Rosling would be ropeable

First, the good news; the suicide rate of gay people has fallen.

This was reported by Queerty, an activist website, as being caused by the introduction of same sex marriage legislation.

The legacy press outlets picked up on this and repeated it without question.

The original source of the claim is this academic study.

The researchers studied 28,649 individuals in same sex marriages in Denmark and Sweden (where the same sex marriage legislation was introduced in 1989 and 1995, respectively) and the suicide rates within that group.

They also compared the suicide rates in the opposite sex marriage cohort.

The suicide rate in same sex marriages was 0.3% and in opposite sex marriages, 0.2%.

Interestingly, the researchers split the time period in half. The reason isn’t made clear:

Covariates

The following covariates were examined: country (Denmark, Sweden), period (1989–2002, 2003–2016), sex (males, females), age group (18–34, 35–64, 65+) and current civil status (married, divorced/widowed).

The data showed a decline in suicides across the two periods for both groups (top left chart below):

Is it just me or can anyone else spot a flaw in the study methodology, conclusions and subsequent reporting?

Bill’s Opinion

I believe one can safely draw several conclusions from the study:

  1. The suicide rate of people in committed relationships in Denmark and Sweden has fallen since 1989.
  2. The suicide rate is higher in same sex relationships than opposite sex marriages in Denmark and Sweden.
  3. That’s it.

What one can’t safely conclude from the study is that the introduction of same sex marriage resulted in a reduction of the suicide rate.

Why?

There’s no data presented for the period prior to the legislation being introduced.

There’s also no data presented for unmarried people, which seems another major oversight.

But, magically, the legislation reduced the suicide rate, as regurgitated by formerly-respected news outlets such as the Grauniad.

If you were one of the Ctrl C/V reporters who published the fake conclusion of the study, ask yourself this question; wouldn’t it have served the world better to have known which group of people are most likely to commit suicide and why?

What a waste of time, money and opportunity.

Wokepac housekeeping

We’d like to tuck our best mate, Brian, up in bed and let him enjoy his retirement in peace, or at least until he gets called back for the court case.

Unfortunately, we have a little housekeeping to do first.

The coverage of the aftermath the source of our amusement today.

Ok, we’re calling plagiarism on the Spectator. An internet search will show the use of “Wokepac” started here. You’re welcome, chaps.

Then there’s this objective review of Brian’s awful performance by Peter Van Onselen much of which is indeed accurate. Let’s face it, Brian took his eye off the ball and didn’t pay enough attention to the core part of his job description, that is, running a bank.

The question is, though, what was he spending his resource on instead?

Well, we’ve answered that question continually here and neatly summed it up with the tag, “Wokepac”.

Peter is unable to point to the rainbow-coloured elephant in the room though.

Why?

Awkward.

Bill’s Opinion

Peter’s wife was fired by Brian resigned two years ago and Peter is still spitting tacks over it.

Question for Peter; how absolutely awful do you have to be at your job to be fired by Brian Hartzer whilst in possession of female genitalia?

Ainslie was part of the diversity diversion problem at Westpac. She, like many other diversity quota hires, had the easiest job in the world; turn up late, attend some “women in banking” conferences, collect pay cheque. Rinse. Repeat.

Yet she still got fired resigned.

The ballad of Israel Folau

We’ve been following the petty story of Israel closely for some time now. It was obvious it wasn’t going to end well for Rugby Australia and, lo it came to pass.

They’ve settled with him before the court case, probably because of the minor difficulty that they forgot to insist on a social media clause when his contract was renewed 10 months ago.

I’d guess that mistake is worth about 5 years’ of his salary, so somewhere between $7m and $8m.

The missing social media restriction clause would have been no more than 50 words. So, about $150k a word.

Even Ed Sheeran doesn’t get paid at that rate.

In the main, the commentators on this organ knew what was going on; this was the latest skirmish in the Great Culture War of 2019. Obviously, ever the contrarian, Bardon decided Folau wouldn’t win the case.

If he’d gone to court, perhaps he wouldn’t. But, as we say in our house, “if me mam had wheels she’d be a trolley“.

I daren’t look at Pirate Pete’s opinion piece on the settlement. I genuinely haven’t read it but I imagine it will contain virtue signalling to the diverse (but not religious brown people), wokescolding against the religious bigots (but only one type), and soft criticism of Rugby Australia for signing inadequate contracts of employment.

Bill’s Opinion

As I have said repeatedly on this subject, I don’t care nor want to know what an athlete’s views are on theology.

I also would prefer to live in a world where those views, as long as they don’t call for violence, don’t result in them losing their job either.

Finally, the heuristic remains; if you need to quickly determine what is correct or to predict the future, check what Peter Fitzsimons has preached and assume the 180 degree position.

The Duke of York’s Award

(From WikiPedo):

The Duke of York’s Award (commonly abbreviated DodgY), is a youth awards programme founded in the United Kingdom in 2001 by Prince Andrew, Duke of York, that has since expanded to several nations. The awards exploit adolescents and young adults and then gaslight them in the media.

The Duke of York’s Award programmes take between one and four years to complete, and they must be completed by the participant’s eighteenth birthday. There are around 300,000 participants annually. The programmes are at three progressive levels which, if successfully completed, lead to a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Duke of York’s Award.

With assistance from adult madams, pimps and fixers, participants select and set objectives in each of the following areas:

• Volunteering: being tricked in to servicing individuals or members of the Royal family.

• Physical: improving in an area of “sport”, pole-dancing or fitness activities such as providing “executive relief” to heirs to the British throne.

• Skills: developing practical and social skills such as understanding when to offer to sleep on the wet spot on the bed.

• Expedition: planning, training for, and completion of an adventurous journey in the UK or abroad (didn’t have to change that at all!)

• At Gold level, participants must do an additional fifth Residential section, which involves staying and working away from home for five days, doing a shared activity (nor that!)

Bill’s Opinion

QV “The Club“.

To be fair to Andrew, he’s simply following a long tradition where the second son of the monarch lives a feckless, drunken, debauched life of profligacy.

Unfortunately, he’s the first one to do it in a world where the commoners have legal protection, cameras and the internet.

When errors are a feature, not a bug

Woolworths are burning shareholder value in the latest wages underpayment “scandal” in Australia.

“Scandal” is presented in inverted commas because, frankly, it’s becoming easier to list the organisations not caught up in this problem than those who have.

After self-reporting their heinous crime, Woolworths have presumably poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into one of the big four accounting firms to get to the bottom of the problem.

In addition to the subsequent remediation costs (project resources, IT costs, management time and, obviously, the repayments to staff), they now have a class action to defend.

From the article, we can unpick the top level maths involved:

6,000 staff have been underpaid somewhere between $200 and $300 million since 2010 (let’s assume May 2010, as it seems an EBA was signed then).

So, a sensitivity analysis of this:

Worst case – $300,000,000 / 6,000 / 103 months = $485 a month or about $24 a day

Least worst case – $300,000,000 / 6,000 / 103 months = $323 a month, or about $16 a day

Not insignificant but not the difference between cashed up and struggle street either. It’s the equivalent of having to pay for your car parking if you work in a metropolitan area.

What isn’t explained is what the source and reason for these errors is likely to be. Is it an under calculation of pay, superannuation contributions, rostered days off, over-calculation of tax, etc.

Consider those questions when you read of these “underpayment” cases.

A lifetime ago, I worked in various jobs which involved variable pay for reasons such as overnight shift work, weekends and public holidays.

Every month when the pay packet arrived I would spend a few minutes with my diary and a calculator and check the numbers. Mainly the payroll department’s calculation was correct but there were several occasions where I found an issue to be corrected (always in my favour – strangely, I never mentioned the other ones).

I doubt I’d be capable of performing that check and balance if I were employed in a similar role in Australia in 2019. I’d be impressed if many of the current variable wage-earners could do so either.

Actually, if they could accurately calculate their wages, they’re missing a huge career opportunity to switch to working in payroll.

Bill’s Opinion

We’ve investigated these issues previously and explained why we think it’s a feature, not a bug of the Australian employment environment.

There are some heuristics when discussing this epidemic of Australian payroll “scandals”:

– You will never meet anyone in Australia who earns minimum wage. That’s not to say nobody earns at that rate, but there’s so few of them you stand little to no chance of ever meeting one.

– Anyone who claims to understand how to calculate payroll based on Australian Enterprise Bargaining Agreements is not to be trusted. Do not, I repeat, do not buy a used car from these people. I know payroll accounting managers with decades of experience who, in a quiet moment in the pub, will admit to not being certain about these calculations and waking up at night worrying about it.

– Any worker who claims to have been underpaid has only come to this conclusion after being told so by an “expert” (see the previous point).

– The reporting on these issues will never mention the labyrinthine employment regulations in Australia as being even partially-responsible for these screw ups.

Today’s blog is brought to you by the words, “shareholder” and “value”

Despite tomorrow being his final day as CEO of Wokepac, Brian is whooping it up on social media like a pouting Insta-influencer with brand new Botox lips.

He’s becoming the Creepbook for Business equivalent of herpes, only much harder to get rid of and without the preceding moments of pleasure.

Demonstrating a level of self-unawareness usually associated with people called Bono talking about climate change whilst sipping champagne on private jets, he is doing a high five lap of honour around Linked-in.

It’s the nature of the high fives that’s most amusing though. I’ve yet to see a single message of thanks and farewell from anyone who looks vaguely experienced or competent. Instead, it seems to be a lot of folks with job tittles one might expect to see on the cryogenic pods in the hold of the Golgafrincham Ark B.

Exhibit 1: A Monitoring and Control Manager

It seems to me, a paucity of “monitoring and control” might have been the prime reason Brian will be spending less time in a dinner suit from next week.

Exhibit 2: Maybe policemen are getting younger but this is a Senior Business Banker apparently.

Exhibit 3: Credit Assessor.

Exhibit 4: An “accomplished CEO“, which is surely code for “unemployed”?

Exhibit 5: A Regional General Manager, SME

I think Jason’s sycophancy is my favourite of the selection though; “Farewell to an inspirational leader that was tasked with navigating Australia’s oldest bank through the toughest conditions in history.

Tougher than, say, 1929-31, 1939-45, any of the subsequent recessions or the 2008 financial crisis?

Well no, perhaps nothing quite on that scale.

But still, perhaps the toughest self-inflicted conditions in history?

Yes, let’s agree on that.

Bill’s Opinion

I have two observations on Brian and his sycophants*:

1. He certainly got full value from that dinner suit, and

2. Get woke, go broke (well, at least fired).

* I think I may have seen Brian and His Sycophants supporting Primus at the Brixton Academy.

Sorry seems to be the easiest word – part VI

Here we go again.

William of Ockham passim:

Anyone who has been involved in rearing human infants will understand that the word “sorry” is the coda to the process of reconciling a malevolent or negligent act, not the start.

It’s also totally meaningless for the word to be said by anyone other than the person who committed the act, unless it’s used in the context of sympathy (“I’m sorry that happened to you”) instead.

And, on “institutional apologies”:

In addition to the word “sorry”, these apologies have a significant commonality; they are ….. meaningless because the speaker was not responsible for the crime. In most cases, the speaker was not even born at the time of the crime.

Consider then, the Mayor of New Zealand’s apology for a plane crash which, unless “gestational guilt” has become a thing whilst we were busy going about our business, she can’t be held responsible for in any sensible way.

My grandmother used to reply when, as a child, I asked how old she was, “as old as my eyes and little older than my teeth“.

Let’s give a pass, therefore, to the possibility of La Adern’s remarkable dental pre-natal longevity being somehow responsible for the downing of flight NZ901 on November 28th, 1979 (9 months before she was born) but, let’s face it, that’s a theory unlikely to make it past any scientific peer review outside of California.

On behalf of the government and, by extension, the people of New Zealand, she apologised for the tragedy today.

Do your own research into this but please keep in mind the fact ALL civilian navigation in 1979 was undertaken using equipment which would have been instantly recognisable by Captain Cook’s crew.

Excuse my language, but sextants (no, autocorrect, I didn’t mean to type “sexy ants”).

40 years ago, a plane flying over Antarctica, at an altitude low enough for scenic views, using celestial navigation and only air pressure to judge altitude, crashed into a mountain when it started snowing.

Everyone in every position of responsibility in the organisations involved in both the flight and subsequent cover up are dead.

“We” are sorry.

Bill’s Opinion

There is a point beyond which, we should just move on.

The problem is one of incentives versus personal cost, however.

The personal gain to Jacinda Adern for saying “sorry” is not zero. Let’s say she gains one percentage point in the approval ratings.

That’s not the important side of the balance sheet. The cost to her is the square root of fuck all.

The cost is carried by the New Zealand taxpayer who is now up for the potentially-difficult to defend compensation claims.

As always, incentives matter.

William of Ockham passim, again:

In other news, on behalf of the whole of western Christendom, I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for the sacking of Constantinople in 1215. Hopefully we can all move on from here and find common ground.

The Manchurian Candidates for Australia

Australia’s least popular sociopathic narcissist (no, not you Eddie McGuire, sit down), Kevin Rudd, is back in the pages of the declining parish newsletter again, lecturing us on his favourite subject, himself China.

Before we get into the real subject of today’s blog post, perhaps we ought to point out that there is barely a sentence or paragraph in the article without “me”, “my” or “I” (he speaks Mandarin? Wow, that’s the first time we’ve heard that!).

Can anyone offer a suggestion as to why that might be?

Anyway, irrelevant-Rudd’s plea is that Australia doesn’t jaw jaw (to borrow Churchill’s phrase) but have a secret government strategy that is robust in the way the country intends to deal with China.

Here’s a question for Kevin. Given you’ve been out of office for nearly a decade (let’s not count the ridiculous 3 month “comeback tour”), how do you know there isn’t?

He goes on to suggest Australia should not be racist to China which, an unkind critic might suggest, sounds remarkably similar to the immediate post-kidnapping interviews with Patty Hearst.

He’s not the only ex-PM worried that Australia might upset the big northern neighbours, Paul Keating has recently been vocal on the subject too.

He said that Australia’s government and political system had failed in developing a China policy and that the “subtleties of foreign policy and the elasticity of diplomacy are being supplanted by the phobias of a group of security agencies”.

“Phobias”.

Real phobias are about “extreme or irrational fears”.

Given that there are multiple examples of Australian politics being influenced or subject to attempts to influence in recent years (Sam Dastyari, IT hack of parliament, possible defecting spy, possible attempt to install a puppet MP), at what point does a fear cease being irrational?

Bill’s Opinion

Anyone who believes Beijing’s approach to Australia will be ameliorated in any way for the better hasn’t been paying attention.

It is clear to anyone who wishes to look that China has increased the scale and intensity of domestic human rights abuses against groups such as the Uyghurs and Falun Gong. Depending on which reports one believes there are currently perhaps up to a million people internally-exiled in “re-education camps”.

What did the initial reporting of The Holocaust look like? Subdued.

Perhaps one can pass this off and look the other way because “it’s an internal matter”. So was Apartheid… until it wasn’t.

Then there’s the asymmetric trade deals where we get cheap shit and they steal our IP. Is that a great deal?

How about the opioid crisis in the USA? Remember, like surfing, blue jeans, rock and roll and HIV, what the Americans have, Australians get about five years later.

What is the dog that isn’t barking in all of this?

In all of the media coverage of the increasingly bad news relating to China and Australia’s relationship with the country the incredible economic leverage China has over Australia is never mentioned.

Seriously, it’s just not, is it?

Within about 3 to 6 months and without a shot being fired, China could put Australia into a deep recession which would perhaps take years to recover from.

When was the last time you heard the sentiment in the paragraph above ever expressed in the media?

Yet that’s the inference behind every claim for “calm rational heads” when dealing with China.

Perhaps appeasement is Australia’s only option, but there’s still some respect to be had by admitting to it.

The alternative is doubly-cowardly.

Vanished, like an old oak table

Queenie: Vanished, Lord Percy, not *varnished*.

Lord Percy Percy: Forgive me, my lady, but my uncle Bertram’s old oak table completely vanished. ‘Twas on the night of the great Stepney fire. And on that same terrible night, his house and all his other things completely vanished too. So did he, in fact. It was a most perplexing mystery.

Aaaaaand, Brian is gone.

Overnight news coverage like this probably didn’t help:

Here’s a thought; if your best line of defence is that you’re not as bad as one of the largest frauds of our generation or not as bad as the largest banking collapses in the modern era, you might be in trouble.

Seriously though, Wokepac has more change and comms consultants than Belgium has waffle makers and he still made gaffes like this.

Who was advising him and why didn’t they said, “Brian, just fucking work from home until the Board meeting”?

Bill’s Opinion

Introducing William of Ockham’s General Theory of Australia:

A small pond results in a masssive case of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

This is fine in a rising or stable market.

The moment negative consequences occur however, the enormous gulf between actual competence and perception is exposed.

Just the PR disaster of this sorry episode should be proof enough.

For me, a critical indicator you are dealing with someone who is subject to The General Theory of Australia are the shoes they are wearing.

No, hear me out…..

If you have a good inkling the person is earning, let’s say more than $250k a year, yet they are wearing rubber-soled shoes, likely bought at Kmart, rather than handmade Loakes or perhaps Cheney’s, then there’s a fair chance they’ve rose to that position without ever having to be tested in adversity.

That metric doesn’t work so well for females; I tend to judge the women by their choice of Friday casual clothes.