Poll Dancer by Keith Ng


If the DBP affair is about questioning the character of our politicians, it's done its job. The voraciousness, the ruthlessness, the utter indecency with which the character assassination - nay, character lynch-mobbing - campaign has been carried out is simply disgusting.

It makes juicy soundbites ("schoolgirls!" "nighties!" "changing room!" - <a target="_blank" href="http://www.google.com/search?q=schoolgirls+nighties+changing+room&sourceid=mozilla&start=0&start=0&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
">three down from "Petticoat Discipline Quarterly" on Google), it stops the Government from getting any real work done, but what is the purpose of all of this? What end, democratic or otherwise, does it actually serve for politicians to stamp on one another like this?

Let's put the allegations against him in context here.

How reliable are the recollections? The latest one is 9 years ago, the oldest one around 20. The events that allegedly happened are not life-shattering traumas that were etched onto the victims' minds.

Is it possible for the recollections to be biased? Come on - we've all had teachers we hated. And given last year's coverage, is it not possible for the decade(s) old memories to be warped, just a little?

Enough evidence suggests that something happened, but that doesn't address the substance of the issue: was DBP doing something other than his job as a teacher?

The devil is in the details. Where was he? Did he enter straight into the changing room? Was he by the door? Was there a barrier by the door that stops people from looking in? In short, was he in a position where he could expect to see naked girls, or was he just in the same building? Did he announce his entry? Did any of the other girls hear him?

I'm not trying to be unnecessarily pedantic here, but the details do matter. It's the difference between a teacher who broke protocols and the "dirty old man" that the Opposition are trying to paint him as. It makes a hell of a lot of difference.

There's been an opinion formed of the man based on scenarios that have been constructed out of a few unverifiable claims. A police investigation would have been nearly impossible - hence the lack of one. But this doesn't mean that he's "gotten away with it", it just means that we really don't know and can't know.

I don't care about whether DBP lied. I don't really care about DBP at all. I just care about the state of our democracy when it occupies itself with such despicable lynch-mobbing.

DBP's entitled to more than just the benefit of the doubt. He's entitled, like every other human being, to justice: The presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

The flip side to that entitlement is that it is the responsibility of every self-respecting citizen of a just society to uphold that right, to refrain from passing judgement in lieu of sufficient evidence.

It's not a lot to ask, people.

Let's judge our politicians by their characters. Let's see how many of them will use unsubstantiated accusations to destroy a man because they want his job. Let's see if any of them will show a bit of decency, a bit of humanity, a bit of *leadership*.

My jaded eyes will be on Labour now, with their threats to blow Gerry out of the water. Gerry's name has been in Labour's dirt-file for a while now. I wrote (semi-cryptically: "tennis-ball-grade dirt") about it last year, and got a call the next day from Mike Munro, the PM's then-Press Secretary, insisting that the Labour Party doesn't have a dirt-file. Ahem.

To their credit, Labour refrained from opening the non-existent dirt-file at all throughout the campaign, and throughout DBP's first grilling. According to one of my sources, it was because Labour "doesn't do that sort of politics". Ahem.

I can appreciate how tempting it must be right now.

We're watching you, buddy.

The Other God

If there's a God, he's must be a satirist. I mean, how else could you explain such diabolically delicious parallels?

I'm sorry - I know everyone's trying to ignore the glaringly obvious comparison because, well, it's so glaringly obvious and everyone's sick of hearing about cartoonists - but hey, I thought the thing about principles was that they had to be applied consistently?

So, in the interest of consistency (and, you know, testing tolerance), here's the torrent. Just in case you miss it on TV. (I can't get C4.)

And just to prove that yes, it really is offensive, here are a few screenshots.

Here is the website the Catholic group Family Life International have set up.

It's most interesting in that it's the case that the anti-Mohammed-cartoon campaign should have run. But it's also interesting for the slightly resigned tone and lack of faith (ha ha) in secular institutions.

I wonder if the Catholic church is, in a way, showing solidarity for the Muslims...

(Errata: In my last post, I erroneously refered to a communications company as TelstraSatan, which was very naughty of me. That name was used when TelstraClear was TelstraSaturn. The correct monikers for our telecommunications companies, according to current employees, are TestiCular and Telescum, respectively. I unreservedly apologise for any confusion caused.)

Die Dirty Telcos, Die Die Die

I dream of the day when we can raze Telecom to the ground. The flurry of posts last week came because I had just managed to get internet connected. It took just under three weeks. Due to "a shortage of technicians", it took 10 days to get a phone - a plain old telephone, one of the things that those of us born in the 20th century just take for granted. It took another 10 days to connect us to the internet.

It's not like they had to build pylons to get to us. We *were* connected. We just needed someone to flick a switch. It's not an infrastructure problem - they just don't give a shit.

When I was advised that it'd take 10 days to get a phone-line, I said: "Oh. I guess I better find another provider then." Their reply: "Sure. I'll set this job up, and if you find someone who can connect it sooner, just call us and we'll cancel the job for you." They were confident that they owned our ass, and they were right.

And when we were looking for ISPs, why did we stick with Telecom? Of course we didn't! Who the hell would? We went with Orcon, but of course, they still needed to line up at Telecom's door to beg one of their benevolent technicians to connect the line, if they're not too busy.

When I called up Telecom to get my account number to give to Orcon, they asked: "Have you thought about connecting to the internet with Xtra?" I explained that, for the same price as their 3gb 256k plan, I could get an unlimited 256k plan at Orcon. "Oh. That does sound like a pretty good deal."

So yeah - Telecom's changes are great, but it doesn't change the fact that what I'm really after is *choice*; the ability to not have anything to do with Telecom at all.

(And what the hell's with Xtra's "Revenge of the Nerds" advertising campaign? Dude, that stereotype belongs in the 80s, along with the one where gay man = sailor-boy with handle-bar moustache and tight leather gear. Trying to sell internet with the former is like trying to sell Queer-Eye-esque fashion with the latter - it'd only appeal to people who geniunely didn't have a clue. Which is fair enough, I suppose - since Xtra's niche in the market is "suckers-who-are-unaware-that-other-ISPs-exist".)

Still, nothing can beat my personal grudge against TelstraSatan, who, a few years back, erroneously sent our flat a final bill of $1,700. All but one of my ex-flatmates bailed on me, which left me fighting the evil corporation for a year.

We wrote letter after letter, which were no doubt forwarded to the Department That Cares. We staved off the debt-collectors by taking the matter to the Disputes Tribunal, and when a manager from TelstraSatan arrived at the hearing, she had our letters in a folder, and informed the judge that she hadn't read a word of it. We went away while she read it, and she generously offered to settle the matter if we paid them $500. We politely declined and generously offered not to persue other costs if they paid us court costs of $70. They paid. We blew it on steaks.

For anyone who's considering taking on The Man, here's the thing: They don't listen and they are assholes. Their entire system is based on the premise that, if they fuck you around long enough, you'd get intimidated or really really bored and give up. It's a war of attrition that works in their favour, because it takes you more effort to get their system to notice you than it does for them to not give a shit.

But the Disputes Tribunal is a great equaliser. They can't get debt collectors on you if the matter's going before the courts. They can't ignore a court summons. They can't send in real lawyers. So they end up sending someone from middle-management who has better things to not do with their time, and suddenly, it costs *them* more to waste your time.

It's not quite razing them to the ground, but it's the closest legal alternative.

And the world would be better without them - if only we could get our internet another way. I've just been playing around with Skype the last few days - free calling to anyone else with Skype, and 3c/min to any phone number in most parts of the world. And with better sound quality.

The most attractive part of it is that it uses the internet, and thus, information is broken into packets and sent through whatever means is available. On a grand-scale, it means that the copper network can rot, but as long as you've got internet through fibre-optics or Woosh or whatever, then you're still fully-functional. On a practical scale, it means not having to depend on a particular physical network - it'd be like having a phone number that's as portable as your email.

The revolution is coming. And I know who'll be first against the wall.

Bruckheimer to Produce 'Apocalypse'

In the biggest shake-up to hit Hollywood in recent decades, Omniscient Studios has announced that acclaimed producer Jerry Bruckheimer will take over from the Anti-Christ as the producer of the big-budget action-comedy, The Apocalypse. The troubled project, with an original release date of 1000 A.D., has been plagued by mismanagement, budget problems of 'biblical' proportions as well as delays in primary shooting. Industry observers have been compared its troubles with Francis Ford Capola's own Apocalypse Now.

The Anti-Christ, the actor-producer who has been on the project since its conception, expressed disappointment at the studio's decision and has told reporters that he will be returning to Hell to seek legal advice. Anti-Christ and the other members of the original cast, War, Famine and Plague, are set to be replaced before shooting begins.

A crew member in the original production told Salient that the original cast 'wasn't cut out for show-biz'. 'Plague was never very popular with the rest of the cast. Or the crew, for that matter, ever since his make-up guys got those giant boils and died clawing their own eyes out. And I think that War has some serious anger-management issues. I heard that he killed the entire crew when he found out World War I finished.'

Though Bruckheimer had wanted Famine in the final production, studio executives had concerns that the emaciated undead actor 'perpetuated an unhealthy body image'.

In his first week as producer, Bruckheimer has successfully secured a star-studded cast to replace the incumbent immortal beings. Production insiders described the scene last week as “bedlam”, when War, Famine and Plague were told of the news.

Ian McKellen, who played the title role in Richard Loncraine's Richard III, has been offered the leading role as Anti-Christ, while Steve Buscimi has confirmed that he will be playing Famine, the hilarious bumbling Horseman.

It is also rumoured that Bruckheimer is seeking to rewrite the Book of Revelations to remove the role of Plague and replace it with a love interest for Ben Afflick angst-filled character, War, struggling to come to terms with his own awesome powers of destruction. The new fourth Horseperson, whose working name is PMS, is described as a strong, feisty and independent woman, who really just needs a wild and sexy man who plays by his own rules to tame her. An African-American role will also be included, played by Sydney Pontier, called 'the guy in the background during the opening credits'.

Primary filming will begin early next year in tandem with the next Bush invasion and is expected to be completed by May, pending approval by the Environmental Protection Agency for the final 'end of the world nuclear apocalypse' scene. The final release is due in November 2004, in all cinemas that survive The End.


That's all the blasphemous satire from me. But from the media-freedom corner, Tom Scott hits it on the head better than any of the editorials, I think.

Chalk one for the cartoonists!

Daryl Cagle's cartoon index also has a massive collection of cartoons from around the world about the cartoons. [Hat tip: Te Radar] It's a bit post-modern, but a lot of it is very funny. This one's my favourite.

Still, it's alarming how the continental European cartoonists uniformally suck. Maybe I should send in bomb threats... And what the hell is with the smoking one on the first page? "Smoking daily news"? "Smoker-in-Chief"?

Scriptual aside: A pious PA reader has advised me that God would never consider another great flood, because he promised in Genesis that there would never be another one.

Take that, climate change scientists!


Exercising our god-given right to blaspheme today is my predecessor at Salient, fellow heathen scum Matt Nippert. These articles (including my previous posts) were published in Salient in 2003.

Tomorrow: Apocalypse.


McMecca provides Paradise close to home
by Matt Nippert

In an unprecedented move, the White House has endorsed Islam, declaring that "if Ariel Sharon is a man of peace, then Islam deserves the same acclaim".

The announcement follows the completion of a massive mosque in central Indiana.

President Bush declared that "Americans should not need to travel abroad to fulfil their religious duty, or Haj. Instead American Muslims should travel to McMecca, a fun-filled theme park for Muslims everywhere."

McMecca includes Halal McDonalds and KFC outlets, as well as a Vegas-inspired Ka'bah replica complete with self-flagellating midget Sufis.

Entrance is restricted to practising Muslims, or any American with a criminal conviction.

"It's like the real Mecca, only more conveniently located, with more modern amenities, and the approval of the Department of Homeland Security," Bush said, urging all American Muslims to visit as soon as possible.

Pillars of smoke, presumably from the massive fast-food fryers within, wound lazily upwards from McMecca, the only external sign of the revelry and religious euphoria inside.

International media crowding at the exit to McMecca were unable to find anyone leaving, giving rise to speculation from the international community about the benefits of the site.

"We're very impressed," said one Italian delegate. "We're thinking of building McBethlehem since those damned Israelis keep closing the West Bank at Christmas."

"In other news, customs officials have decided to quarantine all those with SARS (Severely Anal Religious Sympathies) in either a four-foot cell in Guantanemo Bay or the "plush, friendly and secure surroundings of McMecca."

Detainees are allowed to choose.


Pope Wins $1 million
by Matt Nippert

Pope Benedict XVI, a contestant on the popular Who Wants to be a Millionaire gameshow, has walked away with the grand prize.

Entered by the Vatican, which hoped to tap into the lucrative American pop-faith market, the Pope appeared headed for an early exit after appearing clueless when faced with pop-culture questions.

After exhausting his lifelines early in the process, and wrongly guessing that Sydney, not Canberra, was the capital of Australia, the Pope invoked the doctrine of Papal Infallibility.

‘I am the voice of God. I am all-knowing,’ he declared to a clearly shocked Regis Philburn.

Regis acknowledged the divinity of the answer, and was forced to declare the answer correct.

From that point on, the road to the $1 million prize was mercifully short, punctuated only by a singing and dancing routine by a travelling squad of nuns.

Meanwhile, the Australian Parliament Building, being transported north along the coastal highway, fell off a moving truck and plunged into the ocean.

John Howard took advantage of the opportunity to declare Parliament dissolved, granting himself absolute power.