Sunday, March 13, 2016

Of lemmings, periods and PM's

Not knowing what to post, I decided to present some factlets, the first being an item I had come across about lemmings.  From there it led to various other items, all unplanned, finally concluding with some notes about Malcolm Turnbull, hence the assortment . . .


Lemmings do not commit suicide. 

That is a myth that was perpetuated by the Disney film White Wilderness, which shows a lemming migration in Alberta, Canada, that ends with the lemmings leaping to their deaths in the Arctic Ocean. There were no lemmings in Alberta so the producers imported lemmings that had been trapped elsewhere, and herded them over a cliff into a river.


Whilst on the topic of things Disney, the first film to use the word “vagina” was Disney’s 1946 animated film The Story of Menstruation.

Only 10 minutes in length, It was commissioned by the International Cello-Cotton Company (now Kimbery-Clark) and was shown in a non-theatrical release to approximately 105 million American students in health education classes. One of the first commercially sponsored films to be distributed to high schools, it was distributed with a booklet for teachers and students called Very Personally Yours that featured advertising of the Kotex brand of products, and discouraged the use of tampons, where the market was dominated by theTampax brand of rivals Proctor & Gamble. 

The word “menstruation” is derived from the Latin mensis (month), which in turn relates to the Greek mene (moon) and to the roots of the English words month and moon. This reflects that the moon’s period of revolution around the earth, 27days, is similar to that of the human menstrual cycle.

It is not true that the word “menstruation” is a portmanteau word derived by combing “men’s” and “frustration”.

It is said, although I have not been able to locate verification, that when editor Ita Buttrose changed the format of the Australian Women’s Weekly to a monthly format, it had to be explained to owner Kerry Packer why it would not be appropriate to change the name to Women’s Monthly.

Ita Buttrose with media mogul Kerry Packer at the 20th anniversary of Cleo magazine in 1992


Most people are aware of Kerry Packer stories, such as his asking the boasting Texan at the table in a Las Vegas casino as to his total worth. On being told that it was was about $100 million, Packer offered to toss him for it.

In his book “Kerry Packer – Tall Tales and True”, author Michael Stahl documents another anecdote about Packer, who was renowned for his tips to casino staff. During a gambling session in a Las Vegas casino, Packer pushed US$80,000 worth of chips towards a deserving croupier. The croupier blushed and explained that she couldn’t accept it; all tips had to be pooled and shared among the staff. Packer called the manager and insisted that he fire her on the spot, on the threat of taking his business elsewhere. When the manager complied, Packer handed her the chips. He then turned to the manager: ‘Now rehire this woman immediately.’ 

Whilst looking at things Packer, current Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull was Kerry Packer’s legal eagle from 1983 to 1985. Having graduated with honours from Oxford and then worked as a barrister, Turnbull left the bar to become general counsel for Packer’s Australian Consolidated Press Holdings Group.

Annabel Crabb in a profile in 2009 in Quarterly Essay records that there was a spectacular falling out between Packer and Turnbull when both were seeking to take over the Fairfax Media Group. Each threatened to kill the other.

Mr Packer made the initial threat after Mr Turnbull told the media magnate he was going to have him thrown out of the Tourang consortium by revealing Mr Packer's intention to play an interventionist role in the newspaper group. 
"He told me he'd kill me, yeah," Mr Turnbull says in a profile by the Herald's political columnist Annabel Crabb. 
"I didn't think he was completely serious, but I didn't think he was entirely joking either. Look, he could be pretty scary." 
Mr Turnbull says his father taught him to never succumb to threats of violence so he returned the threat in kind. 
"He did threaten to kill me and I said to him: 'Well, you'd better make sure that your assassin gets me first because, if he misses, you better know I won't miss you.' 
"He could be a complete pig, you know. He could charm the birds out of the trees, but he could be a brute."
Kerry Packer and Malcolm Turnbull, 1984

While looking at things Turnbull, it is estimated that he is worth over $200 million, which includes his $52m hacienda in Point Piper.

The day after Tony Abbott was dumped by the Liberal Party, the NT News headlined the event with "Rich dude becomes PM".

(In fairness, it should also be pointed out that the Turnbulls are long-time, active philanthropists. In 2013-14, the Turnbull Foundation gave $780,000 to local charities, schools, universities and arts.) 

He did not inherit wealth. Malcom Turnbull's parents separated when he was nine years old. His mother moved to New Zealand to be with another man and he stayed in Australia with his father.

Coral Lansbury, writer and mother of Malcolm Turnbull, in June 1949.

Malcolm Turnbull with his father, Bruce

Malcolm with his mother, Coral

Malcolm Turnbull aged 9 with his father Bruce.

With his father, Bruce, graduation University of Sydney

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