“People are annoyed….”

That a beauty treatment is being advertised with the inference that some people might need a beauty treatment to be more beautiful.

Which people?

Well, Jemeela Jamil, for a start.

No, I hadn’t heard of her before either. Apparently, she was an English radio DJ and TV presenter who moved to the USA to be a writer but, erm, carried on with her career of being easy on the eye relying on her looks instead for reasons that must be something to do with duh patriarchy.

This screen shot from her Twitter profile indicates she’s a perfectly reasonable, rational person with no mental hang-ups whatsoever:

Someone called Janey Godley piled in as well. Janey has a blue tick on Twitter, presumably because she’s that rarity, a Scottish comedian not called Billy Connelly.

A top beauty tip for Janey might be to consider not cutting her own hair in the dark as a quicker route to improved physical attractiveness rather than putting some cream on her legs.

If you make the mistake of going on a Google research fieldtrip on Janey in particular, see if you can find anything she has written or said that falls into the broad category of “comedy”. She seems most famous for wandering around in public with a piece of cardboard with the words “Tump is a cunt” in letters coloured in with a child’s felt tip pen set and posting drunken anti-Brexit rants on YouTube.

Bill’s Opinion

When advertising a product, it’s often important to identify the potential buyer’s need or desire that would be satisfied if they bought it.

In the case of beauty treatments, the inference is, if you agree you need it, you are also admitting to the possibility that your physical beauty is not currently optimal and can be improved.

In Jameela and Janey’s case however, no amount of physical improvements can change the truth that they both have repulsively ugly characters.

Who in Ireland voted for this?

There is a worrying trend in the West of leaders with absolutely no personal investment in the future driving huge changes to the very fabric of their country.

To illustrate this point, ponder this question, What do the following leaders (or ex-leaders) have in common?

– Angela Merkel

– Theresa May

– Emmanuel Macron

– Julia Gillard

– Nicola Sturgeon

– Leo Varadker

Apart from the obvious point that they all suffer from varying degrees of Dunning-Kruger Syndrome, not one of them has any practical experience of changing nappies or dealing with 3am episodes of croup.

For differing reasons, they have no tickets in the genetic future of the species. Yet these are the people who are overseeing seismic changes to their countries, or even the entire European continent.

Today’s focus is the last one on the list, the Prime Minister or ‘Taoiseach’ (bless you, are you going down with a cold?).

His government has recently published a 30 year plan for the country, ‘Ireland 2049‘, which sets out a vision for the population, infrastructure and a wide range of other aspects of Irish life.

Thirty years. It makes the old Soviet Five Year Plans seem positively humble by comparison.

As you’d expect from a country that has a thousand year history of fiercely fighting for its independence from the neighbouring colonial power yet handed it over to Brussels in a heartbeat, the report has all the usual cause célèbre du jour boxes ticked such as climate change, diversity and gender pronouns for left-handed penguins.

This little gem seems to have slipped past without question however;

Wait, what?

The current population is 4.74m, the aged demographic is increasing and the young demographic is decreasing yet in 20 years’ time the population with have increased by a fifth?

Has Ireland invented cloning?

Of course not, they’re going to invite a million people from the rest of the world in.

Fair enough, that’s their right as a sovereign nation if that’s what the voters want.

However, is that what the voters want? Have they been asked at all?

Browsing the Irish press, there seems to be scant discussion on the immigration point, instead, the debate seems to be more about pork barrelling for infrastructure investment for various geographies.

Bill’s Opinion

It’s curious that people don’t question the fact that our children’s future is being heavily influenced by people with absolutely no skin in the game.

It’s also strange the assumption isn’t being challenged that Ireland must replace such a significant proportion of her population over the next 20 years.

Why does Ireland need to grow the number of citizens?

I can think of only three reasons:

1. To care for the aging population.

2. To maintain the pension Ponzi scheme.

3. Pursuit of a Cultural Marxist agenda.

Is there another reason?

What are the Swiss and Japanese doing? One assumes automation will factor into their plans rather than importing an additional fifth of the country from places with little cultural similarities.

If the Ireland 2040 plan continues, what’s the chances that the real number of immigrants will be more or less than one million?

Update: maths corrected.

“All we are saying, is give pills a chance”

The infamous Sydney pirate, Peter Fitzsimons, jumps the shark today with this classic long bow to draw:

Not testing illegal drugs at music festivals is like the Vietnam War.

It’s not a parody. He starts by quoting John Kerry’s famous 1971 appearance before the Senate;

How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

And then makes the comparison with young people taking illegal drugs whilst dancing to music;

How do we ask another festival-goer to die for want of instituting the very policy advocated by most of those on the front-line – the police, doctors, and emergency workers?

Of course, this is written in a left wing newspaper so the claim that most professionals back drug testing doesn’t need to be qualified or supported with data.

We’ve written about this previously and the false dichotomy being presented for political purposes.

Do your own research to discover quite how effective drug testing at festivals has been in other countries and, indeed, whether the news that the pill one has just purchased is going to be bad for you has much effect on people’s intention to consume it.

The nearest he gets to a nuanced argument is that, although drug testing isn’t that accurate currently, it will be one day so we should do it now so that we’re ready. Ok, Pete.

Meanwhile, let’s just have a minute’s silence for the 58,220 dead American men who probably would have much preferred to have gone to a music festival instead.

Bill’s Opinion

The great value Peter Fitzsimons brings to society is that, for any issue other than sports-induced head injuries, if you can’t be bothered to spend the time to work out what the best position is to take, take the opposite of Peter’s.

I bet we’re not

Perhaps Donald Trump has done something that’s ground for impeachment, maybe he hasn’t. I don’t know and nor do you.

One thing’s for certain, our generation’s Woodward and Bernstein are unlikely to be currently writing listicles for Buzzfeed.

A report in BuzzFeed alleges that Donald Trump instructed his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen to mislead Congress about his plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, a claim that has been denied by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Got any documents or other evidence to support that then?

The latest developments have stunned the political class in Washington D.C and provoked broad agreement that this is one of the biggest and most damaging news stories for Trump since Mueller’s investigation began.

Well, that’s not a high hurdle to leap, is it? Meuller has been dry-humping this investigation for longer than some of Trump’s marriages and has so far failed to find a smoking gun, or even a gun that’s recently given up smoking and is now weaning itself off vaping.

In a story attributing its reporting to two unnamed law enforcement officials, BuzzFeed reported late on Thursday night local time that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations.

The authors of the story have broken some of the most significant stories on the Trump-Russia beat, and their reporting has later been backed up by the courts.

Right, and those stories amounted to what, exactly? Excuse our cynicism but the Russia collusion story hasn’t rocked the world yet has it?

If the BuzzFeed story is correct, we are not only at another level, we are at impeachment.

The word “if” seems to be doing all the hard work there.

Bill’s Opinion

Trump may be guilty of something illegal.

Evidence would be nice though. You know, how investigative journalism used to work.

UPDATE: The impeachment excitement barely lasted half a day this time before being extinguished.

Is there a single journalist alive today who can describe the meaning of “confirmation bias”? Anyone?

Eat the rich

The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health brings together more than 30 world-leading scientists from across the globe to reach a scientific consensus that defines a healthy and sustainable diet.

The Commission is delivering the first full scientific review of what constitutes a healthy diet from a sustainable food system, and which actions can support and speed up food system transformation.

Right, so you’re going to tell everyone in the world what to eat. Ok. Good luck.

Why is the EAT-Lancet Commission needed?

Erm, I suppose the answer isn’t, “to give 22 full time staff and 30 affiliated scientists salaries and access to more research grants”?

Why is the EAT-Lancet Commission needed?

Food systems are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. They are the main user of fresh water, a leading driver of biodiversity loss, land-use change and cause eutrophication or dead zones in lakes and coastal areas. Simultaneously, unhealthy diets are the leading risk factor for disease worldwide, causing rapidly growing rates of Non-communicable-Diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, heart disease and cancers. Vast global undernutrition is adding mounting pressure to these challenges. In other words, how we grow, process, transport, consume and waste food is hurting both people and planet.

That paragraph started and ended with concern about the planet, with a little sliver of concerns about people as the meat in the sandwich.

Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement targets to reduce carbon emissions means urgently and fundamentally changing the way we eat and produce food. But key questions remain unanswered and a lack of scientific consensus is slowing down governments, businesses and civil society actors who want to take action

Right, so it’s less about what the best diet is for me and my family and more about how I can change my diet to achieve the godawful wealth transfer for no tangible outcome that is the Paris Agreement.

• We don’t have a scientific consensus to define what is a healthy diet for all humans.

• We don’t have a comprehensive review of how food production must change to be sustainable.

• We don’t have clear, science-based guidelines telling all actors how we can provide humans with healthy diets from a sustainable food system.

Yes, understood; it’s about the planet more than my health.

In fact, if you really have any interest in reducing malnutrition you’d be spending all your time and effort trying to continue this trend;

Seriously; something has gone very seriously right in the fight against global malnutrition. Work out what it was and do more of it and NOW.

Bill’s Opinion

When I want advice on what changes to my diet I should make, I will ask a medical professional, not a climate scientist, and the opinion I will seek will be specific, not general.

The 22 staff of the Eat Forum team are paid a salary from money donated by The Stordalen Foundation, The Stockholm Resilience Centre, and The Wellcome Trust, the first two of which have “climate” as their prime concerns.

Don’t take dietary advice from people who’s agenda is to save the planet before saving individual humans and who, in fact, view humans populations as an exercise in statistics.

Three cheers for Jeremy Corbyn!

The slow moving car crash that is Brexit continued last night with the government losing the vote to ratify the deal made with the EU by a unprecedented margin as predicted by everyone…… including most of Theresa May’s cabinet.

The Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, had several options in front of him at that point. He chose to call for a vote of no confidence, which, if lost by the government, will result in a General Election.

We don’t really do predictions here but we’ll make an exception in this case – there is more chance Halle Berry will turn up at my house tomorrow evening wearing sexy lingerie and holding a bottle of Krug, a box of Godiva chocolates and a Barry White playlist on her iPhone than Jeremy Corbyn winning today’s vote.

To have called for a vote that he so clearly won’t win (the rebel Conservative MPs hate Theresa May’s deal but they aren’t going to allow the Labour Party have an early chance at government either – turkeys don’t vote for Christmas) shows a depressing lack of imagination.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone with more than a passing familiarity with Corbin’s history. He used to be my MP for a while during my years in London (no, I didn’t vote for him), during which time I learned enough about him to realise he fits the “useful idiot” description perfectly. His deputy, John McDonnell, in the other hand, would be truly terrifying if he got close to the reigns of power.

Corbyn has, in effect, been wrong and proven wrong about nearly everything for nearly all his adult life. His fundamental belief is that socialism is the ideal form of political and societal organisation and that we just need to implement it correctly this time. The 200 million or more dead bodies in the 20th century are simply a statistical side note during the experiments to find the right version.

No surprise then, that a pointless gesture would be his first choice tactic. But what were his other options last night when responding to Theresa May?

Here’s a few this non-political professional can think of;

1. Commiserate Theresa May and offer to form an emergency cross-party cabinet to thrash out a counter offer to take to the EU next week.

2. Commiserate Theresa May and thank her for her efforts to negotiate in good faith with the EU but state that this has clearly been a one way street. The EU have not intended to find a mutually acceptable compromise from the start of the process and, therefore, Labour recommend the government pivot to the assumption that they are dealing with a hostile foreign power and commence planning accordingly. Labour will fully support the government in a bipartisan approach during this period of national crisis.

3. Commiserate Theresa May and ask her to return to the house within 24 hours with an outline of her revised approach to ensure an orderly exit from the EU on March 29th. The house should be offered a vote of confidence on this approach and, if lost, she will resign as Prime Minister or a general election will be called (pick one).

4. Commiserate Theresa May and then read a prepared statement which sets out, in simple language, Labour’s alternatives to the contentious elements of the bill. Offer to support the government to pass the re-submitted bill if these amendments were made.

There are probably loads more versions of these suggestions that Corbyn could have taken last night. That he took the one least likely to succeed is in character but still confusing. He suffers greatly from cognitive dissonance but this takes it to a new level.

Bill’s Opinion

What’s going on?

I can think of a few possible explanations and, frankly, I’ve not settled on which one is most probable;

1. Everything is as it appears; we have an incompetent Prime Minister, an even more incompetent Leader of the Opposition and a foreign power acting in bad faith.

2. Losing the vote was a deliberate negotiation tactic by the Prime Minister, enabling her to put the EU under pressure to improve the terms of the deal or risk the “no deal” option. The Leader of the Opposition is incompetent and the EU are acting in bad faith.

3. It’s all kayfabe. What we are witnessing is a public play between the EU and UK government to give an impression of conflict and subsequent resolution while the terms of exit have already been agreed and the strategy to achieve approval has been meticulously planned. Jeremy Corbyn is still incompetent.

4. As (3) but Jeremy Corbyn is in on the secret too.

(1) and (2) don’t concern me; we will either see a “no deal” exit (i.e. WTO terms) or a reasonable but not perfect deal.

(3) and (4) are truly scary but, to be true, using our razor, have the most unproven assumptions.

Have I missed any potential explanations?

Which do you think is most likely?

What this war needs is a futile gesture….

Romanes Eunt Domus

Nothing serious happening today worthy of commentary.

La Famile Ockham continues their European holiday and this week sees us back in The Eternal City.

January is the best month to visit Rome as the pickpockets are still in hibernation and the illegal immigrants have moved on to Calais in preparation for the opening of the spring sailing calendar.

As I will be unlikely to pass this way again for some years, I’m going to potentially risk getting a table at one of the best kept secrets in the city, and tell you that you should have dinner at Tullio’s next time you’re here. I’ve eaten there many times and it never disappoints. Hint; look at the dessert menu and, if they have Mont Blanc, plan backwards from that.

I am fully aware of the Jedi level of pretentiousness to admitting to having a favourite regular restaurant in Rome.

Anyway, as I say, Brexit votes notwithstanding, nothing important is happening on the world stage today so I wanted to share a holiday photo;

No, that’s not me, I’m the shadow.

Why did I take a photo of some random stranger at The Colosseum?

Look at what he’s doing. By the way, his head is turning because I’d just said, “what a fucking twat” to him in a loud voice. He then went for a fairly brisk walk away from me.

I’ve always wondered who on earth visits 2,000 year old monuments and inscribes, “I woz ere” on it.

If you have wondered this too, this picture will help solve the mystery.

Bill’s Opinion

Previous pan-European projects have failed.

Let’s hope tonight’s vote signals the failure of the current one.

Well, that’s a clear choice then

The democratically-elected joint Presidents of the EU have written to Theresa May with assurances that are apparently meant to help her convince parliament to vote for the recently negotiated deal.

The letter in full is here.

Parliament has the “meaningful vote” this evening around 19.00 UK time. It’s not looking likely that the deal will be ratified, but in these febrile times, who knows?

The great thing about the letter, if one chooses to read it carefully, is that it clearly signals to the UK that the EU has not, nor has any intention of in the future, negotiating in good faith.

That’s quite a bold statement, why am I so sure?

Theresa May’s biggest problem (of which she has many) is that she relies on the Northern Ireland party, the DUP, to have any chance of winning the vote.

The DUP’s prime concern is that Northern Ireland remains a part of the UK and not be become a vassal state of the Republic of Ireland and the EU.

In fact that should also be the prime concern of any resident of Britain who enjoys only having Islamic terrorism to contend with these days.

So, if you were the EU president and you wanted to give that assurance to Theresa May to pass on to the DUP, all it would take would be an extra clause in the agreement giving the UK the unilateral ability to exit the so-called “backstop”. What, maybe 2 sentences with no more that 40 words in total?

That it’s not offered in that letter and, instead, there are vague and nebulous statements about “best endeavours” signals they aren’t interested in compromising.

This is the paragraph that tells you they aren’t budging;

The European Council also said that, if the backstop were nevertheless to be triggered, it would only apply temporarily, unless and until it is superseded by a subsequent agreement that ensures that a hard border is avoided, and that the European Union, in such a case, would use its best endeavours to negotiate and conclude expeditiously a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop, and would expect the same of the United Kingdom, so that the backstop would only be in place for as long as strictly necessary.

In other words, “you’ve had our best offer, take it or leave it”.

Bill’s Opinion

Whatever happens, democracy in the UK will never be the same after this evening.

It’s anyone’s guess what comes next; riots on the street, quiet resignation of rule by elites or perhaps even the recognition that MPs are voted in to office to do as they are told?

Regardless, unless parliament can agree on a new bill to alter the current withdrawal bill or the Cabinet triggers a constitutional crisis by extending Article 50, the UK leaves the EU at 11pm, March 29th.

Deal or no deal.

When you invite a junkie into your house, you can’t have nice stuff

It’s just the rule. Every generation learns it in their own way.

For a while they think that their new drug of choice is better/safer/not as destructive as those stupid junkies of previous generations, but it always ends up with you wondering where your re-sellable stuff like records, CDs, iPods, Bose headphones, etc. disappeared.

The latest group of people to learn this lesson the hard way is that purveyor of sugary warm milkshakes for adults, Starbucks. They are having to install needle disposal bins in their bathrooms.

Apparently, this is a brilliant idea, because “inclusion”.

An alternative explanation is that this happened;

In April 2018, 2 men entered a Starbucks in Philadelphia, and sat at a table without placing an order. After a while, thy were asked to either buy something or leave. They refused both of those options, the police were called and, as they still wouldn’t buy something or leave, were arrested for trespassing.

Oh, additional fact; their skin colour wasn’t white.

Boom! Racism!

Cue viral social media outrage, protests, boycotts, hand-wringing and accusations of systemic “isms” everywhere in the hot beverage retail industry.

I’ve yet to find an interview with either of the gentleman concerned where they are asked, “so why didn’t you just buy a filter coffee for $1.85 and avoid the inevitable unpleasantness that any reasonable person could have anticipated?”. If any reader of this can find one, please add a link in the comments.

Whether or not there is systemic racism in the Starbucks’ corporate culture is not a particularly interesting question, mainly because it seems so unlikely; black people have money and drink coffee too, as long as they follow the basic rules of polite society in their stores, Starbucks would be foolish to do anything which might discourage their business.

No, the fun is to be had in the response by Starbucks to the hashtag campaigns and the consequences of their response.

Frightened witless, the management sent every staff member on a re-education course and changed the policy about using their stores without needing to make a purchase.

Here’s the list of things they hoped people wouldn’t do in response;

• No using drugs. Drug deals and use are one of the few things that employees are told to respond to with a 911 call, The Wall Street Journal reports. Employees are now encouraged to call 911 only if a situation presents immediate danger to employees or customers. So, presumably Starbucks’s stores are now the equivalent of a sovereign state with USA laws selectively applied.

• No breaking the law, including stealing or indecent exposure. Or else what?

• No drinking.

• No watching porn.

• No smoking.

• No napping.

• No talking too loudly or playing loud music.

• No disrupting others in hygiene maintenance, by doing things such as cutting nails.

• No obscenity or unwanted sexual advances.

• No panhandling or solicitation.

I quite like the “no talking too loudly” one. Having just suffered 3 hours on a train in Europe in a carriage with a millennial American who was FaceTiming his girlfriend, I’m wondering whether there’s a different definition of “talking too loudly” in the USA to other countries? Oh, and is there a competition to see how many times the word “like” can be shoe-horned into a bloody sentence?

I digress.

In a surprise to absolutely nobody, all of those “do not” rules were broken, particularly the one about not using the bathroom to shoot up, but the employees were too shit scared to call the police for fear of having a Twitter mob piling on and their piss weak management firing them.

Bill’s Opinion

Don’t invite junkies into your place, even if it means the Twitter outrage mob inflicting a severe case of hashtagging.

Also, if you’re the management of a large corporation being subjected to a bullying campaign that’s not based on fact, hold your damn nerve as they will find another target and will still want to buy your stuff next week.

Behold, my virtue!

I’m the underrepresented voice in the room“?

That may be correct; there probably aren’t too many qualified actuaries speaking at the conference who have a degree from the prestigious Babson College, including 2 years of overseas study, a year of which was at the London School of Economics, and who have been employed by organisations such as Facebook and Willis Towers.

But yes, Steven, you’ve had it bloody tough, eh?

I bet nary a day has gone by in your career when some alpha male actuary with his white privilege has made a joke at your expense, perhaps suggesting that your ethnic background had a .74684 correlation with the 9th decile of life expectancy in a random sample demographic of the Bay Area.

The cruel laughter of your colleagues must have stung.

Bill’s Opinion

When exactly did being a victim become fashionable?

What an utterly pathetic individual.

He’s had one of the best educations money can buy, a exceptionally well paid international career and yet here he is claiming victim status to his entire professional network and beyond.

Here’s an idea, Steve; do the speaking gig and donate the fee to an orphanage in Bangladesh or a charity that digs wells for sub-Saharan African villages.

Also, “white-passing“? Ever met someone with vitiligo? That’s not a term I’d chuck around casually if I were you.

Oh, and as for helpfully explaining which gender pronouns you prefer….. I’d just stick with “Twat” if I were you, it seems to suit you.