Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Time for a break

I’m going to take an early Christmas break from blogging. I was going to keep going right up till the end of next week, but something happened yesterday.

I reached the “I don’t give a stuff” point.

Actually this point had probably been reached a week or so ago, but I soldiered on, feeling that I should end out the year properly.

But “meh” overtook me.

I realised this when yesterday in The Australian, they kept up their recent anti-wind farm barrow-pushing by giving space to ex-TV Chef Peter Russell-Clarke. So idiotic was this piece that it had an ex-TV chef who can’t even get a gig on Masterchef as a “celebrity” judge telling us of wind farms:

It's an absolutely unique and magnificent area, and to attempt to put one of these things in the ground is bloody ludicrous, apart from the fact that the f..king things don't work," he said. "They are inefficient. They are ugly."

The man who led campaigns for local eggs and dairy produce questions the health effects of wind turbines, while proposing nuclear power as a possible alternative.

"They once said asbestos wasn't bad for you and smoking wasn't bad," he said. "Now they are finding, in fact, that's not true.

"The rest of the world is for nuclear power, and there is no doubt as we increase our population we will need more water, more food, more power, more everything. If nuclear is the way, then let's do it."

Yep “they don’t work” – guess we can leave that assertion unchallenged eh? And it takes a good leap to link asbestos and cigarette smoking to wind power, but Russell-Clarke was up to the challenge. (Good as well that he’s up on the whole medical research aspect and knows they are “finding” that smoking and asbestos is bad).

But I saw that piece and thought, “Oh hell, seriously why bother, the fish are in the barrel and I can’t be stuffed shooting”.

Similarly, yesterday they had that doyen of the Twitter world Geoff Elliot (also their media editor – which I assume means something special, but given just about every single person who works at The Oz is an “editor’ of some kind, you can never be sure) tell us that not only can you be sued for writing something defamatory on the internet including Twitter (I know, shocked I was, shocked!), but that:

if you persistently send messages or continue to try to make contact with someone who does not want to have contact with you, your behaviour could be considered stalking.

Stalking on the internet of course can be very serious if as in the example Elliott gives you have someone stealing your identity and is verifiably stalking you through persistent emails. But on Twitter? Boy, Geoff, if only there was a way I could stop someone reading my Tweets and pestering me. Oh wait, in Elliott’s own paper, in the section of which he is editor, Sally Jackson gives him a handy tip:

Just as most of us would hang up on a hectoring phone call or walk away from someone abusing us in the street, users don't have to tolerate what they feel to be hateful communication on Twitter.

Fortunately, as mentioned here before, Twitter has a pretty good boundary-setting tool: the block function. Blocking prevents another user from following you, sending you an @reply or @mention, or putting your account on any of their lists, although your tweets are still visible on your public profile page. It means that while you might still catch glimpses of Mr or Ms Blocked, fuming in the distance, they can't get close to you.

Did Elliott even read Jackson’s piece?

The other point of course is that an email is private, and so someone flooding your email inbox with stalking letters is not only bloody annoying, it feels a violation of your private space. Twitter on the other hand is public – a person can only send you a private message if you choose to follow them. And if you are really worried you can always lock you Twitter account so only your followers can see you Tweets, otherwise your Tweets are public – there for all to read – those who like you and those who don’t.

But even this didn’t get me out of the “meh-zone”. 

Then there was the US unemployment figures, which had their unemployment increasing to 9.8 per cent, and resulted in this very scary graph from the great people of Calculated Risk:


If the graph is anything to go by, it means it will be around 2 years before the unemployment rate gets anywhere near where it was when the GFC hit. To show how scary this is, just think of this – in March 2007, both US and Australia had an unemployment rate of 4.4 per cent:


But you know, the stimulus didn’t work, we should have let interest rates do more of the lifting etc etc….

The next Australian unemployment figures come out on Thursday, and I do feel a desire to stick around to blog about them – especially as the interest rate decision came out today in which the Governor’s statement seemed to suggest they’re happy with the way things are now, and should be for a while.

But you know. Who can be bothered writing about that? (Answer, right at this moment, not I)

What really tipped me over the edge was yesterday the wikileaks revelation that Kevin Rudd had suggested rather unsurprisingly to Hillary Clinton that in dealing with China, the US needed to be "preparing to deploy force if everything goes wrong".

Personally I can’t imagine the US doing anything else if they’re in the “everything goes wrong” period – and also I like that Rudd is actually suggesting to the US that force should be the last resort – a new concept to them I’m sure.

But then Julie Bishop came out and for some totally inane reason wanted Julia Gillard to confirm publicly if this was the Government's view.

Seriously do people in the Liberal Party let this person go near sharp knives? Do they let her use scissors without proper adult supervision? What idiocy. Yeah Julie, it really would be a good thing for the Prime Minister of Australia to publicly comment on the use of force against China. She then according to Malcolm Farnsworth said the she:

has always assumed that everything a person in public life says could become public... should be restrained at all times...”

My God, I can hear them laughing all the way from Beijing. Does she think we have forgotten her wonderful passport forging comments?

TIM LESTER: But aren't there consequences at not doing anything, and isn’t that the problem – if we don’t do anything aren't we effectively putting our imprimatur on the theft of Australian identity?

JULIE BISHOP: Not at all. You would reprimand, you would chastise, you would ask them not to do it again. But it would be naive to think that Israel is the only country in the world that has used forged passports, including Australian passports for security operations. ….

TIM LESTER: What we do?


Yes, she is the model of discretion (though I guess she does prove that she says the same publicly as she does privately).

But even that didn’t get me banging away on the keyboard.

When you are tired of mocking Julie Bishop, well, sir, you are tired of life – or at lest the political-blogging part of it.

And so this is it for the year. It has been a long year, A bloody long year.

I’m so tired I can’t even be bothered doing a greatest hits.

Oh, bugger it yes I can:

  • Here was one of the first articles of mine to get linked – a piece on who had been hurt most by living in the Federer era.
  • Just to prove that, yes I am a nerd from way back, here’s my Top 5 Asterix Books.
  • During the Winter Olympics I wrote a piece on Dale Begg-Smith. It got around 150 hits – easily my record at the time.
  • Remember the Great Health Debate? Of course you don’t. It was going to decide the election. I decided to not bother with the answers and instead had a look at the questions (it was an approach I quickly warmed to).
  • Yeah that BER spending was a total waste, wasn’t it – I mean surely the ANAO Report and the Orgill Report showed that. Err no, actually.
  • Got a spare 30 minutes? You’re a James Joyce fan? You also love politics? Excellent read on my friend as I do Question Time Ulysses-style.
  • Am I ever wrong? Hell no! Take this post wherein I write after the spill: “I’m locking in an increased majority”. Oh.Kay.
  • A couple people read this one.
  • The second post I did after my name was revealed was about Greg Hunt. It is most notable because Greg Hunt left a comment – a comment with some very interesting observations about the media’s actions…
  • My first Friday Night Relaxer looked at some great adverts. These are the most fun to write, and I generally think about them all week.
  • The hardest post I wrote all year was about my cat Scamper. The reaction of so many people telling their own stories of loved pets was wonderful.

Thanks to everyone who has come along to the blog this year and especially those who have left some comments. I know I don’t respond to all the comments – but I certainly read them and consider the points made.

In February of this year when I got to my 400th post I wrote:

By the start of 2009, I was getting probably only around 25 individual hits a day; now it’s closer to 100 (and thanks to a couple links from Crikey, recently it is nearer to 150)

Now thanks to some more links and the odd Twitter link or twenty, there are now around 1000-1300 readers a day of this blog (depending on the day – usually when Parliament sits the number goes higher). I realise in the grand scheme this is not much, but it sure as hell makes me feel appreciated, and I hope you’ll come back in early January when I will be a tad more refreshed and ready to get stuck in the the inanity, the idiocy and the complete disregard for logic that infects so much of our political and media discourse. 

Hope you all have a great Christmas and a safe holiday. See you in the 2011.

Grog (or Grogs, or even Greg as I am sometimes known)


bells said...

Good work Grog. It's been a big year for you. Me, I'm happier to stick to the shiny happy posts about what I've made or am making, because creativity makes me happy in an otherwise shit world, but I have admired your ability to dig deep and do great posts that provoke thought and discussion.

You deserve a really good break from all your hard work.

JudgeG said...

You're an amazing guy, Grogs. A political hero to me. In a sea of media b/s and right wing smokescreens, you can always be relied on to provide some clarity through the fog.

Big hugs to you and make sure you spend quality time with your wife and kids over Xmas & New Year.

Ben Harris-Roxas said...

An eventful year, plagued by idiocy towards the end. Actually, now I think about it, idiocy has been something of a constant companion.

Tangentially related to Peter Russell Clarke and on a lighter note:


Have a great break.

Thomas King said...

Thanks for a great year of intelligent and thoughtful writing. Have a great summer break and a happy new year!

Thomas King

Red Bakersen said...

Looking forward to your return in January. Until then, I'll have to make do with stalking you on Twitter. ;)

Lis Petersen (aka externallylaws) said...

No more Grog for 2010?!! What if we arrange some LNP promo shots of Tony Abbott with an AK47? *innocent look*

Upholder of journalistic and political accountability in 2010, you've brought balance and common sense to a complicated political/economic landscape that at times has defied logic. And it must be said, politicians whom logic defies...

Thank you Grog and Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Agnes Mack said...

A thousand thanks for sharing your sane views in a mad, mad year.

And yes, you ARE appreciated - greatly.

Hope you and your family have a wonderful relaxing break - and that Santa is kind to those little girls.

Look forward to Grog unleashed in 2011

Anonymous said...

on ya Grog, enjoy your solstice. see you next year.


Fiona said...

I will stop @ replying you.



Fiona Katauskas said...

Hi Grog,

I rarely post but always read.

I know you've been around for a while, but for me, your blog was the best thing to come out of that God-awful election campaign.

Thanks and great stuff,


Albigeois (in exile) said...

Thanks for everything Grog. We both made it through the year against some impressive odds. Bring on 2011.

Koen said...

keep on blogging - and twittering

and a happy christmas and newyear to you too....

Anonymous said...

Hurry up and write a review on 'American Tabloid'.

Possible speculations on how to adapt successfully to film (LA Con.) as opposed to unsuccessfully (Black D.) would be most welcome too.

thenoisyrogue said...


I haven't felt the need to comment on your blog up to now, I've just logged on every day and enjoyed the wonderfully written insight. While obviously disappointed that you're taking a break, (living in Italy my ability to keep up with Australian politics is a bit limited), I understand that a break from the fools is needed.

So have a great holiday and I look forward to reading you next year.



fozzy said...


Like many others I just want to thank you for your commentary this year and wish you a restful Christmas holiday.

See you in January!

Rhiannon Saxon said...

I have been reading your blog since (and I'm sort of ashamed to say it) the Grogsgate *SCANDAL*!!!
I have enjoyed it a lot and been moved, infuriated, amused and consistently enlightened.

Thank for for enriching my political junkie life. My husband won't thank you, as I am now reading a bunch of other blogs as well and so spend far too much time on the computer, but now he has discovered the thrilling world of home-built aeroplane forums so it's all ok.

Looking forward to reading your fabulous prose in the new year.
(I have to confess I did not vote for you in the Wonkley Awards (but please other readers, go and vote!) as 'The Conscience Vote' has my first loyalty but it was a very tough decision!)
Thanks again.

L said...

The best part of the Peter Russell-Clarke article is the photo, and the way his outfit makes him look like a 16th century version of the Dude.

Have a good break!

Anonymous said...

"When you are tired of mocking Julie Bishop, well, sir, you are tired of life – or at lest the political-blogging part of it."

That was very well said. Have a good Xmas mate!!


vp said...


Travel well till we see you next year.

Bock Ibn Bock said...

I agree with all the commentors before me...

Love your work!


pilgrim said...


Your work has brought so much insight and pleasure. Your knowledge and passion are inspiring. Thank you. Have a very happy Christmas with your family and enjoy a refreshing holiday.

Anonymous said...

Must get Google a/c. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to reading a refreshed and recharged Grog in 2011. Since being pointed in your direction by Crikey I have not missed a post and have flicked your link to some mates. We enjoy the clarity of thought you bring, the sometimes whimsical 'cultural' pieces, and your passion for it all. There's no point if there's no passion so eat lots of fruit on your Xmas pav and catch you when the hamster wheel starts turning again next year.

Anonymous said...

Good work Grog. I too don't blog but always look forward to reading your take on the fun and games that is Canberra and the MSM. Thanks for keeping us entertained in 2010 (who can forget Grogsgate). Look forward to 2011.
A safe and happy Xmas to you and your family.

PeterH said...

Good work Grog and I hope you enjoy your break.

Some things don't need to be sent up do they (Peter Russell-Clarke on our future energy options, Julie Bishop on anything)?

Your blog this year has been an island of sanity, calm and decent analysis in a sea of dreck.


Alistair Baillieu-McEwan said...

Yes Grog, in this topsy-turvy year the elevation of Peter Russell-Clarke as expert commentator says it all.
A while back on a comment posted here I described the feeling of ennui which has enveloped me, so much so as we come to the end of the year that I'm not reading newspapers, watching news or following much at all. Rather I'm catching up on reading fiction (Orhan Pamuk is a current favourite) and discarding old out-of-date and useless stuff from files and bookshelves etc. A general cleaning out of mind and study which I'm finding necessary and surprisingly enjoyable.
Thanks for your posts. I printed off the Ulysses/Parliament one - it provides great enjoyment.
Hope we are all refreshed after the Christmas break. Best wishes to yourself and your family.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for some great reads through the year Grog, I tips me lid.


Anonymous said...


I can certainly understand your feeling tired and jaded, especially after being 'outed' by the so-called 'Australian'.

Good to see you haven't let them intimidate you into shutting up. Your fearless integrity, in contrast to their arrogant, bullying, agenda-driven modus operandi, shows your work to worth a dozen of their reporters combined.

Have a restful, restorative break. May all your festive wishes come true.

I hope to see you blogging regularly again in the New Year, with more of the passion and insight we admirers appreciate from you.

Neil said...

You were my introduction to serious blogging. You have restored the faith of this old man in the intelligence, passion and wit of the young.

Neil Harris

Jason Wilson said...

Have a wonderful festive season and a good break. PS did you see that hott guy o the cover of the City News this week?

Jeff Carlton said...

Thanks Grog, for your insightful, refreshingly sane commentary during the year.
Enjoy your break, and I look forward to reading you again in the new year, when we might have more positive events/news (I know, I know, but....).


Anonymous said...

Hey, wasn't sure if reading your stuff on Google Reader meant that my hits weren't counted, so I thought I'd come along and tell you that I read your stuff all the time. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

It's all been said! Happy Christmas and all the best to you and your family for the new year.

Greg Jericho said...

Jason, no idea who that guy is :-)

Anonymous said...

Merry Xmas. My wife and I are late converts but converts we are.

Get refreshed because we want to read much more from you next year.


AnnieH said...

Thanks Grog for your perspective on QT. Since I've linked to your blog I've looked forward to your regular blog, refreshing. I hope you enjoy Christmas and New Year. Annie

Dong said...

Enjoy a break Grog. I am finding that the meh factor is setting in as well. I am getting quite disillussioned with our pollies at the moment.
On happier notes, I spent 18 months in France in 1989-90 studying french. My teacher used a lot of the band dessinees (comics), because they were easy and fun to read while increasing our vocab. Asterix was a real favourite as it was not only the names but most of the phrases were common sayings. What were simply funny stories in english became hilarious with an understanding of French.
So long live Asterix, may you continue to enjoy them.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, I sheds a tear; 'The Grog has ben turned off - again'
Small consolation - at least this time it was the brewer and not some 'Bar Steward' from the Oz.
I have enjoyed very much the fine drops you brewed up for us this year and look forward to the new year when once again we can sip the fine Gamut brew.
Cheers and all the best for the festive season.


Jaeger said...

I know the feeling, Grog: "The Stupid, it burns!"

Enjoy your summer break.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas and a peaceful holiday Grog and I look forward to when you are revealed in the latest Wiki-leak to be... (fill in with your preferred imaginary sin).
Read you next year

wilful said...

Thanks for your fantastic contribution to ozblogocracy grogs. I'm a recent (post "grogsgate") convert, but I've been going through your old stuff and I really appreciate your insights and clarity of writing.

(Peter Russell-Clarke (see ya later) may be a complete loon, but even loons can have a point - wind farms are a boondoggle).

Maria said...

Thank you for adding a considerable amount of interest to my year.

Thank you also for the back-links to your review/discussion of Ulysses. It is rare to come across someone else who has read it, and always interesting to see how others find it.

Your reading of it seems to be more visual than I had considered, and that will have to be reviewed when I think about it again now. To me, it is more of a sounds book, not just the Irish accent, but the impressions of the world it provides.

As you said, you dont need to know the Odyssey to get the references, like you dont need to know St Augustine or contemporary romance fiction or any of them, you can still read & enjoy, rather than be scared off, which seems to happen to so many. Yet, don't overlook finding out about these things - such as the Linati schema - to be able to re-read just a chapter with a greater idea of the play and background at work, provides an extraordinary experience. And can be done in small pieces.

I am also delighted to find someone else who celebrates Blooms Day in his own way - we have a tradition of kidneys on toast, which means we can read the appropriate section to our cat.

Merry Christmas

Feral Hillbilly Skeleton said...

Sorry to hear you've reached 'Meh Point'. We over at TPS thought we had to, but when 'The Hardest Working Man in Politics' decided to 'Keep On Truckin', well, we couldn't help ourselves from keepin' on takin' potshots. 'AhhBut' is such a juicy target.
Also, we're hanging around until Swan releases his '5 Point Plan', so that we can let the peeps have a say. Especially us!
Anyway, I predict that you will have to come back for one more blog, when you win the 'Wonkley' for 'Political Blog of the Year'.
You must give an 'Acceptance Blog'.
Anyway, you're always welcome at our blog for a chat, and, if we don't see you before, you have earnt the Merriest of Xmases and the Happiest of New Years.

2353 said...

May your break be all you hope it to be Grog. Merry Christmas and a very Happy 2011 (hopefully with a contract sitting in your back pocket to make Blogging financially rewarding as well as emotionally rewarding.

emjar said...

Uncle Roger sent me the City News via email and I too thought "Who is that hot guy who so reminds me of Ralph Fiennes"????? I have just re read your beautiful piece about Scragger and cried again. Thankyou for your sense and for making me look forward to reading your blog every lunch time. Have a great holiday and a Happy Christmas and if you felt like expanding your thoughts on Julie Bishop in the New Year I'm sure all of your fans would be truly delighted.

julian dunmurphy said...

"A couple of people read this one"
LOL, ahh you still got it mate. Happy holidays

debbiep said...

Grog Like you, (& like many of your post) I agree.

I agree that Sometimes you just 'wonder why' & need that break form (unbelievable ) realistic reality of these 'times' in both news and politics..

Hear hear
& Cheer cheer !

Anonymous said...

happy Christmas Grog. Your greatest contribution of late was to prevent us writing THAT Christmas letter to annoy friends and family. We are not sending Chrissy cards either. Will phone frineds in person!


macca said...

Thank You Grog.

Shane Coghlan said...

Already looking forward to your return next year. Enjoy your Christmas/New Year break.

ernmalleyscat said...

Thanks for a good year of blogs. Always worth reading.

I'm glad the Oz naming thing didn't have lasting bad consequences, but it must have been harrowing at the time.

The recent events with #twitdef and their bizarre tilting at new media windmills has the feel of a real turning point in the fortunes of the Oz and you seem to have been the catalyst.

I'll bet my own money that you'll be having some influence on opinions and analysis longer than Chris Mitchell.

Maarten said...

Hi Greg - I have enjoyed your columns immensely, the facts and commentary, the sardonic wit. Glad to read the outing did not silence you. I imagine some interesting conversations at PM&C. Have a great break over the festive season and look forward to the renewed insight next year.

The Bogan Whisperer said...

Hi Grog,

Always read and enjoy your stuff.

I forgot that Peter Russell-Clark existed. He sure sounds like a knob.

Best wishes for you and your family over the xmas pperiod. More than happy to read any xmas letter you write.

Congrats for a top year.

The Bogan Whisperer

Malcolm Young said...

Take it easy Grog and have a good break. We'll all be waiting here for when you get back.