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Scott Morrison’s Ghastly Uninvited Visitation



Sir Roger is having a short break from the hard work of watching his serfs tiling the fields, shaving the sheep and milking the bulls or whatever they do. He has tried to fit in some self-improving rest and recreation activities (see photograph above) and has had some time to read. He read this by George Steiner (1967):

We know that a man can read Goethe or Rilke in the evening, that he can play Bach and Schubert, and go to his day’s work at Auschwitz in the morning.

And Sir Roger had a sudden moment of déjà vu.  A ghastly vision of Scott Morrison swirled ethereally into view – happily going to church to improve the odds (=0) of his personal salvation; on his knees humbly praying forgiveness from someone he couldn’t possibly (and obviously doesn’t) comprehend; jovially supporting his football team while children in his care cut themselves from despair; and then back to the serious business of bastardry, sitting behind the big desk of his own Auschwitz coldly making the lives of innocent others a misery. For the Party. (Oh, and his career.)




Sprezzatura – the New Cool

Sir Roger has been somewhat troubled of late that persons of his (ahem) “vintage” have become quite out of step with the young’uns these days.

Not in terms of worldliness, because after all his generation have seen a lot more world (times Time), with all its available varieties of grief and joy, of wonder and horror, of peoples and places, than the young’uns, although they apparently believe they invented the world in 7 days (more or less) and are piqued that the old cheeses don’t give them credit for their creativity (as we also complained, to be honest). “See that Pops? That’s a car! I invented that. See that? That’s a smart phone! See that? That’s the internet! I had the original idea and created them with my bare hands out  of thin air. No-one ever did anything before me. No, don’t bother, you wouldn’t understand with your tired old alzheimery brain lol. (I also invented music and dancing btw.)”

No, the trouble is in terms of personal relationships.



Way back in 1528 Baldassare Castiglione published Il Libro del Cortegiano, The Book of the Courtier, and brought to the world the term Sprezzatura.

Sprezzatura is a “rehearsed spontaneity, studied carelessness, and well-practiced naturalness” intended to  “avoid affectation in every way possible . . . and to practice in all things a certain  nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.”

It is the ability of the courtier to display “an easy facility in accomplishing difficult actions which hides the conscious effort that went into them”. 

Sprezzatura has also been described “as a form of defensive irony: the ability to disguise what one really desires, feels, thinks, and means or intends behind a mask of apparent reticence and nonchalance”.

Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “studied carelessness“.

So back over here on this side, Sir Roger is cogitating on his apprehension that sprezzatura translates very roughly into what the young’uns call being “cool” (as if they invented that word as well), or “chill”. What it looks like is that the kids (with whom, of course, one is quite embarrassingly down) find it very uncool, not at all sprezzatura, to express an emotion or to actually give the faintest appearance of having actually noticed anything at all.

Now, there are two important exceptions to this.

One is permitted to (or one does anyway) express the emotion of tanterum provoked by an unfairness or frustration that one perceives is directed at one’s spoilt-child-self, usually by authority figures (or parents – not necessarily the same thing), and to use a full range of expletives and explosive actions to describe these offenders-against-one’s-divinely-bestowed royality.

The other exception is that while it is uncool to notice almost everything external to oneself, it is almost compulsory to notice oneself constantly, and to take photographs of these earth-shattering moments and share them with an adoring public – a public which, ironically(?), is spending a lot of – studiously disguised – energy and effort not noticing anythingoranyone but itselfie. (Some fringe dwellers do notice the food they are eating and take a cornucopian photographic record of their every repast to share with, what they imagine is, a drooling, breathlessly waiting, deeply impressed world that is starving for the latest news of their banquetations. However, this behaviour is deprecated and thought to be uncool by the Sprezzaturati.

Lol! All this light-hearted fun, eh? lmao, right?

Well, it does have its sad side.

Alphabetical Gens of every tribe appear to have no authentic, meaningful time for the human reality of actual other people. Perhaps they are not being cool at all but are merely, and actually, unaware of others. Or they are simply too busily absorbed in and fascinated by broadcasting the minutiae of what in their fantasy are their own extraordinarily interesting lives as social media celebrities, and having what they call “fun”.

This “fun” involves superficial and content-free banter, often electronically, with what they call their “friends” (lol), competitively drinking buckets of poisonous liquids before staggering out from their squat/ share-house/ apartment/ parents’ place on a recreational excursion where the agenda is to drink a mixture of as much intoxicating beverage, of whatever malt, as possible, perhaps augmented by a range of cutely acronymous drugs of uncertain pedigree and even more dodgy consequence. The goal, apparently, is to cause a swoon, to crumple at the knees, to fall on the floor, or even more hilariously in the gutter, to vomit, and magically to awake the next day and find oneself in bed with a bad headache, a bucketful of remorse and probably an ugly stranger, wondering what happened after the first drink at 3 o’clock in the afternoon the day before.

So there is no difference, even in detail, between this fun and the way fun was pursued when Sir Roger himself was a young’un. In fact in most respects Sir Roger’s generation – the BoomBoxers – who also thought they invented everything and understood everything and were instant experts and were immortal, and were shallow, too, were no different from today’s young’uns.        

But my dears (says Sir Roger) there is a new shallowness, an existential hollowness, a bottomless pit of empty dread in the New Cool, the Sprezzatura nova, and it is either actual indifference to the multi-dimensional reality of other minds; a terror of touching the wobbly-jobbly, smelly-messy emotional innards of others (or what we used to call “intimacy”) because either they fear catching something from it, or they have no idea how to deal with it; or a fear of being thought uncool rather than a desire to be cool – that is, a dread not so much to connect as to be seen to. You can’t touch them. Your fingers slide off them like burnt bacon off a teflon frypan. And yet as humans our greatest need is to connect.

“She might,” said E M Forster, “yet be able to help him to the building of the rainbow bridge that should connect the prose in us with the passion. Without it we are meaningless fragments, half monks, half beasts, unconnected arches that have never joined into a man. With it love is born, and alights on the highest curve, glowing against the grey, sober against the fire. Happy the man who sees from either aspect the glory of these outspread wings. The roads of his soul lie clear, and he and his friends shall find easy-going…Only connect! Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.” 


And by the way, since Sir Roger has mentioned Forster:

This woman was a goddess to the end…This episode which was so tragic for him, remained supremely beautiful. To such a height was he lifted, that without regret he could now have told her that he was her worshipper too. But what was the use of telling her? For all the wonderful things had happened.
“Thank you,” was all that he permitted himself. “Thank you for everything.”

Sir Roger wishes to say to his particular goddess, Thank you. Thank you for everything. And by the way, and I know there’s no use in telling you but, I am your worshipper too…


Special Intel Ops

Special Intel Ops, Sir Roger is required to inform his readers, may actually AT THIS VERY MOMENT be taking place, or be in preparation, or at the very least in prospect. (Clutches pearls.)

It has come to Sir Roger’s attention, or may have come to Sir Roger’s attention, or may in the future come to Sir Roger’s attention, that spooky types with false beards stuck on, dark glasses pulled on, black hats pulled down and coat collars pulled up, are probably at this very moment – or perhaps not – engaged in Special Intelligence Operations, looking for, and even looking at, evidence, or what may or may not turn out to be evidence, of fundamentalist jihadist islamist/ christian/ buddhist/ hinduist/ atheist thoughts and feelings that, if turned into actions, may disturb the status quo and the little old lady next door, who has always voted Liberal and will again if she lives that long without a bomb blowing up her tiny flat, or if she doesn’t choke on her cornflakes or swallow her dentures and if she’s not too terrified to venture out of the only safe place she knows. WE MUST PROTECT HER in her fantastic delusions so that she can once again vote for Tony’s Tamer Straya (waves colonial-era jingo flag [made in China]) so that the jesuit interloper and his fundamentalist christian fellow travellers might win the most unlikely election victory in living memory – even if that is at the expense of the freedoms of the rest of us.

It is believed the Specious Intel Ops in question may be on foot in an Australian suburb which has a high (or cunningly low) concentration of persons of a specific cultural-religious-ethnic heritage. The Special Intel Ops may currently be in the final planning stages of a secret pre-dawn raid which will be unknown to only a few besides selected members of the media. Residents of the targeted street will need to be patient for as long as the television news vans need to remain in the area to interview the tumescent penises of the Attorney General, the Minister for Death Stares and the Minister for Immigration-&-Everything-Else-He-Can-Lay-His-Hands-On (and his 90 media distorters).

You have been warned. The Night of the Long Penises is coming! Welcome to the new world of Special Intel Ops.

Men and Whitlam of Australia



Men and Whitlam of Australia…

“The decision we will make on December 2 is a choice between the past and the future, between the habits and fears of the past and the demands and opportunities of the future. There are moments in history when the whole fate and future of nations can be decided by a single decision. For Australia, this is such a time.”

We will abolish conscription forthwith. We will abolish fees at universities and colleges of advanced education.”

 “We want to give a new life and a new meaning in this new nation to the touchstone of modern democracy — to liberty, equality, fraternity.”

Yes, sadly it’s time. Finally.

It’s time to bid farewell to a fading myth of the socialist left that no-one under 40 has ever heard of: old plinth-bound, red-taped Goth the Whittler whose soul, vision and legacy are chained and frozen in stone within the walls of the Wiblam Edifice, protected by the Hooded Brethren of the Whitlam Industry (UWS) Inc.

His name was “Goth”, a legal personage, a trademark, now hijacked by a “controlled entity” bearing the name of the once terrifying but now sadly faded and hardly remembered – and largely unknown amongst those under 40 – mythical hero of long ago.

His time, comrade, was a time of social earthquake, of cultural lightning and political tempest whose like we shall not see again.

Heralded by fiery comets, bare-chested and thumping did he unchain the creativity of the nation’s sleeping beast.

With the life-giving elixir of  freedom did he quench the crumbling leaves of its dreams.

And “Liberté, Egalité! Fraternité!” was his (okay, pretentious) battle cry. To those who awoke it was as if St Crispin himself were there amongst them.

And the beast was roused! It shook off the dust of the dead, Mingisian years and romped and played for joy.

But the beast grew and grew and its liberator, though mighty, was no match for the beast which became a monster and destroyed him.

The largest stars shine brightest and briefest and explode with shocking spectacle. And are gone. Their glowing supernova remnants linger for a time but fade and are forgotten.

As Oscar Wilde almost wrote of the Star Child,

“Yet ruled he not long, so great had been his suffering, and so bitter the fire of his testing, for after the space of three years he was destroyed. And those who came after him ruled evilly.”

And they still do and today they promise to rule more evilly than ever before. 

If there is one thing Sir Roger despises above other things it is self-important posturing. If there is one group of people he despises it is people who are so far up themselves they can look themselves in their own eye sockets and who then insist that everyone else take them seriously. Such are the rulers of our day, the Mad Rabbit, Jolly Joe Porker, the Cormorant and the Death Stare.

Yet still a few remember the torpid days of beige oppression and monochrome social control during the reign of Ming the dreadful and his pathetic successors, and these few who remember know and cherish the bright and cheerful contrast of the Sir Gough Years. Sir Roger since 1972 has found in every new day a new excitement, a new challenge, a creative opportunity to influence his world for the better and to make it a better, more loving and more humane place – much the way that Gough inspired us all to do and be. And everyone has the constitutional right, the moral duty and the precious freedom to do so.


So now to Gruff the farter, Gog the sun and Goth the gruff old goat. Gough be with you. 

But wait! This just in:

TONY BURKE: The late Cardinal Clancy used to often relate about his conversation with Gough when Gough had inquired as to whether or not St Mary’s Cathedral might be available for a funeral, which surprised Cardinal Clancy given that he was not expecting Gough to convert to Catholicism.

Gough explained: no, no, no, it wasn’t for the Catholic funeral — it was because he wanted to be buried in the crypt, claiming that he was willing to pay but would only require it for three days. 

Is there yet hope?

(includes excerpts plagiarised from Sir Roger’s earlier posts)

Lord Roger Migently?

 back to the regency future

Sir Roger Migently, as you must surely realise, has been quite unwell. He has been managed like an unlucky skier in an induced coma these many months since September 2013, when the floor of the Migently Mansions entertainment complex collapsed beneath him and he landed heavily on his Conservatory, hitting his head repeatedly against the wall.

It should be understood that “the Conservatory” is not the cheery, sun-washed place it seems. It was conceived by the Abbott in the Dark Days of John Hunt, “the Coward”, as a place for torture; a place of despair, where all seemed bright and beautiful but all the beautiful plants had deadly thorns, and all the bright things when touched turned to dust, and the wafting perfumes of such sweet and seductive promise turned dreams into terrifying incubi.    

Anyway, Sir Roger was rushed to the Migently Mansions bathroom cabinet where medicines were administered and soothing unguents applied, but to no avail. Sir Roger swooned and would not unswoon. “So a coma it is,” said the Doctor.

Not necessarily surprisingly, attempts at his gentle revival seem always to coincide with yet another dreadful jolt in a string of momentously stupid and dangerous utterances from Canberra and Sir Roger falls back into his protective deep sleep.

However, so many people have been at sea without his mentoring and discourse that his staff have tried what they can to evince some guidance for his adoring public.

And yet in one’s daily attempted mind-meld with Sir Roger one has been unable to rouse Sir R from his slumber.

Perhaps the whiff of Abbott the bigot (of course there’s nothing wrong with that) protecting his cute friends (nothing wrong with that), Sir Andrew Bolt, Sir Alan Jones and Dame Gina, from those nasty decent-and-intelligent-people has drained his remaining energy and convinced him to continue to emulate a plank.

Nevertheless (or perhaps more) one is certain that, had he seen the old queen Flint, in anticipation of his own impending magnificent elevation to glory, go onanistically red-in-the-face [“EIIR! I love you! I love you! … Oh! Oh! Oh dear! … Unnhhh … “]  it would be Sir Roger’s view that we have lived through the monochromatic 1950s already and have moved on, leaving the Womens Weekly behind.

Sir Roger clearly is not against imperial honours per se (or ought that be qua honours?) but he would surely feel that the value of his own cherished knighthood (bestowed, he dimly recalls, by some German inbreed or other) would be debased by the addition of random honours gifted for political sycophancy and party donations to the riff-raff and nig-nogs. Unless….unless…

… Given that Sir Roger was the “natural” son of Lord Lummy and Lord E. Lordy, ‘Lord Roger Migently’ has an appealing ring to it, a siren song, the seemly snugness of a perfectly fitting glove lost in the garden for generations and new-discovered; a rightness, a coming-home, a certain comme il faut.

A peerage is an honour for which Sir Roger, like Courtney Bryce and General Storr, or whoever these stiffs are, would in a moment, as Bill Hayden infamously did, repudiate his democratic and republican instincts in favour of the narcissistic rewards of personal aggrandisement, and assume an air of indulgent condescension toward the lower classes. 

“EIIR!” can’t you almost hear him panting, “EIIR! I love you! I love you! … Oh! … Oh! ……… Oh dear! … Unnhhh … Zzzzzzzzzzzzz …..”

[for Sir Roger Migently]

Hoban’s Heroes

Sir Roger was contacted yesterday by an outfit called Bogan Recruitment. Or Hoban. Or something.

“Lindsay” left a message because Sir Roger was attending a board meeting about protecting the Migently Millions and what to do about the servants.

Lindsay wanted to have a chat about someone (let’s call her “Annabelle”) for whom Sir Roger had once agreed to be a referee.

Now, Lindsay had rung at 4.55 pm and Sir Roger didn’t get the message until well after decent people had gone home for the day. (Sir Roger hadn’t gone home, obviously, but then nobody has accused Sir Roger of being “decent”.) Nevertheless, as soon as he could Sir Roger raided his files to find Annabelle. Yes, he recalled, she had been well worthy of a reference. She was mature though young, punctual, committed, focused, capable, experienced, bright. She listened attentively and learnt quickly.

So this morning Sir Roger rang the offices of the fabled – and as it turns out octopoid – Hogan Conglomerate only to find that their phones were experiencing troubles and he had been transferred to Melbourne. But they would leave an email for Lindsay that Sir Roger had called and she would call him back.

Lindsay did not call back.

In his loyalty to Annabelle, who after all was a good stick and deserved a break, Sir Roger rang a second time.

Lindsay wasn’t available at this time, apparently on the phone making further spurious calls, but the young lad would leave a message and Lindsay would call Sir Roger back.

Lindsay did not call Sir Roger back.

Sir Roger was not seeking a job. Sir Roger would not use the services of any agency but himself.  Sir Roger was doing a favour for someone who deserved one. He felt treated like an applicant, he felt treated like a thing. He felt Lindsay was very rude indeed. And/or extremely slack and bad at her job. (Who rings someone at COB to have a conversation that will often take about 20 minutes?) And even if she no longer needed the reference she ought to have returned Sir Roger’s calls. She did not know how important Sir Roger might or might not be, or how valuable his time. She worked off a stupid narrow world view and an ignorant theory of mind.

He wondered whether Lindsay judgmentally makes employment decisions or recommendations on the basis of applicants’ ability to do the job, their punctuality, efficiency, customer service ability?

He felt, if so, that Lindsay would fail badly on her own criteria. He felt Hobans failed miserably.

It is nothing really to Sir Roger. His future is not on the  line – not on their line at least. He will never see Annabelle again, or ever know whether she was successful in obtaining the position. But Holborn Human Placements and its android staff made an enemy they didn’t need to. And of course they don’t give a shit because they are so huge.

So Sir Roger recommends avoiding Bogan’s Heroes because they don’t seem to care about people or understand what that means. It’s just the profit margin. Just the business.


Liberal Party


Feel free …joined the liberal party


No really. Pin it, fb it, tweet it, email it. With Sir Roger’s blessing.

Just don’t join the liberal party really

Rentier Socialists


Just (sorry) Sir Roger thinks IT’S TIME to refer back to the recent squabble about certain t-shirts and heap some shit on those who assert ownership of the commonly used English phrase “It’s time”. 

Universities once, in all the centuries up to but not including this one, were laboratories for learning and thinking, experiencing and exploring. They fostered the free flow and sharing of ideas. They created possibilities. They were machines, hothouses, for ideas, rather than being mainly and merely commercial employment factories basing their teaching on the (safe) theories of the past. (Better the devil you know than the one you might unearth with your damnable curiosity and cause all sorts of uncertainty and, worse, discomfort.) 

So when a university, especially a university, or a “controlled entity” of a university, indulges in trademarks, copyrights and any “intellectual” properties it can get its hands on, what does that do? Well, it prohibits the free flow and sharing of ideas. It steals possibilities. And so it steals from a nation. 

What is that? wondered Sir Roger, that lives off the rental or hoarding of ideas and goods, or off other people’s work? By chance he came across a term which describes, or once described, such a person or “entity” – the rentier




A rentier (/?r?nti.e?/ or /r???tje?/) is a person or entity that receives income derived from economic rents, which can include income from patents, copyrights, brand loyalty, real estate, interest or profits.

Rentier is a term currently used to describe economic practices of parasitic monopolization of access to any (physical, financial, intellectual, etc.) kind of property and gaining significant amount of profit without contribution to society.

The rentier was the ultimate bourgeois, like Helen and Allison. But then, aren’t we all, or don’t we all aspire to be, rentier capitalists? A second, third, fourth, investment property? Write a book and live off the royalties and movie rights? Perhaps. But Sir Roger thinks rentier capitalism is not a core value that one associates with Gough in his heyday, not even after they turned his marbles into a bust and stuck him on a plinth, in fact ever. Perhaps that’s why we voted for him.


Democracy – Dancing for Joy?

About 300 years ago, like a smouldering kapok pillow, a massive revolution began its slow burn.  A scientific revolution. A social political revolution led by great minds. Newton, Spinoza, Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau,  Diderot, d’Alembert, Montesquieu. Hume. Robert Burns. Thomas Payne. The Age of Enlightenment surged on and rational, egalitarian thought swept everything from its path. Except religion, of course. You’ve got to give it to religion – it’s resilient. Like an ocean wave at last it broke into violence. The French Revolution, The American War of Independence. But in the rubble a fragile flower bloomed.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen [Déclaration des droits de l’Homme et du citoyen] of 1793. The Americans, between their Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, embraced the same sentiments at about the same time.  

By these documents were guaranteed the liberties and rights whose influence quickly spread throughout the western world and which we now take so much for granted.

Homo sapiens sapiens has been around for perhaps two hundred thousand years.  The Neolithic Revolution, farming and domestication of animals, and the building of cities, occurred perhaps 10,000 years ago.

Not so long ago (post Agriculture, not before) life was indeed, as Hobbes imagined, “nasty, brutish and short”, a seething battleground of warring lords and ruthless despots, of slaves and serfs, and of absolute monarchs who had the arbitrary right of life and death over all people.

It was just 300 years ago unrest began to swell in earnest. That’s just 3% of our history since the rude beginnings of agriculture.

Only 200 years ago – one thousandth of our history as a species, a minute dot in time – the tide turned and democracy began to struggle to life. That democracy was tiny and constantly under threat from still powerful influences. But with the aid of its champions and nurturers it survived and grew.

Yet it is still under threat from those same influences, barons of another kind who control the thinking of the masses, press barons, princes of religion and those who desire power for themselves for power’s sake.

Our democracy is an infant. New Zealand was the first to introduce universal suffrage (including women) in 1893.  Australia followed with not quite universal suffrage in 1902. That’s just yesterday in historical terms. But it was not until 1962, only 51 years ago, that Australia gained universal suffrage by including the Aboriginal people.

This is a new thing we have, a child, not an obvious, done deal. It needs nourishing still and it needs vigilant champions. We are not as far as we imagine from the possibility of the events of Egypt in the last few weeks.

Our democracy is still under threat and it is under threat from three sides.

First, the politicians themselves, who would be kings but are fools, who corrode, erode and mock the meaning of democracy with their travesties, and all for their own petty, selfish and shortsighted ends. The politicians who drain the blood out the hearts of the citizens.

Second, from the ignorant who wonder what all this has to do with nail-tech or Big Brother (more than they realise).

From the comfort of our sofas we see on our plasma (or, for the supremely self-congratulatory, LED-LCD) screens the people of other countries, newly democratic after pitched battles, blood, pain, terror and ultimately victory – like the people of Timor-Leste, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt – dancing on Election Day in the streets with joy, and music, and riots of colour, celebrating their right to choose their representatives and their own futures and the future of their countries.

It is wonderful and as we look up from the tv dinners on our knees, tinnie in hand, we beam indulgently and complacently at these innocents who have joined the “right” side, our side, with, unlike us, their shed blood, ruined families and ransacked economies, still dancing for joy the way we never have.

We drag ourselves and our prejudices resentfully and reluctantly to the polling booth, sometimes with our children in tow to teach them how to despise, as we do, our astonishing freedoms and democratic rights for which, and for 300 years, millions fought and died.

So the third and biggest threat is our own complacency and, worse, our boredom and apathy.


We can’t imagine it being taken away. We think it is here forever. We think it is obvious. We think it is safe. We are wrong. A decade ago we nonchalantly handed over basic rights in the interests of “security”. Habeas corpus, the ancient cornerstone of our legal system and therefore our democracy, was slipped away without shame and without a murmur.

Our democracy is under threat right now from the most powerful multinational-conglomerate opinion manipulators the world has ever seen. It is under threat from those, of not just one religion, who see theocracies as the future of their world. And these are not the only threats.

If we take our eyes off this still very young child, democracy, if we will not remember to dance for joy in the streets for the brilliant gift from our forbears that democracy is, it can turn to dust in the blink of a bored and apathetic eye.






A Moron in a Hurry – Part 4 (Final)

GOTHPLINTHDrawing by the extraordinary Doctor King

Men and Whitlam of Australia, not to forget the moron in a hurry, it’s time to bid farewell to old plinth-bound, red-taped Goth the Whittler, his soul, his vision and his legacy chained and frozen in stone within the walls of the Wiblam Edifice, protected by the Hooded Brethren of the Whitlam Industry, with this final chapter of Sir Roger’s dictated response to  Helen the Madam Intimidatrix and her office girl Allison. 


Current violations

I think you ought to know that in the last few days in the context of an election campaign at least one person (Christine Milne, Leader of the Greens) and one organisation (the Guardian) have infringed your trademark(s) under TM 1414012 Class 9 and Class 38. Ms Milne has also infringed TM 985583 Class 35 in relation to Advertising and promotion of services, organisations and issues related to politics, political issues etc.

Christine Milne, 4 August 2013

It’s time that we treated refugees in a compassionate way

It’s time that we supported the poorest in our own community and dealt with issues such as homelessness and poverty.”

Ms Milne has clearly used the phrase in a way (twice is surely “branding”) that would appear to provide a prima facie case of infringement. I look forward to hearing the news of your fearless action against this perpetrator.


This case may not be so clear-cut but probably worth a try? High profile defendant, the Guardian; famous case to lift the Institute’s profile and strike fear into the hearts of mom and dad transgressors?

I will in any case make sure, in the near term, that both Ms Milne and the Guardian are made aware of and understand their transgressions and I will inform them that it is possible you may be in contact with them in the near future. I also feel it my duty to warn all other news outlets and politicians of the danger that they may be facing  if they are not vigilant.  



If this response is insufficient for the might of the Gruff Wiblam Foundation well then you might ask yourself, as Sir Roger so frequently asks,

“How would this look on the front page of the Herald?”

The might of the Whitlam edifice versus a poor old pensioner whose heart (what is left of it) is in the right place, whose career has been in furthering the rights of man, standing up for the underdog, entertaining the masses, educating and mentoring the unemployed, the broken and the dismayed.

The frail old thing, who can’t afford to defend himself, is being bullied by the ruthless, taxpayer-funded guardians of a fading myth of the socialist left, that no-one under 40 has ever heard of.

Sir Roger wouldn’t know about the front page of the Herald. He has only been in the Stay In Touch page of the Herald and his website, while it has a strong and consistent following, has only been number 1 on Google, Yahoo, and Bing and for about five [six] years.

Sir Roger does, however, know what it means to be immortalised – as is Sir Gough through the Institute – his website being archived in the Pandora Archive of the National Library, and one or two of the website’s t-shirts being included in museum collections – T-shirts such as this one which has, one can’t help thinking, an apropos message here:


Or, to put it momentarily back in the courtroom, confusion is more difficult to establish when the Values Australia logo has fairly strong recognition of its own.


On an even more personal note

  1. Sir Roger has noted in publicly available documentary sources that you find academic legal work ‘thrilling’ – Really? Sir Roger cannot find in your presentation the merest whiff of evidence evinced that you are thrilled, no paragraphs or PPT slides addressing this burning issue at all.
  2. Sir Roger thinks you have answered your own question re: gatekeeper or transaction facilitator. Yes, just an enforcer – “do as I say”.
  3. By the way, “different from”, not “different to”.
  4. And please do for goodness’ sake get someone who knows what they’re doing to design your PPT slides. Or, better, just learn how to speak without them. Some might think that yours perpetrate a worse sin against humanity than anything Values Australiahas ever done.
  5. You may think Sir Roger has been unfair and you might say that you are quite a nice and caring person after all and how could one be so mean and cruel to you and make judgments about your character and personality when one had never met you.
  6. And one would reply, one is oneself quite a nice and caring person also, and deeply moral, who loves his children and works and campaigns for the betterment of real people in the real world. And yet you did not ask or care but coldly made assertions, accusations and judgments about one’s character and personality when you had never met one. Your ground rules, not one’s.
  7. Sir Roger requested I ask one last question:


“Just because it’s legal, is it the right thing to do?”  


 A certain person is passing himself off as ex-Opposition Leader and ex-Gillard Minister Simon Crean.  He is clearly an impostor who is calling himself “Simon Cream”.



Sir Roger has not heard from Helen, Madam Intimidatrix of the Hooded Brethren of the Whitlam Industry since e-penning this polite response. He does not know whether she is mollified, stupefied, unutterably bored, or in a fury of retribution to punish naughty Sir Roger in any way possible. We shall see.

Sir Roger would deem it not unkind of his army of supporter to feel that it’s time to share with its friend and influential acquaintance, this saga, or to share the complete e-letter which can be found and downloaded here.

And now to Gough the farter, Gough the sun and Gough the gruff old goat. Gough be with you. 



A Moron in a Hurry – Part 3



. ..

Previously on Moron in a Hurry

Sir Roger, strapped to the rack by the Madam Intimidatrix of the Hooded Brethren of the Gruff Wiblam Edifice, shouted that “Freedom is a state of mind”, wondering where he’d heard it before, whereupon his bonds evaporated and the spirit of Wiblam was upon him and possessed his tongue. His eyes flashed and his balls grew large. He spoke of his astonishment. He spoke of facts and moral truths, of the Law and its unhappy servants, of, dog warmers, mouse mats and g-strings.

Sir Roger now invoked the enchanted phrase “It’s Time” and the wizards who possess it. And he e-spake these words unto the Hooded Brethren: 

[Can’t wait for the full, breathless Not Even a Moron in a Hurry?]


Ownership of the phrase

Gough Whitlam did not own the phrase in the commercial sense. At the time that the phrase gained popularity he did not personally pay for the slogan, nor the campaign as far as one is aware. Intellectual property typically belongs to the person who creates it, or to the legal entity who commissions the work.

The campaign was created in 1972 by McCann Erickson who were commissioned by the Labor Party.

Ironically(?) enough “It’s Time” might be seen by a sharp-eyed lawyer on the make as an appropriation of Menzies’ 1949 slogan, “It’s Time for a Change”. Would the Liberal Party have had a case for trademark infringement or for passing off? I suppose Menzies ought to have had greater foresight and trademarked the phrase.

Despite the slogan having a certain association with Whitlam and with images of Whitlam during the 1972 campaign (as it does also with numerous now-faded TV personalities) – again, it was The Australian Labor Party that campaigned under the slogan, not just Gough. It was the Labor slogan, not the Whitlam slogan.

More than this, a majority of Australian electors adopted the slogan as their own, voted Labor in 1972 and won. We won. It was a time of excitement and hope and anticipation. The Labor victory changed Australia overnight and so Australians who voted Labor then felt “it’s time” was their time, and they still do.

Gough was Sir Roger’s hero too, as he told David Attenborough one day (or was it the other way around?) and he even managed to touch the hem of Gough’s garment once before Gough imperiously brushed him off.

Yes, the Institute may have a legal right to the term but it cannot honestly assert moral ownership of the phrase which belongs to the Australian people, or at least those who are ancient enough to remember those heady days 41 years ago.

The appropriation (or acquisition) of the phrase by the Whitlam Institute seems in Sir Roger’s personal view opportunistic and merely commercial and any assertion of moral ownership groundless.

You have expressed a view that universities have not been “politicised”. Are you serious? Where have you been? And even if you were right what is not debatable is that they have certainly become highly commercialised, which is perhaps worse, especially from the point of view of the values which Gough always represented. Which is why we are having this conversation.

“We want to give a new life and a new meaning in this new nation to the touchstone of modern democracy — to liberty, equality, fraternity.”

-          Gough Whitlam, ALP Policy Speech, 13 November 1972

Sir Roger is in his way a student of the Enlightenment which led directly to liberté, egalité, fraternité and la Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen. And it would in Sir Roger’s view be a travesty and an insult to Whitlam’s legacy if lawyers on his behalf were to trample all over what he actually stood for, what he held so dear, what he really meant to us and which he so successfully shared as his vision for this country, for its people and their democracy – just because it was the law.



One is clear that the Institute is in proud possession of carefully guarded forms saying that it owns a Trade Mark. Those pieces of paper give the Institute a legal stick. People, however, use these two words together in all sorts of contexts all the time. People have appropriated the term as their own ever since 1972. It is used everywhere by all sorts of people.

One could understand if the whole purpose of this exercise by The Magnificent Whitlam Institute may be to run a campaign to avoid genericisation by asserting its trademark. And such a campaign might focus on the easier targets. But it was probably already too late for that as early as 1972.

Your pieces of legal paper if taken literally would mean people may conceivably inadvertently infringe your trademark privately or in public using those words.

The idea that the Institute has a right to be the only “legal person” to use those words together in all the Classes you have trademarked is a nonsense, a mockery, an impossibility. Any attempt the Institute might make to assert its trademark on a large scale would be in danger of discovery that it is a generic term and you might risk losing the trademark protection in any case.

To be clear, your trademarks do not discriminate or allow discretion. They make it an infringement to use the two words together in any of the contexts which are covered.  You are honour bound to pursue all perceived infringements as you have Values Australia. Anything else would be unethical. A newspaper headline, for example, or a recorded political speech could be construed to fall under the trademark jurisdiction. You could conceivably pull a teacher out of a classroom for writing those words on the whiteboard at the start of a class, “branding” the lesson. You could conceivably take IBM (for argument’s sake) to court because the office girl created signs for a change management seminar she had decided to call “IT’S TIME”. You would be entitled to make a claim if you felt like it. In fact, since you have done it here, you are bound to do it there, and to seek out every possible instance where it might occur.

You can see the total absurdity. (Or perhaps you can’t. That would be sad.)    

And yet you were not satisfied with one set of absurdities in 2004. You went out and bought four more in 2011.


Freedom of speech

What is worse is that the right of a person to freedom of speech in a political context was derived from Sections 7 and 24 of the Australian Constitution by the High Court in 1992 and 1994 and in particular in Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1997).

Even the Immigration Department on its website assures potential citizens that there are “five fundamental freedoms”.

Number one on their list is “freedom of speech”.

“Australians are free, within the bounds of the law, to say or write what we think privately or publicly, about the government, or about any topic. We do not censor the media and may criticise the government without fear of arrest.”

One doesn’t wish to make too much of this but after all it is the website of an Australian Government department. It has been there for many years. It must have legal, if not legislative, standing because a person would be entitled to rely on this advice to inform his actions. If it does not have force then it is misrepresentation and a person could claim damages.

A case might be made that restricting the use of “it’s time” in the political context, trademark notwithstanding, is a restriction on or infringement of  that implied right.

I don’t suppose you want to test that and Sir Roger does not have the means.


On a more personal note.

Sir Roger was offended that “you”, or whoever actually wrote the letter, employed that formal and threatening presumption-of-guilt language which seems to the clean-living and unwary to accuse one of all manner of the vilest of premeditated and vicious crimes and to suggest that the recipient is the lowest bastard in the world if not a baby-eater – or worse, a catholic priest – when you could as easily have written,

“Dear Sir, you may not have realised that [blah blah etc. etc.] and though your intentions may have been honourable, we would like you to not do that any more, please. We’d rather not, for both our sakes, have to ask you again if you don’t mind. Let’s know if you object. Kind regards Helen (via Allison).”

Sir Roger finds that writing to decent, good, generous Australians in the arrogant way you have is offensive and frankly obscene. Not everyone (thank god) is a lawyer and understands that legalese is “just the bullying way we do things around here” and that you were “just doing your job; nothing personal”.

He does, though, feel for you. Much as you might have desperately wished you could write an understanding and thoughtful letter, you simply cannot. Your hands and pens and mind are chained to the formula, and the form guides you learnt while articled, and the form letter in which you or your office girl customised the fill-in-the-blank spaces. For you there is only one way to write such a letter and you have no choice but to do it that way.

In this most free of countries lawyers, of all people, have no professional freedom. In your heart you might wish you could change the world for the better the way you dreamed in the idealistic glow of youth, when you watched Boston Legal – or perhaps Perry Mason?

But the law as you know, and perhaps discovered to your dismay (or delight, who knows?) is not about truth or justice; it is only about the law.

For all one knows you may have strong morals yourself but in your profession morality is irrelevant, except for morality which is legislated. And in that you have no say, whether you agree with it or not. And so instead of doing what is right you must do what is legal, perhaps sitting in a room lined with soul-sucking books doing unutterably tedious, endlessly repetitive and eye-wateringly trivial things like pumping out form letters to the wicked.

Sir Roger is full of regret for any existential struggle you might have, any desire you might have to fashion meaningfulness amongst the professional restraints.

Meanwhile, Sir Roger is unfettered by such constraints. Every day is a new excitement and a new challenge and a creative opportunity to influence his world for the better and to make it a better, more loving and more humane place – much the way Gough inspired us to do and be. And one has the constitutional right and freedom to do so.



In our next and final instalment, Sir Roger: 

  • makes shocking revelations of high-profile naughtiness,
  • gets up-close-and-personal
  • and even more up-close-and-personal with the, after all, non-intimidating one, 
  • asks the question he often asks himself, and knows she does (“How would this look on the front page of the herald?”)
  • and drops a political bombshell! 


A Moron in a Hurry – Part 2



Goth The Whittler

Legal traps and electronic security  are secreted everywhere.
Instructions for grovelling are necessary for the uninitiated and unimpressed 


So as you know Sir Roger has been stood over by the rozzers of the Whitlam Industry, accused of the most nefarious crimes in the most aggressive tones. Almost as terrifying as the big boys threatening him for his lunch money.

To help the dear reader understand the response which follows, here, first, are excerpts from that letter from the Whitlam Institute which was rushed by email, with a copy by snail, under the hand of one “Helen” but actually from the desk of an “Allison” (who knows?). All one really knows about “Helen” is that she appears to be a ‘torturer’ or (to put it another way) ‘abominable power point presenter':




Therefore in the spirit of that letter Sir Roger’s amanuensis replied as follows (Part 1 today):


Gosh! Comrade!

This is exciting, isn’t it? To be accused of “procuring”! Sir Roger feels he has at last achieved the heady heights of infamous celebrity enjoyed by Berlusconi and Strauss-Kahn!  

Who even for a moment suspected that a t-shirt splashed with the logo could ever be suspected of being sanctioned by the arrogant old codger? Only those who knew that The Great Man’s now immortally corporatised self is also now legally wagon-encircled.

Ought one to turn oneself into the police tonight? Might one wait till tomorrow? Will one need to pack one’s pyjamas? What sort of a sentence do you think one might get (were you to win)?

One says, “were you to win” because who knows for sure if a judge would find that the (now ex-) t-shirt was “passing off”?

One knows you can’t. Not till the judge puts the black cap on.

Since your concern is to protect the income of the Mighty Whitlam Edifice one can inform you that the Institute has lost no income in this matter. One finds no historic record of a sale of the allegedly offensive t-shirt and it is no longer offered for sale on the Values Australia website or at cafepress.

One hopes you will forgive any language which is not cringingly fearful under the onslaught of your strident, harshly worded and school-marmish threats but, you know, this blog post (series) if it lacked some frisson, some controversy, would be terribly dull and there would be nothing to tweet about. Sir Roger’s loyal fans would be disappointed and it would damage his reputation for robustness. One hopes indeed that you will understand that this response may contain occasionally non-legal terminology because, as Sir Roger puts it, “IANAL”. And if you are offended, well, you know, you have as much right to be offended as Sir Roger was offended that the letter purporting to be sent by you was in fact sent for you, a task you delegated to someone else, perhaps the office girl. Who is to know?

I am the nominee of Sir Roger Migently who commissions and is senior adviser to the website ValuesAustralia (hosted in and published from the United States of America with all the implications and complications that entails).

Sir Roger has therefore directed that I endorse the enclosure on his behalf. (You may need to look carefully for the signature towards the end.)

He was shocked to hear that, what with his pension and his gold ticket and all, old Gruff is so short of cash these days that he needs every cent you can get him.

Sir Roger (benighted before Gough changed the honours system) informs me that he had quite forgotten that he had created the sparkling opportunity to ignore the … er … opportunity to which you refer and which apparently no-one saw or – certainly on the evidence and to Sir Roger’s memory – not one person wanted. Sir Roger frankly couldn’t have given a stuff about it, as he says, after the 2007 election. Its time (oops, sorry!) had passed.

So he was shocked when the rozzers from Whittling Inc sent to his amanuensis the terrifying threats of, well, who knows what dire consequences by email! To Sir Roger it felt a bit like being dumped by text (which strangely chuffed him, being down with the kids and terribly contemporary and all).

Sir Roger demands that the forensic team at UWS Legal, should they locate any remaining instances of the offending item, immediately inform Sir Roger who will forthwith speak to his people to have them deleted.

(On a side note, there are on the cafepress website very many other instances of the phrase being used on possibly tens or hundreds of

  • g-strings
  • shirts
  • mugs
  • cups
  • caps
  • dog warmers and
  • mouse mats,

so if you wanted to pursue them – perhaps claiming piracy under extraterritoriality? – the office girl will have plenty of work to do for the next few years.)


Discovery and Observations

You assert that the Whitlam Institute has a “substantial reputation”. Who knew? Sir Roger would be one of the more aware people in the community, both generally and politically. He had no idea! A Whitlam Institute? Doing great and worthy works? A t-shirt? I must say, the UWS marketing unit needs to get off its arse about this one and let the world know that Gough’s spirit lives! If Sir Roger has never heard of it, few others have.

Looking at the Whitlam Industry website now one might suspect it is less the throbbing engine of social justice and democratic advancement one might imagine than a back-slapping nostalgia club for the ex-famous and forgotten, a few academics writing impenetrable scholarly works with obtusely academic titles and a fresh-faced legal team jumping out of the legal bushes to surprise the disobedient.


 So, trademarks and passing off.

“A cause of action for passing off is a form of intellectual property enforcement … particularly where an action for trademark infringement based on a registered trade mark is unlikely to be successful.”

So, trademarks and passing off.

“Passing off … does not confer monopoly rights to any names, marks, get-up or other indicia. It does not recognize them as property in its own right.

“Instead, the law of passing off is designed to prevent misrepresentation in the course of trade to the public, for example, that there is some sort of association between the business of defendant and that of the claimant.”

There are three elements which must be fulfilled:

•             Goodwill owned by a trader

•             Misrepresentation

•             damage to goodwill.

In Reckitt & Colman Ltd v Borden Inc [1990], Lord Oliver stated that a plaintiff must establish all of the following:

1.            a goodwill or reputation attached to the goods or services

2.            a misrepresentation leading or likely to lead the public to believe that the goods or services offered by him are goods or services of the plaintiff

3.            that he suffers loss or damage as a consequence of the erroneous belief that the goods or services of the defendant are the goods or services of the plaintiff.


1.           A case may be made that goodwill attaches to items for sale by the Whitlam Institute.


2.            As for misrepresentation, not even “a moron in a hurry” (which as you know is NOT the test) would imagine that the shirt prominently displaying the ValuesAustralia logo was an offering of the Whitlam Institute. [see below]

                The website never and nowhere represents (or represented) or if you like misrepresents or misrepresented in any way, or could have, that was in any way affiliated with the Whitlam Institute or that the shirt was in any way approved by the Whitlam Institute. It would not have been possible to make such a claim because in 2007 had no knowledge (was, as it now seems blissfully unaware) of the Institute’s existence at all or of its commercial offerings. never knew, or in its wildest dreams could ever have imagined, that the two words “it’s” and “time” placed side by side, in dictionary order, were or ever would be, or for goodness’ sake ever could be trademarked by anyone.

3.            It is as impossible to demonstrate as it is silly to suggest that the Whitlam Institute has suffered or could have suffered loss or damage as a result of any confusion over the shirt’s provenance. As far as the writer knows no shirt was sold except for the one bought by Values Australia itself as a proof copy in 2007 and the person who bought that shirt (oneself) was, absolutely certainly, under no misapprehension whatever that the shirt was represented as a product of the Whitlam Institute. No person has ever contacted Values Australia with any question concerning the shirt’s provenance. Until now.

                There never was any intent to deceive nor any intention to obtain a gain or cause a loss at the expense of the Whitlam Institute.

                There never was any misrepresentation made and nor there was ever any intention in the course of trade calculated to injure the business or goodwill of the Whitlam Institute. No damage could be imagined probably to be caused, none was caused, and now certainly none can be caused in the future.

To make this point clear,  I wonder if you would take a moment to view these two images and decide whether you can tell them apart, remembering that the test is not “a moron in a hurry”. (They have been placed side by side for ease of comparison). Can you tell which is which? Are you sure that the shirt on the right is not an offering, or representing itself as an offering, of the Whitlam Institute? How can you tell?


Images considered fair use for this document as exhibits in a legal context


If you are having trouble spotting the difference, a guide can be seen overleaf follows.




 … End of Part 1


[The “moron in a hurry” is a term in case law:

It appears to have been used first by Mr Justice Foster in the 1978 English legal case of Morning Star Cooperative Society v Express Newspapers Limited [1979] FSR 113. In this case, the publishers of the Morning Star, a British Communist party publication, sought an injunction to prevent Express Newspapers from launching their new tabloid, which was to be called the Daily Star. The judge was unsympathetic. He asked whether the plaintiffs could show:

a misrepresentation express or implied that the newspaper to be published by the defendants is connected with the plaintiffs’ business and that as a consequence damage is likely to result to the plaintiffs


and stated that:

if one puts the two papers side by side I for myself would find that the two papers are so different in every way that only a moron in a hurry would be misled.

So any possible confusion by a “moron in a hurry” is insufficient to find for the plaintiff. ]


In our next instalment we ask,

  • Who really owns the phrase “it’s time”?  
  • Is the phrase already generic? 
  • What about freedom of political speech? 
  • And we share a personal moment with “Helen”. 








A Moron in a Hurry – Part 1


Sir Roger (or at least his amanuensis) was harried recently by the legal department of a minor university which happens to accommodate a “controlled entity” bearing the name of a once terrifying but now sadly faded and largely ignored (for those who lived in his time) or unknown (for those born after his time)  mythical hero of long ago. His name was “Goth”.

His time, comrade, was a time of social earthquake, of cultural lightning and political tempest whose like we shall not see again.

Heralded by fiery comets, bare-chested and thumping did he unchain the creativity of the nation’s sleeping beast.

With the life-giving elixir of  freedom did he quench the crumbling leaves of its dreams.

And “Liberté, Egalité! Fraternité!” was his (okay, pretentious) battle cry. To those who awoke it was as if St Crispin himself were there amongst them.

And the beast was roused! It shook off the dust of the dead, Mingisian years and romped and played for joy.

But it grew and grew and its liberator, though mighty, was no match for the beast which became a monster and destroyed him.

The largest stars shine brightest and briefest and explode with shocking spectacle. And are gone. Their supernova remnants linger for a time but fade and are forgotten.

As Oscar Wilde almost wrote of the Star Child, “Yet ruled he not long, so great had been his suffering, and so bitter the fire of his testing, for after the space of three years he was destroyed. And those who came after him ruled evilly.” And they still do and today they promise to rule more evilly than ever before.

And so the fabulous beast was drugged by the Hooded Brethren and encased in a concrete bunker called The Institute. Emblazoned above the portal was the name of our hero, “Goth the Whittler”.

The Hooded Brethren, in fear that the monster may reawaken, administer to the beast, in its concrete bunker, their witches’ brew of soporific drugs while chanting  incantations from the pages of The Magic Laws and remember the long gone, real gone stompy wompy songs of yesteryear.

So it was that one day the beast groaned in its sleep. The Executive Hooded One was summoned. The runes were cast. The skies did she interrogate for signs. And she turned with dark and flashing eyes and said, “Send out the Pages!”

At the old witch’s word were unleashed the snarling, barking, pissing hounds with eyes as big as saucers and mill wheels and towers. To their backs were bound the sacred pages of The Magic Laws and away like Dapto Champions they rushed to an unfortunate person’s humble abode to deliver the dreadful Laws and threats.


And that ‘s how Sir Roger got them really. More or less.

His amanuensis was more shaken than Sir Roger, having had to answer the door and face the slavering beasts in person.

The Laws were brimstone hot to the touch and covered in slimy slaverings and piss but one’s amanuensis unbound them and read them and considered them and laughed and laughed and eventually got out the quill, brewed up some ink and fashioned a response on finest e-parchment which he attached to the still-waiting canines. Sir Roger has seen it.

If there are two thing Sir Roger hates above other things they are bullying and self-important posturing. If there is one group of people he despises it is people who are so far up themselves they can look themselves in their own eye sockets and who then insist that everyone else take them seriously. It is those attitudes and this type of person that Sir Roger believes his amanuensis was forced to address.

Sir Roger thinks it is a nice piece of nasty work, and if not his best then perhaps quite close.

Why is this story titled, “A Moron in a Hurry”?

He will share the answer to this and other mysteries with you.

In our next.



Becoming a Lawyer

become a lawyer


Sir Roger’s not sure. What do you think?

It seems to make sense.

Is there a t-shirt in this?

Sir Roger does say he apologises to all his friend and reader who is a lawyer. (He doesn’t mean them.)

What is Arpa Narpa Narp?

A guide to Federal Electioneering

Q: What is “Arpa Narpa Narp“?

A: Where everyone’s bills are going, according to folksy, down with the biddies Tony Abbott today.

Strangely enough Sir Roger don’t recall his bills ever going anywhere else over all his long years. Except at Col’s, where they’re going Darndarn (Proiza Sadarn). Or not.

So why did Abbott, sitting among the cooing old ladies, make such an obvious claim?

He said it because the biddies (and the viewers) would find, oddly enough, that they agreed with him. And they would nod, and frown at the awful bills (Goa Narp). And people watching would not only agree but see that Abbott was someone people agreed with. “It seems it is all right to agree with Abbott,” they might think, “and what he said makes sense, doesn’t it?”

The problem, of course, is that Arpa Narpa Narp is where bills always go. And despite suggesting otherwise, and despite his royal telephone, or the dimwitted cardinal, there is absolutely nothing he can do about it. And he knows it.

If you think about it you can work that out. Average incomes have doubled in less than a decade. Inflation isn’t going below zero, nor are interest rates.

Abbott and/or his advisers knew exactly what he was doing. (Actually on balance, probably just his advisers…)

The technique is to make a statement which provokes an instant, automatic response in what Daniel Kahneman calls our “System 1″ thinking. System 1 is fast, impulsive, automatic, uses stereotypes, is often inaccurate and can only make good judgments on simple tasks. System 1 thinking doesn’t take much energy at all.

Bread and …….?
2 + 2 = ….?
Quickly: A bat and ball cost $1.10. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much is the ball? Quick! What’s your immediate answer?
17 x 13 = ……?

So politicians (and their advisers) attempt to speak directly to System 1, to manipulate a desired response and not to give people time to rouse System 2 into action.

System 2 is the thinking that works things out and considers complex problems. It takes attention. Filling out forms, deciding which phone or soap powder represents the best value, working out what to say to that girl or boy, writing your thesis. System 2 is much better at working things out but it gets tired really quickly because it uses so much energy.

That’s why politicians and the Murdoch tabloids don’t like to give people a chance to actually think too hard. They might work out the scam.

So Sir Roger recommends not letting them get away with it. Listen to their simplistic nonsense so that you know when they’re lying (as Stuart Wagstaff used to say, “and isn’t that…all the time?”). Tell your friends.

By the way, in our quick test did you get that the ball was 10c?

Sadly, no. If the ball is 10c the bat, a dollar more than the ball, would be $1.10 and the bat and ball would be $1.20, not $1.10 as stated. The ball is actually 5c.

Oh, and 17 x 13 is obviously a System 2 exercise … can you do it in your head? Well done! And now you feel like taking a nap.

17 x 13 = 221

Daniel Kahneman’s book is called Thinking, Fast and Slow. Sir Roger HIGHLY recommends it. Available on Kindle, too.

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