Not alone again (unnaturally)

On the theme of our recent analysis of bitter cat ladies, the legacy press (c) website, The Sydney Morning Herald, ran an article about the final option available to those who find themselves single, childless and on the wrong side of the fertility timetable.

The answer?

Go to South Africa, buy fertilised eggs and have IVF.

Ok, that’s great that we’ve developed modern medical knowledge to the point where it is possible and even affordable, but, to misquote Lemmy, “just ‘cos you’ve got the power, does it mean you have the right?”

It’s worth looking at the “balance sheet” of our protagonist, Manda Epton;

Debits

  • Manda is 50 years old. It’s highly unlikely her own eggs are viable.
  • Manda is single and has failed to make a success of any of her long term relationships. The men she met in her 30s “already had families”, which infers they didn’t want to have more children with her (or that was a convenient excuse to end the relationship with her).
  • Being single is going to make raising twins highly-challenging. Even with logistical support, such as a nanny, there will be gaps in the parenting of those children that she will be unable to fill on her own.
  • Manda is now a single mother of twins. It’s highly unlikely she’ll find a suitable partner willing to join that family unit in the next couple of decades.
  • Credit

  • Manda’s womb is still viable.
  • Manda has plenty of money.
  • Erm, that’s it.
  • Bill’s Opinion

    It’s medically possible to put one’s finger on the scales of nature to increase the number of fertile years and enable single women to bear children.

    Just because we can, however, doesn’t necessarily mean we ought.

    I wish Manda and her daughters all the best in their futures but let’s not kid ourselves that this is an ideal family unit.

    There’s a couple of fairly straightforward reasons Manda has had to go down this expensive and sub-optimal route to motherhood.

    1. She left it far too late.

    2. She didn’t invest enough time and energy into selecting an appropriate partner.

    The consequence of these life mistakes is single parenthood, at late middle age, of other people’s children (the sperm and eggs were donated/bought).

    She could, of course, chosen to have adopted children to have achieved a similar outcome with the added benefit of lifting two orphans out of institutional care in a third world country.

    But, ultimately, Manda’s own words explain why she took this option, albeit in a form of cognitive dissonance;

    Quite.

    “In the firing line”

    This month’s Australian Prime Minister has apparently put the lives of transgender kids “in the firing line”, not once but three times already during the first couple of weeks into his 18 month tenure.

    What a truly awful human being he must be.

    What was it he said or did to put such venerable vulnerable lives in danger? See if you can guess from this handy list;

    • Gave the armed forces the powers to arrest kids on the street if they are wearing clothing inappropriate to their biological sex.
    • Gave an interview inciting violence against transgender children.
    • Whipped up a mob who subsequently recreated Kristalnacht on transgender children.
    • Wrote a tweet suggesting we stop paying “consultants” to encourage kids to identify as transgender regardless of whether they’ve previously articulated such sentiments or not.

    The last one, obviously. This is the age of Victim Olympics, after all. A few alpha-numeric characters on a computer screen saying, “let kids be kids” is now the equivalent of actual violence.

    Helpfully, the Grauniad has a guest column by a “Phd candidate in architecture” (which I think means, they’re not only not qualified in biology, psychology or any other ‘ology’ but they’re also not even qualified in architecture yet). There’s more chuckles to be had too as the PhD candidate’s name is Simona Castricum and they’re transgender and presumably were born “Simon”. So, instead of picking the usual female version of “Simon”, i.e. “Simone”, they decided to really underline the feminity they’re seeking by adding the more unambiguous letter “a” as a suffix. I don’t think I’ve ever met a “Simona” before, have you?

    Hopefully he’s gone the full monty and had his bits removed too, making the surname so much more accurate.

    Anyway, pointless ad hominens aside, here’s further evidence that we are currently living in a world where, as Scott Adams suggests, there are two different movies playing side by side and you’re likely watching a different one to a whole group of other people;

    “Some boys have vaginas”? Not on the planet most humans occupy. We have a perfectly-usable noun to describe “boys with vaginas”. Clue: it starts with the letter “g”.

    And thank you the Grauniad for pointing out that I’ve missed a further proliferation of the alphabet club;

    LGBTIQA+? (the question mark is mine, just to clarify).

    Is there a handy reckoning guide one can cut out and in keep in one’s wallet to help remember the rules of demarcation between those various letters and characters? Should we be concerned that the ASCII code is going to run out of characters soon?

     

    Bill’s Opinion

    Depending on which study you prefer, the scientific evidence points strongly that, left un-transitioned, most (i.e. >60%) of kids who claim they are transgender before puberty go on to return to identifying as their original gender but are homosexual.

    Now, we could give these kids puberty blockers and encourage them to publicly act the part of the other gender but are we really comfortable with making permanent physiological changes and, probably, psychological changes when the chances are no better than a coin toss that they aren’t just experiencing an awakening feeling of being gay?

    Didn’t Darwin have something to say about catfish?

    Or perhaps it was finches…..

    Those of us who spend most of our lives in a reality, not fantasy existence, might not be aware that “catfishing” is a thing.

    Apparently it’s a form of social engineering when someone is fooled into a relationship with another person who doesn’t actually exist or many aspects of their supposed life is a fabrication. A situation one imagines is a bit like the experience of being Christopher Pyne’s wife.

    It would seem some of these relationships are very intense and, to the victim, quite real.

    Here’s an example;

    The article then goes on to explain a situation where a woman spent six years believing she was in a relationship with a man and then had a revelation and realised it was a hoax.

    What was the cause of revelation, the “cruel way” as the headline suggests?

    Erm, she told someone that she’d never actually met the person she called “boyfriend”.

    No, really. Six years of being girlfriend and boyfriend and they’d never been in the same room at the same time.

    Six years. Not days or even weeks. Years.

    The unfortunate woman is an F-list celebrity, apparently, called Casey Donovan.

    In addition to the couple of hundred words published in the Sunday supplements, she’s got a book for sale which presumably devotes a significant proportion of the chapters to this episode, given that it lasted for about half her adult life.

    Here’s a picture of Casey;

    Casey’s 15 minutes of fame came after she won a TV singing talent show.

    Without wishing to be overly-harsh in our judgement of Casey, perhaps the fairest thing we could say is that, before and during her period of fame she had some not insignificant unresolved personal issues.

    Question; if you have responsibility for a reality TV show or a newspaper Sunday supplement, what duty of care do you have when providing brittle personalities with a public platform?

    Bill’s Opinion

    Much of what passes for entertainment on TV is a direct descendent of the Victorian-era freak shows, putting those on the mental and physical margins of the population on our screens nightly for our voyeuristic curiosity.

    When their time in the sun is over, if they are lucky they can return to the task of overcoming whatever challenges they had previously but with the additional burden of any new issues as a consequence of their brief fame.

    Such as an imaginary boyfriend.

    Apparently Casey is currently driving for Uber, which is a more productive use of her time with the added bonus that she will actually get to meet real humans.

    On banana republics

    Banana republic:

    A small state that is politically unstable as a result of the domination of its economy by a single export controlled by foreign capital.

    Australian voters were handed a new Prime Minister this month in yet another bloodless party coup.

    That’s 8 in 11 years….

    6 in 8 years….

    5 in 5 years…

    What on earth is going on?

    Well, perhaps the first conclusion we can draw is that it is self-evident the office of Prime Minister can’t be very important to the national interest otherwise there’d be frantic debates about how greater stability might be achieved.

    Any further conclusions will require more analysis. Hopefully what follows adds a new dimension of thinking to what currently passes as intelligent commentary in the Australian media.

    The hypothesis we are putting forward today is that the revolving door on the Prime Minister’s office is a function of three factors in combination, two of which are systemic, the third is economic.

    Reason One – Mandate Illusion

    Australia is a member of a very exclusive but not particularly salubrious club; the group of nations with compulsory voting laws.

    Here’s the global view (from Wiki);

    Apart from those countries mainly being in the Southern Hemisphere, what else do they have in common?

    To borrow an expression I can’t recall the source of, most have “green on their flag“. i.e. they are shitholes.

    The list of countries that mandate voting by law is almost exclusively made up of places you’d think twice about visiting for a holiday, let alone considering emigrating to.

    Why do countries such as Uruguay enforce laws to make people vote? Perhaps because the politicians are afraid of the result if the voters had a choice to stay away from the polls?

    The result is a false mandate. 98% of Australians vote so the winning party convinces itself it has a mandate to govern.

    Here’s an idea; hold a general election and announce that the law isn’t going to be enforced. Who believes more than 40% will be bothered to turn up and vote for a Prime Minister who is unlikely to last longer than 18 months before being rolled by their own party?

    Reason Two – Voting Complexity

    So, you’ve arrived at the polling booth, under the threat of a fine, what are your voting choices?

    Here’s an example from an internet search;

    Believe it or not, but this is a simple example. Some can be as wide as 2 pages of A4 in landscape.

    You now have two options to complete the form; “above or below the line”.

    Marking your choices “below the line” requires you to number at least 12 candidates in order of preference. Marking “above the line”, requires 6 choices.

    What you are, in effect, doing by choosing the simpler option is outsourcing your secondary choices to the 6 candidates who will allocate these to whomever they’ve already made a deal with should they be elected.

    Of course, nobody wants to hang around in a school hall on a weekend writing War and Peace on a voting form so 95% choose the outsourcing option.

    For an example of what can happen with this complex system of preferential side deals, research the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party.

    This is democracy, Jim, but not as we know it.

    Reason Three – The Miracle Economy has Made Australians (and the Australian political class) Fat and Happy

    There’s not been a recession in Australia since 1992. Well done Australia! Although some unkind commentators might suggest this stellar run of the economy might have more to do with the economic foresight of geological forces laying down iron ore under the Australian earth several million years ago than the careful and prudential management of modern politicians.

    Regardless of the cause, this has produced marvellous levels of national and personal prosperity for the population. Many issues that in other countries would be the source of great public debate and contention have simply had money thrown at them as the solution in Australia.

    The net result; there’s not much fundamentally wrong in Australia, people aren’t dying of hunger, unemployment is down to levels that can be explained by the IQ bell curve.

    Politicians, therefore, feel no sense of urgency or need to concentrate on bigger issues other than their continued ability to use publicly-funded chauffeur-driven cars and expense overseas “research visits”.

    Self-absorbed navel-gazing, in other words.

    Bill’s Opinion

    Australia’s political system is fundamentally dysfunctional whilst having the illusion of an engaged voting population.

    To find a solution requires acceptance of the possibility that compulsory voting and a Byzantine voting form outsourced to politicians to complete are not signs of a healthy democracy and, in fact, can mask the symptoms of a disengaged population.

    The political class are simply responding to the opportunity to avoid doing their job as one would expect in any other country. To accuse them of lethargy and venality is to misunderstand the nature of those who would seek office.

    A banana republic indeed.

    The world “Could” needs our sympathy again

    Could” and his/her/zher’s synonyms are doing all the work in an article about climate change again, the poor things.

    By 2050 the average Australian snow season could be between 20 and 55 days shorter under a low risk scenario modelled by the CSIRO.

    It’s always good to throw in a graph or chart showing how the trend is pointing to us all going to hell in a handbasket;

    Ok, that looks bad. What’s the source, how was it collected and for what purpose? And why does it only start in 1955?

    Here it is.

    The data was collected by the Snowy Hydro project to keep track of what the likely water flow will be during spring each year.

    There’s a handy disclaimer on the website about how much scientific credibility should be given to the data set;

    Snow Depths Disclaimer

    Snowy Hydro undertakes snow depth readings as required for operational purposes during the snow season. Updates on our website may be made on an irregular basis. For the latest information on snow conditions, we suggest that you visit the appropriate ski resort website.

    Snowy Hydro supplies this information in good faith for the benefit of the public. The information was accurate at the time of recording. However, Snowy Hydro advises that the information now posted should not be relied upon, and therefore cannot incur liability for any loss or damage to third parties arising from how the information may be interpreted or used.

    Ok. So an employee of the hydro plant goes out each month and shoves a measuring pole into the snow to estimate how much water will flow through the turbines later in the year.

    On this basis, we’ve extrapolated that the Australian ski season will be half as long in 30 years’ time.

    One might be excused for not putting one’s boots, poles and skis on eBay.com.au just yet then. As David Camacho points out, measuring snow depths in ski fields is not without its challenges too;

    David Camacho

    One of the biggest reasons for lower snow depths and shorter seasons is increased skier numbers and increased descents/day, carving away the snow which is not totally overcome by piste grooming machines.

    Every time a skier descends, they carve away some snow. This is most extreme on warm sunny days. But also important after fresh snowfalls on thin bases. Especially if the season opens before a firm natural base has developed.

    Data should be limited to stations where no skiers affect the snowbase, as then you have eliminated an enormous variable from data.

    Just like quadrupling the size of resort villages creates an urban heat island effect….

    Unfortunately for Eryk Bagshaw (and presumably his boss, Peter “weather is climate” Hannam) his own article suggests that the public aren’t buying this Chicken Little-ism. Expressed preferences versus revealed preferences are most apparent in the price of property in ski fields;

    But there have never been more skiers or snowboarders heading to Perisher, Thredbo or Falls Creek.

    Houses prices in Jindabyne and Cooma have grown by 42 per cent since 2008, below the 65 per cent average for the rest of regional NSW.

    Victorian alpine areas have been more fortunate, mostly due to their closer proximity to Melbourne, according to Domain data scientist Nicola Powell. Bright has seen Sydney levels of price growth, up 122 per cent over the past decade.

    Bill’s Opinion

    It would be interesting to seek legal opinion on the likelihood of success of a compensation claim for an owner of a ski-field property in Australia who sold on the back of Erik’s advice and subsequently lost money when the big thaw never happened.

    What are the consequences of predictions such as these based on highly-questionable scientific methods?

    Oh, and we’ll just leave this little gem from today here;

    Awkward.

    Westpac and O’Sullivan’s Law

    If their social media profile is any measure of these things, one of the four main Australian banks, Westpac, is firmly in the vanguard of the Australian First Battalion of the Social Justice Warrior armed forces.

    Their CEO, Brian Hartzer, is clearly one of the main drivers of this “progressive” attitude, witnessed by the following samples from his Creepbook for Business activity;

    And this word salad that seems to be channeling Eric Morecombe’s line, “they’re all the right notes, just not in the right order“;

    Some more virtue signalling that is surely guilty of cultural appropriation (or perhaps the drag queen beauty parade was ironically named after Islam’s holiest city?);

    More here. No, really ladies, your promotion was entirely merit-based and not simply to hit Brian’s 50% diversity target;

    We’re starting to run out of female leaders prepared to be touted as public examples so we’ll recycle a couple here;

    And then we see something quite telling, hiding in plain sight, so to speak;

    Actively and publicly supporting a political candidate (multiple times too) on the far left of the political spectrum. Well, that speaks volumes, doesn’t it? Obviously he’s allowed to have a personal political opinion but it seems mildly inappropriate to be expressing this in a work-related context.

    However, he’s got form on this. Last year, during the same sex marriage referendum, Hartzer approved an SMS to be sent to all Westpac employees’ mobile phones encouraging to get out and vote “Yes”. Which, as measures of good shareholder value go, wouldn’t be top of the priority list, one imagines.

    Similarly, Hartzer is happy to splash shareholders’ cash on rainbow lighting on the facade of the HQ during IDAHOBIT Day and have rainbow lapel pins handed out to his staff, none of whom feel at all intimidated or coerced into wearing them, I’m sure.

    In a further example of Hartzer’s Olympic gold medal level of virtue signalling, the latest Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (h/t the Welsh Twinkie) with the staff include the following gems;

    • Time off for transgender transitioning, and
    • Time off for “Sorry Business”, i.e. Aboriginal staff can take leave because many non-Aboriginal Australians are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

    Bill’s Opinion

    O’Sullivan’s Law states that any organisation or enterprise that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time.

    Westpac is the case study of this.

    Let’s remind ourselves of the purpose of banks; they are to provide shareholder value by securely-holding deposits and prudently writing loans in as efficient a way as possible. Anything else is gravy.

    How’s Westpac tracking against that mandate?

    Here’s an example to consider; the New Payments Platform (aka Osko), a method to quickly transfer money using a short ID code, was widely launched last year in Australia.

    How’s Westpac going with implementing it?

    Oh. That’s awkward.

    The danger of bad law

    Paging James Damore…..

    There isn’t currently a report of this that I can find that isn’t behind a paywall. Do your own search however, as it’s bound to be picked up by the news outlets with a broken business model shortly.

    In summary, the University of Adelaide has sought dispensation from the legislation governing workplace equality to advertise half a dozen roles as only open to female applicants.

    Hang on, what? Isn’t that, erm, discriminating against all the potential male job applicants in the Adelaide area, most of whom presumably have families to support with their income?

    How did we get here?

    Well, it would seem the university has consistently failed to hire female lecturers qualified to teach computer science and, wracked with guilt over this egregious example of patriarchal oppression, they have decided that the only course of action is to close the door to any lecturer who identifies as a bloke.

    That’s bound to work, isn’t it?

    Let’s hypothesise as to why they’ve not managed to hire lecturers in a 50:50 gender split. Possible reasons might include one or more of the following;

    • Qualified women feel overwhelmed by the prospect of applying, for some reason.
    • Qualified women are explicitly or subtlety dissuaded by the interviewers.
    • Qualified women fail to impress the interviewers because the interview process is skewed in favour of male candidates in some way.
    • There aren’t many (or even any) qualified female candidates in Adelaide or outside Adelaide who are prepared to relocate.
    • Some other reason related to duh patriarchy.

    Putting the possible reasons why we arrived at this situation aside for a moment, let’s explore the legislation. How can it be that anti-discrimination laws can be ignored like this?

    Because the legislation is terrible, that’s why. Section 44 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 allows for “The Commission” (which refers to the loathsome Australian Human Rights Commission) to grant exceptions as it sees fit.

    I’m sure the legislators back in 1984 thought this was a good idea, in between enjoying the Australian theme to Bowie’s Let’s Dance video and the national pride of having a Prime Minister who held the world record for the yard of ale.

    Of course, what they couldn’t should have anticipated was the creeping takeover of the commission by the radical left, resulting in it becoming a mouthpiece for those who would hector and nag and worse, embark on vindictive and flawed prosecutions.

    Bill’s Opinion

    At its core, this is a problem created in 1984 by poor legislation. Subsequently, the unelected and unaccountable body with discretionary powers to waive legislation has become highly-politicised.

    The second problem is that the University of Adelaide is in denial of reality. The two most likely reasons they have not managed to hire an equal number of female IT lecturers are;

    1. As Damore rightly pointed out, IT is less attractive to females than males because women generally prefer to work with people and men generally prefer to work with things.
    2. Adelaide is a very small city in a very small (population wise) country and is geographically remote from even Australia’s large population centres.

    Why does the second point matter; because we always see fundamental problems manifest themselves at the margins. Presumably the reason we haven’t seen the University of Sydney requesting this legal waiver is because there is probably just about enough potential female candidates for it not to be a problem. One suspects there are unlikely to be any unemployed female IT lecturers in Sydney.

    Of course, it raises the question, what does it say about the likely quality of the lecturers at a Sydney University if ownership of female genitals results in you being accepted for a role over a more qualified male?

    Unicorn excreta

    ….and we’re back. Life rudely interrupted last week, apologies.

    This news article presented itself on my Creepbook for Business feed this morning, proving yet again how LinkedIn has become a virtue signalling, leftwing propaganda echo chamber with a very mild utility as a job hunting resource attached.

    One hopes that the Monash University staff were commensurately recompensed for a study with such stunning insights as this. After all, it must have taken huge amounts of effort and intellectual ability to log on to the Australian Statistics website, open a CSV file with workplace injury data, insert a pivot table and sort by profession.

    What piqued our interest however, was LinkedIn’s choice of stock photo to accompany the headline;

    A young female driver with dark skin.

    This academic study (demographics page 21) suggests that, after taking the photo of our lady driver above, the photographer might have considered buying a lottery ticket as it was his/her lucky day – a young female driver is rarer than unicorn shit.

    We can’t comment on skin colour of truck drivers because we haven’t found any demographic data linking melanin levels and heavy vehicle licences.

    Bill’s Opinion

    The most dangerous profession in Australia is almost exclusively undertaken by men. LinkedIn is quite correct in their sentiment: we should start a campaign for 50:50 gender equality in this profession.

    The (big) little people can’t be trusted

    Obviously it’s pick on Aussie journalists week here at WoO. No, I don’t know why either but it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

    The SMH’s “senior economics journalist”, Jessica Irvine was paid today to tell us she’s no longer as overweight as she used to be, she’s now a mother, oh, and to advertise her book about no longer being as overweight as she used to be. Nice work if you can get it.

    No, seriously, she knocked out a few hundred words to tell us that the secret to her weight loss was eating less and exercising more but because she’s good at spreadsheets she used a spreadsheet to keep track of it.

    Also, she wrote this without a hint of irony, which is quite some feat;

    But first, let’s address the elephant in the room: why does a senior economics journalist for some of Australia’s most respected newspapers keep banging on about her butt?

    There’s two chuckles to be had there, if one is inclined to look for them.

    The headline is most interesting though, and it’s taken directly from the body of the article so it’s not one of those usual editorial decisions to put words into the author’s mouth.

    Ponder that statement for a moment.

    Just whose damn responsibility is it to shed excess kilograms then? I’ve checked Google Maps and they’ve completely failed to label the locations of the human foie gras farms out in the suburbs.

    Smashing the personal responsibility framework means acknowledging that most people aren’t maths whizzes and won’t follow the diet I’ve just outlined, particularly not those in lower socio-economic groups among whom obesity is most prevalent.

    Sure, it’s about educating individuals to make better food and exercise choices. But fundamentally it’s about redesigning the obesogenic environment we’ve created, by governments stepping in to improve the availability of cheap, nutritious food and opportunities for regular exercise and activity.

    Ah, it’s the government’s job to make the stupid masses lose weight because they aren’t as clever as Jessica Smarty(large)pants.

    No, really, she wrote that.

    Bill’s Opinion

    There is nothing quite as obscene as a desire to control other people disguised as altruism.

    Jessica doesn’t give a damn about the size of the guts of the people living in the areas of Australia she only ever drives past on the way to the airport or flies over on the way to her foreign holidays.

    What Jessica wants is “people like us” to be in charge of what those people can and can’t eat and how they exercise.

    And this, by the way, is someone with some level of qualification in that most suspicious of disciplines, economics, a subject with such an inferiority complex it had to invent a fake Nobel Prize for itself in an attempt to gain missing gravitas.

    One assumes Jessica played truant in the local McDonalds and Burger King when the lecturers explained the Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman parts of the syllabus.

    Long form conversation is the new soundbite

    That traditional media is dying a painful and not so slow death is hard to dispute. The body count is rising everywhere one looks, in the last couple of years we’ve seen various mastheads either close down or be reduced to a shadow of their former selves. Examples include the UK’s The Independent (just a website now), the UK’s The Guardian (asking for “charitable” donations at the bottom of every online article), the New York Daily News (half the staff were fired last month) and Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald (bought by a domestic TV station for a fraction of its previous valuation).

    Perhaps for a real time illustration of what might be the problem we should have a look at today’s version of the Sydney Morning Herald’s website;

    The main story of the day is a feel good piece by Julie Clun about a man who raises money for a cancer charity. Ok, lovely, but it’s not exactly the “news” topic one would expect is it, especially in these febrile days of North Korea, Iran, Brexit, deadly forest fires in Greece, domestic banking scandals, and difficult times for the domestic Federal government, etc.?

    Second on the website is our old friend Clementine “the other gift that keeps on giving” Ford, whining on about men not doing enough domestic chores in relationships, especially in the first few years after the first child is born. This might be true and the researchers may well have been justified in spending their grant money on undertaking the study but perhaps the “problem” is multi-dimensional and those men have felt the pressure to work longer hours and harder (and let’s face it, more dangerous) jobs to cover their increased financial responsibilities? Clementine doesn’t seem to be curious about this, and more importantly, the sub-editor didn’t wonder whether her entire article wasn’t just some massive exercise in personal projection.

    Third on the website is an astoundingly naive article about a man diagnosed with mental health issues (which the article admits includes the risk of self harm or even suicide) who found it difficult to buy travel insurance. Not “couldn’t buy travel insurance“, but he had to ring around a bit and pay more when he found a company that would cover him. News flash for Rachel Clun, THAT’S HOW INSURANCE WORKS; they asses the risk that you will make a claim and price the policy accordingly.

    Next, article number four is probably the best example of “reporting of news” as we’ll get today; Deborah Snow and Nick O’Malley wrote about a breaking political scandal.

    Fifth on the list is the story of an airline employee who got so drunk on a layover between flights that he had to spend a night in hospital at the airline’s expense and was unable to perform his scheduled duties on the return flight. The tone of Anna Perry’s piece on this presumably open and shut case of employee dismissal is that the airline is being somewhat harsh by firing him. Anna doesn’t find the space to ponder whether we would like to get on flights staffed by half-drunk staff or pay higher prices for tickets that include the $20,000 hospital bill for their big nights out in the Big Apple.

    The sixth article is a fun look at some drug smugglers who were involved in a boat chase before being caught dumping 600kg of cocaine in the sea. Some actual reporting there by Tracey Ferrier, well done.

    The last article is a formulaic hand-wringing climate change article by the SMH’s resident “weather is climate” writer, Peter Hannam, with great use of our old friend “could”, as in “if it doesn’t rain soon, we could have to finally switch on the desalination plant we built ages ago and that has cost half a million dollars a day to sit idle ever since“.

    If you are a current or former employee of the media company formerly known as Fairfax (publisher of the SMH) here’s a direct message to you; Aristotle said, “the life unexamined is not worth living“. Perhaps you should have a good look at yourself and wonder why people didn’t want to pay money for your work.

    It pains me to mention this but there is also a glaring statistic to be found looking at those 7 top articles; of the 8 writers, 6 are women.

    I’m not suggesting that this is the reason the newspaper is making its final circle around the toilet bowl, I’m sure women can report on news and write just as articulately as men, but it might be a symptom not a cause of the greater problem; one struggles to believe that Clementine Ford, for example, is the main bread-winner in her household. Perhaps the job of opinion-writer on gender politics (or however it is she would describe her idiom) doesn’t command a particularly stellar salary because, well, people don’t want to read the bloody tosh she writes? Perhaps that’s the case with most of the remaining jobs at the Herald and many of the employees are bringing in the 2nd income in their house, supplementing a primary wage-earner?

    The business model of companies such as the Sydney Morning Herald is broken and broken beyond repair. We won’t pay for their output any longer.

    H. L. Mencken may (or may not, it’s hard to confirm) have said, “No one in this world, so far as I know … has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people“.

    I like much of Mencken’s work but I hope he didn’t say that because I challenge its accuracy.

    Why?

    Podcasts.

    It turns out that this relatively new method of sharing information is hugely popular. The podcasts insights website suggests that half of all US households listen to podcasts on a weekly basis. Comedy being the most popular category but closely followed by education and news.

    Anyone who has listened to a podcast will have realised that it differs from the traditional media of newspapers, TV and radio in one significant factor; they are LONG.

    How long? The Joe Rogan Experience is in the top 5 of downloaded podcasts and he rarely releases an episode shorter than 3 hours. His average listener numbers per episode? 3 million.

    Dan Carlin regularly drops 2 to 3 hour conversations about history that get higher listener numbers than CNN gets viewers. Let me repeat that; Conversations about history.

    People such as Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, Dave Rubin, Sam Harris, etc. are having lengthy, detailed and nuanced discussions about, well, all sorts of subjects that wouldn’t get more than 600 words in the pages of the Wall Street Journal or the Sydney Morning Herald. In this format, highly-nuanced points can be made, clarified, challenged and refined in a way we’ve never been able to consume previously. This has also resulted in a move away from the problem with formats such as the CNN panel discussion where each participant is simply waiting to shout a pithy one-liner (or even a one-worder) over their “opponents” rather than listening and responding intelligently.

    Now look at our soon to be unemployed SMH journalists; imagine if Clementine Ford was asked to produce a coherent discussion about her apparent area of expertise for three hours a week, how many people would choose to listen to it, do we think? How articulate would it be, how well-thought through and defendable would her arguments be?

    Quite.

    The lesson from podcasts is that huge numbers of people are crying out for long form discussions that take their knowledge of a subject, any subject, forward and don’t just leave them with the executive summary of the revision notes.

    Of course, it hasn’t escaped me that you are reading this rather than listening to it but that’s mainly a function of the fact that I don’t have expertise in any subject that covers 3 hours of conversation and that I have the perfect voice for the written, not spoken, word.