Tony Abbott threatens to shirtfront Vladimir Putin

Sometimes I wonder if Tony Abbott will ever stop giving me material. Usually several times a week, word vomit escapes his face hole and it’s so stupid, self serving and/or downright evil the collective face palm in Australia can be heard around the world.

This week, as his mental and emotional growth clearly never progressed beyond early high school, Abbott decided to use some school yard bluster because apparently actual international diplomacy is too hard for him. As is basic English as well, it seems.

Oh, and what does “shirt front” actually mean? Here’s one interpretation.

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Ban the Burqa!

Looking at the “debate” happening in Australia around head coverings worn by Muslim woman I am filled with disgust by the rampant bigotry but I’m also confounded. First I’m confounded by people who assert this is about freedom for women. Then to prove how much freedom women deserve, they want to pass laws telling women what they can and can’t wear. Second, I’m confounded by the number of people who have very loud views on the topic and yet clearly have not spoken to Muslim women on the topic.
In cases where men are forcing women and girls to wear the niqab or burqa with physical, psychological or financial threats, legal action should definitely be taken. I’m not naïve enough to think this doesn’t happen but in these cases any legal action should NOT be against the women, it should be against the men. You don’t need any new laws to do this, enforcement of existing domestic violence laws is more than enough. But if you think there are women who don’t wear some form of head covering through personal choice you’re either wilfully ignorant or using the issue as an extremely obvious cover for your bigotry.
And another thing: if you want to take steps to stop women being forced to wear a niqab or burqa you need to go the whole way. If you’re not going to get behind the provision of financial support to help women to escape abusive situations then you need to shut the fuck up. You can’t upend someone’s life then abandon them. If you think you can go “ban the burqa” then dust off your hands and walk away then you’re either truly stupid or truly evil. Probably both.
One of the first things I learned when I started blogging was I had a lot of preconceived ideas about Muslim women that did not hold up particularly well once exposed to actual Muslim women. These were the typical bleeding heart lefty ideas that Muslimas were oppressed, not allowed access to education and scared to express themselves.
By coincidence, several of the blogs I found while starting my own were written my Muslimas. One was in Australia, one in Indonesia, one in the UK and two in the USA. They were very different people but a common thread was they were intelligent, funny and very independent. (Brief aside – I know presenting that as if it’s a revelation is condescending. That’s the point. I’m admitting to my ignorance and bias.) They were also very serious about religion; they read scripture, they believed in the magic man in the sky. There was no “I was born into a Muslim family/culture but I don’t really take it seriously.”
I didn’t consider myself prejudiced towards Muslims but regular interaction with actual Muslims opened my eyes to how many assumptions I was making. This is not a “white saviour reveals Muslims are just like us” moment, none of these women wanted or needed me to save them. They were just fine without me. But a bit of self-awareness never goes astray.
Not everyone saying “ban the burqa” is as stupid as Jacqui Lambie or as evil as Cory Bernardi but if you think banning a clothing item will improve the world, you’re truly ignorant.

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Great moments in stupid

I’d long wondered how ridiculous things could with global warming deniers generally and idiots like Andrew Bolt specifically. This week showed that the answer is “fucking”. They can get fucking stupid.
This week, Bolt was shocked and appalled that the ABC hosted a panel of scientists who all agree that climate change is not just real but probably one of the most serious issues facing humanity. Bolt’s response was to let us all know, in his own words, he was an idiot.
 bolt
Thanks mate, we already knew. In his fevered paranoia, the concept of acknowledging that 97% of climate scientist agree on climate change is crazy. Listening to people who are actually qualified to assess the evidence is being blinded by credentials.
Fortunately, Andrew knows scientists! Personally! They aren’t climate scientists BUT THEY DO THE SCIENCE! And they agree with him that it’s all rubbish. Wrap your head around that if you can. This self-proclaimed idiot says listening to experts in a field is crazy because that’s just credentials but his blatant lies should be listened to because he has a scientist who agrees! So moments after belittling the credentials of literally millions of scientists, he says the credentials of his singular scientist (who is credentialed in the WRONG field) should hold sway.
I’m sure Andrew is happy to have his dentistry done by a podiatrist as well. They’re both doctors after all. And are you seriously trying to tell me feet and teeth aren’t both part of the human body? How could someone who specialises in feet possibly be unqualified to make judgements on teeth? You’re being blinded by credentials. This is the cognitive dissonance climate change deniers must deal with every day – asserting that an easily provable lie is actually the truth. It must hurt.
The latest assessment by scientists qualified in the field of climate science is there is less than 1 chance in 100,000 that global average temperatures over the last 60 years would have been as high without human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. However, despite the near-unanimous scientific consensus solidly supported by evidence that humans are causing climate change, Bolt’s worldview is that this is nothing but empty credentials. But if you can find a single individual who discounts this science and all of the evidence that supports it, that is “facts”. I hope you feel better now.
Another stunning entry into the annals of stupid came from the Courier Mail this week. All of the Murdoch rags decided to run disgustingly adoring front page pieces on Scott Morrison and his vile policy against asylum seekers. This act alone was an abomination (but normal for the scum tabloids) but The Mail elevated it to the profoundly clueless by photoshopping Morrison into George Bush’s place when he stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier with a “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner behind him. Here is the danger of slavishly parroting propaganda: you start to believe it and forget that you are actually propagating lies and you forget when your previous propaganda has been conclusively proven wrong.
mission
When Bush stood in front of that banner, 139 US troops had been killed. More than 4,000 would die after he stood there. Nobody cares about the brown people but somewhere north of 500,000 Iraqis would die after this mission was “accomplished”. This image of Bush has come to be directly associated with failure and the hubris of ideologically driven fools who declare success only to create unspeakable horror afterwards. And the clowns at the Mail are apparently unaware of this.
On its own, the image would have been disgusting, like the one used by the Daily Telegraph in Sydney. But they have magically managed to meld the utterly repulsive with the truly stupid. Trying to drag Australia down past the gutters and into the sewers? Mission accomplished!

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Quokkas are unfair to white men

There are a lot of problems in the world but thankfully, a men’s Rights Activist has alerted me to the worst problem of all: quokkas being unfair to straight white men. This is a quokka.
quokka
Do you see the way it smiles? That’s because it’s so glad it’s destroying the privilege of white men.
This came to light after Palmer United Party senator Jacqui Lambie suggested 3% of senate seats should be reserved for indigenous Australians so they can be assured of proportional representation in the lawmaking process. It turns out quokkas are behind this and I find the idea of these smug marsupials controlling our legislative bodies to be totally unacceptable.
A particularly insightful letter to the editor in a Murdoch paper pointed out if you followed this nefarious quokka plan to its logical conclusion you’d have to acknowledge that considering about half the population are women, about half the people representing the population should be women as well. That sounds all well and good but no quokka is going to tell me what to do.
quota
To quote from the letter… oh, wait. He meant quotas. Quotas are unfair. I got confused between quotas and quokkas. I thought he was concerned about oversized grinning rats but he is literally saying that if white men were only represented proportionally in public life rather than utterly dominating it and actively excluding anybody who isn’t white and male like they have for centuries that would be wrong. Hmmmmm.
My quokka argument makes more sense.

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The mathematics of trolls

There are many reasons I prefer to block/delete moron commenters rather than “engage” with them. I put engage in quotation marks because although it’s what these trolls often say they want, what they actually want is to bludgeon anyone with an opposing point of view into silence. And before any low-rent moron jumps in thinking they’re being clever by saying that’s what I’m doing – no it isn’t. I’m perfectly happy with these losers having free speech. Somewhere else. Where they aren’t wasting my time.
Also, if that’s what you leapt to, go fuck yourself. You think saying things like that is clever or insightful? I’ve seen your shtick before and you’re boring. And a waste of time.
And that’s the key point about these vermin. It isn’t so much that they’re trolls or bullies, they’re boring and an utter waste of time. Worse still, I’ve learned that the ones with the least to offer make the most noise and demand more of the time and attention of people who are actually doing something. If we lived in a world where even the bitterest hater would simply spit out their insulting comment then go away, I’d probably let them do it. But unfortunately, we live in a world where Bertrand Russell famously observed that idiots are full of certainty and wiser people are full of doubt.
I’ve decided the simplest way to show how worthless these losers are is with a mathematical equation, namely:
v = 1/n
Where v is the value these losers offer to a given conversation and n is the amount of useless noise they make demanding you pay attention to them. For the slow learners (i.e. the people I’m talking about) this means the volume of your incessant blathering is inversely proportional to the amount of attention you’re actually worth. The more you bleat, the less I give a shit about you.
And a final note to the trolls stupid enough to say “if you don’t care, why are you going on about it?” This isn’t for you. You’re not worth addressing. This is for people who genuinely want an understanding of my motivations. By the way, do you trolls see how I know what you’re going to say before you say it? That’s because you’re boring and predictable. And I’m better than you. You notice how you’re reading my blog but I’m not reading yours? That’s because you have nothing to offer.
ATTENTION
Brief “your mileage may vary” disclaimer: I’m not dictating how anyone else should react to comments from haters and trolls. This is what works for me. If a different approach works for you, then you go with that.

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Palmer United Party – good thing or bad thing?

Clive Palmer appears to have surprised some people by doing exactly what he intended to do all along. I’m more than a little confused by people who express any sort of surprise or disappointment in Palmer United Party getting rid of the carbon price and/or the mining tax. Personally I think these actions are both mistakes but they were pretty much core promises from PUP in the lead up to the last federal election. If they hadn’t gone through with them that would have been a pretty major broken election promise.
Palmer’s decision to mess around with Abbott for shits and giggles has been funny to see but it was never anything more than a sideshow. On those major policy points PUP was always going to give the LNP coalition what they wanted. Palmer just decided to bend Abbott over, repeatedly thwack his arse and make him say “Thank you sir, may I have another?” each time. And if this government is going to destroy the lives and futures of the majority of the country, we at least deserve some entertainment to go with it.
Clive’s a “character”. Which is to say that virtually everything he says and does publicly is scripted as opposed to being the real him. Some of his PUP cohorts however, seem far more interesting. Jacqui Lambie is someone I’d like an opportunity to talk to and see how open she is to exploring issues. She seems to fancy herself as “down to earth” and I have no reason to suspect she’s anything but the ordinary person she projects. I feel inclined to defend her a bit when people call her a bogan because (a) I grew up in the country and (b) I’m more than a little disturbed when people who consider themselves progressive use classist insults.
It’s perfectly possible Lambie is a horrible regressive bigoted person and I wouldn’t like her. I don’t know her so I have no idea what she is really like. While her discussing her preference for big dicks on a radio station was less than edifying, I don’t think that episode means something should be done to change her behaviour. I’d much prefer it if something was done about the absolute dreck pumped out by commercial radio stations. The most interesting thing to me about her is she’s recently been speaking out about Palmer acting like an idiot.
When Palmer was supposed to tip a bucket of water over Lambie on a TV show called The Project (as part of the ubiquitous Ice Bucket Challenge) he saw a second bucket and apparently thought they were going to spring a surprise on him and challenge him to have the same done to him. He took exception to this and stormed off and has honestly looked a complete tool whenever he has been asked to explain his reaction. Lambie’s simple response of “Welcome to my world” seems rather telling.
More than once Lambie has publicly said she wishes Palmer would be less of a clown which seems like quite a promising sign. She essentially relied on Palmer’s profile and bankroll to get elected but doesn’t seem bothered about speaking out and criticising his poor behaviour when she thinks it’s warranted. It’s far too early to see what sort of lasting impact (if any) PUP will have on Australian politics. But they seem to not like Abbott and take some delight in torturing him and that’s enough for now.

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Amanda Fucking Palmer and The Art of Asking

 

Amanda Palmer is about to release a book called “The Art of Asking” which came out of her TED talk which in large part came from her experience of raising over a million dollars to make an album via a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. I follow Palmer on Twitter so I’ve seen her agonising over the process of making the book for many months so my first reaction to the “it’s done, here’s the cover” posts was “well, that must be a relief”.
Straight after that was the thought “here comes the hate”. Anyone in the public eye attracts hate. As soon as you have something someone else doesn’t (talent, success, money) you get jealousy and hate directed at you. Amanda Palmer is a personality type that can (and often does) polarise people and both the pro- and anti-Palmer crowds can be zealous to a degree that seems quite out of scale for what she does. She has said plenty of things I don’t agree with but I’m definitely in the “pro” camp.
I was aware of her band The Dresden Dolls and her solo work, I liked the music although I never bought any of it. Then a few years ago The Dresden Dolls did a reunion tour and when they were in Melbourne I helped video the show. It was one of the most amazing live experiences I’ve ever had and I definitely counted myself a fan after that.
A little later, Palmer decided to use the Kickstarter platform to crowdfund a new album. The project was insanely successful – she set a target of $100,000 and ended up raising nearly twelve times that amount. It’s still the most successful music-based Kickstarter and it attracted a huge amount of attention. While her fanbase was hugely excited by the project (made obvious when the target was reached within a couple of hours) the backlash came quickly with a lot of people seeming to think this was some sort of scam.
I didn’t support the Kickstarter (I ended up buying a physical copy of the album later) but the negativity made me quite angry because it combined two of my least favourite things – jealousy and ignorance. I’ll never get over people saying crowdfunding is some sort of a scam, when someone well known does it they are somehow tricking their fans into giving them money. The pure ignorance required to make this comment is staggering.
Palmer’s campaign had a diverse range of rewards at different levels, starting with a $1 pledge got you a digital download of the album. How the hell do you call something a scam when a supporter can get the album for $1? The thing with crowdfunding campaigns is contributors are told what they will get for their money AHEAD OF TIME! Nobody is forcing anyone to contribute. People see something they want and think the cost is acceptable. That’s it. The only way it could be a scam is if the campaign doesn’t deliver what they promised. And that certainly wasn’t the case with Palmer.
I saw some criticisms when she gave a breakdown of where the money would go from people saying her figures for costs were “extravagant”. My first response would be fuck you, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Trying to compare an arts-related project to a bog standard commercial CD release is ridiculous. The bitterness and jealousy fairly dripped from the writing of these people. I imagine they are very unpleasant to be around in general.
My second response is those assertions of extravagance are completely irrelevant. That way of looking at the project is completely backwards! Supporters didn’t pledge on the proviso “you will only make x % profit from this transaction”. They saw an offer, agreed with the price and went for it. It wouldn’t matter if Palmer was lying through her teeth and pocketed 90% of the money in pure profit. Supporters got what they paid for and were happy. End of story. Unless your story is that you’re a bitter “journalist” who has never created any original artistic work and is insanely jealous of people who can do things you can’t. That story will never end.
I’m not going to link to any criticism of Palmer’s campaign (I don’t feel like giving them the attention) but there were a lot of jealous nobodies and some particularly clueless well-known somebodies who piled on. The twin themes of (unacknowledged) jealousy and wilful ignorance ran through all of the criticisms. Seeing the backlash made me think of that saying beloved by mothers everywhere that has more recently become quite popular on the internet: “this is why we can’t have nice things”.  I’ll never stop being amazed at human capacity to see the negative in any good thing that happens.
I’ve never actually run a crowdfunding campaign myself although I’ve considered it and I might do it in the future if I think I have a compelling project. In short, I’ve never asked people online for money at all. In the early years of YouTube there was a rash of what was called “e-begging”. Essentially, this was YouTubers asking their viewers for money in a way that meant (in most cases) the contributors got nothing out of it apart from feeling they helped someone they liked.
While nobody forced anyone to give money in these cases either, there were definitely some scams pulled and e-begging was a pretty accurate term for what was happening. Amanda Palmer’s “Art of Asking” story goes right back to when she was a human statue street performer and carries right through her music career to the Kickstarter campaign and beyond. It isn’t as though she’s perfect or even handled the Kickstarter aftermath perfectly – probably her worst mistake was not realising how perceptions had changed about her standard practice of inviting local musicians to join in on shows without paying them. But when I think about the wave of hate that is almost inevitably coming with the release of the book, I feel more than a little sick.
A lot of people don’t seem to realise that I’m essentially an idealist. I like to see people do good/creative things and try to look for positives in successful ventures even if I don’t like them myself. I wish more people would look at someone else’s success and think “they proved it’s possible” rather than “why did that rubbish succeed when nobody supports what I want to do?” I hope I get proved wrong about this but I don’t think I will be. For those people who have a thing against Amanda Palmer, I’m not saying you’re necessarily wrong in your grievances (she’s human and has human failings), but surely there’s a more deserving target for your hatred. I just wish people could be better.

 

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