Death no obstacle for the 'truly' devout

What does an American politician do when a member of his family is a devout atheist? Mitt Romney knows.

What does an American politician do when a member of his family is a devout atheist? Mitt Romney knows.

Look, I've only just caught up with this, courtesy of a fabulous Bill Maher rant, but it is just too staggering not to cover. We all know to get anywhere in American politics, particularly among the Republicans, the candidates have to constantly outdo each other in their declarations of fealty to the Christian God, but what do you do when a member of your family is a devout atheist? Mitt Romney knows. You baptise them posthumously. I am not making that up! Turns out Romney's father-in-law Edward Roderick Davies was passionate in his view that organised religion was ''drudgery'' and ''hogwash''. So, a year after Davies died, Romney took part in a ceremony to usher him into the Mormon faith. No, really. In the words of Bill Maher: ''They tried to do it sooner but he wouldn't stop spinning in his grave.'' It is worth having a look at. If you do an internet search on ''atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position'' you can see the Bill Maher rant in question. A word of warning though: if offended by one swear word and truly devastating logic, don't watch it.

The bitter endLast Thursday, March 29, marked the centenary of the death of Scott of the Antarctic, from exposure and starvation. Six months later, on November 12, 1912, they found his body and those of his two companions in their tent, just 17 kilometres from relative safety. One of the search party was a Norwegian, who - suddenly feeling like he was an intruder in a place of English mourning - did not enter the tent with the others. Ever afterwards, the Norwegian, Trygge Gran, would remember hearing what sounded like a pistol shot ring out.

But it was not a shot. When the others had entered the tent, they found Scott lying on his back with his journal placed on his chest under his right hand. As they lifted Scott's frozen and withered arm to retrieve the journal, it snapped in the heavy mournful silence, making the sound Gran heard.

On the first page of the journal Scott had written: ''Send this diary to my wife.'' And then, in what was likely his last act on earth, he crossed out the last word and replaced it with ''widow''.

Dig for treasureSo after last week's request for anyone who voted for Clive Palmer to be a National Living Treasure to please contact me, just to confirm there was someone out there who really did do it, how many responses do you think I got? The answer is - dot three, carry one, subtract two - NONE. Curiouser and curiouser. So this week, let's widen the net. If you merely think it was fair enough that Palmer got the gong ahead of, say, Cate Blanchett, please email me, in complete confidence. There must be someone out there who thinks so! Mustn't there? It is all the stranger that Palmer won because, I am reliably informed, he was an absolute last-minute addition to the nominations list. Going through the entrails of the disaster last Saturday at a meeting in Canberra, the Australian Council of National Trusts resolved that henceforth they will conduct a national initiative to recognise Living Treasures according to internationally recognised criteria. It will make the selection transparent and one based on the concept of ''intangible cultural heritage''. One criterion is the ability of the ''treasure'' to transfer the skills he or she has acquired to future generations. A good start!

White's final taleTFF visited my publishers on Monday to discover they are about to release an interesting book, The Hanging Garden. It is nothing less than a lost manuscript of Patrick White, to be published in a few weeks. It is a piece of a novel - about two children who find themselves boarding in a house in Neutral Bay during World War II - but a complete piece. White began writing it in 1981 and completed part one, before putting it in his bottom drawer and forgetting all about it. And there it remained, until after his death, when it was discovered by his literary agent and executor, Barbara Mobbs. After White's partner Manoly Lascaris died, she decided it was time to do something and gave the papers, including the manuscript, to the National Library. After work was put in by two University of Sydney academics, Elizabeth Webby and Margaret Harris, and his biographer, David Marr, it has been brought up to publishable standard.

Joke of the weekHer name is Samantha and she is a 22-year-old rather dizzy blonde flying in a two-seater aircraft off the NSW south coast with just the pilot. Tragically, he has a sudden heart attack and dies. Frantically, she grabs the radio microphone, presses every button she can see and starts shouting: ''May Day! May Day! Help me! Help me! My pilot had a heart attack and is dead. And I don't know how to fly. Help me! Please help me!'' And it works! For after just 20 seconds she hears a voice over the radio saying: ''This is Air Traffic Control Moruya, I have you loud and clear. I will talk you through this and get you back on the ground. I've been a pilot for 40 years and we can do this together. Now, take a deep breath. Everything will be fine! Give me your height and position.'' The blonde replies: ''I'm 162 centimetres and I'm in the front seat.''

''OK,'' says the voice on the radio, calmly, ''repeat after me: Our Father who art in Heaven ?''

Law on the lineApropos of nothing in particular, this is a number that should be better known by teenagers who have serious legal worries. At the other end of the phone at Youth Hotline on 1800 10 18 10 are Legal Aid lawyers happy to give young people free legal advice on criminal matters, on an anonymous basis if that is the way they want it. No need to lie awake at night wondering what your legal position is. Call them and find out.

They said ...What's the difference between the Queensland ALP and my Tarago? My Tarago has eight seats. A gag going around.

Both major political parties are rattling around at the bottom of the barrel trying to find something derogatory they can say about the other party. I believe at the moment they would use any issue if they think there's a vote init. Malcolm Fraser

It's pretty bananas. American Anton Marinovich whose grandmother gave him $1000 when he turned 18 and told him to invest in the stock market. He chose Apple and the stock is now worth $240,000.

I know, I know, I know. Germaine Greer was right on that subject. A laughing Tony Abbott, with full knowledge the cameras are rolling, responds to a woman in a shopping centre about Germaine Greer's comment last week that the prime minister had to dress differently because she had ''a big arse''. For a man who would be Prime Minister, this was a staggering response on so many grounds it's hard to keep track.

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