It’s not the winning that counts

…but the taking part.

Lucky old Tom Decent; he was finally allowed to write about rugby yesterday, rather than being sent to the Folaus’ church to live blog from the Sunday service;

The good news for those who like the rugby status quo is that the Wallabies performed badly, lost a match and the coach and local commentators blamed a single decision by the referee.

Australia had just been awarded a scrum feed but right as the whistle blew Tupou belted South African back-rower Rynhardt Elstadt with a forceful hit. The TMO said he believed it was “clearly a shoulder charge to the chest”, while Williams said on the field: “The guy is sitting there and he’s come running in with the shoulder. It’s clearly dangerous, it hit him in the chest after the whistle. Away you go.”

Many thought a penalty would suffice but Australia were reduced to 14 men and it proved to be a pivotal moment in the game as South Africa ran away with the result to continue an eight-year winning streak on home soil against the Aussies.

Many thought” is doing a lot of work in those paragraphs above.

Many also thought it was fairly unintelligent to steam in to a ruck, shoulder first, in a stadium with more cameras than the Celebrity Big Brother House, particularly when the referee was playing advantage to your team.

A word to young aspiring sports journalists the world over; quoting Phil Kearns’ opinion on anything as if objective and knowledgeable is not conducive to being taken seriously. For example, the words “double movement” are nowhere to be found in the Rugby law book. Oh, and they are laws not rules, Phil.

Yeah, yeah, details are annoying.

Bill’s Opinion

It might be argued that Rugby Union is a dying sport in Australia. Certainly, the attendance figures for the top league are insipid and declining year on year.

Pinpointing when the rot set in is a tough task; the national team have had a reputation for over-performing for years compared to their perceived abilities and talent pool, which may have had an effect of disguising institutional problems.

Rather like Hemingway’s quote on how an individual became bankrupt, (“two ways…gradually and then suddenly“), one suspects the Australian rugby code is now reaping the poor harvest of inaction or actions of perhaps decades ago. My suspicion is the 2nd term of former CEO John O’Neil (2007-2013) might be a good starting point for an investigation and also the subsequent term of Bill Pulver.

Both were great examples of the the strange phenomenon of Australian upper class elite in a country that prides itself on being egalitarian and classless. O’Neil and Pulver attended St Joseph’s and “Shore” (Sydney Church of England Grammar School), respectively, as did most of their predecessors and peers. It’s a shallow and parochial talent pool which often benefits from the “closed shop” approach common to an “old boy’s network”.

Without forensically examining the board papers and internal memoranda throughout that period, it’s impossible to be certain what the causes of the malaise were. The consequences are plain to see though; declining attendance, participation and on-pitch results (there are people who are taking their driving lessons this year who weren’t born when Australia last won the Bledisloe Cup, for example).

Bill Pulver handed the reigns over to Raelene Castle who, although making encouraging noises about grassroots participation, has picked an ideological battleground which risks a heavy financial loss if unsuccessful, one which the sport can ill-afford at this febrile time.

There’s a glimmer of hope in the article linked above though; the semi-professional Shute Shield competition can draw crowds close to those of some of the Super Series teams.

Perhaps that’s the future of rugby in Australia; a recognition of financial reality and a reversion to the model where the athletes have regular jobs on civvie street and play for the love and prestige of the game?

Strangely, that might simultaneously save the sport and satisfy the Shore/Joeys alumni’s unspoken preference for the game to return to its “boutique” and exclusive roots; a visit to a top level rugby match in Sydney has the feel of an excuse for an old school social event rather than an outing for true sports fans.

And the 2019 Pulitzer Prize goes to….

Kate McClymont, Investigative Journalist, Sydney Morning Herald.

Kate has an enviable track record of fearless and relentless inquiry, speaking truth to power in the fine tradition of her profession.

No, that’s not sarcasm; she’s one of the few proper journalists remaining in the nation. Her work has resulted in some high profile cases being prosecuted through the courts as a consequence of the facts she unearthed. The Eddie Obied scandal being one excellent example. If she retired tomorrow, she’d be remembered as one of the finest and noblest journalists of her generation.

Today, Kate has turned her attention to Israel Folau’s church and its teachings.

You can follow the link above if you’re really interested in her findings. Spoiler alert; a fringe denomination of Christianity has views that are outside of mainstream dogma.

We could engage in whataboutery at this point and wonder when the investigations are scheduled to inform us of the religious beliefs other famous people, particularly those of faiths other than Christianity. That would be a fallacious argument, obviously; Folau’s version of Christianity is under the spotlight precisely because of his statements, he’s made public what most people keep private.

What is interesting about the media and commentariat’s major obsession with the Folau case is “the dog that isn’t barking“.

What’s meant by this aphorism is, can we identify what subjects aren’t being offered to us?

In the example of McClymont’s exposé, what haven’t we been told that we might have reasonably been expecting from a deep dive into a fringe religious organisation?

Here’s some church-related issues that spring to mind based on decades of scandals here and overseas;

  • Financial irregularities
  • Sexual abuse of minors or the vulnerable
  • Ostracism of the relatives of the congregation
  • Brainwashing of the congregation to remove themselves from society
  • Demagoguery or authoritarian behaviour by the leaders
  • Calls to violence against detractors or a designated scapegoat

Check Kate’s article for yourself but I couldn’t find evidence of any of the above list.

Flip that on its head; if you wanted to run a takedown piece on a religious institution, what would be the easiest topic to target to be able to ask awkward questions and spray innuendo?

Financial irregularities would be my choice. It’s the simplest job in the world to run a rule through financial accounts and drop hints of unreasonable expenses or unexplained transfers of funds.

That someone of Kate’s calibre and obvious skill hasn’t written anything along these lines suggests one of two reasons;

  1. The church is “clean”, and/or
  2. Kate’s heart just isn’t in it.

If my analysis is correct, there’s hope for at least one individual in the profession we used to call journalism.

Bill’s Opinion

To repeat my previous full disclosure on the subject of religion;

It’s probably worth clarifying my personal faith regarding this issue first; I’m an atheist who enjoys the benefits of where the Judeo-Christian tradition arrived in 2019. Perhaps a “cultural Christian”, if you will. I have no animus whatsoever toward homosexuals, to use the cliché, some of my best friends, etc.

What is most irritating about this sorry, pathetic little kitchen sink drama is that the media coverage has become more divisive than the subject it is reporting on.

What I mean by this is, previously, I could go to the rugby and cheer my team, I could go out for a beer after work with my gay friend and I could have Sunday lunch with my devout Christian relative.

Those three worlds were never in conflict. In fact, that last paragraph describes at least half a dozen weeks of my life last year, where I did all three of those activities in the same weekend.

I didn’t have to choose between them. It never crossed my mind that I would have to.

Why do we have to choose? Why is the media coverage of this so keen for us to make that choice?

Why is a national newspaper making a habit of going into a fringe denomination’s house of worship and reporting on their beliefs? And, whataboutery, why aren’t we offered the corollary view from the Lakemba mosque?

Perhaps the last word is best taken from Kate’s article, from a quote by Australian Christian Lobby managing director Martyn Iles;

Mr Iles also said: “The unity we share for the cause of free expression is the key issue driving the need for Israel’s legal fight and public campaign. All of us may one day find that our beliefs stray outside of the narrow band of political correctness and that will be a day when we treasure our freedoms.”

Quite.

With my feet in the fridge…

…and my head in the oven, I am experiencing an average level of comfort.

The Sydney Morning Herald Climate Change Bot ™ has produced this month’s weather article.

That’s a shocking headline, isn’t it? My only surprise is why it didn’t warrant a solid Peter Hannam-esque “Extreme Weather” tagline?

Seriously, 7 degrees is a long way above the average, even if it is caveated with both a “likely to” and an “up to”.

Except….

The missing piece of data is what the range encompasses.

Ah, 25.9 to 2.2 degrees.

That’s quite a temperature range for July, eh? The mean maximum is 16.4 degrees, (up to) 7 degrees above that is still 2.5 below the maximum recorded July temperature.

Bill’s Opinion

This isn’t #FakeNews, it’s simply #NotNews.

Hold the front page; winter is cooler than summer this year but well within the expected range based on observations.

By the way, in a surprise development, Jenny Noye’s degree was on the solid scientific subjects of media and gender studies. One assumes any “deviations” taught on the curriculum wouldn’t be of the statistical standard type.

News articles about transgenders confuse me

I am privileged enough to have benefited from an excellent education in English comprehension, some of which stuck in my sub-standard brain, but newspaper articles about transgender folk in 2019 always require re-reading.

Am I alone in this? Is this just me?

This one, for example, needed three passes before I worked out what was going on;

Zach Barack honoured to be Marvel’s first openly transgender star

The 23-year-old gushed about the role during an interview with Variety at the movie’s Los Angeles premiere on Wednesday. And reflecting on his casting, the star admitted his Hollywood debut still hasn’t sunk in.
“I’m kind of losing my mind a little bit, but I’m acting like I’m not. I don’t know that it fully has (sunk in),” he confessed. “I don’t quite have the capacity to explain how meaningful it is to me.”
Referencing comics as an “important” part of his childhood, Zach went on to explain that there’s “something very inherently trans about those stories”, where a character has to balance life as a teenager and their secret self.

Did you work it out? “Zach” is a woman who thinks she’s a man.

The pictures often help, to be fair. If you find your inner voice saying something along the lines of, “Christ, that’s an ugly man/woman“, it’ll be because they aren’t.

It turns out millions of years of evolution have resulted in the ability to rapidly sort other humans into potential mate/not potential mate categories before we are even consciously aware of the process occurring.

In “Zach’s” words;

“Especially being a transmasculine person, because sometimes there’s a pressure to be a different way than I feel naturally inclined to do because I want to fit in, and I have to actively fight that instinct,” he reflected.

Fighting one’s instinct to “fit in”? That’s a road to happiness and mental well-being, I’m sure.

“The fact of the matter is, being in this movie is so beyond incredibly meaningful, and I hope that it means something to other people.”

Well done, you got a job. It’s probably only meaningful to you and a couple of other people…. like your landlord and bank manager.

Here’s another example:

A transgender man who is fighting to have his child be the first in the UK to legally not have a mother made a documentary showing his child’s face whilst arguing that his family needed court anonymity to protect them from harm.

This being the UK’s Daily Telegraph, one of the last to get the “woke” memo, they give the game away early:

Freddy McConnell, who was born a woman, launched a High Court battle against the Government earlier this year after the General Registrar Office (GRO) refused to register him as the “father” on his child’s birth certificate.

Ok, it’s a woman who’s convinced herself that she’s a man… but not enough to stop her from going to a sperm donor and subsequently pushing a baby through the birth canal and out of her “male vagina” 9 months later.

As an aside, can you imagine the linguistic contortions the midwifery team had to put themselves through to avoid stepping on “Freddie’s” offence eggshells? One has to have some sympathy.

Selective acceptance of inconvenient facts seems to be a theme in “Freddie’s” world:

Mr McConnell was accused of being in “serious breach of his duty of candour to the Court” by failing to disclose the existence of a documentary called Seahorse, which he began filming three years ago. 
Throughout the documentary – which premiered at the trendy New York film festival Tribeca in April – Mr McConnell openly shares personal details including his attempts to get pregnant, giving birth and footage of his child’s face.  
The court heard how Mr McConnell completed his gender transition several years ago and was able to access a sperm donor 10 days after legally becoming a man. As a result, he became pregnant and later gave birth to YY.

Ah, nothing channels Marlene Dietrich’s “I vont to be alone” like being the star of your own BBC documentary. That takes living off the grid to a new level, eh?

The evidence prompted Sir Andrew <McFarlane, president of the Family Division of the High Court> to raise concerns about transgender men’s ability to access fertility treatment in the UK, as he called on the government to review the current legislation. 

Ya think?

Not least of the concerns should be that it’s highly unlikely “Freddie” paid for the treatment out of their own bank account but received it from the UK’s publicly-funded National Health Service.

As a slight digression, if “Freddie” was the recipient of thousands of pounds’ worth of IVF treatment on the NHS, let’s spare a thought for the minimum wage earning taxpayers stacking supermarket shelves on the night shift to pay for it.

But how did I make the leap of faith to assume “Freddie” didn’t get the IVF privately?

Because she/he isn’t on a high salary. We know that because the article helpfully tells us the name of her/his employer.

In April, two months after the initial court hearing, he gave an interview to The Guardian – where he works as a digital journalist – revealing his own full name, where they live and specific medical details of his transition process. 

So, an alternate headline for the story about Freddie and his male vagina could have been:

BBC makes documentary about transgender Guardian journalist.

Echo chamber much?

Bill’s Opinion

Confusing media reports of transgender folk fall into two categories; those that refer to their “new” gender in a sympathetic attempt to not further the subject’s psychological pain, and those that are deliberate in their attempt to obfuscate and change the meaning of previously universally understood nouns.

There’s possibly a third, supplemental reason for these misleading exercises in English comprehension; digital media is paid for by clicks and time spent on pages. If I have to page back and forth up an article until I’ve understood what’s being presented to me, it registers as a positive statistic to the advertising industry. There’s value in the confusion.

Or as the old sales cliché goes (borrowed from Sun Tzu), “where there’s chaos, there’s margin“.

The result of the confluence of these three reasons to change the meaning of millenia-old nouns is a change to our method of assessing the words presented to us. No woman of child-bearing age is going to look at “Zach” and unconsciously register “him” as a potential father of her future children. The lizard brain has got there first and already deselected “him” out.

There’s a solid scientific study simply waiting to be had to confirm this hypothesis. Good luck ever working again if you undertake it though.

So we unconsciously learn to associate “transgender” with the word “not“. As in “transgender woman” equals “not woman“. I somehow doubt this was the desired outcome of those who seek to change our language.

The cultural Marxists are generally not slow to spot failures of strategy though, so I predict there will be a concerted effort to no longer use transgender as a prefix in future, to be replaced with something else with less linguistic baggage.

We will know sanity has completely lost the culture war when we are told we should not (and later, cannot) use a prefix at all to describe transgender people.

No male Bonding

Actress Lashana Lynch will take on the iconic spy role of 007 in Bond 25, according to reports.

Not really; the click bait headline tricks you into learning she’s just been given his code name after James Bond has “retired”.

Putting aside the ridiculous journalistic contortions required to rely on “reports” as a source of news, and who the hell is Lashana Lynch anyway… who cares?

But seriously, who gives a stuff whether Bond is played by a man, woman, Indian, Eskimo or African? It’s a fictional character in a film, a make believe story with people pretending to be someone they aren’t.

If people watch the movie and judge it to be fun and/or credible, they’ll tell other people who will then pay money to watch it. If it stinks, everyone who sees it will loudly say so at every opportunity.

Unlike, say the appointment of a diversity hire CEO of bank, movies have quite a rapid feedback mechanism. The studio accountants will know within weeks of the premiere whether or not a break from the standard formula has worked with the ticket-buying public.

Bill’s Opinion

The next James Bond could be played by a wheelchair-bound gay Native American amputee with a pet squirrel for all I care.

James Bond is not some sacred religious figure who can only be played by a macho white English alpha male. If fact, Daniel Craig is only the 2nd Englishman to have played the part (3rd if you count the David Niven spoof).

If a Bond movie with a non “traditional” actor gets good reviews from sources I trust, I’ll pay to see it. If it gets Ghostbuster-esque reviews (Guardian – 4 stars vs everyone else who doesn’t write for a Woke media outlet – very few stars) I won’t.

Ghostbusters could only reach 22nd place on a list of 2016 films by revenue, by the way.

1984 wasn’t meant as an instruction manual

Just because Australia is close to China, doesn’t mean we should emulate the place….

No, really.

New South Wales transport minister Andrew Constance has revealed plans to roll out facial recognition technology across the transport network as an alternative to Opal cards.

“In the transport space we’ll use facial recognition technology to scan customers who’ve ‘opted in’ and linked their Opal account,” Constance said in a speech at the Sydney Institute on Tuesday night.

“No more personal freedom gate barriers. Just a smooth journey,” he said.

Andrew Constance? Where have we heard that name before?

Oh yeah, the chap who instigated an Uber “levy” to bail out speculative taxi “plate” purchasers. In case you’re wondering, “levy” is the name Australian governments use for a tax when they don’t have the courage of their convictions to say “tax”.

The irony is he is from the political party most associated with the economic right, rather than socialism. The party is the Liberal Party and was probably named with the English “classical liberal” definition in mind. Political dogma has changed a lot since, clearly.

That “levy” is probably all an outside observer needs to know to understand the Australian voters’ regular insipid choice between socialism and corporatism.

So, to Constance’s latest big idea; biometric ticket authorisation. In his own words:

“This will read someone’s face, retina, breath, gait or voice to enable next level authorisation and access. Think truly contactless payments – entry to buildings, onto planes, at banks and hotels.”

Call me an old scaredy cat and a cynic but this seems to have all the upside for people who might have bad intentions and a considerable risk of significant downside for everyone else.

What’s the corollary to “entry to buildings, onto planes, at banks and hotels“? No entry.

Currently, entry to those locations and services are managed by the local entity. Constance is hinting at a centrally-managed power providing the yes/no decision based on whether or not your face is in the database of acceptable people.

Who gets the job of running and updating that database? I’d like to offer an early application for this God-like position of power.

And there’s this:

The capability could also be used to detect if someone on a train or bus was ill, Constance claimed.

Well, excuse me if that doesn’t exactly give me a cosy warm feeling like a freshly soiled wetsuit.

It may be cold comfort to predict that, based on a previous history of glacial-speed implementation and incompetence, the New South Wales’ transport network is highly unlikely to be the first wide-scale implementation of facial recognition to have its limitations and scope tested in the law courts and court of public opinion.

The exisiting “Opal” card electronic ticketing system is the same as Hong Kong’s Octopus (launched 1997) and London’s Oyster (launched 2003). Following various delays due to political lethargy and systemic organisational corruption and incompetence in the Transport department, Opal was finally launched in 2012.

Presumably, the NSW government wanted to be absolutely certain there were no teething problems to be ironed out with the fifteen year old Hong Kong version before hastily rushing to follow.

In addition to the fifteen year delay to get around to the project, the State Government rolled out 3.7 million cards and the required retail infrastructure to sell and top up the stored credit when the technology already supported use of contactless debit cards. i.e. that thing 99.9% of people already had in their wallets.

Bill’s Opinion

Anyone who buys Andrew Constance’s claim that implementing biometric recognition for public transport ticketing would be a universal good hasn’t been paying attention to the trend of recent years.

Because a bunch of insane Saudis hijacked planes in the USA on September 11th, 2001, your government has usurped huge powers of surveillance, implemented CCTV camera networks throughout most public spaces, eavesdrops on electronic communications, restricted internet access, further regulated banking and the ability to transfer money, changed centuries old laws about detention without trial and due process, and all in the name of “temporary measures” to make us safer.

If you hope and believe these powers will one day be walked back and revoked because the threat of terrorism has been defeated, I’ve got a harbour bridge I’d like to sell you.

Such a throwaway line by Andrew Constance should scare the crap out of anyone who has read the history of what happens when the power to interfere in the day to day lives of others is concentrated centrally.

The counter argument always made to this is, “no, no, when we centralise the power we will use it for the benefit of everyone“. Well, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 100 million times, shame on me.

Imagine an average day in the life of a citizen of New South Wales a century ago. How many interactions would they have had with an organ of government? Perhaps they would have sent their child to a state school in the morning, posted a letter in the state run postal service, perhaps said hello to the policeman on the high street.

Now think about the answer to the same question for 2019.

We’re gonna need a bigger shredder

Back when Jesus was but a young lad, we kicked this organ off with an examination of why reparations for slavery is a tempting idea but utter lunacy.

Ah, those halcyon days of early 2017 before the world as we knew it went absolutely insane.

Since then, the USA Democratic Party has continued down the road of investigating whether reparations make sense, debating it in Washington.

As we predicted, they are now running into huge issues which are unlikely to be ever resolved. The idea of generational guilt seems to be making a comeback, for example, with Senator Mitch McConnell being asked to “please explain” why two of his relatives five generations ago owned slaves?

To repeat, an apparently otherwise fully-functioning sentient member of the human race just asked someone to comment on the actions 150 years ago of someone with whom they share about 6.25% of DNA…..

Yes, that’s the road we’re on. And it gets worse from here, go back and read my original post on the subject to get an idea of what further lunacy we’ll have to endure. Sometimes slippery slopes have to slide a long way down before they achieve fallacy status.

To McConnell’s credit, he responded perfectly; pointing out the previous President was in the same genetic fix. 

It’s clear this is a bad idea that is going to hang around for sometime to come. The question sensible people should ask now is, what’s the risk to me and where’s the opportunity?

Bill’s Opinion

If you are an American reading this, it’s highly unlikely you currently know whether or not your ancestry passes the slavery purity test. It’s a risk and one which, if it transpires, will certainly cause difficulties for you should you work in politics.

Depending on how long this runs before it’s universally agreed to be daft, there’s a risk that regular people may take a hit (likely financial) if they are found to have had slave owner ancestors.

Actually, let’s clarify that last sentence; EVERYONE ALIVE TODAY has slave owning ancestors. Until William Wilberforce, it was the primary source of cheap labour across every continent throughout human history; if you won a battle against your enemies, you enslaved them. It was just the rule for hundreds of generations.

The amazing thing was that it was ever made illegal at all. Thank you, Christianity and the industrial revolution…..

Of course, the difference between my non-American slave-owning relatives and yours is that mine owned slaves before written records were widely kept. Lucky me.

In fact, it could be argued that people like me, the undocumented slave owning descendants, are the really evil ones because we are hiding in plain sight… No, let’s not give the radical left any more stupid ideas.

There is a silver lining though; there’s a business opportunity here. Every person of ambition who suspects there may be a skeleton in their cupboard from 150 years ago is likely to suddenly be in need of a “cleanskin” service. That is, every electronic and paper record from that era needs to magically disappear like an Epstein flight manifest.

So, this is a call for expressions of interest for funds for my new business venture, Slave Ownership Records Removal Instantly, or SORRI for short.

Our initial start up seed money will be spent on flame-throwers (for the libraries), large degaussing equipment (for data centres) and to pay the salaries of some hairy-arsed mercenaries to undertake the cleansing activities.

 

 

 

 

Crikey! Where fallacies live

Australia has two “new media” organisations of note; Quillette and Crikey.

They could hardly be more different. The stated aim of Quillette is to publish “heterodox” ideas and be “where free speech lives“. A grand and quite brave claim for a website hosted in Australia, a country where the right to not be offended has been invented and given higher priority than the right to speak.

Crikey is a left of centre website with a focus on Australian politics.

Australian politics is not a hugely interesting subject, being mainly a real life case study of the Dunning-Kruger effect and venal opportunism in an extremely small fish pond. It’s like Lord of the Flies re-imagined with middle-aged characters and less violence.

Hence I tend to read more articles published by Quillette than Crikey.

This one by Guy Rundle has done nothing to change that.

He’s written about the Israel Folau saga….. because what the world really needs right now is yet more partisan speculation on that case, right?

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of his article is the style of rhetoric he employs for the argument he is trying to make.

Thinking about the subject matter, one could probably write in a choice of styles that might look something like the following list (or a combination of it):

  • Factual; straight reporting of who said what, known relevant legal precedent and process, likely next steps and timelines.
  • Reactions; reporting how a range of stakeholders claim to feel and have responded to the case.
  • Measured opinion; based on the case, here’s my personal view of the morality of each stakeholder and my prediction for the future.
  • Sketch; poking fun at those involved in a way designed to amuse the reader.

The first two are what we’d hope objective news media would produce, the latter two are classed as “OpEd” and are, by definition, subjective. Here’s the rub though, if you claim to be a serious professional, even a subjective opinion requires the underpinning discipline of accuracy.

I’ve read and re-read Rundle’s article several times. It takes a while to understand what’s being presented to the reader on the page. What follows is an attempt at deciphering The Rundle Code (tm) :

First paragraph;

How is the right’s push on religious freedom going? Terribly! It’s really great to watch — a bright spot in an otherwise bleak political landscape. There’s no way it can end well for them, and whatever happens will in someway benefit the left. As an added bonus, they are actively damaging previous successes they had in securing the autonomy of religious institutions in hiring practices. I’m loving every installment of this.

Ok. Ignore the two spelling mistakes… He’s correctly framing the case as a culture war battleground and he’s chosen his team.

Second paragraph;

Let’s do a quick recap. During the same-sex marriage plebiscite, one of the right’s more desperate tactics was to allege that a “yes” vote would be an assault on religious freedom in this country, for reasons they couldn’t explain. Discrimination on the basis of sexuality was already outlawed — same-sex marriage simply added one more area in which they couldn’t be discriminated against.

People did explain. You rejected their explanations. Here’s mine at the time, for example, and a subsequent follow up confirming my concerns were correct.

Third paragraph…. where Rundle claims to be able to read the minds of two other people;

The “religious freedom” scare came from a section of the conservative right identified with both elite Catholics like Paul Kelly — who see religion as a glue to bind society together whatever their real attachment to belief in God — and Protestant politico-cultural hysterics like Andrew Bolt, who believe the pagan endtimes are upon us. 

Quite what the definition of a politico-cultural hysteric is remains a mystery Rundle doesn’t help solve. I think it means he disagrees with something the person said.

 Fourth paragraph;

This gang has rode out before, in the great 18C debacle — remember 18C? — and had their arses handed to them by Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party, petrified of the reaction from Big Multiculturalism. They lost on 18C, and they had a lot better material to work with. The best they could come up with on religious expression was Israel Folau.

Nice use of the vernacular there. What a Big Multiculturalism is goes unexplained.

Do we detect a hint of sarcasm in the line, “the best they could come up with”? What’s the inference? That Folau isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer? Ah, the bigotry of low expectations.

Are all Pacific Islanders stupid, Mr. Rundle, or just this one? To quote Ali G, “is it ‘cos he is black?

Fifth paragraph;

Personally I don’t think sports people should have to trade away their citizenship freedoms to do what they’re good at. But Folau appears to have flouted a contract he knowingly signed and it’s a far-from-ideal rallying point. Luckily for the right, the cultural left has come to their rescue, turning Folau’s childish just-so story pronouncements of “burning in hell” into potent political statements, by constructing them as potent hate speech.

Ignore the missing comma. Right then, which clause in Folau’s contract are you referring to? Oh, you haven’t seen the contract? Ah….

And we’ve decided stupid, brown Folau is childish now? Keep digging, son.

Paragraphs six, seven, eight and nine attempt to delve into the nature of rights. It’s safe to say these are not going to be challenging the USA Federalist Papers for intellectual robustness any time soon.

Rights that Rundle rejects are labelled content-based junk rights. It’s interesting that Rundle puts forward a strawman argument that there is a movement to legislate a right to Religious Freedom. I’m not aware of this, unless he’s referring to the removal of existing restrictions.

Paragraph ten, wherein Rundle goes full ad hominin on two people he doesn’t agree with;

In The Australian, Katrina Grace Kelly — her name at time of writing — noted that Folau’s claims were unlikely to succeed given the lean towards employers in such laws, but that if they did, they’d reset employment law entirely. The Institute of Public Affairs’ John Roskam is running a little dog ‘n’ pony show around the right (word is still out on whether Roskam is pony or dog), and Freedom Boy Tim Wilson made a cute little comment on the push by getting sworn in on a copy of Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom

That first dig is a reference to the fact that Ms. Kelly recently changed her name from the one she was given when she was adopted. The inference Rundle is offering is this won’t be her final name change. I’m not sure how that is in any way relevant to the Folau case, so will have to conclude he’s just being mean because he’s a misogynist (see what I did there?).

As for the line about Roskam being a dog or a pony, that tells us more about Rundle’s character than Roskam’s.

The final two paragraphs go on to predict Folau will lose and the right will whine.

Bill’s Opinion

I spotted the following fallacies used by Rundle, see if you can find any more; ad hominin, strawman, slippery slope, tu quoque, cherry picking.

However, this article is extremely informative, actually because of its form not it’s argument. Rundle has acknowledged this is the battleground for the culture war and, through an astounding inability to argue his side’s case without reverting to use of fallacies, has demonstrated his concerns about the weakness of his team’s position.

Better still, professional journalist Guy Rundle had to revert to the bigotry of low expectations, racism and misogyny to make his arguments.

How fun!

Publish and be damned

This might be nothing or it might be quite significant. I’ll defer to our regular legal expert for the definitive opinion in the comments.

A defamation case has just concluded in Australia where the judge found in favour of the plaintiff’s claim that Creepbook page owners are liable for comments made under their content.

There is a very lengthy but highly-informative Twitter thread here with a detailed breakdown of why Creepbook page owners are simply unable to comply with the ruling. In summary, the tools aren’t made available to control the content and it is currently impossible to switch off comments…. wait for it… unless you are a pharmaceutical company.

No, really….. go to the bottom of that Twitter thread to find that gem and shake your head.

The ruling seems to hold a page “owner” liable for anything anyone posts in reply. Unfortunately, Creepbook doesn’t provide the ability to disable comments on pages (“groups” have this function though) and the keyword blocking function is far from watertight.

There’s much debate currently in the USA about whether the social media giants have become the de facto “public square” and therefore should be subject to the First Amendment or they are publishers curating content and therefore have liability for anything which breaks a law or incurs libel cases.

The general position of the tech companies is that they are common carriers like the postal system or a phone company. Except there’s a major inconsistency with their actions; the phone company doesn’t cut you off if you say something it disagrees with.

Somewhere between these three positions the US courts will eventually rule. Many other commentators have written and spoken extensively on this dichotomy and have speculated on how it might land. My voice isn’t going add much either way.

In the meantime, it looks like an Australian judge may have hurried things along a little.

Bill’s Opinion

It might be argued this ruling has restricted free speech in Australia. However, regular readers will likely concur that ship sailed from Australian shores a long time ago.

My personal position is one of free speech near absolutism; with the exception of calling for violence, I’m generally ok with people saying whatever the hell they want.

That’s not to say they can say it without consequence, public opinion and libel laws are useful moderators.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean the right to an audience though. If social media giants “de-platform” voices they dislike, that’s fine. Those voices will find a way to be heard, particularly if what they are saying resonates with others as being virtuous and true. We should have faith in our fellow humans in being able to discern mendacity from honesty.

This Australian case might result in changes to Creepbook globally, it might result in changes only to the way Australian companies engage on Creepbook, or it might result in very little change at all. Anyone who claims to know is deluding themselves and you.

Creepbook and its page owners might be liable for what’s written by others or they can remove opinions they dislike. I don’t care either way, I’m not on Creepbook so was unlikely to read it anyway.

Yet somehow I manage to keep myself informed of a diverse range of opinions. It’s almost as if, I dunno, there’s an entire world outside of Creepbook.

Nobler than your average savage

The Budj Bim Aboriginal site in Australia has been granted “World Heritage” status. 

Budj Bim is the site of an Aboriginal aquaculture farm, where the inhabitants farmed eels and used ditches and nets to provide year round protein. This enabled permanent settlement and stone huts were built in the area. Estimates are that this practice commenced several thousand years ago.

Of course, that would be fine if that’s where the reporting ended; ancient and important historical and cultural location, preserved for future generations. Great.

It’s too much to hope that would be it. Predictably, we have to replay the “in harmony with nature” trope for yet another tedious outing.

Right on cue:

This, combined with the use of basalt rock formations to build small rock dwellings with thatched roofs would provide “a counter-narrative to this idea that Aboriginal people didn’t have any form of settlement and that they continually moved”, Mr Jennings said.

Correct. The small rock dwellings prove that some Aboriginal people settled in a place. Anyone who claims every Aboriginal throughout time was peripatetic would be wrong. 

Let’s keep this in perspective, however; there are only two known permanent settlements on mainland Australia, suggesting everywhere else was more suited to nomadic or semi-nomadic existence.

This isn’t a negative judgement on the ancient indigenous peoples; human developments at the time and the native flora and fauna were likely the major inhibitors. After all, complex agriculture only developed independently in perhaps 11 locations globally.   

Mr Jennings said the most important aspect of the World Heritage listing was recognising the sensitive way in which the Gunditjmara people had lived in harmony with the landscape, while adapting it to their needs.

Here we go… “sensitive“.

When people were farming eels several thousand years ago in order to feed their families and keep their loved ones alive, one suspects any translation of the adjective “sensitive” was not heavily employed. Not having to bury yet another of your children would presumably be somewhat higher up the priority list than the long term welfare of individual eels or even the species as a whole.     

Most thought of the landscape in this part of western Victoria as being changed by pastoralists who came from Europe and removed rocks to create vast tracts of grazing land. But the Gunditjmara people demonstrated at Budj Bim that manipulation of the landscape was possible in an entirely more sympathetic way.

Sympathetic“, now?

I doubt there’s even a local translation of that word.

If a herd of oxen were handed over to the Gunditjmara people ten thousand years ago and they had been taught how to use them to provide meat and milk, and as beasts of burden, do you really think they would have eschewed the opportunity to produce more food over matters Gaia?

“This was manipulating it by using the landscape’s form to cultivate aquaculture, and to live in that landscape in harmony with it, rather than completely modify it to change its land use,” Mr Jennings said

And, ding ding, “harmony” gets us a full house of noble savage references. It presumably never crossed Mr. Jennings’ mind that the landscape wasn’t modified because the ability and technology required hadn’t been developed. 

Bill’s Opinion

Hobbes famously suggested human life throughout nearly all of history was defined by the terrible qualities of being, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.

One highly doubts Australian life 10,000 years ago was more communal, wealthy, pleasant, kind and longer than anywhere else in the world at the time. They had it just as shit as every other human on the planet and were motivated by exactly the same needs and desires. Any semblance of “harmony” would look suspiciously like a population that was limited (i.e. died from hunger) by the available resources.  

Living at one with nature would lose its romance about 30 seconds after you broke a tooth on a bone in the raw meat you had to track and hunt all day for dinner. 

If you are still unconvinced about whether or not Aboriginal Australians manipulated the land to suit their needs rather than being “harmonious”, here’s a painting of Mount Eccles from the time of the arrival of the Europeans;

Image result for mount eccles painting

Today, the same location looks a little more overgrown:

Image result for mount eccles

It’s almost as if someone had regularly burned the trees to corral animals into clearings to hunt them….

Also, I wonder what happened to the Australian megafauna?