Saturday, September 10, 2011

The political uses of gaffer tape, real and possible - mayoral aspirant Dale Last puts two and two together - and the story that wasn't; Typo stays true to form to the end.

Lots of nonsense around during the week, as always culminating in The Magpie's great steaming dollops of guano, to which you are transfixed right now. 

In among the trinkets to follow, The 'Pie highlights one of the cruelest 'double crimes' ever to shake this city, and also looks at a lost language to ponder its 'known knowns, unknown knowns and unknown unknowns' to quote war criminal Donald Rumsfeld in 2002.

It's all here in this week's Magpie's Nest at

First, the chutzpah, the absolute bastardry of those thiefs who stole that signature statue from the Strand Ephemera Outdoor Art Exhibition. Pinching it in the first place is one thing - really neither here nor there to The 'Pie - but then they gave the bloody thing back!!  Heartless and dastardly. For some they went from heros to zeros in the space of a few days.

Mind you, something a bit fishy about how it turned up at the back of the Perc Tucker gallery in broad daylight. If it wasn't a publicity stunt, which has been vehemently denied by Emphera organisers - despite the fact that The Astonisher is such a sucker for this sort of tomfoolery - then it was probably a 'no names, no pack drill' arrangement with the (presumably) boozehounds involved. In the cold light of day, they perhaps suddenly saw what they had on their hands. Just imagine waking up from a night on the tiles that can't be recalled through the throbbing tom-toms and Zinc Radio lunacy to be greeted with this piece of prize cra ... errr ... deeply spiritual art. 

Well, it all sort of fits in with Ephemera, a plural noun which means things that exist or are used and enjoyed for only a short time. Although in some of The Strand offerings this year, enjoyed is open to interpretation.  

Speaking of interpretation, another mystery was raised during the week, when The Magpie heard Paula The Mauler Tapiolas on ABC steam radio, doing her best to interview one Professor Tasaku Tsunoda, a language boffin from Japan.

Now the prof's English was just so-so, (or is that 'ah,so-so') but the hilarious aspect was that it turns out he is the last and only speaker of the Herbert River aboriginal dialect called Worrongo. Back in the 1970s while studying in Australia, Tsunoda-san spent a lot of time on Palm island recording the language through its last speaker, who has since retired to the dreamtime. So that makes him the only person on the planet that currently speaks Worrongo.

But here is the mystery. How do we know this to be so? Now The Magpie believes Prof  T's story without reserve, but it is a philisophical question in line with 'if a tree falls etc etc'. And listening to him speaking certain words, it could be the universal tongue of the Planet Zog (but then so could Japanese to the average Aussie). 

If he's just making it up to garner a few research yen and a free holiday in NQ (this is only a hypothetical), whose going to contradict him? And how?

Even someone of The Mauler's prodigious interviewing powers would have trouble challenging our man ... or for that matter what the late Alf Palmer told him.  It could be something like this.

Paula T: Aren't you sorta Worrongo about that (tee hee)? I'm not sure that's how you pronounce that last word you said? 
Jap Chap: Bruddy wer is, how would you bruddy know, I onry one to speak this diarect, (but I stir think you rubbery rady, Pawra).

But when the prof told us that the Worrongo name for Townsville was Gabilagaba, The 'Pie was jolted into an urgent cultural thought.
If there is such an overwhelming interest in languages in danger of being lost, why doesn't a reporter pop up to North Ward and talk to the last speaker of that proto-English dialect Mumblegook. The last speaker of this dialect is no longer on radio so Mumblegook is likely to die with Dave 'McMumble' Harrison, much of whose vocabulary sounds like 'gabilagaba'. Dave has plenty of years left in him yet, so there is time. You get the best examples of Mumblegook anytime after 5.30 every afternoon. For instance, in Mumblegook, 'how are you going?' translates as 'gham phlal mmmfftk splong! eh, ya reckin, eh, eh?)'. This is a genuine North Queensland idiom in danger of extinction, so southern outlets may express an interest, especially if they seek Mumblegook words for things that have been around forever, like crocodile, mahogany glider and Bob Katter.

Speaking of the Cut Snake Party, there was an item of interest in state parliament during the week which would be of interest to the Mad Katter.

The opposition brought out the fact that Labor candidate for Brisbane mayor Ray Smith has been using gaffer tape to blot out the ALP logo on his advertsing signs. This, the LNP not surprisingly suggests, is because Smith knows just how much Labor is on the homker across the state. 

But for The 'Pie, gaffer tape could become a truly handy political tool across the whole spectrum. That tosser Rob Oakeshott could enhance his credibity by using it on his gob, and if he wanted to stop speculation about his sanity, he could go one further and blindfold those wildly swivelling eyes. 

And what a god send gaffer tape would be for Bob Katter. He could grab a couple of rolls of it and run them tightly around the family closet, so no one else can get out of it like his gay brother did.

On the local scene, mayoral candidate-in-waiting Dale Last has been a bit miffed about those stories going around that he is financially illiterate. In a note to The Magpie, the wannabe top dog in the town hall sent the following:

As per our conversation yesterday I want to dispel the rumour currently circulating about my financial acumen. 
·         I am a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors course which includes a heavy emphasis on financial literacy and financial performance.   
·         As the Officer In Charge of Townsville Police Stn (8yrs) I was responsible for a budget of over $300k,  which I might add was never exceeded
·         I am the owner/operator of Lasting Fitness and have been so for a number of years.  Prior to being elected to Council I operated a personal training studio which employed three staff.  I performed all the financial management and book keeping for the business (wages, BAS returns, tax etc) which was very successful.
·         I am one of the few Councillors who grill the Director of our Commercial Business unit at the monthly committee meeting on the figures presented to the committee.   
Gosh, Sgt Bilko, you might have just won The 'Pie's vote; the old bird is disposed to look kindly on anyone who uses words like acumen.

That sadly is not a word The 'Pie feels free to use regarding the latest stunts from Typo, as he does a lap of dishonour before leaving the Astonisher for the Gold Coast. In two of his best efforts, he has managed two interesting front pages: a story which wasn't a story, and one that was just plain wrong - stultifyingly wrong - and biased in the most boofheaded way. 

The non-story concerned the special temporary wall built around the showground track for an upcoming motorsport event. In what must be a first for the Townsville Bulletin, the very minority sport of greyhound racing made the front page. The paper thundered (yawn) that the ring wall threatened safety regulations and would wreck the sport in Townsville (average attendance outside of trainers and officials per regular meeting: 20 to 30 - that is twenty to thirty - according to showground boss Chris Biffo Condon. Incidentally, Biffo is one of three independent witnesses to swear that there were fewer that 200 people at the big annual Cup event a few weeks back - not the thousand as  ballyhooed by Typo, keen owner of dishlickers and contributor to the national greyhound magazine). 

Now, with this sort of following, no big deal, even with the incorrect claims about threats to safety and TAB television coverage. And the people running the local greyhounds had been polite and reasonable in reaching a deal with Biffo, all agreeing some time ago the wall would come down after the motorsport event in three weeks. 

But Typo wanted to be the big swinging dick for his doggie mates on this one, and made all sorts of dire end-of-the-world claims for the local 'industry' as he quaintly called it. They were all bullshit. 

According to Biffo, Queensland Racings supremo Bob Bentley came to town to 'sort it out' only because of what he'd read online in the Astonisher. Bentley also denied - according to Condon - many quotes in the Bulletin attributed to him. Besides, he had no power to do anything anyway, because the arrangement is between the showground and the greyhound club. 

Outcome: the wall will come down in three weeks after the motorsport event, everybody happy: in other words, just as it had been before all the newspaper's hoopla. 

But next day's headline? 

'Crisis Meeting Puts Dogs Back On Track', with a lot of smug and totally untrue 'it was all because of us' stuff. 

Folks, there are some out there that say The 'Pie is just a bitter old whinger, (he really resents the 'old') but this is the sort of out and out southern imported crap inspired by a personal enthusiasm our community can do without. But despite the plummeting readership and circulation numbers, they still don't seem to get it in Ogden Street (apart from sending Typo back to the Gold Coast). 

The other story was the front pager last Saturday about the council secretly getting a $40million loan to cover debt - this according to some sox-and-sandels-with-cardy council watch group. Typo decided not to wait for the council to gently explain the unsensational reality of the matter.  This is not to mention the absurdity that this, or any, council could even manage to do something so underhanded - especially with the likes of Jenny The Talking Mullet Hill hovering around the place.  (Yes, she does have her uses, but The 'Pie didn't see her springing in to defend fellow coucillors or staff on this one.) 

The easily understood and informed reply came swiftly on Monday from council CEO Ray Burton, who clearly spelt out how these things worked in the real world . His letter of reply was printed in full - on page 14. 

So what's the problem, apart from from putting to the story one side without waiting for the sobering Fair And Balanced even-up? Just this: Saturday - initial sensationally wrong story, front page, circulation about 39,000; reply on page 14 Monday, circulation about 25,000.  It's an old newspaper trick, and very handy when any opening to bash the council will do (God knows there's enough legitimate reasons to clout them about the ears without this sort of easily exposed beat-up).

During the week, in reply to another matter, Typo sent an email to The Magpie which said his Gold Coast upbringing had equipped him to very quickly spot a fraud (inexplicably, clearly he meant the blameless old 'Pie). 

Given his performance this week, his admirable fraud-spotting ability is one he appears to share with tens of thousands of former readers of the Townsville Bulletin who have stopped reading the paper under his editorship - seems they didn't take long to find him out.

But enough now, it is away to Poseurs' Bar, to be-bubble a suitable comely companion with talk not of fraud but maybe of Freud. And taking a leaf from the impressive Dale Last book of mathematical governance, perhaps a discussion about the square root of a nice little number.


  1. Pie, old bird, you're seeing tricks where there are none. The council was sent a detailed list of questions about those debt claims, which they non-answered with reactive guff from Cr Marr, which were published in full. I even sent an "are you sure that's all" email in response to that one and had no further reply. You been pecking some dodgy seeds? Your picking is getting old and does you no favours

  2. Kathleen you are a respected journalist. However in my humble opinion the Councillors appear to be sick of having untruthful allegations about them given front page sensationalism, when the logical truthful facts are hardly given any column inches in an obscure part of a later edition. If the Council watch group (with an accountant in their team) had looked at the matter with an unbiased non- council bashing view then the headline in the Bully should have read,
    “ Council saves ratepayers interest on a Queensland Treasury Corporation approved loan of $40million by not drawing it down until necessary.” However that’s not a council bashing story to suit their political ambitions it’s just the plain truth! Gleeson’s editorial about the “explosive allegations” exposing his well-known political bias therefore would have been redundant and of course that would never do.

  3. Glad it wasn't just me who thought that the intemperate and self righteous thundering about greyhound racing was a bit of a yawn. Much ado about zero and hardly the stuff front pages are made of. Whatever readers the Cat Box Liner may have left, how many of them actually gave a rat's bum?

    I was conned into going to the dog track years ago. A small gathering of dodgy and desperate looking Arthur Daley type characters who took themselves far too seriously. Seedy and grubby were the words that sprang to mind. Unsurprised am I to hear that typo is a fan.

    I suspect that the real reason Greyhounds are muzzled is so they don't bite the bogan dickheads who own them.