Wondrous

Little moments like that kept adding up, incrementally nudging me away from leftism but not yet to full conversion. In 1988, watching a John Pilger documentary with lefty friends, another such moment occurred.

Pilger, as usual, was complaining about colonialism and racism and Aboriginal injustice, so naturally we—uniformly white, urban and privileged—were lapping it up. The documentary then shifted to the former nuclear testing site at Maralinga in South Australia, where seven British bombs were detonated in the 1950s and 1960s. Pointing to a sign warning of radiation danger, Pilger observed mournfully that it was written in several languages—“but not in the Aboriginal language”.

Startled by this claim, I looked around the room. Everyone was silent, including a few who had studied Aboriginal history in considerable depth, and so must have known that Pilger’s line was completely wrong. So I just said it: “There is no single Aboriginal language. And no Aboriginal language has a written form.”

61 comments on “Wondrous

  1. “Leftie Knows Nothing About Subject on Which S/He Opines” shock! – news at eleven.

    See also Jon Snow, Owen Jones, Abi Wilkinson (in fact the entire staff of the Guardian), almost anyone who’s ever appeared on the BBC, Corbyn, McDonnell, Lillie Allen, Spud, Soapy Joe…

    Need I go on?

  2. Pilger wrote a book called Hidden Agendas, which I read as a sort of challenge. In it, he refers to the ‘right-wing Adam Smith institute’. Ok, we might argue about whether ASI is right-wing, but the point was that in a book about hidden agendas he was making sure the readership had a grip on the bias of authority. Fair enough. Then a few pages later he referenced different research from the IPPR, or some other lefty think tank, and made no mention of its bias.

    At which point I concluded he was dishonest.

  3. It’s comforting to have evidence that this mental illness, which causes so much misery to the patient and those around them, is treatable.

  4. Anecdotally, someone close to me went on medication that temporarily made them go leftie for a few months.

    A previously sane individual started picking fights over nothing, throwing childish hissy fits, believing they were being persecuted by non-existent racism and sexism. It was pretty awful to see someone successful become so miserable, openly self-loathing, over-sensitive and bitter.

    Unwanted side-effects went away when the medication ceased, thankfully.

  5. Supposedly true….

    Some visitor in a taxi in Scotland commented on how good it was that road signs were in English & Gaelic.

    “Oh, is that Gaelic?” replied the local cabbie, “when they started putting those up I thought it was Polish”.

  6. @Andrew C

    When I first heard someone speaking Gaelic, it sounded like Arabic to me.

    On the other hand, Gaelic orthography is rather silly from the perspective of a person who reads only English.

  7. The moronic attitudes of his moronic friends “nudges” him away from evil.

    Millions of murders and the wholesale ruin of nations –no effect on the cunt.

  8. “no Aboriginal language has a written form”

    But that’s just false. Of course aboriginal languages get written down, routinely.

    “but not in the Aboriginal language”

    Perhaps he said something like “The sign is written in almost every language likely to be spoken by people who come here. But not in the Aboriginal language.” Because if he’d said “…but not in Pitjantjatjara” a lot of viewers wouldn’t have known what he was talking about.

  9. “Also, when you’re a conservative there’s a lot less marching. And the movies are better.”

    Everything’s better.

    There’s no other party that I’d rather be involved with for the people you deal with, than the Conservative party. I’ve been a member/activist for about 6 months, and it’s a lot of fun because of the people. Everyone’s pretty relaxed about your views, where you shop, what you eat. No-one argues long about differences of opinion. People make an effort to look good. They listen to pop or classical rather than folk music.

  10. Cynic,
    Was it anti-depressants? I’ve seen a mate turn into a complete cockwomble on those.

  11. Actually some are written down
    http://www.clc.org.au/articles/info/aboriginal-languages/
    ” It is only relatively recently that Central Australian Aboriginal languages have been written down, from about 100 years ago for the earliest languages to some languages that are just beginning to be written today.

    All languages can be written down if that is what communities want. Even English was spoken for a long time before being written down. Communities are generally very proud to have a dictionary or a bible in their language.”

  12. @Andrew M

    In this case it was meds to quit smoking. So might have been a combo of the meds and withdrawal.

    Interesting that you’ve got a similar bit of anecdata, though: another case of temporary mental changes due to meds leading to acute leftard condition.

  13. The great thing about being a Progressive is it means you can be as ignorant and racist about other cultures as you want. It’s a free pass, a Papal indulgence which absolves you of everything.

  14. Wasn’t it the great Auberon Waugh who invented the verb “to pilger” ?

    I think it is defined as presenting evidence in a sensational manner to arrive at a foregone conclusion.

    I lost my rag last night watching Ian Hislop’s programme about immigration. He was comparing the UK’s reception of Belgian refugees in 1914 with Syrians today. FFS.

  15. Cynic,

    Could be Zyban, it’s prescribed for both quitting smoking and for depression.

    I’m reminded of the bloke who developed paedophilic urges in his 40s. Turned out he had a brain tumour. The tumour was removed and the lust was gone.

    The environmental left has been warning us for decades about all the chemicals we’re pumping into the environment. Maybe they were right, and this sea of xenoestrogens has turned our kids into leftie liberals. (Funny how it doesn’t seem to affect the RoPers though.)

  16. BnLiA

    I reckon my blood pressure would be a lot higher if I still watched TV. The more I hear about stuff like this, and Question Time, the more glad I am I ditched it.

  17. @BnLiA

    “comparing the UK’s reception of Belgian refugees in 1914 with Syrians today”

    Lefties are always banging on about how the UK is an Island of immigrants, what with the Romans, Vikings and Normans. I always point out that the last of those was a thousand years ago and each were accompanied by years of bloody violence so maybe that’s why we have been wary of further similar episodes.

  18. @Andrew M

    Champix (Varenicline) rings a bell.

    Interestingly:

    https://patient.info/health/varenicline-champixr

    “Since it has been introduced, there have been various reports of a possible link between varenicline and behavioural or mood changes. The suspected symptoms include hostility, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide.”

  19. Being an evil rightwinger is just more fun.

    No self-loathing, no self-censorship, no agonising over hierarchies of victimhood, no apologising for your ancestors, no guilt over the environment, no humiliating let’s-pretend that Bruce Jenner is a woman and Owen Jones is a man and Marcus Brigstocke is a comedian.

    Never mind the bollocks. The Right is the new punk rock.

  20. He was comparing the UK’s reception of Belgian refugees in 1914 with Syrians today

    Member the Belgiques travelled across an entire continent to infiltrate our country under false pretences, hoovered up welfare like Blue Peter presenters doing lines of coke, raped our women and children and murdered loads of people because Herge’s Adventures of Tintin told them to, while simultaneously crying about Belgiophobia?

  21. @Bloke no Longer in Austria
    “I lost my rag last night watching Ian Hislop’s programme about immigration. He was comparing the UK’s reception of Belgian refugees in 1914 with Syrians today. FFS.”
    Did the Belgian refugees do a Cologne style New Years eve attack?

    I am quite keen on programmes like this – providing someone else can do a programme showing a different point of view.

  22. If aboriginal languages don’t have their own script then they’d have to romanize them which would probably cause an even bigger uproar. Cultural imperialism or summut.

  23. Anon – Tommy Robinson does on t’internet. That’s why Plod is so interested in him.

  24. If aboriginal languages don’t have their own script then they’d have to romanize them which would probably cause an even bigger uproar.

    Wouldn’t that be cultural appropriation by the Abos? Let them use their own fucking squiggles.

  25. Henry, remember, only whites can culturally appropriate. When others take on an aspect of Anglo-Saxon culture it’s imperialism and they’re victims…… again.

  26. My son trod on a witchetty grub and I culturally appropriated some foul smelling brown goo up my legs. That’s about the most you can culturally appropriate from the so-called Aboriginal culture.

  27. Let them use their own fucking squiggles.

    Quite right. And it’s high time those Italians invented their own alphabet too.

  28. And it’s high time those Italians invented their own alphabet too.

    Stop picking on the wops, racist.

  29. The Inimitable Steve,

    “Never mind the bollocks. The Right is the new punk rock.”

    I find young leftyism really depressing now because of how thoroughly conservative it is. Imagine being young and supporting renationalising the railways? It would be like me as a youth in the 80s calling for the return of milk deliveries by horse.

  30. BiS – it’s just rubbish, isn’t it? They’re not even successfully freaking out the squares anymore, because they are the squares.

    There’s no subculture more drearily conformist and painfully boring than the proggy left. At least Rick from The Young Ones was funny.

  31. “I find young leftyism really depressing now because of how thoroughly conservative it is.”

    Thats the thing, the young left aren’t actually collectivist. They are actually the most individualistic generation ever. They have no connection between the idea of socialism being ‘good’ and what it would actually mean for their lives. Give them a practical taste of it and they’ll be voting for Jacob Rees-Mogg in a trice.

  32. In our neighborhood it is fashionable for committed Lefties to put a certain sign in their yard welcoming immigrants. It is printed – Rosetta Stone-like – in English, Spanish and Arabic. What pisses me off the most is (1) the only Latinos around here are cutting grass, and (2) the only people who can speak Arabic in this neighborhood are my Somali clients who happen by my house to drop off paperwork. And I voted for Donald Fucking Trump (as did most of them, for that matter).

  33. “I find young leftyism really depressing now because of how thoroughly conservative it is. Imagine being young and supporting renationalising the railways? It would be like me as a youth in the 80s calling for the return of milk deliveries by horse”

    The young lefties of today are not the 80s style left. Most of them thing Marxism is a outright cool thing. Just go to Twitter and look at their profile pictures

  34. For those reading the link I would thoroughly recommend reading David Horowitz – without doubt the classic ‘Hating Whitey and other Progressive causes’ was one of two key works, the other being the peerless Lord Bauer’s ‘Inequality, the Third World and economic delusion’ which shifted my thinking away from the well-inculcated ‘progressive ideologies’ that are uniform across all secondary schools in the state sector.

  35. If your thinking’s been changed by such an obvious liar (“no Aboriginal language has a written form”) you should change it back.

  36. Hislop really does immature with age. It’s rather curious.

    re: the gulf between millennials’ political views and their revealed preferences, remember Sadiq Khan and Uber in the mayoral elections? Here was this ghastly lefty (though Corbyn makes him seem moderate) going on about legislating a service that the young use all the time out of existence. Had no impact at all.

    For all the shite about how much cleverer young voters are, in reality the majority of them are low information idiots, unable to connect policy a without outcome b. The colossal mess Corbyn et al will make in their attempt to make it 1973 again won’t impact their belief that Labour are ‘progressive’ one little bit.

  37. “The colossal mess Corbyn et al will make in their attempt to make it 1973 again won’t impact their belief that Labour are ‘progressive’ one little bit.”

    WILL make?

    He hasn’t fucking won yet Charlie– outside of your terrorised brain-pan. And if the Million-Man-Rage-Plan was any example he is far from invincible.

    So take a pill and calm down.

    SJW: Take a look at a few million murders and change your thinking.

  38. Pilger is filth. A pretty reliable way to elicit a rant from my late father was to mention Pilger’s name. Very sound, was the old man.

  39. On the subject of lefty conversions, I’m part way through the latest Econtalk podcast in which Russ Roberts talks to historian Thomas Ricks about his new book, Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom.

    After Orwell was shot through the neck whilst fighting in Barcelona he went home expecting to die and read the British newspapers, as you do after being shot. Being of the left he expected the right wing papers to lie but was appalled to find that the left wing press was also lying, it appears fake news is nothing new.

    Ricks reckons it was this is what started his conversion to being an anti authoritarian. I knew it was to do with what he had seen, but didn’t realise that it was how it was reported.

    Its fascinating listening to two well read Americans talking about these two characters rather the hagiographies we generally get, but they are both very sympathetic to Churchill and Orwell and Britains’ role in the war, especially the early part..

  40. @SJW
    You really are a pretentious prick.
    You’ll note that the sign in the photograph you link to is in Latin script. Therefore, a person reading the sign in Aboriginal would have to be able to read Latin script to do so. And being this is the Land of the Great Kangaroo, will have done so in English. So can read the English & doesn’t need the Aboriginal.
    In any case, if you’ve ever tried handling foreign languages, you’d know the Latin character set has trouble transcribing even European languages. Look at English spelling. Or what the Spanish use J for. If you’ve heard any of the Aboriginal languages spoken you’d know they have sounds that can’t be represented in the Latin character set, even with the common diacritics. So it’s doubtful if whatever’s written on that sign could be accurately rendered into a spoken Aboriginal language, unless one knew what it said in the first place

  41. bis:
    Pretentious? You seem to be using the word in the sense of “Knows enough to be able to demonstrate that a right-wing person is lying”.

    On the technical point: we don’t even attempt phonetic spelling of English words in standard written English, yet we can read it. If you do want to represent the sounds of a language reasonably accurately, you just use the letters you’ve got (with digraphs and diacritics) for the sounds you need. “J” represents different sounds in English, French, German, and Spanish, but represent them it does.

  42. Well quite, SJW. One has to be able to speak English to read it at all faithfully. And we’ve used spelling conventions to cope with Latin not being able to accurately render the spoken tongue (Worth remembering, spoken English has mutated a long way since those conventions were laid down.)
    Non Indo-European languages tend to have sounds that the Latin character set simply can’t represent. Pitch changes, clicks, pops… So attempting to render something like an Aboriginal dialect into Latin, without resorting to the phonetic notation linguists use, is largely useless. Unless you know what it says, you can’t read it, accurately..

  43. To refer back to the contents of the original post, the number of Aboriginal Australians who could comprehend a radiation hazard warning written in their own dialect, in Latin script, but not in English is zero. So a pointless & pretentious exercise.

  44. Realistically, if a person could read a romanized aboriginal language, they could also read English. So Pilger’s complaint is bollocks.

  45. You or I would make a poor job of reading out the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara on that sign I linked to. A non-English speaker would make a worse job of reading out the English on it. So what? The written words still represent the sounds they represent. (The phonology, which you can look up if that’s not too pretentious for you, turns out to be unfamiliar but simpler than English.)

  46. At this moment there are 46 comments and far too many come from people that don’t realize their shit smells just as bad. There are plenty of times when the right makes the same kind of mistakes due to ignorance. I will pick on Sowell simply because I know that there are fans here and some should remember the passages in question.

    The particular point that frustrated me was Sowell’s claim that Africa’s less developed rivers and harbors, compared to North America, has been a major factor in holding back Africa development. Far too many pages are devoted to the mistaken notion that North America had natural rivers that were perfect for trade. This is blatantly false. Humans spent a couple centuries pulling snags, dredging channels, building canals, dikes, locks and dams, to end up with the waterways we have.

    The point is everyone is full of shit to some extent.

  47. To refer back to the contents of the original post, the number of Aboriginal Australians who could comprehend a radiation hazard warning written in their own dialect, in Latin script, but not in English is zero. So a pointless & pretentious exercise.

    I suppose zero is not far off. I think it would be good manners anyway.

    In any case, Horowitz was lying.

  48. The point Pilger was trying to make, though, is that the poor abos were going to walk unawares into the nuke zone because the signs were in English rather than the aboriginal languages. Which seems extremely unlikely. There probably wasn’t a single person in 1950s Australia who was literate in an aboriginal language but not English.

  49. The point is everyone is full of shit to some extent.

    Agreed.

    Except me, my Mum says I’m great.

  50. Sowell’s claim that Africa’s less developed rivers and harbors, compared to North America, has been a major factor in holding back Africa development

    The truth is too embarrassing, so we whistle and look the other way.

    Kind of like how Westerners have lost all interest in southern Africa since Rhodesia and White Soot Effrica fell. “What’s that you say? Famines and genocide? Oh, wait! I just remembered I left the oven on…”

  51. Is there an aboriginal word for ‘radioactivity’ then? Those abos must have been more advanced than I ever gave them credit for.

  52. I looked up the video (at 17 minutes). Blair has misquoted Pilger just enough to make his dishonest point. What Pilger actually says is “This warning sign is in several languages, except aboriginal.”

    “several…except…” is a non-standard construction in British English. I suppose in Australian English it means “several…not including…”. The sign is in several languages, not including aboriginal languages.

  53. Tim Blair’s account, recalling something he saw 30 years ago:

    Pilger observed mournfully that it was written in several languages—“but not in the Aboriginal language”.

    Pilger by way of SJW:

    What Pilger actually says is “This warning sign is in several languages, except aboriginal.”

    Yes, completely different. What a scoundrel. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    SJW is right that Blair is wrong to say “And no Aboriginal language has a written form”. Accusing the legendary Antipodean bantermeister of “lying” is a stretch though.

    He could have been honestly mistaken, or simply thinking about the fact that, historically, Aboriginal languages were indeed limited to the oral form, literacy being an incredibly recent transplant to the 50,000 year old Aboriginal culture. Or it could be that his point wasn’t really about the spelling proficiency of didgeridoo aficionados at all, but more about sanctimonious white lefties and their tiresome fake outrage.

    It’s an interesting piece of ethnography nonetheless. According to the internet, Pitjantjatjara only has a written history dating back to the 1940’s, just a decade or so before British nuclear tests at Maralinga. And even today, after decades of Aboriginal education campaigns, literacy rates in the language are claimed to be “healthy” at about 50-70%. Which, if memory serves, is worse than the slums of Victorian London.

    So it’s reasonable to assume your average outback boomerang twiddler in 1956 wouldn’t have had a bloody clue if confronted by a sign bearing his language, or indeed any language, in the Latin alphabet, or any other system of writing.

    I haven’t seen the legendary multilingual, Abo-tying-down signs myself, but I’d hope they’d be big bright yellow things with menacing black skulls and lightening bolts on them so that even small children would get the point and only itinerant death metal fans would be imperilled.

    Health and safety didn’t really exist in the 50’s, and understanding of the long term effects of radioactive pollution was in its infancy. Despite those excuses, the indigenous tribesmen were treated very badly by both the British and Aussie governments, who have since spent many years and much money cleaning up the test site and compensating locals.

    However, we did ultimately get nuclear weapons out of the deal, and if it’s not love, then it’s the bomb, then it’s the bomb that will bring us together.

  54. ‘studied Aboriginal history in considerable depth,

    no Aboriginal language has a written form.’

    History is written. By definition. No written form means no history. Studying it at depth is suspect.

  55. I broadly agree with TIS. But it’s still bizarre that under the English on the sign were Italian, Greek (you can see these two on the video), French, Spanish, and Arabic (according to Pilger’s book). How many French speakers were wandering in the South Australian desert? I think that’s incongruous enough to be worth pointing out.

    In most circumstances the excuse about having watched the video nearly 30 years ago would be ok. But not when you claim to have changed you world view on account of it, and follow with a load of pious twaddle about your side going with the facts.

  56. @ Gamecock
    Homer’s Iliad was not written down for centuries.
    *Your* definition is just plain wrong – most societies had histories in oral tradition before taxesa wrre introduced.

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