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93 responses to “Four Propositions about #QandA”

  1. mick

    *like* (or RT)

  2. edward o

    re #2 – it’s showing that Australians are more comfortable interfacing with the meeeeeja than with politics directly, emphasising the Catherine Devenys and Gerard Hendersons of the world, giving them a power they don’t deserve.

  3. Andrew Bartlett

    “It’s the Jerry Springer show for people with degrees (and twitter accounts)”

    Have you watched/listened to Question Time much? That’s often worse than Jerry Springer (let alone Q&A).

    Q&A isn’t trying to be an expert panel type show, it’s trying to be a show which gives a chance for the general public (or the part of it that’s interested in politics – as opposed to policy) to get into some of the debates about political issues.

  4. wbb

    Certainly lacked expertise tonight. David Williamson was the only one who understood the link between AGW and cyclonic intensity. Gerard Henderson (“as an historian”) understood that given that certain bad stuff had also happened in the past, it was shrill alarmism to look for the causes for any current bad stuff.

  5. Andrew Bartlett

    and I meant to also say that having a show which engages more of the public with politics (more than would probably be the case if it was an expert panel type show about policy) is not all bad for democracy.

    It may lean more towards quantity over quality in that respect, but it is television.

  6. Leinad

    I don’t think #qanda ’embraces’ interactivity. It gives it a little nod with the ticker bar and the video questions (good arguments for the NBN most of them) but that’s about it.

    As well, while I’d like more experts the show is also political bloodsport – getting too informative would kill the joys of watching Richo and Vandstone merge into a single deadpan organism while Hendo and Deveny make the case for locking both in a room and forgetting the key.

  7. dj

    Football for pseuds isn’t it? 😉

  8. Paul Burns

    You guys wanna stuff up me Monday Night TV, 🙂

    On a somewhat more serious level. I suppose you have to have the politicians on it. Ex-politicians are better. They’re not so pre-occupied with scoring points off each other and spewing out party propaganda. Q&A hits its lowest depths when it has two practising politicians on it, (Independents excepted), and it especially hits rock bottom with most of its Coalition guests. Labor pollies aren’t quite so, out of control shall we say.
    The very best Q&As are the ones with no politicians on them, IMO.

  9. Guy

    I agree that viewer interaction on the program should be encouraged, but the twitter updates absolutely don’t add to the debate; if anything, they serve to trivialise the whole program. Usually find myself cringing at the tweets that they decide to let through the net on the ribbon at the bottom of the screen.

    It would probably be better to serve up more video and email questions and less “tee hee, I’m so witty” tweets.

  10. Tom

    It was just a particularly bad panel tonight. The quality of the programme should theoretically be down to how expert and articulate the panellists are.

    However, if the show’s to be about balanced, rational debate it drastically limits the possible topics of discussion. There are relatively few popular political debates on the go where there are both facts to discuss, and these facts don’t overwhelmingly support one view over the other(s).

    Under the circumstances, a lot of the time you’ll be left with a scuffle over unresolvable profundities or a bluster over inevitable truths.

  11. David Irving (no relation)

    Tom, it’s almost always a particularly bad panel. I’m hard-pressed to remember a good one.

    I didn’t watch it last night, btw – I have much better things to do with that hour (wash my eyebrows, optimise time on the intertubes, … )

  12. Dr_Tad

    Well, I watched the classic 1970s thriller The Parallax View instead last night, and thereby generated less paranoia about politics for myself.

    I have sympathy for Declan’s position, but I cannot see how to fix or transform such a show separate from a fixing or transformation of politics itself.

    Probably the most troubling part of Declan’s analysis is when he talks about bringing in people with “expertise”, because the politics covered by Q and A has little to do with technical knowledge and much to do with the interests of specific social groups. Most often the latter are mediated through ideological arguments dressed up as serving the interests of “all” of society or, as it is usually put, “the national interest”. The apparently “technical” nature of questions is in part a reflection of how under neoliberalism politics itself has been reduced to a hollow shell where ideology is apparently a thing of the past (an ideological position in itself!).

    The ABC is simply continuing its long-standing commitment to only recognising the narrow confines of parliamentary discourse as “politics”, thereby excluding almost all non-elite discourses as outside the bounds of its remit. This is a show that is so skewed that Waleed Aly is allowed to look left-wing in comparison with other panel members!

    I have been reading the fascinating book “How Australia Decides” and I think it is not hard to see that even those who are interested in engaging with politics through ABC-TV are actually part of a cohort of elite opinion transmission. Shows like Q and A reinforce the narrowness of what is allowable.

    You want really engaged politics? That’s happening on the streets of Cairo right now. Look how quickly the elites act to try to stuff it back in the box of the acceptable mainstream process we see here (and on Q and A).

  13. IanM

    Invariably I feel I should watch, invariably I switch off ten minutes in when the idiocy hurts too much. Decided to not bother from now on because as Tom says “There are relatively few popular political debates on the go where there are both facts to discuss, and these facts don’t overwhelmingly support one view over the other(s)”. You can add that the fact free side is usually led by some Murdoch Party hack.

  14. hrgh

    “3. This actually diminishes democracy.”

    It would be good to hear you explain this comment, rather than just throw it out there.

  15. Mr Denmore

    I shared my thoughts about Q and A ahead of the show on my blog The Failed Estate. If anything, my views have hardened since that showing.

    That was appalling exploration of public issues (climate change and Egypt in particular) and reflected the poor quality of the panel and the format of the show itself.

    Gerard Henderson (“I’m not a climate scientist) and Catherine Deveney (“tax the churches”) were just two sides of the same coin – rent-a-quote, look-at-me opinionators who are easy to book onto shows like this and who rarely have any new or interesting insights to offer.

    Mark has it exactly right: This is about the ABC showing its paymasters in parliament that it is “balancing” the ledger on public affairs. It is an accountant’s way of demonstrating an equal hearing for all views.

    Actually, the most interesting thing about the views expressed last night for me (coming after Four Corners explored Julia Gillard’s rather convenient “pragmatism) was how much of our public commentariat is on the drip of the fossil fuel industry.

    One could easily join the dots between the likes of Graham Richardson, Paul Howes, Gerard Henderson, Clive Palmer and others and understand why Julia Gillard replaced Kevin Rudd.

  16. adrian

    Shows like Q and A reinforce the narrowness of what is allowable.

    Exactly. And next week we have ‘controversial’ journalist John Pilger on. But don’t worry all you ABC types, he’ll be balanced by Greg Sheriden, who is apparently not considered controversial.

  17. Michael Carden

    QandA is junk TV pure and simple. It is to current affairs as KFC is to food

  18. Darryl rosin

    I tried watching it once last year and had to leave the room and put on the iPod to block it out. It was a highly partisan panel with a highly partisan audience, all trying to score points and hooting and jeering.

    It may well be genuinely intended to be a useful contribution to the political culture in Australia, and yay for trying to do that, but it’s exactly what you’d expect the media would think is ‘political engagement’: twitter-sized questions, recitation of talking points, plenty of potential ‘gotcha’ moments and an over-excited partisan audience. The Jerry Springer quip is not too far off the mark, whatever good intentions may have been behind it.

    d

  19. akn

    Yes, pretty much agree with dk.au except that I don’t have any confidence at all in the quality of the degrees held by the audience. This is a program for people only marginally removed by tertiary training from their bogan origins. Speaking of which I found the 4C depiction of the PM as an uber-bogan quite convincing.

  20. Sam

    Decades ago, the ABC broadcast an excellent program called Monday Conference, in which panels of diverse people debated important subjects, and there was audience participation. The difference with [email protected] was that the panel members actually knew what they were talking about. So you had Germaine Greer (soon after publishing Eunuch) debating morality campaigners, but the latter (in contrast to the vacuous Gerard Henderson) could make real arguments. You had Arianna Huffington (then Stanphinopoulos, I think), then in a right wing phase, debating feminism (she had just written an anti – for the time – feminist book called The Female Woman.)

    The ABC could do it then. Why not now?

  21. adrian

    Because the ABC isn’t interested in genuine debate or intelligent discussion of important subjects.

    It’s interested in generating vacuous controversy and set piece confrontations that are the opposite of debate.
    It’s telling and predictable that the clip they used in the promo for the new series was the tiresome shoe throwing incident. Such are the heights to which they aspire.

  22. Sam Roggeveen

    Q&A isn’t really about ‘debate’ or ‘issues’, it’s about the panelists. More here:

    http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2011/02/08/QA-Jerry-Springer-for-wonks.aspx

  23. Sam

    it’s about the panelists

    Maybe, but who with a three digit IQ could give a flying fuck about Gerard Henderson or Catherine Deveny?

  24. H&R

    4. Rather than embracing interactivity for the sake of it through twitter, the show could be vastly improved by having *actual* expert panels discussing issues relevant to their expertise.

    I think it is not hard to see that even those who are interested in engaging with politics through ABC-TV are actually part of a cohort of elite opinion transmission. Shows like Q and A reinforce the narrowness of what is allowable.

    Insight manages to incorporate the former and avoid the latter.

    (It’s amazing, I know. A second public broadcaster.)

  25. Viveka

    Yes, goddamit. Qanda is devolving further into a left-right tennis match. We can all get our jollies watching each side score cheap points and trot out their party lines I suppose, but on the odd occasion that they actually have someone on with some expertise and perspective it’s *so much* better.

  26. Viveka

    H&R – Insight is too presenter-driven; unexpected points of view are shut down too quickly, as there’s so many people to “give a turn” that there can’t really be room for anything other than participants quickly delivering their canned point before the presenter moves on.

    The qanda format has room for more interesting conversations; the current problem with it is that they keep choosing the usual suspects. A more thoughtful panel selection process would be a fairly simple tweak, if only they had an incentive to try.

  27. Fran Barlow

    Much of the ground has been covered above already — though I’m not convinced, FWIW, that last night’s panel was “balanced” in the usual media discourse sense of the word. We had Vanstone, Henderson and Richardson for the right, Deveney for those who haven’t moved beyond affecting flatulence at the back of the room but otherwise have nothing like an opinion, and Williamson for the loosely left-liberal view. (I groaned inwardly when climate change was raised, but Williamson was surprisingly articulate on the matter of cyclones and climate change forcing).

    That said, the panel was allowed to get away with repeating the meme that Australia could not afford to “go it alone”/get out in front in policy terms, utterly ignoring a discussion of Garnaut’s claim that Australia had been a policy laggard, traling what countries such as China were doing. Nor was the jobs v environment “dilemma” put by Richardson-Vanstone-Henderson properly tested. This was a very serious fail because it is likely to be the dominant defence worldwide for pollution-as-usual policies.

    Henderson was allowed to keep repeating, unchallenged, the idea that because cyclones had occurred in the past that cyclones occurring in the present were of no greater concern, and could not have a somewhat differently composed set of drivers and that all cyclones were the same, and most ludicrously of all, the implication that cyclones in 1974 could not have been caused by anthropogenic forcing. The sheer scale of the unchallenged stupidity was mind-boggling.

  28. Kim

    Maybe it does serve a public purpose, then, by exposing the vacuity and stupidity of what passes for policy discussion among political and media elites?

  29. FMark

    So the ABC has been infiltrated by subversive radicals after all!

  30. Fine

    “Mark has it exactly right: This is about the ABC showing its paymasters in parliament that it is “balancing” the ledger on public affairs. It is an accountant’s way of demonstrating an equal hearing for all views.”

    This is precisely what it’s about. It’s part of their egregious desire for balance, which is more important than being factual and accurate. The ABC is sick of being stomped on by the big, fat, parliamentary animals, so this is their showpiece.

    It can occasionally be good when they have the occasional guest who isn’t the usual Mouth for Hire. But, that’s pretty rare.

  31. Mr Denmore

    Kim, I actually think it reinforces public ignorance of policy issues by allowing paid partisans (in particular, Henderson and Richardson in this instance) to promote the views of their sponsors.

    Like Fran, I sat there waiting for someone to challenge Henderson and Richardson on their shallow talking points about the action on global warming vs jobs and none was forthcoming.

    Richardson is emblematic of what’s wrong with Labor on this issue, convincing the party’s powerbrokers that they will lose the mythical “Western Sydney” if they do anything by mount endless enquiries.

    The ABC’s problem is that it can’t (or rather won’t) get past the politics of all these issues to get to the substance underneath because it is:

    a/ too editorially hard
    b/ too expensive to do otherwise
    c/ too political risky (funding is at risk)
    d/ and conveniently easy to play for easy ratings points

  32. Alison

    Q and A is pathetic. Are there any intelligent people at all in this country? Australia is an intellectual desert!

  33. sublime cowgirl

    Heard C D was going to be on and steered clear last night.

  34. Anita

    Kim @27 ‘Maybe it does serve a public purpose, then, by exposing the vacuity and stupidity of what passes for policy discussion among political and media elites?’
    Yep, and also a private purpose for the usual suspects, which must why it limps onas it does!

    Awful Paul Howes must soon be due for his annual spot on Q&A. His past efforts show a complete lack of substance. (Faceless man? Hollow man, actually. And his mug is everywhere.) Q&A is too often a means for spivs like him to hone their ‘bulls**t baffles brains’ schtick. C grade celebs freeloading on some tenous claim for recognition (Beaconsfield for Howes, FFS), thrusting themselves before the paparazzi, so as to infiltrate or remain in the public consciousness. The Lara Bingles of politics.
    And Labor figures’ readiness to appear on it also elevates the opinions of News Corp warriors like Janet Albrechtson to authoritative status. And why is Richo the political hasbeen and bore on so often?

  35. adrian

    ‘Richo’ is the perfect Labor figure for ABC accounting purposes. Goes into the Labor/left side of the balance sheet but sprouts nothing but right wing/News Ltd talking points.

  36. Steve1

    My problem with Q&A is Tony Jones. He allows Conservatives to talk over the top of others, he always pursues his own agenda, rather than letting the Q&A’s move the discussions and he allows confrontation to override engagement. People don’t discuss issues but use speaking notes to argue their case and there are too many rent acrowds in the audience to get a feel that the show is connected to the Australian community.

  37. hrgh

    dk.au @ 33

    “…the political is an index of the space for disagreement on an issue”

    I might be displaying my lack of an arts degree, but I have no idea what you are saying.

    I suppose I understand the political as more of an action to assert one side of the disagreement. So I don’t understand how qanda diminishes democracy, if it is as irrelevant as yourself and other commentators here state.

  38. hrgh

    dk.au @ 33

    Oh, thanks for the reply.

  39. barry

    It’s football-style journalism for people who don’t like racehorse-style journalism. Complete with morons cheering from the sidelines.

  40. silkworm

    Q and A generates more heat than light.

  41. Kim

    @39 – I think what dk.au is saying is that the accepted boundaries of debate on an issue and what counts as legitimate opinion can be quite narrow (=”the political” in his terms) and acting to reinforce those narrow boundaries is antithetical to democracy.

  42. adrian

    Yes, but Q&A is specificaly designed to generate heat. Generation of any light is purely incidental.

  43. su

    I share your opinion of Howes Anita, but it was Shorten who came to politics fresh from Beaconsfield and he is someone of greater substance. I also think you are unfair to Lara Bingle as she does not seem to have pretensions to anything beyond her role as model and small time celebrity. My favourite depiction of a political lightweight was Trudeau’s portrayal of Dan Quayle. Birds of a similar plume.

  44. Jacques de Molay

    Glad I didn’t watch it but unfortunately watched that Underbelly movie instead. What little I saw of Q&A when I would flick over in the ad breaks was risible. The likes of Richo hammering the ALP Right partyline and Henderson’s mealy mouthed opinions on everything including the weather.

    Like Mr Denomre has said the problems with Q&A aside from the level of debate (Catherine Deveny, FFS) are the vested interests. I’ve seen far too many professional spinners on that show for my liking. The politician’s just hammer their party’s talking points for the previous week and Tony Jones comes across as some elitist wanker who wants to be seen as being above it all.

  45. Helen

    Our TV just up and died last night. I think it saw the qanda lineup and decided to end it all.

  46. Jacques de Molay

    Our TV just up and died last night. I think it saw the qanda lineup and decided to end it all.

    Sorry to hear that but really can you blame it? 😉

  47. Lefty E

    I dont understand why Q&A feel they need one mandatory reactionary donkey with nothing to offer but infantile cliches; who then sits around boorishly talking over the top of everyone as if their job is to prevent the other side being heard at all.

    Once again, this is the ABCs daft take on the idea of “balance” which bears zero relatinship to quality of what is being said.

    I mean really: if I say “night is day” – do I deserve equal billing with the day is day crew? Is that ‘balance’, or is it instead dishonestly mispreresenting the state of the debate?

    And lets be honest here: the reason the ABC ruins their own shows with this practice is simply because they know:

    a. The ALP will respect the ABCs independence and generally heads wont roll if theyre unhappy,
    b. The Coalition won’t respect it, and heads will roll.

    Simple as that.

  48. Keithy

    gERARD hENDERESON IS A DISGRACE!

  49. Hal9000

    [email protected]

    Hendo was also allowed to get away with repeatedly claiming that all Australia’s prosperity is dependent on the mining industry, and that taxing it at all would see us become a third world economy. Everybody nodded in agreement and the audience hooted in support. Luckily I didn’t have a brick to hand or I’d be in need of a new tv.

  50. Fran Barlow

    but sprouts {spouts} nothing but

  51. Patrickb

    @21
    OT, I remember Monday Conference (just), Bob Moore died and that was pretty much the end of. I Googled “Monday Conference” and found an episode featuring Frank Zappa (Google it Zappa fans). He was taken very seriously. Another of the key differences between then and now is that there wasn’t the deep seated need to create controversy so, as you say, we didn’t need a collection of half witted pundits from both sides of the divide.

  52. Mark Bahnisch

    @54 – Frank Zappa was a highly innovative musician and composer and should indeed have been taken very seriously!

  53. Patrickb

    @55
    Indeed but this not always the case. His brand of musical satire was perhaps a little to raw for many in the 60s. But enough of this off topic Zappa talk …

  54. David Irving (no relation)

    As a Zappa tragic, I’m googling as we speak.

  55. Mark Bahnisch

    One of the best gigs I ever went to was late last year when the Brisbane Jazz Orchestra (a 16 piece) played Zappa’s tunes and some of his inspirations – including atonal early 20th century classical stuff.

    *Eek! Well off topic!*

  56. Fran Barlow

    Another Zappa fan here … Don’t you eat that yellow snowthe Muffin Man … Loved the (late) Captain Beefheart too …

  57. Charlie

    Muse on Jenny Brockie & “Insight” on SBS, and then think what Q&A could be…..

  58. Pavlov's Cat

    Williamson was surprisingly articulate on the matter of cyclones and climate change forcing

    Sorry, Fran, but I don’t understand why you were surprised. It’s a writer’s job to be articulate, and Williamson is an extremely experienced writer. I know it’s fashionable for theatre critics to slag him for being popular enough to single-handedly stop theatres from closing down, thereby saving the jobs of many people, including theatre critics, but I don’t really understand why so many people seem to be finding it surprising that he would be on top (relatively speaking) of the iss-yews.

  59. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Then let’s make Zappa on-topic, Mark. Since we’re discussing talk show panels, here he is on one such called “Crossfire”, all the way from 1986.

    Question for the audience: is the format better or worse than QandA?

  60. Fran Barlow

    Well I’d expect him to be articulate, Dr Cat, but being able to speak accurately on the facts of the matter is quite another thing. You have to have been paying attention and I imagine he has had one or two other things to do.

    I suppose one shouldn’t use Fran Kelly as a benchmark, but in theory, one ought to be able to rely more on a professional journalist than an author of fiction to be across the issues …

  61. Hal9000

    The greatest Monday Conference was broadcast from Indooroopilly Shoppingtown, and featured Barry Jones debating Russ Hinze on the topic of capital punishment. I’ll always remember Jones’s response to a woman in the (large) audience who commented that the Bible prescribed a life for a life. Jones responded he was glad she’d made that point and then proceeded to list other offences for which the Bible prescribed the death penalty, such as working on the Sabbath. The woman, who still had the microphone, responded ‘Well, I don’t know about that’. I think that debate settled the capital punishment question in Australia for decades after.

  62. Lefty E

    He sure is popular, PAv: ‘Don Parties on’ got terrible reviews, but every show is close to sold out.*

    Hey theatre critics! evidently no one cares what you say, if the playwright is big enough. 🙂

    * I will also see it, as Im told it contains these lines:

    “He’s got a PhD”
    “Yeah… But its from Deakin“.

    LOL! I used to work there so it makes be laugh. I wonder what unis theyll pick when they tour out of Victoria? Stay tuned!

  63. Mark Bahnisch

    I suspect Griffith in Queensland, Lefty E.

    /runs away in case Paul Norton’s around…

  64. Lefty E

    Heh. Id have gone CQU.

  65. Lefty E

    I like how they didnt pick the lowliest, most defenceless Vic unis – like VU or Ballarat.

    Instead they went for the upwardly mobile but trashy ‘wannabe’ one. It was a good call.

    Actually, I never did work there. Maybe its all terribly unfair. :O

    Call the Bwadley review!

  66. Mark Bahnisch

    Does anyone have a PhD from CQU, though?

  67. Mark Bahnisch

    Ps – the rate this is going, I’ll have to add “Elitist” to my moniker too!

  68. Lefty E

    You know it makes sense Mark!

    (Pretty sure CQU does award them, but probably theyd be best classed as defenseless. Maybe youre right re Griffith, though Bond could definitely be a shot.)

  69. Mark Bahnisch

    LE, I might have been infected by the self-congratulatory propaganda circulating around a certain Go8 university where I work since the ERA results came out? We should have a thread on this – I also found the ATN’s “but we’re only 17 years old on average, and UQ, Adelaide, Tasmania, Sydney and Melbourne are centenarians!” hilarious. I mean, wtf? I’m not sure anyone was setting up “research infrastructure” at UQ in 1911 or 1921 or whatevs unless it was chalk for the Latin declensions on the blackboard!

  70. Lefty E

    Yeah, well, working at one of Victoria Premier lesser unis I do see they downside Mark. A thread would be good.

    Example: they just changed the ARC discovery assessment weighting process in a way that NAKEDLY benefits Go8. 20% now goes on the “research environemnt” at your uni.

    I mean, srsly, WTF has this got to do with most proposals by a team of 2 or 3 researchers – when they’d scarcely mention it once to their neighbouring acas?

    Its a elite uni shakedown.

    They already chucked an enormous % of the funds at Go8 – in a way that clearly went WAY beyond relative quality of actual researchers – and now, it seems, Apartheid has gone official.

  71. Mark Bahnisch

    Yep, Lefty E.

    It was also pretty predictable that the calls for re-binarisation came out about an hour later. Not to mention even within Go8 unis – reinforcing the “alternative academic path” of taking ten zillion first year tutes a year as an “expert teacher” or whatevs.

    You should do us a guest post!

  72. Lefty E

    It burns my balls actually. Fortunately for me everyone who works in my sub-field who’s any good at all also works at a non-Go8. The ones at Go8s in my specific area are all time-servers, drunkards or tenured apologists for dead ideas.

    A 20% head start wont be enough for you f*ckers, you HEAR ME!?

    Maybe Ill do that guest post Mark….

  73. Mark Bahnisch

    Good, good!

  74. Patrickb

    @59
    I had know idea that he’d left us. Being both a Zepplin and Zappa fan I feel this is a fitting tribute:
    http://www.nme.com/news/tabloid-hell/33768
    Sorry OT again.

  75. Lefty E

    PS you’re right about Go8 and the mass first year teaching specialists too. Unimelb has gone troppo on uselessly broad first year ‘sampler’ units, with a small nation of enrolments in each. Anybody with a research track record is running a mile from teaching them.

    Why cant they see that ‘teaching specialists’ wont excite interest like an active researcher. Has my lecturer ever published anything? And more importantly – havent they yet realised that no-one WANTS to be a ‘teaching specialist’? How’s that going to work out in the long run?

    “Hi, Id rather not be doing this exclusively! but here we are, again…”

  76. Pavlov's Cat

    Actually, I never did work there.

    I did! Only for a year, but still.

    The ones at Go8s in my specific area are all time-servers, drunkards or tenured apologists for dead ideas.

    I am now intensely curious about what your specific area is. Do any of my erstwhile Melb U colleagues in the Arts faculty qualify?

    That Williamson joke won’t run in SA — the 3 different Us have different strengths and different characters. Of course you still get certain people banging on about ‘getting into Medicine at Adelaide’ but for a long time the rooly hot thing to get into was Drama at Flinders. Actually, at least as far as Arts is concerned, and AFAIK this is universal, that joke makes no sense anyway, because the standards applied to the PhD when being judged are those of the examiners, none of whom are from one’s own university. I’ve seen excellent PhD theses from Deakin and a few absolute shockers from the sandstones.

  77. Patrickb

    Hey what’s all this uni talk I thought this was a Zappa/Beefheart appreciation thread? I would also note that aside from being a somewhat misogynistic social commentator (and I’ve had some long arguments about that) he was one of the greatest guitarists that rock ever produced. And Beefheart could make a harp wail like a Abbott after a close election. Jeebus, where’s my recording of Bongo Fury. Another thing Zappa said was that LA was where the real freaks were and that SF was full of fakers. Having been to LA I’d say he must be right.

  78. Lefty E

    Quite so Pav – its still bloody funny though! Especially in case I did work there after all.

    After a while, its gets hard to tell one of Victoria’s premier lesser universities from another.

    As for my field, as Ive explained before: Portuguese Forts in Asia studies*.

    Oh, and I apologize for that comment – to drunkards everywhere.

    * we’d have to take this offline for a real answer…

  79. Kim

    I should speak in defence of SF, I guess, but he may be right about LA 😉

  80. anthony

    When Gerard Henderson is the answer, you have to wonder what the question is.

  81. Lefty E

    “Research environment” my ARSE!!

    “Dear Pleb: This was a good wesearch pwoposal, but the wesearch enviwonment leaves somehting to be desired, quite lacking in adequate cafes and stonemasonry, wouldn’t you say, Woger?”

    “Quite, Roderick! Former CAEs are so vulgar! this fellow even teaches!”

  82. Lefty E

    PS Pav – to quench your quriosity, nope: no one at Melbourne works in my area.

  83. FDB

    one of the greatest guitarists that rock ever produced”

    I’m don’t think your qualifier is necessary. There’s a live version of Watermelon In Easter Hay which I have long demanded be played at my funeral, in the casket-lowering bit.

  84. FDB

    Shit, LE – I’m curious too.

    Sounds like I could have plum job.

  85. FDB

    “Oh, and I apologize for that comment – to drunkards everywhere.”

    *Curses!*

  86. Charlie

    Was it Peter Couchman or Bob Moore that did the Monday Conferences from South Africa? Pretty amazing when you think about it now.

    Perhaps Tony Jones should toddle over the Egypt to do a “Q&A’ there.

  87. Ambigulous

    I think David Williamson was an Engineering lecturer (at Swinburne College of Technology) – hence the verisimilitude of “The Department” – before he took to creative writing.

    So I’m not surprised if he’s
    i) informed about a technical debate
    ii) able to explain it in simple terms

  88. Dave McRae

    I had missed this thread – but for pure comic gold, The Wharf Revue’s latest does a wonderful job of QandA in song

    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/bigideas/stories/2010/3099611.htm

  89. Ambigulous

    Q: will Mr Pilger pilgerise this week?

  90. joe2

    John Pilger and Greg Sheridan, yes! This is worth watching just to see the sparks fly. My bet is Greg will be left a shattered man for the experience. But we will see.