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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Your presence here affects the mind of my people like a fever 

If there is one thing that history proves time and time again, it is that every people, regardless of nationality, race or creed, will sooner or later face a previously-unfathomable, yet gaspingly formiddable crisis - one that takes the resolve of their entire people to combat and defeat.

And while I hate to strike fear into your hearts, I must warn one and all: New Zealand's time of reckoning is upon us.

This threat is far greater to our nation that the Yellow Peril, a thousand times more material to New Zealand than terrorism, more blatantly sarcastic in practice than Dear Leader's PR team, and more dangerous to the State's collective mental health than the trip to Room 101 was for poor Winston.

Ladies and gentlemen -- Columninism is already among us.

For those of you who are unaware of the term - columninism represents the growing trend in the mainstream printed media to employ people who by their very nature are prone to intellectual-dishonesty and outright hyprocrisy.

They are employed by the mainstream media solely for their ability for mouth off on things about which they specifically know nothing about.

Example 1: Garth George meets global warming

In January 2008, following the previous month's United Nations Climate Change conference in Bali the NZ Herald's columnist decided to branch out from his usual conservative religious realm of writing and wade into the topic of climate change.

To the average Joe one might assume a writer researching a piece on climate change, and who wasn't a scientist by training, would search the world wide web for information and perhaps look at the largest bodies looking into and conducting reasearch on the matter like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Or perhaps that's too heavy for an untrained eye - perhaps you could even pop along to the local video store and hire a copy of the easily-digestable and well-known film like Al Gore's An Incovenient Truth.

But that would be a logical and intelligent approach to a deadly serious issue - something columninism simply has no time for.

Instead, Garth George clutches at the entirely discredited climate change-denialist straw, and highlights the "most important document tabled":

It was a letter written on behalf of more than 100 prominent scientists from around the world, including at least seven from New Zealand, to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon. And it said that the climate conference was taking the world in entirely the wrong direction because significant new peer-reviewed research had cast even more doubt on the theory of dangerous human-caused warming...."Attempts to prevent global climate change from occurring are ultimately futile," the scientists wrote, "and constitute a tragic misallocation of resources that would be better spent on humanity's real and pressing problems."

There's a copy of the letter here and more interestingly a list of signatories to this letter.

Now if you have a look through the list of "100 prominent scientists from around the world" you will see that many are from disciplines perhaps you wouldn't equate with expertise in climate change.

The number of economists, geophysicists, and people leading organisations such as the "Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity" start to raise questions about many of the signatories climate change deducing abilities.

Shucks, our own Owen McShane, "PhD, economist, head of the International Climate Science Coalition; Director, Centre for Resource Management Studies" - even makes an appearance on the do many others from this organisation whose credibility Garth George's own publication has regularly poured scorn on:

Mr Boxer said the incident came just as a New Zealand sceptic Owen McShane, linked to the Heartland Institute, yesterday put his case to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee on the Government's emissions trading scheme.
"If this latest incident is any indication of the veracity of sceptics' case, let's hope the select committee paid no heed to his submission."
Heartland paid for Mr McShane to attend a conference in New York and also helped him and a fellow member of the NZ Climate Science Coalition, Bryan Leyland, to travel to the recent UN climate conference in Bali.
Mr McShane confirmed to the Herald he had his airfares to New York paid for by Heartland.

Indeed, many of bloggingitreal's friends over at nzclimatescience make an appearance on the list. 

And I'm not really sure whether claiming to be "director" of this organisation and "head" of this one, to boost your prominence when signing your name on international letters to the United Nations, is really valid when those organisations are completely your own creations. 

A bit like a paper boy calling himself the senior representative of Neighbourhood Deliveries Inc and Executive vice president of the Mobile News. 

And just out of interest if Owen McShane really does have a PhD - as claimed in this letter - isn't it strange he makes no mention of it on his list of qualifications on his own website...nor at nzclimatescience? 

Can anyone say Mary-Anne Thompson three times fast?

I wonder how many of the other 100 signatories fly around the world courtesy of big oil?

Despite my best investigations I have been unable to confirm whether this impassioned plea to Ban Ki-moon arrived with a Shell Group letterhead.

Nor does Garth George mention that at the end of the conference all delegates...including George Bush's United States conceded that:

...pollution that causes global warming will have to be cut in half around the globe by the middle of the century if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change.
The verbal concession, a dramatic U-turn, came amid unprecedented pressure on the United States in the closing session of the top-level climate conference in Bali. In scenes never before witnessed in international diplomacy, the US was booed and hissed by the representatives of nearly 190 nations for trying to obstruct agreement.

This is not to say there are not valid criticisms to be made of the Bali conference - there are many - but to deliberately align yourself with the idiots is classic columninism.

2) Michael Laws meets the Middle East

In his column for the Sunday Star-Times Michael Laws rushes to the defence of an Israeli tennis player targetted for peaceful protest by Aucklanders at the recent ASB Classic while Israel conducted its massacre in Gaza.

IT WAS no surprise that anti-West activist, John Minto, singled out Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer as an agent of evil this past week but that was the minor aberration in a week of anti-Jewish weirdness.
There was twit-nit Catholic priest Gerard Burns daubing his blood over a peace monument, bizarro MP Keith Locke accusing Israel of war crimes, and sundry radio commentators giving full voice to anti-Semitic outrage....They were assisted in their cause by an error of war a UN-controlled school receiving a direct hit from an Israeli shell.

Michael Laws employs the key tactic of columninism - ignore the facts! 

Don't mention the massive disparity in the use of force and death, don't mention that the "error of war" was repeated time and time again as UN vehicles and their personal were directly targetted, nor Israel's alleged use of chemical weapons, don't mention that those in Gaza are prisoners in their own country and oppressed on a daily basis by Israel's blockades, nor the thousands of Palestinians made homeless, nor that Hamas' rockets, while undoubtedly terrifying, are largely ineffective in terms of killing.

Instead use inane comparisons....which are so out of context they would enrage anyone with half a brain:

If Fiji, for example, were to send suicide bombers and rain down rockets on Auckland and surrounds, in protest at past actions, I wonder how long before New Zealand's patience similarly snapped? Especially if the governing Fijian regime wanted this country for themselves.

3) Adam Parore meets Jesse Ryder

In the sports media you will find that columninism is particularly entrenched.

Columnists concoct deliberately inflammatory and unproven statements that the media then feed on like incestuous cannibals in a drunken frenzy -endlessly repeating the initial crap ensuring that nothing more than gallon after gallon of publicised intellectually-retarding bile is ever produced.

Its personalities over performance, off-field rumours as opposed to on-field stats, egos over accomplishments.

Lets take Adam Parore's infamous criticism of Jesse Ryder as being too fat to represent New Zealand at cricket:

In recent times I've generally supported the work of the national selectors. In most respects I believe they've done a good job. But this decision leaves me cold.
For a start, the way Ryder presents himself is a bad sign.
He's too fat. He's in no fit state to play for New Zealand and if I was still in the national side, I wouldn't want him in my dressing room.
He claims to have lost 10kg, in which case you can only wonder what shape he was in before that.
This selection sends a poor message to other players. There is an implication that fitness parameters only apply to some players.....One way of judging whether a player is fit for international cricket is simply by looking at him. You can usually get a good gauge whether they will be up to the job of spending a hot day in the field without falling apart in the final session. On that score, Ryder simply doesn't cut it.

No doubt, Jesse Ryder has had his off-field dramas but his statistics speak for themselves - he was never too fat to play international cricket.

And if Parore sees fit to question Ryder's off field behaviour - "Then you consider Ryder's off-field track record, his problems with discipline and alcohol" - then surely it should come with some disclaimer about his own light-fingered off-field behaviour?

That's what decent people do.

4) Bill Ralston meets domestic violence

Over at Public Address Russell Brown has recently been raging against the columinism machine.

In the past year, Bill Ralston has frequently seemed to have more words to write in columns every week than he has ideas to write about. But I'm not sure if he's written anything as poor and tendentious as his column in last weekend's Herald on Sunday

Ralston's attack on the government's attempt to highlight domestic violence, through an advertising campaign largely focussed on male-led violence, (and in which Russell Brown) prompted Brown to look at the facts and statistics surrounding the issue:

No one is denying that women commit violence in relationships or families. It happens. I've seen it. But the fact sheet notes that that six times as many men in New Zealand are apprehended for family violence offences as women and that 92% of protection orders are sought by women...

Ralston is welcome to think me "smug". And I will have no choice but to regard him as a fool until he stops writing like one.

5) Germaine Greer on Steve Irwin

Like many ills - columninism does not respect international borders nor only afflict New Zealanders.

Australians and the world must endure Germaine Greer: her cruel column attacking world-wide nature icon, and seriously all-round nice guy, Steve Irwin when his body was barely out of the water, was designed to boost her own profile and infuriate grieving people:
The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin, but probably not before a whole generation of kids in shorts seven sizes too small has learned to shout in the ears of animals with hearing 10 times more acute than theirs, determined to become millionaire animal-loving zoo-owners in their turn.
These columnists are often nothing more insidious than loud-mouthed idiots (Laws/Parore), or just out to boost their own egos (Ralston/Greer) or just plain fucking morons (George) but they are fools who the mainstream media devotes massive amount of time and column inches towards - succeeding in bending the shape of the news to their own conflict-orientated desire and deliberately making us all a little stupider in the process.

Like the old saying goes - better dead than read.

You're back with a capital B Bennyasena!
(While dc-red's changing your by-line perhaps he could find something a bit cooler for me too.)

"A bit like a paper boy calling himself the senior representative of Neighbourhood Deliveries Inc and Executive vice president of the Mobile News." LMMFAO!

"...deliberately making us all a little bit stupider in the process" - Y'know, I've never been able to figure out whether it was a deliberate long-term editorial strategy to dumb us down. Looking at corporate (global capital) gobble-up of media you'd have to think so.
Anyway, columninists create an appetite for opinion over reasoned analysis, which bloggers have seized on. Is blogging part of the problem or the solution?

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