F is for Wryday (75)

November 24, 2011

A bit of a depature this week and for those of my vast readership who have no time at all for politics, an apology.

I have been fascinated by events in Canberra yesterday. No matter what you think of Julia and the Labor government, it seems they have not been able to take a trick all year and, to mix metaphors, too many have been ‘own goals’. Now that negative momentum seems to have shifted and the icing on that rising cake has been the resignation from the Speaker’s chair of its long-time Labor incumbent, Harry Jenkins, for turncoat Nat/Lib (well its peculiar Queensland hybrid) Peter (Slippery Pete) Slipper.

Annabel Crab on The Drum explains it much better. It’s good writing, IMO and, appropriately for a Friday, has some amusing moments.

Harry’s gift: a seat, a vote, and order from chaos
By ABC’s Annabel Crabb
Posted November 24, 2011 13:00:51

Order!! I'm outa here!

Just when you thought this parliamentary year had entirely run out of fizzy-pop, there it was. Harry Jenkins, resigning from the speakership, relinquishing the nicest office in Parliament House, and causing thereby a fairly considerable power shift in the House of Representatives.

His stated reason? He had become frustrated by the speakership’s obligation to remain aloft from partisan political matters.

“My desire is to be able to participate in policy and parliamentary debate, and this would be incompatible with continuing in the role of Speaker,” he told an electrified chamber.

Now, a man who resigns in order to spend more time with his policies is a man of whom further questions probably need to be asked. That this impulse should strike Mr Jenkins at exactly the same time as the concerted attempt by the Queensland Liberal/National Party to disown its difficult and profligate son Peter Slipper further strains the notion of coincidence.

The result? A disaffected Slippery (already held in pretty poor odour among his colleagues) will commit party treason and defect, in return for an office of dignity and respect, a more accommodating pay packet, and the right to pour brandies for visiting bigwigs.

Slipper has remained in the chamber doggedly directing traffic on the floor of parliament pending what will presumably be his formal election to the speakership some time after lunch. Quite possibly, he was loath to step outside, lest he encounter an angry mob of his erstwhile colleagues.

Ambassador Jenkins (if I may be so bold as to rehearse the title) will return to the Government benches, boosting Labor’s voting numbers by one, and thus shifting the Poker Machine Of Damocles from its customary position six inches above the Prime Minister’s head.

What lies ahead? I think it is reasonably safe to predict several things:

1) A flood of recovered memories from the Opposition benches about irregularities in Mr Slipper’s conduct. Colleagues tend to forgive such failings, but adversaries never do, and one can expect all of the savagery of Labor’s Mal Colston fixation to be visited upon Mr Slipper from this point on.

Mal Colston was the Labor senator whom John Howard’s Coalition duchessed with the Senate deputy presidency in 1996.

Speaking this morning, Tony Abbott likened Labor’s recruitment of Mr Slipper to Whitlam’s sensational purchase of Vince Gair in 1974, in which the DLP senator was offered the ambassadorship to Ireland in order to free up his seat.

“This is a Government in crisis,” he told reporters, and sternly refused to discuss the Colston analogy on the grounds that it was “ancient history”.

(Abbott history, one may conclude, features a wrinkle in time around about the mid-’90s, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and mudskippers edged from the primordial slime with nascent hopes of one day helping John Howard flog off a third of Telstra.)

2) A Christmas bonus for Anthony Albanese, who has been working on today’s coup for a bit and who – despite historically chilly relations with Julia Gillard – was this morning able to present her with something money can’t buy: An extra vote. I don’t know what Tim’s got planned, but it’s not going to beat Mr Albanese’s gift. Mr Albanese’s speech at yesterday’s censure motion – read it here – was also one of the strongest of any minister, all year.

3) A distinct devaluation in the Independent currency in the House of Reps. From now on, instead of having to win four extra votes for any given issue (out of Windsor, Oakeshott, Wilkie, Bandt, Katter and Crook) the Government will only have to win three. If today’s events had taken place this time last week, for example, the Government could have saved itself the $100 million or so it handed to Andrew Wilkie in concessions on the mining tax (which would additionally have saved them all the consequent fuss and bother it took to get the, er, Bandt back together)

Luck, or planning? A bit of both, really.

After a year and a half during which it often seemed as if some unseen cosmic hand was timing events of random misfortune to coincide most grievously with unforced strategic errors from the ALP, November 2011 seems to have brought a rearrangement of sorts.

Some vast pieces of legislation tucked away. Confusion to her enemies. The Prime Minister’s year has ended with the audacity of hope.

My second reason for posting from The Drum harks back to a comment on CA this week in response to James, about online news media:

More seriously, I occasionally dip into The Punch and The Drum online and they’re both good examples (particularly The Punch) of how quickly and eagerly online Australians resort to the same ‘competition to find the most puerile insult’.

If you are in a ‘purile insult’ mood, some comments can be funny … well most often in a Schadenfreude sort of way … and, yes, it’s not too sophisticated … and not at all Christian … and it becomes a farce for anyone wanting to post a thoughtful response.

Which makes me wonder what news organisations have in mind when they let these comments fly on their online outlets. Do they just equate numbers — no matter the quality of contribution — with evidence for their business model? Speculation for a non Wryday, I think …

F is for Wryday (74)

November 17, 2011

Just one more mildish dig at engineers from xkcd.

F is for Wryday (73)

November 10, 2011

A friend sent this presumably as a favour. I guess he thought that if it even happens to me, I’d be prepared. What a good friend!

THE WRITER: Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist for the Miami Herald.

Colonoscopy Journal:

I called my friend Andy Sable, a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy.

A few days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing briefly through Minneapolis.

Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough, reassuring and patient manner.

I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn’t really hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, ‘HE’S GOING TO STICK A TUBE 17,000 FEET UP YOUR BEHIND!’

I left Andy’s office with some written instructions, and a prescription for a product called ‘MoviPrep,’ which comes in a box large enough to hold a microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now suffice it to say that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America ‘s enemies….

I spent the next several days productively sitting around being nervous.

Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation. In accordance with my instructions, I didn’t eat any solid food that day; all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less flavor.

Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep. You mix two packets of powder together in a one-liter plastic jug, then you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a liter is about 32 gallons). Then you have to drink the whole jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes – and here I am being kind – like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of lemon.

The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great sense of humor, state that after you drink it, ‘a loose, watery bowel movement may result.’

This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may experience contact with the ground.

MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative. I don’t want to be too graphic, here, but, have you ever seen a space-shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt. You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.

After an action-packed evening, I finally got to sleep.

The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurts. I was thinking, ‘What if I spurt on Andy?’ How do you apologize to a friend for something like that? Flowers would not be enough.

At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and totally agreed with whatever the heck the forms said. Then they led me to a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on, makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked..

Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand. Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their MoviPrep.

At first I was ticked off that I hadn’t thought of this, but then I pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would have no choice but to burn your house.

When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the 17,000-foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I was seriously nervous at this point.

Andy had me roll over on my left side, and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my hand.

There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was ‘Dancing Queen’ by ABBA. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that could be playing during this particular procedure, ‘Dancing Queen’ had to be the least appropriate.

‘You want me to turn it up?’ said Andy, from somewhere behind me.

‘Ha ha,’ I said. And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.

I have no idea. Really. I slept through it. One moment, ABBA was yelling ‘Dancing Queen, feel the beat of the tambourine,’ and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking up in a very mellow mood.

Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I felt. I felt excellent. I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that It was all over, and that my colon had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of an internal organ.

On the subject of Colonoscopies…
Colonoscopies are no joke, but a physician claimed that the following are actual comments made by his patients (predominately male) while he was performing their colonoscopies:

1. Take it easy Doc. You’re boldly going where no man has gone before.
2. ‘Find Amelia Earhart yet?’
3. ‘Can you hear me NOW?’
4. ‘Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?’
5. ‘You know, in Arkansas , we’re now legally married.’
6. ‘Any sign of the trapped miners, Chief?’
7. ‘You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out…’
8. ‘Hey! Now I know how a Muppet feels!’
9. ‘If your hand doesn’t fit, you must quit!’
10. ‘Hey Doc, let me know if you find my dignity.’
11. ‘You used to be an executive at Enron, didn’t you?’
12. ‘God, now I know why I am not gay.’
13. ‘Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?’

F is for Wryday (72)

November 3, 2011

In August last year I posted a link to a campaign speech by Basil Marceaux. It was ‘out there’ but kind of understandable given that at this level of democracy there’s not a lot of money and all sorts of crazies give it a go. But this ad from sometime GOP frontrunner, Herman Cain, surely has to be the strangest big-time campaign ad I’ve ever scene.