What is measured is managed

Just as the UK’s “envy of the world”, National Health Service became the National Covid Service in 2020, failing to keep millions of potentially life-saving appointments, the Australian media-political class has become a single issue organisation.

If a better example can be found than this, I’d love to see it; yesterday, a 15 year old boy tragically died in hospital.

What did he die of?

Meningitis.

What was the narrative in the media and politics?

Covid.

A little later in the morning, the sub headline was added which at least mentions the mild and irrelevant condition the poor kid also had whilst he was suffering with Kung Flu.

They can’t help themselves though. In the body of the report, this quote stands out:

“It is unclear exactly when Osama contracted Covid-19.”

The article has been re-written from earlier today, making it clearer the cause of death wasn’t Covid but the initial impact of the headline and article was that a 15 year old died of/with Covid.

Nowhere in the earlier or later version of the report was a statement or even speculation of the cause of his meningitis. Mere details, one supposes, compared to a seasonal respiratory virus he otherwise would have had a 0.002% chance of dying from.

What, then, should parents of teenage kids in Sydney be more concerned about; Covid or meningitis?

Bill’s Opinion

The media and our politicians are not fit for purpose. They probably haven’t been for decades but this is really the moment we need to realise it.

“Why is this lying bastard lying to me?”

Famously, this question was Jeremy Paxman’s inspiration when he had to interview politicians.

It’s a great starting point, regardless of jurisdiction or political hue.

For example, this statement today by NSW’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant (bold highlighting mine):

Vaccination is part of the solution. It helps us because if the person is vaccinated, there is less chance that they get the disease particularly if they have had two doses. And therefore, it means are less likely to pass it to others. And also less likely to need hospital care and admission to intensive care.”

Really? It’s just that the reports coming from the almost completely vaccinated Israel, Iceland and Gibraltar seem to totally contradict that.

Mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors is another questionable imposition.

According to the USA’s CDC, there’s little to no evidence of outdoor transmission.

While we’re referencing the CDC, what do they say about the evidence of transmission from surface contact? You know, the reason behind all the billions of gallons of hand sanitiser being poured in to the water cycle?

In their own report, it’s low risk. If the CDC state it’s low risk, I think it’s a safe assumption the chances of catching it from a door knob or shopping trolley handle are trending close to zero.

We could devote pages of this blog to listing all the statements made during this epoch of incredulity we now know to be lies; quarantine is racist, masks don’t work, it didn’t leak from a lab, flatten the curve, herd immunity, lockdowns work, vaccine passports won’t be required, vaccines won’t be mandated, etc.

The laundry list of lies is not really the point, is it?

The question we aren’t seeing anyone in the media ask is why the fuck are we still listening to these liars?

Bill’s Opinion

Never before in the history of humankind has The Gell Mann Amnesia Effect done so much heavy lifting.

We learn almost daily that we’ve been lied to and yet, the following day, we unquestioningly accept more statements as fact from the very same lying liars.

Fool me one time, shame on you. Fool me two times, shame on me.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

“Who Do You Wish You Were?” New TV show on SBS

Apparently, Australians will soon have a new series on their TV screens, a remake of the long-running popular genealogy and ancestry show, Who Do You Think You Are?.

As we’ve seen with Bruce Pascoe, incentives matter. If there’s a benefit to be had by claiming a particular ancestry, regardless of whether or not it’s true, a minority of people will claim it.

The new Australian version has a subtle twist, however. It’s been “Pascoed”, instead of looking for one’s real relatives, the show will invent a family tree based on whatever the relevant incentives reward.

In Bruce’s delightfully entertaining episode, he learns he has 3 Aboriginal parents and 7 Aboriginal grandparents. The researcher even helpfully “discovered” Maori and Aztec great grandparents, thus expanding Bruce’s lucrative future career options.

Completely unrelated (literally and figuratively), last year Australians across the country celebrated the arrival of their first Indigenous neurologist. Despite the pandemic, street parties were held, speeches were given.

Let us hear her story:

Dr Dos Santos grew up in Nambucca Heads on the NSW mid-north coast, also known as Gumbaynggirr country, and her Indigenous heritage stretches back to her great-grandfather.

It must have been tough, growing up in the racist environment that is Australia. We can only imagine the systemic disadvantages she encountered and overcame in her school and subsequent journey to qualifying as a neurologist.

Dr Dos Santos said she lost touch with Indigenous culture after a series of family splits, and because she attended a Christian high school and did not encounter any other students of Aboriginal descent.

Wait, what?

“When I was at university I realised that I’m an Aboriginal person and I should be really trying to reconnect with that,” she says.

I know what you’re thinking, and it makes you a bigot. Of COURSE one doesn’t need to know what race you are to suffer systemic and ongoing racism because something something lived experience, my truth, etc.

For example, whilst being unable to give a single example of being personally discriminated against (otherwise one would assume she’d say so in an interview specifically about the subject), she did witness lots of subtle digs about other people. Which I think we can agree, is analogous to Apartheid and lynchings:

It’s the casual racism and subtle digs that Dr Dos Santos picks up on, often coming from people who don’t know about her Indigenous connections.

“Sure, my skin colour is not the stereotypical Aboriginal skin colour,” she says matter-of-factly.

“So I would hear racial slurs that would be said to me, but not about me. They wouldn’t have said it if they knew that I was Aboriginal.”

Dr. Angela Dos Santos, a proud Gumbaynggirr woman.

Bill’s Opinion

Incentives really do matter, don’t they?

If government largesse, media profiles and employment quotas are distributed on the basis of a concept so poorly-defined as “race”, there will be an increase in the identification of people as that race, regardless of where they sit on the Pascoe Scale.

The problem legislators and the well-meaning have failed to anticipate or grapple with is, at what fraction of ancestry does the negative impacts of systemic racism cease to be measurable?

Bigots might say it’s like a racist version of the sub-prime crisis of 2008, labelling people as 100% Aboriginal despite having only one Aboriginal ancestor 3 generations ago. If your DNA is no greater than 1/8th (perhaps even less if the great grandparent was mixed race), are you Aboriginal like the people living in squalor in Alice Springs or are you, in fact, a CDO bundle of sub-prime claiming to be Triple A?

As Steve Sailer points out:

Since the Bolt decision of 2011, it’s been more or less illegal to joke in the Australian press about all the white people claiming the privileges of diversity.

So, that’s not what I’m doing here. I’m just asking questions.

Can Robert Cialdini please come to the office?

….we’ve got a situation, Mr. Cialdini.

Mr. Cialdini famously wrote in his work, Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion, of the six main principles behind persuading other humans.

They are summarised here:

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Commitment and Consistency
  3. Social Proof
  4. Authority
  5. Liking
  6. Scarcity

Which of these do we think Georgia is hoping to leverage?

Reciprocity? Nah; it’s a very long bow to draw to hope that, because she took a hit for the team, we need to all run out and get jabbed.

Commitment and Consistency? Nope; if we’ve not already taken the jab, we’ve not committed so don’t feel the need to double down.

Social Proof? Possibly. There’s a chance that young Georgia thinks because she’s got a blue tick, we’ll do as she says. Good luck with that.

Authority? She’s a journalist. Pull the other one, it’s got bells on it.

Liking? I repeat; she’s a journalist.

Scarcity? They’re vaccinating newborns and long dead pets these days, I think the scarcity ship has already sailed.

Bill’s Opinion

It has been quite some time since I last read Cialdini but I’m fairly certain there’s nothing in the book which might suggest a selfie from a hospital bed describing life-threatening side effects of a vaccine would be an effective persuasion technique to encourage others to follow suit.

If Georgia were to read my opinion, I would recommend she do more research on persuasion techniques, starting with Cialdini.

However, it’s apparent the 27 year old is not a big fan of research, else she might have taken this data into consideration:

Pericarditis usually impacts 27.7 people per 100,000 and has a 30% recurrence rate (so not quite the “usually doesn’t lead to complications” Georgia claims).

Journalists; they’re like regular people but with the maths part removed.

Sunk cost opinions

Things are going to get interesting in the Covid Culture War.

The what? The Covid Culture War.

Don’t pretend you haven’t noticed the continuation of the Brexit/Trump/BLM bifurcation of politics and the media on to the reporting and policies around the Kung Flu.

The schism continued once the vaccines started being delivered too, with the dividing line starting with attitudes towards the risk associated with taking a nascent vaccine and then morphing in to the competing camps of opinion on what restrictions and mandates are we prepared to enforce on those who choose not to take it.

Get ready for the next stage in the journey, and this one is going to be both hilarious and instructive.

Inevitably, an effective therapeutic treatment for covid sufferers looks likely to have been discovered. Even better news, to date, Donald Trump hasn’t expressed an opinion so people don’t necessarily have to like or hate it based on their emotional reactions to the Orange Man.

Just think; an effective and cheap therapeutic treatment of the lethal effects of this virus, without the concomitant risk of a vaccine less than a year old and therefore with no credible data on the long term side effects.

That’s good news, right?

Bill’s Opinion

We’re about to learn quite how down the rabbithole our political and media class have fallen.

The rational response to this news should be to applaud it, ask for Australia to be included in the Phase III trials and monitor the results closely. After all, Australia is well behind the curve on vaccinations whilst staring down the barrel of the type of outbreak the rest of the world experienced last year.

Rationally, this could be an excellent component of a multi-pronged strategy to protect the population.

My prediction, however, is that this will not be widely reported in Australia and the Phase III trials will occur somewhere, anywhere else.

In the meantime, authoritarian restrictions will continue and increase until the magic number of vaccinations have occurred…..and long afterwards. Sorry, but if you were hoping to hug an overseas relative next year, you probably ought to reset your expectations. Severely.

Of course, the best thing about this treatment is that it was developed by the Israelis, so will annoy all the right people.

Aspirations? A distant memory for many

Apparently, the previously unannounced “zero covid” strategy is only an aspiration now.

Aspiration is such an ironic word to use, given the utter destruction of the aspirations of so many people by the pursuit of this secret policy.

Some examples leap to mind from personal experience:

The aspirations of school age children to learn and achieve similar or better educational standards of those who preceded them. Any parent who has witnessed the standard of remote teaching delivered by the New South Wales high schools can confirm kids are currently in a bizarre day care on Zoom holding pattern. Any pretence they are learning the curriculum disappeared long ago.

The aspirations of small business owners, particularly those reliant on footfall or seasonal business. They’ve learned a brutal lesson that the government can destroy their livelihoods at the stroke of a pen and an 11am press conference.

The aspirations of people to visit family overseas, for happy or sad reasons. The university graduation ceremony for a child or to attend the funeral of a parent are two personal examples.

Aspirations are hard to measure but you damn well know when they’ve gone.

Let’s remind ourselves of the reason why this juggernaut of destruction has been driven through our aspirations (source):

Bill’s Opinion

As with the financial crisis of 2008, Grandad and Granny have been bailed out by their grandkids. Again.

Nobody was asked, nobody was consulted.

But far worse than that, not a single Opposition MP or “Independent. Always” journalist is asking questions about this ongoing transfer of aspirations from the young to the old at the 11am press conferences.

Speaking truth to power. That may have been a thing once, I recall.

A nation of convicts will always need plenty of jailers

….and it would seem there’s no shortage of volunteers.

Yesterday, at our local park, a woman was furtively photographing primary school age kids enjoying themselves on the skate park, because, in her words, they were “doing the wrong thing”.

Quite what she has since done with the photos is anyone’s guess. If she hasn’t found a suitable “grass on a neighbour” police webpage to upload them to, she could always sell them to those Wokepac customers who can no longer buy images from the Philippines via the online banking systems.

Just one anecdote, you say. Sure, then we have Pirate Pete continuing his multi-decade long sulk with the rugby coach who was mean to him all those years ago, Alan Jones.

Jones has recently had his Sky News rants removed from YouTube because they break “community guidelines”. Everybody is happy about this because, well, it’s Alan Jones and everyone knows he’s a cynical troll spreading misinformation and hate.

First they came for the trolls…

Peter Fitzsimons’ incoherent column today shows us exactly who he is and, frankly, any “part-ay!” he’s attending is one to be avoided. As Konstantin Kisin recently expressed, “we are beginning to learn which side of the barbed wire we’d be on”.

Fitzsimons is cheering the prospect of a vaccine passport to restrict access to travel, sporting events, bars and restaurants to those who are “deniers”. An Ngram chart of his use of “denier” would be an interesting graphic to see; it seems to be wheeled out regularly to close down discussions in which he doesn’t wish to engage.

After a world tour of all the leaders with whom he agrees, as if that somehow constitutes a logical argument, he dismisses suggestions of “authoritarianism” because words that end in “ism” don’t mean anything.

Peter is happy to, as H. L. Mencken put it, preference security over liberty:

Here in Australia, focus on a vaccine passport has so far been mostly for plane travel, the Prime Minister announcing plans for a “digital vaccination authentication” before you’re allowed on board.

Great. That’s a start. But political dynamic that pushes for vaccine passports for planes, must soon apply to everything else, too. The NRL has already announced that from next year no fans will be able to attend its games unless they provide proof of vaccination.

No one is forcing the nutters to get vaccinated against their will. But they, equally, cannot bloody well force the rest of us to stay home in perpetual lockdown. You must stay home. Trade some conspiracy theories in the darkness of your basement to pass the time. The rest of us are going out to part-ay!

Bill’s Opinion

As Jordan Peterson points out, “everyone likes to think they’d be Schindler, the statistics overwhelmingly suggest they’d be the camp guard”.

Take the vaccine, Peter, or don’t take the vaccine, I don’t give a fuck, but keep the hell out of my life and get back in the guardhouse.

Sydney, are you OK with this?

Well, that escalated quickly. The army are “assisting” with enforcing compliance of the increasingly authoritarian laws in Sydney.

In addition, helicopters are flying around western Sydney with sirens and loud hailers to “encourage” people to stay indoors and certainly not protest against these impositions.

The laws around this current lockdown have been strengthened and extended.

What type of laws? How about wearing a mask even when outdoors?

I’m sure there’s solid scientific evidence behind that massive dilution of civil liberties, it’s just not been presented yet. Erm….

We shouldn’t be surprised by this, though. After all, the precedent has been set for us as the UK and the USA went through this a year before Australia’s unofficial “zero covid” strategy fell apart in an embarrassing mess. Governments, local authorities and police forces the world over have shown exactly how little regard they have for individual rights.

Some of those rights we took for granted which we no longer enjoy include:

Freedom of speech – social media is removing and banning dissenting voices. Look at the history of the lab leak hypothesis and what happened to those who suggested it. That the censor isn’t a government makes no difference if they are achieving the same outcome.

Freedom of movement – in Sydney, you will be fined for leaving a 10km radius of your home.

Freedom of association – protesters in Sydney are being fined. Private citizens cannot visit each other’s homes.

Freedom to work and earn – tradesmen were banned from going to work last month, and any business relying on footfall or seasonal trade has already been destroyed.

And the process of removing these rights is being “assisted” by the army. That should surely ring a few alarm bells?

Perhaps then, the only question worth asking is, “Are you ok with this?”.

If your answer is “yes”, I have a supplemental question for you.

“What, then, would it take for you to become concerned?”

Bill’s Opinion

The framing of these changes is that they are “to keep us safe”. If one assumes good faith on behalf of the law givers, there’s a line of logic we can see behind some of the laws. The debate, which we’ve obviously lost, is whether the price is worth it.

Personally, I believe we are now paying far too high a price in terms of dangerous precedent for the safety we are benefiting from. That ship has sailed though.

However, it’s hard to accept a good faith argument with regards to some of these measures. Outdoor mask wearing, for example, appears to make no logical sense.

We know that. They know that. And they know we know that.

Yet, why then?

In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.
Theodore Dalrymple

Brothers with ovaries

Somebody died of ovarian cancer and YOU are a bigot because something something language.

The linked article is about transgender waffle, so we recommend a strong cup of coffee and the expectation of having to re-read it a few times to work out what is going on while the nouns and pronouns we’ve accepted as settled for thousands of years are wrestled in to new meaning.

The TL:DR version is, man’s sister decided she was a man, lived that way for a long while, didn’t have medical checks appropriate to her biology, died of ovarian cancer. As a consequence, YOU must change the way you use language to prevent this ever happening again.

Putting the tragedy of the death aside, there’s some unintentional hilarity to be had in the article, such as:

But monitoring requires trans people, in the first instance, to engage with parts of their former self. “For those less-seen cancers there can be that real bodily disconnect and not wanting to psychologically engage with that part of the body,” says Dr Berner.

Which is a diplomatic way of saying, “you can pretend you are something you are not but reality doesn’t care”.

This statement is interesting:

“So some of the national screenings aren’t picked up: cervical screening in trans men – they’re not called. GPs are encouraged to make their own register for those patients. But that doesn’t always happen. Some GPs are not aware of the risk. It involves education on both sides and building a culture of greater trust in the healthcare profession.”

Imagine being a GP with a trans person on your patient list. It’s time for a regular, age-based check up for testicular or ovarian cancer. Do you, A. Call them in and risk this type of reaction or, B. Go to the next person on the list?

As for the “education” needed, one imagines a possible cause of the problem may lie in the fact the trans people demanded their medical records are amended to say the opposite gender to the one they are, biologically-speaking.

To prevent this confusion ever happening again, a charity has been set up. The work it’s doing is vital, really making a massive difference to humanity:

Following extensive work with trans and non-binary groups, the task was to find language and images that would be inclusive of those whose bodies might not fit into typical ideas of chests or breasts. The two charities opted to use pictures of fruit as a guide for what to look out for: changes in size, shape, skin texture, lumps or nipple discharge.

Curious readers might wonder whether this campaign is perhaps not addressing the root cause of the problem but the symptoms instead?

If confirmation were needed, there’s an interesting small detail in the article suggesting denial of discomforting reality is a family trait:

The Duncans do not stage funerals – they don’t believe in them – and so Sean did not have one either. Instead, Duncan is left considering the loss of his big brother. “What could there have been?” he asks. “I’ve never indulged myself in [thinking about] that because that’s where the genuine sadness lies – the missing years. It’s difficult. Grief is indeed the price you pay for love.”

Bill’s Opinion

I have huge sympathy for people who are uncomfortable with their body, it must be a terrible daily struggle to find an acceptable way of existing.

My sympathy ends, however at the point you demand I change my life, including the meaning of language I and millions of others have tacitly agreed to since language existed.

Going along with a pretence you are something you are not may be a kindness we can offer trans people. Extending that pretence into the realms of the medical however, is irresponsible and, ultimately, cruel.

Your inability to engage with reality has consequences, some of which may cause you avoidable harm.

The art of the deal. Queen’sland edition

The definitive How To guide for negotiation was originally published in 1987. By any objective measure, it’s long due an update.

Just like with the proliferation of different editions of the board game Monopoly (London, Paris, Harry Potter, S&M Fetish, etc.), we therefore bring you a précis of The Art Of The Deal; Queen’sland Edition.

Chapter One – Understand Your BATNA

The Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement is your backstop. What’s the least you can live with if the other party doesn’t come to the negotiating table?

Some might say, in the example of negotiating a deal to bring The Olympics to your city, the BATNA is to simply walk away. After all, there’s plenty of risk associated with these events, it’s been a long time since one turned a profit and don’t have cost blow outs. The current games is going to cost the Japanese taxpayers at least $1.5bn.

Obviously, the collective brainpower of the Australian state of Queen’sland will ensure this fate doesn’t apply to them.

Fortunately, Premier Anna didn’t need to exercise her BATNA as hosting the Olympics is an excellent boost for the large country town city of Brisbane and there will definitely be no negative consequences during the remainder of term in office, or indeed at all.

Chapter Two – Know Your Opponents

In the case of the bidding process for the 2032 Olympics, this chapter is a short one; Brisbane was the last city standing.

This chapter of the book has a small footnote written in 0.1 size text and white font on a white background. Helpfully, we’ve expanded and darkened the text here:

If you find yourself the only buyer in an auction, consider the possibility the non-bidders have one more data point than you.

Chapter Three – Ink The Deal

This must be done in person. Jump the queue for a vaccine, take an expensive flight, go back on your word to not attend any ceremonies or events and take up a room in hotel quarantine that otherwise would have been wasted on a person who perhaps wanted to say goodbye in person to a dying relative.

Chapter Four – Hearts and Minds

Signing the deal is just the start, now you must sell the benefits to all important stakeholders. It’s probably a good idea to downplay any negatives such as setting Greece up for a terrible GFC or the $2bn loss for the Rio games.

Fortunately, Anna has set herself up for success already by bringing thousands of Australians together in a united cause.

Chapter Five – Two Envelopes

All deals will eventually get into difficulties. Fortunately for Anna, any minor problems such as taking on massive debt will be experienced by her political successor. Perhaps she will give them two envelopes when she leaves office?

Bill’s Opinion

Let’s face it, the Olympics is mainly a bollocks collection of boutique “sports” nobody ever pays to watch ordinarily.

Other than the 100m final, the rugby sevens and the hilarious “female” weightlifting featuring Lauren Hubbard, I won’t be bothering watching.

If my assumption that we are living in the post freedom age is correct, the people of Queen’sland may find themselves holding a very expensive event with no overseas spectators.

Queen’sland; the smart state.