Margo reaches the pinnacle

There are few things more certain in blogging than that Tim Blair or Professor Bunyip will post on Margo Kingston’s latest Web Diary frolic. Published to mark the second anniversary of the sinking of the asylum seeker vessel SIEV X, one of Margo’s favourite obsessions, what it actually commemorates is her final fearless rejection of any remaining pretence of journalistic detachment (not to mention rationality; I wouldn’t want Dave to label me Tim Blair lite again):

Again, in a war most journalists act as propagandists. If we are in a war, that does explain why the system won’t tell the truth, seeks to hide the truth, because nasty things have to be done to win a war, as we all know.

So where does that leave us ? Us people that turn up on a Saturday to worry ourselves senseless about the state of morality of Australia and its government? Well, that leaves us as traitors, terrorists, an extreme minority, and people who are in danger. …

It’s a time to look after each other and to be careful, and also I think if you are in a minority, a persecuted minority, then it is really important to free the mind to think laterally.

One phrase that I have instructed Webdiarists to cease and desist from for some time now is this “Ashamed to be Australian” business, because that is not only not going to convince anyone over to our side – and let’s be frank, our side is a dangerous place to be. You say “Come over to here, you’ll have a lot of fun and everyone will really like you.”

You know, you’re appealing to something apart from that. I believe that the people in my terrorist cell – you people – have got more brains than the other lot. The other lot has got the power, and we’ve got the brains. We have got to free our minds to use the brains, because what we have got on our side is hope and optimism and faith.

I can’t really call this vintage Margo; it’s more than that. Margo has decisively placed herself beyond all possibility of caricature. On a marginally more sensible note, Margo continues her well-rehearsed SIEV-X propaganda line of almost but not quite accusing the Howard government of complicity in mass murder:

And that’s when I started to know that, whether or not Australia sunk that boat or connived in sinking that boat, there is no doubt that Howard lied over 353 dead bodies. I just don’t respect that guy at all.

Nevertheless, just to make sure we all get with the program, Margo goes on to quote Canberra Times editor Jack Waterford, who apparently doesn’t share Margo’s pseudo-coyness:

I don’t know exactly how that political directive, strategic objective, fed its way into the military operation that took place. But one of the things which still bemuses me most in the lead-up to the SIEV-X affair is that when we had massively increased Australian surveillance over the area, ships at sea there to intercept any boats that were travelling, clear intelligence operations taking place in Indonesia designed to identify likely shipments, gatherings of refugees, and various things like that – this boat is allowed to sail off with some knowledge by the Australian authorities. And yet at all of the crucial times mysteriously it escapes all of the surveillance operations that we have and our ships are in fact well away and are not in the places where one would think that they ought to be if they were designing to intercept anything.

But even that one could accept to some extent as a cock-up, one of those things that happened or something like that, were it not for the pattern of cover-up, evasion, defensiveness, the serial pulling-apart of the layers of the onion, the hints that go further and further about undercover operations going on in Indonesia, so that it’s quite clear that at some stage a lot more truth is going to be revealed about it.

Well Jack, I suppose it’s not entirely beyond the realms of possibility that you might be right, but logic, commonsense and Ockham’s Occam’s Razor suggest otherwise. Australian naval and air force personnel are certainly a disciplined military force accustomed to following orders. But they’re also human beings imbued with the seafarer’s ethic of rescuing other mariners in distress. It defies commonsense that all of the numerous military personnel who would need to have been in the loop of any order to deliberately avoid looking for SIEV X would not only happily have obeyed it, but to a man and woman kept silent about that order for 2 years. The other leg of the Tony Kevin conspiracy theory, that Australian intelligence agencies were somehow complicit in sabotaging SIEV X before it sailed, is marginally less unlikely at least from that standpoint. Intelligence agencies are far more capable of keeping a secret than the ordinary military services, especially where it involves morally or legally dubious activities (as intelligence activities frequently do). I’m not completely dismissive of the notion that some gung ho paid operative in Indonesia might have construed a disruption mandate in a tragically excessive way (although I’m certainly not accepting that this is what happened). However, the prospects of any parliamentary or other enquiry establishing any such thing are extremely remote to say the least.

Application of Ockham’s Occam’s Razor leads to a far more prosaic explanation. Almost all SIEV vessels were drastically unseaworthy. SIEV X seems to have been even worse, and rather more overloaded than the norm. Few previous asylum seeker vessels ever carried as many as 353 people. However, that fact doesn’t connote sinister forces at work. This was the period after the Tampa incident, when thousands of desperate asylum seekers were clamouring to get to Australia before that possibility became closed off perhaps permanently. It’s hardly surprising that so many were prepared to cram on board despite what must have been self-evident danger, or that the people smugglers happily took their money.

We don’t need a conspiracy theory to explain these events. Nor do we need one to explain the failure of Australian forces engaged in Operation Relex to spot the vessel. It’s a huge ocean and a tiny wooden vessel. The Mediterranean is almost certainly the most intensively plied and overflown waterway in the world, and yet last night’s SBS News carried the tragic story of a Somalian asylum seeker vessel which has just been found after running out of fuel and drifting for 20 days. Thirteen passengers were still alive, there were 15 bodies still on board, and another 50-odd who died previously had apparently been shoved overboard. The SBS news item suggested that hundreds of asylum seekers may well have perished undetected in the Mediterranean this year alone.

People like Tony Kevin and Margo Kingston, who think there’s something inherently suspicious about RAAF/RAN failure to spot SIEV X, are either ideologically determined to draw the most adverse conclusion come what may or simply don’t understand how difficult it is to find a small vessel on a huge ocean. A few years ago, an earlier SIEV vessel managed to sail into Darwin harbour undetected. It was beached at the boat ramp just 200 metres from my house in suburban Nightcliff, from where one of the passengers enterprisingly hailed a taxi to take him to the nearest phone booth so he could ring the police and inform them of the asylum seekers’ arrival. No-one suspected a sinister official conspiracy to deliberately fail to spot the vessel, it was just another usual cock-up (or SNAFU as the Yanks used to call it – situation normal all fucked up).

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic at Charles Darwin University, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law) and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 12 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in he early 1990s.
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58 Responses to Margo reaches the pinnacle

  1. mark says:

    Want to lay odds on the possibility that Bunyip’s response is even less intelligent than Margo’s post?

    (I thought it was spelled “Occam”?)

  2. I still think the “It’s all about the anti-gravity” guy she dug up was THE classic Margo moment…

    Mind you, the self-dramatisation “people who are in danger” stuff does leave one shaking your head.

    Cheers for digging this up- I don’t venture into Webdairy much these days- sounds like the LSD is as good as it ever was though…

  3. Observa says:

    Yeah, and we all know why the Multinationals are sitting on the everlasting light bulb and the engine that runs on water, but I don’t trust governments either. How come the Govt run utilities hid the light globe from us when they were running the power? And what about the bad magnetism they’ve all been putting in the power lines, compared to the green magnets we can get at the crystal shop? These are the sorts of questions that must be asked, if we’re to get to the bottom of it all!

  4. wen says:

    And isn’t there some sort of evil-machine button that gets switched on as soon as people don a uniform? Who’s controlling that, eh?

  5. wen says:

    And isn’t there some sort of evil-machine button that gets switched on as soon as people don a uniform? Who’s controlling that, eh?

  6. Geoff Honnor says:

    “We are Margo, hear us bore,
    With stuff too flaky to explore,
    As we flail our waving arms across the land.”

  7. Jozef says:

    353 human beings drowned.

    And Margo is not the lonely voice or the only one outraged!

    Australia treats asylum seekers abominably – we imprison them indefinitely, we torment them, we are willing to return them to torture or death. Our treatment of them constitutes a grave crime against our own laws: but the mainstream press is too frightened, too weak, too indolent or too stupid to bother reporting the fact. If the tragedy of our present regime is told dispassionately decades from now silence of the press will be seen as part of our national disgrace.
    · Dis Grace
    http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/10/21/1066631403165.html
    [Webdiary: Julian Burnside QC]

  8. Geoff Honnor says:

    “Our treatment of them constitutes a grave crime against our own laws: but the mainstream press is too frightened, too weak, too indolent or too stupid to bother reporting the fact’

    That’s, quite simply, untrue.

  9. Murph says:

    Ah yes, the conspiracy theory: It enables the dull to simultaneously imagine that they are smarter than the other plebs, yet have one over the establishment.

  10. Ken Parish says:

    Jozef,

    I share your concern/outrage about aspects of Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, notably indefinite detention (especially of children) when there are viable and more humane alternatives. However, that doesn’t mean that those of us who don’t subscribe to extreme conspiracy theories claiming that the government was complicit in the SIEV X sinking, or to Margo’s more generalised paranoid rantings, are just heartless Right Wing Death Beasts. Some of us are deeply compassionate Right Wing Death Beasts.

  11. Geoff Honnor says:

    “I share your concern/outrage about aspects of Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, notably indefinite detention (especially of children)”

    How did you hear about this, Ken? The mainstream press is,(tick a box):

    too frightened
    too weak
    too indolent
    too stupid

    to report this, apparently.

    Are you in secret contact with….. The Movement?

  12. Dave Ricardo says:

    Well, Geoff, it rather depends on what you mean by mainstream press. You will hear about this in the Fairfax press and ABC, and for that they get pissed on from a great height by Bunyip, Blair and co. Their complaint is that we do hear about it in Fairfax and the ABC , and if they had their way, we wouldn’t.

    There isn’t what you’d call blanket coverage in the Murdoch tabloids, which sell a lot more than the Fiarfax papers. There is a bit in the Australian, which hardly anybody reads.

    Margo can be a bit self-righteous, but she performs a valuable service, which is that she gets up right the nose of a lot of right wingers. For that alone, she deserves a medal or two.

  13. Geoff Honnor says:

    “There isn’t what you’d call blanket coverage in the Murdoch tabloids, which sell a lot more than the Fiarfax papers. There is a bit in the Australian, which hardly anybody reads.”

    C’mon Dave. The Australian is acknowledged to have been in the forefront of asylum-seeker coverage and whether or not people buy the Tele as opposed to the SMH is a bit beside the point. The issue has received saturation coverage in the mainstream media, from every conceivable perspective. Bunyip and Blair don’t – as I understand it – object to this coverage per se. Rather it’s about their perceptions of bias therein.

    The Burnside quote is manifestly absurd – and you know it.

  14. Paul Johnson says:

    “up the nose”? Shirley you jest! The journalistic parody (tm Bob Carr) is a nutjob. All she does is add more proof that all Leftists are fools, fuckwits and loony to boot.

    Next thing you’ll be wanting us to believe is that Phatty Adams is sincere.

  15. Amos says:

    So Dave Ricardo, hysterical grandstanding, lying and slander are all OK as long as you irritate the right people?

    Way to push your cause, bucko. It’s that kind of reasoning that has made the extreem left the influential force that it is today.

  16. James Hamilton says:

    Dave is right about the service Margot and her ilk perform by getting up the nose of the right wingers. I used to read such shite as theirs and would oblige the authors with a full head revolving Linda Blairesque vomit spray. I healed myself – the woman is bonkers and so is Phillip Adams and they are welcome to write what they like and may they do it in good physical health.

  17. Tysen says:

    Julian Burnside really annoys me. On one hand he states with self-righteous certainty that the government is wrong to use the term ‘illegal’ when it’s clearly reasonable and totally consistent with the 1951 convention to do so. There is also more than enough scope to argue the opposite. The main distinction between the government line and his is that the government generally says “we believe that” whereas he inaccurately phrases his interpretation as beyond dispute and implies (or even expressly alleges) dishonesty on the part of all others who are simply taking a different, but perfectly reasonable, interpretation.

    He then gives the code an interpretation so convoluted and imprecise that it loses any connection with the English language, allowing him to allege a disgusting crime by government with his only evidence being the opinion of a couple of UN employees.

    Oh and he is quite happy to see most refugees rot while spending much needed money that could go on aid, advocating the interests of relatively wealthy non-refugees.

  18. Jim says:

    Agree wholeheartedly with Geoff.

    1.Australia treats asylum seekers abominably – that’s a matter of opinion not fact

    2.we imprison them indefinitely – illegal immigrants are held for lengthy periods [years] if;
    A. they have been found not to be refugees by a process apparently more generous than the UN’s – which includes no-cost legal appeals and;
    B. they refuse to accept these findings and elect to remain in the detention centre rather than return home

    3.we are willing to return them to torture or death – any evidence of genuine fear of persecution [including torture and death obviously] is grounds for granting a temporary protection visa. Can Burnside name any examples?

    4. Our treatment of them constitutes a grave crime against our own laws – which ones??

    5. but the mainstream press is too frightened, too weak, too indolent or too stupid to bother reporting the fact

  19. Dave Ricardo says:

    “So Dave Ricardo, hysterical grandstanding, lying and slander are all OK as long as you irritate the right people?

    Way to push your cause, bucko. It’s that kind of reasoning that has made the extreem left the influential force that it is today.”

    Amos, old son, you are confusing two issues.
    Nothing Margo says is going to her advance her causes one bit. But that doesn’t matter, because there are other people who can advance the causes —

  20. Mork says:

    Dave, I think Amos’ point is that her purpose also seems to be to convince people like me, who are generally inclined to oppose a person like Howard, that he gets an unfair deal at the hands of a lot of his critics.

    I have no doubt that Margo’s net impact is detrimental to the world view she espouses. The terms of your endorsement seem to me to indicate a pretty strange concept of how to advance your political preferences.

  21. Dave Ricardo says:

    “I have no doubt that Margo’s net impact is detrimental to the world view she espouses”

    How can this be? Do you really think that a government will say: “well, we were going to so such and such, but after reading Margo this morning, we are going to do the opposite”.

    Not very likely.

    As for my political preferences: sure, politics is mostly about getting things done by governments that you want to get done. But it’s also about the sheer visceral pleasure of seeing your enemies in a paroxysm of rage.

    Margo does that job exquisitely.

  22. MarkWW says:

    DaveR, You’ve sure got a nerve interupting this ‘hate Margo’ session with your nuanced interpretations and measured ripostes. Back to the library for you mate! There’s a witch burning to be done.

  23. Dave Ricardo says:

    Happy to be of service, Mark. These people are so easy to bait, it’s not even a challenge any more.

  24. Mork says:

    Do you really think that a government will say: “well, we were going to so such and such, but after reading Margo this morning, we are going to do the opposite”.

    Of course not, Dave. But I do think that people are likely to read Margo, think “you’re a flaming lunatic” and dismiss her arguments … not merely when she makes them, but also when others who might otherwise have been accorded a more generous hearing say similar things.

    But it’s also about the sheer visceral pleasure of seeing your enemies in a paroxysm of rage.

    Maybe you should get a hobby. You’re a perfect demonstration of the axiom that politics tends to self-select exactly the people who shouldn’t be involved.

  25. Geoff Honnor says:

    “How can this be? Do you really think that a government will say: “well, we were going to so such and such, but after reading Margo this morning, we are going to do the opposite”.

    No Dave – she’s self-evidently not that influential. Still, assuring yourself that you were doing the opposite to what she advocated would be a useful aide memoire for ensuring that you weren’t at least pursuing the worst possible course of action.

  26. Kev says:

    Curious. The first result from googling Occam’s Razor gives me “Occam’s razor is a logical principle attributed to the mediaeval philosopher William of Occam (or Ockham)” – a lot of the others sites give the spelling alternative as well. I guess Ken knows that and Mark shouldn’t be so pedantic. Still a language lesson for those of us who have applied the principle in life but never named it.

  27. Geoff Honnor says:

    “DaveR, You’ve sure got a nerve interupting this ‘hate Margo’ session with your nuanced interpretations and measured ripostes.”

    Mark, Dave Ricardo is to “nuanced interpretation” and “measured ripostes” as Senator Bob Brown is to “bubbly vivacity” :)

  28. Dave Ricardo says:

    “You’re a perfect demonstration of the axiom that politics tends to self-select exactly the people who shouldn’t be involved.”

    But I’m not involved in politics. On the other hand, all members of the government —

  29. Mork says:

    You care enough to have enemies, but you’re not “involved”.

    You must have a curious idea of detachment.

  30. Dave Ricardo says:

    Don’t be so literal. I don’t really have enemies.
    Let’s just say, “people whose world view I don’t share.”

    Better now?

  31. I spoke to Kevin, by phone, about the sinking of SIEV X a number of times, mainly to query his theory that the Howard government had directed the AFP, in cahoots with people smugglers and Indonesian authorities, to set-up the boat to be sunk, by deliberately overloading it. He had also argued that the Howard government had directed RAN personnel to be not intercept the boat’s likely area of passage. On top of that Kevin suggested that the RAAF Orion personnel were advised to not investigate likely radar signatures in their patrol grids.
    The problem with Kevin’s conjectures is:
    the AFP actually advised NORCOM of the boats unseaworthy condition, it’s date of departure and it’s direction
    no RAN personnel have confirmed the non-interception order
    no RAAF personnel have confirmed the non-investigation order
    When I put these points to Kevin, he had no answer, apart from blubbering something about “the left hand knows not what the right hand is doing”.
    That does not sound like a coherent conspiracy.
    The simplest explanation for SIEV-X is that the people-smuggler wanted to end his responsiblity for his clients and the Indonesians wanted to get rid of the boat as it was becoming a political embarassment. SO they packed them off into an unseaworthy vessel, which was duly reported by the AFP, who advised the authorities to expect another lot of boat people. But the Navy and Air Force were not tasked to intercept or investigate the reported departure of the boat, since they were short of resources, having other boats to deal with. SOPs with boat people are to wait for them to come to the Navy, not vice-versa, which would involve sending Navy vessels off on wild-goose chases all over the Indian Ocea. The boat sank, as many have done without murmur from the Left, but apparently in international waters, which reduced Indonesian responsibility for rescue action. The Australian government covered it’s ass. End of Story. At worst, a cock-up, not a conspiracy. Mike Carlton has a full round up. Smearing navy latest sport for axe-grinders
    Margo is no doubt morally shocked at the loss of life, and perhaps at the casual way that the tragedy was accepted by the Australian people, which was a little distubing.
    But the conspiracy story was always a beat-up, so Margo should put-up some hard evidence or shut-up.

  32. Dave Ricardo thinks that political debate is substantially about polemical malice, not puruit of the Truth:
    But it’s also about the sheer visceral pleasure of seeing your enemies in a paroxysm of rage. Margo does that job exquisitely.
    Margo has an “exquisite” ablity to get me into paroxyms alright, but of laughter, not rage.

  33. Dave Ricardo says:

    Political debate as the “pursuit of truth”?

    Now you’re send me into a paroxysm of laughter.

  34. mark says:

    “political opponents”, “those on the other side of the fence”, and “gaping ninnies” are probably the most popular terms for what you’re trying to describe, Dave. I know it requires two words instead of one, but at least this way we won’t all chortle with glee and imagine you prowling around Parliament House in camouflage with a rifle, muttering about “Charlie’s gonna get what’s comin’ to him,” before releasing the Agent Orange, as occurs whenever you mention your much-hated enemies.

    Kev, it actually was a question. I’m guilty of being a raving, smug pedant more often than not, but in this case I was considering the possibility Ken had happened upon the correct spelling (wrong! All this time wrong! etc.).

  35. Dave Ricardo says:

    Political debate as the “pursuit of truth”?

    Now you’re going to send me into a paroxysm of laughter.

  36. mark says:

    My goodness, that doesn’t happen every day.

  37. Niall says:

    Ken, I would have thought with your intelligent approach to most things, you would want to be ‘labelled’ anything, let alone RWDB.

  38. Geoff Honnor says:

    “The simplest explanation for SIEV-X is that the people-smuggler wanted to end his responsiblity for his clients and the Indonesians wanted to get rid of the boat as it was becoming a political embarassment. SO they packed them off into an unseaworthy vessel, which was duly reported by the AFP, who advised the authorities to expect another lot of boat people.’

    And Jack, it’s hardly the sort of explanation you want when your ultimate aim is to “discover truth” which must, necessarily, hang Howard. I mean, sure the TNI was monitoring boat smuggling – and taking a hefty cut from the operators. Sure, they forcibly “sailed” the craft in question, but that’s all just an irritatingly irrelevant sideline to the main game of assigning Howard’s ultimate responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of people.

    The only “Dark Victory” going on around here is the one handed by Kevin, Kingston and their apologists to the bad Pilate-in-batik-drag act of Indonesia. And all for cheap, cruddy partisan political advantage. The selfsame obsession that they continually ascribe to their nemesis…..

  39. David Ricardo, perhaps revealingly, cynically mocks the pursuit of Truth in public discourse.
    Political debate as the “pursuit of truth”? Now you’re going to send me into a paroxysm of laughter. So political debate is all about acquiring power and giving one’s enemies “the shits”, eh Dave? It should go without saying that my affirmation of the truth-pursuing function of politico-culutural debate in a democracy was normative, not positive. I don’t doubt that plenty of bs and spin exist at any one time, eg GW II, but I have a reasonable expectation that they will, over time, yield to truthful criticism. Admittedly this is not easy. Orwell faced an uphill struggle in his day. Even though he had facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts
    he still found thatTo see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.
    Solzhenitsyn perhaps naively believed that intellectuals could pursue and achieve the Truth, against Power:
    writers and artists can achieve more: they can CONQUER FALSEHOOD! In the struggle with falsehood art always did win. He was certainly vindicated in the end.
    Lets leave the last word to Mill, whose justification for democratic debate as the moste effective truth-finding instrument of political progress still rings, dare I say it, True: Why is it, then, that there is on the whole a preponderance among mankind of rational opinions and rational conduct? If there really is this preponderance…it is owing to a quality of the human mind, the source of everything respectable in man, either as an intellectual or as a moral being, namely, that his errors are corrigible. He is capable of rectifying his mistakes by discussion and experience. Not by experience alone. There must be discussion, to show how experience is to be interpreted. Wrong opinions and practices gradually yield to fact and argument…The whole strength and value, then, of human judgment, depending on the one property, that it can be set right when it is wrong, reliance can be placed on it only when the means of setting it right are kept constantly at hand.

  40. Dave Ricardo says:

    Jack, you are prolix beyond belief.

  41. Sometimes, but I always aspire to be Truthful.
    I thought you would be grateful if I delivered unto you a little homily on that endeavour.

  42. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    Margo says: [i]I believe that the people in my terrorist cell – you people – have got more brains than the other lot. The other lot has got the power, and we’ve got the brains. We have got to free our minds to use the brains, because what we have got on our side is hope and optimism and faith.[/i]

    The last sentence is the most interesting. Margo’s contributions in Webdiary display very little “hope and optimism”. Instead, there is constantly “the glass is not even half full!” despair and irreversible cynicism.

    Margo does have a lot of unquestioning faith in her worldview, though. I suspect that, in another century, another belief system, another power dynamic and another gender, Margo would have made an excellent papal inquisitor.

    Actually, that’s not quite fair. Margo does do a fair bit of angsty soul-searching. She just doesn’t search too far.

    What happened to the Webdiary which published different views? All we get these days are Margo’s diatribes, slabs of cut-and-paste jobs from people who can make pro-Margo-worldview comments that Margo lacks the intelligence or articulation to make herself and the occasional confessions of some guy called “Harry Heidelberg” who Margo seems to hold up as an avatar of “Liberal supporter who is waking up to the EEEVILS of John Howard”.

  43. wen says:

    Jack,
    I don’t know that ‘writers & artists’ & intellectuals should be bracketed together. I reckon they’re separate spheres – & should remain so ( except in exceptional circuimstances – Solzhenitsyn, for example)

  44. jozef says:

    As B Webb of the Guardian observed: Exchanging monopoly of truth for another is not what characters like Havel sacrificed their lives for.

    The purpose of any journalist worth his or her salt is to question those who tend to assume that they somehow have a, mundate (sic), monopoly on truth.

    PS: Like most academics I like to share kofi with, I would prefer to exchange left and right fist rather than be label by anyone as admire of either left or right wing ideologies. I am a brutal dreamer as I prefer Sinners and Fist Fighters over ideological saints! (smile)
    Where is that blogger meeting in Sydney again? (grin)
    Could we raise some money for some charity and step into the ring?
    Anysponsorsoutthereforanevententitled:
    The Virtual end, of Left and Right, History!
    How about it Ken, Geoff at all.

  45. Jozef says:

    I have it on the highest of authorities that Imre will be glad to fight me, but Tim of the BulletIn Fame wants to be the first to KO me…

    I have no real teeth left so it is fine by me! Most of my teeth are in Nitra Rieka after the punch up with the Soviet army majors.(smile)
    According to Soviets, I was a capitalist bast****.
    Now according to some, I am a communist bast****.
    My life seems to be to be filled with labels and contradictions!

  46. Geoff Honnor says:

    “The purpose of any journalist worth his or her salt is to question those who tend to assume that they somehow have a, mundate (sic), monopoly on truth.”

    It’s a noble maxim Jozef, but what of the journalist who makes the selfsame assumption about her/his monopoly on truth – particularly when he/she appears constitutionally incapable of the self-reflection necessary to see it?

  47. wen says:

    Jozef,

    Why fight? couldn’t you just have a tea-party instead? I’ll bring the sandwiches & I hear Geoff does an excellent dessert :-)

  48. jozef says:

    Constitutionally incapable of the self-reflection necessary to see it?

    As the late, great A.J. Liebling pointed out, Freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one. Blogging and online journalism has given new meaning to this.

    You have your reasons based on facts and evidence to distrust certain journalists and all I can say is Good on you, Geoff!
    Subjectivity comes into all our interpretations be it literal, liberal or literary.
    It is the spirit of the message, or as judge makers as opposed to law makers say the purpose of the law (burried somewhere in subjective 2nd Reading speeches) that count.
    What advantage is a writer like Margo gaining by being passionate about pointing certain imperfection in the system?

    For me, Passionate disagreement is a sign of democracy at work. Even the best Marriages are built on passionate disagreements…

    Can someone please pass me a loud speaker as I am about to suggest rather passionately that democracy cannot be cancelled when it becomes inconvenient…

  49. wen says:

    :-) or :) ????

    Don’t you all find those nose-less smiley faces disturbing. Or does a nose signify something dreadful that I don’t no :-) about?

  50. Ken Parish says:

    I trust Geoff gives appropriate attribution as to the national and authorial origins of his dessert. We wouldn’t want to encourage culinary plagiarism at TA.

    BTW Who invented wine trifle? And is creme caramel French, or is the spelling an affectation?

  51. jozef says:

    Wen
    Diagonally writing, I was born to party, even born to try a tea party!
    I gather Geoff might prefer to ship me out into a desert than to tease my sweet tooth taste buds with his delcious dessert…

  52. Geoff Honnor says:

    “What advantage is a writer like Margo gaining by being passionate about pointing certain imperfection in the system?”

    Well, I guess the warm glow of self-righteous moral rectitude springs to mind Jozef – but I can’t help you with a definitive explanation.

    I don’t have any problem with passionate advocacy per se, I just feel that she indulges in the selfsame partisan politics of spin and exaggeration that she roundly condemns in her adversaries. More worryingly, she also appears to be utterly blind as to doing so. It makes her, as Bob Carr once observed, a journalistic parody.

    She is embarked upon a political crusade – which she’s fully entitled to pursue. I just have a deep aversion to a partisan zealotry being misrepresented as an unencumbered, journalistic truth-seeking exercise.

  53. Geoff Honnor says:

    “I gather Geoff might prefer to ship me out into a desert than to tease my sweet tooth taste buds with his delcious dessert…”

    Wherever did you get that idea? I celebrate your fierce and always graciously argued commitment to freedom of speech Jozef. I’d also be happy to serve you dessert – but I’m much more effective at talking about them rather than concocting them.

  54. Geoff Honnor says:

    Ken – Re Wine trifle: I’m tempted to produce some canard like Lachlan Macquarie’s drunken convict cook – Perseverance “Nimble Fingers” Parish – chucking an old, stale sponge into the Rum Corp’s fine product and drinking off the liquid before serving, but the truth is rather less satisfactory.

    Joseph Cooper, Charles I’s cook, first published a collection of recipes which included something he called a “Foole,” but which is actually much closer to what we regard as a trifle today, featuring a bread base soaked with liquor:

    “Slice a Manchet very thin and lay it in the bottom of a dish; and wet hem with Sack; boyle Creame, with eggs, and three or foure blades of Mace; season it with Rosewater and Sugar, stir it well together to prevent curdling; then pour it on the Bread and let it coole; then serve it up to the Table.”

    Creme caramel is almost certainly a French interpretation of the original Italian Zabaglione, first served at the court of the Medici in Florence in the 15th century. It probably came to France with Catherine de Medici when she married the Dauphin. The subsequent St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre was almost certainly a French over-reaction to Italian complaints about recipe theft, though it was of course blamed on religious rivalry.

  55. Anthony says:

    Zabaglione’s just a newfangled syllabub.

  56. Geoff Honnor says:

    “Zabaglione’s just a newfangled syllabub.”

    Hmmmmm. I think syllabub is generally more of a drink than a classic dessert – there’s a particularly disgusting syllabub recipe which involves squirting milk directly from a cow’s teat into a glass of cider. It’s now forbidden under EU standardisation and pasteurisation regulations but you can apparently get your “from the cow” syllabub tested for impurities in some Amsterdam nightclubs. How you persuade a cow to go clubbing, I can’t say…..

  57. tony kevin says:

    I’ve just read this thread through – there is some interesting stuff here generated by Margo’s provocative words when commernting on my latest SIEV X talk in Canberra last Saturday.
    You can now read the three talks – mine, Margo’s and Jack Waterford’s – on my new website
    http://www.tonykevin.com
    under the section “Talks – SIEV X”.

    Get used to it, guys – SIEV X is going to be a bigger public issue in 2004 than it was in 2003. Justice is coming, and the Australian Senate’s legitimate concerns will be heard. This is serious – potential International Criminal Court material, if Australia doesn’t clean out its own stables. But I hope we will.

    Best to all contributors,

    Tony Kevin

  58. tony kevin says:

    I’ve just read this thread through – there is some interesting stuff here generated by Margo’s provocative words when commernting on my latest SIEV X talk in Canberra last Saturday.
    You can now read the three talks – mine, Margo’s and Jack Waterford’s – on my new website
    http://www.tonykevin.com
    under the section “Talks – SIEV X”.

    Get used to it, guys – SIEV X is going to be a bigger public issue in 2004 than it was in 2003. Justice is coming, and the Australian Senate’s legitimate concerns will be heard. This is serious – potential International Criminal Court material, if Australia doesn’t clean out its own stables. But I hope we will.

    Best to all contributors,

    Tony Kevin

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