Masquerading as the enemy of the people

Today is Australia Day, the national holiday celebrating the arrival of of the First Fleet of convicts to Australia in 1788.

Over the years, there have been calls to change the date, celebrate something other than the start of multiple harsh prison sentences or make it a day of national mourning on behalf of the people who were already here and were subsequently subjugated.

It can sometimes be bit controversial, to say the least.

However, it’s currently Australia’s national day. The weather is usually pretty good and workers get a day off to go to the beach, barbecue and drink beer. Most Australians you talk to are pretty happy about the national holiday and see no reason for it to change.

How do I know most Australians feel this way?

Because a survey in 2019 showed exactly that. 72% of the Australians surveyed don’t care enough to support a change. Plenty of similar surveys repeat these findings.

Hold that thought in your head for a moment.

Now try this thought experiment; imagine you were the agent of an enemy country and you had managed to gain influence on the editorial decisions of a national newspaper. What would be the theme of the news articles and opinion pieces you would commission on the host country’s national day?

Would it look something like this?

As at 11am this morning, those were the headlines, in order, on the Sydney Morning Herald’s front page.

Nation building stuff, eh?

Now, please don’t misunderstand me or place words in my mouth. I am not saying the SMH editors should not be allowed to commission so many articles of such a similar theme, I’m also not saying the editors are traitors or unpatriotic.

I am, however, pointing out the massive disconnect between the views of the overwhelming majority of the country and the very obvious theme being presented by this newspaper. Nobody can be in any doubt as to where the SMH sits on the “whither Oz Day?” question.

Meanwhile, most Australians don’t actually even consider it a question worth asking.

Bill’s Opinion

If President Xi wanted to run a subversion operation in the Australian media, it would probably not look very different to today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

I doubt that is what this is, but it’s remarkable how much similarity is hiding in plain sight.

I’m sure the writers of these articles have the best of motivations, they would genuinely like to see significant improvements to the welfare and lives of indigenous Australians. Writing these articles probably makes them feel they have helped.

One might cynically ask them, “What tangible actions have you personally taken, such as donating money or time to an Aboriginal charity, or did you think banging out 300 words about the morals of people long dead was enough?“.

As for the commissioning editor, I would ask the following question, “Are you getting paid by President Xi or is this just pro-bono?”

Just duck duck go and call their bluff

Executives from Google and Facebook’s Australian offices were dragged in front of a Senate hearing where they were savaged by Green politician Sarah Two Dads, which must have been scary for them.

If you missed the story, the chronology can be summarised as follows:

1989 Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web

1998 Larry Page created Google

2020 The Australian news industry discovered the internet

2021 Australian politicians tried to tax the internet

Ok, there’s a bit more to it than that….but not much.

To get a completely unbiased version of events, read this article published by the Sydney Morning Herald, an organisation whose entire raison d’être was to write about new stuff, yet has failed to change its business model every year since 1998.

Bill’s Opinion

As Ben Shapiro is fond of saying, two things can be true at once. Google and Facebook can be ruthless and unscrupulous operators, willing to steal content and commoditise everything they touch AND the Australian news media can be guilty of failing to adapt their business model to make money and not have to keep firing journalists.

In the unlikely event Google switch off their search engine in Australia, nobody should care. Other search engines are available and some, such as Duck Duck Go claim not to track you like a Stasi surveillance team.

I suspect the politicians will blink first, but who really cares anyway.

What is most amusing is the news outlets most exercised by this. Outlets like The Australian and, in the UK, The Times, Telegraph and Spectator have all made a success of the paywall model. This Australian spat says more about the outlets who haven’t, doesn’t it?

Newspapers such as the Sydney Morning Herald are desperate for a government handout, nominally paid for by Google. To understand why, one only needs to answer the following question; “where would a Sydney Morning Herald reader go for free news if they locked the paywall?”.

The answer is, of course, the government news agency, The ABC.

The SMH can’t compete because they have no Unique Selling Point to offer to someone whose politics leans towards the left.

Yet don’t expect to see calls in the SMH for The ABC to be defunded.

It’s the Australian equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome.

As for losing the Google search option in Australia…. I’m reminded of this exchange in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

Prosser: Mr. Dent, have you any idea how much damage that bulldozer would suffer if I just let it roll straight over you?

Dent: How much?

Prosser: None at all.

The customer is always right

An interesting Twitter thread here on the subject of Chinese visa abusers students in an Australian university complaining about the subject material being taught.

This caught my attention for two reasons; firstly, it had never crossed my mind that, once reading the prospectus, applying and paying for the course, students would then vociferously petition to define the course material.

But the most instructive aspect of this is the reply by the University. Spoiler alert; it isn’t a single sentence along the lines of, “that’s what we’re teaching, if you don’t like it feel free to fuck off”:

To understand what’s going on with this story, you’ll need some specific Australian background. You can do your own research to confirm/reject these statements and, if you do, it’d be great to hear your conclusions in the comments:

Australia has been running two unofficial route to citizenship schemes for decades. The first is “457 visas” for IT workers where they are employed at lower than market rate until they achieve permanent resident status. In earlier times, this might have been called “indentured labour”. The second is a student visa whereby the children of rich foreigners with questionable qualifications and English language skills pay to attend a university course with the intention of staying long enough to achieve permanent resident status.

This has had the effect of keeping IT salaries lower than they might otherwise have been and inflating the revenue of the universities most guilty of turning a blind eye to non-bilingual students.

Following the events of 2020, these two industries are having to reassess this model.

Bill’s Opinion

The correct response from Monash should have been taciturn and Anglo Saxon. That it was a mealy mouthed equivocation tells us quite how reliant they are on the revenue being shipped in from mainland Chinese parents.

As the old axiom goes, “the customer is always right”.

Kick long, smash packs

Our old friend Hannah Mouncey is back in the news; he’s shes’s suing the Australia Rules Football league in Canberra for the right to play in the top women’s grade.

The main story is a bit boring, the usual guff as a sporting body tries to navigate the absolute minefield that is balancing the rights of one group (women), with another (men who believe they are women).

What is interesting though, is the imperfect solution currently in place. It’s a classic example of the law of unintended consequences.

Read carefully what the league’s current alternate solution is to allowing Hannah to play A grade:

From a community football standpoint, the new policy states that “transgender women may play in women‘s competitions, transgender men can play in men’s competitions and non-binary people can choose which competition to play in.”

Also at community level, the statement notes that “Gender diverse players may not be excluded for reasons of relevant competitive advantage over cisgender players in the competition.”

Mouncey, who will instead have to play in the B grade because it’s not considered part of the AFLW development pathway, said she was making a stand for the wider trans community.

Think about it for a moment; because they want to protect the women on the pathway to elite level, they’ve put an already physically stronger player down a grade to smash the lower quality players instead.

I imagine there was much back slapping and congratulations when they came up with that genius compromise. Turns out it’s not an acceptable solution to our builder in a skirt mate anyway.

Bill’s Opinion

The league are clearly trying their hardest to be sensitive to Hannah, you can even see it in the use of the highly politicised noun, “cisgender“, a word literally nobody in regular society ever uses.

They’re failing of course. What is being demanded by Hannah is the rights of women, including the right to play sport against broadly equivalent physical competitors, are encroached upon rather than face biological and physical reality.

Until about five minutes ago, women’s sport was a limited entry competition. To join, you were required to posses a vagina and not have benefited from testosterone outside of a normal range for women.

Not that the entry criteria used to be quite as gauche to state that, but we all understood the meaning of the noun, “woman”, back then.

Stories like this are implicitly requiring us to not comment on the physical evidence being presented to our eyes. Any innocent young child will look at the picture above and realise there is a man standing in a group of women.

As adults, we are being dared to notice and comment on it.

As Douglas Murray points out in his excellent book, The Madness of Crowds, now we pretend we don’t know things we’ve always known to be true until very recently.

There’s a strawman…

….waiting in the sky, he’d like to come and meet you but he thinks he’ll blow your mind.

With apologies to Saint Bowie.

This cartoon appeared in a national newspaper. It presumably got past the editor without too much difficulty.

The sycophantic responses to the cartoonist Cathy Wilcox’s soshal mejia post with this are instructive. Not a single reply pointing out what’s depicted is not “speech”.

What does that tell us? One possible explanation is that her little corner of Twitter is an echo chamber. Or, following the recent purges, perhaps that describes all of Twitter. I don’t know, I steer well clear of the modern Bedlam, only dipping in when people send me links.

Bill’s Opinion

To suggest the cartoon is guilty of falling for the strawman fallacy doesn’t seem anywhere near adequate a description of what’s going on here.

We have to assume one of two things are happening; either the cartoonist and editor have a wildly immature grasp of the concept of free speech, or they deliberately changed the definition.

If the latter, why?

I’m not a mind reader, I’m not going to speculate.

It saddens me though that the left seem to be currently taking great joy in encroaching or at least cheering the idea of encroaching on actual freedom of speech whilst hardly any of their team is suggesting moderation.

Remember when freedom of speech was the left’s cause while the religious right were the ones trying to shut it down?

If you don’t, let’s remind you of the true story behind the quote in the film, The Blues Brothers, “I hate Illinois Nazis“.

Can you imagine the ACLU defending that case today?

How about we all try a bit harder to define and agree a principle and then apply it objectively? The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.

Jenna hates….. the free speech of

….MP Craig Kelly.

Jenna Hates has been given the keys to the Sydney Morning Herald Grievance Vehicle again this week.

Today’s subject of her trademark bitterness and hatred is an MP whose views she can’t stand.

Jenna and I have much in common in that regard, she’s just more discriminatory than me as I can’t stand the views of all MPs.

One of Mr. Kelly’s constituents has decided to undertake a personal project of offence archeology and, helpfully, our resident academic, Jenna Hates, has convinced a national newspaper it’s interesting enough to publish. No, really.

Tom Kristensen is a landscaper, artist and just owner-built a house in Hughes. But sometime in 2019, he turned his mind to local politics. Not to stand for election, no way, he’s never been a member of any political party, too sceptical.

But his local member had started to use Facebook to spread messages which the ecology graduate knew were not based on any kind of scientific evidence. Kristensen got busy. He decided to note and analyse every single Facebook post on Craig Kelly’s page, its topic, its style of writing and its image.

…. as any reasonable person would do….. if they were OCD.

Also, “not based on any kind of scientific evidence” just slipped in there without a supporting description of the method used to come to that conclusion. We mention this because the word “any” is doing a lot of heavy lifting.

Jenna Hates helpfully reminds us of the peer review process or lack there of:

This isn’t for academic research. It is to save the nation from his dangerous conspiratorial and anti-science influence. His job is to represent his community. What he is actually doing is misleading his constituents, misrepresenting science, endangering lives.

We do love a good blood on their hands accusation.

What conspiracy theories is he peddling?

The worst seems to be the false flag theory about last week’s attack on The Capitol. Yeah, that’s pretty daft, particularly from someone who is an elected official. I’m not sure how it risks the lives of Australians though.

The other two themes Jenna Hates, erm, hates, are his suggestion that two existing approved drugs might be used as pharmaceutical treatment for the Kung Flu ‘rona.

Again, unless he’s able to influence the medical profession into prescribing these, it’s just words.

Of course, we could have predicted Jenna’s preference on how to deal with Kelly, it’s a shame the bookies aren’t taking bets. Spoiler alerts, it doesn’t involve presenting counter evidence and debating him or getting up off her arse and actively campaigning for an alternative candidate:

It is such a shame we don’t have a code of conduct for parliamentarians, or an Australian Federal Integrity Commission, which perhaps could punish behaviour like this and send those responsible to Siberia (looking forward to the debate in parliament this year).

Hands up who thinks she’s only partially joking about Siberia?

Bill’s Opinion

For the record, I have no opinion on Craig Kelly as I avoid reading about Australian politicians as much as I possibly can, mainly due to the obvious fact they are stupid at best but usually with the added bonus quality of venality.

I also don’t know whether the two drugs listed reduce the impact of the virus or not. I’m willing to bet neither do you or Jenna Hates. I’m certain Kelly hasn’t a Scooby Doo.

Why don’t we know? Because they’ve been politicised. If you mention them, you will be labelled a conspiracy theorist and dangerously right wing.

In a world other than the Clownworld we’re currently inhabiting, existing approved pharmaceutical therapies for conditions adjacent to the virus would be taken through objective scientific enquiry and the results published for the medical profession to assess. If they prove effective, we’d all be happy. If not, we’d shrug and move on.

In 2021, however, we talk about shutting down the speech of those who suggest such a thing.

2021 already looks like its theme will be authoritarianism.

Mostly peaceful

The online world is a bit of a dumpster fire this week, with everyone with an opinion feeling uninhibited enough to let us know their hot take on the situation, with the added not insignificant bonus of publicly demonstrating their virtue.

Careful observers with memories longer than a few months might spot some slight inconsistencies in these public opinions, however.

For example, those who are loudly proclaiming on their soshal mejia accounts the Trump supporters breaking into The Capitol was an attempted coup yet didn’t speak up against any of the following:

  • The four year campaign to impeach the President on the basis of an election “hacked” by Russia which, after an expensive taxpayer funded investigation, turned out to be a big nothingburger,
  • The nightly Antifa riots in Portland, the destruction of the city centre and the implementation of a lawless “autonomous zone”,
  • The nightly attacks on the Portland courthouse,
  • The invasion of the Senate by anti-Brett Kavanaugh protesters,
  • The riots across the USA and looting of department stores in the name of BLM,
  • BLM and Antifa threatening diners in restaurants and suburban residents in their homes.

Given time and motivation, we could continue to list multiple examples of illegal and violent protest over the last four years, and undertake the offence archeology on the accounts of those who were silent then, vocal now. People are doing this for high profile names such as Alexandria Occasionally Correct with amusing results.

But for the average person, you, for example, what’s the standard you’ve demonstrated? Have you applied the same principles when your team screwed up as when the other side did?

If you didn’t, what does that make you?

Bill’s Opinion

In the few jurisdictions where it still exists, your freedom of speech should be unaffected by your record of subjective and partisan commentary.

That statement notwithstanding, your inability to apply objective standards and principles and your lack of courage to do so in public massively reduces your credibility.

You may exercise your freedom of speech to attempt to persuade us that, despite the long history of coup attempts and successful coups around the world, an unarmed raggle taggle bunch of cosplay Davy Crockets entering a building is a clear and present danger to the world’s most powerful military force. We, however, will judge those twitterings in the context of your previously demonstrated commitment to consistency.

My view on the events in The Capitol are that it was illegal and the rule of law must be maintained. That was also my view on the looting during the summer of BLM, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, and all of the other illegal acts we witnessed last year but were given a free pass by many for reasons of political expediency.

I suggest this is a time for a long look in the mirror in case the Nietzsche quote applies to you:

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

…and don’t do it again!

…unless you want to.

Well, that certainly gave President Xi a piece of our mind. I hope he reads it carefully and has second thoughts about his nasty policy of reneging on the 50 year agreement to not impose Chinese legislation on Hong Kong.

One can only imagine the reaction in the inner circle of power in Beijing, they must be absolutely shitting their pants.

Well, imagine no further; we’ve been very fortunate to have access to a secret recording of President Xi’s reaction.

Helpfully, it has been translated for us by Kevin Rudd. Many of you may not be aware, because he doesn’t like to mention it, but the former Australian Prime Minister is fluent in Mandarin:

(Presidential aide passes the text of the Australian response to the arrests to Xi)

(Pause while he reads it)

(Xi scrunches the paper into a tight ball and aims it at the basketball hoop on his wall. Throws and gets it in).

President Xi: Three points! Yao Ming eat yer heart out!

Bill’s Opinion

In August 2019 I wrote about Australia’s quandary on how best to deal with China.

This piss weak response to a further incursion in to the freedoms of the Hong Kongers, supposedly protected under international law, tells us which side of the Chamberlain/Churchill spectrum the current Australian Federal Government have chosen to sit.

That’s fine, we can choose appeasement and cowardice if that’s what we feel is best for our interests. But let’s just admit it then, rather than pretending we’re some kind of moral arbiter and guardians of objective truth.

Without Chinese trade links, Australia is more fucked than a Wan Chai whore after a weekend when a US aircraft carrier has been in town.

They know that, we know that and they know we know that. Which means China can do what the fuck they like and we won’t lift a finger, except perhaps to wave a piece of paper thus:

Dine and discover unintended consequences

There’s a trial underway in New South Wales which apes Boris Johnson’s “Eat out to help out” stimulus from earlier in the year.

The NSW version is the “Dine and discover” programme.

It’s being trialled in The Rocks area of Sydney, later to be rolled out to the rest of the state.

It differs from the UK version however, as the business categories eligible for the stimulus are far greater, including “scenic and sightseeing transport”, “recreational activities such as go-karting, indoor climbing, mini-golf, billiards, bowling or ice-rinks”, “outdoor adventures”, and “travel agencies and tours.

Can anyone see a flaw in the scope of the trial and what do we think happens next?

Bueller? Anyone?

There are plenty of pubs and restaurants in The Rocks, but go-karting and outdoor adventures? Not so many. Similarly, there’s not a huge number of travel and touring businesses based out of the small historic part of Sydney.

Why is this a problem?

Well, what won’t be tested as these $25 vouchers are rolled out is whether there’s an opportunity for misuse and fraud.

Anyone who’s ever previously met another human will instinctively know the axiom, if fraud is possible and a large enough number of people are involved, fraud will occur.

Bill’s Opinion

It’s an absolute certainty there will be multiple cases of newly-registered or previously dormant businesses making a load of free money from innovative use of these vouchers.

At its simplest, a scam might simply launder part of the $25 back to the consumer, say, $20 in cash back to you while my “scenic tour business” pockets a fiver and nobody says anything.

More imaginative minds than mine will be working on various elaborate and profitable versions of this idea right now.

This is little league stuff compared with some of the Bernie Madoff-esque scams surely underway already in financial markets, though.

2021 is going to be the “everything bubble” party. Perhaps 2022 is when the hangover kicks in?

2021 surely can’t be any worse?

Gonna sleep down in the parlor

And relive my dreams

I’ll close my eyes and I wonder

If everything is as hollow as it seems

When you think that you’ve lost everything

You find out you can always lose a little more

I been to Sugar Town, I shook the sugar down

Now I’m trying to get to heaven before they close the door

Bob Dylan

Last year’s predictions weren’t too far off the mark, with the minor exception of missing a global pandemic and subsequent complete overreaction by practically every national government…..

“Other than that, Mr Waite, how was your holiday in Beirut?”

On to this year’s predictions then:

Australian Politics

Internal borders will continue to open and close like a hooker’s legs throughout the year. The two week quarantine for international travellers will remain all year.

An Australian university will threaten to declare bankruptcy and will be bailed out by the federal or a state government.

An interviewee will point out to a Sky News Australia talking head that they can’t simultaneously berate Dan Andrews for his response to Kung Flu whilst complaining the rest of the world are overreacting to a virus with a 99.93% survival rate.

Global Politics

Kamala Harris will take over the presidency from a medically-impaired Joe Biden. For this selfless act of bravery, she will will receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

A proxy war between China and the western powers will be fought in SE Asia.

The USA will return to the Iran nuclear deal. Somewhat related, mysterious explosions will continue to occur at various locations in Iran followed by an innocent face and shrug of the shoulders in Jerusalem.

The UK will have a new Prime Minister, most likely Dishy Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss.

An EU-sceptic party will win an election outright or by enough to form a coalition government in one of the 27 states.

The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell will result in weasely apologies and withdrawal from public life of several high profile figures.

A Black Lives Matter leader will be arrested for embezzlement and fraud.

Zeitgeist

The new “Trump TV” internet channel will overtake CNN’s viewing figures within a week of being launched.

As crowds return to sports matches, nobody will kneel before kick off for fear of ridicule.

A new hedonistic and illegal music/dance/drugs genre will emerge as teenagers and twentysomethings kick out against the societal restrictions. It will be inspirational for about as long as the northern hemisphere summer lasts and then it will crash and burn.

Alec Baldwin launches a charity with Rachel Dolezal and Shaun King to help sufferers of the newly identified condition, TransEthnic.

Harry and Megan Windsor-Markle’s podcasts and Netflix output is quietly dropped due to awful listening/viewing figures.

Sport

England wins the Grand Slam in the Six Nations.

The British and Irish Lions tour will go ahead in empty stadia and will be won 2-1 by South Africa.

The Olympics will also go ahead but will be a dull collection of the sports you wouldn’t normally pay to watch, as always.

Economy

Gold will reach new highs and stay above $2,100 an ounce all year.

Bitcoin will reach $35,000 and also fall to $18,000 and back again.

Tesla will reach a market capitalisation of $1 trillion but you still won’t personally know anyone who owns one.

All major stock indices will have and maintain major rises.

Several major airlines will be nationalised.

Bill’s Opinion

Some serious, some jokingly serious.

On verra, on verra.