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June 2013

How lovely to see a newspaper report news that means something to its people.

We are easy to manipulate.  

We can get pretty fired up about things - and there are masters amongst us who know what buttons to press to make it happen.  Before you let a carpet-bagger kid you into spending a bit of your emotional energy in support of their campaign, make sure it really matters.   Do your homework.   Read.  Analyse.   Check things out a bit.

I've been intrigued all day today by this poster for the Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser.   It's everywhere around Wagga, the servos, 711s, milkbars and outside the papershop at the mall here:

Addy 29 June

Walk in through the sliding glass doors and here's the view in the mall where news has to do battle with a big Lotto draw.


I couldn't work out for a while what it was that jumped out at me about that news poster.   It wasn't the giggly procto/digital bit, or the backdrop for jokes about paucity of news on offer for a local paper.   It took a while, but as I sat with the kids and watched real people live real lives with real things happening in them I slowly realised.   It matters here.  

I lived in Wagga for a few years and I have family here.   My children's grandmother and grandfather live here - their grandpa was the chief surgeon at the Wagga Base from the 1960s until recently.

After a bit of real life you get to know what makes a place a community.   Local people know, appreciate and care for things that have value to them, things that really matter and make a difference to their lives.   Getting cancer is serious.   By the time you're old enough to maybe be a bit wise you know that from experiencing it around you.   For men who age here and their families, it's an awful thing to have the angst and grief of going to Sydney for tests, or sending samples of things by a hopeful courier system- so knowing that one more thing that can help improve life where it matters can now be done here in the community really does matter.   And it's news.

It's a pretty telling indictment on our political system that this poster seems quaint, or naive in its purity and innocence.  It's lovely to see news like that, just a simple, plain and reassuring piece of what news used to be.

We've allowed ourselves to be conditioned by cynical PR operatives for whom everything is an issue to be played for advantage.   To the PR operator nothing just is.   It's not going to be news until it's been managed .   And people who hang around them too much end up speaking like them - that's why politicians today sound weird and up and coming bureaucrats who've just started media-training sound weirder.

Journalists get ruined by it too.  PR operaters train journalists like Pavlov and his dogs.  The tragedy for most of our media is that it's unwitting.   They don't realise, or do realise and are prepared to pay for the price for the reward.   Which is paid in the currency of Australian journalism - access.   To lose access is death, no more leaks, no quotes, no interviews.  

If you ever needed proof of the nan0-thin veneer of authority that surrounds the spin-doctoring industry, check out McTernan's meandering speeches as Thinker in Residence, specialist subject - Customer Service.   Yet in politics and management the big money goes to the spin-doctors, the opinion-poll leaders, the spruikers and suave image makers.

And their skill is in pressing buttons.   Getting you off your seat and angry.

For years every job advertised in any government agency or large corporate employer has required in its Job Description or the organisation's policy statements explicit reference to Equal Employment Opportunity provisions.   It's unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of gender.   Heaps of agencies go to work every day employing teams of people whose reason for being is to investigate complaints where people feel aggrieved.

We let wafer-thin manipulators create that misogyny/sexism firestorm out of thin air.

As one of our readers pointed out today - it's impossible to find the lecture notes, the video, or the witnesses who saw or heard the Tony Abbott Lecture to Julia Gillard on Misogyny and Sexism.

That's because he's never lectured her on the issue.   It never happened.  But it's been reported uncritically as the basis for a wonderful and stirring response by Ms Gillard and the trigger for her inspirational ground-breaking speech that's made such a difference in people's lives.

For someone who was truly fired up about misogyny and sexism, that speech would really mean something if it was given to the ball-scratching Egyptian President, or the grand mufti of the Islamists in Ryadh on a Friday afternoon just before head chopping off time.   That would truly be news and would show genuine courage and leadership.  It's also not going to happen any time soon.

Just like the Kony youtube campaigns, the sexism speech was thin air.   Nothing real happened.   No one's life is better except the spin-doctors, carpet baggers and flunkeys who got paid to whip it up.

The news in Wagga Wagga is much better than that today.  

457 Thinker in Residence should write cryptic crossword clues

Many of you have pointed to this report about backward, misogynist blokey Australia where sheilas know their place, written by one of the world's greatest minds John McTernan.

Mr McTernan is about to turn to his loyal sidekick and say, "my work here is done" and fly off to the next government-funded thinking in residence opportunity The Network roster shows as available.

Before he does, it's worth looking at the column he's just had published in UK's The Telegraph newspaper.   Irony is his strong suite.

Mcternan telly

McTernan says the narrative of Gillard's pathfinder career as the country's first female PM is the story of a woman who battered up against, knocked down many of but ultimately was defeated by the minefield of misogynistic structural impediments to female career success in Australia.

He doesn't talk of what else she did while she knocked the nonsense sexism out of the way.  He just describes the centrality of the battle with sexism.

If sexism and misogyny were the real battle in Australia like it is for women in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan or Pakistan I'd agree that those fights should be front and centre.   But here in Australia we have so many EEO, human rights, status of women, ABC, Fairfax, left-handed-black-lesbian-puppet-theatre-workshop-collective lobby groups - as well as Anne Summers - that when remnant entrenched hothouses of agressively active sexism surface (like the Labor preselection process for the seat of Batman) then they're likely to be rounded on and helped to reform without too much prime ministerial intervention.

McTernan and Gillard created the sexism dramas because they had nothing else.   She had blown her credibility.   She lied too often and about too much.  She could no longer lead us.

So go to the last paragraph of McTernan's column.   The job of a wry-smiling cryptic crossword clue writer is often to embed a nod to the correct, considered output in an obscure corner of the clue.   The word "irony" at the start couldn't be much clearer!!!!!

The irony is that, though she could have done so, Gillard never sought to gain advancement in her career by playing on being a woman. She ended up reaping all the disadvantages and none of the benefits. And it was only late in the day of her career, in that extraordinary speech, that she spoke the truth about misogyny in words that men and women alike in Australia and beyond knew to be true. She may just, as she said in a valedictory speech that was typical of her calm reason, have made it easier for the next woman prime minister of Australia.

Anthem of The Age - testing the limits of the HSU credit card funded national broadband download cap

When too much video on one Saturday morning is not enough.   Entries to today's video compilation competition officially closed last post Friday 28 June, but Stu of NT knows where a certain Melbourne Senator with fettered powers keeps the spare key to the office and he's got access to a franking machine with variable date generator including that crowd favourite 31 February. 

So here's the last opened neatest correct entry for Rage Against the Man!!!!!!   alright............


Welcome to the New Paradigm, where there will be war, rumours of war and secret signs in the Sky TV like ear wax eating.

This nation must be participating in Andrew Denton's new reality TV show - Political Wife Swap.

"Join Tim and Therese on their sofas as they watch Kevin and Julia try to outdo each other in being  outrageous!   Last time it was all sensible shoes as Julia and Julie introduced Tim (star of World's-Greatest-Premium-Event-Charity-Worker-Lanyard-Collections) to The Lifestyle, while Kevin and Therese slummed it with Kofi, Spanky-Banky and the World's Greatest Moral Challenge lecture circuit.

You won't believe the antics as Tim and the Shep Boys smuggle out the last of the Grange and Therese finds the stash of unpaid Enforcement Orders on the private-plated turbo V8 lowered GenF HSV Senator with nitrous that Julia only ever drove to Kevin's church on Sunday.

Can Kev trigger a religious war with those boat people and blame it on Tony Abbott?   Will Julia's legacy get the spelling of Peris-Kneebone right?  And does the Gold Card still get access to the Chairman's Lounge or do you need your admin assistant to arrange a separate card for the flight attendant to carry with the hairdryer on the personal 737 that you now get to keep as a memento?

Find out how these crazy kids are spending your money on next week's Q and A cast special preview!!!!!