Covid near-culpa

The half-pologies are coming in thick and fast.

This week, it’s Josh Szeps’ turn. His podcast here, is where you will find his near-culpa.

I have some time for Josh; although there are many aspects to his world view I can find disagreement with, he’s one of the few podcasters on the political left, or in fact, Australian podcasters (but I repeat myself), I feel is capable of thought deeper than a hashtag.

Some of his contemporaneous views can be found on this Twitter thread. He got some stuff right (libertarian principles about border closures), but others wrong (acceptance of the pharmaceutical press releases).

Today’s podcast goes somewhere towards an apology, but he can’t quite get there.

To be clear; if, since January 2020, you have at any time expressed the view or been silent when the policies were announced, that we should keep people in their homes, close schools, force people (either by law or by employer) to take a medical treatment or wear a face mask, then you need to apologise.

It needs to be an apology that’s sincere, and therefore doesn’t contain the word “but” in the sentence.

Until you do that, we’re going to view you with deep suspicion for the remainder of our lives together.

Actually, let’s be honest, we’re going to view you with deep suspicion forever. But we might be able to have some kind of relationship based in civility.

Josh admits to being wrong on two counts; he totally swallowed the lie that the vaccine prevents transmission AND that it was 90% effective at preventing hospitalisation.

He also is halfway to accepting the risk of heart issues in healthy young people is greater than the disease itself.

BUT….

(“Everything before the word ‘but’ is bullshit”)

Josh believes he was wrong but for the right reasons. That is, his epistemological method was correct, while the conclusion it reached may have been incorrect.

More on this later.

The last ten minutes of the podcast are where we hear the real “sorry, not sorry” near-culpa. Apparently, “you weren’t a genius to have feared that and not taken the jab”, for example.

Well, my precautionary principle told me I shouldn’t take it. Yours, on the other hand, tells you not to take the 4th one. I don’t need to claim genius status, but mine isn’t the position that’s changed.

There is also a very telling line; “shut the fuck up because we are in a pandemic”.

Bill’s Opinion

Shut the fuck up? Really?

Shutting the fuck up is what we should do when experiencing actual authoritarianism?

We all have to do some personal accounting for the last three years.

If you took your school age child to get a couple of shots of a medical treatment that you didn’t know was safe, I cannot trust you again. I will have to treat you with extreme caution forever. Your judgement is faulty.

When I say, “didn’t know was safe”, I mean COULDN’T have known was safe. There hadn’t been enough time. It matters not whether the evidence now is it was or wasn’t safe; you took a risk based on a damn lie, “safe and effective”.

At the time, that was unknowable. Your epistemology did not put enough weight on that fact.

Fear overcame and killed your libertarian principles.

What’s missing from Josh’s current view is the accounting for how he got it wrong. It seems just out of reach for him to realise his government lied to him. Not just once, but multiple times on multiple subjects. He’s in Plato’s Cave and he can see the shadows but can’t turn around to see their source.

In 2022, we all now know which side of the barbed wire fence we would have been on. I’m afraid Josh Szeps is due an uncomfortable conversation with himself about which side he would have been on.

Health experts warn of a new wave of….Covid hysteria

Or, “please believe us and let us be relevant and important again”.

A scan across the headlines of the Australian mejia indicates there is a new wave of covid hysteria building.

Obviously, the betwetters at the Sydney Morning Herald are leading the way:

But News are not going to be outdone:

The ABC crayon-users have been deployed too:

The ABC invokes Betteridge’s Law of Headlines; no, it very definitely isn’t a time for people to get a fifth dose. None of the previous ones did any good, so what magic fairy dust do you think they have sprinkled on the latest one?

For aesthetic and blood pressure reasons I’ve saved you from viewing yet another picture of Kerry “please wash your hands, even though I’ve known it doesn’t spread that way since March 2020” Chant, but take it on trust that she’s back behind the microphone.

What the fuck is going on?

Bill’s Opinion

Anyone in 2022 with an IQ above room temperature must surely know by now, the news media doesn’t report current affairs objectively. Realistically, they never did, how could they?

But the concept that news occurs and is then reported to you is also a busted flush. They decide on the narrative and then commission articles to support it. The 1619 Project being simply a version hiding in plain sight.

A small number of Australian editors have decided we’re not scared enough about the sniffles and a summer cold so they’re going to ramp up the reporting.

The stupid thing to do is to attempt to work out the reason why. Remember, that way madness lies.

….but doubling down as the narrative of their safetyism, lockdowns, ineffective and dangerous medical interventions collapses would be a reasonable guess.

Welcome home

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.” ― Charles MacKay

Slowly but surely people around us are coming back to their senses. Topics that only 6 months ago would have labelled as conspiracy theories are now being accepted as mainstream opinion.

Venal pond life such as Piers Morgan are channeling their inner Keynes (no, not the pederast bit) and claiming to change their minds when the facts change.

Public figures are suddenly wondering whether, in the face of awkward all cause mortality statistics, lockdowns and universal vaccinations were perhaps not worth the long term cost.

The trigger for each volte face is unpredictable. This excellent article listing all the things Australian politicians said about vaccines preventing transmission to justify their authoritarian and immoral new laws, for example.

The temptation from our side of the argument is to welcome these victories for common sense and move on. But there’s a reckoning to be had first.

A slip of the tongue by a Pfizer exec in a Brussels parliamentary hearing doesn’t seem a credible reason for people to suddenly notice the vaccines didn’t prevent transmission.

When 90+ percent of Australians are vaccinated and yet everyone you know has caught the disease, simple observed reality should have been enough for any conscious human to notice.

Bill’s Opinion

As each individual returns to sanity, they need to justify to themselves their past decisions. They therefore need an inflection point they can state was the moment the facts changed, demanding the change of thought.

Those of us who didn’t spend the last couple of years in denial of reality and with a healthy distrust of official narrative know that this justification is pure bollocks, of course.

Nevertheless, welcome home. It’s a shame it took you so long though.

Perhaps we could start with one of us offering some sort of an apology?

It’s all relative

….as they say in Tasmania.

Some data points for your amusement:

NSW is going to switch to weekly reporting for the Covid numbers. Because we’re living with Covid now, pandemic over, etc.

Mary Ward is “health reporter”, apparently.

Not a particularly curious health reporter, though.

If she was just a little interested, she might look back at some ancient history. Remember, something something, those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Today’s statistics that we are so sanguine about that we can switch to weekly summaries for;

21 dead with/of Covid yesterday. Tragic, but not many really, in the scheme of things. I’m sure you, like all of us, are glad we’re over the dark days of the pandemic when people were just dropping all around us.

Oh, here’s something interesting I found in a history book, from nearly a year ago:

We were shitting the bed because five people died in a day with/of Covid. Screenshot below in case it gets memoryholed:

Bill’s Opinion

Shall we just play “let’s pretend” that the last couple of years didn’t happen or that it was all justified?

Yes, let’s do that.

O Lord, help me to be pure

but not yet.

Saint Augustine

Many years ago, I was on a plane about to depart the airport in Lagos (the one in Nigeria, not Portugal).

Sharing the row of seats with me was my colleague, Ricky (not his real name) and an elderly Nigerian woman to whom I’d yet to be introduced.

Some background to Ricky; he was also Nigerian, living and working in London. In his spare time he was a lay preacher at a (very) large Christian church in a converted warehouse in North London.

He didn’t miss an opportunity to remind you of this fact. Think about the most annoying vegan you’ve ever met, then stick a copy of The New Testament in their hand.

Prior to take off, I introduced myself to the old lady and politely asked where she was headed.

Geneva

Oh lovely, do you have family there?

No, I have a serious medical condition and my family have saved up to pay for me to be treated by the worlds best surgeon for that condition”

At which point, spying an opportunity to talk about his favourite subject, Ricky usurped the conversation:

“I’m a pastor, I am qualified in prayer and the laying of hands. Would you like to pray with me for a cure?”

Oh yes, I’d like that very much”.

There then followed five tediously long minutes of Performative Christianity with several references to scripture and a grand finale with the claim, through faith, Ricky had cured the old lady of the, presumably, terminal cancer or whatever it was she was going to have removed.

“Oh, thank you so much”, responded the old dear.

No walhala”, Ricky modestly replied in the vernacular.

Curious, I enquired whether she believed she was now cured.

Oh yes

“What, fully cured?”

Yes, I believe in the power of prayer

“Well, the plane doors haven’t closed, there’s still time to leave the plane and save your family a lot of money in medical bills”

No, I think I’ll still go and see the surgeon”

Bill’s Opinion

I’m constantly reminded of this memory whenever I see people, presumably already with the benefit of four shots of a vaccine that prevents them catching and being made sick from Covid, walking around in public wearing non-surgical grade masks.

Now Jesus he came in a vision
And offered you redemption from sin
I’m not sayin’ that I don’t believe you
But are you sure that it really was him
I’ve been told that it could’ve been blue cheese
Or the meal that we ate down the road

I’m a young man at odds with the Bible
But I don’t pretend faith never works
When we’re down on our knees
Prayin’ at the bus stop

Hallelujah

Could G K Chesterton please report to the office?

…and bring fence repair tools.

There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

For example, lengthy clinical trials before rolling out new medicines, sometimes lasting 7 years. That kind of “fence”.

Why do we bring this up? Well, the UK Government just quietly changed its policy regarding mRNA vaccines and pregnant or breastfeeding women (aka “pregnant people” and “chestfeeders”, in the vernacular).

Specifically:

Ok, well that’s a bit of a minor change with no negative implications, isn’t it. because previously, there was a significant amount or urging going on. In fact, there were urges everywhere, no corner of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was spared the urge.

Northern Ireland was urged:

England was urged:

Wales was urged:

I couldn’t find the Scotch urge, but it’s probably covered by this catch all:

And this urging:

Don’t forget, they were being urged and put on the priory list:

Let’s not forget, if you weren’t already scared shitless, pregnant people and chestfeeders who definitely had no comorbities could die with of Covid:

Finally, here’s the BBC (mission statement: “to act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain“) telling you it’s perfectly safe for the aforementioned pregnant and breastfeeding people to take the vaccine.

Fully vaxxed? Fully tested, natch.

Bill’s Opinion

I sincerely hope you and nobody you hold dear suffered any negative consequences as a result of taking a brand new medicine during pregnancy before the clinical trials had completed.

Someone must certainly have though, else why has this policy been changed now?

How many miscarriages and how many and how severe birth defects are we talking about, I wonder?

The shoes keep dropping.

How many shoes will drop?

Let’s count them, shall we?

Transitory inflation.

Not so much.

Vaccines stop the spread?

Not so much.

Scientific evidence supported the lockdown approach.

Not so much.

The human lives saved were worth the cost of lockdown.

Not so much.

Shutting down schools and teaching online is a good substitute for classroom learning.

Not so much.

Bill’s Opinion

What are the next shoes to drop, do we think?

How about:

There were no existing therapeutic treatments we could have used.

The vaccines are perfectly safe, especially for your children.

Lockdown legislation was legal/constitutional.

Bourgeois chutzpah

Level: Jedi Knight

Written by Daniella White, who is also the author of this Numberwang from January, where she misses asking any questions about denominators or the relationship between numbers of Covid tests and positive cases but simply reports government statistics as if they actually meant anything useful.

So, Daniella is clearly one of the intended targets of this article.

People’s poor understanding of statistics resulted in misinformation and “fake news” spreading throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers say, as a study calls for changes to how mathematics is taught in schools.

Schools? Yes, those things we shut down for months at a time.

Australian Catholic University Professor of Mathematics Education Vincent Geiger, who co-authored the research, said more needed to be done to teach students how to critically interpret statistics like those published during the pandemic.

Not just students. Also every media outlet that ever published a percentage without an accompanying denominator, or a case fatality rate without comparing it to the ‘flu and the caveat we don’t test for ‘flu.

“Mathematics and statistics were used in the media like almost never before over COVID-19,” Geiger said.

Yes, we can all agree with that statement., unfortunately.

“What does flattening the curve actually mean?

Yes, we wrote about how the conversation quietly changed about that here, turns out it means whatever we want it to mean and we’ll stop using it as our strategy without telling anyone.

He said schools also needed to do more to help students scrutinise whether sources were credible, and the media should provide links to original sources of statistics and information quoted in articles.

Agreed. It kind of infers the churnalists understand numbers though. Big assumption, there.

Geiger said unless key skills were addressed at school, there was a real danger that students would grow up to be adults at risk of accepting “fake news”.

You see that tall mast disappearing over the horizon? That’s the ship that’s sailed already.

One example was misinterpretation of vaccine effectiveness data. While raw data might show a higher raw number of deaths and infections among the vaccinated population when most people have been vaccinated, the rate of infection and death in unvaccinated people is still higher.

“The numbers may appear simple, but they’re not, they’re what we would call composite variables,” she said.

Oh, I feel this might be a topic to which there will be many unhappy returns this year…..

Bennett said people should defer to the experts in the field to explain data and not necessarily attempt to draw conclusions from statistics for themselves.

Really? Do they have some computer models? They’re always very persuasive and worked out really well for us.

Bill’s Opinion

The fucking chutzpah and irony of a journalist writing an article bemoaning a lack of numeracy and critical thinking.

Anyone who, after the last two and half years, ever again finds themselves reading a data point in a newspaper without assuming it’s 180 degrees incorrect, should consider wearing a sign or some kind of symbol to let the rest of us know to avoid them.

Oh, they do already. It’s called a face mask.

Chocolate rations increased to 20 grams!

You may have remembered the ration was 30 grams previously, but you would be incorrect.

The CDC have quietly and tacitly admitted a few facts that are in direct contradiction to their previous statements.

No! Say it ain’t so, Bill!

It also brings the recommendations for unvaccinated people in line with people who are fully vaccinated – an acknowledgment of the high levels of population immunity in the U.S., due to vaccination, past COVID-19 infections or both. “Based on the latest … data, it’s around 95% of the population,” Massetti said, “And so it really makes the most sense to not differentiate,” since many people have some protection against severe disease.

There’s a few things going on there. Firstly, it infers a prior infection is as good as the vaccines to provide future immunity. Here’s Fauci saying exactly the opposite just last year.

It also infers “herd immunity” from the dual source of vaccine and prior infection is a valid concept when fighting this virus. Some of us are old enough to remember when Fauci said that was not possible back in, erm, April this year.

Anyone with access to an internet search engine would also find him giving varying figures between 60 to 95% vaccination levels to achieve this apparently simultaneously possible and impossible thing.

So there we have it; Covid is not a problem for you dirty unvaxxed. We’re good then, right? All’s well with the world?

Well no, not really.

You see, we’ve got a few questions we’d like answered. Here’s a few to get started:

1. Are we supposed to forget how many times the authorities made unchallenged new laws discriminating against a swath of citizens based on these medicines which were are now told are not required?

2. Do the people who lost their jobs for not accepting these pointless medicines get to work again and receive compensation for lost earnings?

3. Do the vaccine injured (we don’t need to argue how many – there must have been at least one) receive compensation in a timely manner and without going through a “the process is the punishment” Kafka-esque process to receive it?

4. How are we supposed to live together after this? After people like this fucking authoritarian unscientific cunt wrote such absolute fucking horse shit?

Bill’s Opinion

We see you. We know who you were.

You should be ashamed of yourselves.

We’ll forgive you but we can never forget.

There are many people who have been shaken from a complacency about their fellow humans, a state to which they will never return. When we meet you, we will always wonder which side you were on, and depending on the conclusion, will interact with you with much caution in future.

Denial, not a river in Egypt or India

I have been travelling extensively for the last two weeks. My travels have taken me through various Asian hub airports and around the Indian sub-continent.

Through observation, I can confirm the petty bureaucrats and rule-givers across Asia are as illogical and stupid as their counterparts in Australia.

In a message exchange to a good friend I expressed the sentiment that I have accepted the lunacy. He congratulated me on reaching the fifth stage of the Kubler-Ross rubric.

The fact that I may have reached acceptance still doesn’t make any of this madness right though.

For example, I must wear a mask on the train to Sydney airport. I can remove it in the airport. I must replace it on the Malaysian Airways flight, except whilst sipping on a drink or eating (I can nurse a drink for a loooong time).

The mask must remain on at Kuala Lumpur airport unless I am in the Business Class Lounge. It must go back on the moment I leave the lounge, of course.

I must also wear the mask on the Indian domestic flights. The pre-flight announcement requests us to maintain anti-social distancing between our fellow passengers, seemingly oblivious to the sardine-tin we are sharing. Officially, we must wear our masks in the airports, unless proving our identify but the local security staff nearly all use theirs as chin-warmers so are not enforcing the rule on the public anyway.

The day prior to a visit to a supplier’s office, a test kit was delivered to my hotel room with the request that I use it and bring the negative result with me the next day. This wasn’t requested at all during the visit.

Trying to make any sense of this results in a headache. Questioning why this still is going on is a fool’s errand; there is no consistent thread of logic holding any of this together.

In the meantime, my colleagues chuckle behind their hands at the ineffective and leaky Indian airport security checks as we remove shoes and belts, take laptops out of bags, display our power adaptors for inspection, etc. and make disparaging remarks about how silly it all is.

We don’t comment on the inconsistency of the masks though. There’s a code of silence as we put them on, take them off, rinse, repeat.

This is either a deadly disease that can be prevented by the addition of a knitted woollen barrier over the mouth and nose, or isn’t and it can’t.

That we are all continually living like this makes me wonder if we have become fully house-trained. What else might we quietly and compliantly accept now in the future?

Bill’s Opinion

I can think of only two possible reasons for this bio-security theatre to remain in place;

1. The process to remove the rule has far more steps and gatekeepers than the process to impose it. We must participate in the Holy Communion to the god of Covid until eventually a person in authority decides we can stop, or

2. It’s about the love of power and control. The gatekeepers preventing the removal of this ridiculous charade from our lives know it serves no purpose. They know we know it serves no purpose. They know we know they know we know it serves no purpose. But yet they keep the rules in place.

Aaaaand exhale.