Google might need a new company motto

Actually, it has already changed it from “Don’t be evil” to “Do the right thing”.

Regardless, the contents of a leaked memo suggest the mottos are to be considered more a guideline than a non-negotiable rule.

Google has allegedly created a search engine that would censor information that the Chinese government finds objectionable. The memo shows that Google planned to require users to log in to perform searches and the software would then track their location. The memo also said that Google would share Chinese users’ search information with a third-party Chinese company, which could then be available to government authorities.

Oh, that’s nice of them. What might be the consequences of Google handing details of an individual’s search history to a “private company” (if such a thing actually exists in China)?

Nothing to be concerned about, I’m sure. China’s record on human rights and the integrity of their legal system is so impeccable after all.

Bill’s Opinion

I’ve recently been considering weaning myself off Google products.

Despite what people might suggest, they don’t actually have a monopoly on providing many of the services we use on a day to day basis.

The response by Google to the James Damore memo was a major indication that the company has stopped taking their motto(s) seriously.

If this latest leak is correct, perhaps now is the time to find another mail, maps and internet search provider.

“Something must be done”

And something, therefore, shall be done.

Some complete and utter idiot stuck pins into strawberries somewhere between the farm and the supermarkets in Australia a week or so ago.

Because the idiocy is contagious, there then followed a spate of copycat cases and other soft fruit was tampered with, presumably by other parties.

The culprits and their motivation have yet to be identified but significant police resources have been mobilised to apprehend them and throw the full force of the criminal law against them.

“Fair enough”, one might think, “a bad actor commits a crime that deliberately risks bodily harm of others. There’s definitely a law against that with a penalty to fit the crime. Let the police get on with their job and let justice be done”.

Except it’s never that simple in Australian politics.

No, in Australia when something bad happens at a state or federal level, a brave and decisive politician must rush to the nearest phone booth (increasingly harder to find these days), make a rapid change of clothes and emerge, Superman-esque, and announce plans to change or write new law.

And that’s precisely what This Month’s Prime Minister ™ has done;

Ten years in the clink isn’t enough disincentive to not tamper with people’s food, so we’ll make it 15 years.

This prompts just a couple of questions from curious minds such as ours;

1. How many cases of deliberate food contamination do we think an extra 5 years in jail will prevent? ie will those extra potential years of incarceration be a factor in the mind of a person who has decided to bring needles to work and deliberately stick them in to soft fruit?

2. Will the legislation go against Common Law precedent and be retrospective, or will the current culprits not be subject to the new penalties?

3. How long will it take for this legislative change to be made and will it be in time to be applied in the prosecution of the current culprits?

Bill’s Opinion

There are two ways of looking at this lunacy.

The first and most obvious way to view this is that it is pathetic virtue signalling that will have absolutely no effect, positive or negative, on the current spate of crimes. It’s an incredible piece of Dunning Krugerism by the government to think that, after 803 years of Common Law, suitable legislation doesn’t already exist to cover a situation of deliberate bodily harm.

But let’s ponder more on the situation; consider how much time and resources will be expended to plan this change of law, announce it to the press, have the legal team draft the new legislation, plan the parliamentary time to debate it, sign the legislation and communicate the change to the judiciary.

Now consider what that big parliamentary machine could be doing instead. It could be employed to create far more intrusive laws in areas that would actually impact the general population, ie, the people who wouldn’t stuff needles into fruit. Laws like a tax on energy production, or to force bakeries to bake cakes for same sex marriages, etc.

No, as daft as This Month’s Prime Minister’s idea is, it’s far better that he and his team are spending their time amending previously adequate laws rather than imposing their incompetency into other areas of public life.

Please, carry on!

Buying votes with other people’s money

Altruism is a truly admirable quality.

It’s particularly virtuous when it is performed anonymously and without any expectation of recognition or thanks.

Other forms of altruism also have virtue but perhaps we could agree a scale of righteousness depending on the motivation and other aspects of the charitable act?

Let’s score it on a 1 to 10 scale; 10 being the most virtuous and 1 being the least virtuous type of altruism.

Where do we think donating $400m of somebody else’s money to somebody else sits on that scale?

“This isn’t fair and it’s contributing to the growing superannuation gap between men and women,” he (Bill Shorten) said.

“Superannuation paid on parental leave is an investment in a better and fairer retirement for Australian women.”

An “investment”? By who? What’s the ROI?

Fairer? By what definition?

Bill’s Opinion

Whenever an Australian politician uses the word “fair”, it’s a safe assumption that someone’s wallet is about to be raided.

Curiously, this crudely political move might backfire on the Australian Labor Party; there’s no hint that the gift will be retrospective, so people who have been on parental leave in the past will not have their pension fund topped up. That might generate just a teeny bit of resentment.

If that describes you, here’s an idea; once the legislation is passed, lodge a claim in the Local Small Claims Court. The threshold there is $10,000. If you took 6 months maternity leave from a $150,000 per annum salaried job, the 9.5% superannuation contribution would be within that court’s purview.

It’s worth a punt.

Lastly, our favourite lesson on the four ways to spend money. Take it away, Milton;

Mission Impossible

Mission Australia are running a “Chugger” (“charity mugger”) funding campaign on the streets of Australia.

Young backpackers in purple T-shirts are pestering passers by with statistics about child poverty.

Where is the child poverty they are trying to reduce? Africa? Asia? South America?

Nope. Australia.

No really, according to Mission Australia, one in six Australian children are living in poverty.

Does that pass the sniff test? If you live in or have ever visited Australia, have you ever seen extreme poverty to that level?

No? Perhaps you didn’t visit the right locations. After all, poor people don’t tend to live in the apartments overlooking the Opera House, one supposes.

But one in six is still a lot of kids, where might they all be living if they aren’t immediately obvious to people in the main population centres?

Ah, perhaps the statistic is due to terrible poverty and deprivation in the Aboriginal townships?

Well, maybe but given that only 3.3% of the population is Aboriginal, that doesn’t make sense either.

Where are all these Aussie kids who are living in poverty then? There’s got to be a small city’s worth hiding in plain sight.

This is just a working hypothesis, but maybe there’s a clue to be found in the definition of the word “poverty”.

About halfway down their webpage, Mission Australia repeat the claim and point to this study as the source.

How is “poverty” defined in the Acoss study?

Ah;

So, poverty is defined as relative to other people, and before receipt of public housing, tax credits, unemployment benefits, Medicare and free schooling.

Of course, when your definition of poverty is based on what everyone else is earning, it’s hardly surprising that statements such as the one above, “Internationally, Australia’s poverty rate remains above the OECD average, despite our relative prosperity” can be written without a hint of irony.

Bill’s Opinion

Relative poverty isn’t poverty, it’s envy.

Anyone who has visited Africa, Asia or South America can tell you what child poverty looks like and it certainly isn’t what Mission Australia claims it is.

I find it highly unlikely that Acoss or Mission Australia were unaware of the statistical obfuscation they had to commit to print T-shirts claiming one in six Australian children live in poverty.

What might their motivation be for such mendacity, do we think?

Not alone again (unnaturally)

On the theme of our recent analysis of bitter cat ladies, the legacy press (c) website, The Sydney Morning Herald, ran an article about the final option available to those who find themselves single, childless and on the wrong side of the fertility timetable.

The answer?

Go to South Africa, buy fertilised eggs and have IVF.

Ok, that’s great that we’ve developed modern medical knowledge to the point where it is possible and even affordable, but, to misquote Lemmy, “just ‘cos you’ve got the power, does it mean you have the right?”

It’s worth looking at the “balance sheet” of our protagonist, Manda Epton;

Debits

  • Manda is 50 years old. It’s highly unlikely her own eggs are viable.
  • Manda is single and has failed to make a success of any of her long term relationships. The men she met in her 30s “already had families”, which infers they didn’t want to have more children with her (or that was a convenient excuse to end the relationship with her).
  • Being single is going to make raising twins highly-challenging. Even with logistical support, such as a nanny, there will be gaps in the parenting of those children that she will be unable to fill on her own.
  • Manda is now a single mother of twins. It’s highly unlikely she’ll find a suitable partner willing to join that family unit in the next couple of decades.
  • Credit

  • Manda’s womb is still viable.
  • Manda has plenty of money.
  • Erm, that’s it.
  • Bill’s Opinion

    It’s medically possible to put one’s finger on the scales of nature to increase the number of fertile years and enable single women to bear children.

    Just because we can, however, doesn’t necessarily mean we ought.

    I wish Manda and her daughters all the best in their futures but let’s not kid ourselves that this is an ideal family unit.

    There’s a couple of fairly straightforward reasons Manda has had to go down this expensive and sub-optimal route to motherhood.

    1. She left it far too late.

    2. She didn’t invest enough time and energy into selecting an appropriate partner.

    The consequence of these life mistakes is single parenthood, at late middle age, of other people’s children (the sperm and eggs were donated/bought).

    She could, of course, chosen to have adopted children to have achieved a similar outcome with the added benefit of lifting two orphans out of institutional care in a third world country.

    But, ultimately, Manda’s own words explain why she took this option, albeit in a form of cognitive dissonance;

    Quite.

    “In the firing line”

    This month’s Australian Prime Minister has apparently put the lives of transgender kids “in the firing line”, not once but three times already during the first couple of weeks into his 18 month tenure.

    What a truly awful human being he must be.

    What was it he said or did to put such venerable vulnerable lives in danger? See if you can guess from this handy list;

    • Gave the armed forces the powers to arrest kids on the street if they are wearing clothing inappropriate to their biological sex.
    • Gave an interview inciting violence against transgender children.
    • Whipped up a mob who subsequently recreated Kristalnacht on transgender children.
    • Wrote a tweet suggesting we stop paying “consultants” to encourage kids to identify as transgender regardless of whether they’ve previously articulated such sentiments or not.

    The last one, obviously. This is the age of Victim Olympics, after all. A few alpha-numeric characters on a computer screen saying, “let kids be kids” is now the equivalent of actual violence.

    Helpfully, the Grauniad has a guest column by a “Phd candidate in architecture” (which I think means, they’re not only not qualified in biology, psychology or any other ‘ology’ but they’re also not even qualified in architecture yet). There’s more chuckles to be had too as the PhD candidate’s name is Simona Castricum and they’re transgender and presumably were born “Simon”. So, instead of picking the usual female version of “Simon”, i.e. “Simone”, they decided to really underline the feminity they’re seeking by adding the more unambiguous letter “a” as a suffix. I don’t think I’ve ever met a “Simona” before, have you?

    Hopefully he’s gone the full monty and had his bits removed too, making the surname so much more accurate.

    Anyway, pointless ad hominens aside, here’s further evidence that we are currently living in a world where, as Scott Adams suggests, there are two different movies playing side by side and you’re likely watching a different one to a whole group of other people;

    “Some boys have vaginas”? Not on the planet most humans occupy. We have a perfectly-usable noun to describe “boys with vaginas”. Clue: it starts with the letter “g”.

    And thank you the Grauniad for pointing out that I’ve missed a further proliferation of the alphabet club;

    LGBTIQA+? (the question mark is mine, just to clarify).

    Is there a handy reckoning guide one can cut out and in keep in one’s wallet to help remember the rules of demarcation between those various letters and characters? Should we be concerned that the ASCII code is going to run out of characters soon?

     

    Bill’s Opinion

    Depending on which study you prefer, the scientific evidence points strongly that, left un-transitioned, most (i.e. >60%) of kids who claim they are transgender before puberty go on to return to identifying as their original gender but are homosexual.

    Now, we could give these kids puberty blockers and encourage them to publicly act the part of the other gender but are we really comfortable with making permanent physiological changes and, probably, psychological changes when the chances are no better than a coin toss that they aren’t just experiencing an awakening feeling of being gay?