Compare and contrast

Same testimony, different takes:

Left wing.

Right wing.

Bill’s Opinion

Is it just me or is anyone else utterly bored by activism and opinion masquerading as “news”?

Perhaps it’s an unreliable memory, but I have a vague idea there was a time when journalists and editors genuinely aspired to report facts as objectively as they could in order to allow their readers to form their own opinions.

It seems to me that, as politics continues to bifurcate, the journalist class increasingly views the public as unable to form an accurate opinion. We therefore require our opinions to be ascribed to us.

Thanks.

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself.

Book ‘em Danno; First Degree Statistics Crime

Here’s a example of the modern malaise of innumeracy:

Drought hits Sydney

Whilst it’s clear there’s been a paucity of rainfall in the state of New South Wales, the article is riddled with unasked questions.

Sydneysiders are using higher than average amounts of water and face the prospect of four more years of restrictions and a hike in bills from next July if the drought does not break.

Higher than average.

Per person? Per household? In total and therefore compared to previous years?

Has the denominator changed, such as an increase in population, for example?

We aren’t told.

Instead, we have a late entry for the 2019 Stating the Bleeding Obvious Prize:

Although a typical household bill would be 2.5 per cent higher under the latest submission, customers could cut bills by saving water.

We do get a clue to the answers to the earlier questions though:

But despite a recent increase in usage, the Berejiklian government says Sydneysiders are using less water per person each day than they were during the Millennium drought.

Ok, that suggests a population increase has occurred. Funny the article doesn’t spell that out though.

That dreaded noun, “average”, makes yet another appearance:

It says rainfall across the catchments over the past two years was “below to very much below average” and the Bureau of Meteorology predicts a dryer and warmer than average summer.

Below to very much below.

Well, that clears things up for us….

Bill’s Opinion

Either the journalist writing this article is completely innumerate, not curious, blindly regurgitating a press release or trying to drive an agenda.

If the first explanation, perhaps they should read Factfulness.

The climate of crazy ideas

The former Australian rugby player, Israel Folau, is in the news again today (not really; he’s only in the Sydney Morning Herald).

Yesterday, he gave a sermon at his church where he suggested the recent bushfires in Australia were a direct result of the godlessness of the country’s population.

Of course, the ever-declining business masquerading as a news outlet has inferred because of this, Folau is a religious nutcase.

Picking on the religious beliefs of others is always a fun pastime, mainly due to the low cost to oneself; a religious belief, by its definition, is one that not capable of being disproven using the scientific method.

I must admit to having never entered the auspicious offices of The Sydney Morning Herald in Pyrmont, but if I did, I would be unsurprised to discover the following demographic boxes and beliefs ticked by the vast majority, if not all editorial employees;

  1. Politically left
  2. Accepting of the concept that the west is a toxic patriarchy
  3. Accepting of the concept that the west is systemically racist
  4. Accepting of the concept of gender fluidity
  5. The concept of Judeo-Christian values or worth is to be dismissed as morally-inferior
  6. Acceptance of every report issued by the IPCC as being accurate, including every prediction and solution

If you are or know someone who is employed in that department and don’t tick one or several of those statements, please do correct me below.

Bills Opinion

We all hold unprovable beliefs.

Sit on a bus or a train and look around you. Do you know even a fraction of the thoughts appearing in your fellow travellers’ minds?

Of course not.

Does it matter?

Not if they aren’t harming you in any way.

Israel Folau isn’t attempting to dip into my bank account, restrict my ability to heat/cool my home, drive a car or take overseas holidays.

Izzy can believe whatever utter garbage he wishes.

Super, smashing, great

Mark McVeigh, a 24-year-old environmental scientist from Australia, won’t be able to access his retirement savings until 2055. But, concerned about what the world may look like then, he’s taking action now, suing his A$57 billion ($39 billion) pension fund for not adequately disclosing or assessing the impact of climate change on its investments.

Cue picture of stereotypical ponytailed unshaven millennial affecting zher best serious face:

Is that shirt available in “ironed”, son?

Before launching the legal action, McVeigh asked Retail Employees Superannuation Trust, or Rest, how it was ensuring his savings were future proofed against rising world temperatures. Its response didn’t satisfy him and he ended up engaging specialist climate change law firm, Equity Generation Lawyers.

Readers outside Australia might not know this, but the legislation around Superannuation is excellent in terms of portability and choice for the consumer. If you don’t like how your fund is invested or administered, switching to another provider is relatively simple. In most cases it’s a quick and easy online process using an industry standard reference number.

So, our faux gravitas-faced soy boy could log on to the laptop pictured in front of him and switch to this fund, for example.

That he has, instead, chosen to engage an activist legal firm (who are hopefully acting pro-bono) to sue his existing fund requires some explanation, then.

Given that portability of funds, and the availability of real alternatives, it’s not unreasonable for observers to wonder at Mark’s motivation in this.

Is he genuinely concerned about how his investments are being made? Complete an online form and switch funds then.

Or, is this an attempt to set a legal precedent restricting the choice of the rest of us?

Bill’s Opinion

We can’t read Mark’s mind, but his actions suggest less concern about his personal investments and more a desire to interfere with ours.

The problem he will face is that the prime objective, written in law, of superannuation funds is to increase the wealth of the savers.

It won’t be hard for the Defence lawyers to argue that, compared to a pathetic 1.2% annualised performance, his current fund is performing their legal duties far more diligently then the virtue signalling “ethical” fund.

It won’t have entered Mark’s mind, given the incontrovertible truth that, starting about 20 years before his birth, the world has witnessed nothing short of a miracle in the reduction of human suffering as a result of economic freedom to trade and invest:

But sure, go ahead Mark, tell us all how we should spend our own money, because you’ve worked it all out for us in your 24 years of existence.

To a woman with a hammer

….the entire world looks like a nail.

Or, put another way:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

With that Upton Sinclair quote in mind, one wonders what the outcome might be of Bristol University’s decision to hire a researcher to investigate whether or not the institution has any residual guilt for its part in the transatlantic slave trade.

Strictly-speaking, my description above is likely to be more specific than the actual job description. The press releases all quote the investigation to be into “slavery”, rather than one specific trade route of the egregious abuse of humans.

If the remit if her job was expanded to look at the impact of any slavery, we could save her some time; of course it has. Everyone alive has.

Slavery has historically been the only route to wealth for 99% of the duration of modern humans as a species. The fact you are alive today, strongly suggests some or many of your ancestors exploited the labour of others to survive.

The degree (pun intended) to which Bristol University benefited from this seems quite a strange choice of investigation. Surely a more useful and interesting area of inquiry would be whether slavery still exists in the world and what form it takes?

Bill’s Opinion

The two universities in England most likely to have been recipients of money made from the transatlantic slave trade are Liverpool and Bristol, because the trade flowed through the ports of those cities.

The risk, 228 years after slavery was made illegal globally by the UK parliament, is to contort oneself and, by extension, our institutions to find some way of making history “right”.

Which takes us back to the who/whom? problem.

But anyway, of course a person paid to find something will find it. Imagine the awkward conversation a year later if she were to submit a report passing a clean bill of health, historically-speaking.

On bush fires and global warming

The human brain, when faced with complex, multi-variable problems requires simple, easy solutions. Sadly, this is rarely feasible.

Take, for example, the huge outbreak of bush fires currently occurring in New South Wales, Australia.

These fires are serious. Tragically, lives have been lost.

Residential properties have been destroyed, with all the concomitant heartbreak that entails, the photos, the documents of memories, the moments in places that have been forever changed or destroyed.

While the fires are still burning, rational people ask what they should do to protect themselves and their families. This describes my current situation, living as I do in an area with a heavily forested area within an easy stone’s throw.

Those not in immediate danger wonder what they might do to help their neighbours.

Then there are those who live in the Australian equivalent of Islington.

Before the bodies of the dead have been recovered, they have already determined the effect, cause and solution.

The effect is obvious; catastrophic fires.

The cause is man made climate change.

The solution is to artificially hamstring the economy in a massive transfer of wealth and power from individuals to the state:

Bill’s Opinion

A more curious mind might read the coverage of the fires and search for answers to questions such as these:

Obviously, to answer these questions one would need a lot of time to undertake research or a competent and non-activist news media to perform this on our behalf.

Instead, we are presented with the simple message that these fires are definitely the result of man made climate change and the only viable solution to the problem is renewables such as solar and wind turbines.

Finally, I challenge you to find a single mention in the Australian media or political discourse of the vaguest possibility of nuclear energy being even a minor part of the solution.

Our media are mendacious, low IQ or a mixture of the two.

Important questions of our age

The great news is, we’ve really solved all the biggest issues facing humanity and the human condition.

We must have done, because otherwise there wouldn’t be time to ask why women don’t want to date a woman masquerading as a man.

The only difference between Lee and a man…Is that Lee has one fewer penis than a man.

It’s such a little difference (well, I’m not speaking for myself here – my nickname at the rugby club was “Tripod”, after all), but one that seems to significantly matter to single women with whom Lee would like to have romantic relationships.

Lee’s complaint seems to be that regardless of whether “he” is honest from the start of the online flirting phase or saves the big (non) reveal for later, once he’s excited the potential partner that he might be a possible mate, the reaction is universal; they decline.

Obviously (?) this confuses Lee and, presumably, the commissioning editor of Vice who published this column.

How can it be, in 2019, that women can be so prejudiced and cruel to just a regular trans man seeking romantic partners? Love is love, after all, is it not?

Bill’s Opinion

If the entire world disagrees with you, particularly in the form of revealed preferences, consider the possibility it’s your world view that’s at fault.

Given that we’ve only decided women can be men and men can be women in the last decade or so, one wonders how long we might need to wait for societal norms to overturn the millions of years of biological expediency that has resulted in our arrival at this point?

In the meantime, our golden rule when reading heartfelt articles about matters trans remains true; look at the picture first, if the person provoked an immediate reaction that they are one of the ugliest men/women you’ve seen, it’s because they aren’t.

New Zealand’s “nuclear moment” *

* Spoiler alert; not really.

True to the idiom she has made all of her own, Jacinda Adern, the Mayor of New Zealand, has signalled her virtue on climate change by committing her country’s economy to being hamstrung until someone with a brain takes over her job.

If you’re interested in the details, click the link above. Be prepared, however, to be left wanting more tangible details on how this promise of carbon virtue will be achieved and funded.

That’s not the topic of this post today, however. We’re more interested in the total irony resulting in this quote and headline:

The irony is, of course, that nuclear energy does not form part of the strategy.

Bill’s Opinion

There are in life, some very useful heuristics we can use to save time when forming opinions. These are not infallible but are more often correct than not.

On climate change, if the person you are discussing the problem with fails to mention even the possibility of nuclear energy being part of the solution, you can be fairly sure they are calling for some kind of transfer of political and economic power first, solving environmental problems a far distant second.

Nobody named Brian is ever competent

It’s an uncomfortable but unconscious truth that some first names are not associated with success. Those which immediately spring to mind include; Wayne, Kevin, and Nigel.

Brian is another example. Yes, the guitarist from Queen is highly competent in the fields of music and astrophysics, but he’s the exception, like Farage is amongst all the Nigels.

Australia has a classic “incompetent Brian” running (ruining?) the bank, Wokepac.

Luckily for Brian, he’s a member of The Club, which is handy because this time next year he’ll need to find a new job.

Why?

Two reasons:

Firstly, he’s been at the helm during the latter phases of the multi-decade ongoing decline of the weakest of Australia’s “big four” banks, culminating in the apologetic letter (from page 10) in the annual report.

Secondly, he’s got to find $8m cash in his personal bank account between now and March next year.

Now, I’ve no doubt Brian’s personal wealth easily exceeds that; he earns over half of that a year in the salary component of his package alone, notwithstanding his generous decision to waive his performance bonus.

The more pertinent question is whether or not he has enough personal belief in the future of Wokepac, the Australian banking industry and the Australian economy in general, to cash in $8m of his investments and personal wealth and transfer it to shares in the dog of the banking sector?

Bills Opinion

Since joining The Club, Brian has feathered his nest nicely whilst virtue signalling, using shareholder’s money, on matters LGBTQ+, Aboriginal, diversity and every other cause célèbre.

The time has come to see quite how committed he is to this as a future business strategy. Chicken or pig, Brian?

Diplomatic immunity, Mr Riggs

Congratulations to South Africa for outplaying England in the rugby World Cup this weekend.

The Springboks made history on Saturday for two reasons; they were the first team to have lost a match during the pool stage to then go on to win the final. Secondly, they joined only New Zealand in the club of teams to have won it three times.

It’s actually better than that; two of New Zealand’s victories had the home advantage and the first one (1987) was at a time when the rest of the world didn’t pay their players whilst New Zealand only pretended not to.

England were the favourites in most pundits’ minds, so this was a brilliant upset by the Saffas.

However….

If you can bear to look, there is a concerted effort to frame this victory as “1995 redux”.

For those not interested in rugby, the 1995 World Cup victory by Francois Pienaar’s team against the All Blacks was lauded as a unifying moment for the newly-democratised country, not least because Nelson Mandela publicly supported the team by wearing the jersey with the captain’s number.

It was a really great moment in sport but does it really translate to the wider situation in South Africa? Is it going to make a difference?

Bill’s Opinion

Anyone who has visited South Africa in the last, say, fifteen years knows that this “moment for change” narrative is built on sand.

In fact, anyone who’s met a South African recently will also know it’s total bullshit.

Why? Every South African you meet has a tragic home invasion story about either themselves, a close relative or personal friend. This is not something a safe, civilised country with a positive economic and social future experiences.

Since the end of Apartheid, South Africa has simply switched the race of the 1% of the ruling class. Perhaps the Apartheid era rulers were also massively corrupt, but they managed to maintain some level of protection of personal safety and property rights (albeit for a minority of the population all of the time and the rest of the population some of the time) and could at least keep the lights on and drinking water flowing.

Through incompetence, corruption and an undisguised animus for people with the wrong colour skin (there’s a word for that which escapes me), the new ruling class have managed to reduce the size of the minority for whom living conditions are tolerable to an even smaller number than before universal suffrage.

Anyone who thinks 80 minutes of kicking and catching an oddly-shaped football will reverse the inexorable slide towards Zimbabwe V2.0 has not been paying attention or is suffering from cognitive dissonance.

There is a joke the non-ruling class blacks tell each other in South Africa; we wanted freedom but we got democracy instead.

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.

“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”