A fundamental misunderstanding of the internet

The Australian state government of New South Wales are planning legislation to ban automated software that can rapidly buy multiple tickets for events such as concerts.

At first blush, this would seem a great win for the consumer. Which is presumably why it was announced (not the “great win” part, but the “it would seem” bit).

Why such scepticism here?

Firstly, let’s examine how such legislation might be drafted. It would need to;

  • Define the software by the function it performs.
  • Define the owner or user or beneficiary of the software.
  • Define the operating jurisdiction of the legislation.
  • Explain how to police the legislation for software running from another country (over a VPN, for example) or even another Australian state.
  • Explain how to identify and prosecute the owner of the software.
  • Define when the crime is committed; after just one ticket is bought?

As the title of this post infers, the legislation required for the banning of “bots” suggests the proposer has very little idea of how the internet works.

In addition, it’s yet another government solution where the market could be quite capable of resolving the issue;

If the artists and event organisers really wanted to prevent secondary sales of their tickets, they have many options available to deploy such as using pre-confirmed registered users on a website or ticket collection at the event with a standard form of identification.

Also, consider the consumer; plenty of people are clearly currently happy to pay above face value for tickets. The event organisers are missing a trick here; why not run the ticket sales process as a time-limited auction? This is, in effect, what the”scalpers” are doing and are taking the risk that they won’t sell all the tickets.

Bill’s Opinion

If you really want to fuck something up in a truly expensive and ineffective way, ask a government employee to implement a solution that nobody asked for.

Ignore the relationship between supply and demand at your peril

The Norway Football (soccer) Association has announced that the female and male national players will be paid the same.

Cricket Australia recently made a similar announcement.

This prompts some questions;

  1. Will the ticket prices be set at the same level?
  2. Will the governing bodies negotiate equality of payments and demand equal TV time from media organisations?
  3. Will the governing bodies demand equality of sponsorship rates; i.e. if Heineken wish to sponsor the male sport, they must sponsor the female version at the same rate?

If the answer to those questions is “no”, what does that tell us about the true level of equality between male and female Football and Cricket players?

Bill’s Opinion

Assuming the motivation behind this is a genuine desire for equality, rather than the usual modern disease of virtue signalling, it is inept and incompetent.

Intervening to equalise supply does not result in equalised demand.

It is highly likely that the ticket prices for the female Football and Cricket world cups in 20, 30, 40 years’ time will still sell for a fraction of the price of the male equivalent.

Because people value one higher than the other.

Is “attention-seeking” a personality disorder?

The legacy media ™ newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald, continues its laudable campaign to help people with mental health issues by giving them a public platform to express their issues so that others might better understand the challenges they face.

Well, that’s one way of explaining why they arranged for a lengthy photoshoot to provide multiple “arty” photos for an article about Jess Hodak’s multiple personalities.

Apparently, her other personalities include an 8 year old girl, a middle-aged man and a wolf.

These multiple personalities and their random intrusions into her day to day life, coupled with the heavy medication she is prescribed, means that Jessica is unable to find work or hold down a job.

Presumably, her physical appearance might be a factor in some of those job application rejections too.

It’s interesting to note that, with a plethora of legislation available allowing health authorities and concerned family members to “intervene”, nobody has seen fit to request a restraining order against her preferred tattoo parlour. Also, how does a person with no income afford so much inkwork?

The video of Jessica’s 8 year old personality is particularly interesting. One wonders whether this sketch show character provided partial inspiration;

What do we think; is it more or less likely that her symptoms will reduce following an extensive photo shoot, video and detailed story about her in a nationally-syndicated newspaper?

Bill’s Opinion

Jessica clearly has a lot of issues to deal with, not least of which is an overwhelming desire for attention.

It is not sympathetic to a fragile and distressed individual to glamorise the consequences of their condition by treating it like a fashion show. It’s actually a reprehensible and egregious abuse of power with the sole motivation to drive eyeballs and clicks to their website.

But then, this is the same media outlet that believes President Trump was stigmatising those suffering from dementia by calling the Las Vegas mass-shooter, “deranged”, which makes one wonder what adjective is allowed to be used to describe someone who murders 59 people with no apparent motive?

Bottle-wielding thug gets instant justice

Was the headline English and Australian readers of legacy media ™ weren’t presented with last week.

But it’s a reasonable alternative to the various versions of the same story;

Or this one;

The trouble is, as with all news stories these days, the rush to publish in real time is at the expense of any effort to investigate or analyse.

There’s a clue in the video itself, if one is open to looking for it; a second before the angry ginger-haired cricketer starts swinging haymakers, his “victim” swings his right arm at the person standing next to Stokes. Look at what is in his hand.

A bottle.

Here’s a news flash for everyone who doesn’t understand how physical conflict works; you come at me with a weapon when I don’t have one and, if I manage to get a punch to connect, I will not stop trying to punch you until you are incapable of using that weapon.

And then I’ll call the police.

Put it another way; what is the correct response to an attacker with a bottle in a darkened street with no nearby police?

Interestingly, several versions of the video are in existence. The ones which made it onto the webpages of most media reports have that first, crucial action with the bottle missing. That’s quite telling, isn’t it?

In the meantime, more information has emerged, yet to be corroborated. For example, the bottle-swinger was an ex-army veteran (so presumably not a stranger to a bit of biffo) and that the argument started after he threatened two gay men.

Bill’s Opinion

If you are a famous sportsman and want to avoid street fights and negative headlines on the eve of a major competition, don’t go late night drinking in nightclubs.

Similarly, if you like your facts to be complete, ignore most of what you read or see in the legacy media ™ until about a week after the event.

If voting changed anything, it would be banned immediately

Here’s your proof; Spanish police in violent clashes with voters in Catalan.

In case you’ve not been following the events, the Catalonian regional government called a vote on whether or not Catalonia should become independent from the rest of Spain.

The national government, backed by the courts, declared the vote illegal. The vote has gone ahead to some degree but the police have been instructed to prevent it from happening, consequently there have been violent clashes around the “illegal” polling stations.

There might be one or two confusing elements to this for anyone viewing the events from an “AngloSphere” background with its deep history of Common Law and assertion that rights are derived from God to men and then some are delegated to the state to administer on our behalf.

The European view of the rights of man are heavily-derived from the Napoleonic Code which states that rights are handed to man from the state. A subtle but incredibly important distinction but one that manifests itself in police forces arriving in buses from outside the area to stop people from marking a cross on a piece of paper and putting it in a box.

It must also be remembered that Spain has had a rocky relationship with the concept of democracy; following the brutal civil war, General Franco was dictator from 1939 to 1975 and, following his death, there were a couple of bumps in the road back to the “for the people, by the people” concept, notably the failed military coup in 1981.

If Spain were to suffer a schism again, it is most likely to commence in Catalonia or The Basque Country, the two areas with the fiercest movements for regional autonomy. The national government is particularly sensitive to this, as Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland can attest to after being being disappointed to learn that Spain could not be counted as a supporter of her (since failed) independence movement. “Scotland first, then Catalonia. Erm, no gracias.“, was presumably the Spanish Prime Minister’s thought process.

Regardless of whether or not the Catalonian government’s vote was legal under the Spanish Constitution, it seems unlikely that the national government can keep this genie in the bottle much longer. This month it was a traditional vote using ballot boxes, paper and hosted at sports centres and schools; an activity that can be physically halted, given enough political will and a firm control of the police.

It becomes exponentially harder however to prevent a virtual ballot. Imagine a scenario where the government set up an online survey, perhaps hosted in another jurisdiction, linked to the electoral roll, mailed a one time password to each voter and then opened the website for use? It would require a different kind of police force to shut down and, even if they were successful, there’s little to prevent the same thing from occurring next month and the month after, etc. and suddenly the “Streisland Effect” becomes a political phenomenon as each subsequent denial of democracy hardens the voters to the result the national government are afraid of.

Bill’s Opinion

Democracy only works when when local; the further removed the elected are from those who elected them, the less credible is the claim of freedom and democracy.

The 751 EU MPs, for example, pass laws for 350m eligible voters, or one MP for about half a million voters. The UK, has 650 MPs passing laws for 46m eligible voters, or about one MP for 70,000 voters.

The accountability of a legislator to the electorate is paramount. Without the threat of losing one’s job, an important check and balance has been removed.

The Catalonians might well be one-eyed separatists but physically denying them the chance to vote on this will not change them into federalists either, quite the opposite in fact.

All roads lead to climate change

This is quite interesting;

“The mainland version of the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine) became extinct due to climate change between 8,000 to 3,000 years ago.”

The media reports loudly proclaim that the paper published in the Journal of Biogeology ($6 to rent) suggests that the mainland population was killed off by the ESON, or El Niño/Nina cycle.

Now this may well be a very sound scientific conclusion drawn from the 51 samples examined. However, there are some shaky steps in the logic to end at this proposition.

There are two main differences quoted in the article between the mainland and the island of Tasmania;

1. No dingoes (wild dogs)

2. Reduced human activity

Reduced human activity refers to a well-documented decline in knowledge of tools and techniques for the population of humans remaining in the island once it split from the mainland. Fishing, for example, reduced considerably over the centuries after the land bridge was lost; the theory being that there wasn’t the critical mass to maintain certain specialist activities such as hook-making, especially if the one hook maker died without training an apprentice.

There’s some other evidence worth considering.

 

With those factors considered and remembering that the simplest answer is likely to be the correct one, is it really credible that the regular oscillation in high and low pressures wiped out the mainland version of the thylacine given that they’d survived it many times previously?

Or is it more likely that they were displaced as the apex predator on the continent by a two-legged one with technology capable of making hunting weapons?

Bill’s Opinion

As with all news these days, it’s always useful to do your own research and attempt to examine the source, rather than the spin.

In this case, the answer is in the summary of the original study;

we suggest that climate change, in synergy with other drivers, is likely to have contributed to the thylacine mainland extinction

That’s somewhat couched language compared to the headlines in the media reports on the study, isn’t it? It’s perfectly reasonable to consider, when expressed that way, that a shift in weather might be a contributing factor to an already stressed population competing with an intelligent and organised group of hunters.

There’s clearly a climate change agenda being pushed with those media reports, but should we ascribe mendacity to the study’s authors?

Probably not, but one wonders whether there was perhaps a hint of a hope that, by using the climate change dogwhistle, they might be future beneficiaries of the gravy train that is climate change research grants?

Mason flew over the cuckoo’s nest

No, of course it’s not banning Uber or Airbnb when local authorities set the regulations such that Uber and Airbnb can’t operate.

The idea that an Uber driver is a “rent seeker” is particularly amusing too, given that their competition had previously operated a closed market and, in many locations, with the addition of a speculative market in licences or “plates”.

Bill’s Opinion
Increasingly, the left and right side of politics are using the same words but with altogether different meanings. It is hard, if not impossible, to engage in a civilised discussion with any hope of swaying the other side with logic while this doublespeak and echo chamber environment exists.

Ideology Uber Alles

The transport regulatory body for London, TfL, announced yesterday that it was revoking the operating licence for Uber due to safety concerns and governance issues.

The Socialist Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, publicly supports this decision.

Uber will appeal this decision, resulting in a stay of execution for about a year while the legal process is underway.

Some pertinent numbers might be useful. London has;

44,000 Uber drivers

3.5m customers

Around 50 sexual assaults a year by Uber drivers

Around 125 sexual assaults by other taxi drivers per year

Any number higher than zero is too high for sexual assaults but the relativity of the figures above make sense; a would-be attacker is less likely to do so if you’ve been able to identify him from a picture of his face and have a record of his car registration on your phone.

Indeed, even the Financial Times gets it right in an opinion piece yesterday, proving the old saying about stopped clocks being accurate twice a day;

Bill’s Opinion

This is an ideological decision made for reasons of Socialist dogma. The disruption that Uber has brought to London has had two main effects;

1. Shaking up a previously fat and happy taxi industry.

2. Excellent price and service outcomes for the consumer.

Sadiq Khan and the UK extreme left wing cannot reconcile 1) with 2). They are wracked with anger and jealously that an innovative idea has resulted in a heavily-unionised industry experiencing change and the parent company owners becoming rich.

The outcomes for the consumer are a very distant 2nd place to this envy in their list of priorities.

How this plays out will be highly-interesting; a popular mayor may find himself badly-damaged by this knee-jerk decision.

Have we reached “Peak Elon Musk” yet?

Perhaps it’s a function of the modern news cycle, driven by clicks and speed to publish rather than the traditional print media that produces these archetypes such as Steve Jobs and, recently, Elon Musk.

One can’t log on to social media or news sites without being presented with a quotation meme, spurious story about their management style or genius of innovation.

These must surely be taken with a large pinch of salt; nobody is perfect and, sure these people have been very successful, but not all of it was due to their intellect or perspiration.

Take Musk, for example; his high profile spacecraft business, SpaceX, is partially-funded by Venture capital, but the majority owner is Musk.

Where did Musk make his fortune? His other company, Telsa Motors Inc., which has been the beneficiary of nearly $5bn in government subsidies. He may be good at manufacturing solar panels and lithium batteries but he’s no John Galt. Many of us would probably indulge ourselves in a spacecraft hobby if we’d been given billions of dollars of government welfare.

There are also suspiciously few voices questioning how Musk reconciles the green credentials of Telsa with the massive amount of traditional fossil fuel burned with each SpaceX flight.

The government handouts continue in Australia, a country which loves to fawn over famous Americans as if Übermensch. The state government of South Australia made some pretty poor decisions for ideological reasons over the last few years with regards to their energy supply,  resulting in several disastrous state-wide blackouts last year.

Like a knight in shining armour, Musk made a now famous boast that he could solve their problems with his batteries and, if he’d not completed this solution within 100 days, South Australians wouldn’t need to pay a penny. Again, after being the recipients of $5bn from taxpayers purses, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at most people’s generosity.

There is also the question of how much of the problem the 100MW battery will actually solve? Various reports suggest that it will have an hour’s capacity. What happens in the 2nd hour of an outage?

Also, given that the installation will have a price tag over over $150m, South Australians could be forgiven for asking about the probity of the government procurement process that selected a supplier on the basis of a Tweet?

Bill’s Opinion

Musk is likely a very talented engineer with some excellent innovative ideas. He is, however, even more talented at self-promotion and convincing starstruck government officials into handing over other people’s money.

Nice trick, if one can pull it off.