all right

Occasionally adding corroborative details to add verisimilitude to otherwise bald and unconvincing,
but veridicous accounts
with careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination.

26 July, 2011

Pets for Warmth

Wearing a Boa?

The best counsel yet
from the Government: for warmth,
snuggle with a pet.*

That helpful advice
might not be so great if you
keep only some mice;

furthermore, I wish
people would ignore that tip
with tropical fish

and I should not take
such governmental guidance
if I had a snake— 

Tassy’s Copperheads
or Tiger Snakes aren’t prescribed
for sofas or beds.

Nonetheless, if I
want to procure a warm dog,
which is best to buy?

I have read, you see,
that dogs’ emissions are worse
than an SUV.† 

Still, I must say that
my favoured chum would be an
insulation bat.

*  from Living Greener’s Top tips for living greener this winter, “To reduce the energy you use while watching TV, take another tip from grandma and share the warmth.  Snuggle up under a rug, snuggle with your family or cuddle your favourite pet.”
†  in “Want to warm up? Try a pet blanket”, Gemma Jones of The Daily Telegraph reports, “New Zealand architects Robert and Brenda Vale calculated a medium-sized dog had twice the emissions of a 4WD once the amount of land required to feed the pet was taken into account.”

Wouldn’t Greens deplore
the environmental cost
of a carnivore?

What of animal rights?  Have they no say?  See The Parliament of Beasts.

One might, perhaps, keep
fine, wooly, warm wether friends,
like merino sheep,

or search well for a
rarer source of wool, like the
long-haired angora.

Enough, though, of such
beast-related fun, I say;
this is all too much:

I  abhor—like most—
hot, blanket statements, but this
Government is toast.

UPDATE I: At Tim Blair’s ’blog, a commenter, Mr. Simmon, suggests that our benevolent Government might provide teams to furnish gloves and instructions for those with scratchier pets; I responded thereto:
Sheep, look upon wolves,
so be as wise as serpents,
as harmless as doves!

I’d prefer cats’s claws
to this mob’s incompetence.
Beware burning gloves!

UPDATE II (31 July)Living Greener’s Top tips for living greener this winter has been rewritten; instead of cuddling a pet, the site now recommends, “To reduce the energy you use while watching TV, use a blanket before turning up the heat.”  So, instead of cuddling your chameleon or nuzzling your newt, put another log on the fire or give the radiator a little more power—but only after grabbing a blanket.

On Haikus

Counting Syllables

Stanzas of three lines
and 17 syllables:
that can’t be so hard;

after all, we’re not
expecting verses to be
worthy of the bard.

However, not all
can compose modern haikus
because some can’t count;

rhyming’s optional,
and so is wit, but adding
up is paramount.

fashion is to blame for this
sad situation,

I say.  So much, then,
for Labor’s policy of
“the Knowledge Nation”.

23 July, 2011

Taking the Doggerel for a Drunken Dance

Tim Blair invited readers to compose sentences which included words prohibited by Iranian censors:  kiss, beloved, wine, drunk, pork, dance, dog and meditation.  I submitted these verses:
When my beloved kisses me it’s like I’m drunk on wine,
but when she dances with her dogs my thoughts are not benign;
and meditations turn to pork when she and pigs entwine,
my kisses should be on her lips, but pets’ are not so fine. 
I then made another attempt:
“O dirty dog, thou art drunk with wine.
kiss your beloved, don’t dance with thine;
dance with camels or even with kine,
never with women—that’s out of line!”
I’d almost made an abjuration
and thus deserved the exhortation
from an imam who will dance with swine
but never eats pork—we must decline—;
he gave me for an explanation:
“fit beasts, not pork, aid meditation.”
 UPDATE:  slightly altered since both submissions eventually appeared.

18 July, 2011

Taxes and Semantics

A Basic Misunderstanding

People tell leaders:
“Governments should never make
too many taxes!”

Leaders respond, “Right,
governments can never make
too many taxes.”

16 July, 2011

She Worked Hard to Get Elected

A commenter, Mark W. of Queensland, on Andrew Bolt’s column, “Crap Applause”, wrote:
I spoke to our local federal MP [...] she said to me, off the record that the carbon tax is the craziest idea her government has ever come up with, she added, I don’t why they are going ahead with it, I can’t understand their logic. Then she said, there are many who are quietly objecting to it however there was not a lot she could do. I will not mention her name publicly as that would be terrible for her as she is a good person, and she worked hard to get elected [...].
No, she is not “a good person”.  Any elected representative who publicly supports an irrational policy though privately considering it crazy (whether from motives of party-solidarity or tribalism or for any other reason) or who publicly condones incompetent government whilst privately condemning it or who “worked hard to get elected” but, once elected, fails to represent electors is not a good person.
[T]here was not a lot she could do[.]
On the contrary, she could, for a start, say publicly what she thinks.

In Queensland (supposing Mark W. was speaking of a local MP in Queensland) only two of the Labor MHRs are female: Mrs Yvette D’Ath (representing Petrie) and Ms Kirsten Livermore (of Capricornia).  I have written to both these representatives, and I shall report any response I receive.

UPDATE I (17 July):  See (if you were not already directed hither thence) Andrew Bolt’s “How much longer before Labor MPs save us from this mad tax?”.

UPDATE II (17 July):  Some, at Andrew Bolt’s blog, question whether I should advocate that politicians on all sides of politics be honest.  Of course, I do.  Would that mean that I’d support Malcolm Turnbull’s crossing the floor of Parliament on a matter of principle?  Of course, it would.  If Malcolm Turnbull were an honest, upright man, however, I suspect that he too would oppose a tax on carbon dioxide.
The motto of Beaconsfield Primary School (or, when I attended, Beaconsfield Area School) was esse quam videri—“to be rather than to seem”—which might be derived from either Cicero’s “virtute enim ipsa non tam multi praediti esse quam videri volunt”* or Sallust’s description of Cato the Younger, “esse quam videri bonus malebat” or, perhaps, both.  For a ruler’s necessity to put appearance above reality, Niccolò Machiavelli reverses this phrase, in The Prince, to videri quam esse:  a prince must seem but not be a man of principle.
When I suggested above that a Member of Parliament (who privately maligns the stupid ‘carbon’ tax though publicly praising it) was not a good person, I did not say that she therefore had to act rightly.  I wish she would, but I should not expect her to act with any more principle than our pragmatically mendacious PM does.  I wrote that she could easily say what she thinks, but that does not mean that I expect her to do so or that I am unaware of the reprisals a renegade parliamentarian may suffer.

*  “Few are those who are as gifted with virtue as they wish to seem.”  De Amicitia, 98.
†  “He preferred to be rather than to seem good.”  Bellum Catilinae, 54.6.

Miscellaneous Transcriptions, Nº 3 – the Balance of Power

(from weepyleaps)
Transcript of a conversation in Sen. Brown’s office,
Friday, 1 July, 2011:

Sen. Brown:  Welcome, team, this is the first day of a new, golden age.  Hang on, we’ll just wait for the cameras to leave.  All right, welcome to the new paradigm; now, how shall we begin?
Sen. Milne:  We say, “No pulp mill!”
Dr. Bandt:  We call for an end to bourgeois, left-fascism and deviationism!
Sen. Rhiannon:  Heh-heh heh!  We need to expel from the party those members who reject the conditions and theses laid down by the central committee!  Heh-heh!  Talking of the all-powerful central committee, the leadership—
Sen. Hanson-Young:  Yes, yes, we should have a leadership spill!  I vote for Sarah Hanson-Young and so does my Teddy!
Sen. Rhiannon:  Hark!  I am call’d, my little spirit, see!  Heh-heh!  I vote for Senator Rhiannon!
Dr. BandtI vote for Adam Bandt.  
Sen. Siewert:   I vote for Rachel Siewert.
Sen. Ludlam:  I vote for Senator Ludlum.
Sen. Di Natale:  I vote for me.
Sen. Waters:  I vote for Senator Waters.
Sen. Hanson-Young:  Ooh, I vote for me!
Sen. Wright:  No, me!
Sen. BrownSlow down, slow down, everybody.  Christine? 
Sen. Milne:  I vote for Bob.
Sen. Brown:  In that case, I have two votes and remain leader.  Now, assuming that each of you will vote for yourself for deputy—
omnes:  Yes, of course.
Sen. BrownI vote for Senator Milne, who thus remains deputy leader.  Right, on with business.  We have the balance of power in the Senate whenever the Government and the Coalition are opposed.  What shall we concentrate our efforts on accomplishing?  What should we announce first?
Sen. Milne:  No coal-fired power stations!
Sen. Siewert:  Ban abattoirs!
Sen. Di Natale:  Make the swinish multitude exercise more!
Sen. Wright:  Tell people what is good for them!  At the moment, the suburbs are full of ignorant racists who eat the wrong food, read the wrong newspapers, watch the wrong television shows—
Sen. Ludlam:  Supporters of nuclear energy must be demonised!  Defame sceptics—
Sen. Waters:  Accuse anyone doubtful of global warming or against taxing the air we breathe of being ignorant, suburban trash in the pay of big oil—
Sen. Milne:  We already do all that—
Dr. BandtSystematic and methodical agitation is necessary throughout the suburbs—
Sen. Rhiannon:  Liver of blaspheming Jew!  First, you loony Leninist, all the party’s publishing institutions must be subordinated to the party leadership—
Dr. Bandt:  Look, you Stalinist hag, an entirely classless, stateless form of society— 
Sen. Rhiannon:  Fair is foul, and foul is fair!  Heh-heh heh!  We must arrange a boycott of all Jewish, I mean, Israeli businesses, and then we must regularly and methodically remove reformists and centrists—
Sen. Hanson-Young:  Please don’t shout!  It makes Teddy nervous. 
Dr. BandtLook, I support Palestinians as much— 
Sen. Rhiannon:  The Jews are responsible—
Sen. Brown:  Umm—
Sen. Hanson-Young:  Oopsie, Teddy did a wee-wee.  Bad Teddy!
Sen. Rhiannon:  You cursed brat!  Look what you’ve done!  I’m melting! melting!
Sen. Brown:  Someone, anyone, Sarah wet herself again; and judging from the smell, Senator Rhiannon needs her nappy changed.
Sen. Rhiannon:  Ah, my pretties!  Heh-heh heh!
Sen. Waters:  Oh, yuck, now she’s playing with it!
Sen. Brown:  Adam, please, their assistants know what to do; take them to their offices, quickly.
Dr. Bandt:  All right.  Come, senators, let’s go toily.
Sen. Hanson-YoungIs Saint Peter the tutelar saint of Cadiz?
Sen. Rhiannon:  Ah, the devil is come among you, having great wrath.  Heh-heh heh.
Dr. Bandt:  Come on! 
Sen. Brown:  Perhaps, now they’ve gone, we can get some work done.  I was thinking that I should draft a media release for Sarah calling on the Government to alter the powers of the Foreign Investment Review Board to include water licences.  Also, whatever inane thing the PM says, I’ll find a way of turning it into a stick for beating Tony Abbott.
omnes:   Agreed.
Sen. Ludlam:  I shall issue a media release saying the Australian Government has gone weeks without answering questions on when it first knew the full extent of the Fukushima catastrophe.  We must make people think that all nuclear power stations are about to explode any day now.  Our calls for green energy, of course, must not be interpreted in any way as supportive of what is actually non-polluting power.
omnes:   Agreed.
Sen. Milne:  I shall issue a media release saying that we call on the Australian Trade and Industry Alliance to call off its planned advertising campaign against a price on pollution—for the media now compliantly accept our deceptive definition of carbon dioxide as “pollution”—until it is in a position to engage in an “honest and informed debate”.  That will stop them!  Hate media!
omnes:   Hate media!
Sen. Brown:  Excellent!  We’ll get on with that.  Well done, everyone; that was a productive morning’s work.  See you all Monday!

Playing with Fire

Jeff Dawson, of The Daily Mail, back in June, wrote (or, perhaps, uncritically transcribed) “The world according to Rose Byrne” wherein we find this:
Every time I visit my parents I have to watch out for deadly brown snakes.
My mum and dad run a garlic farm in Tasmania and the landscape is just stunning, wild and rugged, but it’s infested with snakes – if you get bitten you’ve got to get an antivenom shot within 35 minutes or you could die.  Most people keep the shots on the farm, but my parents don’t.  They’re playing with fire. It’s worse in the summer, but you see them all the time.  My parents laugh about it, but it’s scary.  I’ll take precautions if I’m doing any bush walks. I’m not a fan of snakes.
We have only three species of snake in Tasmania: the Tiger Snake (Notechis scutatus—sometimes called a brown snake, black snake or king snake), which has extremely toxic venom but, having also a primitive, inefficient set of fangs, is not often lethal to human beings; the Lowland Copperhead (Austrelaps superbussometimes called a brown snake) which also has very toxic venom but, having also a primitive, inefficient set of fangs, is not often lethal to human beings; and the small White-lipped Snake (Drysdalia coronoides, often called a whip snake when I was young) which has toxic venom but, having also a primitive, inefficient set of fangs, is very seldom lethal to human beings.  I’ve met a few people who survived snakebites.  One of the simplest precautions to minimise the chances of a lethal snakebite when walking in the Tasmania bush is to wear trousers and thick socks—bush-walking with sandals, no socks and bare legs is not a particularly good idea.
I have never met a farmer in Tasmania who keeps anti-venom shots, and I have lived in Tasmania all my life, and often wandered in the bush around my boyhood home or around relatives’ farms as a lad.  My older brothers and I often encountered snakes.  Once, when I was three or four (riding on the back of a tricycle ridden by a brother), we ran over a snake who seemed unhurt by the experience.  When I and my two older brothers were in high school we caught a tiger snake which we kept (illegally) in our father’s toolbox.  We milked it of its venom a few times because my brothers had a cunning plan of offering a venom-soaked handkerchief to someone, say, with a bleeding wound one day.  We’d occasionally let the snake loose on the lawn when we played cricket, but my eldest brother foolishly tried to scare a neighbour with the inoffensive serpent, and my father ordered that we release it.  Instead, my brother took it to school—Riverside High School—where a teacher killed, stuffed, coiled and displayed the poor reptile—it might be there still—and kept the toolbox.

(Thanks to It’s Fair Comment for the link.)

UPDATE (17 July):  Also to be found in the Tasmanian bush is the Jack Jumper (Myrmecia pilosula)—jack jumpers kill more people in Tasmania each year (from the resultant anaphylaxis, usually) than snakes, spiders and jellyfish and sharks combined—and the Inchman (Myrmecia forficata), a Tasmanian bull ant which is about an inch long and which has a nasty bite and—I speak feelingly—an excruciating (and potentially lethal) sting.  The aforementioned boots, thick socks and trousers are a good defence against these satanic insects.
In some parts of Tasmania you may also find the Red-back Spider (Latrodectus hasselti) which is, I learn from a little web-searching, slow-moving and fairly non-aggressive; well, try walking into a shed in the warmer months full of dozens of randy female red-backs scrambling towards you and then come back to me saying how slow-moving they are.
See also “Deadly Poisonous Creatures”.

11 July, 2011

A Warning

Run for the Hills*

Hey! various things
might endanger the planet
and kill all of us!

Clever scientists
say that possible perils
could be dangerous.

*  posted as a comment on “Robust uncertainty” by Anthony Watts

A Fable

fictis jocare nos memenerit fabulis. 
—Phaedrus, Fabulae Aesopiarum, I, Prol., 6.*

Chicken Little’s Coop

Hens wanted to ban
powered works of evil man.
Thus the leader’s plan:

after putting locks,
by force, on each chicken’s box,
give keys to the fox.

The hen-houses applaud
their dear leader’s pricey fraud.
Let foxes maraud.

*  “Remember that I ever joke about some non-existing folk.”

04 July, 2011

The PM and the People Agree

“Discite justitiam moniti et non temnere divos.” 
—P. Vergilius Maro, Aeneidos, VI, 620.*
Our Heroic Leader or εἰς κόρακας

Hark!   “I have been to hell and back,”
our honest PM said;
she met, perhaps, Persephone,
or walked among the dead.
She says she’ll journey thither more—
“a dozen times” or so—
and there, for once, her folk concur
on whither she should go.

Like Heracles and Orpheus
(who, retrospectively,
made a woeful error there
and lost Eurydice),
our leader crossed the River Styx
or over lakes which burn:
such heroes—once—could come back home,
but must she, too, return?

Some might consider it quite weird,
or rather more than odd,
that one who’s seen the site of hell
does not believe in God.

*  Poor Phlegyas all loudly warned:  “Learn justice; let not gods be scorned!”  (So Aeneas hears as he passes through the underworld.)
†  At a media conference in Canberra, today, our mendacious leader said, “as I think is well known, I’ve gone to Hell and back, and I’ll go there a dozen times more to change the distribution of opportunity in our nation.”  Malcolm Farr of The Australian, reported: “Julia Gillard says she has been ‘to Hell and back’ promoting Labor values as she again drew a stark line between her Government and the Greens.”  This, however, was not the first time that the Prime Fibster has announced that she (or her party, or both) traversed the infernal regions:  at the National Press Club in August, 2010, she averred, “you’re talking to the leader of the political party that literally went to hell and back to modernise the Australian economy, including reducing tariff barriers.”  Note that the PM said that she (or her party) literally went to hell and back—either she refers to herself with “that” instead of “who” (which she sometimes does) or she meant that her entire political party took a fact-finding tour of the pit of eternal damnation.  Many will scorn her inability to pronounce such words as hyperbole but, escaping media scrutiny:  Gillard misunderstands “literally.”
See also “The Wisdom of Julia Gillard”.

UPDATE I (6 July):  In Parliament, yesterday, the PM said:  “I will be wearing out my shoe leather literally, Mister Speaker, around the country, making sure that Australian families who want answers about the carbon pricing package get those answers.” 

UPDATE II (9 September):  Thorfinn, my younger son, adds a little joke on the subject to his site:

I told a son of
Gillard’s claim.  His opinion
of her hellish trick

was to say she’s no minion
of hell; she’s Old Nick.

UPDATE III (21 September):  in question time today the PM said that the Leader of the Opposition “literally slept through the global financial crisis”. 

UPDATE IV (11 November):  see also “Incredibly Challenging”.