August 31, 2003


Gregory S. Taylor’s father has composed a remarkable slideshow featuring pictures of Gregory’s brother Cpl. Brian Taylor and other Marines of Fox Company, 2nd BN, 23rd Marines, during the invasion of Iraq. Gregory writes: “Many are wonderful; some are heart-breaking. A few are graphic. They are all compelling.”

They sure are. This is a personal favourite. Following are Gregory’s notes to other images in the collection, taken from February 21 to May 29: 

• Brian's fire team. Brian is second from the left.

• Some Canadian they found.

• In their chemical-protective suits. (Brian on right).

• Brian's closest friend doing a procedure called selective de-masking. They were ordered to don their chemical-protective suits in preparation for an attack believed imminent. They can only wear the suits for so long -- one cannot eat in them (though one can drink). When they want to take them off, they "selectively de-mask": a volunteer breaks his seal while the rest watch from behind their masks to see if he dies.

• Brian's friends with the USMC flag with their Company motto (borrowed from Richard Marcinko) along the the flag's border: "Everybody has fun, nobody gets hurt."

• A few of those same Marines holding the flag a few days later, but now hurt.

• Brian sitting on the tailgate of a 7-ton truck. He told me he rode all the way to Baghdad from Kuwait on that tailgate and saw the whole bleeding country. His company is the only coalition infantry element of which he is aware that went in to battle without any armor.

• A Marine with a keen understanding of diplomacy

• Funeral service for Brian's friend Sgt. Cawley.

• Sgt. Cawley's battlefield monument

• Captured and corralled Fedayeen.

• This was the morning after they fought a four-hour firefight on this corner and slept on the roof there. During the fight, they were resupplied with ammunition and water several times but never had any artillery or air support (the circling F18s couldn't drop their munitions because the Marines were too close to their enemies). In this picture, Fox Co. is watching another company clear the compound where Fox Company's enemies were based the night before. They found no one living.

• This was taken by Brian during that firefight. The cars in the distance were filled with the corpses of would-be kamikazes.

• Brian at the end of that day. My favorite picture.

• Gives an idea of how they lived.

• Back at Camp Pendleton, me with Brian's son Keith on my shoulders, Brian's wife Shari with John and Jane.

• Brian holding his son John for the first time.

Writes Gregory: “What a thing.” Absolutely.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:35 PM | Comments (14)

August 30, 2003


Iraqis numbering more than half than total of American servicemen who’ve died since May 1 have been killed overnight in a terrorist attack:

A car bomb detonated outside a sacred mosque in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf yesterday, with doctors reporting up to 82 people killed. Among the dead was Iraq's leading Shiite politician, Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Hakim, a key preacher of moderation in the war-torn country.

Baqer al-Hakim foresaw, in a way, his own murder:

Minutes before the blast, he denounced again in his weekly sermon attacks on the coalition forces. He told worshippers that these were being carried out by Saddam loyalists and former Baathists.

And now they’re killing Iraqis. This conflict likely isn’t driven by a centrally controlled and nationalist-driven resistance; more probably it's driven by an Iraqi faction (assisted by maniac outsiders) who would kill their own. As Saddam Hussein did for decades.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:20 AM | Comments (66)


Having learned nothing from recent events, Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin want the UN to run the show in Iraq. (Why aren’t they demanding UN intervention in France?) Leave it to Mark Steyn to explain why UN control might not be such a good idea.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:43 AM | Comments (9)


Jim Nolan is on a roll lately. In today’s Age he pulls Tariq Ali apart:

The UN, he tells us, is viewed by Iraqis as "one of Washington's more ruthless enforcers" since it supervised the sanctions that were directly responsible for the deaths of half a million Iraqi children.

This was the favourite whopper retailed by the Saddam propaganda machine. Of course we now know that the food-for-oil program was diverted into Saddam's oil-for-palaces program. The tragedy was all Saddam's own work. He cynically starved his own people to garner the kind of credulous support he still appears to enjoy from the likes of Ali.

The entire piece is valuable, so rather than further ruin by extract I’ll just quote the conclusion:

Tariq's hyperbole may have the quality of stale, old-fashioned Stalinism, but its confected indignation and moral humbug gives it a faintly amusing tone. May his self-important exaggerations now situate him where he richly deserves to be - the intellectual moral equivalent of that other famous Ali, Comical.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:29 AM | Comments (8)


A number of US troops, thankfully small, were killed in the initial liberation of Iraq. A slightly greater number have been killed since, although, overall, the list of casualties remains lower than many expected. The Sydney Morning Herald’s Alan Ramsey thinks everybody should be shouting and screaming:

Australian political life reacted in silence this week as US military deaths in Iraq reached a melancholy milestone. On Tuesday morning a homemade bomb killed an American soldier north of Baghdad and wounded two others. His death, reported The New York Times, meant more US troops had now died keeping "the peace" in Iraq than had died fighting "the war" ... I'm not aware a politician anywhere, state or federal, had anything to say about the significance of Tuesday's death. Most newspapers ignored it, too.

Old Alan’s main point, however, is the influence of those damn Heebs:

The only movement anywhere in the debate on Middle East policy is what Crean has been doing lately to try to mollify the influential (and wealthy) pro-Israeli lobby in Sydney and Melbourne. You don't know about that?

No, I don’t. Possibly because of the Zionist conspiracy to silence everything!

On Sunday night, at Melbourne's Werdiger Family Hall, Crean is due to speak "to the Jewish community" at a meeting organised by the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), the State Zionist Council of Victoria and the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, according to the weekly Australian Jewish News. The subject of Crean's address has been publicised as, "Israel's search for peace in the Middle East". (One Labor wit remarked that if this was truly the speech topic, then it would be a very brief speech.)

Har-de-har-har. Ramsey claims that any pro-Israeli sentiment from the Labor leader is money-driven:

Almost always, in politics, money is at the root of the greatest grovelling.

And we all know that the Jews have all the money. Crean has a few Palestinianoids in his party; Ramsey writes that shutting them up endangers Labor’s “even handed” policy, and concludes:

The pro-Israeli lobby in this country is a powerful, influential and intimidating group. Backbenchers such as Julia Irwin and Leo McLeay get left way behind, along with the interests of the Palestinians.

This is in a mainstream newspaper, by the way. Not Indymedia.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:08 AM | Comments (21)

August 29, 2003


Poor Tim Dunlop has got his ducks all out alignment because terrorists have thanked him and his friends for the swell work they’ve done protesting against the war on terror:

Frankly, I don't don't give a toss what some murderer thinks of my opinions and I'm not particularly inclined to adjust my behaviour according whatever twisted logic such a sicko comes up with. I don't need to "bear in mind" anything terrorists say ...

Oh, really?

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:41 PM | Comments (20)


Patsy A. Newton asks questions and gets answers. Scroll down for the brilliant reply from She Who Will Never Be Mentioned, But Whose Name Rhymes With Embargo Cranston.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:09 PM | Comments (10)


Gianna will be upset that her favourite baby name is already taken:

An Iraqi couple has named their 6-week-old baby boy George Bush to show their appreciation for U.S. efforts to force Saddam Hussein out of power.

"He saved us from Saddam and that's why we named our son after him," the baby's mother, Nadia Jergis Mohammed, told the Associated Press Television News. "It was George Bush who liberated us; without him it wouldn't have happened."

Baby Bush was born July 11 to Mohammed, 34, and her husband Abdul Kader Faris, 41. His full name is George Bush Abdul Kader Faris Abed El-Hussein.

If the couple had had twin boys, the father wanted to name the other baby Tony Blair, because he said both the U.S. and Britain liberated Iraq.

”John Howard” is still available.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:34 PM | Comments (10)


The BBC’s credibility is floating in the Thames like a gangster’s corpse. But it’s inappropriate to say so:

The chairman of the BBC today accused British Prime Minister Tony Blair's officials of launching "inappropriate" attacks on the public broadcaster's credibility after it claimed that the case for war in Iraq had been hyped up.

We await the chairman’s instructions on a more appropriate method of responding to his organisation’s lies. A napkin folded at an aggressive angle? Interpretive dance? Boycotting the Crufts dog show?

Comments by Blair's close aide Alastair Campbell accusing the BBC of lying when it reported the government had "sexed up" a pre-war dossier on Iraq's weapons had been excessive, Gavyn Davies said.

And the original reports weren’t, Gavyn? At least Campbell’s comments are redeemed by being, you know, true.

"I felt this was an extraordinary moment, almost unprecedented, an unprecedented attack on the BBC to be mounted by the head of communications at Downing Street," Davies told a judicial inquiry into the death of government arms expert David Kelly.

Mounting a solid argument, isn’t he? So far we’ve had “inappropriate”, “excessive”, “extraordinary”, and “unprecedented”. The Blair regime is reeling.

"I took this as an attack on the integrity of the BBC and the impartiality of the BBC," said Davies, who heads the corporation's board of governors.

That’s one way to take it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:38 AM | Comments (21)


Cuba rocks so hard, according to Labour MP Brian Wilson:

Cuba's primary service to the world has been to provide living proof that it is possible to conquer poverty, disease and illiteracy in a country that was grossly over-familiar with all three. That is a pretty big service. The fact that it has been delivered in the face of sustained hostility from an obsessive neighbour makes it all the more stunning.

The fact that people keep trying to escape to that obsessive neighbour is even more more more stunning.

I have now had half a dozen such sessions with Castro. He talks a lot but then he has a lot to talk about. He is a man with an unquenchable thirst for ...

Murder? Torture? Brutality?

... knowledge.


Cuba's problems are immense. Socialism in one country is still a contradiction in terms. For those who go to Havana only in order to sneer, there are political paradoxes on every street corner. All true, all the inevitable product of 40 years of siege, but also all irrelevant to the bigger picture of what Cuba represents as a symbol of human potential.

The potential for dumb tyranny in pursuit of a poisonous ideal. Yay Cuba.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:53 AM | Comments (52)


The Age reports:

Melbourne researchers have successfully blocked in laboratory rats a gene believed to be a major regulator of hunger, causing the rats to eat less and lose weight.

They hope the process can be replicated in humans and become a treatment for obesity.

It could work. Compare the Melbourne rat to this mouse, which has been implanted with the Michael Moore gene.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:44 AM | Comments (10)


Bizarre story in The Independent about Jerry Duggan, a young Brit who got mixed up with the LaRouche wing of the anti-war movement and ended up dead in Germany. Duggan’s final telephone call is especially intriguing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:41 AM | Comments (10)


My old boss Mark Day remembers Australian football legend Jack Dyer, a longtime columnist at the paper where I first worked, and a famously clumsy radio commentator:

It was unrehearsed and unconscious. And it was endearingly funny, although some folk in radio felt his rough edges should be knocked off. A voice tutor was hired to give him elocution lessons, which he rejected because "my full back got killed doing that". His former team-mate's day job was as an electrician.

Jack was never one to remember names. In 20 years of knowing him, I never made it past "son". If memory lapses made life a trifle difficult as a football caller, it was minor compared with the time Dyer was hauled into the witness box in a libel trial.

Truth also published an anonymous sporting column called The Count – a repository for all the goss no self-respecting reporter would put his (exclusively male in those days) name to. At issue in the court was the name of the author of The Count. Dyer, a former copper, took to the witness box and swore himself in, whereupon the plaintiff's QC cut straight to the point: "Mr Dyer, who is The Count?"

"Er, I dunno."

"How long have you worked at Truth?"

"Ten years."

"Well, you must know the people you work with."

"Yeah, well, there's the Pig, there's Mother, there's Mopsy, there's Bluey."

"Step down, Mr Dyer."

What a place to work. When I first joined the paper, in ‘88, many of the staff were banned at several local bars. For brawling. Amongst themselves.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:34 AM | Comments (5)


Those inventive peaceniks and their fiendish tactics. First there were nude protests. Then they painted the Sydney Opera House. Later, human shields went to Iraq. Is it any wonder the peace movement so convincingly defeated pro-war voices in the battle for public opinion?

And they haven’t stopped yet. In fact, their latest ploy might be the most successful yet:

A man climbed onto the roof of the US Embassy in Paris today and threw copies of his pacifist poems to the ground before he was taken down by firefighters.

The man threw copies of a pacifist poem and a song that listed his name as Herve Couson. The writings did not mention the United States directly, but one had a photo of Couson holding a US flag. The song called for an end to "all these wars".

I give up. How do we counter this level of genius?

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:21 AM | Comments (18)


Michael Totten has some advice for anti-war protesters currently feeling sick after being thanked by Balinese terrorists:

You need to stand unflinchingly against terrorism everywhere, always, forever. This “of course we are against terrorism” line doesn’t cut it. At least one terrorist thinks he’s your buddy. He said it, not me.

When you reserve most of your judgement, criticism, and wrath for Western governments while speaking barely a word against Islamofascist death squads, it sends funny signals to our enemies. I know you don’t support terrorists and fascists. Well, when the victims are Jews it looks like some of you do.

But the rest of you don’t, and your message is not getting across. Louder, please. Draw a line in the sand.

Your domestic political opponents are not your enemies. Hamstringing America and defeating the Republican Party is not more important than defeating terrorism.

Your enemies are those who are trying to kill you. Make the proper distinctions. Get your priorities straight. Trust me, you don’t want to hear Osama bin Laden, or whoever is making those audio tapes, say he’s your pal. It could happen if you don't watch it.

Hey, some of them might welcome Osama’s friendship:

On Christmas Eve, in the Melbourne Age, another pundit, Michael Leunig, called for a national prayer for Osama bin Laden on Christmas Day. "It's a family day," Leunig explained, "and Osama's our relative." It is not recorded whether the aforesaid Osama, sitting cross-legged beside his Christmas tree somewhere under Afghanistan, offered up a prayer for Michael. He might have done: after all, they were on first-name terms.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:56 AM | Comments (8)

August 28, 2003


Students at Cornell University pay anything between $14,000 and $29,000 per undergraduate unit. That’s a hell of a lot of money to have your brains sucked out through your nose:

Cynthia McKinney, Georgia's first African-American congresswoman, and John Pilger, investigative journalist, author and Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, were appointed Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of '56 University Professors at Cornell in July. Their appointments run through 2006.

The Rhodes Class of '56 University Professorships, designed to enrich the undergraduate experience at the university, are awarded for a period of one to five years, and appointees are considered full members of the Cornell faculty. During each year of their appointment, Rhodes professors will visit the campus for a minimum of two weeks.

(Via TVs Henry, who currently has lots of fine posts up about well-known US politicians Cruz Bustamove and Howard Dean Stanton.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:05 PM | Comments (26)


Ken Layne's musical magic has arrived. I found it amongst the other mail yesterday afternoon, along with obviously fraudulent (and, as it turns out, dangerously flammable) demands from “telephone companies” and “electricity suppliers” and “lawyers”. The CD is excellent, and asks for no money. Here’s a track-by-track review:

1. The Apartment Manager

Hooky psychedelia draped over a beautiful, coasting keyboard line. “Should've listened to the apartment manager,” advises Ken. Words to live by.

2. She Thinks She’s Me

Extreem Country Honk-ish Rolling Stones with Whalen/Welch harmonies (“door, door, door, door!”) and the purest-of-pure Layne lyrics: “My God, I’m married to a freak.”

3. Come With Me

A child molester’s entreaty to join the circus. I think. Perfect scary clown music; whatever this collection lacks in technical prowess, it cannot be faulted -- as James Dickie once said of his poetry -- for originality of viewpoint.

4. Springtime in Budapest

Bleedingly pretty song of loneliness. And whores.

5. Like a Train

Features wonderful Kiko-era Los Lobos complexy drumming activity. There’s probably a word for this, but what do I know about music? Also lots of Exile.

6. The Monkey Cup

Layne and I once fought about this tune because it bears evidence of Nick Cave’s carcinogenic influence. I think I suggested it should be released in Australia as The Milo Cup, which Layne didn’t appreciate (or understand), leading to brief violence.

7. Worried

The single. Played it five times straight.

8. Another Sunday

This will evoke for sensitive people their own intense private regrets and amplify them terribly. Not being one of those people, I happily sang along like a retarded Ween brother.

9. Balloon Town

Layne loves the Big Echo. Who doesn’t? Could’ve been recorded in Sun Studios, assuming Sam Phillips was out buying amphetamines for Johnny Cash and forgot to lock the door, otherwise if he'd been around he would’ve killed lyrics like “cutest little two-headed freak”.

Six tracks to go! Just buy it now. Concluding reviews later. 10/10.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:59 AM | Comments (3)


Emily Jones appreciates Arthur Miller’s fear of celebrity oppression:

Does anybody else recall their own trepidation following the "disappearance" of Maureen Dowd? What about when Noam Chomsky's limp body was discovered in a roadside brush, a single bullet to his temple? The country coiled in shock when it was announced that traces of arsenic were discovered in the empty box of Krispy-Kremes that ultimately killed Michael Moore. As this is written, a Dixie Chick sits in a dark cell, living on peckings, uncertain of her fate, while Janeane Garofalo hasn't been given the opportunity to co-star in a shit film since literally the start of the so-called "war on terror". When will the nightmare end?

It’ll end when the the likes of Miller are finally allowed to speak their mind to the global press. Oh, wait ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:34 AM | Comments (29)


Miranda Devine welcomes back the quagmirists:

Four months after the first US tanks rolled into Baghdad airport, the quagmirists are coming out to play again, having learned no lesson when their dire predictions about the second Gulf War proved to be as foolish as the triumphant pronouncements of Comical Ali, the hapless Iraqi information minister.

The "humanitarian catastrophe" with "hundreds of thousands of refugees" predicted by sainted Office of National Assessments whistleblower Andrew Wilkie never eventuated. The coalition troops were not "bogged down" by sandstorms. They didn't run out of food or ammunition. Their supply lines were not cut. They had enough troops to swat the fearsome Republican Guard. Australian soldiers did not come home in body bags. And those were flesh-and-blood Iraqis welcoming the Americans as liberators, toppling Saddam statues and slapping Saddam pictures with their sandals.

In the face of overwhelming proof of their fallibility the quagmirists retreated into sullen silence. But they seem now to have found their voice.

It's as if they never left.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:31 AM | Comments (10)


Latest on the ABC’s Crittenden dispute, covered here earlier:

Several hundred ABC staff walked off the job for 90 minutes yesterday, vowing stronger action if suspended Radio National broadcaster Stephen Crittenden is not reinstated.

Meetings in Sydney and Melbourne also demanded that the ABC drop all action against Crittenden, apologise to him, and develop procedures to prevent the "arbitrary and capricious use" of editorial guidelines.

Next they’ll be protesting about bias. Yeah, right ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:28 AM | Comments (6)


Just a reminder: the Magnificent 19 Conference, to be held in London on September 11, is not a celebration. Oh, no no no. Whatever would give anyone that idea?

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:01 AM | Comments (23)


Anti-war protesters receive the recognition they deserve:

The man who helped mix the deadly one-tonne Bali nightclub bomb Sawad, alias Sardjiyo, yesterday said he wanted to thank the Australian people who had supported his cause during recent Australian anti-Gulf War protests.

And fellow bomb-mixer Abdul Ghoni urged Australians against forming friendly alliances with America.

The pronouncements of the two Bali bombing suspects came as they and the evidence against them was handed from Bali police to prosecutors.

"I want to thank the Australian people who supported our cause when they demonstrated against the policies of George Bush. Say thank you to all of them," Sawad said.

Consider it done, Abdul, old pal.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:50 AM | Comments (58)


There are lots of disturbing elements in this Guardian story about an 11-year-old British boy who killed himself because he was tormented at school, but for me this is the most alarming:

In his final report, the headteacher of his primary school described Thomas as one of the most courageous boys he'd ever met because of the years of bullying he'd survived.

The headmaster knew. For years.

(Via Zsa Zsa.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:23 AM | Comments (25)

August 27, 2003


Another two occupying soldiers have been killed by resistance fighters. Incredibly, despite this obvious evidence of a looming quagmire, the government has dismissed the attack as an “isolated act by disaffected former rebels.”

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:02 PM | Comments (13)


At last ... Mars is within shooting range:

Tonight's the night for millions of stargazers throughout Australia and the world. Astronomical history will be made at 7.51pm when our neighbouring planet, Mars, makes its closest approach to Earth in 60,000 years. It will never be closer in our lifetime.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:57 PM | Comments (25)


Via the Wog (now returned to zesty regular posting), one wild comments thread at Little Green Footballs. A fortune awaits the inventive!

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:54 PM | Comments (3)


Today’s editorial in The Australian:

If the terror attacks in India were the work of Muslim fundamentalists – as Indian officials have suggested, and as seems overwhelmingly likely – then they have underlined two of the signal features of Islamist terrorism, already apparent to us from the Bali bombing.

First, the attacks re-emphasise how indiscriminate these fanatics are in their hatred: you clearly do not have to be an affluent American, or even a Westerner, to qualify as a target for Islamist slaughter – poor struggling Indians will do just as nicely. And second, Monday's attacks show just how willing the terrorists are to accept the slaughter of fellow Muslims as "collateral damage" in their campaign to blast the world back into the Middle Ages. Of the 46 people killed and 150 wounded in the twin car bombings, at least a third were Muslims.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:13 PM | Comments (12)


This week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin mentions Jim "Shakin" Bacon, Richard Butler, Mary Kostakidis, Katherine Prouty, Pauline Hanson, Natasha Stott Despoja, Brett Sutton, Sergio Vieira de Mello, Jane Hutcheon, George W. Bush, Bob Brown, Jacques Chirac, and Ray Bradbury.

(On Butler, Andrew Bolt says the loudmouth should already be fired from his new job as Tasmania’s governor, and Janet Albrechtsen writes that his appointment continues the Deanification of Australia.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:08 PM | Comments (9)


The Murphy Brown of Australian bloggers!

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:27 AM | Comments (22)


The UK Daily Mirror lists the biggest bloggers. In your face, John Pilger!

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:31 AM | Comments (7)


The tragic story of Peter L. Tauss, as revealed by the correspondence of Ray Smuckles:

July 23:

Confidential to the guy with explosive diarrhea: quit writing to me! I don’t care!

July 29:

Confidential to the guy with explosive diarrhea: I have contacted your email domain administrator and they are going to cancel your email account if you keep it up.

August 5:

Confidential to the guy with explosive diarrhea: very clever, just getting a new Hotmail account. I have added it to my “spam” blocker, so good luck getting through to me now.

August 12:

Confidential to the guy with explosive diarrhea: How in hell did you get my phone number?! It’s unlisted! Anyhow, I’m canceling the phone service to the house and just using my cell phone from now on.

August 19:

Confidential to the guy with explosive diarrhea: Thank you for the Hickory Farms gift basket, but I really do wish you would stop writing in. I gave the basket to a local homeless shelter, so don’t think I owe you anything.

August 26:

Dear Readers: I have some terrible news. I recently received word that “the guy with explosive diarrhea” has passed away. Apparently he had been suffering from undiagnosed chronic ulcerative colitis. If only I had taken him seriously, he would still be alive today. I feel absolutely awful about myself right now. Oh my lord, how he must have suffered, just to be shunned and ridiculed by the only one he thought he could count on.

Donations can be sent to the family of Peter L. Tauss, Norwalk, CT. Peter was fifteen years old when he died.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:15 AM | Comments (1)


The ABC’s defenders claim that a public broadcaster is required to maintain freedom of speech. Commercial broadcasters, they argue, are constrained by financial issues, and may pull stories to appease advertisers. With no commercial concerns, the ABC is free to fearlessly discuss any issues.


Wrong. Ask Stephen Crittenden, host of the ABC’s Radio National Religion Report, who’s been stood down -- and could be fired -- because he expressed views to which the ABC objected. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Supporters of radio presenter Stephen Crittenden, who has been stood down as the host of Radio National's The Religion Report, have accused ABC management of seeking to suppress religious and cultural debate at the national broadcaster.

Crittenden faces dismissal at the end of the week unless he can convince management to overturn the findings of an internal investigation which found he had engaged in "serious misconduct".

The case involves an article written by Crittenden for the July 19-20 edition of The Sydney Morning Herald's Spectrum section, which examined Samuel P. Huntington's contentious 1996 book on growing Islamic unrest, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order.

In his piece, Crittenden wrote that "the Huntington thesis seems to have been remarkably prescient in the light of recent world events". That thesis, summarised in Huntingdon’s words: "The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilisation whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power." Back to the SMH’s report:

The following week, the ABC's head of national talk radio, Mark Collier, suspended Crittenden, on the grounds the presenter had not secured permission to have the story published.

The Herald understands that Mr Collier had requested to see a copy of the story before granting permission for publication, on the grounds the topic was one of "extreme sensitivities".

Crittenden was waiting for that permission on the day the article was due to go to press, having previously forwarded it to Mr Collier.

Mr Collier and Crittenden were not commenting yesterday. The ABC's head of radio, Sue Howard, was unavailable for comment. The executive producer of religion radio, Florence Spurling, did not return the Herald's calls.

Why, it’s a regular free speech jamboree over at the ABC! Gerard Henderson (from whom the above thesis extract is lifted) rightly asks if the newspaper columns of ABC broadcaster Phillip Adams are subject to similar pre-publication review:

His columns invariably involve controversial criticisms - on sensitive issues - of the Howard Government and to a less frequent extent, the Opposition and its leader, Simon Crean. It would be interesting to note, say, where ABC management stands with regard to the Late Night Live presenter's comparison of the Prime Minister and the al-Qaeda operative David Hicks, and in particular, Adams's suggestion that "a stretch in Guantanamo Bay might be good for the PM".

The old perv apparently isn’t constrained by the same rules that imperil Crittenden. The ABC’s anxiety over Crittenden’s article is especially surprising given that Crittenden has previously discussed Huntingdon’s work on his own program. Perhaps nobody from management was listening.

ABC Watch has more on this, including that as of yesterday Crittenden has been suspended for five weeks without pay.

Five weeks? Why haven’t we heard about this on Media Watch -- broadcast, of course, on the ABC? One assumes they’ve heard about it; an ABC insider told me early yesterday a petition supporting Crittenden had been circulated throughout the corporation. ABC staff are now threatening to strike:

More than 50 ABC staff wrote to managing director Russell Balding yesterday to protest at Crittenden being stood down five weeks ago.

Several high-profile broadcasters - including ABC board member Ramona Koval, Geraldine Doogue, Robin Williams, Norman Swan, Peter Thompson and Chris Masters - signed the letter, saying they found Crittenden's treatment "perplexing and disturbing".

Has Media Watch host and free-speech advocate David Marr signed the letter?

A former religion editor for the ABC, Father Paul Collins, said that when he was a full-time ABC employee he had written opinionated newspaper articles and two controversial books. No one ever questioned him - in fact, he was encouraged.

He has written to Radio National general manager Mark Collier saying that if Crittenden was to be suspended, so should Phillip Adams and Terry Lane, who are high-profile broadcasters and newspaper columnists.

If Media Watch knew about the Crittenden dispute and declined to comment on it, shame on them.

And if they didn’t know about it ... same deal.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:31 AM | Comments (11)


• EvilPundit continues the Indymedia roundup.

Myongwatch! is back.

• TVs Henry notes that Al Franken has adopted the Michael Moore defence.

• Paul and Carl’s (and Habib’s) formerly-troubled site is now regularly loadable.

• And we have new blogs from Darren Kaplan and Chris Chittleborough. Go say hi.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:39 AM | Comments (7)


Considering that Bombay changed its name to Mumbai in 1995, shouldn’t the devices that were detonated there earlier this week be referred to as “mumbs”?

That’s probably offensive to the families of the brave suicide mumbers. Whatever. To rescue this terrible post, here’s a line I just caught from Dennis Miller on an old clip from The View:

Other than the bombs they strap to their chests, I’ve got no idea what makes the Palestinians tick.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:20 AM | Comments (13)


A happy morning in my old hometown:

A dispute between two fathers dropping off children at a Melbourne school today ended with one stabbed in the neck and the other under psychiatric observation.

At least one young child witnessed the aftermath of the incident as students entered their classrooms at Westgrove Primary School on Thames Boulevard, Werribee.

Back in my day, the knifefights happened inside the schoolyard. Where they belonged.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:48 AM | Comments (2)


Is Iraq another Vietnam? Not exactly. In fact, it’s not even another Gulf War:

In Vietnam, for example, an average of 18 GIs died a day for more than seven years. During World War II, the rate was 221 combat deaths a day for four years. Even during the first Persian Gulf War, a 42-day blitz, America averaged about nine dead a day.

And a reminder to CNN: Kosovo wasn’t another Vietnam, either.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:21 AM | Comments (13)


Daniel Pipes describes his Borking. Now that his appointment is secure, his opponents should prepare to be Piped.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:25 AM | Comments (5)


It’s all over for the BBC and Andrew Gilligan:

The origin of the disputed 45-minute claim on Iraqi weapons came from a secret intelligence report dated August 30, the Hutton inquiry heard today.

The claim that Iraq could deploy "chemical and biological munitions" within 45 minutes was made in a classified email issued by a member of the joint intelligence committee (JIC) - but with both sender and recipient blacked out for security reasons.

It was distributed to Downing Street and Whitehall staff six days later on September 5 as new drafts of the September 24 dossier were being prepared.

The email stated that "forward deployed storage sites of chemical and biological munitions could be with military units and ready for firing within 45 minutes".

That revelation, presented on day nine of the inquiry by Sir John Scarlett, the chairman of the JIC, appears to blow out of the water the original suggestion by BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan that the claim was made up.

The BBC’s extorted subscribers should demand a refund.

UPDATE. If the Hutton Inquiry employed the mercy rule, this contest would have to be stopped:

Government intelligence chief Sir John Scarlett told the Hutton inquiry today he knew immediately that Andrew Gilligan's report on the Today programme alleging the dossier on Iraq weapons had been "sexed up" by Downing Street was "completely untrue".

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:16 AM | Comments (6)

August 26, 2003


The Moxie War has entered the crucial quagmire stage and is now officially Another Vietnam™. Thrill to the wild Treacher-Moxie action!

Meanwhile, in a non-quagmire conflict:

Hundreds of U.S. forces, backed by helicopters, tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, launched a raid here Tuesday in a bid to capture the leader of a notorious gang wanted for attacks against U.S. forces and terrorizing Iraqi civilians.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:07 PM | Comments (8)


Phillip Adams writes that people have “learned to live with the duplicitous and dishonourable. Scepticism may be healthy but cynicism like this is carcinogenic. It kills the body politic.”

Down with the duplicitous and dishonourable, as alliteration addict Adams might write. A curse on the cancer of cynicism! Not that Phil would ever stoop to such levels:

Recent polls show that legions of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein and his secular Baath Party were in bed with al-Qa'ida, that Hussein was one of the architects of the September 11 attacks. Millions are convinced that those WMD were used against US troops as they moved towards Baghdad. And, moreover, that the weapons have been found.

Millions? The poll to which Adams cynically refers for his WMD claims was a one-off conducted in May, by the looks of things. It involved 1,256 people, or around 0.0004% of the US population. Other polls, which have more frequently addressed the WMD issue, record vastly different responses. CNN, for example, found in late June that 76% of Americans were either not confident or only somewhat confident that WMD would be located.

The headline on Adams’ column: “Poison of the 'I don't want to know' syndrome”.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:33 PM | Comments (30)


Maybe it’s the tasty new McBove burger. Maybe it’s the Rude 'n' Surly salad range. Maybe it's the Hegemony Nuggets. Or maybe it’s just because the stores are air conditioned:

McDonald's is expanding faster in France than in any other country in Europe.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:57 PM | Comments (14)


Jim Nolan on Andrew Wilkie, Australia’s logic-scrambled ex-intelligence official:

Now reaching the end of his Warholesque 15 minutes of fame, Wilkie is doing his best to extend his shelf life as a self-appointed whistleblower by resorting to fact-free allegations. Remember that he had weeks, if not months, of advance notice to prepare his submission to the parliamentary committee. This is a forum where submissions attract parliamentary privilege.

That Wilkie was unable to cite a single specific example to support his claims speaks volumes for his credibility. That he was so naive as to allow the wily Robert Ray to put words into his mouth – that the Government's claims were sexed up – says as much for his credulity. He willingly agreed with that characterisation without a single example and in the week when the same allegation against Tony Blair's spinmeister Alistair Campbell was nailed as a lie before the Hutton commission.

Few others have noted that it was a prompt from Ray that led to Wilkie's "sexed-up" comment. The Labor senator was obviously trying to sex up the inquiry.

CORRECTION. Jim Nolan writes to point out that the “sexed-up” prompt came from Liberal MP David Jull, who was likely being sarcastic. Which makes Wilkie’s eager acceptance of the term even more comical. Nolan has contacted Ray to acknowledge his error.

UPDATE UPDATE. Michelle Grattan has more:

One might almost have thought Jull was on Wilkie's side. He wasn't. This was a trap into which Wilkie willingly walked, repeating words he'd used about British material at an earlier British inquiry. The trap's purpose was to sharpen his accusation so it could be shot down more dramatically if the evidence of the assessments that went to the Government doesn't support it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:54 PM | Comments (5)


“Arnie's dark past haunts” reads the headline. However, as the story reveals ...

It's just a tiny typewritten line tucked away in an immense archive, but it sheds further light on the Nazi past of Arnold Schwarzenegger's father.

Arnie’s in the clear. Until it can be proven that Nazism is genetic.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:45 PM | Comments (15)


Ferrari has won the last three world championships but drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello are struggling this year to maintain the marque’s dominance. The Hungarian round of the Formula One championship has provoked this front-page response from La Repubblica:

We saw Barrichello losing the wheel and crashing as if he were driving a Trabant. And Schumacher paddling as if he were shipwrecked. They’ll tell us it  was the tyres ... well, just go to the tyre man and change them. They’ll tell us others have made enormous progress but not why Ferrari are resembling a  bus.

A partial translation is available here. Maybe Ferrari should hire Mark Webber.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:40 PM | Comments (4)


Conservative columnists (including Mark Steyn) have left Canada’s National Post. Liberal Post columnist Elizabeth Nickson is delighted:

I don't regret the defection of the conservative boy prose stylists.

”Prose stylist” is a curious choice of insult to direct at writers. Nickson continues, comparing her former column pals to conservative politicians:

Just like the prose stylists of the former Post, they're boys. Only boys would miss the opportunity to form an effective opposition to the Liberal juggernaut. Only boys would make that bone-headed compromise on free trade. Only boys would insist on ideological purity and sacrifice Canada to their ego. Boys are not men. And boys do not deserve to lead.

Where the hell did this come from? Steyn doesn’t know:

No vendetta at my end. I’m devastated to discover, at the end of said column, that I’m not man enough for her. Liz is one of my favourite gal prose stylists and I was honoured to share a page with her.

And presumably relieved that nowadays he doesn’t. By the way, I wonder how far you’d get as a lefty columnist in Canada if you wrote that “girls do not deserve to lead”?

UPDATE. Several readers point out that Nickson is not, in fact, of the left. My mistake; I read here that she was “barking mad” and just assumed ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:04 AM | Comments (20)


Our society is collapsing. People are actually daring to talk about legal issues:

One of Victoria's most senior legal figures has accused Prime Minister John Howard and senior ministers of eroding public faith in the justice system by criticising Pauline Hanson's jail sentence.

Crown counsel Peter Sallmann said the spectacle of politicians publicly critiquing the outcome was damaging to the legal process.

"I find it quite extraordinary, and no less disturbing, that senior politicians, including the Prime Minister, Mr Howard, have been expressing views about the sentence," he wrote in a letter to The Age.

"Apart from the fact that these expressions of opinion from politicians seem so unnecessary and irrelevant, they are potentially damaging to the judicial branch of government and therefore to our system of government as a whole."

Extraordinary that The Age -- a newspaper, and thus nominally interested in freedom of speech -- should be so approving of Sallman’s anti-debate nonsense. Note the Tandberg cartoon in the linked article depicting a judge-menacing John Howard. What exactly were the seditious, society-smashing words the Prime Minister used?

But if you ask me - like many other people I find the sentence certainly very long and very severe.

And that’s about it. Trembly Sallman finds this “disturbing”. He should get out more often. In other Hanson news, Tony Abbott faces a PR crisis over his involvement in bringing down the One Nation leader -- although it’s interesting that the primary attack on Hanson came from the Right rather than the Left, which accused the government of not doing enough to stop Hanson’s rise -- and Bronwyn Bishop (obviously a Slatts reader) has described Pauline as a “political prisoner”. At the risk of futher destroying all trust in everything, Paul Sheehan calibrates the Hanson sentence:

... twice as heinous as armed robbery, three times worse than robbery with violence, and six times worse than child molesting.

His expressions of opinion seem unnecessary and irrelevant and are potentially damaging to the judicial branch of government. For the good of democracy, everybody please stop discussing stuff.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:17 AM | Comments (47)


Tariq Ali is claiming some very precise Nostradamus-like abilities:

Contrary to the cocooned Iraqis who had been on the US payroll for far too long and told George Bush that US troops would be garlanded with flowers and given sweets, we warned that the occupation would lead to the harrying and killing of Western soldiers on a daily basis and would soon develop into a low-intensity guerilla war.

I haven’t Googled all of Tariq’s pre-war commentary -- who could? -- but I did turn up a few predictions before the vomiting became too intense. This is from last September:

There is growing anger and signs of unrest in every capital. There have been large demonstrations in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The region could erupt if the "war against terror" is extended to Iraq ...

A near-universal view is that if waged and won, far from being seen as a deterrence, it would greatly facilitate the growth of mass support for terrorist groups.

Hasn’t happened. And no mention of “killing Western soldiers on a daily basis, developing into a low-intensity guerilla war”, etc. Tariq the Future Teller had this to say in January:

I think, curiously enough, the war in Iraq and the occupation of Iraq and the substitution of Saddam with a U.S. puppet government, so the oil can be shared out as war trophy is bound to create resistance sooner or later. It may take four years. It may take ten years. We don’t know.

Except with hindsight. As late as April, with the initial phase of the war complete, Tariq’s crystal balls were still feeding him a “sooner or later” line with no specifics about daily soldier killings or low-intensity guerillas:

Sooner or later, the resistance will begin. My only hope is that it's a nationalist resistance, not a religious one.

Wish on, wishboy. The resistance -- such as it is -- “predicted” by Tariq Ali is hardly nationalistic, unless one imagines attacks on oil and water supplies to be the work of those supportive of Iraqi advancement. Enough foreign fighters are apparently present among the “resistance” to indicate at least some religious component.

Prove your predictive powers, Tariq. Tell us by how much Collingwood will win the 2003 Grand Final. And no fair supplying an answer in October.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:07 AM | Comments (8)


Arnie will surely secure California’s bloc-voting tub activists.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:00 AM | Comments (6)


A medical, if not social, breakthrough:

The patient had so far shown no signs of rejecting the new tongue.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:58 AM | Comments (11)

August 25, 2003


Cathy Sherry shares an epiphany with Melbourne Age readers:

Think of a single house in the suburbs. A vendor cannot say: "I want $400,000 and won't accept a cent less." Not if he or she wants to sell. Ultimately, the price will be determined by how much a purchaser is willing and able to pay.

If the most a purchaser has is $300,000, that is all the house will realise. It will only sell for $400,000 if another purchaser has more money - thus it is purchasers, not vendors, who determine the price.

This discovery -- I call it “the Sherry Illumination” -- will revolutionise economics. Imagine; the amount a buyer is prepared to pay somehow influences the amount a seller is able to demand. Who knew?

Cathy continues with the revelations:

Stamp duty essentially represents the price of a new kitchen - on a property worth $150,000, stamp duty is about $5000; on a property worth $1 million, it is roughly $55,000. No matter how much or little you can afford to pay for a home, stamp duty is never going to make or break the deal. As economist Blair Warman commented in last week's Sunday Age, lowering stamp duty will just take money from the Government, put it in vendors' pockets and add fuel to the fire.

Sherry’s second theory -- that lowering taxes reduces the amount of tax a government receives -- is almost as staggering as her initial discovery (although here she must share credit with the genius Warman). Let us pray the government notices this breakthrough and increases stamp duty, lest “fuel” (ie, your money) be added to any “fire” (ie, stuff you want to buy).

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:23 AM | Comments (27)


Via Joe Dougherty we learn that Cybill Shepherd is deeply concerned over matters gubernatorial:

"That would be the worst tragedy in the history of California," Shepherd hyperventilated to "Access Hollywood."

"I think that we are the laughing stock of the world, with Arnold Schwarzenegger running [for] governor," Shepherd said. "I think he's a real hypocrite. I think he has a past that is going to come out, and I'm not going to mention what it is, but it's not going to be pretty."

Speaking of unpretty pasts, picture teenage Cyb and lusty Gray Davis engaged in some beachside saliva-trading:

Actress Cybill Shepherd told the San Francisco Chronicle that she and Davis "made out passionately" on a beach in Hawaii 36 years ago when she was 16 and he, 24.

Davis was working at a travel company at the time, and Shepherd was vacationing with her parents.

Shepherd said Davis had been a ''good kisser,'' but that they were never lovers.

The 52-year old actress says she is so upset about the recall election against Davis, she is thinking of holding a press conference.

That’s how upset she is.

(Thanks to reader John S. for the alert.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:11 AM | Comments (27)


List One features an inflatable goat, and List Two involves Uday and Qusay’s little-known Australian sibling -- Guday.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:06 AM | Comments (3)


Mark Steyn on the blame America firsters:

As far as the world's press is concerned, the folks who are really to blame are the Americans. It's the Americans' fault because:

a) They made Iraq so insecure their own troops are getting picked off every day;

b) OK, fewer are being picked off than a few weeks back, but that's only because the Americans have made their own bases so secure that only soft targets like the UN are left;

c) OK, the UN's a soft target only because they turned down American protection, but the Americans should have had enough sense just to go ahead and install the concrete barriers and perimeter trenches anyway;

d) OK, if they'd done that, the beloved UN would have been further compromised by unduly close association with the hated Americans, which is probably what got them killed in the first place.

In other words, whatever happens, it's always evidence of American failure. That's the only ''root cause'' most of the West is interested in.

Meanwhile we stupid folk labor under the misapprehension that the terrorists might be to blame. Poor dumb us.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:05 AM | Comments (28)

August 24, 2003


Excuse me, but wasn’t George W. Bush’s Texas meant to be the pollutiest place in the whole USA?

Turns out Texas is hands-down beaten for chokey air by liberal progressive California:

A national air pollution study found that Riverside, Calif., has the nation's worst air quality, with an average of 148 unhealthy air days a year.

The next four cities on the list were all in California: Fresno, Bakersfield, Los Angeles-Long Beach and Sacramento.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:43 PM | Comments (14)


Strange thing about last night’s Collingwood-Swans game in Sydney: no mention was made of Jack Dyer's death. No mention that I heard, anyway. (Also strange: the Sydney players entered the arena to the hypergay beat of “It’s Raining Men”.)

Dyer was a great man from football’s toughest era. Consider just the spectators:

Once, after he knocked out an opposition player, 200 angry fans waited outside the ground to get at him. At that time Dyer was a policeman.

Emerging in his uniform he drew his revolver, made a break for his car and got away, although he was showered with stones and bottles.

Dyer’s whimsical, untutored commentary increased his fame in the decades following his retirement although, even by the standards of the 60s and 70s, he wasn’t exactly a polished media personality. On one edition of League Teams, the Thursday night football program he co-hosted with Bob Davis and Lou Richards, Dyer said nothing for the opening 15 minutes or so. He’d forgotten his false teeth.

A fearsome, bone-breaking player, off the field Dyer was as mild as could be. Well, usually. I met him a couple of times. Charming storyteller.

Lou Richards is right. Jack deserves a state funeral. I bet he gets one, too.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:28 PM | Comments (4)


Short items:

•Not for nothing was he known as Lucky Lindy.

•Judging by this, PETA’s naked-chick-in-a-cage stunts have lost their crowd-pulling magic.

•Stephen Pollard reports that two-thirds of the e-mail he receives is insane:

That includes the usual anti-semitic rantings - my name, it seems, is not Pollard but Jew Boy - and the occasional rather implausible threat of violence ("We are coming to get you"). One fellow responded to a rant of mine against tennis - surely the most boring game ever invented? - with the almost sublime insult that "the only reason you hate tennis is because you are a fat bastard".

•Among the symptoms of computer virus infection: worm-turning headlines.

•And Ken Parish has written a fine essay on blogging, to which Bailz adds an important correction.

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:57 PM | Comments (4)


This week’s prize was all set to go to Zsolt Baumgartner, Hungary's first Formula One driver, until notification was received of a stunning 164km/h (100mph) effort from the daughter of Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer. Way to drive, ex-Sunday school teacher!

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:40 PM | Comments (3)


Dubya’s numbers are down. So are Arnie’s. But I don’t care.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:39 PM | Comments (5)


The things you see when you don’t have a camera ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:38 PM | Comments (2)

August 23, 2003


This might turn out to be interesting:

Canadian police arrested 19 men last week in a case that, according to court documents obtained by a newspaper, has eerie parallels to the preparations for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

The Toronto Star newspaper said the men were arrested after a "pattern of suspicious behavior" which featured one man taking flight lessons that took him directly over an Ontario nuclear power plant.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:07 PM | Comments (29)


Jacques Chirac says an uncaring French population is responsible for thousands of heat-wave deaths:

With critics accusing his Centre-Right Government of mishandling the crisis, he tried to shift blame for the high death rate on to French society as a whole.

Mr Chirac suggested many families and neighbours had gone on holiday and left the elderly to die.

"The tragic consequences of the heatwave show how necessary it is for our society to become more responsible and more attentive to others," he said.

So where was Jacques while French oldsters were dying all over the place? On holiday in Canada. Mark Steyn has more:

In Paris this spring, a government official explained to me how Europeans had created a more civilised society than America - socialised healthcare, shorter work weeks, more holidays. We've just seen where that leads: gran'ma turned away from the hospital to die in an airless apartment because junior's sur la plage. M Chirac's somewhat tetchy suggestion that his people should rethink their attitude to the elderly was well taken. But Big Government inevitably diminishes its citizens' capacity to take responsibility, to the point where even your dead mum is just one more inconvenience the state should do something about.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:04 PM | Comments (32)


Currently kicking goals with both feet from impossible angles, as we Collingwood people like to say, are Sam Ward, the Bunyip, Bernard Slattery, EvilPundit, and Roger Bournival.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:54 PM | Comments (2)


Someone should tell Robert Dessaix -- who believes that there is “no forum in Australian public life that allows for the open exchange of ideas” -- about this crazy new thing called the “internet”:

"The opinion column in our newspapers is not the answer. The columnists state their opinion, and that's that. I am talking about exchange," says Dessaix.

"The only thing we have that are genuine forums for such activity are our literary festivals."

Wank. Speaking of dinosaurs, Mark Latham needs to learn that if you’re aiming for a high-tech metaphor, it’s best not to use low-tech terminology:

By contrast, the new growth theorists argue that research and technological enhancement are the main drivers of growth. Instead of focussing on the accumulation of objects, economists need to focus on the accumulation of ideas. In particular, education and research are the 'twin-carburettors' of economic expansion.

And scientific advancement is the butterchurn of wealth creation.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:53 PM | Comments (7)


Phillip Adams remembers the good old days when people were easily outraged by his vainglorious posturing:

One Sunday in the mid-’70s, the Vatican declared a fatwa on me. Priests in pulpits across Australia told their congregations that it was a sin to read any newspaper that published my columns – or to listen to any radio station that broadcast me.

Some fatwa. They didn’t even hack off a single limb.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:49 PM | Comments (8)


Latest on the apparent inside job at Baghdad’s UN headquarters:

US investigators are interrogating two Iraqi guards they believe might have helped carry out the attack.

A senior US official said all security guards at the compound were agents of the Iraqi secret services. They had regularly reported on UN activities to the secret services before the war, and the UN continued to employ the guards after the war.

When investigators began questioning the guards, two of them claimed they were entitled to "diplomatic immunity" and refused to co-operate. The two were not entitled to immunity, the official said.

A UN official is telling much the same story:

Iraqi security guards at the UN's Baghdad headquarters aided the plotters of the suicide truck bombing which killed at least 23 people, a UN official said today.

"They clearly had support from Iraqi security guards inside who gave intelligence to the planners of the attack," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"It was a well-prepared attack. The target was Sergio Vieira de Mello, that much is clear," he said, referring to the top UN envoy in Iraq killed in Tuesday's bombing.

The attack was made easier by the UN itself:

After a bombing at the Jordanian Embassy last week, senior American officials warned that other soft targets might be next. But the United Nations deliberately avoided sealing itself off because it feared that such barriers would send the wrong message to Iraqis seeking help.

Clever. Whoever caused the blast, it wasn’t terrorism, according to the Sydney Morning Herald’s Paul McGeough. It was “resistance”:

It suits the White House to brand what is happening in Iraq as terrorism. It sits neatly with the now-discredited case that it used to justify war against Iraq.

The Herald is one of only a few news organisations to have interviewed members of the resistance. They made no pretence about the thousands of foreigners, all of them Arab, who have joined the fight. But they denied any active participation by al-Qaeda, Ansar al-Islam or Saddam Hussein.

They’re just happy little resistance fighters. Resisting peace. McGeough sounds almost admiring:

For all that, Washington still tries to include the attacks into its case against Saddam. In the face of recent evidence of a centrally controlled and nationalist-driven resistance, it continues to blame Baathist diehards and al-Qaeda and its associates. But it ignores the breadth and depth of this resistance at its peril.

Osama bin Laden's agents might well be in Iraq, but the range of the attacks is no different to those perpetrated over the years by nationalist resistance movements in the West Bank and Northern Ireland and, more recently, by Chechen rebels.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:47 PM | Comments (20)


The Herald Sun reports:

A man opened fire at his stepmother with a sawn-off shotgun then apologised for the incident in a text message days later, a Melbourne court was told today.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:42 PM | Comments (8)


Michael Duffy on the Hanson sentence:

In sentencing Hanson and her former colleague David Ettridge to a whopping three years in jail, Chief Justice Patsy Wolfe said: "The crimes you have committed affect the confidence of people in the electoral process."

This, of course, is complete rubbish. It's people's confidence in the legal process that has being undermined, because the sentence is so manifestly absurd. Only a judge could not see this.


Posted by Tim Blair at 04:41 PM | Comments (9)


Andrew Wilkie, the all-wise, all-seeing superexpert who quit his intelligence job because he believed the war in Iraq was wrong, has been jabbering about exaggerated weapons claims:

The federal government sexed up the threat posed by Iraq to justify going to war, a parliamentary inquiry was told today.

Andrew Wilkie, a former intelligence analyst with the Office of National Assessments, said the government deliberately skewed the truth and misled the public over Iraq's weapons capabilities.

This is the same man who before the war warned of terrible Iraqi disasters, including "a humanitarian disaster to overwhelm coalition forces. Just totally overwhelm them, with thousands of casualties, hundreds of thousands of refugees, internally displaced people, trying to move through their lines. That would play all sorts of havoc for the coalition military ... He could create a humanitarian disaster as part of a scorched-earth policy".

Sounds a little sexed-up, wouldn’t you say?

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:16 PM | Comments (25)


Sorry for the infrequent recent posting; I’ve been distracted by all these wicked screensavers I’ve been receiving.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:51 PM | Comments (4)

August 21, 2003


Extracts from interviews done for the below-mentioned Bulletin piece:

Jeff Jarvis: The best thing about blogging: no editors.

Natalie Solent: I didn't think the following point up myself, but it really resonates with me: a few years back everyone was worried about how the electronic age was going to end up with us all fed by intravenous drips while gazing blankly at screens for every waking hour. As it turned out, though, the burst of growth in computer use came from people wishing to communicate.

Joanne Jacobs: Blogging is like the whole Bill of Rights wrapped up in one: Free speech, free press, right to assemble(virtually), right to petition for redress of grievances ... Well, I'm not sure blogging is about the right not to have soldiers quartered in your home. Maybe that's the ability to blog anonymously, so the mullahs won't send soldiers to your home to drag you off to prison or beat you to death.

Atrios: Obviously, remaining anonymous keeps me from parlaying the "success" of the blog into fame and riches, though aside from a few more media mentions or a radio appearance or two I doubt I'm missing out on much.

Colby Cosh: If traditional journalists truly are dismissive of weblogging, and some clearly are, it's bound to be out of fear, isn't it? I can't think of any other convincing explanation. Some fear is reasonable: webloggers are pushing the price of intelligent, informed commentary towards zero.

Glenn Reynolds (on how newspapers might deal with bloggers): Hiring them isn't a bad idea.

Natalie Solent: Writers are traditionally given two contradictory pieces of advice: 'be yourself' and 'consider your audience'. Blogging moves the lever hard over to the 'be yourself' end. Bloggers do not need to moderate their language, translate their quotes, conceal their prejudices, explain their Star Trek references, apologise for their taste in music or rein in their sentimentality.

Colby Cosh: If you have a surpassingly clever ten-word joke to make (and you often do), it can go straight up on the page; you don't have to scribble it into a notebook and wait six months to work it into an op-ed. Is it possible that, as e-mail revived the personal letter, weblogs may rescue the epigram?

Natalie Solent: The writers on The Corner do a lot of 'blegging' - asking readers to help them out with obscure information, cheerfully admitting that they want to know for their next column. It seems to work.

John Quiggin: I often make requests for help and get some useful stuff. For example, I was looking for books giving a favourable account of the Howard government's economic policies (there isn't much on this topic, and what there is is mostly critical) and Jack Strocchi suggested the OECD country reports, which I wouldn't have thought of.

Jeff Jarvis: Not only am I freed from deadlines (I can publish even sooner) and also from the limits of space (though most bloggers write more concisely than most print writers), I no longer have to worry about writing for the artificial audience of an editor; I write only for the real audience.

Stephen Green: My worry is that, like FM radio, blogging will someday be just as conformist and poll-driven as FM has become, and that the really independent voices will end up as little more than curiosities not unlike ham radio operators.

Joanne Jacobs: Blogging builds strong citizens 12 ways. (I couldn't remember how many ways Wonder Bread built strong bodies, so I googled it. But maybe you Aussies didn't get Wonder Bread commercials.)

(Note: Natalie Solent appears in this post but not in the article. How come? Because her excellent replies arrived after deadline. So I’ve slashed her payment.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:24 PM | Comments (19)


Letter of the week, from Peter Kennedy in today’s Australian:

Now that rebels are bombing the UN, water mains and oilfields belonging to the Iraqi people, where are all the human shields from Western countries who volunteered to sit on these structures to protect them from the evil Americans? It seems shielding the Iraqi people's vital assets is only necessary if it supports a brutal dictator.

If the human shields won’t help, maybe we should send in the giant beavers.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:59 PM | Comments (30)


The latest Continuing Crisis column in The Bulletin mentions Rudolph Giuliani, John Howard, Ross Fitzgerald, Paul Kennedy, Andrew Johns, Shane Warne, Mark Colvin, Mike Moore, Peter Garrett, Brendalee Doel, Alison Broinowski, and Jake Ryan.

Also in the latest Bulletin: a piece by me on blogging, featuring Stephen Green, Joanne Jacobs, John Quiggin, Atrios, Colby Cosh, Glenn Reynolds, and Jeff Jarvis. It’s a brief and necessarily generalist article for the non-blog aware. Maybe later I’ll post some longer extracts from interviews with the above bloggers.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:46 PM | Comments (6)


The problem with CNNNN is that it isn’t very FUNNNNY:

When the ABC's news satire CNNNN returns this week you can bet the war in Iraq will feature prominently. Embedded journalists, Iraq's-most-wanted playing cards, the excesses of Fox News - that's a rich comic vein to mine. But it also creates a problem.

"George Bush does surpass satire a lot of the time," says CNNNN's Craig Reucassel. "With George Bush and things like Fox News - if you wrote some of the things that actually happened, everyone would send it back, going, 'That's too unrealistic.'

"Fox News were calling the French 'cheese-eating surrender monkeys' - now how in the hell can you top that?"

Beats me. Try jokes.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:42 PM | Comments (21)


Smokers are outliving cigarette warnings:

Anti-smoking groups say cigarette health warnings in Australia are outdated and are calling for the introduction of new shock tactics involving the use of graphic images on cigarette packets.

The call coincides with the release of new research from the United Kingdom which shows that packet warnings have a limited life before they are ignored by smokers.

Poor little packet warnings. Maybe they should sue.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:34 PM | Comments (23)


Jose Ramos-Horta once shared a stage with John Pilger. Now the East Timorese foreign minister, furious over the attack on the UN in Baghdad that killed Sergio de Mello and more than 20 others, says he will be happy to see Islamic terrorists executed:

I am so angry about this act of terrorism that I now have second thoughts about opposing the death penalty for terrorists. Why should taxpayers pay for the rent, meals, electricity bills and medical care of a convicted terrorist who kills, maims, destroys and takes away the lives of the innocent?

Many times in the past, I have signed petitions pleading to spare the life of someone on death row. And I will continue to do on a case-by-case basis.

But I will not shed tears when those responsible for the countless terrorist bombings in Bali, Jakarta, New York, Washington and Baghdad are put to death. Clearly, Sergio's death has changed the way I look at life and the issue of the death penalty.

Hmmm. East Timor must not be subject to Australia’s strict no debate laws.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:59 AM | Comments (20)


Does Errol Simper ever write about anything besides the ABC? And does he ever have anything which isn’t suckworthy to say about it?

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:57 AM | Comments (11)


The Guardian’s Pollee Toynbee on the Hutton inquiree:

This is an inquest into David Kelly's briefings to journalists: as things stand, he may be rubbished for spreading rumours and alleging far more than he knew. He was caught out and lied to his bosses about what he had said. The embarrassment was more than he could stand so his careless talk cost him his life. Who killed him? He killed himself (unless you believe the swirling emails from conspiracy fruitcakes).

Or if you believe the ABC’s Michael Dodd, reporting last night from a long way behind the curve:

Whether Dr Kelly was, in effect, killed by government spin is one of the toughest questions which the inquiry must struggle to answer.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:29 AM | Comments (0)


Given Sergio de Mello’s successful involvement in the liberation of East Timor, this might be right on the money:

The cement mixer was driven into the side of the converted three-storey hotel on which Mr de Mello's office was located, prompting the US administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, to speculate that Mr de Mello had been deliberately targeted.

The idea of East Timor as a root cause has never really caught on, despite Osama bin Laden including it way up high in his list of grievances against the imperialist West. The likes of Pilger and Chomsky deflect or deny any link between Islamic terror and East Timor. Well, they would, wouldn’t they? As Andrew Hagen writes:

I believe Dr. Chomsky has dug himself a hole.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:01 AM | Comments (38)


Professor Bunyip wants to hawk his old mail to the National Library. And the National Library would be well advised to buy it, since the Prof’s correspondence with Land Rover parts dealers and slender female students would at least provide an entertaining -- if legally hazardous -- read, especially by comparison with the letters of David Marr, for which the National Library has already paid actual real money.

Unlike Marr, I’ve donated my vast documentary history free of charge. That’s the kind of selfless, put-the-country-first type of guy I am.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:57 AM | Comments (4)


Peer group pressure works. Tex is now considering several acceptable means of transport. Although the rogue inclusion of a Vitara indicates that pressure must remain cruelly high right up until purchasing day.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:55 AM | Comments (8)

August 20, 2003


Ralph Peters in the NY Post:

We've taken the War Against Terror to our enemies. It's far better to draw the terrorists out of their holes in the Middle East, where we don't have to read them their rights, than to wait for them to show up in Manhattan again.

In Iraq, we can just kill the bastards. And we're doing it with gusto.

He’s right. The terrorist Woodstock in Iraq -- folks arriving from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan! -- is bringing all the Islamoid frag buddies together in one place. This scenario was foretold by Miranda Devine, way back during the war’s celebrated quagmire week in April:

If war against militant Islamic terrorists didn't happen in Iraq now, it was going to have to happen somewhere, sooner or later. September 11 and Bali are proof enough.

Better to bring it on now, at a time of our choosing, with all the cockroaches gathered for a showdown out in the open in Iraq, rather than cower at home, our economies shrinking, our civilians picked off, our enemies growing stronger, until we finally wake up to the fact that fighting is necessary, and find it's too late and we are too weak.

Posted by Tim Blair at 10:52 PM | Comments (29)


The verdict is in for Pauline:

Former MP Pauline Hanson faces up to 10 years in prison after she was found guilty of fraud charges this afternoon.

Hanson, 49, and One Nation co-founder David Ettridge, 58, had pleaded not guilty to fraudulently registering One Nation in Queensland on December 4, 1997.

Hanson also had pleaded not guilty to dishonestly obtaining almost $500,000 in electoral reimbursements after the 1998 state election.

No doubt Joan Kirner, Carmen Lawrence, and Cheryl Kernot will condemn this as yet another example of how hard it is for a woman to succeed in politics.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:35 PM | Comments (31)


A Segway rustler has been busted in NYC.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:24 PM | Comments (5)


Wasn’t it us Right Wing Death Beasts who were meant to be silencing debate? The left is moving in on our turf! Mark Steyn reports:

Chris Kempling is a high-school teacher and a Christian conservative and he likes writing letters to his local newspaper. In one of them he said that "homosexuality is not something to be applauded."

The regulatory body for his profession, the British Columbia College of Teachers, suspended him for a month without pay for "conduct unbecoming a member of the college" ...

In Sweden, meanwhile, they've passed a constitutional amendment making criticism of homosexuality a crime, punishable by up to four years in jail. Expressing a moral objection to homosexuality is illegal, even on religious grounds, even in church. Those preachers may not be talking about how gays are evil this Sunday. But they might do next week, or next month. As in Ireland and British Columbia, best to be on the safe side and shut down all debate.

Anyone sense a trend here?

Why, yes. Yes we do. Here’s Natasha Stott Despoja urging a non-debate on the death penalty:

It's a dangerous debate to reopen, and the Prime Minister knows that. I urge the Prime Minister to reconsider that position.

Certainly people have strong views, but it is not time for the debate, not in this heated environment, and it is certainly not time for us to consider or to ever bring back capital punishment. I think that would be an incredibly retrograde step for our community.

Phillip Adams is another debate refusenik:

A public already panicked by the war on terror will be conned and wedged into a debate that we don't need to have – and shouldn't be having.

Phil? Shut up.

UPDATE. Include Michelle Grattan and Robert McClelland in this debate about not having a debate:

Howard's contention that there should be a debate about the death penalty - which is both a federal and state matter - looks, on one reading, reasonable enough, because it is always hard to argue against "debate". But it's a bit like the debate about Asian immigration. It can quickly get out of hand and take the community to places it is better not to go.

There are some issues that should not be driven by popular majority opinion, and capital punishment is one.

McClelland accuses Howard of breaking a convention observed by major political leaders, federal and state, to prevent this debate breaking out: "Howard is irresponsible in suggesting this is a legitimate topic of debate."

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:01 PM | Comments (43)


Apologies to the New York Times, wrongly criticised by me earlier. Seems the article in question was incompetently rewritten by the Sydney Morning Herald. Here’s the original NYT copy:

But at the faltering start of a peace effort opposed by many right-wing Israelis, worry about terror attacks by Jews is growing.

And here’s the Sydney Morning Herald’s rewrite, which changes “growing worry about terror attacks” to a “growing number of terror attacks”:

There is concern about the growing number of terrorist attacks by right-wing Israelis opposed to the already faltering peace plan.

Both articles cite seven dead Palestinians in two years. Of course, since then we’ve had another attack, by Palestinians upon Israelis. Nineteen dead in an instant:

A suspected Palestinian suicide bombing has ripped apart a bus in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish area of Jerusalem, killing at least 19 people including children and dealing a deadly blow to a truce.

As James Morrow points out, the SMH has left its earlier report on the front page of its website, leading to an interesting clash of headlines ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:36 AM | Comments (7)


A panel of Iraqi teachers has been removing Saddam Hussein references from school books. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, it hasn’t been easy:

Fuad Hussein, a returned Iraqi expatriate who chose the panelists, remembers seeing one teacher's hand hesitate the first time she had to cross out a picture of the dictator.

"I told her, 'Don't be afraid. Just bring the pen down here, then across here, and he's finished,' " he said.

That might be one of the prettiest paragraphs I’ve ever read.

(Via Joanne Jacobs.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:55 AM | Comments (5)


John Howard’s wicked racist agenda continues to ... er ... boost migrant numbers:

Bureau of Statistics figures show that, far from falling, net migration has been on an upward trend since the Howard Government's first year in office, 1996-97.

In 2000-01 it reached a peak of 136,000 - its highest level in 12 years. The following financial year (the last for which we have figures), it stayed high at 134,000.

Guess what? There isn't a predominance of white faces. In 2001-02, a third of people came from North-East Asia (particularly China and Hong Kong), 17 per cent came from South-East Asia (particularly Malaysia and Indonesia), 8 per cent from South Asia (particularly India) and 5 per cent from the Middle East (particularly Lebanon and Turkey). That's the best part of two-thirds.

Meanwhile, George W. Bush’s blinkered small-government mindset is ... um ... increasing the size of government:

By maintaining high levels of domestic federal spending, intervening cautiously in the country's continuing cultural conflicts, and waging a war to remove the threat posed by Saddam Hussein that was also consistent with the imperatives of ``humanitarian intervention,'' Bush has governed in a manner that should not leave progressives foaming with rage.

Bush seems to have more or less made his peace with a New Deal-style welfare state. With Senator Edward M. Kennedy, he supports extending federal oversight of public schools; in line with the hopes of many Democrats, he proposed in his 2003 State of the Union address an additional $400 billion over 10 years to strengthen Medicare; and going beyond Clinton administration rhetoric, he also asked Congress to commit $15 billion over the next five years to fight AIDS in Africa.

When will the horror end?

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:18 AM | Comments (29)


A bomber attacks the UN in Baghdad, and the BBC blames America:

The BBC's Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says the attackers may have targeted the UN building because they considered the world body to be America's junior partner in the occupation of Iraq.

But most Iraqis do not agree, and seem to want a bigger a role for the UN, he says.

They tend to focus their hostility and resentment on the Americans, he adds.

In an earlier report (can’t find the link) the BBC’s Susannah Price apparently said that "The UN knew it was a target. It had tried very hard to distance itself from the American operation."

No kidding.

UPDATE. The Price comment -- it’s on video -- is here.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:05 AM | Comments (16)


James Morrow has returned to a daily blogging schedule, but tragically cannot post the brilliant blogger joke he hit me with on the phone yesterday. It is the Joke Too Cruel To Ever Be Published, For It Would Destroy Blogdom As We Know It.


Posted by Tim Blair at 05:00 AM | Comments (20)


The real problem, according to The New York Times and The Sydney Morning Herald, is conservative Jewish vigilantes:

There is concern about the growing number of terrorist attacks by right-wing Israelis opposed to the already faltering peace plan.

In the last two years, at least seven Palestinians have been killed and 19 wounded in unsolved shootings attributed to Israeli civilians in the West Bank, an Israeli security official said.

Seven in two years. So most of these murders took place before the “already faltering peace plan” began to falter. And what’s with the certainty that the killers were right wing and opposed to the peace plan? Didn’t the NYT just tell us that the killings were “unsolved” and only “attributed”?

Much lower in the story:

One of the few points of agreement is that attacks by Israeli civilians against Palestinians are rare. B'Tselem says Israeli civilians have killed 32 Palestinians in the last three years. In the same period, 328 Israeli civilians have been killed by Palestinians inside Israel, and 190 more in the West Bank and Gaza.

Thirty-two dead in the last three years ... but only seven dead in the last two years. Somehow the NYT feels comfortable describing this declining rate as a "growing number of terrorist attacks".

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:50 AM | Comments (6)


The UN's Baghdad headquarters has been attacked:

A massive truck bomb ripped through the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, killing at least 13 people and wounding scores, a UN spokesman said.

It may have been a suicide attack, a top US official said.

Among those badly hurt was Sergio Vieira de Mello, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special representative to Iraq.

A UN official said the diplomat was trapped in his wrecked office, which appeared to be the target of the bombers.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:18 AM | Comments (8)

August 19, 2003


How goes it in Iraq? US Marine John R. Guardino writes:

My reserve unit was activated before the war, and in April my team arrived in this small city roughly 60 miles south of Baghdad. The negative media portrait of the situation in Iraq doesn't correspond with what I've seen. Indeed, we were treated as liberating heroes when we arrived four months ago, and we continue to enjoy amicable relations with the local populace.

The "Arab Street" I've meet in Iraq loves -- that's not too strong of a word -- America and is deeply grateful for our presence. Far from resenting the American military, most Iraqis seem to fear that we will leave too soon and that in our absence the Baath Party tyranny will resume. This sentiment is readily apparent whenever we venture into the city. We don't make it far outside of our camp before throngs of happy, smiling children greet us.

"Bush good, Saddam bad!" many Iraqis tell us emphatically -- and repeatedly. I'm not sure how George W. Bush is faring with the American public, but he's got a lock on Al Hillah.

(Via the industrious Zsa Zsa.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:15 PM | Comments (10)


Monday Morning Moogin'

Tuesday Talkback Triple Play. Each caller repeated three times!

WOMAD Wednesday

Thursday Afternoon Tough Talk with Jonathan Biggins

Thank Goth it’s Friday

Saturday Night’s Alright For Whistling

Same Song Sunday, featuring, as always, Simply Red’s Holding Back The Years

And one fantastic idea ...

The James Lileks Show, live from the State Fair!

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:09 PM | Comments (5)


Camera or launcher? You be the judge.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:03 PM | Comments (18)


Mark Steyn on Diana Mosley and other fans of dictators:

Granted, Diana got turned on by totalitarianism, but she's a piker compared with world-class thug fetishists like Ted Heath, who still admires Mao, or Pierre Trudeau, who yelled "Viva Castro!" in Havana and regretted the liberation of Eastern Europe, or Jimmy Carter, who's never met a psychotic dictator he couldn't make a case for: Mengistu, Assad, Kim Jong-Il... Ceausescu? "Our goals are the same," declared Carter. "We believe in enhancing human rights." When Diana gushed over a monster, she was a silly kid, not head of government. What's Jimmy and Ted and Pierre's excuse?

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:08 PM | Comments (6)


It’s a fatwa against jihad:

Leading clerics in Saudi Arabia have issued a religious ruling, or fatwa, that acts of terrorism by Islamic extremists are serious criminals acts which are against the will of God.

Next we need a hatwa against hijab:

In 1981, Abol-Hassan Bani-Sadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic, announced that "scientific research had shown that women's hair emitted rays that drove men insane." To protect the public, the new Islamist regime passed a law in 1982 making the hijab mandatory for females aged above six, regardless of religious faith. Violating the hijab code was made punishable by 100 lashes of the cane and six months imprisonment.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:55 PM | Comments (24)


You know, this is actually pretty funny.

In related stalker/obsessive/what-the-hell-do-you-call-these-people news, Jim Treacher’s pet freak is also making with the semi-entertaining gags. Maybe they’re developing some kind of comedic learning skills.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:30 PM | Comments (3)


Peacenik Richard Neville was once part of a schoolyard coalition of the willing:

When I was a boarder at a stuffy prep school, my best friend’s big brother was the school bully. In some ways he wasn’t such a bad bloke - funny, smart - aside from his penchant for hurting younger boys. The bully had a few suck-ups, with whom he shared extorted lollies. After a couple of miserable terms, a few of us ambushed the bully and gave him what’s what. He sobbed, abdicated power, shook our hands and the playground became a better place, even for him.

Violence is never the answer, Richard.

(Via reader Tony N.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:59 PM | Comments (27)


Greenpeace boss Anne Summers discusses her history of journalistic open-mindedness:

I was in the US writing for The Australian Financial Review. I had been there for only a few months, but that was long enough to develop a deep scepticism, even repulsion, at the impact of Reaganomics on the poor and the defenseless.

Which explains why Reagan was voted out in ‘84 and today ranks as one of the most unpopular Presidents ever. It was the repulsion that did it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:57 PM | Comments (13)


“Why blank screen? Why no posts?” ask several plaintive e-mails. (Several more say: “Yay! No posts!”) A quick explanation ... this site only ever displays the most recent two days’ posts. If I don’t post for a couple of days, it displays nothing, because there is nothing to display.

Got back to Sydney tonight. Regular wretched commentary will recommence shortly.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:12 AM | Comments (37)

August 16, 2003


Differences must be tolerated, writes Phillip Adams. Except for differences that actually matter, like different beliefs about education:

A modern democracy is a complex thing, made up of differences that have to be tolerated and, where possible, celebrated. By separating kids into schools based on exclusion, no matter how loftily that exclusion is expressed, is to place democracy in jeopardy. Despite all our differences, we have to learn to sing the same songs, in tune and in harmony.

The left’s loathing of diversity has never been better expressed. You vill all zing zer zame zongs!

Posted by Tim Blair at 09:45 AM | Comments (44)


When did ten-year-olds get this damn smart? Check the quote, then consider that the speaker was born in 1993. Wow.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:08 AM | Comments (11)


To hell with Brisbane’s Cavalcade of Commies. The really big news in Queensland this weekend is Jake Fest ‘03.

It’s happening tonight at The Drink nightclub in Surfers Paradise (address and enticing description listed here). If you’re anywhere in the area, Jake says: SHOW UP! He’ll be on the door, upstairs at the VIP room (of course). About 300 or so people have been invited. Jake may allow a few more in to share the fun.

Something I only learned yesterday, when Jake called: prompted by the $1400 raised for Jake Fest by readers of this site, the night club is throwing in another thousand, as is Sea FM, for whom Jake has been doing some radio work. Add that to donations from All Coast Employees Society Inc., in Broadbeach, and we’re looking at some serious mayhem.

The timing couldn’t be better. Celebrate the arrest of Ham Ball or Pork Cube or whatever his name is. And celebrate Jake!

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:48 AM | Comments (12)


Covered about 600 kilometres yesterday in the Mini. First impressions: build quality is extraordinary, controls are helium light, gearing (especially third) is possibly too high, sound system is great (test tunes came from Son Volt, the Fun Lovin’ Criminals, and Zevon), engine is revvy but needs another 30 or so horses (and gets them in the S version), pedals are perfect for heel-toe work (although it’s easy enough to coordinate things so you can ignore the clutch), ride is firm but compliant (I’d opt for slightly firmer, better to exploit the laser-accurate steering), headroom is minimal (and I’m only five nine), and the handling is ...

Maybe I should give up this car-testing caper. Even ten years ago it was no big deal for a reasonably capable driver to take a mid-priced sedan to the limits of its adhesion. These days, with modern tyres, and especially in things as sharply designed as this Mini, the grip levels are so high that in ordinary-speedy driving you never get close to discovering where those limits are. By the time you do, you’re travelling at speeds that make recovery ... er, problematic. And that’s from someone whose daily driver is a Miata/MX-5. I know grip.

Another 300 kilometres to come today, from Albury to Melbourne, where I’ll explore some favourite, usually cop-free, bendy roads. Thus far, very impressed.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:29 AM | Comments (13)

August 15, 2003


Go visit Evil Pundit, a longterm friend of this blog who’s now launched a blog of his own. Snappy design, quality words; it rocks. One to watch.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:54 PM | Comments (10)


This can’t be right:

About 3,000 people have died in France of heat-related causes since abnormally high temperatures swept across the country about two weeks ago, the health ministry estimated Thursday.

These numbers have got to include deaths not caused solely by the heat, surely. Otherwise we’re talking about France’s own September 11, brought on by temperatures that according to AFP didn’t even make it to 100. Old folks were the main victims:

Health officials say August is often a time when elderly people find themselves alone, when their families go on vacation.

"They are often alone in Paris when their families go away on holiday," said health ministry spokeswoman Laurence Danand. "There are a lot of elderly people alone in big cities in August."

There’s a lot fewer now. I hope not as much as this story claims.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:43 AM | Comments (57)


I’ve been Texed. In defence of the Cooper, it does produce 125 horsepower, which should be sufficient to keep the estrogen somewhere below breast-development level. In fact, I suspect women will be drawn to the Mini. Probably, given my driving record, they will be policewomen.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:28 AM | Comments (24)

August 14, 2003


Actually, this is not a new post. It's just some extra place for anyone to leave comments until I finish a bunch of work. Back soon.

Posted by Tim Blair at 06:37 PM | Comments (27)


Yesterday’s Herald Sun item about a Muslim campaign for male-only swimming hours at a Victorian council pool includes the following:

Brooke LeSueur, the council's co-ordinator of leisure facilities development, said the push for women-free swimming came from a local Islamic men's group but the night sessions will be open to all men.

Not according to Ask an Imam! they won’t:

It is not permissible for males to go to a males only swimming pool if some men to not cover their Satar - the area between the navel and knee.

It is compulsory for males to cover the area between the navel and knees and it is a sin for anyone to look at another person’s Satar.

No navel-gazing? That’s a guaranteed fatwa on you, Phillip Adams! Islam for Kids has the same advice:

Men must cover their bodies between the waist and knees, even when swimming or showering.

So we’ve potentially got a situation here where women are banned and even non-Muslim men might be required to wear some kind of crazy water-burqas. Progressive councils are returning us to Edwardian times.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:36 AM | Comments (73)


During the war in Iraq, ABC journalists were instructed not to refer to Australian troops as “our troops”. Liberal senator Santo Santoro speaks for many:

"The ABC's conduct in this instance is deeply, deeply offensive," Senator Santoro told the Senate.

"It highlights a viciously pernicious form of political correctness ... The ABC has no difficulty - and certainly exhibits no hesitation - in referring to 'our cities', 'our scientists' and 'our athletes'.

"But by the curious and plainly offensive rule book of the ABC, Australian service men and women, in a war zone, are not part of us."

Beats me why people still call it our ABC.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:12 AM | Comments (37)


George W. Bush has turned Iraq into Texas.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:57 AM | Comments (12)


Trust funds are taking a beating:

Two US peace activists who went to Iraq as "human shields" face fines of up to $US10,000 ($A15,245) for violating a ban on travel to Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:13 AM | Comments (14)

August 13, 2003


A couple of years ago, in his proposed preamble to Australia’s constitution, Phillip Adams had this to say:

We do not seek to be a society that fears even the most vigorous debate, for it is through the testing of ideas, through endless argument and negotiation, that a nation retains its vitality and survives.

But when the debate is about the death penalty, Phillip becomes very fearful indeed:

John Howard ... has found another way to divide and conquer, to gain political advantage by encouraging social schism. This time the ploy is to advocate a debate on the death penalty – letting this Godzilla-sized imp out of its bottle when many Australians are taut with anxiety, fraught with fear.

The Prime Minister is advocating a debate? How dare he!

In a recent poll, politicians across the nation were asked if they favoured the death penalty for terrorism. A grand total of one – an independent with a previous career in the police force – put up his hand. Not a single vote from the Libs, Labor, the Nats, the Greens, the Democrats.

Add WA senator Ross Lightfoot to that list: “It may be opportune for all those who oppose the legal execution of Amrozi, for whatever their reasons, to understand that the recidivist rate for executed murderers is extremely low.”

Yes, Prime Minister, it's perfect timing. Let's encourage Liberal leaders to raise it as an issue in the next state election campaigns. Knowing full well that the shock jocks will start baying for blood while your tabloid cheer squad – and the broadsheet bullies – will simply argue over the comparative merits of the noose versus the needle, the chair, the firing squad or the gas chamber. A public already panicked by the war on terror will be conned and wedged into a debate that we don't need to have – and shouldn't be having.

”We do not seek to be a society that fears even the most vigorous debate ...” Oh, yes we do!

This in a country where a quiet consensus across all parties was reached decades ago – not to commit official murder.

This is a country where a quiet consensus across all parties (not the public) was reached decades ago -- to murder debate on the death penalty. Adams only wants debate on issues he thinks he can win; and, more often than not, he loses those, too.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:52 PM | Comments (41)


Remember the Victorian council that banned pork products at council functions? Now another Victorian council wants to ban mixed bathing, at least for a few hours a week:

In what is believed to be an Australian first, the Moonee Valley City Council is seeking an exemption from anti-discrimination laws to allow men-only swim times at the Ascot Vale Sports and Leisure Centre.

If approved, women will be banned from the pool, and even from watching men frolic in the water from the sidelines, during the blokes-only bathing sessions.

Brooke LeSueur, the council's co-ordinator of leisure facilities development, said the push for women-free swimming came from a local Islamic men's group but the night sessions will be open to all men.

Al-Ansaar Islamic Association spokesman Mohammad Worsone said up to 50 Muslim men and boys were backing the application.

He confirmed Islamic beliefs banned them from bathing with women.

Next matter for debate: the local Klan's application for whites-only bathing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:15 PM | Comments (67)


You know, for a common housecat, Ray Smuckles sure has excellent taste in music:

Yeah, I accidentally listened to some Nick Cave once. How is music that terrible even being made and distributed? It’s like he knows how to make music that is exactly wrong for enjoying—like he has some sort of special combination of keys, time signatures and “anti-hooks” he relies on to make songs which sound so awful that they are completely unappealing to everybody. Frankly, I’d like to hear a person who knows music theory explain exactly why it is that all of Nick Cave’s songs are so technically awful. All I know is that all my primal instincts tell me to fight and kill Nick Cave’s music.

Ray rocks. One more extract before you go read the whole column:

One time I had a girlfriend dress up as a grateful homeless woman. That was one of the hottest nights of my life.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:29 AM | Comments (27)


In a frantic bid to keep up with the car-blogging Professor, I’ve got hold of a speedy new Mini Cooper for this weekend’s run to Melbourne. Full review will follow, plus the usual PayPal begging to cover fines, bail, and so on.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:27 AM | Comments (9)


The Sydney Morning Herald supports liberalised censorship and drug laws in Australia. But now that Iraqis are drinking, taking drugs, and watching porn -- not for nothing did our man in Najaf call for “democracy, whiskey, and sexy!” -- well, these are bad things. Paul McGeough, in Baptist minister mode, reports:

It is 10am and the crowd is pouring into the seedy Al Najah cinema on Baghdad's Al Rasheed Street. They come, at 70 cents a ticket, for sex on a loop - fleshy scenes from a dozen B-grade movies spliced into a single program, for which there is standing room only.

Could be Kings Cross. Except Al Rasheed Street is probably cleaner.

In Sadoun Street the midday temperature is 50 degrees and the prostitutes tout for business from the shade of a beach umbrella. Further along, in Fidros Square - where US troops stage-managed the demolition of a statue of Saddam Hussein on April 9 - as many as 30 teenagers are sniffing glue and paint thinner.

Whoa, whoa, whoa ... stage-managed? And as for the glue-huffin’ kids, well, such hobbies were likely commonplace before Saddam’s fall. Unless he controlled glue sales.

Drug dealers in the treacherous Bab al Sharqi markets, just off central Tahrir Square, are doing a brisk trade in looted prescription drugs.

The biggest demand is for mind-altering, and addictive, medications. Each trader has a special, half-hidden box for what he calls feel good capsules and tablets - the Herald came away with a multi-coloured cocktail of 200 pills for less than $10.

It’s possibly a stretch to describe these drugs as addictive if you don’t, in fact, know what they are.

At the other end of the day hundreds of street drinkers converge on the banks of the Tigris River, openly selling and drinking gin, arak and beer in a raucous celebration of the ending of Saddam's rigid control of vice.

They’re doing this openly? You mean, like Australians do at Randwick?

Under Saddam, alcohol, drugs, pornography and prostitution were state-controlled for the pleasure of a few. But in the post-war vacuum vice has exploded and the likes of Majid Al Sa'adi's tea house, just back from the bustle of Sadoun Street, has become a one-stop shop.

In Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald uses value-free terms like sex industry to describe prostitution. In Iraq, prostitution -- along with alcohol and everything else -- becomes “vice”.

How quaint.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:36 AM | Comments (18)


Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin: gentlemen's beaver hats, George W. Bush, Amrozi, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Marie Trintignant, Bertrand Cantat, Judy Davis, Colin Friels, Ayrat Vakhitov, Andrei Bakhitov, crazy screaming ABC people, and Indira Naidoo.

UPDATE. Excellent letter in this edition from Timothy P. Jones:

Tim Blair was skating on thin ice with his comments about the deaths of Saddam's sons. The issues raised as a result of the war against Iraq are so contentious, it is virtually impossible to have a consistent argument. Witness the following.

Did Saddam and his pricks of sons have the right to terrorise their own people as they apparently did? No.

Did I agree with the protest against the US and its allies for planning to start the war against Iraq on, what now appears to have been, false pretences? Yes.

Am I satisfied that it is right to murder Saddam and his sons? No.

Is the world a better place without regimes such as that under Saddam and his sons? Yes.

Do I agree with everything that Tim Blair wrote in his column? No.

Do I admire Tim Blair for having the courage to write his opinion with such passion and conviction? Yes.

Life is simple; there is the known and the unknown. Keep the blades sharp, Timbo, and continue skating. But watch out for the ice-holes!

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:30 AM | Comments (7)


Apparently during last night’s Rove Live, happy host Rove McManus yukked it up about the geriatric lesbians story -- using the line "hot Gran-on-Gran action".

Damn commercial broadcasters. Unscrupulous, evil, everything should be publicly funded, etc ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:29 AM | Comments (1)

August 12, 2003


A three-year government-funded study has discovered that lots of people like porn.

Posted by Tim Blair at 07:21 PM | Comments (16)


We must be doing something right:

The al-Qaeda terrorist network has singled out Australia for mention while claiming responsibility for last week's bombing of the Marriott Hotel in the Indonesian capital Jakarta.

Which killed mainly Muslims, and not a single Australian. Way to go, al-Qaeda; the slow learner’s terrorist network. In other screaming freakweasel news:

The alleged head of the al-Qaeda linked terror group blamed for the Bali bombings and last week's blast at the JW Marriott Hotel today accused the CIA of carrying out the attacks to "discredit Islam."

No, pal. That’s your job.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:40 PM | Comments (6)


“Tim, try to keep up,” scolds Ben Butler, my confused nemesis. He thinks I’m wrong to claim that only 33 items were looted from the Baghdad Museum, and cites this report as evidence:

Museum officials and American investigators are finding that the number of missing artifacts is vastly lower than first reported. Instead of 170,000 artifacts missing, museum officials say privately, the number will probably be 3,000 to 5,000.

Problem is, that estimate was made in May. The information about 33 missing items was published in June, when a great deal more was known about the looting, or lack thereof.

June comes after May. Tomorrow's lesson for Special Ben: summer is the hot season.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:52 PM | Comments (18)


According to The Guardian’s Gary Younge, the US military is racist because it includes too many non-whites:

The American military is more reliant on the poor, and therefore non-whites, than ever before - pushed by poverty and pulled by the promise of learning a trade. In 1973 23% of the military was from racial minorities; in 2000 it was 37%. The demographic group most overrepresented in the military is the same one that polls show have least enthusiasm for the conflict - black women.

And according to The Guardian’s Gary Younge, the UK military is racist because it includes not enough non-whites:

The army is now doing its best to both improve its image and address the racism within its ranks. But it remains an unattractive prospect for Britain's ethnic minorities. Despite the high levels of unemployment particularly among Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Afro-Caribbeans, only around 1% of the British armed forces come from ethnic minorities - less than a fifth of the proportion in the country at large.

As reported by reader John in the comments of this Ambit post.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:07 PM | Comments (31)


It’s literary week at the Bali bombing trial:

Reciting from the Koran, and rambling in Indonesian, Arabic and Balinese dialect, the alleged Kuta bombing field commander, Imam Samudra, yesterday swore that he had no knowledge of the attacks - but said they were justified as part of the Islamic struggle for freedom and respect.

Samudra, 33, a former textile salesman, read from hand-written notes and also used Australia's "invasion" of East Timor as part of his ideological rationale for the bombings.

"You should remember what was done by Australia and its allies over two years, or do you agree with the aggression against East Timor, that removed it from Indonesia," he said.

This should be of interest to John Pilger. Or will he say, as he did when confronted by Osama bin Laden’s similar claim, that “We can't believe that. We can't believe all these things we're being told”? And look who else gets a mention:

[Samudra’s] lawyer, Qaidar Faisal, later delivered an official defence submission. It argued about the real meaning of the jihad struggle, how Afghanistan under Taliban rile had been a pure nation, as its laws had been crafted by God and not humans.

Mr Faisal also quoted from American satirist Michael Moore's book Stupid White Men and other anti-western texts.

Considering the level of proof Moore requires before he screams “Blood on your hands!” -- ie, any link between George W. Bush and an act of evil, however tenuous -- permit me now to say: “Blood on your hands, fat boy!”

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:16 PM | Comments (20)


Princeton’s Michael Walzer on just and unjust wars:

France and Germany did not refuse to fight or wrongly resist a just war; they refused to provide what was in their power to provide: a serious alternative to an unjust war ... The US needs partners, real partners, who can say 'yes' and 'no' to our government – but these have to be partners who are ready to take responsibility for the way the world goes. Iraq would have nuclear weapons today, had Europe alone been making decisions about the inspection regime, the embargo, and the no-fly zones. And there would be many fewer Kosovars alive in Kosovo today had Europe alone been making decisions there. It is easy to criticise American unilateralism; I do that all the time. But European irresponsibility is an equally serious problem.

Thus ends this site’s first approving extract from something called “a journal of analytical socialism”.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:41 AM | Comments (27)


The Los Angeles Times’ dromedary roundsman files this report:

A mystique surrounds camel milk in Arab culture. Some believe it a healthy tonic, taking it steaming-hot straight from the udder. Others see it as a diuretic, a full-scale cleaning that supposedly takes two days to flush through your system.

Then there are those who claim it improves sexual potency.

"It's Arab Viagra," said one man.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:31 AM | Comments (12)


Elton John should re-release this song. Straight to number one.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:23 AM | Comments (7)


As the great Wilbur Cobb once said: “It’s easy to be a genius. You just have to say that everything is crap.” Jean Bethke Elshtain picks up Cobb’s theme:

Somewhere along the line, the idea took hold that, to be an intellectual, you have to be against it, whatever it is. The intellectual is a negator. Affirmation is not in his or her vocabulary.

For evidence of this you need only look at the Adelaide Festival of Ideas, starring George Monbiot and a cast of emotionally enfeebled unimogs.

So reflexive is the role of the intellectual as negator, so free from accountability, that the very meaning of dissent has been obscured. Hence in the wake of 9/11, those who disagreed with claims that America somehow brought the attacks on herself were said to be "stifling dissent." But the true measure of dissent isn't whether the vast majority of one's countrymen and women agree with what one is saying but, rather, that one has the freedom to say it.

Which reasonable people have been pointing out ever since the alleged “crushing of dissent” began on September 12, 2001. Go read the whole piece.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:20 AM | Comments (14)

August 11, 2003


Talk about your American cultural arrogance:

A few people pointed the finger and said "Hey! You're wrong! Hiroshima Day is August 6th not August 5th!"

In my defense and in the defense of those American peace groups which observe it on the 5th, I simply observe that when the Bomb was dropped at 8:15 am on August 6, it was still the previous day in the United States. Writing as an American, it was right of me to declare August 5th Hiroshima Day -- for Americans.

It’s called Hiroshima Day because that’s where it happened. But do the US-centric bigots who run Big Peace care? No!

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:30 PM | Comments (20)


Hi there, taxes! What have you been up to lately? You’ve been encouraging violence and racism? Do tell:

A taxpayer-funded website encourages young Australian-Palestinians to become virtual rock throwers in a mockery of Middle East violence.

Players can write messages of hate on a website "rock" and watch as a young man loads it into a slingshot before firing it into the distance.

The Virtual Palestine website has become a forum for racist propaganda as angry anti-Israel activists declare jihad, or holy war, against the Jewish state and call for "Western crusaders" to be humiliated.

"A (sic) Islamic army number in the millions will rise and push back and degrade the Western Crusaders," said one anonymous posting, removed after Herald Sun inquiries.

"Buy (sic) wiping out Israel and dooming millions of Jews into the sea in one gigantic push, you the Palestinians will Dumbfound Western leaders by collapsing `Israel' in a couple of days."

Another message says: "Palestinians must to died (sic) They are all terrorists."

The grant's recipients, Sydney-based Virus Media, said the website aimed to open a free and open dialogue about Middle East issues. and it was not censored because of freedom of expression concerns.

"It's a free country," director Enda Murray said.

Not for us poor bastards who fund this junk. Jew-Hatin' (The Game) is just the start of Australia's tax-funded artistic entertainment, which also includes:

• $80,000 given to Collingwood artist Michael Buckley to travel to India and Ireland to examine the difference between human gestures in those countries and Australia.

• A $28,000 presentation on the unique sounds of the Great Fences of Australia.

• Refugees in Victoria received a $31,000 grant last year for a project "which uses stories about important meals" as a catalyst for their work.

• A musician from NSW was paid $80,000 to research traditional Arab music styles and conduct workshops with Sydney youths to produce a "new form of hip hop" CD.

• Christmas Island youths received $11,000 to learn break-dancing.

And this might be my favourite:

• A group of Queensland artists made a $45,000 animated video which explored how they perceive themselves.

Let me guess ... as “deserving”?

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:51 PM | Comments (20)


I’ve been searching for an update on Howard Marsden since fellow petrol-head Niall Cook posted this last week. So far, nothing. Marsden is an extraordinary man, whose gifts of analysis, strategy and reasoning elevated Australian motor racing to international levels. He’s also quietly artistic -- although his colour blindness requires him to seek the help of family when selecting paint for his landscapes.

I spent a few hours with Marsden a couple of years ago, when I was writing a Craig Lowndes profile. Even his asides were worth recording; he’d mention changes in society that altered the nature of Australian athletes, say, resulting in people like Lowndes (balanced, happy, competitive) instead of the likes of ‘70s-era performers Allan Moffat and Bob Jane (whose competitiveness was overwhelming, possibly even destructive). Marsden is a rare engineer in that he understands completely a racer's ideas and motivation, and also is able to explain those notions to the sport's outsiders. Wish him the best.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:24 PM | Comments (4)


Wanna sell books to credulous environmentaloids? Then exaggerate, as The Economist advises:

So how does he justify his suggestion that mankind might have only a 50-50 chance of surviving the 21st century—our final century, to use the alarmist title of the book? Even before your correspondent could ask him that question at a recent literary event, Sir Martin confessed to being a fan of Bjorn Lomborg—a Danish academic who recently caused some controversy when he suggested that greens have been systematically distorting the fact that the environment has been getting healthier in many countries.

Sir Martin then took the reviewer's copy of “Our Final Century” and pencilled in a question mark after the title. His publishers had ruled it out. The American publishers even changed the title from “Our Final Century” to “Our Final Hour”. Sir Martin is clever enough to know that the end is not nigh, but he put up with the chicanery in order to gain a wider audience. A small sin, perhaps, in such an important book.

Oh, go to hell.

(Via Zsa Zsa, whom no story eludes.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:41 AM | Comments (6)


Column by me in today’s Australian. It’s an edited, updated version of my Quadrant speech from a few weeks ago, with most of the jokes cut for space reasons. To recreate the experience of attending the speech, simply click these as you read, and then this at the end. And imagine lots of sensational gags that you aren’t actually seeing, and which possibly weren’t in the speech in the first place. It’s just like being there!

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:32 AM | Comments (11)


Media Watch went nuts last year after The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen wrote this:

French and Danish experts say perpetrators of gang rape flounder between their parents’ Islamic values and society’s more liberal democratic values, falling back on the most basic pack mentality of violence and self-gratification.

The experts cited by Albrechtsen in fact disagreed with her, the program reported. They believed that “right down deep the problem is not about race or religion.”

The latest Newsweek seems to side with the Albrechtsen view:

An unnamed 15-year-old girl is assaulted by 18 boys, most of them not much older than she is. Sonia, also 15, is raped by seven of her supposed friends in the basement of her apartment building. Sheherezade, 11, is beaten and raped repeatedly over the course of a year by 12 different boys.    

Grim as such crimes may be, they’re becoming commonplace in the police ledgers of Paris, Lyons or Toulouse. The scene is almost always the same: the housing projects called cites on the outskirts of France’s major cities. Built by socially progressive governments in the 1960s, they’ve since been taken over by a generation of mostly Arab immigrants—impoverished, cut off from their native lands and culture, ghettoized. Here, young men try to rule their families and neighbors under a macho code drawn partly from Muslim tradition, partly from the violence and porn in the media. Women submit to men, they say. Good girls, good sisters, cover themselves and stay home. Otherwise they are putes, whores, who can be used and abused even if they say no.        

Such stories, then, are not just about urban crime and rough neighborhoods. They reflect a core issue of Muslim integration in Europe.


Posted by Tim Blair at 01:40 AM | Comments (21)


”An unprecedented internet campaign waged on the frontline and in the US is exposing the real risks for troops in Iraq,” The Guardian announces. “Paul Harris and Jonathan Franklin report on rising fears that the conflict is now a desert Vietnam.”

Criticism is also coming directly from soldiers risking their lives under the guns of Saddam Hussein's fighters, and they are using a weapon not available to troops in previous wars: the internet.

Through emails and chatrooms a picture is emerging of day-to-day gripes, coupled with ferocious criticism of the way the war has been handled. They paint a vivid picture of US army life that is a world away from the sanitised official version.

I don’t doubt that doubts and criticism are emerging. But would it have killed The Guardian to report the other side of this unprecedented internet campaign?

Actually, it probably would have.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:12 AM | Comments (22)


The NYT’s Bernard Weinraub says Arnie has crossed the line -- the line being, apparently, where the NYT decides it will be:

The Kennedy administration blurred the line between politics and entertainment. Ronald Reagan blurred the line even more, using hard-won skills as an actor to convey sincerity, passion, anger. Now, Arnold Schwarzenegger has crossed the line.

In announcing his candidacy for governor of California on the "Tonight" show with Jay Leno, Mr. Schwarzenegger, the former Mr. Universe and a multimillionaire Hollywood action star, has not only turned his political candidacy into a reality show but made politics and show business inseparable.

The NYT can come off as incredibly provincial sometimes. A whole story about showbiz politicians, and no mention of Glenda Jackson? Nothing about Joseph Estrada? Not a single lousy word about Terry Norris?

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:09 AM | Comments (14)


Stephen Green’s 50 things to do before you die. I’ve taken care of 21, which is a few less than Mr. Green himself. He sets a way-high benchmark.

(One thing I’d add to the list -- learn to play ping-pong like these guys.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:07 AM | Comments (17)


Does anyone actually go to prison in the UK?

A man arrested for armed robbery and theft has had charges against him dropped after medical experts concluded that his behaviour could have been altered by the severe withdrawal symptoms he was experiencing from the antidepressant Seroxat.

Wily East End break-and-enter merchants are right now lying to doctors in order to get their alibi prescriptions. “I’m ever so depressed, doc. I need some of that Zerocat. Yeah. And some for me missus, as she too is depressed, on account of England’s high crime rate and the beatings and everyfing.”

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:04 AM | Comments (7)


This event has received no publicity at all in Australia. Possibly because we lost, and cannot deal with the shame.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:00 AM | Comments (11)


I go to the considerable trouble and expense of attracting my own personal web bitch and now he spends all his time bitching about a whole different pundit who isn’t even me.

You listen, boy; you be my bitch, and you best quit playing the field, dig? Don’t make me cut you.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:57 AM | Comments (10)

August 10, 2003


Human shield Donna Mulhearn may adopt an Iraqi baby:

The baby girl's background is unknown. Even the nuns in Mother Teresa's mission are uncertain what it is.

They think she was born without limbs somewhere in the south of Iraq, a frequent occurrence where Saddam Hussein's long-term use of chemical and biological weapons against the mainly-Shiites has left many children limbless and malformed.

Mulhearn, of course, went to Iraq to help protect the very regime that caused the infant’s deformities:

Along with 20 other human shields from various corners of the globe she was driven by conscience to try to avert what she believed was a senseless fight.

Well, “senseless” except in the sense that it stopped Saddam’s “long-term use of chemical and biological weapons”. Even when confronted with this apparent evidence of Saddam’s evil, Mulhearn still blames the US. As she wrote in her diary:

"It's frustrating that no one seems to consider the effect this war will have on children, especially the long-term emotional and psychological effects.

"The US military doesn't seem to value Iraqi lives and not least the lives of disabled Iraqi orphans. What chance do they have?”

Saddam caused the child’s disabilities, yet it’s the US -- which removed that cause -- that doesn’t care. Donna Mulhearn is remarkable. So is Bob Graham, the Sydney Sun-Herald journalist who wrote this piece, and who characterises Coalition bombing as entirely random, as likely to take out an orphanage as a military site:

The bombs and missiles did rain over Baghdad but, thankfully missed Mother Teresa's mission.

Call me crazy, Bob, but maybe that’s because the bombs and missiles weren’t aimed at Mother Teresa’s mission.

UPDATE. You’ll notice that in this piece Mulhearn is not quoted saying anything against the former Iraqi regime. Saddamite peaceniks have some form in this regard, as ex-activist Charles M. Brown writes:

I intended to use the knowledge I acquired in my academic work to aid my "real" job as an anti-sanctions activist. But I got derailed when I realized that in order to return to Iraq with the group I represented—the Chicago-based "Voices in the Wilderness"—I and other group members could not speak publicly about issues that would embarrass the Iraqi regime. These included its horrendous human rights record, its involvement with weapons of mass destruction, and the dictatorial nature of the regime. We were allowed to speak only of one thing: the deprivations suffered by ordinary Iraqis under the sanctions regime.

(Much thanks to Jim Nolan for the link.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:13 PM | Comments (22)


It isn’t quite as catchy as “one US soldier killed every day”, but for The Washington Post, it’ll have to do:

On average, insurgents have killed a U.S. soldier nearly every other day since President Bush declared major fighting over May 1.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:03 PM | Comments (15)


Matt Welch and Mark Steyn duke it out for the best lines arising from the comedic motherlode that is California politics.

Meanwhile Democrat John Garamendi has wussed it and Arianna Huffington has had her first confrontation with Arnie’s Army:

Huffington, who hugged Schwarzenegger's wife, journalist Maria Shriver, before filing her papers to run, spoke to the crowd, making a pitch for more fuel-efficient vehicles by pointing out that the actor had arrived in an SUV while she had come in a hybrid vehicle. She was met by a few boos and cries of "Arnold, Arnold."

UPDATE. With Welch and Steyn to choose from for its Arnie coverage, the SMH opts for Maureen Dowd.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:05 PM | Comments (10)


Government-funded geriatric lesbianism:

Australia’s leading relationship counselling body is urging lonely older single women to become lesbians.

Relationships Australia spokesman Jack Carney said men's shorter life spans, and their pursuit of much younger women, meant women in their twilight years were often forced to turn to other women for love and companionship.

Mr Carney said the government-funded support group encouraged older women to explore lesbian relationships, which were seen as more nurturing and emotionally supportive.

Maybe they need to read a scholarly treatise on meeting men through the internet.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:02 AM | Comments (17)


Has 2003 been the greatest year ever for mystery water beasts or what?

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:00 AM | Comments (11)


What happens when Robert Fisk meets Iraqis who've read his reports?

Salam is intently watching a middle-aged European man with the demeanour of an exceptionally erudite tourist.

"Isn't that Robert Fisk?" he murmurs. It is. Salam and Maz go over to debate news coverage of the war with him.

What could they have possibly debated? Here's a clue about how the above-mentioned Maz, who has returned to Iraq after living in London, felt about the balance of war coverage:

"I was asked by somebody to go on an anti-war demonstration and I refused. I said that if the placards said 'No to war, down with Saddam' I would go, but I never saw anything on those placards against Saddam.

"How would the demonstrators feel if the same cameras that filmed people suffering during the war had been filming the Iraqi army and secret police killing and torturing civilians for 35 years? There were no cameras there. They were silent victims."

Bob might’ve feared another beating. By the way, this story is a few days old; I’ve had email trouble, so reader tips (like this one, which is run as it was sent) are coming through on a long delay.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:15 AM | Comments (3)


Stefan Sharkansky is involved in some kind of legal feud with Michelle Endacott, managing editor of Australia’s New Idea magazine. Check the comments at the end of the post.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:03 AM | Comments (4)


Australia’s Chris Snelling, rebuilding his major league baseball career in Tacoma, offers some simple living advice:

In each city he's played in, Snelling makes it a point to visit local thrift stores for clothes. It's not a joke, either. And it's not like Snelling is on a tight budget.

"The main reason that I do it is I won't have to wash my clothes," Snelling said. "You can buy an entire wardrobe for $20. Instead of washing it, I will hand it back to them. You keep a rotation going."

Snelling made an impression in Seattle, too, before injury halted his 2002 season with the Mariners:

Then there's Australian Chris Snelling. Not only does he talk in another dialect, but there is a growing suspicion that he may be from another planet.

Scroll down for The Seattle Times’ take on Snelling’s otherworldy language. They get a few things wrong; for example, the Australian term for “uncouth person” is “yobbo”, not “yabbo”. As every Australian knows, “yabbo” is our word for “plastics engineer working in the field of reinforced polypropylene”. And a “yibbo” is a condiments salesman.

Please don’t ask what a “yubbo” is. This is a family site.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:52 AM | Comments (10)


US troops in Iraq have suffered 54 fatalities since May 1. Over the last six months almost as many residents of Lahore, Pakistan, have died of kite-related injuries:

Last month, Mian Aamer Mahmood, the head of the city council, ordered a three-month ban on kite flying. Illegal kite flyers, he warned, faced prosecution. The skies above the city's large parks have been empty ever since.

City officials say at least 45 people have died of kite-related injuries in the past six months.


Posted by Tim Blair at 02:48 AM | Comments (9)


Larry Miller on California’s colourful gubernats:

Arianna Huffington is in the race. Can you imagine that? I can't wait for those debates. There's more than a pinch of jaw-dropping irony when you live in a state where millions of illegal aliens have lighter accents than two of the people running for governor.

My friend Michael Chernuchin, who writes "Law & Order," says that if Arnold and Arianna have a debate, the moderators will have to wear those headphones like delegates at the United Nations.

Speaking of Arnie, The Guardian is in flat-out smear mode.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:10 AM | Comments (23)

August 08, 2003

RULE 303

Amrozi participated in the murder of 202 people, yet a whole bunch of saps are upset at his death sentence. You’d think he was this guy:

A judge in Pakistan has sentenced a 60-year-old man to death after finding him guilty of making derogatory remarks about Islam and its prophet, Muhammad, a police official said today.

By the way, in the case of the Amrozi sentence and the various Australians who are urging our government to tell the Indonesians how to run their legal system, where are the complaints about paternalistic Westerners imposing their values on a foreign culture? An Indonesian has been sentenced by an Indonesian court after a crime committed in Indonesia against many Indonesians. Butt out, whitey!

UPDATE. Not everybody is opposed to the death sentence. Here’s Mikey F’s contribution at The Age’s Your Say page:

Let's shoot Sharon, Bush, Blair, and Howard instead. We would all be so much better off believe me.

That's at a moderated board, incidentally.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:14 PM | Comments (87)


Mark Morford has been mixing 'shrooms and Viagra again:

You cannot reach me, Dubya.

There is so much more going on than you know. There is so much deeper understanding and wider knowledge and higher winking and you can't touch any of it. Do you know this? You need to know this.

We all need to know about "higher winking".

You and your brethren are like this sticky toxic mist. You will burn off in the sun of awareness and orgasm and breath. This is what makes it so fun to watch, so magical and visceral, such a divine circus, a rich tragicomic pageant. Do you sense it?

Does anyone sense it? Anyone whose blood isn’t subject to a GlaxoSmithKline patent, I mean.

See, you cannot touch us. We are inured. You are merely hollow and sad and quickly, effortlessly forgettable the minute we step outside or get into bed with our lovers or laugh with friends or scream to the sky the lyrics to "Ballroom Blitz," always, always striving to taste the intense flavors of the collective dream state.

He’s the guy singing Ballroom Blitz, and Bush is sad?

Because there is more meaning and content and depth and significance in a lover's moan and in a drop of wine and in a dog's wag than in anything you can conjure in your homophobic faux-cowboy Lynne Cheney-thick dream, honey. Get over yourself. We are on to you. We know you are made of nothing but spin and frantic gesticulations and scowls. Poke a finger into you and out pours only sawdust and sighs.

Poke a finger in Morford (wear gloves) and out pours this stuff. Lucky we’ve got some sawdust.

Here is my porn collection. Here are my divine sex toys and my lubricants and my leather strappy things and my collection of happy open-minded perversions and my active account at and my tattoos and piercings and love of massage oil and vibrators and things that go ooooh in the night. Come on over, Mr. Ashcroft, I have something to show you.

If I was reading this in 1973, and if I was an elderly woman, I might be mildly startled by that paragraph.

You see, I know you're there, all of you. Sour politicians and conniving Wal-Mart execs and desperate reality-TV creators and gluttonous SUV manufacturers and poisonous garbage-food purveyors and all-'Murkin homophobes and the dumbed-down lowest common denominators and lip-twitching hyper-religious crusaders and anti-everything GOP lizard people, Rummy and Rove and Rice and Ashcroft and Dick, et al. I see you. We see what you are trying to do.

If the GOP are lizard people, does that make Bush the Lizard King?

I have news. I have a revelation. It is timeless and ageless and nothing new and I hold no claims to it, but it needs to be repeated and shouted and deeply felt again and again and again ...

Do tell, Mr Yelling-In-The-Street Homeless Person.

Here it is: You are immaterial. You are of zero nutritional value and are indigestible like corn and just pass right through. Do you understand?

Wow. How did Reuters miss this? “NEWSBREAK! President indigestible, like corn! Which isn’t! Updates to follow!”

There is so much more going on down here than is dreamt of in your bitter and small-minded philosophy. I, and millions like me, sense a more luminous undercurrent, a wider spiritual lens, a richer sensual mother lode.

The column kind of loses its focus beyond this point.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:32 PM | Comments (67)


And the award for best self-promotion of an Australian regional newspaper goes to ...

The Advocate - dancing effortlessly through the late-night disco of local news, sport & lifestyle.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:22 PM | Comments (5)


The greenhouse effect is raising Nazi death ships from their watery graves.

UPDATE. Cancel global warming fears. Re-initiate global cooling protocol.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:55 PM | Comments (15)


Apparently there is a stigma associated with living in the Yarrunga area of Wangaratta.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:51 PM | Comments (6)


A couple of guys from The Future Laboratory, some sort of trend-spotting deal, were on ABC radio last night. Their data-acquiring technique involves poring through people’s garbage. One of the Future dudes mentioned that during an appearance on a European radio network (which I won’t name, for reasons that will become obvious) they were invited to examine the host’s trash -- and discovered, live to air, that the host was having an affair. “What did you find?” asked ABC presenter James O’Loghlin, understandably curious. “Oh, cheque stubs, hotel receipts, and the like,” the Future boys answered. “The producer realised what was happening, and turned grey.”

O’Loghlin: “Why? Who was the host having an affair with?”

Future boys: “The producer.”

It only took a few minutes of Googling to turn up a likely candidate. Memo to talkative futurists: here in the present exists a thing called “the Internet”. It’s a great way to get yourselves (and others) in trouble.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:50 PM | Comments (5)

August 07, 2003


Bali bomber Amrozi has been sentenced to death.

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:04 PM | Comments (41)


I’m on Richard Glover’s ABC Radio show at 5.30pm, along with writer Geraldine Brooks and The Australian’s Greg Sheridan.

Subjects for discussion include the return to Australian television of Doctor Who. I have strong opinions on this issue, and will not be silenced, no matter how much Sheridan tries to shout me down.

Oh, and we might also talk about ABC budget cuts.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:13 PM | Comments (15)


Beer fund recipient Jake Ryan is in Bali for today’s sentencing of Amrozi the blow-tard:

Mr Ryan says he is hoping the so-called "smiling bomber" will be found guilty and sentenced to death.

"Personally, in a little way I wouldn't like to see him die as a martyr," he said.

"But then again we don't really need those people around us or among us so if they want to shoot him, so be it," he said.

Here’s what other victims and relatives think. Regarding the Jake beer blast -- it still hasn’t happened. Jake and his football team have been busy playing football, and Jake has also become a public speaker, addressing school groups. Which is difficult to do when you’ve consumed $1,400 worth of alcohol.

There’s no hurry. And how cool is it that schools invite Jake to come talk to the kids?

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:09 PM | Comments (16)


Ah-nold is going gubernatorial:

In a major political surprise, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Wednesday he will challenge California Gov. Gray Davis in an unprecedented recall election this fall -- a stunning move that could recast the race.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:34 AM | Comments (48)


“They can't defeat America, so they killed some folks having lunch,” writes Ralph Peters of this week’s bomb attack in Indonesia. They’re a strange bunch, your self-detonating Islamocidal frag-martyrs; all blessed up but with nowhere to blow, they prefer to murder fellow Muslims rather than let that precious potassium chlorate go to waste. Their ambition may be, as Glenn Reynolds says, “a nuclear bomb in Manhattan”, but they’re presently only capable of a Toyota in Jakarta. You know the old joke about getting to Carnegie Hall? The answer isn’t “drive across the Pacific in your explosive delivery van.”

Maybe they know that joke. After all, Indonesia’s blast masters practice often enough. But they’re stuck playing at home. And as a terrorist slogan, “Think global, act local” doesn’t cut it.

Meanwhile, consider the effect of this attack on what we might call Jemaah Islamiah’s target audience. We were warned that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would cause Muslims the world over to rise up in outrage against the West; that hasn’t happened, but the attacks in Bali and Jakarta may provoke across Indonesia an even greater opposition to terrorism than already exists.

Muslim terrorists might soon discover how dangerous it is to alienate the world’s largest Muslim population.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:45 AM | Comments (17)


The government’s questioning of how the ABC spends $750 million of our money every year is “censorship”, evidence of “ideological extremes”, a “blatant ideological battle”, “frightening”, and a “crackdown on civil liberties and free speech”, according to Peter Manning. He also sees an upside:

In Howard's new all-American Australia, the ABC will have as much impact as the Public Broadcasting Service has in the US: nil.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:36 AM | Comments (31)


Cue the crazy music and run, Hillary, run!

Friends of Hillary last week launched a website, offering supporters everything from coffee mugs to autographed copies of Clinton’s best seller, Living History, in return for donating to the cause.

The site also invites backers to join “Hill’s Angels” and help Clinton fight off attacks by conservatives, whose “hate-filled” methods, it goes on to explain, rely on “the same old politics of personal destruction.”

A quick search for Hill’s Angels led to a website devoted to the late British comedian Benny Hill and the buxom babes he regularly chased around on his jiggle-sex television show.

Hill, the website notes, was always surrounded by “a bevy of lovely ladies … more affectionately known as Hill’s Angels.”

Hillary’s Friends are apparently thinking of changing the name to “Hill Raisers”, although a certain bored ex-Prez might lobby for “Bill’s Angels”.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:24 AM | Comments (27)


The British complain when it’s all cold and rainy, and they complain even more when it isn’t:

Sometime tomorrow, in southern England or the Midlands, the mercury in the thermometer may pass 37.1C, which became the national record when registered in Cheltenham on 3 August 1990. That centigrade peak translates as 98.8 Fahrenheit, so the remarkable figure for Britain of 99 or even 100F- is on the cards.

A record would be hugely significant - a three-figure Fahrenheit temperature for the UK would be breaking psychological as well as new meteorological ground as it would give many people for the first time the perception that global warning is a real, not a theoretical phenomenon - and that it is happening to them.

A single 100-degree day and they’re proclaiming the end of the world. In Australia we don’t even roll up our sleeves until it hits 120.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:22 AM | Comments (49)


Man, was I ever excited when I read this:

Yes, I'm crossing to the dark side: I've decided to finally get my car licence (which - being a motorcycle rider & buyer - I never bothered to do before) and actually purchase a car, hopefully before Xmas this year.

Wa-hay! Chris Textor buying a car! Because he’s a fearless psycho-speedster mega motorbike guy, I couldn’t wait to see what kind of vehicle he might be considering. Maybe it would be rocket powered, or some kind of street-legal Le Mans racer. Possibly he would be offended by the weak devices available in local dealerships and build his own multi-motor, nitro-fuelled Tex Car. At the very least I anticipated something that would eat a quarter-mile in less than eight seconds, and top out way north of 300 km/h.

And then I read the rest of his post. Tex isn’t crossing to the dark side. He’s crossing to the lilac-with-lavender-highlights side. Some of those things don’t even have engines. One of them is actually a toy. Buy the third one on his list and you get a free Dolly subscription.

Some aversion therapy is called for. Maybe this Hugh Mackay column will do the trick.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:16 AM | Comments (19)


Which US President screened “High Noon” 20 times?

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:24 AM | Comments (12)

August 06, 2003


Reader Jane F. sends the following. I have no idea what the hell any of it means:

New study shows Australians descended from convicts are "born evil"

Revisionist historian Keith Windschuttle counters this claim, saying that the original convict settlers were all "wrongfully convicted". The Israeli Government plans to demolish Sydney "just in case", Andrew Bolt stridently agrees. Tim Blair writes "witty" commentary mocking hapless peace-protestors crushed to death by bulldozers, praises tough action against evil.

This just in:
Howard wins compromise - only Labor held electorates will be demolished, making way for proposed new gassing facilities to rid our community of evil.

I suspect Jane is from the “tormented daytime drinker” subset of my reader demographics. Good news for readers in London’s Croydon area: Michael Jennings reports that my hate speech ban at the local library has now been lifted. Watch for an immediate rise in hate crimes, including hate littering, hate shoplifting, and hate hating.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:09 PM | Comments (14)


The US was right to nuke Japan, writes Nicholas Kristoff:

Wartime records and memoirs show that the emperor and some of his aides wanted to end the war by summer 1945. But they were vacillating and couldn't prevail over a military that was determined to keep going even if that meant, as a navy official urged at one meeting, "sacrificing 20 million Japanese lives."

The atomic bombings broke this political stalemate and were thus described by Mitsumasa Yonai, the navy minister at the time, as a "gift from heaven."

Without the atomic bombings, Japan would have continued fighting by inertia. This would have meant more firebombing of Japanese cities and a ground invasion, planned for November 1945, of the main Japanese islands.

"The atomic bomb was a golden opportunity given by heaven for Japan to end the war," Hisatsune Sakomizu, the chief cabinet secretary in 1945, said later.

Interesting. I’ve never seen those quotes before.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:55 PM | Comments (26)


Shattering music news:

Carly Simon will finally reveal who's so vain to a man with major connections in the media world.

But Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC sports and NBC Olympics, said he'll never tell once Simon divulges to him the subject of her 1972 song "You're So Vain" after a private performance in about two weeks. Ebersol won the information with a $50,000 bid in a charity auction; he also gets a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Ebersol said Simon gave him one clue about the man's identity that she said he could reveal: He has the letter "e" in his name.

Noam Chomsky is therefore ruled out. I knew I shouldn't have made that bet.

UPDATE. Perhaps in-depth analysis of the song’s lyrics will yield further clues:

You walked into the party

It isn’t Christopher Reeve.

Like you were walking onto a yacht

Or Robert Maxwell.

Your hat strategically dipped below one eye

Carly Simon shagged the Phantom of the freakin’ Opera?

Your scarf it was apricot

That’s got the gaydar beeping like crazy.

You had one eye in the mirror

Mullah Omar. No, wait; he doesn’t have an ‘e’ in his name. Peter Falk?

As you watched yourself gavotte

Er ... Michael Hutchence? Didn’t he gavotte himself?

And all the girls dreamed that they'd be your partner

Gotta be Jim Treacher!

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:31 PM | Comments (35)


The ABC has an annual budget of around $750 million. It is not underfunded. No organisation that can afford to pay Phillip Adams $120,000 to present four hours of radio each week is underfunded. No organisation that can find $1.4 million for a 15-minute weekly examination of right-wing columnists is underfunded.

ABC news and current affairs editor John Cameron complains about the “painful time ahead”, but no “painful time” looms for Adams or Media Watch or Wil Anderson or Amanda Keller ... or most of the ABC. The ABC’s decision to target news and educational programs is spiteful, as The Australian notes:

Instead of concentrating its efforts on areas of broadcasting not covered by commercial television, the ABC has cut back on those areas. This is not sensible financial management. It is a hissy-fit.

But sensible financial management isn’t the ABC way. Here's a damning letter from Peter Hiscock, former executive producer of Foreign Correspondent:

I wrote regularly to the board and senior managers calling for changes to the expensive and time-wasting bureaucracy which held us back. I was ignored each time. Senior management meetings tend to look like factional brawls within the Victorian ALP, with decisions on staffing and programming made on the basis of departmental allies who owed each other favours. I also remember countless examples of unending stupidity: A faulty switch sparked a six month series of high-powered meetings, reports, recommendations and an expensive brochure outlining changes to procedures and protocols and still the switch remained faulty.

A technician refused to allow the use of a brand new editing machine because it might break down and there was no one trained to fix it.

Great. Meanwhile the ABC’s staff clothing allowance runs at $430,000 per year.

So which ABC shows should be cut? Assist the national broadcaster in its budgetary decision-making by voting out one of the following:

The Arts Show
Enough Rope
Media Watch
Critical Mass
Late Night Live
The Glass House
Australian Story

Or, of course, all of the above. Poll at left.

UPDATE. Gareth Parker examines ABC funding. Great work.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:29 PM | Comments (22)


The death toll in Jakarta now stands at 16, with 150 injured. Most of the dead are Indonesian Muslims. The blast was caused, according to one witness, by a suicide bomber in a Toyota. He is believed to have been a member of Jemaah Islamiah, whose accused spiritual leader yesterday refused to condemn terrorist attacks. Two senior members of JI are at large, and may have been responsible for planning the attack. Prime Minister John Howard says that the murders are “yet another reminder that the fight against Jemaah Islamiah and other groups goes on and it will be a fight that will take years.” An Australian injured in the attack is lucky to be alive. Other Australians have been warned to avoid central Jakarta. The attack caused a plunge in Indonesian share prices.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:04 AM | Comments (16)


Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Richard Alston, Murray Green, Donald Rumsfeld, David Marr, Andrew Bolt, Amrozi, Allah, Ahmad, Gloria Gaynor, Tom Keneally, Uday and Qusay, Sophie Panopoulos, Petro Georgiou, Phil Barresi, Steven Ciobo, Teresa Gambaro, Peter FitzSimons, Dick Armey, and Bob Dylan.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:09 AM | Comments (5)


The toll now stands at 13 dead and more than 100 injured. Nine New Zealanders and two Australians are among the wounded. Reports that an Australian was killed are now being denied by the government. A Dutch national is reported dead.

Sheila O’Malley says it best: bastards.

And via The Command Post, this from DEBKA:

Australians and New Zealanders, including diplomats, have been murdered. Rumours of American diplomats dead or injured.

Australian PM, John Howard, gives immediate authorisation to Australian SAS 'Black Caps' to assassinate leading JI terrorists, including radical Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba'ashir. President Bush considering request from Donald Rumsfeld for deployment of DELTA team to work with Australian SAS to 'wipe out JI'.

Er, OK. Consider the source on that.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:00 AM | Comments (8)


Remember the controversy over a recent Richard Ingrams column in which the old British plonker wrote that he doesn’t read letters from correspondents with Jewish surnames? Here’s an update:

The British Press Complaints Commission last week justified an Observer newspaper columnist who announced in his column that he does not intend to read pro-Israel letters if they are signed by people with Jewish names.

According to the complaints commission, the position taken by the columnist, Richard Ingrams, is legitimate.

The question remains: how does he know which names are Jewish?

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:58 AM | Comments (22)


It’s almost D-day for Amrozi:

Late yesterday the judges met for the final time to nut out whether Amrozi will get the death penalty or life imprisonment, although it is widely believed he will not avoid the firing squad.

Not to mention widely hoped.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:56 AM | Comments (9)


Googling around for some statistics on the Australian Greens, I discovered that an ex is now campaigning for them.

Another ex works for the ABC. Another is an environmental activist. Another is some kind of Labor Party functionary. (Another is a shrink, who might be useful if this bunch ever gets together.)

Readers are invited to submit their own stories of Carville-Matalin romantic mismatches, and to explain this terrifying intrapolitical phenomenon.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:54 AM | Comments (22)


Musicians who romanticise criminals while demonising those who would download their music get smacked good by Jessica Parker:

Apparently it’s OK to be a killer, a mass murderer, a pedophile, a rapist, a bank robber, a drug dealer, a hitman and an arsonist, but it’s not OK to share Metallica MP3’s over the internet.

There’s more. Go read. And check out JP's zesty pink site design.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:12 AM | Comments (6)

August 05, 2003


John Howard opposes same-sex marriages:

"I would never support any facilitation of it in Australia," he said.

"The reason is not based on discrimination. It is that marriage as we have traditionally understood it (is) the voluntary union between a man and a woman, hopefully for life.

"It's a bedrock institution. You're talking here about the survival of the species.

"The idea that you treat a gay union the same way as you treat a union between a man and a woman is, in my view, to misunderstand the fundamental bedrock character of marriage."

My own view: given the declining rate of marriage among heterosexuals, gay marriages might be the only way to maintain this grand conservative social tradition. Support the facilitation!

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:40 PM | Comments (49)


The revolutionary gene is still there, but it’s urging a different kind of revolution:

The eldest grandson of the late Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has called on Iranians to launch an attack on the current regime.

The London-based Arabic language newspaper "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" quoted 46-year-old Hussein Khomeini as saying: "Iran needs a new democratic regime that does not use religion to suppress the people."

This marks the most dramatic shift in a political family since the son of enviromonk Al "destroy the internal combustion engine" Gore got shitfaced in a Mustang.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:34 PM | Comments (3)


Larry Flynt can’t spell the name of his own magazine:

HUSLTER Magazine invites you to join us in prayer.

On Tuesday, August 5th at 12:45pm, we have organized a special gathering to pray to God for Fox News Channel blowhard Bill O'Reilly's death.

The service will be held in Los Angeles at Cornerstone Plaza, 1990 S. Bundy Drive. Located on the corner of Bundy Drive and LaGrange Av e.

Beats me why the cultural left (if Flynt can be considered part thereof) are spooked by O’Reilly. The guy is a centrist. Loud, but a centrist.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:00 PM | Comments (14)


Four people are reported dead in a Jakarta hotel explosion. No details yet on the cause.

UPDATE. The toll is now put at ten dead and 103 injured. A suicide bombing is suspected, although other reports claim the cause was a car bomb. I suppose it’s possible that it could be both.

LATEST. An Australian, an American, and a Malaysian are among the dead:

National police spokesman Zainury Lubis has confirmed the death toll for the Jakarta blast is 10 - including one Australian.

One American and one Malaysian, as well as seven others, were killed in the blast. No identities or further details were released.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:39 PM | Comments (8)


What the hell is the Sydney Morning Herald talking about with this "iconic" crap?

The ABC has axed iconic televison programs such as The World at Noon and Behind The News as it carves more than $26 million from its annual budget - and says it will endure more funding pressure if that is the price for its editorial independence.

For “editorial independence” read “everlasting uselessness”. The ABC should consider Frank Devine’s fine idea:

Maybe it's time for the corporation to cut free of the taxpayer and mutualise in order to claim an audience. If a million Australians want an ABC (it's not impossible), they would only need to raise $500 a year each to keep it going with its present girth.

Having watched Emily Brown, a girl scout of my acquaintance, at work raising $700 to attend the World Jamboree in Adelaide next year, I don't think this is too hard.

A user-supported public broadcaster would be genuinely answerable to its backers, and no government would dare raise an eyebrow at it.

And the rest of us could ignore it.

UPDATE. The Australian is also shrieking about iconic ABC programs. Please ... meanwhile, Daniel Mandel reviews the icons.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:48 PM | Comments (35)


Who is the writer describing?

"... he is never 'relevant', 'socially aware' or narrowly political. 'Social relevance' is a modish and peculiarly horrid little disease infecting modern criticism, invented by humourless puritans who are baffled by the magical uselessness of art. Grub Street prigs expect jokes to somehow justify themselves by being 'satirical' or up-to-date; relevant in short.”

Hint: “he” is Australian, and these words were written in 1974. Answer to come in a few hours.

(Via reader John S.)

ANSWER: Several readers got it right. This is from Barry Humphries’ introduction to 1974’s The Penguin Leunig. How the man has changed ...

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:16 AM | Comments (52)


Reader Ralph demands that I publicise the local clothing industry. A small business in Byron Bay is apparently succeeding in the globally-competitive field of beach fashion.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:10 AM | Comments (11)

August 04, 2003


Paddy’s Bar, blown to bits last year by an Islamic terrorist, is back in business and as happily Western as ever:

There were no parked cars allowed out front, guards with metal scanners prowled the door and the second floor had gone, but a symbol of the Bali bombings – Paddy's bar – has risen from the ashes of last October 12.

The famous Kuta nightspot reopened its doors on Saturday night for the first time since being destroyed by a suicide bomber carrying a vest stashed with TNT.

”With the bar reopened and tourists returning to Kuta again,” writes Gareth Parker, “these fundamentalist criminals will have died without achieving a thing.” Well, maybe not. My hope is that Paddy’s will soon sell a cocktail named after Alison Broinowski, the beer-blaming Bali blast bigot. “Gimme a Flaming Broin!” revellers will cry, in their offensive Australian accents. “Sorry, no Flaming Broin available,” a Balinese drinks jockey might answer. “We all out of carp pellets.”

Speaking of the Broiner, Professor Bunyip has been inspecting her adjustable attitude to matters Asian. Intriguing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:07 PM | Comments (24)


German politics explained:

The German Parliament's glass dome, a Berlin landmark, makes for bad feng shui, according to an expert in the Chinese art of positioning objects, buildings and furniture.

"The energy is downright sucked out of MPs' heads by the glass dome," feng shui adviser Wilhelm Wuschko told the mass-circulation Bild newspaper.

Maybe some hot feng shui action can fix another German problem:

Germany has demanded a rethink on EU guidelines on condom size after finding its average penis did not measure up. Doctors around Essen were ordered by the government's health department to check out the average size suggested by Brussels. They reported the EU has overestimated the size of the average penis by almost 20% and insist other countries will discover the same.

Sure they will.

Posted by Tim Blair at 05:01 PM | Comments (20)


Visit Chief Wiggles and Christopher Johnson at their dandy new digs. And check out Jihad Against America, a punkoid Melbourne band featuring Tim B. Liar mastermind Ben Butler. Regular readers will remember Ben’s appearances in comments under the name “Bon Scott”. This might be Ben in full rock mode. Go Ben! As one of his fans says, “At least Ben has the balls to write under his real name, unlike the rest of us ...” True. But sometimes he just needs a little encouragement.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:59 PM | Comments (12)


Will Tony Blair lose the next election? Clive James doesn’t think so, as Malcolm Farr reports:

Clive James rejects the notion Blair is in deep trouble and is certain he will win the next election. One reason for this, he says, is that nobody can remember the name of the Tory Opposition Leader.

When I told this to a senior Australian lobbyist with extensive Liberal Party and overseas connections, he scoffed.

He then confidently named William Hague as the Tory leader.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:40 PM | Comments (14)


Major Penny Cumming was a bombing advisor during the campaign in Iraq. She has now visited the targeted areas:

"Coming to Baghdad has helped me to confirm in my own mind we did our job properly and that the whole effort was worthwhile," she said.

"It's been a real eye-opener but I'm convinced it was a successful targeting campaign. From a legal perspective, I'm very confident collateral damage was kept to a minimum and the laws of war that applied were applied very strictly."

Don’t expect her to be quoted by Robert Fisk any time soon.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:38 PM | Comments (2)


For The Age’s Kenneth Davidson, it’s still all about oil:

Is Iraq's oil good enough reason for one or two of America's 148,000 occupying forces to die in Iraq each day over the next four years?

Davidson is a lefty economist, which explains why he can extrapolate 50 deaths since the start of May into one or two deaths per day until 2007.

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:06 PM | Comments (14)


Where are these guys going to end up?

The 1,500 Palestinian refugees stranded inside the Haifa Sports Club were once part of former president Saddam Hussein's favorite foreign cause. He welcomed them after other Arab countries shut their doors, provided them with free housing, mentioned their political plight in major speeches and promised to liberate their homeland one day.

But with the collapse of Hussein's government in April, the estimated 70,000 Palestinians living in Iraq -- including some who arrived half a century ago and many who were born here -- lost a powerful patron. And in the chaotic, score-settling days that followed, a society that had embraced them for decades revealed an uglier face.

"We lived with our neighbors for years; we went to each other's parties; we took each other to the hospital. But after Saddam left, they told us there was no place for us in Iraq any more," said Feduah Abdel Ghani, 34, whose family moved into a tent last month after being forced from their home of 14 years. "I thought they liked me. It is a big shock."

Before the war, the ABC repeatedly tried to convince us that Saddam was liked by his people (“I think the people here think that Saddam Hussein has done all that he can,” Mark Willacy reported in March). Now it turns out they don’t even like the people he liked.

(Via Zsa Zsa the alert.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:03 PM | Comments (5)


Dissident Frogman is becoming the Napster of blog t-shirts.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:26 PM | Comments (2)


Associated Press reports:

Chung Mong-hun, a top executive of South Korea's Hyundai conglomerate who was embroiled in a scandal over a historic 2000 summit between the two Koreas, committed suicide today, police and company officials said.

Chung jumped from his 12th-storey office in the Hyundai headquarters building in central Seoul.

Posted by Tim Blair at 11:57 AM | Comments (3)


Make of this what you will, but DEBKA is reporting that John Howard “is thinking of calling a snap election at year’s end to catch his Labor Party rivals off guard, confident that the proof of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction will come to light in time for him to pull off a victory at the polls.”

I don’t think Howard needs the weapons.

(Via reader John S.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:07 AM | Comments (17)


It’s the single angriest post of all time:

You know, I've tried really hard to make this weblog interesting for you fucking people, and frankly, I've had it.

It's really sickening to me that after all this work, I've only gotten to post this one entry, and already I have to throw in the towel.

To my supporters, I say thank you. And to the rest of you goddamned naysayers, screw you!

This will be my last post.

(Via Marduk.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:02 AM | Comments (15)


The latest Myongwatch! is up.

Posted by Tim Blair at 04:00 AM | Comments (0)


Spot the BBC spin:

US forces in Iraq have discovered dozens of Iraqi fighter aircraft buried in the desert, US officials have said.

A Pentagon official told the Associated Press news agency that several MiG-25s and Su-25 attack planes were found hidden at al-Taqqadum air base west of Baghdad.

The planes were unearthed by teams hunting for alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Yes, I’m sure that’s what they were hunting for. "Found any alleged weapons?" "No, allegedly." "Then keep allegedly looking."

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:56 AM | Comments (16)


Tolerant Sweden generates intolerance:

A group of around 30 skinheads attacked marchers in a gay pride parade in Stockholm with stones and bottles, police said.

A young man on the annual march promoting gay, lesbian and transsexual rights was injured in the head and taken to hospital. A police spokesman said his life was not in danger.

”Injured in the head”? Great writing, CNN. By the way, if this happened in the US, Time would run a cover story on it.

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:52 AM | Comments (8)


"Nothing arouses white America's anxieties like seeing black Americans in Rolexes and Rolls-Royces," writes the Miami Herald’s Evelyn McDonnell. Hmm. Some Americans are more disturbed by a black American’s name on an oil tanker. Anyway, Evelyn continues:

As a critic who sometimes writes favorably about most types of music, I've gotten a taste of the hatred hip-hop breeds, in vituperative e-mails. A mere reference to a rap lyric is enough to undermine credibility with some readers, it appears -- for now and evermore ...

I suspect there’s something of a generalisation happening here -- along the lines of “to dislike rap is to be racist”. Just as well I got my Run DMC CDs in the car. No racist me!

(Via reader Donnah D.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 03:44 AM | Comments (25)

August 03, 2003


Lesson #1: The European phrase for "double standard" is "European".

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:21 AM | Comments (18)


Welcome Charles Austin to the Spleenville empire.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:19 AM | Comments (2)


Are you a man? Take VodkaPundit's 50-point knowledge test to find out.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:18 AM | Comments (10)


Some damn Yarpie is making The Don look bad:

Donald Bradman is the greatest batsman cricket has ever seen, but never, even in his remarkable career, did "The Don" score more runs in three consecutive Test innings than the South African captain, Graeme Smith.

The best Bradman managed was against England in 1934 when he scored 460 runs. When Smith walked off the ground yesterday evening at 5.45pm, unbeaten on 214, only Sir Garfield Sobers, who amassed 599 runs against Pakistan in 1957-58, stood between him and another deserved record.

After scoring 277 at Edgbaston last week, the highest Test score by a South African, this formidable 22-year-old, with 586 runs already to his name this summer, is now only 14 away from passing the great West Indian all-rounder.

Yeah, and he’s probably already passed that by now. I can’t bear to watch. Kim du Toit must be handing out the cigars.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:16 AM | Comments (9)

August 02, 2003


Knowledge of one’s own abilities is a powerful thing; perhaps more powerful than ability alone. A few years ago I met Mark Webber, then a Formula One test driver. Asked how he might perform if given the opportunity to race in F1, he said: “Under the present rules, with the cars as they are, I can drive very quickly.”

That’s an unusual thing for a racing driver to say. Most -- like athletes in any field -- tend to rate their abilities highly no matter the circumstances. But Webber, before he’d competed in a single F1 race, understood that his particular gifts would mesh with the demands of today’s twitchy, unforgiving, 850-horsepower F1 machines.

And he was right. Webber is now in his second year of F1, and following a string of impressive qualifying and race efforts is being spoken of as a future driver for the multi-championship winning Williams team. He truly can drive these cars very quickly.

Perhaps in another era -- the early 60s, when F1 cars were small-engined flyweight devices, or the mid-80s, when brute horsepower overwhelmed chassis development -- Webber’s skills may not have shone. Today’s machinery is moved fastest by a combination of rhythm and rage. This fits Webber ideally.

Another Australian racer, Alan Jones, also drove during a time when the available F1 technology suited his abilities. He had to wait a few years, however. Jones was usually in the front half of the field from 1977 onwards, but the advent in 1978/9 of wing cars -- with scooped underbodies that created aerodynamic downforce -- saw him suddenly vault to the front.

The reason? Well, wing cars were able to corner massively more quickly than previous F1 cars. Drivers had to convince themselves that they would remain on the track having entered turns at speeds formerly unknown to the sport. Extracting the maximum pace from a wing car took a certain, ah, force of will.

(His team once wired Jones to monitoring equipment during a testing session, and were surprised to discover that for large parts of each lap Jones didn’t appear to be breathing. He explained later that he’d hold his breath entering high-speed corners, “in the same way you would as if you were aiming a rifle.”)

Jones, who’d previously won just one race in four years, suddenly won three in a row in 1979, and a year later claimed the world championship. Where other drivers would lift, Jones kept his foot down. Even his build -- stocky, bull-necked, able to withstand huge g’s -- was suited to that era.

Qualifying for Sunday’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim -- where Jones won his first race for Williams 24 years ago -- is at 10pm Australian eastern time. Webber was fourth in pre-qualifying. If everything falls Webber’s way during his one-lap qualifying sprint, he could make it to the front row. He knows he can do it.

UPDATE. Not this weekend. Webber qualified 11th -- but, of course, we don't know what fuel load he was carrying. I suspect both Jaguars are on heavy strategies, given that Wilson dropped from a pre-qual 7th to 16th. Montoya on pole, followed by Ralf Schumacher, Barrichello, Trulli, Raikkonen, and M. Schumacher. Jenson Button is way down in 17th.

Posted by Tim Blair at 08:01 PM | Comments (8)


Some people just can’t be trusted:

The eldest daughter of Saddam Hussein, whose husband was killed on the orders of the ousted Iraqi president, on Friday accused close aides to her father of betraying him and helping U.S. forces capture Baghdad.

"It was a big shock. It was clear, unfortunately the people who he had absolutely I understood, the main betrayal was by them," Raghd, 36, told Al Arabiya television in an interview in Jordan where she, her sister Rana, 34, and their nine children were given asylum.

"This is an act of treason. If somebody doesn't like you, they should not betray you. Betrayal is not a trait of Arabs," added Raghd, clad in black and a white veil in a sign of mourning.

Maybe she’s a Collingwood supporter. What’s to mourn, Raggie? We’ve beaten Carlton twice this year, the first time since 1990. Go Pies!

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:45 PM | Comments (16)


Was Christopher Hitchens a Bob Hope fan? Not exactly.

Imagine how Hitch would’ve reacted if Mother Teresa ever tried stand up. “I just flew in from a Calcutta leprosarium, and boy, are my arms tired ...”

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:42 PM | Comments (34)


Hugh Mackay brings happiness to all, reports the Bunyip. Strangely, Hugh handed in a similar sayonara column to the SMH, although that paper, unlike The Age, does not note it as his last.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:31 PM | Comments (5)


Weren’t reporters the ones complaining about post-war looting?

A cult of personality trailed Uday, especially among journalists. One of the first things reporters arriving after the war did was loot one of his houses.

Sigh. All those priceless antiquities.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:30 PM | Comments (6)


A new poll is up. See to your left. The last poll (“Which Australian columnist would you slap?”) drew 1400 votes, and resulted in a runaway win for Phillip Adams (559 votes). I finished a distant but still slapworthy second on 165, just clear of Emma Tom and Hugh Mackay, who were tied on 142. Slapsisters! Then followed Robert Manne (99), Mike Carlton (96), Miranda Devine (72), Piers Akerman (55), Andrew Bolt (43), and Janet Albrechtsen on a practically slapless 27.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:54 AM | Comments (10)


Angela Bell has a brilliant idea -- a cable channel dedicated to funerals:

It would show live funeral services - with music, eulogies and, most important, real emotion. The channel could broadcast 24 hours a day, thanks to all the world's times zones. And think of the advertising possibilities! Florists, printers, funeral directors, stonemasons and musicians, and caterers for wakes (wakes could be shown too).

Plus there could be readings from The Daily Telegraph’s wonderful obituaries, and studio interviews where hostile relatives are able to challenge excessive praise of the deceased. Lots of people would watch this. I knew of two oldtimers in Melbourne who went to random funerals every weekend. When they met each other once at a funeral in Richmond, one turned to the other as the priest was speaking and whispered: “Who died?”

Posted by Tim Blair at 01:55 AM | Comments (7)


Canadian puppy-fat protectionist Naomi Klein makes a couple of bold claims:

Canadians can't quite believe it: Suddenly, we're interesting.

After months of making the news only with our various communicable diseases--SARS, mad cow and West Nile--we're now getting world famous for our cutting-edge laws on gay marriage and legalized drugs. The Bush conservatives are repulsed by our depravity. My friends in New York and San Francisco have been quietly inquiring about applying for citizenship.

Name one, Naomi.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:52 AM | Comments (43)


The Arab News is worried:

If this is the way the Americans have dealt with the bodies of Uday and Qusay, what are they going to do with the body of Saddam if they happen to kill him?

Why, they’ll probably put nice makeup on him and display him on television in order to counter the “It’s not Saddam!” propaganda from the likes of the Arab News. But the paper is worried about others besides Saddam:

The man is known to keep many look-alikes as a means of protection.

I don’t have the statistics at hand, but I’d bet that moustache removal is a boom industry in Baghdad right now.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:46 AM | Comments (16)


Charles Krauthammer writes about the press conference that announced Uday and Qusay’s liberation from the physical realm, and mentions a certain British reporter:

That deadness offended the sensibilities of a few, most characteristically, the supercilious British reporter who confronted Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the U.S. commander in Baghdad (who announced the killing of Uday and Qusay), with the charge that the United States should have taken them alive, not just to produce more information but to provide war crimes trials. Why did you not just wait them out, he asked?

The question was as astounding for its stupidity as for its audacity.

And who was that supercilious, stupid, astounding, audacious man? Salam Pax provides an answer:

I later found out that the man in front of me was Fisk and the question he asked which we all want to be answered was: why was the decision made to attack with a force that would have been capable of annihilating a city block?

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:28 AM | Comments (30)


A civic-minded individual is circulating a list of police speed traps in Melbourne. The Age sounds as though it disapproves:

Asked if the information in the email would affect safety on the roads, Ms Schmidt said: "The fact of the matter is that the list is not one hundred per cent accurate. You will need to talk to police about that. If that's the case, then I wouldn't be able to comment on that."

Seems to me the information in the email would make people drive slower, certainly in the areas listed as camera zones. The Age hates an informed populace.

Posted by Tim Blair at 12:18 AM | Comments (6)

August 01, 2003


The Spectator’s Lloyd Evans reports from the frontlines of British socialism:

I asked a young woman from Nottingham if there would be money after the revolution. ‘Gradually, eventually it’ll die out, hopefully,’ she said. She’d just qualified, she told me, as a human-rights lawyer. So did she favour a maximum wage? The idea had never occurred to her. She frowned a bit. ‘Yeah. About £40,000.’ ‘OK,’ I said, ‘but then everyone earning more than that will emigrate.’ ‘Good,’ her boyfriend chipped in, ‘get the fuckers out.’ Which concluded our seminar on wage control.

The hard Left tend to dress carelessly and without any attention to style. Many are physically ill-favoured too. There were plenty of keen-eyed youngsters around, but I don’t recall a single stunner. Guts, limps, spots, humps, corns, boils, scars, tics: these are marks that distinguish the species.

By contrast, babes were in abundance at a meeting of conservative student groups I spoke at a few weeks ago, and not a single boil-ridden humpbacked scarface among them. In the '80s, the Left had all the hot chicks; where have they gone? Have they been collectivised?

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:24 AM | Comments (57)


So one of the Bali accused feels a little bit sorry for the injuries he inflicted upon Sari Club waitress Ni Wayan Suriani (the linked photograph of whom is heartbreaking, although it isn’t at all graphic, and the composition was constrained by courtroom limitations; look at her expression). I predict he’ll feel greater sorrow shortly ... around the time of his sentencing.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:20 AM | Comments (10)


From the Popbitch newsletter:

Poor Bob Hope. Everyone's been waiting for him to die for years. His obituary in London's Evening Standard newspaper was written by Alexander Walker who died two weeks before him. And the one in the New York Times was written by a journalist, Vincent Canby, who died in 2000.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:15 AM | Comments (12)


How’d they find out about Titchmarsh? Utterwonder includes me among its chillingly accurate profiles of blogdom’s A-list:

Blair, Tim - B_______. Has had four Viagra-induced heart attacks. Linked with Jack Wagner, Alan Titchmarsh, Winona Ryder, Susan Anton, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Patti LaBelle.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:14 AM | Comments (5)


Sun Records founder Sam Phillips has died at 80. His Elvis recordings will dominate obits, but Jerry Lee Lewis was the real Sun star. ”Well the way is dark, the night is long, I don't care if I never get home ...”

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:12 AM | Comments (1)


Read this introduction to Mark Steyn’s latest ...

What happened to Liberia? Only three years ago, things were going swimmingly, at least according to President Charles Taylor’s Ministry of Information: ‘We say “well done” to Mr President, and advise him to always keep the communication highway free and clear of any hindrance, so that a people-to-leader and leader-to-people approach can be adopted and maintained, so that everyone will at least have the opportunity to have the ears of the Chief Executive, instead of a select few.’

... and now click here for the killer paragraph that follows.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:03 AM | Comments (11)


The Brisbane bus driver at the centre of The Duckling Incident has been reinstated. You hear that, you beaky yellow frauds? Your road-jamming days are over.

(via Paul Bickford, whose site I can’t link to for some weird reason.)

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:02 AM | Comments (9)


NO! Anna Kournikova is going to retire! This is terrible! Oh, wait ... she’s only quitting tennis.

Posted by Tim Blair at 02:00 AM | Comments (8)