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149 responses to “Saturday Salon”

  1. Sceptic

    I love Boxing Day.

    It is quiet. There are delicious leftovers. Books to read.

    Christmas Day is special until the guests arrive and ruin all my order.

    It is the count-down I hate. The days I am slogging through now.

    Am I alone here in hating all the shopping.

    I hate all the municipal decorations too: hideous cardboard boxes in Yuletide colours around tree trunks, tired old tinsel, faded and limp in blinding sun, plastic wreaths and trees, novelty Australiana kitch-ery like cartoon kangaroos with pouches full of candy canes.

    And how spoilt it is to have such grievances. I am well aware of that. And feel guilty. I can’t even grind my teeth in peace and goodwill.

    At the heart of it I think Christmas stirs up emotion: memories of people who have died in particular, regret about family discord etc.

    I think I will give The Pogues’ Christmas song a spin. Always makes me smile.

    Happy Christmas everyone. Yo Ho Ho!

  2. Terry2

    I see the Prime Minister is planning to employ ‘truancy’ officers at schools in aboriginal communities (and elsewhere where truancy is a problem).
    Here’s a suggestion : as the opportunity for schools to employ school chaplains was introduced by John Howard and is still funded federally, why not have the ‘chaplain’ – who I understand to be a secular appointment (?) – undertake school attendance responsibilities in addition to what I understand to be their pastoral duties.

    PS: sausage sizzles have proved to be an attendance incentive at some aboriginal community schools in Cape York.

  3. Helen

    Here’s a strange thing. Was anyone listening to AM yesterday?

    The first item was on the Royal Commission into the Rudd Govt home insulation scheme.
    Here’s what I heard, very clearly, on the car radio driving to the station, and no I wasn’t impaired by alcohol or any other factor.

    “The Royal commission into the Rudd Government’s bungled Home Insulation scheme is being officialy set up.”

    Now that annoyed me exceedingly because I’ve heard the qualifiers “bungled”, “botched” and similar numerous times when media figures are talking about this and I think it pre-empts judgement and shuts down discussion. For the record, what I think: (1) Instead of going after the employers who failed to maintain safety in the workplace, the media are uncritically encouraging the idea that the client (in this case the Rudd government) is responsible for workplace deaths and injury. This is wrong, wrong, wrong, it is giving cowboy operators a free pass and it’s putting us all at risk of litigation if we get some work done. (2) The scheme was not “bungled”, it resulted in thousands of homes insulated and having lower power bills, and the rate of house fires was actually lower than average (see Possum Comitatus). As well as providing the desired stimulus to the economy. So it may have had the usual rate of disasters inherent in the Construction industry (Grocon anyone?) but lower than the industrial average.

    OK. So I go to the ABC AM site today and pull up the MP3 of the item and blow me down if “bungled” hasn’t been removed from the opening sentence.

    Some editor has sent it down the memory hole – either that or I’m becoming impaired in some way. And I don’t think that’s the case. My memory of yesterday’s opening sentence is VERY clear.

    I think the ABC may be aware that pesky bloggers like me are taking transcripts and screenshots of things, and someone had a word in Tony’s shell-like. But of course, I can’t prove it.

  4. paul burns

    What I like about Boxing Day is the Dr. Who special on ABC1.
    Books. Finished the bio of Al Capone. It was certainly well researched, but badly written. Just one damn thing after another. While one never entirely knows that magic ingredient that makes a good history or biography apart from extensive research, writing it like its this happened and that happened and that happened to someone else without any real analysis or thought is not the way to do it.
    Also read Boardwalk Empire, a short solid little history of Atlantic City. Very well-written and researched, a joy to read apart from the intrinsic dullness (for me) of some parts of the narrative post 1980s. Its nothing like the TV series; the Tv writers have uased on my count, 2 pages exactly out of the entire book.
    Now reading William Wayne Parris, Japan to 1600. A Social and Economic History. An excellent piece of work, clear and highly enjoyable.

  5. Paul Norton

    It’s more than a week since Nelson Mandela’s death and Quadrant, the self-described “leading general intellectual journal of ideas, literature, poetry and historical and political debate published in Australia” still has nothing to say about his life and times – not one jot or tittle.

  6. Geoff Henderson

    Sceptic @ 1. Scrooge (or Mr. Burns I guess) could not have put it better:)

    Helen @ 2. I did not hear the AM program but if it means they are starting to be a bit more critical about their content I think that is good. Could I also remark that “…giving cowboy operators a free pass…” is a bit similar to the “bungled” reference in that it pre-judges the outcome.
    I don’t know the details of the tragic electrocutions. But if that means every time you want some work done in your roof or anywhere you need to have a full safety check first, there will be a very severe cost penalty which will actually favour the fortunes of cheaper “cowboy” operators happy to overlook the safety check. Australia’s propensity to legislatively “protect” us comes at a cost, and in my view partly accounts for the decline of manufacturing in Oz.
    Small anecdote: whilst installing a solar system 1.5 road hours south of Weipa this week, I was told that to engage an electrician from Weipa required that two persons had to attend as a safety precaution. The quoted cost for the one day of work was $1600 (sic). You would not be amazed that many farmers do a lot of their own electrical work.

  7. Katz

    I heard “bungled” too, Helen.

    The original mistake of the Rudd government was its failure to get state government OH&S instrumentalities to sign on to police the scheme. That would have been a walk in the park: “No insulation scheme for you [insert name of state here] unless you take full responsibility for policing the compliance and OH&S aspects of it.

    The second mistake was to fail to find a way to keep the Coalition attack dogs off the Rudd government’s throat when a few problems did crop up.

    And I cannot understand why the Rudd government failed to return the compliment by blowing the lid off the AWB scandal by means of a royal commission.

  8. philip travers

    At and around 12:15 p.m. onwards was a review of news matters[ABC RADIO ,Sydney] or something mentioning kids in Boggabilla[Boggabrilla] staying outside of the houses playing whilst their parents engaged in violence. A strange all embracing description of problems that may exist in a small town,even though still the average day is still 24 hours and a bit, grog costs a certain amount per bottle,and the place maybe well known for hot days and Aboriginals.So I used Google to look up the Bogga town,and the only matter was the ABC general concern,but,no specific leader that said violence in houses ,kids playing outdoors.Most of the stories were dated 2012.There is a Wiki description of town,population etc.I hope someone finds the show on a reporting.It would seem either Bogga is either being over reported and in the past.Or the present newsworthiness is being pushed aside.I felt their could be reasons in the radio statement that were defamational.

  9. jungney

    Rudd and co didn’t go after the AWB hooligans because the ALP was being run by twelve year old opportunists. For the same reason no-one foresaw laibility issues but nor did anyone plant staff on Rudd and Garrett, staff drawn from the building industry, to run the business. Absolute mugs.

  10. Sceptic

    Helen @3 I did not hear the said item but I have no doubt that you and Katz are on the money.

    Court cases and inquiries can be treated so carelessly these days. Sub judice was once something to be feared.

    I share your disquiet.

  11. Sceptic

    Geoff @ 6 – I remind myself of Scrooge and Burns in this season of peace and love and goodwill to all.

    I think there is another unpleasant character too. The Grinch?

    I look forward to being pleasant again on Boxing Day unless I venture into the local shopping mall. Egad they are there in thousands shopping for bargains.

    Teeth gnashing time again.

  12. faustusnotes

    Saturday morning, Hearts of Iron 2: I have returned to my Japanese war of global domination. My forces line up on the Soviet border, England is starving to death, Portugal, Spain and Gibraltar are in my grip. Can I be in London in time for the 1954 cherry blossom viewing season?

  13. GregM

    Court cases and inquiries can be treated so carelessly these days. Sub judice was once something to be feared.

    Inquiries are not judicial proceedings They are activities on behalf of the executive arm of government. Sub judice does not apply to them.

  14. Paul Norton

    Overheard in the Nerang Lifeline shop this morning – someone said that the shop prices are too high and it’s all because the shop proceeds go to help asylum seekers and we know this because we saw it on television. You can’t make this stuff up.

  15. Paul Norton

    I have discovered a website that says that Harold Holt was murdered, the Australian Constitution is invalid and Israel was established by aliens.

  16. Gummo Trotsky

    Paul @ 12 –

    Aw, come on, don’t keep it to yourself! It’s not Piers Akerman’s blog is it? Or is it Quadrant Online?

  17. Paul Norton

    Who said this?

    There is no reason why in a free society government should not assure to all protection against severe deprivation in the form of an assured minimum income, or a floor below which nobody need descend. To enter into such an insurance against extreme misfortune may well be in the interest of all.

  18. Paul Norton

    Gummo @13, no, it isn’t Jabba, nor is it Quadrant Online. It isn’t Catallaxy or Birdy either. All will be revealed in three days’ time.

  19. Moz of Yarramulla

    [email protected]: I was guessing Thatcher or Reagan, but the actual source is even better. Truly an excellent idea!

    The great joy for me is that I’ve got permission to work through christmas and take TOIL for the public holidays from the 6th of January. So instead of sitting out a 3 week shutdown at home or fighting the holiday crowds, I can get some useful stuff done without the chatter of my coworkers intruding. Plus hopefully sea kayaking when I do get some time off.

    In the meantime I just got a new bike (brand new second hand, as the song puts it) and it’s very fast. Got to work yesterday in under an hour bed to desk, which is nice. And today put a longer stem on it so it fits properly. So now I have a nice upright comfort bike and a drop bar ‘cross bike for the days when I’m feeling lazy. Might not need the recumbent low-racer after all 🙂

  20. Debbieanne

    Paul,
    today he would be described by the purity trolls as a ‘socialist’ for such a comment.

  21. Moz of Yarramulla

    And Piers Ackerman has got me watching kids TV. The whole socialist-anarchist-environmentalist angle made me so curious I’ve been surfing iView like a hyperactive five year old.

  22. paul burns

    PN @ 17,
    Adolf Hitler?

  23. Geoff Henderson

    Sceptic @11 I thought maybe Grinch, but his issue was that his heart was physically too small by two sizes.
    He recovered when his heart grew some three sizes during a grand theft event that drew an unexpected response from him/her. The outcome was joyous, and therefore perhaps a poor fit against your post @1

  24. Sceptic

    Geoff @ 23 – how on earth do they pitch these movies and get them on the screen.

    The little ones were watching something about meatballs the other day. Story seemed to be that there was nothing left to eat but sardines. Sardine Icecream. Sardine muffins. Sardine smoothies. Then someone invented some device which caused food to rain from sky.

    Apparently a success.

    Btw I have a joyous outcome. On Boxing Day.

    I must confess I do all the trad Christmas things. I am an excellent provider of Christmas joy.

    I enjoy being able to moan here.

    I just hate all the shopping, the giddy whirl, the unsightliness of Yuletide shopping strips, the aggression, the melancholy, etc.

  25. Geoff Henderson

    Sceptic: Yeah I hear ya. Merry Christmas anyway, and HNY – all that to all LPers

  26. wpd

    And I cannot understand why the Rudd government failed to return the compliment by blowing the lid off the AWB scandal by means of a royal commission.

    Yes! And now Rudd et al (via the insulation scheme) will be the ‘distraction’ that an Abbott government must have.

    Abbott understands that politics these days is ‘all out war’. Just watch FOX for a day or two if you’re not convinced.

    While it may be a strategy to give Abbott ‘enough rope’, at some stage they need to get on the front foot. And I’m not convinced that Shorten is the one to lead the charge.

  27. Graham Bell

    Sceptic @ 1 & 11:
    You are right to gnash your teeth over the synthetic fake imitation insincere exploitative thing that gets called “Christmas(??)”.
    Nowadays, “Christmas” is so far removed from Christmas that I don’t even bother much with it other than to politely respond to everyone’s well-intentioned wishes.

    I have a dislike of the Red Bandit and all the rest of the commercial garbage. I loathe all the compulsions to waste money on “gifts” the recipients don’t want or need.

    The real Christmas should be a time of peace and of joy, of quiet reflection and of thoughts of others less fortunate than ourselves, of family and friends whether present or not, of good-will towards all …. and for those with a religious faith: a day of thanksgiving and glad prayer.

    Boxing Day is, in Australia, our unofficial Family Day – regardless of whether the families are intact or broken. Thank goodness Boxing day has not yet been turned into another commercialized obscenity and insult.

    No, you are not alone in hating shopping.

  28. Chris

    The original mistake of the Rudd government was its failure to get state government OH&S instrumentalities to sign on to police the scheme. That would have been a walk in the park: “No insulation scheme for you [insert name of state here] unless you take full responsibility for policing the compliance and OH&S aspects of it.

    IIRC some of the state governments did complain at the time that they did not have the resources to police the scheme (eg they wanted some federal funds to do so). Maybe the message didn’t get through properly or Rudd thought that the states should be pitching in with their own funds instead.

    And I cannot understand why the Rudd government failed to return the compliment by blowing the lid off the AWB scandal by means of a royal commission.

    Perhaps its a sign that the Abbott government is not feeling that comfortable about the next election. No pointing getting into Rudd and Garrett who are not even in parliament anymore if they though they were safe at the next election as the royal commission will be all forgotten in 6 years time.

    Helen @ 3 – wasn’t there already an investigation into the scheme that focussed on the operators (and some eventualy got prosecuted)? Note the coroner in one case was critical of the Federal and State government roles in the scheme:

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/04/australian-crime-home-insulation-program

  29. philip travers

    Sunday.Sunday.It turned out that way. I would like to relate something that happened to me on Friday.I had the New Scientist magazine open at a page where a skull was in the picture.I just looked at it,when in my kitchen,where I had a fridge without a door I use for shelving,on a table,just collapsed.Right down to the floor. A box of heavy objects ,such as potatoes and large onions,broke the camel’s back so to say.A form of skullduggery,perhaps with the spuds adding to the evil thud.Previous to that I had read a article in Nexus magazine on phantom or ghost trains.A great article,which I felt would be a precursor for sightings of such in Australia soon.Then the fridge collapse at the same time I saw the skull picture in New Scientist of the7/12/2013.[non sequitur reference to another thread removed by moderator]

  30. Ootz

    Have to agree with you wpd. Give Abbott ‘enough rope’? They tried that since he became opposition leader, remeber the ‘Mad Monk’ approach? Our democracy has morphed into a commercial tv ‘Big Brother’ production. Shorten is just the next ‘house character’. Somehow reality has been rationalised into 3 word soundbites and the masses are lapping it up. Neil Postman was on to it back in the mid 80’s … could anyone remind me how Brave New World ended.

    On a somewhat related matter, I am considering giving donations to wikipedia as alternative Christmas presents to my dearest.

  31. Terry2

    It was just two weeks ago when the Murdoch press , particularly the Australian, were taking the moral high ground and saying that the ABC should never have broadcast the Indonesian spying issue: it was against the national interest they said.
    In the Weekend Australian today we have, front page:
    ‘Rudd made right call on tapping first lady’s phone’ – Greg Sheridan.

    Then a full expose on the Indonesian President’s wife by Cameron Stewart :
    ‘Her political role made Indonesia’s first lady a legitimate target for our spies’

    So, this sort of political double-talk won’t hurt our bilateral relationship provided we ping it on to the previous government and provided News Ltd publishes it.

    Curious ?

  32. Sceptic

    Graham Bell @ 27 – I AM NOT ALONE. Have a peaceful, delightful Boxing Day.

  33. Paul Norton

    PB @22, it was Hayek.

  34. Fran Barlow

    Paul Norton

    and Quadrant, the self-described “leading general intellectual journal of ideas, literature, poetry and historical and political debate published in Australia” still has nothing to say about {Mandela’s} life and times – not one jot or tittle.

    One may infer that they feel they have nothing to add or subtract from what has been said and that accordingly, they endorse it.

    On a separate note, I was troubled to hear that at Quna (sp?) the wake (or whatever it is they call it in that neck of the woods) will entail slaughtering a bull in some iteration of masculinist metaphysics.

    Given that the whole thing is symbolic anyay, couldn’t they “slaughter” a bronze statue of a bull with oxy-acetaline torches and spare the animal?

  35. Paul Norton

    Meanwhile, Catallaxy turns its attention to matters of the greatest profundity.

  36. Paul Norton

    Quadrant is plugging a book about John Howard’s Prime Ministership which is edited and written by 22 men and no women.

  37. GregM

    Given that the whole thing is symbolic anyay, couldn’t they “slaughter” a bronze statue of a bull with oxy-acetaline torches and spare the animal?

    I’m guessing that having slaughtered it they have plans to eat it at the wake so probably not. Replacing it with watercress sandwiches and a nice cup of tea is just not going to work.

  38. Paul Norton

    In parts of north-western Australia, the highest honour the local Aboriginal nations can bestow upon a visitor is to invite them to partake in a feast at which the main course is a giant turtle, and the gravest insult one can perpetrate against those cultures is to refuse the invitation and/or to refuse to partake of the turtle’s flesh when it is served. It is quite likely that similar considerations may apply at Quna.

  39. paul burns

    PN @ 33,
    I know. I looked it up before posting.
    But one extreme right winger looks very much likev any other, in my book.

  40. Katz

    As a president, Chimpo made a great umbrella carrier.

    Though to be fair, he dodged those shoes like a pro. Clearly, he had the benefit of practice at dodging hurled shoes. Mysteriously, his published biographies are deficient on this point.

  41. Fran Barlow

    [email protected]

    In parts of north-western Australia, the highest honour the local Aboriginal nations can bestow upon a visitor is to invite them to partake in a feast at which the main course is a giant turtle, and the gravest insult one can perpetrate against those cultures is to refuse the invitation and/or to refuse to partake of the turtle’s flesh when it is served.

    Just as well it has never occurred to me to go there. I’d not have managed that even in my meat-eating days pre-October 1982.

    GregM

    I’m guessing that having slaughtered it they have plans to eat it at the wake so probably not.

    Despite bing an ex-catholic I do recall that when we consumed “the body of Christ” it really was just a tasteless wafer which reminded me of nothing so much as cardboard. I did regard it as kind of creepy that we were chowing down on the saviour. I’d read about cannibalism and its cultural provenance and thought even then about how human and primitive religion had to be to have a practice such as that.

    This was one of the early troubles that prefigured my parting of the ways with things metaphysical.

    Clearly, they could if they wished, use other methods to steep themselves in his aura or whatever else it is they are trying to achieve.

  42. Fran Barlow

    being an ex-catholic

  43. Ootz

    Fran, happy to help out with the Quna Qunu spelling. You ‘d be also interested to know that the q in Xhosa as in other Bantu and Saan languages denotes a tenuis alveolar click, check here how to pronounce it.

    Your reference to metaphysics re the slaughtering of a bull as part of the funary proceedings in Xhosa culture is rather askew given the status of cattle in that culture. In my time there, I overheard a 2way radio conversation where a local headman was describing the effect of draught condition to the DC in terms of: ” … the cattle are suffering terribly …. and women and children too!”. Men would never admit to suffering, as these of a breed that dealt with ruthless and ferocious neighbouring rulers such as Shaka kaSenzangakhona (Zulu).

  44. Fran Barlow

    Thanks Ootz … the discussion of clicks was fascinating.

    I’m not sure though that your line of argument on the slaughter of bulls changes my claims about metaphysics or masculinity however.

  45. Graham Bell

    Ootz:
    Good to see you back, especially at this time.

    On ‘clicks’ – and ‘tones’ (East Asia: Chinese, Viet, Thai, etc – and West Africa: Mende).
    I assume they were part of the speech of early homo sapiens – if so then I wonder why they dropped out of many languages yet so many other features persist everywhere?

    Sceptic @ 32:
    May you have a delightful Boxing Day too. 🙂

    Ootz @30 (first para):
    Nice thought ….(from what I remember, the feet swung slowly east and slowly west – or something like that) …. but it won’t happen because that is one bit of Catholic doctrine to which he would cling like his life depended on it. 🙂 No doubt he would use the rope, instead, to demonstrate (a) why it is Kevin Rudd’s fault, (b) why Julia Bishop Gillard is the culprit, (c) why the Anti Boagan Corporation is full of lefties, (d) why globalization will create more jobs, and, (e) why Mussolini John Howard Is Always Right.

  46. Luxxe

    I wonder who the “New York-based private investor” might be, mentioned on ABC News, who is apparently about to be doxxed as backing a staff push for a share of Qantas? Any guesses?

  47. Ootz

    Heavens Fran, I would never attempt to “change my (your) claims about metaphysics or masculinity however.” My point was rather to question your rational on placing “metaphysical” attributes to a place whose name you can’t even pronounce.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have a great deal of respect for Nelson Mandela, for his political as much as for his personal attributes. As such he represents a notable milestone in African history. However, it is worthwhile to point out, that there were many others who contributed to that milestone. Some were on a similar path as the Mandiba but brutally got stopped on the way. September 12th 1977 is sharply edged in my mind, when Steve Biko tragically died shortly after arrival at a Pretoria prison under outrages and scandalous circumstances. No bulls were slaughtered at his funeral.

    Thanks GB, pre-wet is health wise my best time of the year. Thus I took the opportunity to whip yumbunga (‘the camp’ in local Muluridji language) into shape for oncoming wet season and probably last visit of father in law from Europe.

  48. Terry2

    Luxxe @ 46
    Not sure who is gearing up to grab Qantas but there is a big expectation that the government will remove the restrictions on foreign ownership and with the shares currently around one dollar – having dropped some 80% over the last five years – I think there will be a host of buyers out there.

  49. Geoff Henderson

    Any large scale investor in Qantas must seek a return on the capital outlaid. That can happen by further trimming costs (shutting the airline down was not enough) or increasing revenue. The former option is finite; there is a limit to how much can be saved by staff sackings and sending maintenance off shore. There is no technical limit to increases in revenue except the market itself. You just need to get bums in seats.

    I always preferred Qantas, but was seduced by the low cost options. Finally I did book with Qantas, paid more and for my trouble got no better than from any budget carrier I had been on. Really “ordinary” travel experience. It did not help that a Jetstar passenger was a few seats away, and he had paid somewhat less for the same service.

    So whatever Qantas strategy is taken, I am hopeful that included will be some actions that make the airline a preferred choice again.

  50. Fran Barlow

    Ootz

    My point was rather to question your rationale on placing “metaphysical” attributes to a place whose name you can’t even pronounce.

    Perhaps you can explore the paradox you imply exists between these two things. Is there a non-metaphysical reason for killing and consuming a ruminant animal as part of a wake?

  51. Tim Macknay

    Is there a non-metaphysical reason for killing and consuming a ruminant animal as part of a wake?

    Protein?

  52. Val

    Geoff H @ 49
    Several experiences that I or members of my family have had with Qantas customer service lately have been remarkably bad – really remarkably bad for an organisation that charges more than the budget carriers and is also in trouble.

    In an earlier post, several of us questioned whether, and if so, why, Australian management was particularly poor – I suppose it’s a bit ambiguous with Qantas given that Joyce is not Australian (although I agree with an earlier comment by Graham Bell that the widespread practice of importing CEOs is part of the problem).

    The service culture of Qantas seems very arrogant – apart from the fact that it takes a very long time to get through to the call centre, when you do get through the attitude often seems to be that ‘the customer is always wrong’. Someone I know went so far as to suggest it would improve the quality of Qantas’ customer service if its call centre was off-shored.

    However the point is that this is still a management problem – the culture of an organisation tends to be set from the top, I think. It seems so odd that it has such bad customer service at this time when it is in so much trouble, that I am beginning to suspect conspiracy – that they (whoever they are?) are trying to run it down and make it unpopular.

  53. Geoff Henderson

    Val running the company down as a strategy to fill a hidden agenda is interesting and plausible. I believe I have seen that before where staff and the company fortunes get run down and the apparent value of the company declines dramatically. That entity is then acquired by another party and its fortunes dramatically change. I wonder if Dick Smith was manipulated.

    I don’t know if management is the only issue but certainly one of them. I always thought that Joyce, as head of one of the worlds “cheapest” airlines was a curious choice. More so since the Qantas board passed over the current CEO of Virgin Australia.

    I won’t even start on Jetstar, but perhaps to say that if I had a domestic pet in the same condition I would not hesitate to have it put down at the nearest veterinary practice. Go to the Jetstar forums if you want some pain and outrage.

  54. Ootz

    Cheers Tim.
    Is there a metaphysical reason for consuming vast amounts of alcohol as part of an Irish wake?

  55. Fran Barlow

    Tim Macknay

    Is there a non-metaphysical reason for killing and consuming a ruminant animal as part of a wake?

    Protein?

    Well you could have a nice quiche and get even more per unit of mass. Seriously though, I doubt that any serious part of people’s protein intake depends on attending a wake.

    It’s clear that the slaughter and consumption is decisively symbolic.

  56. jules

    Fran its thought sharing a meal can release oxytocin which can promote bonding between people. Most people at a funeral are there because of their feeling for the deceased so it makes sense to promote bonding between them. Killing a bull (probably in these circumstances) and sharing it with people who may be strangers also (definitely) releases oxytocin so the whole thing makes neurochemical sense as a bonding exercise.

    Metaphysics is just neurochemistry anyway so i dunno if that answers your question or not.

  57. Chris

    The service culture of Qantas seems very arrogant – apart from the fact that it takes a very long time to get through to the call centre, when you do get through the attitude often seems to be that ‘the customer is always wrong’. Someone I know went so far as to suggest it would improve the quality of Qantas’ customer service if its call centre was off-shored.

    Underfunding the call centre may well be a deliberate strategy to discourage people from calling them up unless they really have to and instead use the website which is much cheaper to run.

    Personally I haven’t found Qantas staff to be any ruder in the last decade, and in fact my experience has been that they generally pretty polite. But they do seem to have less personal flexibility in what they are allowed to do.

    I won’t even start on Jetstar, but perhaps to say that if I had a domestic pet in the same condition I would not hesitate to have it put down at the nearest veterinary practice. Go to the Jetstar forums if you want some pain and outrage.

    Well the fact the airlines like Jetstar exist is a result of people choosing flights purely on cost and fundamentally not really taking into account the cost of good customer service. Until something goes wrong – and then they complain a lot. Flights are so cheap and common these days its really akin to a glorified bus services. There’s lot a lot of people who are willing to put up with an equivalent type of customer service relationship as they would for a train or bus trip because normally everything goes smoothly.

  58. Val

    Chris @ 57
    I think it’s a general principle now that call centres make you wait because they want people to use the web, but I’m talking specifically about problems you can’t sort out on line and the fact that the waiting time with Qantas is often very long.

    I agree about the system, there appears to be a problem with Qantas booking system that it is very inflexible. It may be the apparent arrogance of staff is at least partly a defence mechanism because they have to deal with so many dissatisfied customers and can’t do much about it because the system is do inflexible.

    Recently someone I know in desperation tried to change to a cheaper flight and forgo some of the money they had paid, but weren’t allowed to because ‘the system won’t let us do that ‘. This is someone who travels a lot with Qantas. It’s clearly self defeating so why would management do this?

  59. Val

    I guess that last example wasn’t quite clear. It’s like this – someone books and pays for a business class flight that costs say $1000. Then she is not able to go on it for legitimate reasons, but there is a cheaper economy seat on a later flight that she can go on. So she says can I just go on that one and not get a refund for the extra? And the Qantas person says no, the system won’t let us do that.

    So Qantas would in fact have made a substantial profit on that, since they could resell her business class seat and make $400 extra economy seat. But they couldn’t do it because their system won’t let them. That’s what I mean it’s self defeating.

    I’ve also heard examples where Qantas cancels a flight, issues a voucher to people who had paid to travel on that flight, and then won’t let them use it unless they book exactly the equivalent flight on a later day. It’s madness.

  60. Val

    Actually I think the latter example I gave @ 59 was Jetstar, which kind of reinforces Geoff’s point on Jetstar @ 53. There is no possible benefit, cost saving or otherwise, that I can see for an airline in treating passengers that way.

  61. Fran Barlow

    Jules

    Fran
    It’s thought sharing a meal can release oxytocin which can promote bonding between people. Most people at a funeral are there because of their feeling for the deceased so it makes sense to promote bonding between them.

    The last such event I went to had small nibblies, pastizzis, some party franks and cheese. No bull was slaughtered or uttered.

  62. Chris

    Val @ 59 – the ability to rebook flights is now very tightly controlled by the specific conditions of the ticket when you purchase it. For example it used to be a lot easier to get on an earlier flight to the same destination if you arrived at the airport early and there was room on the earlier flight. This was done under the theory that they might be able to sell the seat on the later flight. However, now its pretty difficult unless you paid extra for that privilege when booking the original flight.

    Going to your example, Qantas would be hoping that if the person could not make the earlier flight and did not book a flexible fare that they would have to just pay extra for the later economy seat. And there’s no guarantee they would be able to sell the business class seat on the earlier flight – it may just end up going empty which is a big loss for them.

    These sort of extra restrictions certainly increase customer dissatisfaction – for example its pretty frustrating waiting around hours for a connecting domestic flight after a long international one, but I assume that these changes were all made in response to modelling to maximise profit for the company.

  63. jules

    Yeah I know Fran – them foreigners is funny and not at all civilised like us.

  64. Geoff Henderson

    Chris @57. Well your premise, if you pay less you can expect less and be satisfied with less might be OK sometimes.

    I apologise in advance if the following is a bit extended, but ask that you accept that it is 100% true.
    An example of Jetstar performance: My daughter & family (2 very young kids & hubby) booked to fly Adelaide-Cairns with Jetstar. Well in advance, and paid extra for seating that took account of their family status. The flight was to leave Adelaide early on their travel day, around 7 am. At ~3 am that day, a text arrived cancelling their flight, and an invitation to call Jetstar to confirm their new flight arrangements. Then followed hours, literally hours on hold to talk to someone about their holiday travel plans.
    It emerged that the servicing flight had to originate in Cairns, and arrive in Adelaide to service the Adelaide-Cairns flight; but there were no crew to operate the aircraft. We took a mature “shit happens” approach to that. My family did make it to Cairns the following day, a full 24 hours after they were supposed to arrive. Their preferred seating was not honoured, no refund paid. They lost a full day of their travel holiday and got dicked around.
    I wrote to Jetstar as a stakeholder with a reasonable complaint. They eventually wrote back to me that I had no standing as a complainant unless my daughter nominated me as such. In that event I had to prove 100 points or whatever identification to prove who I was. Somewhat less identification was required (actually none) when I paid for the ticket. The f*ckers stopped short of asking for a DNA sample.
    Perhaps Chris, if you have indulged me to this point you can understand why I don’t accept that paying for a “cheap” airfare is not a license to be treated contemptuously or like shite. The near apologetic tone of your comments suggests to me that you have yet to experience what can happen to ordinary travelers. Or maybe you are associated in some way with the airlines, and seek to moderate the charges laid against them.

  65. Fran Barlow

    Jules

    Yeah I know Fran – them foreigners is funny and not at all civilised like us.

    Changing the subject and trying to conjure strawmen ill-becomes you.

  66. Paul Norton

    Fran @55:

    It’s clear that the slaughter and consumption is decisively symbolic.

    According to the news reports on the event, the sacrifice is traditionally followed by the drinking of the bull’s blood and there was some speculation about which of the visiting dignitaries would partake to that extent.

  67. Val

    Chris @ 62
    Another example for you – my trip to Germany this year. I’d booked my flight over and back separately (a big mistake, very expensive, but put it down to experience).

    The return flight was with my daughter and two little children, and we’d booked premium economy because there was a special through Singapore. Then Qantas joined with Emirates, and our flight was rebooked through Dubai, and changed to ordinary economy for the Frankfurt Dubai leg. No refund, bad luck.

    Then a week before I was due to fly out from Melbourne I broke my ankle. Had to postpone my flight for two weeks on medical advice. Qantas allowed me to do that – had to pay a fee but could do it. But I asked about upgrade – no can do. They put me in an economy seat with extra leg room, but no upgrade.

    So they can downgrade three of us (one baby so only three fares), but they can’t upgrade one of us, even with a broken ankle.

    It’s a one way street Chris, and I can’t see how that works as a business model.

  68. Ootz

    Paul, perhaps this heathen practice is why the British fought nine Xhosa wars, labeled the people Kaffir and in the process subjugated and impoverished the people which

    Many white colonists who first encountered them in the late eighteenth century were impressed by their physique, their light skin and sensitive faces, and their democratic system of debate and government: “They are equal to any English lawyers in discussing questions which relate to their own laws and customs,” wrote the missionary William Holden in 1866. In the 1830s the British Commander Harry Smith called the Xhosa King Hintsa “the very image of poor dear George IV.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/s/sampson-mandela.html

    BTW Xhosa is pronounced with another click

    Need I remind you that party franks in the main contain meat from dubious origin and it is really poor form to sneer at people who are mourning an outstanding leader. So perhaps an apology would be appropriate.

  69. Chris

    Geoff @ 64 – I can totally believe your story 100%. I’ve heard many stories like it related to discount airlines like Jetstar or Tiger.

    Perhaps Chris, if you have indulged me to this point you can understand why I don’t accept that paying for a “cheap” airfare is not a license to be treated contemptuously or like shite.

    It’s not, but with all these sorts of widely reported stories, people still keep buying tickets through them. Why is this?

    “Full service” airlines are far from perfect, but when things go pear shaped they tend to be a lot more flexible. For example, once due to a late domestic connection (from a competitor airline) and a delay in getting from sydney domestic to international, I arrived after checkin for the flight was closed. The next flight would have been in 24 hours so the checkin operator radioed around a bit to check if it would be possible and they re-opened the flight for me. IMO that’s *excellent* service.

    In contrast with discount airlines often even if it the reason you miss a connection is due to one of their own flights being late, its your problem. You’re considered to be the one responsible for booking a sufficient layover time to make your next flight. Including the overhead of getting your luggage from one flight to the next. But that’s part of the the price you pay for your discount. And you end up living with that risk and/or take out insurance to cover those sorts of situations.

    As a result of experiences I’ve had and heard from others I no longer fly Jetstar unless its a simple direct flight and where I don’t care if I get significantly delayed. And I just flat out refuse to fly Tiger.

    The near apologetic tone of your comments suggests to me that you have yet to experience what can happen to ordinary travelers. Or maybe you are associated in some way with the airlines, and seek to moderate the charges laid against them.

    No, just trying to explain why I think we’ve ended up in the situation we have, not to endorse what they do. In the end there is a very simple way to discourage this behavior – stop buying flights from them even if they’re significantly cheaper.

    The return flight was with my daughter and two little children, and we’d booked premium economy because there was a special through Singapore. Then Qantas joined with Emirates, and our flight was rebooked through Dubai, and changed to ordinary economy for the Frankfurt Dubai leg. No refund, bad luck.

    That is the sort of thing I would be really complaining and be upset about. Because when they don’t compensate for those sorts of situations they lose the distinction they have between being a discount airline.

    Then a week before I was due to fly out from Melbourne I broke my ankle. Had to postpone my flight for two weeks on medical advice. Qantas allowed me to do that – had to pay a fee but could do it. But I asked about upgrade – no can do. They put me in an economy seat with extra leg room, but no upgrade.

    For extra flight costs due to a having to delay a flight isnt that what travel insurance is for? Yes, airlines could just absorb the costs for those sorts of situations, but then that simply means the cost is spread across all tickets. It’s not like airlines are money making machines, most seem to just lose lots of money for their owners.

    btw were you asking for a free upgrade or they wouldn’t let you pay (a lot) extra for an upgrade?

  70. Paul Norton

    Ootz @68, I wasn’t sneering. I was simply relaying what I had seen in news reports, as I thought it bore out Fran’s point about the symbolism of the ceremony. You have read something into my comment that I certainly didn’t intend and that, on re-reading, I still don’t believe I have conveyed unintentionally.

  71. Paul Norton
  72. Val

    Chris @ 69
    I was asking for (or enquiring about because I didn’t really have much hope) a free upgrade, but I think you have missed the key point – their system works in their favour. So their system lets them downgrade three of us without offering any compensation, but not offer a free upgrade to one of us.

    A business model that works in the organisation’s favour may look good in the short term, but it’s not a good long term strategy. Your own comments about why you fly with full fare airlines make the same point – you expect some benefits in return for paying more.

    In the context of a broader discussion about Australian management (and having gone through several organisational restructures in my long working life), I think this kind of short-sightedness, and the focus on short term profit rather than long term goals, is a common problem.

  73. Chris

    I was asking for (or enquiring about because I didn’t really have much hope) a free upgrade, but I think you have missed the key point – their system works in their favour. So their system lets them downgrade three of us without offering any compensation, but not offer a free upgrade to one of us.

    Yea I’d expect at least a refund for the price differential between economy and premium economy. Free upgrades do still happen, though they’re a lot harder to get and generally reserved for those who fly a lot with the airline – eg they strongly bias towards regular customers. And those who are willing to pay through $ or points

    In the context of a broader discussion about Australian management (and having gone through several organisational restructures in my long working life), I think this kind of short-sightedness, and the focus on short term profit rather than long term goals, is a common problem.

    I agree, and in my experience its far from restricted to Australian management. We get short term planning because that the way managers (and a lot of workers) are rewarded.

  74. Russell

    I suspect not many of you are on the IPA’s mailing list, so you may not know that the IPA’s Tim Wilson is going to be Australia’s next Human Rights Commissioner.

  75. Chris

    I suspect not many of you are on the IPA’s mailing list, so you may not know that the IPA’s Tim Wilson is going to be Australia’s next Human Rights Commissioner.

    Wow. More info here: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/george-brandis-appoints-ipas-tim-wilson-to-human-rights-commission-20131217-2zi5z.html

    I assume this part of the process at looking a rescinding 18C of the racial discrimination act using freedom of speech arguments?

  76. Tim Macknay

    FFS.

    *headdesk*

  77. paul burns

    Don’t worry. They’ll get worse.

  78. Ootz

    Paul @71, thanks for the link to the Nigerian Tribune, surely an outstanding and reliable source on cultural practices in southern Africa. To quote from the article re drinking the blood of sacrificed ox

    It is not known whether this tradition has been respected at Mandela’s funeral, but it is likely that foreign guests such as Prince Charles would be offered meat rather than blood.

    I am surprised you guys have not mention witch doctors yet, as it is very likely that there would have been a sangoma (wizard/traditional healer) present at the funeral.

    In relation to metaphysics, it pays to keep in mind the observation of one of last centuries greatest thinker and scientist on what he thinks about the physics of some taken for granted aspects of our everyday reality.

    What I am going to tell you about is what we teach our physics students in the third or fourth year of graduate school… It is my task to convince you not to turn away because you don’t understand it. You see my physics students don’t understand it. … That is because I don’t understand it. Nobody does.

    (Feynman, Richard P. Nobel Lecture, 1966, 1918-1988, QED, The Strange Theory of Light and Matter)

    And btw Fran, remember next time you get the blow torch out, it is “oxy acetylene”.

  79. jules

    Fran @ 65 – it seems to me that you are ridiculing the practice of Nelson Mandela’s traditional culture, for no other reason than it doesn’t your (allegedly) “progressive” white middle class world view. If i’ve mistaken you then i’m sorry.

    If not perhaps you need to give up the neocolonialism.

    BTW The IPA isn’t as anti human rights as you’d expect given its full of whacko fascists. I’ve been surprised to read IPA opinions at times, usually Chris Berg’s and find they seem to support human rights and freedom. He’s not a fan of anti association laws like the anti biker laws in Qld, and iirc some anti terror legislation as well. Its members have also called for the abolition of the Human Rights Commission in the past tho. This is all about letting Andrew Bolt lie about blackfellas with impunity.

  80. jules

    …it doesn’t

    fit

    your…

  81. jules

    Also if Tim Wilson is a member of the HRC then he’ll be able to protect Peppa Pig from Piers Ackermans assault on her right to free speech.

  82. Fran Barlow

    Ootz:

    And btw Fran, remember next time you get the blow torch out, it is “oxy acetylene”.

    I will. Thanks for tidying that up.

    Jules:

    it seems to me that you are ridiculing the practice of Nelson Mandela’s traditional culture, for no other reason than it doesn’t your (allegedly) “progressive” white middle class world view.

    Given that I bracketed it with the practice of catholic communion which is embraced by inter alia “the (allegedly) progressive white middle class world”, I’d say you need an alternative hypothesis. I feel sure you can do better than what you offer here.

  83. David Irving (no relation)

    jules, the IPA aren’t so much whacko fascists as glibertarians. I’ll grant the differences are subtle, but they are there if you can be bothered looking.

    I’d still put ’em all in a chaff bag …

  84. Graham Bell

    Russell @ 74:
    Why the surprise? Expect more of the same.

    There’ll be a aggressive mining executive running environmental issues …. a notorious gangplank dodger or a Taliban supporter running Veterans’ Affairs …. the CEO of a hospital duopoly or a pharmaceutical conglomerate running Health …. an armaments marketeer running Defence …. and, of course, a stooge of Rupert running the ABC.

    At least our “government” is consistent in something.

  85. jules

    Fran how is what you said @ 34 (or 41, 44, 50, 55 etc) different from some 150 year old British bullshit about the dodgy savages being quaint or restless in darkest Africa?

    If only they’d do things properly.

    With canapes.

    And what about the anti-masculinist metaphysics of party franks. Not just at funerals but even as a thing!!1!

  86. Graham Bell

    Gentlefolk:
    A few weeks back, I suggested that the collection of metadata/TA from the mobile phones of prominent Indonesians by Australian spookery could well have been used as a trigger by the Indonesians to further their military, economic and political ambitions.

    As the saying goes “There are always thirty years of excuses for a war”.
    The opportunities and rewards for the Indonesians to launch such a military adventure were certainly there; the many weaknesses of the Australians, paraded for the whole world to see, were an open invitation for anyone with trained soldiers, effective weaponry, intelligent leadership, reliable alliances or mutual understandings and a swag of ambition.

    Looks like I might have been wrong.

    That insult to Indonesia still exists, as do others, and Australia has not suddenly developed a credible military deterrence …. and yet the Indonesians have chosen to be conciliatory and generous towards us.

    I’m grateful.

  87. Paul Norton

    Ootz @78, the article I linked to provides a quite detailed account of the funeral, and gives the impression that the journalist was present at the event and would be in a position to know what went on.

    As to whether the Thembu people’s traditions involve the drinking of ox’s blood at such an occasion, if that is not, as a matter of fact, the case then by all means let us see a link that rebuts the claim in the article. However, if it is the case that is still not something on which I make any moral or cultural judgment, or have made any such judgment, or have any right to make any such judgment. I’m genuinely puzzled by your apparent belief that simply to repeat a statement that this is the case is somehow to make such a judgment about it.

  88. Fran Barlow

    Jules

    If you wish to make an amalgam between my remarks and some “150 year-old British bullshit about the dodgy savages being quaint or restless in darkest Africa” you are going to need to do a bit better than mere juxtaposition. Your appeal reminds me of that chracter in Holy Grail who, baffling the crowd with BS, asks but what also floats in water? Apparently the desired answer was “a duck”.

    That’s especially so when I’m expressly rejecting the amalgam.

    Perhaps it would be more interesting and enlightening if we asked a more open question about funderal usages — to what extent do funerals, whether they are Xhosa or an instantiation of other cultures, draw upon the metaphysical?

    There are, no doubt, perfectly prosaic and secular reasons for holding funerals and wakes. People want to share grief at loss, celebrate a life and in some cases, recommit themselves to the pursuit of the things the now dead person held dear. It’s a time when each of us is reminded of our mortality and when we reflect upon our own identity and sense of purpose.

    I’m not at all surprised that metaphysics frames much of this. For us westerners, religion’s first role is to stay our angst at death and nothingness. Where else can small children go but metaphysics?

  89. Ootz

    Cheers Fran, my already substantial appreciation and respect for your contributions in the blogosphere have grown further by your acknowledgement @82. It is inspiring to see that some people are happy to swallow their own medicine.

    Paul, my sincerest apologies for repeating myself again and reposting a quote. However, there is no claim re drinking the blood of a sacrificed ox in the article by the Nigerian Tribune you linked to.

    It is not known whether this tradition has been respected at Mandela’s funeral, but it is likely that foreign guests such as Prince Charles would be offered meat rather than blood.

    I am done with this, I’d rather read and discuss the contributions of Nelson Mandela, including what he meant to South Africa’s women, a topic much more in tune with the hive mind I would have thought.

  90. Tim Macknay

    jules, the IPA aren’t so much whacko fascists as glibertarians. I’ll grant the differences are subtle, but they are there if you can be bothered looking.

    I’d call them corporate interference-runners with a thin veneer of glibertarianism.

    I’d still put ‘em all in a chaff bag …

    Why pollute the ocean? Render ’em down for biodiesel, I say. That way you actually get some value out of ’em.

  91. Tim Macknay

    I suspect the word ‘[email protected]’ in my quote of DI(NR)’s comment is the cause of my last being in moderation.

  92. David Irving (no relation)

    Probably, Tim. My comment was in moderation originally as well.

  93. Graham Bell

    TM @ 91 and DI(nr) @ 92:
    Aw, gee. All my comments land in Moderation – you just have learn to to live with it. 🙂

  94. GregM

    There are, no doubt, perfectly prosaic and secular reasons for holding funerals and wakes.

    So true. For some it is an opportunity to come together and eat quiche and damn the grief that they cause to chooks whose eggs are taken from them to make that quiche not to mention the senseless slaughter of pigs and depriving calves of milk if the quiche in question is a quiche lorraine. Humans can be so callously thoughtless and cruel to animals in their funeral rituals.

  95. Paul Norton

    GregM, it is indeed the season to spare a thought for the poultry of various kinds (not least the geese in France) and the pigs, as well as the crustaceans and molluscs who will lay down their lives for the festive felicities of those Australians who dwell in the sub-tropics (as I and several other LPers do) or the tropics (as you do).

  96. Brian

    Tim, GB, DN(nr) we seem to be keeping up fairly well with clearing the moderation queue. The spam bucket has just gone mad. I’ve just cleared 810 (41 pages) and they seem to be coming through at the rate of 2 or 3 a minute.

  97. Tim Macknay

    Thanks Brian. My remark @91 wasn’t intended as a complaint – more as a heads-up that there wasn’t anything genuinely offensive in the moderated comment (although on reflection, the idea of rendering down the IPA for biodiesel might well be offensive to some!).

  98. Fran barlow

    GregM

    Humans can be so callously thoughtless and cruel to animals in their funeral rituals.

    They can, but they shouldn’t. I assume that’s what you meant to say, and well done you for so meaning.

  99. faustusnotes

    Fran, I think what GregM is trying to say is that eating vegetarian quiche or any milk-based products is cruel, and you probably shouldn’t be pointing the finger at South Africans if you’re busily chomping down on such products …

  100. Tim Macknay

    All this stuff about cruelty, and shoulds, and shouldn’ts, is just a smokescreen. The fact is, protein is non-metaphysical. The end.

  101. David Irving (no relation)

    No complaint from me either, Brian. I don’t think my remarks are such pearls of wisdom they deserve to be seen immediately.

  102. Tim Macknay

    For some reason, I just found myself perusing the “people” section at the IPA web site. It turns out the IPA’s “Director, Legal Rights Project” is an undergraduate law student. That’s some heavy-hitting subject matter expertise.

    Also, Tim Wilson, who was the IPA’s “Director of Climate Change Policy” before his recent appointment, is currently studying for a graduate certificate in energy and environmental policy.

    Still, I suppose you have to give the IPA some credit for trying to ensure its people know something about the policy areas they are “Directors” of, even if it appoints them before they actually know anything.

  103. Val

    Tim M @ 100
    I am always amused by these types of comments where the author makes some absolutely categorical assertion and declares it “the end” of the topic …

    … even though other readers (me in this case) are left wondering “what on earth is he trying to say?”

  104. Tim Macknay

    Back to the subject of vegetarianism (sort of), this looks like a good reason to become one.

  105. jungney

    That’s excellent information, Tim Macknay, which will be put to good use.

  106. faustusnotes

    Changing the topic for a moment, I saw Abbott has just announced it will soon be “easier to adopt a child” after some legal changes.

    Attacks on abortion rights will begin shortly, I suspect…

  107. Tim Macknay

    … even though other readers (me in this case) are left wondering “what on earth is he trying to say?”

    Val, to clarify, I was trying to say something consciously absurd and hopefully mildly amusing.

  108. Tim Macknay

    And I should add, that I’m relieved you were actually amused.

  109. Val

    Tim @ 107
    Well it did amuse me, even though I didn’t get it!

    I think my problem is I’m never quite sure what metaphysics is. I think I’m one of these confused constructivists who doesn’t get the distinction between the physical and the meta- physical.

  110. Tim Macknay

    Val, there’s also the complication that Fran uses the term “metaphysical” a bit idiosyncratically to refer to all things religious and/or spiritual.

  111. jules

    I’m not at all surprised that metaphysics frames much of this. For us westerners, religion’s first role is to stay our angst at death and nothingness. Where else can small children go but metaphysics?

    Playquest?

    A petting zoo?

    Cedar Creek (In Tweed Valley) when its hot, or if their parents can’t handle nature:

    Wet and Wild?

  112. jules

    That looks yummy Tim.

    To indulge Fran on the metaphysical er … mumbo jumbo – I used to have nightmares about things that looked like that as a kid, till at one point I started chasing/hunting and killing the things then they went away. Nice to see they’re back in dinner form. It must be symbolic of something.

    BTW DI(nr), and Tim M – my original comment ended up in moderation too, and it also contained the eff word. Not complaining either tho, perhaps if we type it with a Young Ones accent it won’t happen in future.

  113. Graham Bell

    Thanks Brian @ 96. Wasn’t being critical at all; just poking fun, without any malice, at the other two. 🙂

    It’s easy for us, on the other side of the screen, to imagine that running this huge blog happens without a care in the world. Thanks for the heads-up.

    Would offer to help you but I don’t have the skills and my Sadim Touch (the Midas Touch in reverse) wouldn’t help things at all.

  114. Fran Barlow

    FN

    Fran, I think what GregM is trying to say is that eating vegetarian quiche or any milk-based products is cruel, and you probably shouldn’t be pointing the finger at South Africans if you’re busily chomping down on such products …

    Well there’s a significant difference here. When I chow down on quiche, I really am doing it to take up protein rather than as part of an attempt to absorb the aura of the animal or something equal metaphysical.

    Also, as I keep saying, I’m not merely “pointing the finger at South Africans” but at the near universal tendency of humans to reach for the metaphysical whenever death arises as a concept. Slaughtering a bull is an especially graphic example, but it’s not greatly different from the whole “body of christ” ritual — except of course that here an animal is actually killed to sate the desire for the symbolism.

  115. Chris

    Changing the topic for a moment, I saw Abbott has just announced it will soon be “easier to adopt a child” after some legal changes.

    Attacks on abortion rights will begin shortly, I suspect…

    Actually it appears he’s talking about overseas adoption:

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/pm-tony-abbott-pledges-to-ease-the-way-for-overseas-adoption-after-campaign-by-actor-deborralee-furness-and-husband-hugh-jackman-20131219-2zmlw.html

  116. GregM

    Fran, do you think it would be possible to substitute tofu for the eggs in the quiches you eat and steer away from quiche lorraine altogether? Asparagus or mushrooms make fine substitutes.

    That would be the ethical way to get your protein.

  117. jules

    Fran you are wrong to say the whole thing is “just” metaphysical or a desire for symbolism.

    You refuse to acknowledge that a culture that depends on cattle would eat beef at a funeral, when of course it would.

    And that bulls are less important than cows, cos too many bulls makes a herd unstable, where as cows can produce more cattle with even only bull in the herd.

    And that eating at a funeral bonds a community – there is neurochemistry that backs this up, tho you don’t need to know that little detail to have seen the process in action and recognised it.

    All communities except the elite of empires (which actually includes us) don’t waste stuff and are practical in their use of resources.

    These things are as important and relevant to Mandela’s funeral as any “metaphysical” idea. Tho even church is sposed to release oxytocin, so “metaphysics” does have a practical prosaic use – bonding a community.

    Also

    Given the theatre and intensity of funerals why shouldn’t they be symbolic and deal irrationally with death which looms so large over all our existences. And is scary. (On many levels including the biological.)

    When I chow down on quiche, I really am doing it to take up protein rather than as part of an attempt to absorb the aura of the animal or something equal metaphysical.

    2 things

    1 – Thats a big assumption to make about people you’ve never met doing something you’ve never done.

    Or seen.

    Or had even heard about until very recently.

    2 – How do you know you’re not absorbing that quiches’ aura as well as its protein when you eat it?

  118. Linda

    [email protected] actually recent NSW OOHC reforms already make it easier to adopt children, local children. Nothing like making it easier for the rich to furnish their lives by harvesting the children of the great unwashed. Were you worried that someone was going to talk about reproductive rights or something?

  119. Val

    Tim m @ 104
    I saw that chthucken thing when I was browsing vegetarian Xmas recipes the other day – somehow I ended up going from tofu turkey (which I thought was as bad as it gets) to that thing (which showed me there are worse depths).

    This is a thing I am thinking about this year, and this is another popular thing I’ve done before.

  120. Val
  121. Tim Macknay

    That terrine looks great. I’m going retro and making bombe alaska for dessert.

  122. Tim Macknay

    [email protected], strangely enough I also had nightmares as a child about things that, well, didn’t exactly resemble “cthuckens” but were definitely in the same genre. I started sleeping peacefully again after having a dream one night about a giant, high-tech, sort of threshing machine that chopped them all to bits.

    Although in hindsight that may have been the beginning of a long period of quasi-religious faith in the redeeming power of techno-science from which I have not yet entirely recovered.

  123. Tim Macknay

    Graham Bell @113

    my Sadim touch

    Intriguing. Does that turn gold back into regular stuff, or regular stuff into… something worse?

  124. Chris

    Val @ 118 – I think I was wrong. I heard on PM domestic adoptions are being looked at too. Apparently it’s something that foster parents especially have been advocating for. I don’t care if people want to talk about reproductive rights but regardless I don’t think that’s reason behind Abbotts push. But there are quite different issues around domestic versus overseas adoptions. And perhaps it’s better to consider them separately.

    I think your characterisation of adoption being the rich harvesting the children of the poor is pretty unfair though! There’s a lot of dedicated foster parents out there who do a lot of work looking after children for free or net cost to them.

  125. Tim Macknay

    Chris, that was Linda.

  126. Chris

    Tim @ 125 – thanks. Apologies to both Val and Linda! Off by 1 again!

  127. Helen

    I don’t care if people want to talk about reproductive rights but regardless I don’t think that’s reason behind Abbotts push.

    ORLY. colour me unsurprised when the LNP come out with policies decidedly unsympathetic to reproductive choice and single mothers.

  128. Chris

    Helen @ 127 – I wouldn’t either, but it doesn’t mean that the two are connected. The ALP wasn’t exactly friendly to single mothers either. If they end up supporting adoption law changes does that mean that they are also involved in this conspiracy too?

  129. paul burns

    I don’t have a position on adoption either way so long as it doesn’t involve child buying and selling or child stealing whether here or overseas. I gather Abbott, and presumably Labor and Liberal State governments have been under intensive and high-powered lobbying for some years now.

    Personally, I think Abbott thought this would be a good end o year announcement that had no chance of turning to shit, like everything else he’s touched since the election. Guess he wanted to end the year on a non-controversial note, so he picked adoption, which I guess is warm and fuzzy.

  130. Fran barlow

    GregM

    Fran, do you think it would be possible to substitute tofu for the eggs in the quiches you eat and steer away from quiche lorraine altogether? Asparagus or mushrooms make fine substitutes.

    As lorraine has bacon in it, I wouldn’t have it at all. Putting asdide this semantic point though, I prepare quiches with soy and tofu products (although I do use free-range eggs) .

    Jules

    How do you know you’re not absorbing that quiche’s aura as well as its protein when you eat it?

    Plainly I don’t and can’t, but that’s not why I eat quiche.

    Tim Macknay

    Val, there’s also the complication that Fran uses the term “metaphysical” a bit idiosyncratically to refer to all things religious and/or spiritual.

    If you can find a word that covers “magical” phenomena and belief in spirits and similar, I’m happy to use it. Metaphysics seems a good term — although I know that Aristotle used it to cover things that we’d now put unproblematically under physics and also some things that are hard to specify by resort to physics (notions of mind for example).

  131. Tim Macknay

    If you can find a word that covers “magical” phenomena and belief in spirits and similar, I’m happy to use it.

    Fran, I have no difficulty with the way you use the word, as I understand what you mean by it. I was just noting that your usage is slightly different from the way it’s more commonly understood (i.e. as a branch of philosophy, etc).

    BTW, I’m going through one of my periodic considerations of vegetarianism, and I was wondering if you’ve ever made quiche Lorraine with ‘fake bacon’. Bacon is one of the few meat items I eat with any regularity.

  132. David Irving (no relation)

    Tim, there is no substitute for bacon (except maybe speck).

  133. FDB

    Turkey bacon can be a passable substitute.

    Smoked tofu is delicious, but I don’t think it would cut it in a lorraine. it loses flavour easily to the food around it, so you’d miss the little islands of magic that bacon bits provide.

  134. jules

    fran

    Plainly I don’t and can’t, but that’s not why I eat quiche.

    So why do you assume its why other people eat beef?

  135. Tim Macknay

    If you can find a word that covers “magical” phenomena and belief in spirits and similar, I’m happy to use it.

    I’ll add that it seems to me that the most appropriate word would be “supernatural”. But again, no dramas with you using “metaphysical”.

  136. Bernard J.

    I gave up all soy products several years ago for ethical reasons.

  137. Casey

    Supernatural? Who summoned me? I adjure you to be careful. When you teleport me through the elements like that, you don’t know what I could bring back with me. Lucky I was lolling about in Camelot with Gawain, rather than Mordred otherwise there would have been big trouble on this boring old blog.

    Now I’m here, what’s crackilackilin’?

    Oh. I see.

    Fran be banging on about ‘metaphysical’ shit again eh? Oh dear. Seems like Jules wedged Fran and she caint take it. Take your pick Fran, be lefty multiculti and accept the otherness of the other which is incommensurate with western ontological practice or, or, or – or be pro animal rights and let the acceptance of that reveal the limits of your tolerance for cultural practices you don’t understand. You can’t have both. Well maybe you imagine you can no doubt, but nobody else thinks so – but don’t let that stop you. It never has before.

    Now. Don’t be banging on about my grammar, my faulty logic, or how I can’t really do magic and shit. Try and understand you can’t be all things to all people and just accept your limitations. After all, to suggest that you have not in fact reached the limit of your multiculti tolerance (1) in this instance pushes your conception of yourself into the metaphysical and we can’t have that given you don’t believe in it. Oh Horatio, more’s the pity. There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy (2). You just can’t see it cause your unshakable belief in your own opinion tends to block out the sun and cause micro ice ages on occasion. You might want to use this power for good one day and offer your services to the Climate Council, I dunno just think about it.

    Cue thunder, witch’s cackle and explosion. Exeunt with familiars.

    (1) Gasshan Hage, White Nation.
    (2) The Bard, I love him don’t you?

  138. Fran barlow

    Tim

    I’m going through one of my periodic considerations of vegetarianism, and I was wondering if you’ve ever made quiche Lorraine with ‘fake bacon’. Bacon is one of the few meat items I eat with any regularity.

    I’ve never made quiche with it, but I have used “notbacon” in pasta meals and soups nad it has worked well. There’s also quite a nice chicken substitute that works brilliantly in stir fries.

    Jules:

    So why do you assume {metaphysics} is why other people eat beef?

    I don’t assume it. None of the people I know personally who eat beef do it for those purposes. I heard/read that these people were doing it for those purposes.

  139. jules

    Fran perhaps you shouldn’t believe everything you read/hear.

    I would suggest everyone eats beef for basically the same reasons, even the people whose traditions inform that funeral. To me it seems the obvious reason for slaughtering any animal at a funeral or wake, especially at one for a prominent person is to feed all the people who are going to show up.

    One of my pet hates is the meme that people from traditional societies are primitive and superstitious. Most of those peoples have very practical reasons for the things they do. These reasons come first. Most are based in reason and logic, tho their “metaphysical” and supernatural worldviews probably are too (from their pov).

    We live in a society that still loves to indulge in the ignorant, primitive, superstitious and uncivilised savage meme, I would have thought you’d be more aware of this and perhaps a bit more resistant to it. Anyway i’ll stop hassling you about it now.

  140. mindy

    the little islands of magic that bacon bits provide.

    This is my favourite bit of the internet right now. I was thinking of making a bacon covered turkey for Xmas but I am rapidly running out of time and inclination.

  141. Salient Green

    For all those who intend cooking for xmas, think about very slow roasting. It is my experience that temps below 150 and preferably around 120 result in very moist meat as temps above those cause the meat tissues to contract and expel the moisture.
    Getting the outside brown is a matter of management towards the end of cooking.

  142. Val

    Well over at my place vegetarian recipes are flying through the ether (I hope none of them hit Casey, that could be messy).

    I just had to come back and fight (pacifistically) for the vego side again, with all this talk of bacon. There are loads of nice things you can use instead – eg roast or grilled veggies, olives, kale, warrigal greens, sundried tomatoes. It is possible to live without bacon, you don’t have to, but it is possible. (I was going to say without killing little piggies, but thought that a bit harsh at Xmas time).

    In my general vego proselytising, I actually used a photo of our last years Xmas dinner on my blog http://fairgreenplanet.blogspot.com.au/2013_10_01_archive.html – it does look good.

    Chris @ 128
    Given that I have been rabbiting on about vego food 🙂 , I was surprised to be reprimanded for my views on adoption. Good thing Tim corrected you. I accept your apology but remember it has been suggested on this blog that men can’t tell female commenters apart, so be more careful

  143. Val

    Omg no! Chris @ 124. That was unfortunate. At least I got your name right.

  144. Fran Barlow

    Bernard J

    I gave up all soy products several years ago for ethical reasons.

    Based purely on the links you provide, the chief threats seem to be from soy raised to sustain livestock and after that biofuels. If people ate more soy protein rather than meat protein, the threat would decline.

  145. Graham Bell

    Tim Macknay @ 123:
    The Sadim Touch. The reverse of the Midas Touch. Touch pure gold and it turns into …. merde.

    Sometimes applied to the practitioners of administrative action without adequate planning (or any planning at all for that matter).
    Related to the excuse “It seemed like a good idea at the time” and to the assertion “If I want your advise, I’ll ask for it. So just do as you’re told and shut up”.
    It can also be applied to someone with severe clumsiness or who is compelled to fiddle with delicate, usually expensive, instruments until they fall apart..

  146. Chris

    Good thing Tim corrected you. I accept your apology but remember it has been suggested on this blog that men can’t tell female commenters apart, so be more careful

    Yea sorry I will. The wierd thing is I didn’t actually read your comments at the time because I wasn’t following the thread of conversation about food. But it was 1am so I was probably just not looking at the names properly.

  147. Val

    Chris @ 146
    Ah don’t worry about it, not a problem, just a bit of a dig on my part. In the spirit of Xmas I will not try to re invoke the great gender war of 2010-13 just at the moment.

    But you say you were not following the food thread! How can I convert you to vegetarianism if you’re not following the thread? (Unless of course you already are converted?)

  148. Val

    I feel like I should own up to eating fish now. Vegequarian or vegecrit!

  149. Chris

    Val @ 147 – It’s very unlikely that I’d ever go vegeterian (unless forced to by circumstance). I just like meat way too much. I worked for a while in an abbatoir and I think if anything would have made me go vegeterian that would have. I could perhaps live on fish, well maybe bacon and fish 🙂