“Free speech” isn’t just the speech you agree with, Fitzy

An Australian rugby player has annoyed people on social media by posting evangelical Christian beliefs.

An ex-Australian rugby player, now a columnist, has called for his contract to be suspended until he apologises and, in his words not mine, repents.

Slow news days in Australia tend to be like this.

Peter Fiztsimons has a good point; Israel Falau’s contract with the ARU does have restrictions on his public behaviour and speech. In that regard, by signing the contract he has agreed to further limitations, beyond those already on the law books, to his freedom of speech.

This is a matter between employer and employee.

So far, so boring. We all have a range of views on the topic Folau has posted about on social media, some of us have multiple opinions on the same topic depending on the time of day. That’s not really the point.

What’s fascinating here is the use of the term “repent” and the suggestion that Folau’s behaviour is homophobic. To risk bringing the concept of nuance and subtlety to a nation not previously known for its philosophers and intellectuals, could we suggest that there’s actually no proof that Folau is homophobic?

Sure, he’s stated that homosexuals are on their way to hell, but that’s simply repeating a view endorsed by, among others, the Catholic Church, most Anglican denominations and Islam. So, it’s a view shared wholly or at least partially by almost 5 billion people, i.e. more than half of humanity.

It’s worth noting that he’s never stated that he hates homosexuals or that he believes they are deserving of eternal damnation, just that his understanding of scripture suggests that’s where they’re heading.

Again, a subtle point but we do need to try to pull the conversation back to what was said, not what we think was in the mind of the speaker. None of us are mind-readers.

As for Fitzsimon’s call for Folau to repent, it’s not clear what form this would take for it to be acceptable. An apology for breaking the terms of his contract of employment doesn’t seem like it would satisfy Peter. By the use of the verb, repent, he seems to be suggesting a change of opinion is the only acceptable way to seek forgiveness.

In other words, he needs Folau to stop believing something that he, presumably, holds as true as part of the core teaching of his faith.

Bill’s Opinion

I don’t want to know what sports people’s beliefs are on matters of religious doctrine. I really just don’t give a fuck. I don’t share Israel Folau’s views on this or many other philosophical areas of discourse. I do like the way he can catch a ball, sprint and side-step, however.

I also don’t want the world I live in to be one where bandana-wearing columnists get to call for the termination of someone’s employment for having the wrong faith.

There is much whataboutery we could invoke at this point. For example, we could ask for just a single example where Fitzsimons has defended anyone with an opposing opinion to his to hold that opinion without being hounded off social media, out of their employment or other similar consequences.

The easiest job in the world is to defend someone’s right to believe the same things as you.

Imagine there’s no money….

Australia has a newly-designed 50 cent coin adorned with 14 indigenous words for “money”.

Except…..

Money, or an object which abstractly represented the value of goods and services, did not exist in Australia before European colonisation. Trade occurred, but it was between items deemed to be of similar worth, for example, pearl shell, quartz, food or songs. With the entry of money into the Indigenous economy, new words were needed to refer to coins and later, notes.
Most Indigenous words for money come from words for “stone”, “rock” or “pebble”, no doubt in reference to the size and shape of coins.

Right. So the new 50c coin has 14 indigenous words for “pebble”.

What’s the Aborginal translation for the adjective “fungible”?

Bill’s Opinion

This epitomises the very modern desire to retro-fit the current definitions of civilisation on a culture that had nothing even close to these features.

Other versions of this delusion include universities offering courses on “Aboriginal science” and primary schools teaching “Aboriginal sports”; what was observed and documented (by Europeans!) might have prima facia appeared to have been similar to science or sport but really had nothing tangible in common with the European definitions of these things.

The concept of the noble savage was a retrospective re-writing of history to salve Western guilt.

Peter Hartcher probably thinks this is objective

Time to fisk, Right Wing Nationalists Are Learning From the UK’s Pointless Ugliness.

Now that Brexit is indisputably established as one of the most monumentally stupid pieces of self-inflicted injury by a developed nation this century, other nations are learning key lessons from its mistakes.

Brexit hasn’t happened yet. In other news, the UK economy’s growth is currently outstripping that of all of its European neighbours, particularly Germany. Sure, the onmishambles that the British are currently suffering in Westminster is a national embarrassment but I’m not seeing much that could be called a “self-inflicted injury”.

The concept behind Britain’s decision to leave the European Union was that it would recover its sovereignty. On the day that Britons voted by 52 per cent to 48 in favour, its main cheerleader, Nigel Farage, declared it “independence day”. That was nearly three years ago.

Other than padding to hit the word count, I’m not sure what this tells us that anyone not living under a rock doesn’t already know. Three years, you say? Article 50 was always going to be at least a two year process, as advertised during the referendum campaign.

Today the country is a global laughing stock. It’s in an interminable dead-end, neither able to move forwards nor back. It’s lost investment and jobs, political stability, national credibility and, perhaps worst of all, it’s inflicted new anger and division within British society.

Let’s take those statements one at a time, shall we?

The country is a global laughing stock – Maybe. Or perhaps the politicians are the source of amusement. As for Britons caring what others think of them; there are only about 20 countries in the world, i.e. 10%, who we’ve not had a bit of a ruck with in the past. As Millwall fans chant, “Everyone hates us, and we don’t care”.

Dead end? Perhaps, but again, if the politicians can’t pull their fingers out of their arses by 11pm on Friday we’ll be moving one way…. out of the EU.

Lost investment? See the previous comment about the relative strength of the economy. Also, predicting what would have happened to an economy if something hadn’t happened is a mug’s game. QV the Bank of England’s predictions of Armageddon should the vote go the “wrong” way.

Lost jobs? Unemployment is the lowest it’s been for decades.

Political stability? Yes, and as we can see, the politicians have been found wanting. More instability please.

National credibility? This is from a journalist who presumably would claim he comes from a democratic country yet they change Prime Minister every 18 months and government every 36 months. Oh, and they’re in the insalubrious club of nations that enforce voting by law.

Anger and division? Yes, mainly concentrated at those paid to do a job and yet can’t.

Across the other 27 members of the EU, the main lesson learnt is that it’d be a bad idea to follow Britain out the door. In one country after another, the political parties that were inspired by Brexit have dumped their campaigns.

This isn’t quite giving the message Peter thinks it does. Perhaps nobody should wish to be in a club that punishes you for leaving? See also; Islam.

Two years ago, the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen was demanding a referendum on whether to leave the EU, a Frexit, as was known. Today she speaks of making the EU work better. Italy’s Matteo Salvini of the League ran a right-wing nationalist campaign to reject the EU common currency, the euro, but now, as deputy prime minister, he has stopped using the hashtag #BastaEuro – enough of the euro. The idea is now effectively moribund. In Austria, the Freedom Party dropped its call for a referendum on dumping the euro and joined a coalition government that favours the status quo.

Again, Peter’s not really giving the message he thinks he is here. Some of us read this as a declaration of hostilities against any population that dares to defy the will of the EU. That’s a club nobody sane should wish to join.

Britain’s experience with Brexit has shown the world such pointless ugliness that it has boosted support for the EU to its highest in 35 years. Specifically, according to a Eurobarometer survey last year, two-thirds of Europeans say that their country has benefited from EU membership.

A survey commissioned by the EU found the EU was good? That’s some high kwality journalisming there, Peter. Bravo.

In Canada, Brexit is being used as an object lesson for secessionists in the French-speaking province of Quebec: “It has given us a picture of what actual attempts to withdraw from a long-established legislative union, as opposed to fantasies, look like,” says the National Post’s Andrew Coyne. “In particular, it has permanently discredited once-common claims that secession from Canada would be a quick and relatively painless affair.”

The Quebecois want to secede from Canada? Really, when did this shocking development occur and please explain to me again the subtle reason why nearly every Canadian Prime Minister always seems to have to come from Montreal?

This point carries particular force for any Australian thinking of voting for Clive Palmer, who is running candidates across the country for the federal election in a shameless attempted comeback even as his creditors try to recover hundreds of millions from his collapsed Queensland Nickel.

Palmer proposes that North Queensland break away and form a separate, new state. Ironic, perhaps, for his so-called United Australia Party. Palmer has learnt nothing from Brexit. He is either a buffoon or an irresponsible populist.

That’s the sound of Peter jumping a shark. Clive Palmer has three fifths of fuck all support from the Australian population, he’s lucky to get a majority of support in his own family. Brexit, on the other hand won a majority in the biggest democratic turn out in British history.

And this is the first lesson that Australia, like countries everywhere, should learn from Brexit. Populists offer emotional appeals that lead to dead ends, just as Farage led Britain to Brexit.

An alternate lesson might be, voting for anything the ruling class don’t like is a futile gesture. Better to let the politicians and journalists make all the difficult decisions and you lot can go back to watching Married at First Sight.

There are many definitions of populism. The one I prefer is that populism offers unworkably simple solutions to complex problems. Palmer is not the only populist on the ballot paper at the federal election. One Nation is another standout. Single-issue parties are no better.

….unworkably simple solutions to complex problems”. I think you’ve just described every opinion column and editorial in your publication, Peter.

Brexit has been described as a crisis of many types. A crisis of national identity, a crisis of leadership, a crisis of the Tory party, a crisis of British politics, a crisis of democracy, a constitutional crisis, and so on. And you can make a solid case for each of these claims. But, at its broadest, the Brexit dead end is a crisis of overpoliticisation. That is, every realistic and practical element of the national interest is lost to a self-interested free-for-all, like hyenas preying on the body politic.

Brexit has also been described as the British people doing what the British people do very well; holding the ruling class to account occasionally. The alternative approach, as demonstrated in “less happy lands” (to quote The Bard), is violent revolution.

The triumph of Farage’s populist “Leave” campaign dealt Britain a jolting blow to the head, disorienting the political system and signalling to the politicians that it was time to let their inner hyenas out. Overpoliticisation is not simply where a government can’t get its way in an uncooperative parliament. That is standard in a democracy. It will often occur for perfectly legitimate reasons of difference over principle or policy. It often happens that the Australian Senate, which was designed to represent a different priority of interests to the House, will block legislation that has passed the lower house.

Brexit is not overpoliticisation; it’s 17.4 million people explaining to about 400 MPs that they have an opinion that’s 180 degrees different to theirs and, lest you forget, we pay your salaries.

As the chaos of the British parliament demonstrates, overpoliticisation is where there is a breakdown of any goodwill or discipline within the parties themselves. It can’t happen here? It already has. In Australia’s case, it was not as all-encompassing as Brexit. But the pathetic tale of climate change and energy policy in Australia over the last decade is a clear case of overpoliticisation. The net result so far is a policy dead end, where a government of six years is about to go to an election without an energy policy.

Brexit and Australia’s woeful energy policy are linked? That’s a bloody long bow to draw.

Electricity prices have soared, companies are being put out of business, Australia’s carbon emissions commitment is in doubt, and the entire power grid is approaching collapse. As the Australian Energy Market Commission reported last week, “the grid is holding up but only because the energy market operator is intervening on a daily basis to keep the lights on”. And this in a country that is an energy superpower.

This national failure didn’t happen because of the routine operation of Australia’s political system. First a Labor government, and then Coalition ones, proved unable to cohere around a policy. The parties fractured within. Labor struck down its own prime minister over an emissions trading system, pitching the Rudd and Gillard governments into a disarray that neither recovered from.

Then it was the Coalition’s turn. Even after Malcolm Turnbull got his National Energy Guarantee through the Liberal party room, a revolt detonated the policy and destroyed the prime minister.

In the cases of Labor and Liberal, it was a free-for-all, without the party discipline that a Westminster system requires or the goodwill to agree on a compromise. No democracy can function without compromise.

The hyenas fed amid the chaos in a frenzy of self-interest and self-indulgence, and the Australian electorate was disgusted. Labor paid the price, and now it seems the Coalition will pay the same price at next month’s election.

All of which can be summarised as, “Australian politicians pushed an agenda that was directly against the wishes of the electorate and now they are struggling to explain why a country rich in coal and uranium has the most expensive electricity in the world”.

Britain’s madness is broader, deeper and more intractable, but Australia has shown over the last decade that it, too, is capable of ruinous over-politicisation. No matter how bad the tragi-comedy of Brexit, Australia cannot be smug.

Peter Hartcher is international editor.

Bill’s Opinion

Peter Hartcher is lacking self-awareness, an ability for introspection and is probably of the opinion that he is objective.

Independent. Always

All aboard the Malthusian Chu Chu train

It’s Steven Chu’s turn to fall down the rabbithole of Malthusian pessimism, with a public statement claiming the world’s population is a Ponzi or Pyramid scheme, where the people at the top (old people) are only supported because an increasing number of new entrants (children) enter at the bottom. Apparently, “economists don’t like to talk about this”, which is a funny thing to say given that climate change and a thousand adjacent and dependent pseudo-scientific research fields has become a global industry worth an estimated $1.5 trillion annual to the participants.

That’s a lot of dosh to splash on the problem that dare not speak its name…..

But, let’s go with it for a while and see whether Chu’s claim stands up to an objective test.

In his public statement, Chu suggests that the world economy relies on new entrants to maintain and improve the standards of living for those people in God’s waiting room.

Ok, but when has that not been the case in human history? Surely one of the main incentives for adults to have children was an health care insurance policy for their old age?

We’ve been running this model for tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands of years. Yet, now we are on the brink of collapse? Does the evidence support that? Chu suggests it does.

Yet, our old friend HumanProgress.org begs to differ. This is just one of their research articles explaining how a larger global population produces wonderful results. In fact, by any reasonable measure, things are getting better, nearly everywhere for nearly everyone. Even North Korea seems to be warming up to the idea of playing nice with the world, for heaven’s sake.

In fact, the only places where life expectancy, education levels, wealth, the environment, aren’t improving are where there governing class are still labouring under the illusion that, if only they could have more control, they’d manage things for the betterment of everyone (or at least their mates). Hello Venezuela.

Bill’s Opinion

If you really worry about the overpopulation of the planet, you’re faced with very few choices:

  1. Forcibly impose contraception, sterilisation and limits on family size.
  2. Kill the excess people.
  3. Do everything possible to encourage and enable trade with the poorest parts of the world.

#3 works because the well-documented result of increased wealth in a human population is a dramatic lowering of the birth rate.

Whenever you hear someone complain about the dangers of over-population and they don’t enthusiastically-proselytise free trade, you have to assume that they’ve already come to terms with and accepted options #1 and #2.

Thomas Robert Malthus – Still utterly wrong after 221 years.

Bouris Con-son

Mike Winnet (a pseudonym) coined the phrase “contreprenuer” to describe those who flog snake oil on social media, such as Creepbook for Business.

Examples we’ve touched on previously include Brigette and Oleg.

Australians have a few home-grown versions too, such as the very scarily-toothed Adam Hudson and our all-time favourite, Mark Bouris.

Here’s one from Mark that popped up on my timeline this morning:

So, in summary Mark, you’re flying somewhere on the weekend to flog your special brand of inspirational speaking and it became obvious that you’d get a bigger audience if the event was scheduled outside of regular working hours because…… good question, because why, Mark?

Bill’s Opinion
The reason Mark’s inspirational speaking has a bigger audience on a weekend than during regular working hours is because the people who attend aren’t entrepreneurs slogging away at their own business, they are office drones, salary slaves and the sort of people who believe that paying to hear Mark parrot out context-free quotations such as “work smart, not hard” is somehow going to be the inspiration and advice they need to make it on their own and become Australia’s Jeff Bezos.

This is the equivalent of the morbidly-obese and indolent signing up for a gym membership. It’s not the unavailability of exercise equipment that keeps you fat, it’s your innate flaws. There is no quick fix to systemic problems.

As Winnet points out, most of these snake oil salesmen have no credible track record to emulate other than an ability to trick people in to paying $197 (the fee always ends in a 7) to attend an event and receive a free “Amazon best-selling” book.

To be fair to Bouris, he has made a load of money in the past. However, if he were to be really honest about the secret to his success, it would be summed up in the following advice to others:

Firstly, be a ruthless broker between cheap global money and greedy investors during the biggest real estate bubble Australia has ever witnessed. Secondly, take your company public just as the bubble bursts”.

Right plebs, now conquer your fear and break that wooden block with a karate chop and walk barefoot across these barbeque briquettes.

In the words of Mike Winnet,

You have the same number of hours in the day as the world’s most successful people. What you lack is their drive, work ethic and talent. That’s why they are more successful than you.

Sometimes the deck chairs on the Titanic analogy *is* appropriate

Or perhaps we could remind ourselves of the apocryphal story of the English high court judge who asked the defence barrister “what are ‘The Beatles‘?”.

The Australian government is considering enforcing larger quotas on radio stations to ensure more Australian music is played.

No, not just the multiple government radio stations of ABC and SBS but commercial radio stations. ie private-owned businesses.

Let me repeat that; The government of Australia is seriously considering increasing a quota forcing what music can be played on radio stations.

No, not Cuba or Venezuela. Australia.

Check the date. No, it’s April 3rd, not the 1st.

Bill’s Opinion

Podcasts

Spotify

Apple Music

Google Play

Slacker

Tidal

Amazon Music

Who the hell listens to the radio in 2019?

My name is Ozymandias

King of kings,

Look upon my works, Ye mighty, and despair.

Many people in management roles in western businesses have visited India at some point in their career.

The following axioms apply to most of these visits:

– There is a 90% chance the visit was of little value to their organisation above being a chance at “corporate tourism”,

– The likelihood that they witnessed much of “real India” during their chauffeur ride to the five star hotel and world class modern office is trending close to zero,

– It’s highly doubtful any local currency was ever spent; the hosting supplier generally pays for everything, especially meals but sometimes the gifts to take home. Arran’s spare £12 was probably burning a hole in his pocket all week.

– Anyone who is surprised by India clearly hasn’t been watching the National Geographic channel enough.

Bill’s Opinion

Let’s be generous to Arran and assume he posted this after a few glasses of wine in the British Airways lounge.

The alternative explanation is that he’s a virtue-signalling corporate tourist projecting his uninformed and inaccurate world view on a country of a billion people.

Hey Arran, maybe try being a mensch for once.

Pope Francis, tear down this wall!

The Communist Pope (no, not the Nazi Pope, he’s playing bowls in his retirement slippers) has called border walls immoral.

Anyone who has visited or seen pictures of the Pope’s home will have been struck by the incredible displays of conspicuous wealth around every corner, crevice and niche.

Amazingly, the gold, jewels and priceless art seems to stay firmly in-situ, despite the Pope’s clear desire for open borders and his kum by yah attitude to the hordes of envious visitors each day.

It’s almost as if, oh I dunno, the huge walls, heavy doors, sophisticated locks and an actual private army seem to assist in some way in ensuring the visitors don’t doss down on the floor of St. Peter’s basilica each night and wander off with a few orbs and sceptres on their way out the following morning.

In fact, during WWII, the Vatican actively prevented asylum-seekers from entering the church by use of an ID card system. There were some famous exceptions to this such as Hugh O’Flaherty, but the general rule was “sod off and good luck with the Germans“.

Bill’s Opinion

Our trusty rule of looking at the delta between an expressed vs. revealed opinion helps determine what the truth is in this situation.

Where are the April Fool articles?

Stop reading this. Open a new browser window and go to your favourite news source (I’m talking about Australia here).

Where are the April Fools joke articles?

Traditionally, editors have a bit of fun on this day, publishing articles on Italian spaghetti trees or the Olympics creating a backwards 100m event.

Perhaps I’ve not looked hard enough but there seems to be nothing that qualifies as an April Fool on the main Australian news sites. I’m not dismissing the possibility that I’ve been gullible and walked past one and assumed it was true.

Please correct me in the comments.

Bill’s Opinion

Perhaps we are in a “post humour” era where every joke offends someone, somewhere and, because of this, all jokes must be silenced.

Oh wait, we’re saved; The Sydney Morning Herald have one;

I played a round with my secretary

…..and she’s hoping I will get her in the club.

From Creepbook for Business;

Golf is a male pastime, apparently. So presumably these ones are simply the most convincing transgender women of all time who just happen to play golf?

Angela is correct however, golf is bollocks. It’s played exclusively by people who were never any good at team sports when they were young. It’s one of those hobbies (let’s not flatter it by pretending it’s a sport) where the gear and clothing is as important as the game itself. Basically, it’s cycling for fat fuckers who want to spend most of Saturday away from their families.

Anyway, shared prejudices against golf aside, what does Angela’s posting on the social media platform for professionals say about Practicus and her?

Bill’s Opinion

Without knowing anything else about Practicus or Angela, we can safely conclude the following;

1. Practicus need to amend their mailing list for future invitations to networking events to exclude whining harridans, and

2. Angela, ironically, really needs to get out more and lighten up. Oh, and consider quite how ungrateful and spiteful she appears by this sort of virtue signalling…. except self-reflection is probably an alien concept to her.

Finally, here’s a close up of Angela’s profile picture.

When I zoom in, I’m certain I can count the hairs of at least three different cats on her clothes. Thank goodness smell-o-vision isn’t an option on LinkedIn yet.