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55 responses to “Saturday Salon”

  1. Obviously Obtuse

    First again! heard Mandela on abc rn. A towering figure in so many ways and so much suffering. Was he a good politician though? I gather income/wealth distribution didn’t change with the ANC. Deals done with evil IMF and all that. What do others think?
    On a personal level determined to tidy up tools this weekend. Am possibly slightly phobic about it. great weather promised for Victorians.

  2. Paul Norton

    It’s a beautiful day for the cycling trip to Mullumbimby that I’m about to embark upon.

  3. Geoff Henderson

    I’ll probably spend some time pondering how capping the Coles/Woolies discount schemes at 4c/l will actually translate into lower prices for general goods at the stores.
    And if the capped scheme does lower the subsidy costs apparently borne by the stores, how would I know if the lower price structure benefits me or the stores bottom line?

    Also interesting is how the publicists can blandly say we will be better off because we pay more for fuel and don’t even try to justify that opinion. Must have been watching our pollies for that technique.

    On the bright side, ‘am headed for a property near Weipa to install a good sized renewable (solar) power system. Should be fun.

  4. paul burns

    Am watching all of the TV series Breaking Bad. Had watched the first three episodes of series 1 on ABC but gave up because I thought it was too gruesome. Maybe I’ve been inured over the years since, but I didn’t this time.
    While, so far, it is a series full of brilliant character studies the whole thing is somewhat problematic – speed cooks and drug dealers as heroes, a depiction of women which even a hardened cynic like myself would describe as at least bordering on misogyny, if not actually misogynistic –
    Though one has to admit there are absolutely no uplifting characters in the drama except Walter White’s son, who has cerebral palsy – and they got that oh so wrong; cerebral palsy affects the whole of one or both sides of the body – not either the upper or lower half of the body – some writer should have watched Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot, though that’s an extreme case.
    But it is also very very dark black comedy-drama. Not quite as good as The Sopranos, so far.
    What do other people who’ve seen it think?

  5. Moz of Yarramulla

    [email protected]: those of us that don’t benefit from the fuel discount will be better off either way. Well, except those of us who live in places where the duopoly doesn’t have complete control. I’m still vaguely grumpy that I bought a tray of mangoes this morning at the first independent grocer, then when I stopped for my sack of rice at the second the same trays were a dollar cheaper. Bah!

    And unlike Paul Norton, my bike ride for the day was hot, sweaty and involved a lot car exhaust. But I’ve done my big shop for the month so I fell better (25kg of rice, 20kg of soy milk, 10kg of sugar, in one load on the bike it makes for slow going up the hills)

  6. Sam

    What are the right wing inter tubes saying about Mandela? I can imagine but can’t bring myself to look.

  7. Katz

    Oh, he was a commie terrorist (and is suspected as being Negro without adequate excuse). Stuff like that.

    And PS South Africa is worse.

  8. somebodyiusedtoknow

    I rate it Paul. Also didn’t think it misogynistic in the slightest. Male-dominated, yes. If you wanna see sexism in film/tv… watch The Fifth Element.

  9. Terry2

    Geoff Henderson @ 3 :

    The savings follow the Abbott/Hunt principle used to demonstrate how all our electricity bills will go down when the carbon tax has been repealed.
    First the electricity distributors put up the price of electricity by an average of 22% as has just occurred in Queensland. Then the electricity generators say that their costs have increased and apart from which you have already been compensated for the minimal costs of the carbon tax. Then the government says that the savings have all been guzzled up by those greenies with solar panels.

    Ultimately it all comes down to cleaning up Labor’s mess : but you knew that.

  10. somebodyiusedtoknow

    Sorry… here’s the link to Anna Gunn’s article on the public response to her character.

  11. David Irving (no relation)

    PB, Jesse Pinkman turns into a more sympathetic character as Walt gets even less likeable.

    I reckon Breaking Bad is some of the best television I’ve ever seen.

  12. Casey

    I must see Breaking Bad. I’ve heard nothing but good things.

    Here is a nice article by Julia Baird on the slut shaming of Nigella Lawson. Best thing I’ve read so far on the situation.


  13. faustusnotes

    Marina Hyde in the Guardian has a nice piece about all the right-wingers who suddenly love Mandela even though they opposed him at the time. Here’s a taster:

    “Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time,” intoned David Cameron, who went off on a jolly to apartheid South Africa in 1989, with all expenses paid by a firm lobbying against sanctions. “President Mandela was one of the great forces for freedom and equality of our time,” declared George W Bush, neglecting to mention that the ANC were still on a US terror-watch list until 2008, which meant the secretary of state had to certify that Mandela was not a terrorist in order for him to visit the country.

    I was wondering how many of his old enemies would be pretending they never wanted him to rot in jail, or that they never supported apartheid. I have a vague memory that Howard and Peacock were both opposed to sanctions on South Africa. And didn’t a National Party member refer to Desmond Tutu as a monkey in a dress?

    So it’s nice to see someone dredging up their hypocrisy for all to see.

  14. Katz

    Well yairs, but Julia Baird neglects to explain the context of the revelation of the allegations made by both Lawson and Saatchi against each other. The choking incident is an assault and might have been prosecuted at such. Lawson decided not to prosecute. Baird neglects to mention that the revelations emerged in the context of a fraud case in which the Grillo sisters are attempting to avoid being gaoled for an extended sentence.

    Here are some salient facts:

    Their [the Grillos’] lawyers had argued unsuccessfully on Wednesday that the charges should be dropped because allegations about Ms Lawson’s alleged drug use that emerged during the proceedings damaged her credibility as a witness.

    The court saw documents from Saatchi on Tuesday in which he described Lawson as “Higella” and said she was so “off her head” on drugs that her assistants were able to go on spending sprees with her credit card.

    Anthony Metzer, representing Elisabetta Grillo, had said that if claims by Mr Saatchi about Ms Lawson’s drug-taking were true it would make her a “habitual criminal”.

    These documents were subpoenaed by the defendants. They were not volunteered by the complainants in the case. Saatchi and Lawson were joint complainants. Only upon revelation by the defence of the documents in question did the fur and feathers begin to fly.

    Now it is true that one is likely to say many things in private that one would never say were these words to be revealed to the world. The trouble with emails is their immortality. So Saatchi found himself confronted with his private words, a clever cross examiner and the penalty for perjury. What was a man to do?

    The important point to remember is that Lawson and Saatchi were joint complainants. Their plan to retrieve their allegedly defrauded funds came unstuck only after the defence got hold of some sensational and highly inflammatory personal correspondence and made merry with it.

    Will this save the defendants? Who knows? But for sure they aim to take Lawson and Saatchi down with them.

  15. Ronson Dalby

    Same sex marriage in the ACT began today with the first one taking place just after midnight. Apparently 46 couples have registered to wed this weekend.


    Of course, pending the High Court’s decision due next Thursday on the legality of the ACT’s law, those marriages may be invalid next weekend. I’m sure the couples are well aware of this but in the meantime they are enjoying the celebrations with the families and friends and making a lot of celebrants and venues happy too.



  16. paul burns

    Re Breaking Bad: I can see how the audience hates Skyler White. Though I think this would only last for the first 2 seasons. By the 3rd season, IMO, she becomes quite likeable, as does Jesse Pitman. (It was mostly in relation to Skyler I thought it misogynistic, btw.) I thought Hank might be the hero, but no = I don’t want to put in any spoilers for people who haven’t seen it. There are several really chilling villains, and by the beginning of series 4, Walter White is not yet a complete badass.
    It is certainly gripping stuff and well worth the investment of 130 odd dollars. It is a mightily different crime series with lots of twists that keep you guessing and an absolutely masterly script.

  17. Graham Bell

    faustusnotes @ 13
    For once I agree with you on something:
    the hypocrisy of all the ones who opposed Mandela and anything to do with the ANC at the time …. and who have since rewritten and airbrushed their own history.

    Geez. At least the members of the Broederbond were consistent and straight-forward in their opposition and hostility – not hypocrites like the non-SouthAfricans who supported the old regime to the hilt and yet today are bunging on their circus-act of fake sorrow now that Nelson Mandela is dead.

  18. Fran Barlow

    My first son gave me a copy of Breaking Bad. Hubby and I watched about 15 minutes of it and lost interest.

    I keep hearing that it’s fabulous. Is there any reason for this or is it all just hype?

  19. Paul Norton

    Quadrant has commented on Madiba’s life and times in the time-honoured manner that Stalinist publications always commented.t on matters thaeyfind embarrassing.

  20. Paul Norton

    ‘comment’ not ‘commented’, and ‘that they’. Damn phone.

  21. paul burns

    I’m beginning to think Breaking Bad is fabulous. Have so far watched 3 and a bit seasons. Critics say season 1 (only 7 episodes) is uneven – it was affected by the writers’ strike – but it slowly picks up after that. The trick is the slow-burn character development from good person to bad person or vice versa.
    Another criticism is that the women characters are cardboard cut-outs compared to the men. I vigorously dispute this. Sure the whole series is about men being bad in almost every possible way, but in my view the women more than hold their own – their character development is sometimes more subtle than the mens’, which, I think is why some people don’t get it.
    Well worth another look Fran.
    (I checked it out more ore less thoroughly before I bought it, avoiding spoilers, because initially I had not been impressed by the first few episodes of series one, which I saw on TV. But believe me, as the story progresses, it all fits in.)

  22. Chris

    And if the capped scheme does lower the subsidy costs apparently borne by the stores, how would I know if the lower price structure benefits me or the stores bottom line?

    I suspect that they’ll probably just redirect the subsidy into other markets that they are trying to get into (mobile phone plans might be one for example, alcohol another perhaps more controversial one). But the supermarket prices are just one side of the issue – the other is Coles and Woolworths using their supermarket profits to sell petrol and a significant loss and drive out independent petrol stations. Long term I’d guess its bad to have a duopoly when it comes petrol stations.

    I don’t drive that much (say fill up less than 50L about once a month) and so I pretty much ignored fuel vouchers at the 4c/L level and it didn’t affect where I bought petrol. But when Coles started issuing 30-40c/L vouchers which didn’t require me buying anything I wouldn’t otherwise purchase that did get my attention and changed where I purchased petrol.

    However I wonder if there is a loophole in the agreement with the ACCC. Coles allow you to use fly buy points to purchase greater discounts on petrol purchases. And they give large bonuses in fly buy points equivalent to the large petrol discounts. So indirectly it may be possible to get the same thing.

  23. Sam

    Paul 19

    someone should go through the Quadrant archives of the 70s and 80s and document everything said in there about South Africa in general and Mandela in particular.

    On other matters, it’s December, and that means … [drum roll, the envelope please] …yes, it’s time for the Christmas culture wars again! Are there any stories out there about how the kiddies have been stopped from signing Christmas carols by the humanist Muslim appeasing femino gay agenda pushers?

  24. Graham Bell

    Chris @ 22:
    Nothing wrong with duopolies as such – and in certain situations, they can be beneficial and efficient; Australia used to be a world leader in running a mixed economy, duopolies and the like. The sugar industry, for example, was the most efficient in the world even with high wages and high returns to growers; it operated with both proprietary mills and central co-operative mills; a de-facto duopoly. The formerly successful and profitable airlines were a de-facto duopoly too.

    The real problems arise when supervision of duopolies is perverted or corrupted or nobbled or replaced by “industry control(??)”. Where dodgy officials deliberately favour one side of the duopoly (guess which?) and hinder the other.

    Paul Norton @ 19:
    No thanks, I’ll give Quintrant a miss, if you don’t mind.
    I would rather hear the honest opinions of Nelson Mandela’s former enemies than waste my time listening to the squeaking of his retrospective and false “friends??)”.

  25. Katz

    This is what is happening to human rights in Japan, now “Australia’s best friend”, apparently.

    The first rule of the pending Japan’s Special Secrets Bill is that what will be a secret is secret. The second rule is that anyone who leaks a secret and a reporter who writes it up can face up to ten years in jail. The third rule is that there are no rules at to what government agency can declare state secrets and no checks on them to determine they don’t misuse the privilege; even of no longer existent agencies may have the power to declare their information secret. The fourth rule is that anything pertaining to nuclear energy is of course a state secret so there will not longer be any problem with nuclear power in this country because we won’t know anything about it. And what we don’t know can’t hurt us.


    Disturbingly fascistic.

  26. Terry2

    I’m not particularly fussed whether Abbott & Shorten go to South Africa
    for Nelson Mandela’s funeral but I do think that Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke should definitely represent Australia as it was their stand that made our contribution towards bringing apartheid to an end.

    Please don’t send Julie Bishop whatever happens; she’ll end up getting in a blue with somebody.

  27. Moz of Yarramulla

    [email protected]:

    Are there any stories out there about how the kiddies have been stopped from signing Christmas carols by the humanist Muslim appeasing femino gay agenda pushers?

    Haven’t you seen the t shirt? Happy holidays is what liberals say Yes, yes, we do. And thank you.

    Plus defendchristmas.com/ has their usual run of stories for the holiday season.

    Is there a more environmentally friendly equivalent to the lump of coal I get in my stocking every year?

  28. drsusancalvin

    @4 paul burns

    except Walter White’s son, who has cerebral palsy – and they got that oh so wrong; cerebral palsy affects the whole of one or both sides of the body – not either the upper or lower half of the body –

    Walt White’s son is played by RJ Mitte who has mild cerebral palsy. Bloody hell, you’d think he’d know how to play it. I blame the director.

    and Fran… if taken as a whole, it is a tour de force by Bryan Cranston et al. In fact his work is even better the second time round.

  29. peter

    Terry2 @ 26.
    Yeah far better that Hawke and particularly Fraser go. A bit of a problem for Fraser would be a chance meeting with Robert Mugabe. Maybe that’s where Hawke as ‘minder’ or cockatoo could be his strict marching orders or even for Julie Bishop off the leash to really go attack dog.

  30. Graham Bell

    Moz of Y @ 37:
    Over-precious objections to Christmas carols, Christmas greetings and so on are real enough – but I don’t believe the very lurid furphies that seem to originate among religious fanatics in the USofA and get spread around the internet.

    Funny thing is that, years ago, an imam, with whom I had some robust and courteous discussions, was quite happy to hear songs of praise for their prophet ‘Isa (Jesus) …. so much for Moslem objections to Christmas carols.

  31. Helen

    The entire premise of Breaking Bad is the dreadful US health system. As some wag pointed out, if the US had a proper public health system, the story would be, guy gets cancer, guy gets treatment, the end!

  32. jungney

    Katz, surely you realize that the only thing worse than radiation is the irrational fear of radiation itself? Therefore, keeping the population in ignorance is a resolute public health measure designed to look after people by not terrifying them and otherwise pumping up their blood pressures. Perfectly sensible once you grasp the historical inevitability of a nuke powered world.

  33. Paul Norton

    Sam @23, in 1986 when he was both Quadrant editor and a Federal Liberal MP, Peter Coleman visited South Africa as a guest of the regime. At the time of the debate over the Iraq War in 2003 I went through issues of Quadrant from 1988-89 and found criticisms of Mandela and the ANC, Xanana Gusmao and Mikhail Gorbachev, but no criticisms of Saddam Hussein even though he was murdering Kurds with chemical weapons at the time.

    The current Quadrant editor, Keith Windschuttle, was on the left for most of the period of the struggle against apartheid, and still hadn’t gone all the way over to the right when the struggle crowned its success with Mandela’s election as President in 1994, so his views on the issue when it was live are fairly easily deduced, and it would be absurd for him to now claim he was wrong. I think this creates a potential source of tension between himself and the Quadrant old guard like Coleman, Hal Colebatch, Les Murray and the like, which may account for the magazine’s continued silence on Madiba’s life and times.

  34. Paul Norton
  35. Katz

    Occasionally, a stopped clock is correct. Newsweekly (Santa’s rag) on Australian interests and the Five Eyes, specifically the US:

    Until confidence in the security of U.S. intelligence agencies is restored, any further sharing by Australia of sensitive information with the United States should be restricted.

    A further issue concerns the particular document at the centre of the present crisis. It disclosed that Australia’s Defence Signals Directorate was conducting telephone intercepts of senior Indonesian government officials, including President Yudhoyono and his wife.

    If indeed Australia was conducting such surveillance, was it being done with the explicit approval of the then Labor Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, or Defence Minister, Stephen Smith? If Tony Abbott is to apologise, as the ALP demands, then Rudd and Smith should also be expected to apologise for their conduct at the time.

    And who in the Australian intelligence community gave this document to the United States? No other country has any right to see such a document, and it should never have been shared with any other government.

    Peter Westmore is national president of the National Civic Council.

    The NCC is proposing a radical reformulation of how Australia pursues its national interests.

  36. paul burns

    I didn’t know that. I have mild cerebral palsy so I was basing it on my experience. I got it wrong.

  37. paul burns

    Finished watching Breaking Bad. Basically its a very good highly original crime series, with some really great acting. IMHO, not quite The Sopranos, but okay. Think it might have been a bit overhyped.

  38. Fran Barlow

    Thanks for the heads up all on BB … It doesn’t sound as if it’s worth the time …

  39. Fran Barlow

    ALP leads 52-48 2PP (Newspoll)

    Primary LNP 40 ALP 38 Greens 9

  40. Chris

    Fran @ 39 – so in retrospect, for the ALP to win the last election the key was to have given Abbott a turn at being PM 🙂

  41. faustusnotes

    Katz, there’s been a lot of action against it in Japan and it’s ongoing, it’s not stopping just because the law was passed. I guess Abe will be another one-termer …

  42. Graham Bell

    Katz @ 35:
    Doubt if any politician would be shown the fine details of any of the processed intelligence they get to see.

    What gets me is that, knowing that the Yanks are now as leaky as a sieve, why Australian spookery persists with sharing anything really sensitive with them at all.

    When the Yanks tighten up their sloppiness, vet their staff, smarten up their training, buy a few padlocks and can demonstrate trustworthiness again, then we can resume sharing …. until then, treat them like any other gossipers.

  43. Graham Bell

    Where’s Ootz? Thought he might be able to give us all some insights on the passing of Nelson Mandela.

  44. Katz

    As I suggested upthread re Charles Saatchi and Nigella Lawson and their complaint about being defrauded by their employees:

    Will this [revelation of the personal habits of the complainants, especially Lawson’s] save the defendants? Who knows? But for sure they aim to take Lawson and Saatchi down with them.

    Well, now we know. The Grillo sisters were exonerated. The complainants scored one of the more spectacular own-goals in British legal history, and that is a VERY long history.

  45. Katz

    For those who are interested, Geoffrey Robertson’s discussion of the jurisprudential context of the case is educational:


    It is worth noting that one goes to trial with the laws you have, not the laws you would like to have.

  46. Fran Barlow

    While I’m certainly no fan of Nigella Lawson, I do feel some sympathy for her plight. It is ironic that the system which so privileges her, allowed her to be defrauded to the extent that she was by people she could employ precisely because she was so privileged and first defraud anfd then defend themselves by resort to the moral panic over drugs that the system of unwarranted privilege created.

    Ms Lawson seems to have very poor judgement, and often one pays a high price for that. Here, her reputation has been trashed and the right to blackmail effectively affirmed.

    Of course, had she chosen to live far more like a non-privileged person with a far more modest lifestyle, none of this would have been possible.

    Much of her problem seems to have arisen as a consequence of her relationship with Saatchi. Ms Lawson is neither the first nor sadly the last woman to enter and stay in a toxic relationship and I hesitate to be too critical here. I suspect that her celebrity status was again an aggravating factor. It’s a dreadful shame that she apparently had no friend with the wisdom, strength and standing to guide her out of that relationship and to some place safer for her.

  47. Geoff Henderson

    Katz @ 45, Fran @ 46. Thanks for those, cleared my thought on the case. I had to sort out a wtf in my mind.

  48. Katz

    As Geoffrey Robertson, a self-described “old” friend of Lawson and a dab hand with the law, points out Lawson received considerable protection from the judge until Charles Saatchi’s devastating emails turned up. The judge assessed Saatchi’s explanation less than persuasive for the words he chose in those emails. And on the face of it the judge was correct.

    The defendants did not have an unfettered right to besmirch the reputations of their accusers. No sensible person would argue that a defendant should never be entitled to attempt to discredit her accuser.

    As I suggested upthread, Saatchi’s emails were the crucial evidence. Given the toxic nature of the relationship between Saatchi and Lawson, it is interesting to speculate about the origin, precise nature, and means of discovery, of those emails.

  49. Katz

    On the matter of blackmail allegedly committed by the Grillo sisters, it is important to note that the jury more or less rejected that construction of events.

    Instead, it appears that the jury concluded that Saatchi, Lawson and the Grillos formed a conspiracy to break the law. In return for saying nothing about Lawson’s use of Class A drugs, the Grillos were paid generously in kind.

    Moreover, the jury decision implies that they were persuaded to conclude that Lawson and the Grillos conspired in child abuse — the supply of prohibited drugs to minors (Lawson’s children). That is a very serious possibility that may cause Lawson severe legal consequences.

  50. Casey
  51. paul burns

    How true, Casey.
    There’s certainly a lot more to it than meets the eye once you recall how it all started with Saachi assaulting Nigella. Very nasty stuff.

  52. Katz

    If you believe that Saatchi had malign intentions towards Lawson, a highly possible state of affairs in my opinion, and used the Grillo trial to wreak vengeance on Lawson, then it is necessary to understand the nature of the legal trap laid for Lawson.

    Geoffrey Robertson explains well the mechanism of that trap. It required a well schooled legal mind to spring that trap. Could Saatchi have done that unaided?

  53. Chris

    If you believe that Saatchi had malign intentions towards Lawson, a highly possible state of affairs in my opinion, and used the Grillo trial to wreak vengeance on Lawson, then it is necessary to understand the nature of the legal trap laid for Lawson.

    Is there a timeline of what happened? Did the Grillos put forward their defence re: Lawson giving permission before or after the Lawson/Saatchi photo came out?

  54. Katz

    Chris, here’s one stab at a timeline:

    The court heard the alleged offences came to light in June 2012 after Mr Saatchi’s finance director Rahul Gajjar noticed the high level of spending.

    The finance director suggested if they repaid the money they could put the matter behind them and continue working for the family on reduced salaries, to which the defendants at first agreed, the court heard.

    The court heard the sisters met Mr Saatchi at his Saatchi Gallery in central London to discuss the proposals but negotiations later broke down.

    Mr Saatchi met with Francesca Grillo on another occasion but “her attitude was it was humiliating to live in the house on less pay and would rather go to jail”, Ms Carpenter said.

    During the hearing, Mr Metzer read out part of a statement from Mr Saatchi, which said: “It was only during the break-up that I became aware that she was taking drugs when we were married.

    “I can’t remember precisely when but I think it was in June 2013, at the time of the well-publicised incident at Scott’s restaurant in Mayfair.”

    Mr Saatchi and Ms Lawson broke up in the summer after pictures were published showing the millionaire art dealer holding his wife by the throat at the restaurant in Mayfair.

    He accepted a police caution for assault.


    It is alleged here that Saatchi precipitated the court case by causing the Grillo sisters to reconsider the previous repayment agreement.

    Then, some time later, apparently, Saatchi wrote the dramatic emails.

    The question is how and when Saatchi became aware of Lawson’s alleged drug use. Did the Grillos tell him?

    And if the Grillos told Saatchi, what motivated that disclosure?

    It is unclear from this account when Lawson and Saatchi took their complaint to prosecuting authorities. If Saatchi knew of allegations of Lawson’s drug use, and more seriously, Lawson’s supply of drugs to her children, before making the complaint, then this is somewhat persuasive evidence of Saatchi’s entrapment of Lawson.

  55. tigtog

    This particular Open thread is two weeks old. Please use the current one. Closing comments now.