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Essential Reading

Saint Tim of the Troposphere

abr grantsWhen Quadrant's then-editor Keith Windschuttle lamented in passing that the Australian Book Review doesn't give space to titles published by Quadrant Books, editor Peter Rose summoned the full measure of his fury and became quite snippy. Nonsense, he wrote in his online diary, for the most part an unintentionally amusing catalogue of lunches in which names are dropped and the latest outpourings, travels and endearments of the authors his magazine does review are adoringly mentioned. As it happens, Keith was not entirely correct. Rose did manage to find two books by Quadrant authors in which his magazine had invested some attention. Mind you, he had to ferret about in two-year-old editions for mention of Peter Ryan's memoir of a life in publishing, while it would have been surprising had Les Murray's omnibus collection of the best Quadrant poets been overlooked. Murray has been long and widely reported as a contender for the Nobel Prize, so you would imagine his byline alone would have warranted an upward glance from the latest "superior martini" or whatever that day's literary blue-plate special might happen to have been.

Keith's gripe had to do with funding or, in Quadrant's case, the lack of it, as what was then the Literature Board of the Australia Council had just halved our stipend, not much to begin with. Meanwhile, as Keith observed, Meanjin and Overland were making out like bandits. So, too, was then-Chair Sophie Cunningham's amusing Twitter buddy Benjamin Law, whose social-media banter about being in for a nice cheque was soon made flesh to the tune of $40,000. Keeping it in the family, Law's sister, Michelle, who lists Cunningham as a mentor, inspiration and recipient of floral gifts, also pocketed $10,000. And Quadrant? Well, we ended up with half as much the male fruit of the Law loins -- not much if you are publishing ten 112-page editions every year.

Peter Rose, who dines with all the right people, has done much better in quest of Oz Council funding. A click on the illustration atop this item will enlarge the ledger and show just how well. Indeed, with such a wealth of funds on tap you might imagine Editor Rose could afford to be magnanimous and slip a few review assignments to folks who aren't, you know, equally keen on lunch and leftoid politics. For example, take the review of Tim Flannery's latest bid to keep his name, face and busted prophecies on the bookstore shelves, Atmosphere of Hope. Had the book gone for review to a Quadrant writer -- Tony Thomas springs immediately to mind -- Rose would have had a contentious, documented appraisal to share with his readers and other members of the lit-fest circuit. It would have been  an interesting piece to publish, in other words, not to mention something of a novelty, as ABR seldom confronts readers with thoughts that stray beyond the boundaries of acceptable inner-city opinion. More than that, a non-luncher's appearance in ABR would have been in full accord with the publication's charter which, as Keith noted in his column, is obliged by virtue of receiving government funding to cover all mainstream points of view, not merely those of mates on the left.

Alas, the latest effort from Australia's leading wrongologist was sent for review to ANU's Tom Griffiths, an historian and fellow warmist, and, hard though it is to imagine, every bit as prone to recite the articles of catastropharian liturgy. From an essay in Griffith Review:

In our generation, ice has become moral and political. So now we have other feelings when we contemplate the melting ice – ethical anguish about humanity’s responsibility, political passion to reduce greenhouse emissions, apocalyptic doom about your prospects and even perhaps an opportunistic zeal about what your nation might have to gain in the short term.

If you fail to see that ice is now not merely cold but "moral and political", well let's just say you should get out to lunch more often. Likewise, by Griffiths' reckoning in the ABR, Flannery is no mere human but Saint Tim of the Troposphere:

Flannery maintains his focus on the big, long-term issues that face our species in its battle for adaptation and survival in a warming world. The tone of his writing is always reasonable, attuned to the evidence, and wonderfully open to new ideas, however lateral. He believes in debate, research, and education. He aims to ‘cut through the dense and complex debates about climate that leave many feeling lost and paralysed’. This intelligent, cheerful attitude itself generates hope – and so do the ideas discussed.

That, according to the ABR, is "a review". And all it cost taxpayers to see one eco ideologue heaping praise on another is $351,819, the latest amount the ABR received from the Australia Council.

That should have covered a few lunches.

-- roger franklin

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The fires this time

climate fires

A bookmaker with an eye to free publicity is taking bets on which Australian beach will be the first engulfed by global warming. Try backing another  proposition -- that NSW is facing an outbreak of bushfires, with the Blue Mountains especially at risk -- and likely as not you will find no takers to cover that wager. While bookies can usually recognise a mug, they are even better at knowing when not to lay odds on a sure thing.

Nevertheless, if fires do hit, count on the settled scientists stampeding as per usual to the nearest microphone where, also as usual, the flames will be described as yet further evidence that catastrophic climate change is here, real and getting worse. Along with lovely grants, business-class seats, nice hotels and a free pass from their institutions when papers are withdrawn for shoddy scholarship, there is nothing your climate scientist likes more than making a pulpit of disaster. With thoughts of Paris very much in the warmist fraternity's mind just now, expect the race for a guest spots on Radio National to be especially animated.

When that catastropharian chorus starts up, along with the usual bag of salt it would be useful to keep in mind the analysis of someone who actually knows a thing or two about bushfires, David Packham AO, who punctuates the warmer months with regular emails detailing fire risks and conditions. Below, excerpts from his latest advisory. Climate change is nowhere mentioned. Not so the rather more immediate threat posed by authorities who, bending to the Green will, neglect to reduce fuel loads when it is safe to do so:

....the high pressure systems are still moving north, and the situation in mid-NSW may be quite serious ... I can tell you, having seen it couple of weeks ago, that the Blue Mountains are very scary ...

... with a Forest Fire Danger Index of 43 and a modest average fuel of 25 tonnes per hectare (it is probably to 30-40 tonnes/ha), any forest fire, and there will be some, can expect a max rate of spread at 1 kph, flames into the crowns and spot fires up to 4 km.

In short a day to be careful in the forest country....

Not that sense and experience will carry much weight when the tang of smoke is once again in the air. Paris is waiting, and which climate scientist worth his grants would wish to put the truth between himself those 300-count Egyptian cotton sheets they use at the best hotels?

The link below leads to an SBS story from last year, when Packham explained the specious connection between alleged climate change and infernoes like the Black Saturday disaster of 2009. Being SBS, it gives equal weight to the environmental expertise of the Greens' Adam Bandt who -- you guessed it!!! -- blames Tony Abbott for blackening the countryside.

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October's Quadrant now on sale

quad october 2015 coverIf you don't have a subscription -- and you should -- the latest edition of Australia's best writing and most insightful commentary is now on the news stands.

You can view the full contents via this link.

Or, better yet, sign up for home delivery here and via the link below.


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'Hate', vile and otherwise


The spirit or righteousness, albeit its fashionable and secular variant, is currently animating Labor MP Terri Butler to heap praise upon Malcolm Turnbull, her kind of PM, whose government is holding a US anti-abortion campaigner under lock and key for advocating the wrong sort of opinions. "There is no place for this kind of hate speech in Australia," says Butler, "and I’m pleased to (sic) Government has listened to our concerns.”

A thoroughly modern woman, Ms Butler's opinions on what constitutes "hate speech" are strikingly nuanced. A US Christian activist who wants abortion declared a form of murder and its practitioners treated accordingly under the law must not be heard because simple-minded Australians -- that would be the little people who voted for Ms Butler -- might come to inappropriate conclusions. Much better that they hear not a word of opinions which Ms Butler finds objectionable.

But a Muslim group in her Brisbane electorate that twice hands its pulpit to Islamist firebrand and jihadi barracker Musa Cerantonio (above)? Well that is perfectly OK, according to Butler's remarks in this TV chat session.

"In my electorate the Holland Park Islamic Society do a lot of work to try to stop young boys getting alienated, and to connect with them, and that's what I think is really important."

The Holland Park faithful do indeed pursue a vigorous outreach agenda with Muslim youths through Ummah United, whose web page lists the mosque as its spiritual HQ.  In February, 2013, Ummah United invited Cerantonio to lecture on what he evidently regards as the looming end of days. His lesson, which can be viewed in full via this link, rambles through 90-plus minutes of wild-eyed palaver about this portent or that, including a prediction of global drought that puts Tim Flannery maddest utterances to shame, before climaxing with the gushing assurance that many present will live to see mankind's reckoning with Allah. This will come to pass, he notes, when "Zionists and Crusaders" have been destroyed, the Shia heretics of Iran defeated and jihadis march beneath the black flag of their faith from all quarters of the world to give unbelievers, especially those pesky Jews, a thorough dose of what is good for them.

But that isn't hate speech -- at least not, by Ms Butler's yardstick, the sort that needs to be silenced with a denied visa and/or a spell behind bars.

For more on Ummah United and some of its acolytes, follow the link below.

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The stupidity epidemic

hurting herselfIt was Oscar Wilde who observed that "fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable we have to change it every months." He was thinking in terms of bustles and cravats, but the passion of those jostling to hold forth, often and at great length, on ABC's gabfests and in other fora suggests that various loud causes also wax and wane.

Not so long ago, for example, we were being treated to many breathless warnings that an obesity epidemic was super-sizing the population, especially not-so-little kiddies in their playgrounds. Don't you care about the children, the advocates tirelessly demanded, often wondering how it could be that McDonald's and sugary soft drinks were still permitted by the authorities to be widely available? Nutrition advocates, the noisy ones, often disapprove of what other people eat and how they raise their families, and being intolerant (but not stupid) long ago grasped that tame reporters reproducing canned quotes do much to secure the publicity and grants on which any form of advocacy preceded by the words "public" depends.

Alas, the nutrition nazis seem to lack the legs of the warmist crowd, which has made a prolonged art of extracting cash from the improbable, contradictory and absurd. A climate scientist leads a shipload of weather worrywarts to Antarctica to observe ice he says has melted, gets caught fast in that which is no longer supposed to exist and has to be rescued at enormous cost and inconvenience. Do the dire prognostications cease? Does embarrassment silence those who have proven themselves so spectacularly and repeatedly wrong? Not at all. Here we are, more than 18 months after the Ship of Fools wedged itself in an icefloe, and yet the alarmist absurdities continue to pour forth. The latest: that killing sharks  somehow boosts global temperatures.

You couldn't make this stuff up -- shame would forbid it -- but climate careerists crank out utter nonsense without the slightest blush. If only extollers of sprouts and vegan fare had linked chubby moppets to global warming they might by now be enjoying longer-term leases on nicer offices, plus the pleasure of additional hotel reservations in the interesting locales where fussbudgets and confabulators inevitably convene their conferences.

Lately, in case you haven't noticed, domestic violence is the issue du jour, with few news bulletins or talk shows going to air minus the requisite victims to articulate preferred narratives. As the Daily Telegraph's Miranda Devine discovered when she noted, correctly, that poor neighbourhoods and Indigenous communities see many, many times the number of perpetrators and victims as well-heeled areas, such honesty is beyond the pale.

The response from femi-fascists was to try to get me sacked, silenced and banned from twitter.

They called for my “sterilisation”, branded me a “murder apologist”, a “troll”, a “sicko”, an ”idiot”, “a bimbo”, “a vile creature dangerous to kids”, “nasty and vicious”, “stupid”, “a disgrace”, “rabid old hatemonger”, “a typical Australian”.

“Your victim blaming has done almost as much harm to victims of Domestic Violence as the abusers,” read one email.

Yes, the faux-rage meter was at full tilt.

The party line, of course, is that women get thumped everywhere, that no demographic is more guilty than any other, and the universal culprit (need it be said?) is maleness. Yesterday and on cue, the SMH linked a new story to one of its earlier reports recounting the bruising experience of a woman who took up with a very bad sort. It was shocking stuff, this woman with such poor taste in men recalling how she was throttled and beaten and abused -- the full victim experience, in other words. Way down in the account, however, there was this (emphasis added):

One night, Lowe tried to strangle her in their Point Piper apartment. With no idea where to go, she ran to Rose Bay police station but Lowe later coerced her into retracting the AVO they issued.

Go figure that one. A woman who cites her intelligence and success chooses quite deliberately to waste the time and efforts of the police who answered her plea for help, withdraws her complaint and returns to the bruising arms of the man who terrorises her.  This, we are told, is a case study in domestic violence -- but it might also be a catalyst for some grant-eyed activist (or twenty) to place a new cause at the top of the pops.

What about some public funding to address the Stupidity Epidemic? There is certainly a lot of it about.

Miranda Devine's response to the narrative police can be read via the link below.

-- roger franklin


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Point Piper, mecca for intolerance

muslim dragBrevity is the essence of wit, so this video of protesters in Muslim drag demanding that Malcolm Turnbull and his  Eastern Suburbs neighbours reject racism by accepting thousands of asylum seekers is somewhat diminished by its extended length. All the same, the clip has its moments.

"We want to share the multiculturalism," says the group's apparent leader, "the diversity, the cultural vibrancy, the drive-by shootings."

Such is some Australians' rejection of otherness that, while the protesters drew a squad of police and the supervision of a circling helicopter, their petition attracted but a single signature.

The clip can be seen in full via the link below.

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