Like China in your hand

History doesn’t repeat itself but often rhymes…..

Here’s a little potted history lesson for those who are too young to remember:


Once upon a time, there was a large superpower that was, in many ways, the antithesis of what the western democracies stood for, or at least claimed to stand for. The west claimed to stand for values such as the rule of law, property rights, freedom of speech, restricted government powers, open and free elections, free men to be judged in a court of law by their peers, non-coerced contracts, etc.

The west and this superpower weren’t at a state of official war but interaction, particularly trade, was extremely limited. A company in the UK, for example, could import or export goods with this hostile superpower and its representatives could travel to and from its territory but there were caveats and restrictions to this.

At a minimum, the traveller would have a safety briefing. In some cases, the security services might give a briefing and require a post-trip debriefing to glean valuable information.

At the extreme, travellers might be wise to follow an informal form of “Moscow Rules”, even if they weren’t spooks themselves.

Why? Because the hostile superpower was a) hostile, and b) open in its disregard for those values we listed in the paragraph above. If you are visiting a country with a total disregard for the rights of the individual, you’d be a fool to wander around blithely assuming you weren’t always in danger.

That country was Russia and its associated satellite states, of course.

In 2019, we have exponentially more trade with a country that shows a similar disregard for the rule of law, property rights, etc., yet we hop on flights to Shanghai and Beijing without a second thought as to the personal, corporate or national risk we are taking. Why? Because, for most cases, we have not had reason to think they are hostile.

Sure, we know they have “re-education camps” where they have sent thousands of their own citizens in internal exile. Yes, we see the increasing use of “social credit” to bully their citizens into silence and conformity. We watch with interest as man-made islands are created in the South China Sea to secure and expand the country’s maritime territories. We witness the implementation of the One Belt and Road trading route with land purchases and infrastructure. We see huge areas of Africa being bought by Chinese government corporations. We point at strange sights such as Chinese Police-branded cars driving around the streets of Australian cities. Finally, this year we can watch on live-streaming feeds, the protests by residents of Hong Kong against changes to the legal system being met with increasingly authoritarian means, in direct violation of the international treaty promising not to do so.


The evidence is compelling that, whatever you might call the Chinese state; Communist, “post-Communist”, mercantilist, or some other suitable noun, it is far from being a free society as a citizen of a western democracy would know the term.

And yet…. corporations and governments have increased the level of trade and interaction on our behalf with the Chinese state without seemingly any commensurate increase in vigilance or precautions.

Why might that be?

Why might a country, say, Australia, be unwilling to publicly criticise any one of the nefarious activities (and more) described above, particularly in the case of clear hostile activities on Australian soil?

Bill’s Opinion

Much is written about cultural differences and how people in the west should treat other cultures respectfully. The classic is example revolves around the concept of Asian cultures setting a higher value on “face” than we in the west might.


Here’s an idea; that is a truly racist attitude. Why? Because the Chinese are an intelligent people with personal and national “agency”. They can observe our culture as much as we observe theirs. In fact, they do, and they choose to still act the way they do.

Pretending the Chinese leaders are delicate flowers whose feelings might be hurt if we publicly and regularly told them to rein in their activities and act in accordance with international law is the ultimate in weakness.

And that’s another cultural observation; the Chinese don’t respect weakness.

Why would we, therefore, constantly offer this as our response?

Of course, the elephant in the room for Australia is the economic master/servant relationship. China could ruin Australia’s economy for a generation simply by deliberately reducing the Chinese GDP by one or two percentage points and pivoting to African countries to satisfy its demand for minerals and resources. In fact, the land grabs in Africa are presumably part of a strategy to reduce reliance on pesky western economies and their annoying conversations about human rights.

Perhaps it won’t be long before our one reason for not standing up (diplomatically, I’m not suggesting warfare) to China is removed by China anyway?


At which point, we will be simply a weak parody of Neville Chamberlain.

Australian B Cricket team to be renamed “Women’s”

No, really. That’s the logical direction this announcement takes the sport, surely:

Transgender players allowed in the female national cricket team.

(There are three balls in the above photograph

 

The guidelines are here. There’s a large volume of text to be parsed but I have helpfully summarised it all for you. A man can play cricket for the female national team if he;

  1. Says he’s a woman, and
  2. Has taken hormone treatment long enough to keep his testosterone below a defined level.

That’s it.

Of course, these rules infer a “female” can wander around the shower room with his “female penis” intact because he’s a female according to Cricket Australia’s highly-scientific definition.

It’s worth having a read of the guidelines, particularly the clauses under section 6 – Expert Panel, where someone at Cricket Australia has clearly had massive doubts about the long-term sustainability of this ideological direction and tried to leave a loophole to be used to enable common-sense back in if things go too far.

The clauses in this section give power to a panel of experts to overrule a decision to allow a man to play in the elite women’s teams if they feel he has an unfair advantage. The evidence they can assess include biomechanical analysis. One assumes this might include such tests as whether a male fast bowler is sending blocks of wood wrapped in leather (cricket balls) at the heads of women faster than any woman can.

Using this example, we could compare the fastest female bowler on record, Cathryn Lorraine Fitzpatrick, who has managed to bowl at 125kmph, with every fast bowler in the current men’s team who are all consistently over the 140kmph mark. 

The next level down from the national team is the Sheffield Shield. An upcoming bowler in that competition is Chadd Sayers, who has been overlooked for the national team several times because he doesn’t bowl fast enough. Chadd’s average bowling speed? Oh, just a sedate 130kmph, or 5kmph faster than the fastest female bowler in history.

Oh, that’s awkward.

The definitions section is good for a chuckle too as it tries to define in legalistic terms such nouns as sex, gender and LGBTQI+.

It’ll be fun to review how that stood the test of time in a few years.

Bill’s Opinion

Firstly, this is another excellent example of O’Sullivan’s Law, which states, “any organisation or enterprise that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time“.

Cricket Australia has clearly been hijacked by activists and have responded by producing a policy that, ironically, is neither one thing or another.

It claims to provide an unambiguous pathway for transgender cricketers to play in elite teams but it has a large loophole which allows for a panel of “experts” (defined how? Appointed by whom?) to judge the player to have too great a physical advantage to play for the women’s team. 

The interesting point, however, is to look for the dog that isn’t barking, that is, what isn’t being reported or described in the policy?

There is no mention of what qualifying steps and proof a female to male transitioning cricket player would have to undertake to play in the men’s elite team. If anyone can think of a credible reason why they’ve left this detail out, please send a postcard with your answer to:

Cricket Australia

60 Jolimont Street,

Jolimont,

Victoria 3002,

Australia

There are really only three ways this policy change can go over time:

  1. One or more men with the unique combination of chutzpah and cricketing ability will use these rules to claim a place on the national women’s team and will be refused, will sue for damages and drag the sport into its own version of the Israel Folau debacle, or
  2. Cricket Australia will accept those men into the national women’s team and the ensuing public and international backlash will drag the sport into its own version of the Israel Folau debacle, or
  3. No man with enough cricketing ability will ever be stupid enough to claim female status.

It’s a tricky one to predict, but my suspicion is (2) is most likely as there are currently enough men who are autogynephilic that one of them is bound to try to push the envelope further. The result will be a destruction of the restricted group competition we call women’s cricket in Australia. 

It’s all about you

A useful golden rule when observing current affairs is to keep your counsel for a solid 48 hours. This is particularly true in the case of breaking news about violence and potential terrorism attacks.

The incentive structure in today’s digital age is diametrically-opposed to this rule of sober and prudent analysis, however.

Hence, depending on the source from which you consume your news you may have believed the city of Sydney endured a white supremacist attack, a radical Islamic attack or deadly violence from a mentally-unwell man.

Confusingly for narrative-obsessed journalists (but I repeat myself), the knife-wielder apparently had a USB drive with details of the recent Christchurch and El Paso racially-motivated attacks but also shouted the well-known catchphrase, “Alan’s Snackbar” at the police who arrested him.

Several possibilities suggest themselves here. It could be possible the attacker was:

  • Racially-motivated, or
  • A Jihadi, or
  • One of the two above whilst pretending to be the other in some elaborate hoax, and/or
  • Mentally ill

In a move that should surprise nobody, Lucy Cormack of the Sydney Morning Herald, clearly disappointed the attack wasn’t a good fit for the “white supremacy is everywhere” narrative, pivots and manages to make the attack seem as if it’s part of a war by men on women.

Bill’s Opinion

I think a suitable time has passed since the attack to confidently state, regardless of what he might have said or read, the prime reason the attacker committed the murder and an attempted murder was because he was suffering severe mental illness. It’s unfortunate but no matter how well we work to catch these in advance, there will always be a number of such tragedies in any society.

Claiming this is part of some wider problem of patriarchal and systemic male violence against women is like claiming the attacks on New York on September 11th were motivated by a hatred of open plan offices and elevators. 

Conspiracies are what our razor was made for

Joanna Schroeder is a “writer, editor & media critic with a special focus on gender in the media. Comics nerd, mountain biker, snow & ocean-loving mom of three”. We know this because it’s on her Twitter bio and she has a blue tick so it must be true.


She’s also extremely concerned her sons are about to become white supremacists and is enjoying her 15 minutes of fame because of saying so in a viral Twitter thread.

I too have concerns about my sons, but white supremacy tendencies aren’t trending particularly high on the list this week. In fact, if I were to rank order in terms of concerns, “becoming a white supremacist” would be quite far down the list close to “enjoying Michael Bublé’s Christmas Album”.

That’s not to say turning towards white supremacy isn’t a risk, after all, if an Orthodox Jew such as Ben Shapiro and an African American such as Candace Owens can fall into the white supremacy cult, it’s a risk for all of us. It just doesn’t seem particularly likely compared to lots of other, more tangible, issues children have to overcome.

Many people have commented on Joanna’s assertions, mainly these take the usual dull red team/blue team positions. We’ll let those battles impotently continue.

Joanna’s prognostications about to how to guide a child to find something funny are particularly amusing though and just a little disturbing to me. It’s always deeply worrying when someone thinks they can police what someone else finds funny. When they find they can’t, they often try to find more intrusive ways to stop you laughing.

Perhaps the funniest assertion is right at the top of her rant:

I’ve been watching my boys’ online behavior & noticed that social media and vloggers are actively laying groundwork in white teens to turn them into alt-right/white supremacists.
Here’s how:
It’s a system I believe is purposefully created to disillusion white boys away from progressive/liberal perspectives.
First, the boys are inundated by memes featuring subtly racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic jokes.
Being kids, they don’t see the nuance & repeat/share.

Let’s unpack that, shall we….

According to Joanna, there is an active conspiracy underway, a system, to purposefully….disillusion white boys away from progressive/liberal perspectives.

Does that sound reasonable? Does it sound like a rational statement one could back up with evidence?

If she claimed there was one vlogger or social media account who was doing this, we could nod sagely and point at the problem with her. Her claim is there is a system, however. Multiple people all conspiring to achieve the same goal.

How are they managing this feat of manipulation and persuasion that would leave even the best advertising agency in a state of awe and professional envy?

By being funny, dammit.

Worst of all, this insidious humour with its nefarious ability to amuse people is leaving such comedy geniuses as John Oliver and Trevor “When I grew up under Apartheid” Noah struggling in its wake.

Bill’s Opinion
The explanation requiring the fewest number of assumptions to be true is usually the correct one.

Consider then two possibilities:

1. There is a massive, but as-yet unproven, global conspiracy on social media and YouTube to direct impressionable young boys towards non-progressive ideas using humour, or
2. Young boys think the stuff their mothers find funny isn’t at all amusing.

Comedy is very similar to illicit drugs in the way that it tends to operate closely to the precepts of a free market. Just like the street price of an ounce of marijuana has mainly tracked real inflation over countless decades, comedy tends to find ways to get a product to the consumer in line with demand.

Joanna Schroeder has confused the fact a comedian has been given a prime-time TV network show with being popular with the consumers, i.e. funny.

In the meantime, her sons have discovered far more interesting, amusing and edgy content on less-regulated channels and it’s this they talk about in the school yard, not John Oliver or Trevor Noah’s latest rant about who the latest person is who is being judged as “literally Hitler”.

In the 1980s in the UK, the comedy “establishment” consisted of dinner-suited men telling risqué and racist jokes. This left a gap in the market for a counter-movement which ended up being labelled “alternative comedy”.
Joanna might want to consider the possibility that her sons are simply following the traditions of the generations and pushing back against the establishment. Her choice of comedy, the left’s version of comedy, is the establishment.

John Oliver and Trevor Noah might also want to consider trying to be comedians rather than simply activists for a change.

Cheer up!

Switching on the news and browsing the media websites this week is unusually depressing. Without perspective and a wider source of information and analysis, one could be excused for thinking the world is going to hell in a handcart. I’m not going to list the reasons why one might be feeling low, the media do a good enough job of running “if it bleeds, it leads” stories. 

In any case, I’m not convinced it’s true. In fact, I think the reality is almost 180 degrees the other way; there are far more signs things are going well and what we’re being served as news is simply a mixture of confirmation bias and a logical reaction to incentives. A regular browse of the good news stories on Human Progress is a useful counter to the media confirmation bias.

I don’t say this lightly…. I have become convinced, via conversations with friends, family and colleagues that the media business model, what is left of it, has become detrimental to the general mental health of the world.

Technological advances have resulted in a proliferation of volume (24 x 7 updates) and sources (you’re reading a personal blog, but it’s still “a source”) of news. Our old friend, Pareto distribution, drives eyeballs and clicks to those presenting the most compelling new information.

Not much bad stuff happened today” is not a headline we’ll continue to tolerate on consecutive days for very long.  

Let’s lighten the mood a little today then. Because it’s human nature to take pleasure at others’ mild misfortune (after all, that describes the basis for all comedy), today’s blog post is simply a bunch of happy predictions I am prepared to make and the timeframe within which I expect them to occur. 

If you share my optimism and outlook, they might cheer you up immediately. If you don’t, you might experience the even greater pleasure of delayed gratification when the deadline passes and you can return to the comments section and have a chuckle at my expense. 

Either way, I will benefit from a warm feeling of selfless, righteous altruism….

Bill’s Opinion Predictions

Sports

The Bledisloe Cup match this weekend will be won by Australia and, if this prediction transpires, they will go on to draw or win the return match the following weekend and therefore finally win the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in almost a generation. This one is a long shot and is based more on a feeling New Zealand’s team has become fragile and somewhat “woke”.  

The 2019 Rugby World Cup will be won by a northern hemisphere team. My preference would be England but I could probably live with it being Ireland and, after a little introspection and professional counselling, even Wales. The important point is, it’s not going to be New Zealand.

Brexit

Britain will leave the EU on October 31st without a deal. Boris Johnson will be Prime Minister at the time, but will call a General Election in January and will be returned with a clear but not large majority.  

No material changes will occur to the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Britain will not experience significant disruption to trade or travel as a consequence to Brexit. Some luxury or highly-specialised goods or services might have a wobble but will be solved within a few weeks.

EU

As a consequence to the world not ending after Brexit, the EU will double down on their commitment to a European federal una-state, passing laws to ensure a single taxation code, a European military, centralised control of immigration and further adoption of the Euro.

Leo Varadkar will be ousted as Taoiseach by the Dáil before Christmas 2019 as a reward for being played by the EU with regards to Brexit.

USA

The Democrats will nominate Elizabeth Warren as the 2020 presidential candidate. Donald Trump will win a second term with an increased share of both the Electoral College and the popular vote. The presidential debates will comedy gold on a par with the best efforts of Monty Python and Ricky Gervais.

Media

Following the USA elections, there will be some high profile media casualties, with a consolidation or bankruptcy of several high profile brands such as CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post and the New York Times.

In other countries, such as Canadia and Australia, several mastheads and broadcasters will be further subsidised or even nationalised.

Global Economy

Despite the continuing call for a global stock market crash, higher highs will be reached on the major indices. Gold and silver will see a 20% increase by the end of 2020.

China will “lose” the trade war with the USA. This will be spun as the opposite to save face but the trade indicators will show a material improvement towards the USA.  

Australian Economy

Flat as a pancake over 2019 and 2020 with a slight uptick in unemployment.

House prices in the two main cities will continue a slow atrophy with the occasional dead cat bounce for a month or two which will be lauded as signifying the “new bottom”. At the end of 2020, prices will be lower than today.

 

Komment macht frei

Previously, we assessed that confusing reports in the media on matters Trans can be classified into two main categories:

  1. Trying to be sensitive to the mental health struggles of the subject suffering from body dysphoria, and
  2. Deliberately obfuscating the language for ignoble reasons.

We speculated that for the “category 2” articles, there was a sub-category where the motivation was to drive clicks and eyeballs to the online article as that is what was rewarded by advertising revenue.

Today’s example certainly seems to fall into a Category 2a Transgender article:

One can only chuckle at the editorial team’s dilemma in deciding where to put the inverted commas on that headline; should it be ‘seahorse’, ‘dads’ or ‘seahorse dads’?

After all“, they must have thought, “everyone knows what a seahorse is, and we all know what a dad is, so it’s just the compound noun that risks confusion, not the fact that we’re pretending a man gave birth. Yeah, we’ll go with ‘seahorse dads’ then. Sorted.“.

We could also only speculate at what might have been going through the unfortunately-surnamed Karl Quinn’s mind as he typed out the perfectly clear and unambiguous prose. One suspects the range of emotions covered one or more of the following options:

  • Fuck me, why did the editorial team choose me to write this review? Now I’ve got to put my name to this deliberate mangling of previously-understood nouns and pronouns“,
  • Ha! This is another great opportunity to change society for the better, underlining the biological reality that gender is a social construct and we can bend biology to our will“,
  • My numbers have been shit this month, thank god for a chance to wind up the trolls and get them to go ape on Twitter and Facebook by posting this article to their Nazi mates“.

Interestingly, the article had comments open for a brief duration but were closed once the total reached 33. Perhaps you might suspect this was to deliberately kick off a controversy but limit the amount of exhausting work the moderators had to do? We may never know.

The comments are gold though. Obviously, there were the usual bunch of gullible fools who believe it is possible to change someone’s opinion by leaving a message under a newspaper article. They aren’t the fun ones to read.

The folk who’ve fallen for the Critical Theory narrative are hugely entertaining though. My favourites are recreated below before a law is passed to make commenting on biological reality illegal:

karen.downes19

DNA has nothing to do with gender.

Captain Flashlight

The logic in the comments below states that:

1. Only women can give birth.

2. This person gave birth.

3. They are a woman.

There’s a couple of things wrong with this. Firstly, stating that only women can give birth, not only regulates women to child bearing fertility machines, it disregards women who are not able to give birth, or have decided to not have children. Does this qualify childless people with female anatomy as men? Does this qualify them as some sort of (godforbid) third gender? I’m seemingly lost here…

Oh and of course, this person is a man. Go figure. Congratulations to them, they are happy, and have brought love into the world. Why attack them, and the life they are living? Live and let live.

Chickpea

Hey Matthew, I’m what you would consider a female, but i dont have the ability to produce children – does that still make me female? If you dont have ovaries, are you still female? What about no female reproductive organs at all?

You need to really do some research on sex and gender 101 mate, cuz you’re just showing your ignorance. ff

Scotty

It is quite a contentious issue.

While anatomically you do need a womb and uterus to carry and give birth and most people have been taught that these are the exclusive domain of the female of our species.

Because this person identifies as a man, why do people get so upset about him saying he is a man?

And he has a beard for heavens sake, according to most of the red-necks I’ve ever met that is the key defining feature of a man, you’re not a real man unless you can grow a beard…

So there…

Bill’s Opinion

Recalling our rule of thumb on how to understand the reality behind mendacious re-definitions of nouns when reading an article about gender; go with your first visual instinct.

The picture of “Freddie” shows a weird looking bloke with the sort of beard a 16 year old boy grows until all his mates laugh at him. Conclusion; female.

The picture presented on Karl Quim’s profile is low definition and doesn’t zoom well. His facial features look a little ambiguous and, frankly, he’s no George Clooney, but the giveaway is the hair; no woman pretending to be a man would risk obvious casual categorisation mistakes by having a bouffant quiff. Conclusion; male, but probably only just.

“Completely mystified”

The responses below the tweet are priceless, but before you click the link, let’s look at the supporting article.

Apparently, the most likely explanation to the phenomenon of lowering costs for some expenses yet rising costs for others is something I’d not previously heard of; Baumol Cost Disease.

From Bloomberg’s helpful description:

The theory of Baumol cost disease, developed in the 1960s by economist William Baumol, states that some things rise in price even as productivity goes up. When society gets better at making cars, electronics, food and clothing, wages go up. But as wages go up, industries that don’t find ways to use less labor to produce the same service — for example, a string quartet — rise in price as well.

Which, prima facie, sounds reasonable and rational.

However, I would caveat that feeling of reasonableness with the statement that Malthusianism also sounds reasonable and rational when it’s first described, possibly for similar reasons.

What Malthus has been wrong about for the last 291 years is the Industrial Revolution. Or, more specifically, human inventiveness. Oscar Wilde touched on the solution we found to Malthus’ problem with this pithy quote;

Civilization requires slaves. Human slavery is wrong, insecure and demoralizing. On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends.

As the wags and wits on Twitter were fast to point out, the costs that have experienced the most price inflation are, in a suspicious coincidence, the things that have most benefited from government “help” in terms of regulation and subsidies.

Correlation isn’t causation but there’s clearly something worth further enquiry here.

Bill’s Opinion

The most interesting part of the Baumol description is this:

….industries that don’t find ways to use less labor to produce the same service….

The obvious question that prompts is, “why don’t they find ways to use less labour?”.

Perhaps the range of possible answers are as simple as these two:

  1. Because the work involved is impossible to automate or make any more efficient, and/or
  2. There isn’t a great enough incentive to automate or make more efficient.

Anyone who has ever spent any time working in a government or quasi-government department and the private sector will recognise the critical difference immediately; there is no personal reward for for a manager to find a way to deliver the government service with fewer or with lower-skilled employees.

It is extremely rare for a government minister’s stated desire for improved efficiency to be translated into meaningful incentives down the organisation to a level where they will have any material effect.

As Ronald Reagan so eloquently put it:

Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

Or, as an anonymous quote (no, it wasn’t Milton Friedman) goes:

If you put government in charge of the Sahara desert there will be a shortage of sand in five years.

But remember, “economists are completely mystified“.

This ends badly for everyone

A young person privately expresses views that are incompatible with those of their employer.

Someone notifies a national newspaper of these views.

The national newspaper publishes the correspondence.

The young person is fired and will likely struggle to find future employment in a similar field as a consequence.

A columnist writes a follow-up sarcastic opinion piece on the newly-unemployed person.

The public interest to justify publication; his brother cousin is famous.

No, seriously.

Let’s put it another way:

A private citizen had their private religious views made front page news and the newspaper contacted his employer for comment, presumably with the expectation the employer would act upon the information.

That’s the world in which we find ourselves in 2019. If you have impure thoughts you will be cancelled and, presumably pour encourager les autres, your family will be similarly targeted.

Bill’s Opinion

As we’ve previously stated, it is now clear that the Israel Folau case is the left’s chosen battleground for the culture war this year.

That his brother cousin, Josiah, has been targeted in this way further supports this hypothesis. It’s a tactic from the Soviets – not only do we want you to be punished publicly, but your family will be in our sights too.

That there seems to be little shock or surprise from the commentariat is also deeply worrying.

Peter Fitzsimons, for example, clearly didn’t think for one moment of what the consequences of this approach might be for his children, Billi, Louis and Jake. With two famous parents, this new standard makes them fair targets for analysis and scrutiny for thought crimes.

We will not enjoy where the road takes us if our private thoughts at the age of 23 are now legitimate front page material to serve one side or the other in a culture war.

UPDATE: Thanks to those who pointed out my reading comprehension skills are dusty and that Josiah is, in fact, Israel’s cousin, not brother. Of course, that’s even worse, isn’t it? What next, targeting the religious beliefs of their neighbours?

The Sydney Harbour Stadium

Milton Friedman famously explained the four ways to spend money:

1. Your money on yourself – explaining the model and age of car you drive, balancing comfort, speed and prestige with cost to your preferred ratio.

2. Your money on someone else – explains why the presents you give are generous but not extravagant.

3. Someone else’s money on you – explaining why you always order the fillet steak and a good Shiraz when eating on the company expense tab.

4. Someone else’s money on someone else – explaining why the New South Wales government just awarded a contract to demolish a stadium and rebuild it before the new one had been designed.

No, really. That last one just happened.

In the Olympic event of “Pissing away other people’s money”, it’s a close contender for Gold along side Victoria’s $1.1bn road that never got built.

I suppose the Moore Park location isn’t as godawful as the Olympic Stadium at Homebush, which takes about an hour to reach even if you live close to it (which nobody who follows sports does), but it’s a crap location nonetheless.

If only there were better alternative suggestions….

Bill’s Opinion

Now that it’s been knocked down by corruption mistake, so to speak, why not take the opportunity to turf over the space and let the local junkies have a larger area to pitch their bivvies and overdose in.

Meanwhile, Sydney could build the world’s best sporting venue evah….

Ladies and Gentlemen…. The Sydney Harbour Stadium:

 In summary, our design includes;

1 A world class 120,000 seater stadium built to the north of Clark Island.

2 A “rollable” pitch to be moved out to the east of the stadium when not in use to ensure full sunlight on the grass (learning the lesson of Wales’ Millennium Stadium)

3 A new dedicated underground railway station linking up with Wynyard and terminating at Clark Island.

4 A new ferry wharf to the north west of the stadium connecting with Circular Quay and the other ferry routes.

Imagine the excitement of jumping on a quick ferry ride to a major international sporting event held in the middle of the world’s most beautiful natural harbour. Spectators would quickly arrive and depart using multiple ferries to different harbour locations and the train would connect with the existing rail network.

The footage of the game would be the best advert for Australian tourism (another industry in dire need of stimulus) ever shown on TV. Away matches in Sydney would be the highlight of every international team’s fixtures and their fans would always consider those fixtures as the first choice for travel.

Unlike the current disastrous commercial project the New South Wales government has presided over, this proposed stadium has been fully-designed and costed and, if the government minister would contact me, I will be happy to hand over the three used Malboro packets with the details.

(Keen observers will notice the basic idea for this stadium appeared elsewhere but I have since taken ownership of the copyright).

If it wasn’t for double standards…

…we wouldn’t have any standards at all.

There is an Australian heuristic that rarely lets you down; when you are in doubt about what the correct position is to take on an issue, look to see whether Peter Fitzsimons has pontificated on it….and take the opposite side.

Last week, Australia’s polymath with a red bandana wrote this stirring attack on a disgraced Chinese swimmer:

Fast forward a week, and Fitzsimons is calling for sober heads, sympathy and the benefit of the doubt for an Australian swimmer who has tested positive for a banned substance:

Outside observers can see the double standards of his position before even investigating the underlying stories about Sun Yang and Shayna Jack.

Further research makes Fitzsimons seem even more tribal. Sun Yang smashed samples that had been taken by people who were unable to present the correct evidence of authority to do so, Shayna Jack tested positive for a banned substance. It’s unclear whether Jack’s testers had the correct paperwork.

The first is not a positive drug test result, the second is.

Bill’s Opinion

The risk/reward for athletes doping is not the same for every sport.

If we were to order rank those sports by how much impact doping would have on performance, the sports with the least reward for doping would be those with a higher relative reliance on technique, tactical excellence and teamwork.

Conversely, there would be a better risk/reward payoff to dope in the more purely physical sports where results are decided by marginal physiological differences such as in weightlifting, running, cycling and swimming.

An extra 1% efficiency in blood flow might not help a rugby player lift the World Cup trophy with his team but it could mean the difference between gold and silver for a swimmer at the Olympics.

I’ve recently realised my favourite sports are also coincidentally ones where doping is less likely to have a positive payback, sports where tactics play a large part in addition to physical performance and technique. This wasn’t a conscious choice but it is interesting that this self-sorting occurred.

On the subject of self-sorting, Fitzsimons does something similar when expressing public opinions: