doesn't make complete sense as an expression, but it is around. (Besides, lots of phrases don't make much sense when broken up - kick the bucket, anyone? :)) And I've noticed that British newspapers tend to "translate" when they're quoting Americans, so if this guy was actually American instead of Australian - or an Australian very American-influenced in some ways - that probably would have turned "parking lot" into "car park." (Would Condie be able to tell the difference between the accents? You'd think so, but then, never underestimate the strange powers of the overeducated).

Of course, if the guy *was* American, that would be rather sloppy reporting in a story supposedly about Australian attitudes ("A cardiologist has said it! FOLLOW, O MEN OF AUSTRALIA!). Otherwise it looks like the usual sleaze job from the Guardian. Look long enough and you can find someone who'll say anything.

Posted by: Sonetka at September 14, 2004 at 02:46 PM

I think this guy's been reading too much Tom Clancy . . . . in one of his books, there's a guy saying they'll turn the Bekaa Valley into a car park and send in the Marines to paint the lines.

Personally, I don't have a problem with this, if that's what it's going to take. During WW2, the Germans weren't convinced they lost until Dresden, and it took both Hiroshima and Nagasaki to convince the Japanese.

Posted by: steve at September 14, 2004 at 02:53 PM

Cry havoc! and let slip the ides of March!


Posted by: richard mcenroe at September 14, 2004 at 02:54 PM

I await the response from the Doctors Reform Society, or is that Doctors Sans Brains, or something like that.

Posted by: Razor at September 14, 2004 at 03:01 PM

If I've got this right, then he's reporting on a drunken conversation in a bar in Sydney back in September, 2000. Was he recording it? Did he scribble the quote down on a serviette? And hasn't the world changed just a little bit since Sepember 2000?

Posted by: Simon at September 14, 2004 at 03:03 PM


Posted by: Donnah at September 14, 2004 at 03:14 PM

I briefly looked into acquiring Trinity glass (from the White Sands Missile Range, site of the first a-bomb) for use as an aggregate in a terrazzo floor. Trinity glass isn't smooth like finished glass, it's just gritty glassified sand. Easy to park on! And I'm living proof that it's in demand! Too small for terrazzo aggregate as it turns out, but it would shimmer like the stars in concrete sidewalks.

My guess is that this very gentle, giving, misunderstood doctor was offering a suggestion for developing a new resource for the Middle East to export and share with the rest of the world. Trade not aid!

Posted by: Matt in Denver at September 14, 2004 at 03:19 PM

Also really radioactive. Who knew?

Posted by: Matt in Denver at September 14, 2004 at 03:23 PM

Maybe they can practice in Sydney's south-west.
Lakemba, Greenacre & Auburn for starters...
Driving through Auburn yesterday, the idea doesn't seem so bad...

Posted by: tricia01 at September 14, 2004 at 03:51 PM

Matt -

You know you can go out to the Trinity site and inspect the Trinitite (as it's called) for yourself. It used to be open just two Saturdays a year, but I think it's got a self-tour every Saturday weather permitting nowadays.

Posted by: Andrew at September 14, 2004 at 03:54 PM

I live in Thailand and speak fluent Thai and I've never heard the comments Condie claims to have had from Bangkok taxidrivers. Admittedly his conversations were in his babytalk English, so the cabbies probably misunderstood. In fact, most Thais have a quite sophisticated awareness of Australia and the policies of its Government and are well able to differentiate Australia's interests from those of USA, as well as Australians from Americans. After all, Thailand has troops in Iraq, for the same reasons as we do.

Posted by: Freddyboy at September 14, 2004 at 03:59 PM

"Now, back in Bangkok, there are no briefings for US journalists at the Australian embassy, and taxi drivers tell me: 'Australia. Same, same America.'"

You notice how these lefties just can't resist taking a shot at the US? Even if they must invent taxi drivers who think like George Monbiot.


Posted by: Sean at September 14, 2004 at 04:26 PM

Condie's comments are in the grand expatriate Aussie tradition: live overseas for 20 years, out of touch with the country, but feel free to promote yourself as an expert on Australia, preferably, patronisingly, as a critic of whatever Government is in power(I still call Australia home - well, when it suits); but be ready to rush home for a well-paid public job when the party of your choice comes to power.

Posted by: mr magoo at September 14, 2004 at 04:27 PM

Well, knock me down with a feather! A surgeon makes a blunt, non-politically correct, insensitive remark.

I know a few surgeons, and they are infamous for blunt, non-politically correct, insensitive remarks. I can easily believe that a drunken one suggested bombing the Middle East into a glass car park. Probably just before suggesting using boatloads of asylum seekers for Navy target practice, and just after suggesting that the only trial David Hicks needs is with the business end of a rifle. The ones of my acquainance routinely say things that would make Democrat senators swoon with horror, largely, I think, to wind people up. It can be a little hard to tell.

Also cardiologists and cardiac surgeons are different, and they will tell you so, at great length.

Posted by: Andrew D. at September 14, 2004 at 04:30 PM

The cardiologist is part of the famous Australian organization, Jeff Hawke and the Lying Doctors...

Posted by: richard mcenroe at September 14, 2004 at 04:30 PM

I know an obstetrician (let's call her Dr Rosie) who had an Afghan patient tell her that she wished the entire Arab peninsula (from whence came the barbarians who slaughtered her family) be bulldozed and ploughed with salt.

I dunno...either option sounds good to me.

Posted by: murph at September 14, 2004 at 04:37 PM

Condie's comments are in the grand expatriate Aussie tradition: live overseas for 20 years, out of touch with the country, but feel free to promote yourself as an expert on Australia, preferably, patronisingly, as a critic of whatever Government is in power(I still call Australia home - well, when it suits); but be ready to rush home for a well-paid public job when the party of your choice comes to power.

And some of these individuals criticise Iraqi exiles for spending too long out of their country, right?

Posted by: Andjam at September 14, 2004 at 04:58 PM

I don't think turning the Middle East into a glass carpark is a good idea at all. Can you imagine how slippery it would be with a bit of sump oil on it?

Posted by: EvilPundit at September 14, 2004 at 05:01 PM

And no mention that the sinking boat from which the intended illegal entrants was sunk by themselves.

Posted by: Razor at September 14, 2004 at 05:23 PM

I first heard this metaphor in the military, from non-cardiologist types.

According to folklore, when one drops a nuke in a desert the super-duper temperatures melt the sand which transforms, when cool, into large sheet of dirty glass. Such a surface could be conceivably be used as a car parking facility, though I imagine the temperature would make the Bondi carpark seem like a walk in the park... a grassy one that is.

My ass welcomes fact-checking.

Posted by: fidens at September 14, 2004 at 05:35 PM

Sounds like a major case of Pommy sourgrapes!

Posted by: Om at September 14, 2004 at 05:37 PM

Ok... so I went out into my tree-drenched backyard and chanted quietly to myself: "The Net is THE shit" 3 times...

Then, as I held an 8"x10" autographed glossy of Dan Rather (wrapped in 70s-era typewriter ribbon) over my head, I faced North, East, South, then West...came a rumbling of thunder off in the distance, and a stiff gust of wind blew mightily across the land...

So when EXACTLY will the bastards admit defeat, concede the elections and let us all get on with the job of running the world?

Did I miss a page in the "VRWC Wicca Handbook" or something?

Posted by: geezer at September 14, 2004 at 05:45 PM

evilpundit: Only if it were smooth. I imagine that the glass produced by nuking sand would be pretty rough, so I can't see it being that big a problem.

Now I come to think of it, it could easily be too rough, and have pointy bits which would slash your tyres to hell.

Posted by: Jorge at September 14, 2004 at 05:59 PM

Tim, where did you study science? The heat from a nuclear weapon fuses sand (the brown stuff covering most of the homeland of a certain religion of peace) into glass. Hence the glass parking lot reference.

Posted by: Max at September 14, 2004 at 05:59 PM

Er, yes, Max. Of this I am aware. My doubt is over the likelihood of a cardiac surgeon propping up a Sydney bar and announcing -- one year before 9/11 -- that we should "drop the big one" on the Middle East, thus achieving the effect you've described.

Posted by: tim at September 14, 2004 at 06:18 PM

dear fidens and Max:

Tim, and the rest of us, are aware of the reference to nuclear weapons and sand turning into glass. We are also aware of the occasionally expressed desire to bomb/nuke the middle east into a car park (i.e. flat and devoid of anything)

What he was suggesting was that those two ideas are unlikely to be expressed at the same time - i.e. who would want a glass car park?

another example - Alissa Camplin was commentating on the aerial skiing the other day. She referred to one competitor, saying "she really was a cut above the mustard"

Posted by: attila at September 14, 2004 at 06:24 PM

Yet another disgruntled expat.

The article sounds like a drunk lonely guy at the pub with Australia his ex-girlfriend.
Buy him another drink and he'll soon be on the phone tearfully asking Australia if they can get back together.

Posted by: 26ounce at September 14, 2004 at 06:27 PM

oh, is that what you were getting at Tim? I thought you were only referring to the likeliood of the mixed metaphor occuring.

I can easily believe that a cardiologist (or lawyer, or journo, or engineer) would say something like that (sans metaphor mix up) when out on the piss.

Posted by: attila at September 14, 2004 at 06:27 PM

It's not an issue of who would _want_ a glass car park, it's an issue of practicality. Using nukes, a glass car park is the only kind of car park you're gonna get!

On the subject of "glass car park", try googling for "glass parking lot", and it's in reasonably common usage. Disturbingly, it shows up in comments on sites like, No Left Turn, ("Bush is a faggot") and

Some of these guys are really giving us right wing death beasts a bad name. Like this guy:

"For one, the USA is NOT a DEMOCRACY you greasy slime ball.. its a Representative Republic there is a difference, just ask your socialist professor in the university you attend that I'm sure my tax dollars pay for. secondly I am sure that after 09/11 you will never see any persons of Arab descent elected into the US House of Representatives that may see things your way.. and third you Muslim Fuck, your just lucky REAGAN wasnt in office or your entire towel headded family would have been made part of a glass parking lot that encircled the Persian gulf by about 1000 miles in either direction .... If your bretheren are being held they are most likely guilty of at least one crime .. STUPIDITY, by still wearing their diaper on their head is my most likely thought..
P.S. I suggest you goto Afganistan and watch US MARINES wipe their asses with Allah's turbin ...
oink oink"
*** END QUOTE ***

Posted on

Posted by: Jorge at September 14, 2004 at 06:42 PM

Nonetheless, I have heard the metaphor before. From military types.
It is seared - seared - in my memory.

So there.

Posted by: fidens at September 14, 2004 at 06:52 PM

Oh yeah, and there's also five or six relevant results for "glass carpark" as opposed to "glass car park", which is pretty nonstandard. (I'm only counting the ones which actually talk about nuking something into a glass carpark, not all occurrences of "glass carpark".)

I accept though, that such sentiments in relation to the middle east were pretty damn rare before 9/11.

Posted by: Jorge at September 14, 2004 at 06:52 PM

I'll haul that tanker full of glazed sand out of here for ya. But it'll cost you a month's supply of petrol for my troubles.

How was my Aussie accent? (God I love the Road Warrior)!

Regards, an ugly American.

Posted by: Thomas at September 14, 2004 at 07:00 PM

Mad Max, Thomas, Mad Max

Posted by: Just Another Bloody Lawyer at September 14, 2004 at 08:04 PM

It was actually Charles Manson who suggested that the entire Middle East be paved over and used as a parking lot, way back in the 1970s. I dont recall any mention of glass.

So far we have a bigoted Australian psychiatrist and a racist cardiologist ... so has any reporter from The Guardian ever met a racist, bigoted Muslim? Has any Guardian reporter ever heard a Muslim say that its ok to murder 'infidels'? Or that the true agenda of the 'hostage-takers/militants/freedom fighters/take your pick, ad nauseum is to destroy our world and replace it with their version of Islamic hell?

If so, have they ever reported it? No, thought not.

Posted by: dee at September 14, 2004 at 08:21 PM

off topic but... i saw a bumper sticker today which said 'dont throw your vote overboard'. is this a rare sticker? i peeled it off and will auction it to the highest bidder. thank you . R/.

Posted by: roseco at September 14, 2004 at 08:30 PM

'dont throw your vote overboard'

Clearly they are advising against voting for the Greens...

If you hate those sort of bumper stickers, don't come to Canberra. Sheesh, the amount of dickheads who think the hoWARd sticker is biting satire...

Posted by: Quentin George at September 14, 2004 at 09:06 PM

Not to back this guy up or anything, but I have heard the expression, "Let's turn the Middle East into a glass parking lot," on more than one occassion, and usually with justification.

Posted by: Tommy Shanks at September 14, 2004 at 10:35 PM

Maybe he's just a more American thinking Aussie Cardiogist. I've certainly met a few American doctors who were Randy Newman fans, pf course most of those were psychiatrists...

Political Science

No one likes us-i don’t know why
We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let’s drop the big one and see what happens

We give them money-but are they grateful?
No, they’re spiteful and they’re hateful
They don’t respect us-so let’s surprise them
We’ll drop the big one and pulverize them

Asia’s crowded and europe’s too old
Africa is far too hot
And canada’s too cold
And south america stole our name
Let’s drop the big one
There’ll be no one left to blame us

We’ll save australia
Don’t wanna hurt no kangaroo
We’ll build an all american amusement park there
They got surfin’, too

Boom goes london and boom paree
More room for you and more room for me
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another american town
Oh, how peaceful it will be
We’ll set everybody free
You’ll wear a japanese kimono
And there’ll be italian shoes for me

They all hate us anyhow
So let’s drop the big one now
Let’s drop the big one now

Randy Newman

Posted by: Roy at September 14, 2004 at 10:52 PM

I followed some dickhead the entire way through Fortitude Valley (Brisbane) this morning with a Not Happy John sticker on the back of her Daihatsu Sirion- the ugliest, most useless car this side of a Toyota Prius (she couldn't afford the most useless vehicle known, so opted for second-best). She weaved from lane to lane, oblivious to all around her, until I finally got a break and fucked her morning of listening to I Chi tapes or planet radio by filling her environment with the noise of a '75 Triumph Bonneville, with accompanying abuse. I hope it was all too much and she had an embolism when she got to her job at the office of feminist disabled twats who drive ugly buzz-box cars.
I think it's about time for a hippy cull.

Posted by: Habib at September 15, 2004 at 12:55 AM

And I stand by the car-park/ashtry suggestion- there's lots of sand, but there's lots of oil as well. with the right amount of heat you could have the whole place covered in bitumen, with glass on the side for buts.

Posted by: Habib at September 15, 2004 at 12:58 AM

"If somebody asked me, if we should have bombed Japan, a simple yes, by all means, drop that fucker, twice. Turn it into a glass car park"

Posted by: Capt. Frank Ramsey at September 15, 2004 at 02:54 AM

Since September 11, 2001 I often think of Saudi Arabia as: future Sea of Glass.

Posted by: cq at September 15, 2004 at 04:18 AM

Did Hanson actually say she represented everyone "apart from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander" Googling this phrase, all I found is
I quote:
"In her complaint to the HREOC, Patricia Thomson charged that Hanson had breached several sections of the Racial Discrimination Act. Included among her charges were that Hanson had claimed that she was only representing "the white community, the immigrants, Italians, Greeks, whoever, it really doesn't matter - anyone apart from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders".
Was there ever any evidence that these allegations had grounding in fact? I'm just curious...

Posted by: Tim Andrews at September 15, 2004 at 07:51 AM

Isn't it funny how guys like Condie always seem to have these experiences in bars etc which just happen to validate their own predjudices.

As for Asian attitudes to Australia well I have travelled a lot through Asia including Thailand and never discovered the locals were so ignorant they couldn't tell North America from Australia. And the locals are generially like the ones in Australia in that they don't launch into political diatribes against people they happen to meet in a taxi or on a bus. Its not good manners.

Posted by: Philip at September 16, 2004 at 01:15 AM