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Webdiary Turns Ten

The fallen Australian PM Tweets his thanks while I Facebook Joe Hockey on my iPad. Toto, we're not in 2000 any more! There wasn't much of a spring this year in Switzerland but summer arrived this week and as McDonalds would say "I'm lovin' it!". I'm also lovin' the fall of Kevin Rudd but am shocked by the brutality of Labor's faceless men. You can't Facebook the factional plotters because they're faceless. Not that I'd want to Facebook Arbib or those otherwise obscure Labor machine men from Victoria and South Australia. If you've never heard of them before they're faceless as far as I'm concerned!

Oh well. Instead I am anticipating fun in a beer garden beside the lake of Zurich shortly as my train speeds its way through the suburbs of Switzerland's largest city.

What was happening ten years ago? Well there are indeed some constants. It was summer, I was living in Switzerland and was fond of beer, technology and politics. My tastes haven't changed much but lots of other things have. I'm in a tunnel now between Thalwil and Zurich passing under the city at high speed. This $700 million tunnel did not exist ten years ago. Then again its development symbolizes is a constant. Swiss have always invested in rail infrastructure. Swiss now trump the Japanese as the world's highest users of rail transport. Zurich main station is now classified as the busiest terminal railway station in Europe.

Oh hang on a minute, the train is now arriving in Zurich and I realize I'm rambling. This is supposed to be about the tenth anniversary of Webdiary, not my pet rail, beer and Swiss obsessions. Webdiarist Marilyn Shepherd was fond of observing that I worked Switzerland into every piece. Oh and I see the late afternoon temperature is 34 degrees here in Zurich. Thirsty weather!

You see Marilyn, I haven't changed one iota.

I'm now pausing to rendezvous for a tete-a-tete and am doing so perched high above Zurich's Bahnhofstrasse, one of Europe’s premier shopping boulevards. There I go again doing the travelogue and not focusing on the topic at hand. By the way, this piece is my virgin piece on Pages for iPad. I highly recommend both iPad and Pages. Disclosure: I own shares in Apple.

Who can remember ten years ago anyway? It was before 9/11, America didn’t have a black president back then and Australia didn't have a woman as Prime Minister. Zurich didn't have a gay mayor and gays weren't allowed to marry in Zurich as they do every weekend now. It was all very old fashioned. Apple wasn't worth more than Microsoft back then. The Internet was entrenched in 2000 but on a more primitive level. There wasn't even YouTube! We all had computers but there was no mobile Internet to speak of. Probably back then the media companies running major metropolitan dailies didn't really quite see how their business model was about to change forever. They all had online versions but they didn't see the threat to their revenue stream. They were still old fashioned. Upstart, eBay was profitable from inception. In 1998 eBay had a couple of hundred million dollars in revenue. They also had a couple of hundred employees. Ten years later they had 16,000 employees and revenues in excess of eight billion dollars a year. This money had to come from somewhere. Money people spent on eBay they weren't spending elsewhere. Rivers of gold were diverted. Disclosure: I once worked for eBay here in Europe and saw what happened during the most dramatic period of expansion for myself. The world was changing in ways it hadn't before. I loved it then on the Internet. I love it now in biotechnology.

Back in those days there were no blogs and of course no Facebook. The online versions of the newspapers were one way. There was no opportunity for interaction for us normal folks. This ability to interact is now taken for granted but back then we were passive recipients wearing muzzles. It was really stupid if you think about it. Then along came Margo Kingston. She changed all that. Margo's pioneering Webdiary started ten years ago in the Sydney Morning Herald. I was one of the first people to write in. I've been told I was the first but I don't think that's quite true. After Webdiary was born I think it took me a day or two to react by writing in. Wow! How exciting it was. Writing to areal journalist in a real newspaper and she was answering me back. It started out so nice but soon changed. Early on I condemned her as a typical leftie and Margo challenged me to explain my beliefs. What were the values of Harry Heidelberg? I explained further and the conversation and debate started. It was exhilarating, infuriating, insightful, intelligent and inspiring. Margo's Webdiary had started.

Margo had zeal and realized quickly she was on to something. Do any of you remember exactly what happened in the Hanson era beyond the clichés and the glib dismissals of what Hanson misrepresented? It was about people not being heard. Margo got this. Why? She came from the sugar city of Mackay. Margo understood regional Queensland and people who would gravitate toward Hansonism. Hansonism represented a disconnect. Australians weren't talking to each other. It seemed to me that Margo’s mission was to build a bridge to get people talking again. Talking and understanding. The idea was that people of different political persuasions could talk with each other. They could debate. Through this we would discover the things that unite us as Australians and the values we share.

Margo had grand ideas. For her it wasn't just enough that for the first time ever readers could publicly interact with journalists. Two way public conversations with journalists? It hadn't been done before. Margo instigated this and immediately saw more. Margo went 180 degrees and immediately turned and said let's do 360! Margo was happy to turn the whole thing on its head and around again! The whole media model. Writing, talent and intellect were set free, previously unknown people developed a profile and a following. Mini giants of the online world were born !Lives were changed! People noticed! If you're younger you may not get the significance of this. This was world Internet and media history and Margo was making it. In 2000 there were no comparable models. Not in the New York Times, not in the Washington Post and nor even in that stupid bloody British rag that you wretched lefties love so much, the Guardian.

In the beginning Webdiary had a good cross section of readers and contributors. Margo soon found that beyond comments, people started contributing opinion pieces. It was part of her 360 degree model of the new media. This was the secret sauce of Webdiary in its heyday. In these early days comments and contributions to Webdiary would be emailed to Margo directly. In 2000blogging had not been popularized. There were no blogs on newspaper websites and popular hosted blog tools such as Typepad and Blogger were yet to be invented. Later in Webdiary, people were able to comment directly via the site and Margo had to moderate and process the huge volume of comments.

I have no doubt there is much research on this but it seems online many people develop larger than life personalities. In most cases they are simply an exaggerated extension of the base personality but through provocation, competition and hyperbole they can become extreme. We saw a lot of this on Webdiary but in the early years it was largely kept in check as Margo had total control and was seen largely as being fair.

Margo continued with her mission to change the media model and at one point raised it on Philip Adams Late Night Live on ABC Radio National. Jack Robertson joined live in the studio and I joined on the line from Switzerland. Jack was dubbed by Adams as being to the left of Lenin and I was dubbed as being to the right of Genghis Kahn, a description I quite fancied.

I later established myself as Harry Heidelberg because I wanted to do a piece on corporate ethics. It was inappropriate for me to do it in my own name. I stuck with that name and became known as the evil rabid right wing Harry, the whipping boy of the communists. Well I have to call them communists because if they considered me hard right, I had to return the compliment. Many of them were essentially communists though. No doubt about that. If you are not pro business you are a communist. And there's a trademark Harry grenade for you. Enjoy.

In 2003 Margo started the idea of book that was later to be published as a bestseller, Not Happy, John! Consistent with her desire to change the media model, Margo wanted some of her Webdiarists to collaborate on this book to be published by Penguin. When I was in Sydney for Christmas in 2003 Margo and the collaborators met at a pub in Newtown. It wasn't dark and stormy. More like mild to warm and mainly sunny with the chance of an afternoon thunderstorm. It was Sydney in December. It was the first time I'd met Margo in person and also Jack Robertson and Antony Lowentsein. There was also a right-wing guy there whose name escapes me because we never heard of him again. All I remember of him is he wore a white t-shirts and was nowhere near as conciliatory and charming as I turned out to be on the evening in question. The debate just before dawn became somewhat melodramatic as pre-dawn debates have a habit of becoming. I was enjoying the entertainment as the white shirted conservative took on Jack. Ant looked on disapprovingly and I nodded approvingly in acknowledgment of Ant's unease. The white shirted guy was thus not destined to be a collaborator.

When I returned to Switzerland, the book writing process was much fun and I used it as an excuse to go to all sorts of exotic places seeing myself as some sort of nineteenth century gent on a grand tour of literary discovery. I remember I wrote absolute rubbish in Venice. It morphed into a glowing tribute to Peter Costello which wasn't really the purpose of the book. It vaguely fitted with the theme of not being happy with John Howard but was by no means a condemnation of the government which he led. I never had an issue with the mechanics of writing but did struggle a bit to write in keeping with the theme of the book. It would have been so much easier if I actually hated John Howard as the other collaborators did. In the end I bought a day ticket and rode around Switzerland and wrote the chapter that was published in Not Happy, John! I said I wasn't happy about a few things including reconciliation, the republic, education, refugees. They are the cliché doctors’ wives issues that some Liberals struggle with even if they are not in fact doctors’ wives. I also added ideas for a better Australian democracy following the Swiss model in a section called Ever More Democratic.

There were all sorts of controversies and mini dramas as Not Happy, John! came together. When I saw the proposed cover of the book I withdrew and said I no longer wanted to be in the book. It was highly disrespectful to the PM and diminished what I thought was the original purpose of the book. I went so far as to design myself eleven alternative covers and titles. Margo understood my dilemma and there were discussions with Penguin. In the end of course the cover most likely to be commercially successful understandably remained despite my objections. Somehow I ended up doing a backflip and still went in the book. It was mainly because of Margo.

Later I was to meet Polly Bush in Melbourne, another classic Webdiarist. We met with Margo at the Melbourne Writers Festival. What a hoot that was. We all had our own style and there's no doubt we were individuals. Polly Bush was a pseudonym and in those days it was fine to write under a pen name. Later in Webdiary history a control fetish developed and those who used pseudonyms were pilloried for “hiding something". It was a nonsense argument as all modern mainstream media blogs know. Look at newspapers now and they practically ask you not to give your real name for comments. Its where opinion ranks higher than identity. Identity is irrelevant. It makes it easier though if the pseudonym is consistent.

In 2005, Margo decided to take Webdiary independent. I lived in Sydney that year and had a fifth anniversary party in my apartment in the heart of Joe Hockey's electorate. The attendees were Green of one sort or another and as we know, Greens voters are the richest so didn't travel far and brought champagne. Champagne socialism at its best. Greens love champagne. I had a non-Webdiarist mate there who worked for an investment bank. He copped a tongue lashing in the wee hours. Bankers are easy targets! Mostly however it was enjoyable. For a very brief period I was the so called CEO of Webdiary. It didn't last long as I was never going to be able to work with people who had views that were so diametrically opposed to my own. I was the only Liberal surrounded by a bunch of rabid lefties. It was untenable from the outset.

After I left I became more trenchant and there were a series of exchanges with the new controllers of the site. For me the writing stopped and I reinvigorated my own blog and again there was some bitter back and forth. Also people feeling they were being cheated by heavy moderation and control by the Webdiary zealots would use my blog as dumping ground for their grievances. Toward the end of 2005, Margo retired from journalism and in the years since the volunteers you see running the site now kept Margo's dream alive. I can't remember exactly what happened but in the winter of 2007, I was in Far North Queensland and reconnected with Margo and Webdiary after an 18 month absence. I think there was a threat about closing it down or something.

Largely though I have been absent from Webdiary since mid-2005. Richard Tonkin recently contacted me and wondered if I'd like to write something for the tenth anniversary of Webdiary. That's why I've written this although I'm not sure how helpful it is.

I think Webdiary is now what it was becoming in the spring of 2005, a group blog for lefties. I don't read it so can't be sure but I doubt anyone with a different view writes much any more.It's of the left, for the left and by the left and largely the folks who run it are happy with that outcome. For me personally I am not interested in any political dialogue at all with people from the left. Been there, done that and it proved precisely nothing. I think some of the more contemptible control freaks have left (as has conveniently our former control freak PM) and it now seems to be more amiable people with a common leftie view of the world.

Margo had a noble dream and got very far in achieving success. It was by her efforts though. The media landscape has moved on. Blogs are old hat and four hundred million people of us Facebook and for me that's mainly about travel, food and other trivia. Largely, I don’t debate on Facebook despite some minor transgressions. The iPad is now out and I am paying to receive the Australian in iPad format. Murdoch says we have to pay for journalism and he's right. I am as interested in politics as ever but have zero interest in debate. I know what I believe and that's how I vote. I certainly want to see the end of this appalling Labor government and a return of responsible government under the Liberals. Why would I write about that on Webdiary though? What's the point? What's the population of Webdiarists who are swinging voters? Who reading this is uncertain of how they will vote at the next election? Bugger all, I would say. No one will learn, no one will change their opinion. It's too narrow now. They would just dismiss my writings as nonsense from the right. In the same way I would dismiss theirs as nonsense from the left.

I remember for a couple of weeks five years ago there was a naive view put about that left and right don't matter anymore. How utterly ridiculous. It matters more than ever. You don't get a mining tax designed to confiscate profits from risk taking under a centre right government. That sort of garbage can only come from the inane, insane, idiotic left. For me left and right is the biggest thing of all time and I have zero patience for the left. None whatsoever.

If Webdiary was about any topic other than politics and current events from the left perspective, I'd have an interest in it. I'd write if I didn't have to engage in dialogue with people I disagree with but what's the point of that?

It made sense when Margo controlled it but not for me now. For me 2010 is the same as 2000. I have the same views now as I did ten years ago. I'm sure most of you do as well. Margo's original goal won't be achieved by Webdiary in its current format. What do you think the average age of contributors is? I'd reckon it's positively ancient. That's ok though. There's nothing wrong with a club for like-minded people. That's the way society is organized. A club for people of opposing views has a limited future. Continue to be birds of a feather. Be that club and enjoy it without the grandiose statements. Grandiosity comes back to bite. Ask Kevin Rudd about the greatest moral issue of our time. Grandiosity infuriates people when it falls short. Actually, I was partial to grandiosity at one point in all of this and also thought we could change the world. All these movements end up like Animal Farm. Webdiary is a case study of Orwell's farmyard work inaction. Four legs good, two legs better and all that stuff. Looks like the pigs are moderating tonight. No chance for cows or sheep.

Margo was the special ingredient who could keep people together for a period. Webdiary keeps the dream alive but it’s a more modest dream now. I don't even know what the future of blogging is. To me it seems to have gone the way of the hula hoop. We all had one at the turn of the century but then got sick of it. It spins around but in the end gets you nowhere. That's blogging. I recently read that blogging is declining rather dramatically and there are millions of blogs sitting out there in suspended animation. People have stopped updating them.

One small regret I have is that blogging was an outlet for writing. I used to enjoy that part of it. Margo fostered writing. It wasn't just about debate. For a time Margo turned the model on its head, she brought in the audience and acted as a mentor for those who could write. To have the grand ambitions she had is why so many of us admire the founder of Webdiary.

This week I had a really challenging session with an executive coach in the Swiss Alps. He was an academic, psychologist and a hard-nosed businessman. What a unique combination. He became curious about me because in my work I am more known for a technical specialization in the finance field that doesn't at all go with the profile of someone who has a passion for writing. This Austrian professor's view is that I am doing myself an enormous disservice by not writing. The writing always goes with my beloved international cultural awareness. I'm bad at most things but have a strange mix in the things I'm better at. Maybe blogs remain as an outlet for writers with no other platform. People like me.

New Matilda finally collapsed recently. New media is old media. Murdoch is getting stronger and Fairfax grows ever weaker. What do I have on my iPad? Reuters, BBC, The Australian and the New York Times. I don't even read the Sydney Morning Herald these days, it's a celebrity gossip rag and they don't do political coverage. They just have that abominable Rudd lover, Hartcher. To me the 21st century looks like the 20th except that the Herald died. I also have Facebook on my iPad It's more interesting for me to get real news from normal sources and to get trivia from Facebook. I'd rather learn that a former colleague from Italy has just bought a skateboard or a friend from Finland is sailing than some diatribe from an old Webdiary nemesis. I don't care about celebrities so I get my trivia fix from Facebook.

What's the best part about Webdiary? It was ground-breaking and for a while it really felt like we could change the world. No one has ever done anything quite like it before or since but it was really Margo who made it unique and had the new ideas. Webdiary is now middle aged. It's relaxed and comfortable. Does anyone want anything different? I don't think so.

Happy Tenth, Webdiary and best of luck for the future. May there be a 20thand a 30th!

Best wishes from an older though not wiser Harry Heidelberg.


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Justin - a little note about pigs, politics and crickets

Justin me lad, you can dine on your pig with a little more comfort these days. While my years dictate that I can no longer go crawling through abattoir back fences I can none-the-less use my cheque book to improve the life of the pig.

So as of May this year, by collective effort over nearly 30 years we have finally convinced a State government (Tasmania) to phase out those brutal pig stalls. We expect other States to now follow. While I will not join you, I will not deny you your pig.  But it must be treated kindly.

I passed on your greetings to the good Scot. It never ceased to amaze me that people here described him as a right winger. What a hoot!  I suppose he can say he is the only right winger who ever stood next to Mao on the balcony above Tienamien Square with an audience of over a million below. His autobiography would be a best seller I am sure. But as I say, a real hoot.

And with that, I'm outta here. One thing I do agree with Harry on is that blogging is a hideous time waster.  So we're off to do battle - with the impending "cricket" plague. Life is never dull on the land I'll say that. Frogs in the bed, now grasshoppers. And no doubt those hordes of  mice are on their way from SA. I do wish nature could accept that its place is not my bed.

credit where credit due

Jenny Hume, congratulations on your pig stall victory.

It is a dark thought to consider that you could have to spend your (short)  life confined to a tiny concrete and metal box, rolling in your own waste thru no choice of your own, if a pig.

They are bright creatures, you see that in their eyes. And I've heard it said that they are sophisticated enough NOT to like being filthy, bored or ill-treated.

I like pigs...

I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.

Sir Winston Churchill

The Wilderness Years

I suppose folk know of another anecdote involving Churchill.

In this case, his renown drinking caught up with him in the form of a redoubtable matron, who said, "Youre drunk!"

Churchill is said to have replied, " Yes and you are ugly".

He is then said to have said, " When I wake up tomorrow, I'll be sober".

Turning then to the matron, he observed,

"But tomorrow, you'll still be ugly..."

Sobriety Cometh

Paul, meant as chin wag, not to correct you, but I think part of the humour is lost if the narrative structure is changed,  From memory (distant) this anecdote was published by the ugly matron herself, and (let's call her Maggie) the exchange, which took place at a party, perhaps with Maggie as hostess, went like this:

Maggie: Winston, you are drunk.

Churchill:  Maggie, you are ugly; but tomorrow, I shall be sober.

 Richard:  Twas Lady Astor, methinks.


Cheers Jenny and Thanks Kindly

Jenny, actually I rather like pigs, but like most souls I haven't got a clue how they are handled - my only relationship with pigs is at the dinner table (and the pigs are always well mannered).  One can't help but admire your concern and efforts to have them treated with dignity.

Fancy that, Ian and Mao Zedong standing side by side - I would love to hear all about that. Have you considered writing Ian's bio? BTW, I never thought Ian was a righty - I just thought he called it like he saw it, just as you did. Left and right really makes me uneasy when applied to the real world of individual souls.

Even iHarry has been called "a lefty notjob" by someone indentifying themselves as "Donna V" at Tim Blair's site. Funny old world hey. 

Anyway Jenny, again thanks for everything you and Ian have done; the time and effort you both sacrificed so that (i)Diots like moi can can be kept off the streets.

Maybe that's another negative thing about blogging - while people let of steam digitally they are of less threat to the powers that be, than if they manned the barricades so to speak.

Nothing like a good old revolution to keep the ruling class in check.

On that note: farewell Jenny - and thanks for everything.

I wouldn't dare, Justin

Justin, write the Scot's bio.? I wouldn't dare try but if he ever gets round to it, it will be a great read.

Not only did he get to shake the big man's hand, standing there viewing the big parade also were Chou- en-lai, the Premier; Chu-Teh, the Red Army Chief, for whom Ian says he had the most time, and Liu Shao Chi (later disgraced). It was 1958 and Ian was the sole rep from Australia at the International Union of Students' Congress held in Peking in that year. He went on to North Korea and met Kim Il Sung, and was. he thinks, only the second person, after Burchett, to get into North Korea following the Korean War. That was a rather interesting encounter, he told me.

The whole thing ended very sadly as over a hundred of the students with whom he had spent some six weeks travelling in China were killed on the way home in a plane crash in Russia. Ian was 18 at the time, in his second year at Sydney Uni, having started there at age 16.

From then on his political affiliations were very much very left of the centre, shall we say. The polar opposite of mine in fact as you would guess, given my background. I guess we'd both mellowed by 1980 as we ended up in the Democrats - but where to go since their demise?

As a member of the Sydney Push, making music (with some of the best known folk singers this country has ever known - mostly now dead) in the back room of the Royal George, Ian's life in the late 50s and 60s was so far outside of my experience as to be another world. A fascinating book by one of those in the Push he knew is that by Richard Appleton, simply called Appo. You can get it from Sydney University Press. It is one of the best reads I've had in a long time. I know you would enjoy it, it is so funny in parts, but as I say, it speaks of another world to me.

No I won't write his bio - but the stories he tells of so many personalities in the public arena, politicians, then future prime ministers, musicians, poets, writers and feminists from first hand acquaintence, spanning some 25 years, are fascinating. But it's up to him.

On that note too, thanks and farewell also. I do prefer to man the barricades than blog, and am keen to get back into the fight against the live animal export trade as the toll on those ships has now passed 400 000. But first we must man the barricades against the impending hordes of crickets. Ian sends his best wishes, by the way.

Many happy revolutions Fiona

Once there were three men who were going to be executed with the guillotine during the French Revolution. The first man was a publican, named Geoff, the second man was a politician, named iHarry, and the third man was a public servant, named Eliott.

The police led  Geoff up and told him to say his last words. He said, "I will always die for my country." The men led him to the guillotine. The blade stopped an inch from his neck. The police said that it must be the will of God that Geoff would not die.

The same thing happened to iHarry. His last words were, "I will always die for my country." He was led to the guillotine and the blade stopped an inch from his neck. The police said that it must be the will of God that iHarry would not die.

When the police led Eliott up and told him to say his last words, he said, "You stupid pinkos, your problem can be easily fixed with my wiki-ithingy."


Many happy returns Fiona, but don't go losing your head over it.

Welcome back Fiona

Right on the eve of her birthday too (and whatsame's too.  That means Margo's just had hers too.  Happy Birthday all!

Glad to see you back in the saddle, Madame Buckett.  I just heard today that Austen Tayshus is running against  the Mad Abbot  The show's begun..


The short quote from Sue Edgar's poem which was entitled After Drought should read:

How sweet it is the sound of falling rain

After years of unrelenting dry

I never thought I'd hear the sound again 

And very sweet it truly is as it drums upon the old tin roof. Mind you I could do without all the leaks.


Soapbox in Hyde Park

Well, some blasts from the past to celebrate WD's tenth birthday. Greetings,  all of you and hope we can get some good rational debates up and running again, soon.

(Belated) greetings from Noosa

Tearing myself away from the strawberry daiquiri (yes, it's only breakfast time, I know ... but sooo decadent, daarlings), how sweet to see so many smiling, happy, innocent little faces gathered around the Webdiary table again.

And how delightful to see that you are all playing together so nicely, with proper concern not to hurt anybody's feelings, let alone raking over the coals of past squabbles.

Seriously, though, thank you to iHarry iHeidelberg for a (thought)-provoking piece. Do keep writing, Harry. Your musings are always appreciated, if not necessarily in the spirit (mmmm, daiquiri...hic) that you intended.  

To Richard, huge accolades for keeping Webdiary afloat over the past seven months. As Richard knows, my year has been torrid (it started with a spider on New Year's Day) but I am back on deck, ready to throw last year's Oaks Day hat into the ring, and to see if we can continue to provide a useful forum at least until the next Federal election, if not another decade or three. 

Summertime - Eats, roots, shoots and leaves

Why Jenny how sweet to see you wander into weird dairy. Good to hear all is cool down on your farm. Give my love to all the animals but don't let those pesky pigs out of your sight.

Good to hear you finally met "old muddy boots" but to the best of my memory dear Kath never wore muddy boots - come to think, she never wore much at all, but hey, that never stopped me loving her.

Anyway, I'm off to find meself a nice warm hole to crawl down - btw, iJustin is a wombat these days - it pays to have a thick arse when one co-habits with two legs.

Take care, dear friend down there on the farm, where the livin' is easy, fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high

Oh, Your pigs need eatin ....



iJustin suspects he is becoming somewhat partial to referencing himself in both the in the first and third person simultaneously.

Damn you Heidelberg  - and may Apple crash like windows 95.



iJustin & iHarry - iDiots

 Without Margo an anniversary of Webdiary is not so much an anniversary to be celebrated as such, rather, a record of existence. Well Done WD, but no piss up and balloons on this occasion.

Webdiary - Founded and inspired by Margo Kingston.

Why was it that Margo chose not to contribute to the 10th anniversary of the website she founded, that still carries her image and a dedication in the title bar?

It would be unrealistic to think Margo was not invited to contribute; as such one can only assume, that at this point in time, she is not interested and probably politely declined the offer.

"Margo's not an online kind of gal these days- she's exploring elswhere!"

And good for you Margo - let's hope you have found your "independence", your freedom, your centre; although the absence of a fine journalist is to the disadvantage of us all.

Last week Richard published a teaser re a special post for WD's 10th. That teaser had me anticipating a post from Margo. It was not to be. Harry appeared instead. A lot like expecting Audrey Hepburn then ending up with Richard Nixon.

My opening comment (on this thread) could be described as displaced disappointment. But no apologies to Harry (you gotta respect John Winston) for Harry is used to this game; besides Harry can dish it out in spades when he so desires.

"So there you have more than a dozen but less than two dozen more "I's" but they'll be the last you see from me."

Poor old Harry, if that's how you feel then you may understand (just a little) how Margo must have felt.

You hurt her Harry, we both did, and we did it for no good reason (at least I did - what was your reason?). In Margo's hour of need (apparently) you pulled the plug then started a site that hurt her terribly, when she was most vulnerable. Yes, life's a bitch, sometimes.

(iJustin did do a little ihomework for WD's 10th - you may recognise some of the phrasing.)

You see Harry, when you take your leave it's hard not to giggle - for if one can dish it out then one (at least) should be big enough and ugly enough to cop it on the chin (from time to time) - hey lad.

But Margo was not "bad arsed shit" like us - she was a fine professional who copped heaps (some of it so unnecessarily cruel) from people like iJustin and iHarry. She didn't deserve any of it.

It was people like us who made her life so damned stressful that she had to seek refuge from the maddening crowd. And who could blame her. Some of us were cruel because we were ignorant - others possibly, because they feared the competition. It was all unnecessary - wasn't it Harry.

There could be a lot more to discuss re WD, 10 years, Margo and Harry's iContribution but the point iJustin is trying to make - has been made - iHope. 


At the end of the thread we are dealing with flesh and blood - humanity - just like you, just like me - let's not lose sight of that, dear friends.

Harry, lad; please take note of dear Father Park (and Scott), for those who know you, or have read your stuff (sans the S&M) it would be hard to disagree with the good Father.

Paul mate, if drunken mariners take shots of pot at me then I assue you it won't be a rime, rather a symphony.

Father Park, we don't hear enough from you - there is much to confess you know, and one gets thirsty.


And now what iJustin should have written in this first place:


Richard: happy tenth anniversary to Webdiary and all who sail in her - thank you sincerely Richard for your blood, sweet and tears in keeping the dream alive.

Dr Reynolds: ditto dear psych, looking forward to your return.

Scott: also, thanks for being part of the WD team and your efforts in the recent past, so good to hear from you again, same goes to Ian Mac - give Ian (and Jenny - hi) my regards - I always read and enjoyed his stuff - even though (like Harry) he was always wrong, hehe.Margo -  I'm sure your candle still "gives a lovely light", wherever you are - thank you.

Well old friend, here I am...

Apologies to Eric Bogle there, Justin. Dropped by and read Harry's article, and saw your Hi to me, so stretched the old memory box to drag up the password. Seems I got it right. So Hi to you too.

Gave up blogging a couple of years ago after the big WD brawl. Decided there was more to life.

Have made a lot of music since, and finished the book - sold about 400 so far. Then went back to farming after the drought took a break in the form of a deluge of 16 inches in one month, (more than we've seen in two years).  Can you believe the grass was ten inches over my head in April? Several hundred cattle were in there somewhere but not a hide to be seen.

Even managed to hop over to WA and meet old "muddy boots" at last , yes your one and only Kathy Farrelly. So some good came out of Harry's site for me. As expected, we clicked. The Scot sang a few songs, we ate a cake, took some snaps and put the world to rights for an hour or so and parted with a kiss.

Ian gave the blogging away with me though I suspect he dabbles on one or two sites from time to time, but confess I never read his stuff.  He is back into writing music and recording and when he has time he writes articles for his website, (noahsrainbowserpent, on wordpress.com if you are interested) but he doesn't have time to do comments.

I note Harry's reference to Facebook which site I find totally mindless. It is probably more the young ones' scene. Seems to me people set up a Facebook site and then never go near it. I suppose it helps Facebook claim it has a billion users, but in reality there is obviously a lot of dead wood in there, for want of a better metaphor. I tend to agree with him that blogging has had its heyday and no doubt Facebook will one day go into decline as well as some new gimmick comes along.  

Anyhow, thanks for the message. We'll no doubt see Scotty should have done less Dunmore in a week or so. 

Happy days. Over and out.                         Jenny

PS (Yes, after the chief editor and others here agreed humour was the way to treat the issue at the time, I did as Scott said write a parody of the big WD brawl entitled The Brawl in the Bloggers Arms which our nowhere to be seen legal beaver here found hilarious. He suggested I put it up as a piece and everyone would have a good laugh, but he was wrong. The powers that be were not amused, so I pulled it. However I do believe it was the funniest thing I have ever written and it poked fun at us all. I still giggle over it at times and am of a mind to write an epilogue to it, or even work it up into a play, but doubt I will get around to it. Life, as I said, has moved on.)

G'day Hyacinth

Hello Jenny. May I say I always enjoyed your pieces and looked out for them in the threads I had an interest. Ian's too. I never did get a chance to say thanks to you both.

Do let us know if you decide to blog again, won't you? At the very least you must post The Brawl in the Bloggers Arms here without delay. I remember the brawl well. It was one of the few around here I had no part of. I just sat in the corner and grimanced; a bit like watching a traffic accident in slow motion outside the window.

Thanks Geoff, oh and Justin me boy

Thanks Geoff for the compliment but I really am over blogging. I think it is a habit that once broken is broken. If you are interested in what Ian writes I just interrogated him on what sites he writes on, and it seems very few - only occasionally on Butterflies and Wheels and its subby Notes and Comments.  

He tells me New Matilda where he used to do a bit has now closed. Sign of the times I guess.

His main pieces are on his website noahsrainbowserpent. I forget the full url, and am too lazy to look it up, but googling will find it. He spends most of his time writing music these days but is still deeply concerned about climate change and reads everything he can get his hands on to the detriment of the house/farmwork. You might find his six part review on his site of the book by that arch skeptic Plimer interesting. But it's a pretty heavy read.

No, I won't submit the Brawl in the Bloggers Arms here again as it would only be DNP'd, and in any case I really don't want to be drawn into blogging again. I only come by occasionally and like to acknowledge messages to me if I happen to see them. If I ever set up a site of my own I will let you know but at this stage I am not so inclined. However if you would like a good giggle then send an email address to charlie.honk@live.com and I will send you a copy of The Brawl

Now Justin me boy, you clearly don't remember how your beloved Kath got to be known as old muddy boots, so that will just have to remain a mystery to you. And I assure you she was well clad when we met so there is no need to feel an tinge of jealousy towards the good Scot here.

Yes everything is jumping in the bush, including the frog in my bed last month. I am not very partial to frogs and I counted ten in the house that night. But my feelings are best summed up by two lines of a villaneul (not sure how you spell that) by Canberra poet Sue Edgar and which poem Ian has now set to music:  

How sweet it is to hear the sound of falling rain

I never thought I'd hear the sound again

Better than the refrain from Hard Times that I have sung hopefully to myself for so many years: 

Hard time, hard times. come again no more

Many years you have lingered around my cabin door

Oh hard times, come again no more.

Maybe times will be good down on the farm for a few years now...and with that hope in my heart I will now say to you and other friends here..... So long, it's been good to know you............

Jenny  xx

PS: Some here at one stage expressed interest in having a copy of my book.  If so, then use the charlie honk email above to let me know, or you can order one through the National Library.  ($30 plus GST and they probably charge postage which is usually around $9.50) Quote title and author  as follows:

Down Vanished Years, by Jennifer Hume MacDougall.

Subtitle is: A History of the Welsh and Related Pioneering Families of the Nambucca, from 1707.

But it is a personalised history so it mostly of interest to those connected to those families.  Cheers!


While on the subject, one regrets that one didn't see a message from or news of Margo Kingston on the tenth anniversary.

One had never heard of Harry, and cannot be particularly dismayed that he is now in a huff.

Somethings sure don't change

But Harry, here is a challenge mate.  Read a most excellent book called Shitstorm old son.   Then maybe you might stop this absurd hatred for Rudd.

I won't tell you too much about it but suffice to say it was eye opening for me.

 Gillard is now the same racist she was in 2001, and will be in 2051 when she shuffles off the mortal coil a white haired old woman with nothing much to show but some lovely school halls.

The do so

This Austrian professor's view is that I am doing myself an enormous disservice by not writing.

So write. Despite the invective and abuse, you could always write. Strike me pink, I read the lot.

That does not, of course, guarantee a readership...

Father Park

Personal account written in the first person

It's a 3,640 word, personal account written in the first person.  In Modern English, this means the first person, singular personal pronoun you have focused on, "I" appears regularly.  Probably if I was to write an autobiography, the same word would feature hundreds or even thousands of times. Funny about that.

I could have written in the style of a detached narrator and perhaps that would have been less "revealing" and "embarrassing".   I wrote in the style I had always written in Webdiary.  It's completely the opposite of my professional work which has a technical / legal bent where the word "I" would never appear.  I wrote seven pages this morning that contains no "I".  It's rather dry, non-revealing and non-embarrassing.  Perhaps technical papers are more your cup of tea.  

I don't feel embarrassed.  I feel regretful.   I regret agreeing to write at all. I was approached to do this, it wasn't my idea.  I can't believe I was so stupid to get into all this nonsense again. It's just a hideous time waster.

So there you have more than a dozen but less than two dozen more "I's" but they'll be the last you see from me. 




Relax Richard, I have never suspected you of such devious subtley, It was just self-indulgent smartarsedness on my part . It is good to be talking to you again.

Harry, I make no apologies for the roughing up you received, it was  deserved. Write you should, it is creative as you say and as I recall along with Michael Park, stylistically good although of course, as far as content is concerned, well that's another matter. We are never going to see eye to eye politically in a forum like this.

The problem I had with your piece was my perception that it was contemptuously careless; an opportunity to take a swipe at the lefties and self agrandisement.

You were handed an opportunity to write properly, objectively.

 Lighten up Harry, waving a red flag at a bull is never a good idea when you're a long way from the stile; (communists are we? Ever heard of socialism?  Great stuff, it kicks in when large corporations in your industry look like going belly up; banks prosper by being guaranteed by government and BP is protected by cosy deals done between Obama  and Cameron;) you're invited to respond in kind. 

Still, the body of it was a bit like the "curate's egg", good in parts and informative. Webdiary must have been well established before I became aware of it's existence and when Fairfax trashed it I remained unaware of  Margo's independent version until after she left ,so I thank you for filling some gaps and your comments on Margo's perception. 

Some thoughts for you Harry. Forii of this kind are cowards castles; people write in a manner they would never use in speach and were you to confront me face to face I would be apologetic and conciliatory; you'd become a "real" person to be dealt with courtesly and of course, you wouldn't be Harry.

Murdoch's paywall is predicted to fail and I can see why. Newspapers are dead men standing. Why pay for news when it is everywhere and who wants to pay for Murdoch's comment?

One other thing Harry. this site was ever, without Margo's benificence, going to the left and was dominated by the left even with her presence. Think about it.

You're right about the divide, I can remember calling you a troll and giving up on you for the simple reason you repeatedly failed to address a question. Political leanings aren't about logic process, they're feelings and all our arguments are merely rationalisations. I did vote Liberal once; the mid term election in the Whitlam era to get rid of one of the most complete idiots god ever shovelled guts into in the form of Kep Enderby. Nevertheless he was/is a succesful lawyer. What that tells you I don't know.

I haven't visited another blog site for at least two years simply because most of 'em are rubbish. Webdiary is well moderated and civilised, a monument to Margo; diminished somewhat by an incident of which you are probably unaware and for which I must take some responsibility. Ian MacDougall wrote a parody of it in which he has me saying "I should have done more." No, in retrospect I should have done it differently. Water under the bridge.

Now friends, new and old I will take my leave again, (to a great wailing and gnashing of teeth I have no doubt). I have a business to run and a partner to appease; this stuff consumes me for hours and while it's alright for the idle rich, for the working poor it's a distraction.

Fiona, if you're reading this, don't ever doubt I didn't value our relationship highly. I can't call it friendship because we never met. More's the pity. Right or wrong, for me it was principle. I couldn't go against it.

Lots of "I"s in this.

What did you expect??

We are never going to see eye to eye politically in a forum like this.The problem I had with your piece was my perception that it was contemptuously careless; an opportunity to take a swipe at the lefties and self agrandisement.

Oh dear! You seem to have taken it seriously Scott. Not even Harry takes himself that seriously - if he did there'd be that much more shit...   that's for somewhere else.

The acroplis of Harry's world has been crumbling for some years; matters not the plastering and painting. The Euro lives at the whim of the Germans and the Chinese colonise the US economy as the invading "barbarians" colonised the Roman Empire: they simply replaced those they deposed.

Father Park

Couldn't agree more

But Michael, so did  Harry.

With compliments

Yes indeed Scott; Harry's obsession with the vertical stroke is revealing - and a little bit embarrassing. 

Anyway "I" have become rather partial to eating granny smith apples with extra tasty cheese. Try it, they do  compliment themselves somewhat delightfully.

Apple and cheese

They do indeed Justin and a little vegemite spread on cheese is quite palatable as well.

I, (the use of italics is to guard against accusations (shudder) of a similar obsession,) am left wondering why Richard issued the invitation in the first place. One plausible explanation is that he had an old score to settle and knowing his man, set him up.


Aargh!  No Scott, I had no such ulterior motives.  I'd thought it would be good to commemorate a decade of Webdiary's existence.  Knowing Harry to have had such a strong involvement in the place, and that he would have a different kind of viewpoint, I knew I'd enjoy reading whatever came out.  And yes, I'd hoped that the anniversary might be marked with some spirited repartee.

Thanks, Harry for writing this piece.  I know you meant well. 

Michael, Margo's not an online kind of gal these days- she's exploring elswhere!


Apologies Harry

Fiona's fixed my editing stufff-ups.. I don't think my new Netbook likes your iPad, and I was too illterate to solve the prob.

Webdiary's around for as long as people want it to be.  A fair number of people still read it, and whenever an issue becomes a topic the archives of that subject seem to be of considerable interest.  

What I don't understand is that given that pieces here go straight to the relevant Google Newsfeeds and stand alongside,(and often above) pieces from mainstream media outlets, I woudl've thought that the oppurtinity for such widespread broadcast might be utilised by more writers.

I love what the place has been, enjoy what it is now, and await the future with anticpation. 


I twitter, therefore I'm a twit.

Thanks Albatross, far more eloquent than something I was sorely tempted to submit. In the end it was too embarassing (and not for me.)

I am, therefore I iPad

"I Facebook
I also have Face book on my iPad 
I've been told
I see the late afternoon temperature is
I'm concerned
I turned out to be on
I'm in a tunnel now
I was dubbed
I'd reckon it's positively ancient
I was living in Switzerland
I worked Switzerland into every piece
I am anticipating fun
I had a non-Webdiarist mate
I'd rather learn that
I once worked
I was to meet
I'd met Margo
I condemned her
I don't even read
I recently read
I know what I believe
I have to call them communists
I don't even know
I never had an issue
I wanted to do a piece
I don't care about
I am more known for a
I am paying to receive
I went so far as to design myself
I ended up doing a back flip
I used to enjoy that
I became more trenchant
I can't remember
I was the first
I have been absent from
I later established myself
I wasn't happy about a few things including
I also added ideas for a better
I'm now pausing to rendezvous for
I was enjoying the entertainment
I lived in Sydney that year
I was in Far North Queensland
I returned to Switzerland
I joined on the line from Switzerland
I wrote absolute rubbish
I reinvigorated my own blog
I was never going to be able to work with people
I quite fancied
I was the so called CEO of Webdiary
I'm lovin' it!
I'm also lovin' the fall of
I nodded approvingly
I'm sure most of you do as well
I am not interested in any political dialogue
I am as interested in politics as ever
I doubt anyone with a different view
I have the same views now as I did ten years ago
I don't debate
I'm bad at most things but
I vote
I highly recommend
I'm better at
I certainly want
I own shares in
I had a really challenging session
I was the only Liberal surrounded
I get my trivia fix from Facebook
I explained further
I have no doubt
I had to return the compliment
I am doing myself an enormous disservice by not writing
I haven't changed one iota.
I don't think that's quite true
I stuck with that name
I loved it then
I love it now
I think
I was partial to grandiosity
I realize I'm rambling
I don't think so"

Yep it certainly looks like you have shares in Apple Harry.

lipstick on swine


 An Albatross,  one of a notable wingspan and countless hours circumnavigating the globe, tell us the view from your lofty heights.

But I will have to keep coming back for more of this clear, unique view, bird of good omen.

 In the mea time be aware of drunken mariners taking pot shots.

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