Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Phillip Adams on "outing" Kennedy

Phillip Adams writes about his disgust at Derryn Hinch speculating (or claiming, I know not which) that the late Graham Kennedy died of AIDS. Fair enough.

However, Adams' take on Kennedy's "never pretending to be straight" seems a bit odd. I heard Adams' Late Night Live broadcast a few months ago about Kennedy, at which Noelene Brown was a guest. Adams repeated there what he claims in the column; namely, that Adams knew that Kennedy was obviously gay and even asked him to "speak out" in the interests of law reform for all gays. Kennedy declined.

This was the first time I ever heard it said that Kennedy was out and out gay. If I had given the matter any thought, I suppose I would have said that maybe he was bisexual, but purely "gay" seemed a little unlikely in light of the type of ribald, heterosexually inclined humour he showed on Blankety Blanks, for example. But of course, this was well before out and out gay or camp hosts like (god forbid) Julian Clary were anywhere to be seen.

Anyway, what was interesting was that Adams told his story and then asked Noelene to comment on Graham's sexuality. She sounded quite uncomfortable and said (to paraphrase) that she knew it was a very private and personal matter for Graham and she was not comfortable going into any discussion about that at all.

At the time Adams did this show I assume that Kennedy was well beyond caring, but nonetheless it seemed to me that if one of Kennedy's closest friends thought it wasn't appropriate for her to be discussing a sick man's sex life, then it wasn't appropriate for Adams to be doing so either. Especially when a large part of the preamble (Adams, long time friend of gays everywhere, seeking law reform for them) is a bit self aggrandizing.

More on Corby

I heard a Melbourne QC on Radio National this morning say that in Australia, 90% of people charged with an offence plead guilty, and of the 10% that go to trial, about half of those are found not guilty. Still, pretty surprising to me that around 95% of those "charged" are found guilty here, one way or another. I have no idea how broadly based these figures are: I presume it covers everything from minor driving offences to murder.

Further on my skepticism on the Australian system, it is amusing to hear some QC's saying that the defence case was quite weak and may well have not worked here either, and some other barrister saying the opposite (that is, she would have been acquitted here.)

And tonight on Lateline, they seemed to want to try to embarrass John Howard (being interviewed) by running a story that in 2002 he made a stopover in the Maldives, apparently mainly to ask for a pardon for a convicted druggie there. Can't see why Tony Jones would want to raise that now; Howard has made it clear before tonight that it is too early to be talking about that sort of thing when there is an appeal process to go through in Indonesia.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Corby Case - What should I think?

I find it hard to know what to think about the Corby case. I am always leery of pundits who decide what the proper outcome of a trial should have been when they were not in the court watching proceedings. However, it is somewhat of a surprise to hear that the head judge has never acquitted anyone on a drugs charge. There is no doubt that asian legal systems are different from our.

(I seem to recall reading that the Japanese system is somewhat similar, in that it is a virtual given that if you are charged with a crime you will be found guilty. I presume most oriental based systems would be somewhat similar. I stand to be corrected by any reader who knows better.)

I know they say the Indonesian system is based on the European system. But I assume that European judges would not have the same strike rate as our Indonesian friend.

What I do know about the English criminal trial system, and what has bothered me for years, is that it is not philosophically based on any sense of an objective search for truth. It is more about the game than the truth, I think.

Put it this way: the judge will instruct the jury that it is all about what can be proved beyond reasonable doubt (BRD). Not only that, it is about whether the Prosecutor has presented sufficient to establish an offence BRD.

There is no role here for the judiciary to push an investigation or the presentation of evidence along any particular line or direction, even if certain lines of enquiry may well be what a judge or jury, interested in knowing what really happened , would like to see pursued.

It is my understanding that the European system is more philosophically inclined to the objective sense of finding out what happened, and to my mind that can only be a good thing.

However, you'll be hard pressed to find a lawyer in Australia (at least in private practice) who has given much thought about this. I think that is because they quickly become part of the game and gamesmanship of our system, and then cannot see the wood for the trees.


I thought Media Watch did a pretty good job last night on the media circus around the Corby case. Its the first edition since Ms Jackson took over that seemed to have some real meat to it. I was particularly amused at the John Laws phone call segment.

Tim Blair provides a very useful service by pointing out that even under Indonesian law, the sentence is harsh. I guess it sounds worthwhile appealing after all. (I was worried about the outcry if her sentence was increased on appeal!)

Oh, and "inquisitorial" is the phrase I was looking for to describe the european criminal law system. As opposed to adversarial english based system.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Margo's in a Fascist State!

Margo Kingston, probably not for the first time, but who can be bothered checking, officially declares Australia to be a fascist state:

"The "them" is getting bigger every day. First they came for the interlopers, then they came for the undesirables, then they came for the mentally ill, then they came for...

So let's tell it like it is. Let's feel proud to do so, and let's see the vitriol rained down on us for what it is, the scream of the fascists and their yes people now dominating the "governance" of this nation."

Published in that grand journal of political commentary, the Northern Rivers Echo. I wonder what they pay for this. Maybe nothing; they have a lot of pages to fill.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Never trust a futurist

Being a "futurist" seems to be a licence to write any particular guff and get publicity for it in the bargain. I am very very sceptical of the type of stuff in this recent story , especially about mind upload. I mean, we are 50 or more years aways from Astroboy and Asimov's fiction world of robots, and what have we now - a few demo models in Japan that can do a dance on stage and walk up a few stairs before the batteries run out. No moon base, no trips to Mars, and not even a reliable heavy lift rocket.

Sure, things develop and change in the world of science and technology in amazing and interesting ways - just that few people who try to see how those changes will pan out any more than, say, 10 years into the future, rarely seem to get it right.

I have read good articles about this before..must link to them if I can find one on the net.

And remember, Richard Neville calls himself a futurist. Ha!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Margo and Jack - what a team

Margo Kingston's Webdiary has become all but unreadable with her bizarre appointment of Jack Robertson as co-editor, or some such. Why would she put one of the most verbose, useless contributors in part control. Only Robert Bosler or Marilyn Shepherd could concieveably be worse. (Actually, Robert in charge could be pretty funny.)

Of all the improvements Margo and Jack could possibly make to their over-wrought undertaking, the bleeding obvious seems to elude them - set a word limit! Who has time to read such rambling posts? I think my days (well, minutes) of wry amusement by dipping my toe into Webdiary may be coming to an end.

Muslims on the Moon

Missed this odd news story last month.

What I want to know is what are Muslims astronauts on the Moon going to do? The Moon's always going to be in their view. Has an Iman given this any thought? Maybe Muslims will inherit the earth while the rest of us leave. (Talking long term future here!)

My posts too long

I can tell my posts are too wordy. Sorry..will try harder. Short..sharp..to the point.. stop now.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Ms Rau talks!

Saw Ms Rau at her press conference on several news shows tonight.

Interesting to note that all reporters made the comment that her statement was at times "rambling" or "hard to follow", and that she denied she had ever been mentally ill.

Why then did they not let us hear any of those parts in her own voice? Instead, all focused on her more rational statements, including the claim for compensation; that she had been locked in a cage like an animal...etc.

The nearest I saw to any hint of madness from her own mouth was her answering the question "why did you keep giving false names" with "I had my reasons". Yes, a strong hint of madness there...but she sounded and looked relatively sane while she said it.

Look, there are a couple of obvious lessons from the Rau and Solon cases:

1. Our system for nationally co-ordinating Missing Persons reports seems pretty crappy, and needs to be made truely national (within hours of reporting) and easy to use for all government authorities at all levels. Just spend a few million bucks setting that up,
John Howard, with some face recognition software thrown in, and you will be on a winner.

2. Mental health services are also pretty crappy, but this is pretty much entirely a State issue. (With the exception of the need to ensure the operators of detention centres start paying more attention to when fellow inmates start worrying about the mental health of one of thier own, and get the person checked faster than it took in Rau's case.)

3. Immigration officials have to start checking the new, you-beaut, centralised and computerised missing persons data base before they deport, not after.

4. It kinda helps if relatives of the mentally ill report said missing relative a bit faster than the 5 of 6 months months it took Cornelia's sister to do it. Boy, was that glossed over quickly in the Four Corners story a few weeks ago. Blink and you would've missed it.

None of this stuff is going to dint the Federal government's popularity, cos most voters recognise that mad people who persistently give false names sometimes end up being on the receiving end of serious mistakes and less than perfect administrative decisions.

Can't wait to see what Margo Kingston's crowd say about the interview. More gnashing of teeth I am sure.

Why Media Covers Big Brother..for god's sake can someone explain??

Can someone...anyone...explain to me why the newspapers cover every god damn episode of Big Brother , as if it were news??

This drives me crazy. To see any random 5 minutes of this show (especially the adult's only version) causes me instant despair as to Australian "youff" society. OK, OK, "despair" is to too strong...Just that I find it so incredible that children, teens or adults should want to watch such crap. Oh..maybe tonight they'll talk about jerking off, or how many lovers they have had, or best sex positions for a tight vagina, or ....I cannot believe it. The conversations would be cringe inducing if I overheard them at a party or pub...but the idea that a TV channel can make money from broadcasting them across the nation. And that there is a market for it!

OK, so there is a market for this. I have to live with this unpalateable fact. The heading of this post points to my main question...why does the "quality" media (News Limited papers, but also the Fairfax press) give it daily publicity? Because it is a contest? (Then why doesn't "Millionaire cop a report every Tuesday?) Because BB is popular? Well, isn't it getting less and less popular each year, but still it gets daily report, at least on the press websites. Anyway, just how much overlap could there really be between the demographics of braodsheet paper readers and BB viewers?

And beside which, why doesn't someone in the other media outlets say "hey, why do we have to give a crap show, from an unrelated company, any publicity at all? "

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I come to bury Joh, not to...

Look, I like John Howard and his government quite a lot. It's not perfect; no government ever is. I support the Iraq war efforts, and think that the Left has lost all sight of common when it tries to ignore the undoubted good in ridding the world of one its harshest and bloodiest regimes. It would please me enormously to see Tony Blair win the election against the predicted electoral backlash at the time he joined the Iraq effort. I am pretty happy to see a conservative new Pope (with the added benefit of his being a former "liberal". Nothing is quite as pleasing as a liberal who changes his tune.)

So you can see where I am coming from policitically.

However, one thing that is sticking in my conservative craw is the reverence with which Joh Bjelke Peterson's death and funeral have been covered.

Yesterday I was home at 2.15 pm and saw his State funeral being covered live on Channels 7, 9, the ABC and Skynews on cable. On radio 612 (ABC) it was also being broadcast. The coverage seemed barely short of that given to the late Pope. Not to mention the breathless interruptions to programs while he was dying, usually just to say "he's not dead yet!"

Come on guys..is this much respect deserved for a Premier and his government who came out so badly in the Fitsgerald Inquiry? There was the smell of corruption around his government for years before the inquiry, but the extent of it was still surprising. He only avoided a criminal conviction himself by the skin of his teeth.

I had little time for some of the Left's agenda at the time. Their furore over the street marching legislation was self-defeating, but then choosing idealogically sound, self-satisfying grandstanding over practical steps to actually change things seems a common characteristic that the Left. As I recall it, Joh said you can't have street marches without a permit, and (so I am told by left leaning friends) made legistlation with an extremely wide definition of what could constitute a march. But it was not like political meetings or gatherings were banned per se. Just ones on the streets; especially city streets at lunch time. The justification, accepted by most Joh voters, was that marchs were too disruptive. So how did the Left react to the legistlation? By having more street marches, timed to be most disruptive for city traffic, thus cemeting Joh's original justification in the minds of his supporters.

Does a total ban on street marches alone ever stop democracy? Do street marches in Australia ever achieve much more than satisfy the emotional needs of the marchers? (OK, OK, I can see that street marches or rallies in certain countries at certain times have had dramatic political consequences - eg Beirut. But in Australia? Can't think of an obvious case where one has.)

And the sackings of the electrical trade unionists, who were conducting an industrial dispute by interrupting everyone's electical supply. Not much sympathy there when all got the sack, and as it turned out, did not need to be re-engaged.

But back to anti-Joh. Even giving him a huge "benefit of doubt" about the degree of personal knowledge about the goings on in the government and its arms, he has to take the can for presiding over such a corrupt government and doing nothing to stop it. And then the ludicrous "Joh for PM" campaign. I don't think even my dear old Mum (who has never voted Labor in her life, and has the typical admiration for Joh that most people her age had) thought that was a good idea.

Ok, he did some decent things in terms of modernization of Queensland. Hard not to when you are in charge for so long. And for obscure reasons, some things in Queensland were run well compared to other states (public hospitals, and some legislation was pretty progressive.) But, my feeling is still that his death attracted way too much attention. It would be entirely appropriate for the media to not forget the word "disgraced" in front of the words "former Premier."

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

First Post

So this is how to blog. Let me fiddle with this before I start serious work....