Jenna hates….. the free speech of

….MP Craig Kelly.

Jenna Hates has been given the keys to the Sydney Morning Herald Grievance Vehicle again this week.

Today’s subject of her trademark bitterness and hatred is an MP whose views she can’t stand.

Jenna and I have much in common in that regard, she’s just more discriminatory than me as I can’t stand the views of all MPs.

One of Mr. Kelly’s constituents has decided to undertake a personal project of offence archeology and, helpfully, our resident academic, Jenna Hates, has convinced a national newspaper it’s interesting enough to publish. No, really.

Tom Kristensen is a landscaper, artist and just owner-built a house in Hughes. But sometime in 2019, he turned his mind to local politics. Not to stand for election, no way, he’s never been a member of any political party, too sceptical.

But his local member had started to use Facebook to spread messages which the ecology graduate knew were not based on any kind of scientific evidence. Kristensen got busy. He decided to note and analyse every single Facebook post on Craig Kelly’s page, its topic, its style of writing and its image.

…. as any reasonable person would do….. if they were OCD.

Also, “not based on any kind of scientific evidence” just slipped in there without a supporting description of the method used to come to that conclusion. We mention this because the word “any” is doing a lot of heavy lifting.

Jenna Hates helpfully reminds us of the peer review process or lack there of:

This isn’t for academic research. It is to save the nation from his dangerous conspiratorial and anti-science influence. His job is to represent his community. What he is actually doing is misleading his constituents, misrepresenting science, endangering lives.

We do love a good blood on their hands accusation.

What conspiracy theories is he peddling?

The worst seems to be the false flag theory about last week’s attack on The Capitol. Yeah, that’s pretty daft, particularly from someone who is an elected official. I’m not sure how it risks the lives of Australians though.

The other two themes Jenna Hates, erm, hates, are his suggestion that two existing approved drugs might be used as pharmaceutical treatment for the Kung Flu ‘rona.

Again, unless he’s able to influence the medical profession into prescribing these, it’s just words.

Of course, we could have predicted Jenna’s preference on how to deal with Kelly, it’s a shame the bookies aren’t taking bets. Spoiler alerts, it doesn’t involve presenting counter evidence and debating him or getting up off her arse and actively campaigning for an alternative candidate:

It is such a shame we don’t have a code of conduct for parliamentarians, or an Australian Federal Integrity Commission, which perhaps could punish behaviour like this and send those responsible to Siberia (looking forward to the debate in parliament this year).

Hands up who thinks she’s only partially joking about Siberia?

Bill’s Opinion

For the record, I have no opinion on Craig Kelly as I avoid reading about Australian politicians as much as I possibly can, mainly due to the obvious fact they are stupid at best but usually with the added bonus quality of venality.

I also don’t know whether the two drugs listed reduce the impact of the virus or not. I’m willing to bet neither do you or Jenna Hates. I’m certain Kelly hasn’t a Scooby Doo.

Why don’t we know? Because they’ve been politicised. If you mention them, you will be labelled a conspiracy theorist and dangerously right wing.

In a world other than the Clownworld we’re currently inhabiting, existing approved pharmaceutical therapies for conditions adjacent to the virus would be taken through objective scientific enquiry and the results published for the medical profession to assess. If they prove effective, we’d all be happy. If not, we’d shrug and move on.

In 2021, however, we talk about shutting down the speech of those who suggest such a thing.

2021 already looks like its theme will be authoritarianism.

Predictive test

Predictions for 2021 incoming later today.

In the meantime, it’s end of year report time. On January 1st we made the following ridiculous suggestions:

Australian Politics

Politicians of all sides of the aisle increase the warnings against reliance on China. There will be noises made by the Federal government to have closer trade and defence links with the USA (particularly following the USA election).

A Westpac executive is jailed for the AUSTRAC issues. Probably Lynn Cobley.

Hindsight score – 7/10. As with the Victorian hotel quarantine fuck up, it’s looking unlikely anyone will be found accountable for the Wokepac kiddy-fiddling scandal.

Global Politics

The UK will reach a WTO+ deal (ie closer to WTO terms than a full trade deal) with the EU and negotiations won’t be extended. Boris will call their bluff.

Congress won’t send the impeachment papers to the Senate. The GOP will make political hay about this all the way to the election.

Hindsight score – 8/10. As anyone who has ever negotiated anything could have predicted, when faced with a credible threat of a walk away, the EU blinked.

The impeachment went to the Senate and we all yawned.

Zeitgeist

Sentiment turns against Saint Greta. There’s a financial scandal involving her parents or handlers.

A judge in the USA finds a single mother of a transgender child guilty of abuse. The Supreme Court supports this finding on appeal.

Hindsight score – 5/10. St Greta has been relatively quiet this year, so we can be thankful for small mercies.

Sentiment and the courts are turning against the child abusers masquerading as transgender allies.

Sport

Six Nations table:

1 England

2 Ireland

3 Wales

4 France

5 Scotland

6 Italy

Australia finishes bottom of the Rugby Championship table.

Hindsight score – 6/10. I correctly called the winner and loser of the disrupted Six Nations, and Australia did indeed come last in the amended Tri Nations.

Economy

Gold to temporarily breach all time high ($1,895).

The Dow to breach 30,000.

Hindsight score – 10/10. Expect more of this to come, we are truly living in the “everything bubble”.

Bill’s Opinion

Not bad, all things considered.

Jenna hates… fireworks

It has become obvious to me we need a new category here; Jenna hates…

Unfortunately, the Sydney Morning Herald’s readership has declined in recent years so the original opinion pieces by Jenna Price don’t receive the widespread acknowledgment they deserve. We hope to rectify this by providing a summary here to give her the audience she so richly deserves.

This week’s insight into the mind of a visiting fellow at the Australian National University and a regular columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald won’t disappoint:

There is no justification for having New Year’s Eve fireworks, none. Not this year, not any year.

I agree, utter waste of taxpayers’ money.

Years ago, I felt differently. I would take my children down to the nearest view of soaring Catherine wheels, of sparkling flowers and hearts. One year, we even ventured down to the Rocks. It was awful. Drunken brawling, men catcalling my not-yet-teenage daughters, all for the best possible view of six million bucks going up in smoke.

Why on earth would you take kids younger than 13 to a location where people do pub crawls on stag nights… at midnight? Talk me through the thought process resulting in that parental decision.

Not that we mere mortals ever get the best possible view. That’s reserved, this year more than others, for those with real estate privilege: Green Zoners, those who live or have a reservation in the CBD or the lower north shore of Sydney (that bit’s not too far from plague central also known as Avalon) will have access to city venues with “valid passes”; Yellow Zoners, those who live a little further out, can go hell-for-leather, untethered, unmasked, unsurveilled and a danger to all. Pyrmont Park and Potts Point will each have to be renamed Peril Park.

Envy is the ugliest of emotions.

This is what real estate privilege does for you; Gaia knows who has those reservations to swanky harbourview restaurants and berths in CBD boltholes but my money is on some of Daryl’s mates or similar, developers of one kind or another, various tollroad builders, airport establishers, G8way to heaven, United World Enterprises, icare or some other bit of dodgery.

Real estate privilege.

165 million Bangladeshis would like to have a word with you about your real estate privilege, Jenna.

Good move to cancel the acknowledgment of frontline workers with a front-row seat at the fireworks. Let’s acknowledge them the best way possible. Give them a bloody pay rise, all of them.

Beautiful virtue signal there; pay other people more of other people’s money.

The recent behaviour of those in Sydney during COVID-19 times has confirmed for me that the government should cancel the fireworks this year. It’s Christmas Day at Bronte Beach and idiots are cavorting in board shorts and Santa caps, chanting at the top of their lungs as if we don’t potentially have the plague on every breath. The Sydney Fish markets attempted to pull itself together on Christmas Eve by taking temperatures and enforcing QR check-ins, but it didn’t insist on masks. Attending police tried to persuade but weren’t wearing masks themselves. My favourite fishmonger didn’t even have staff wearing masks. Not too many masks at the Hillsong light display in Bella Vista, even fewer at Westfield Parramatta.

There were seven cases in NSW yesterday after over 300,000 have been tested this week.

7/300,000 x 100 = 0.0023% of the people who thought they might have the virus. As a percentage of the population of the state, that’s 0.00009% with a virus that 99.97% of people fully recover from.

Perhaps people see those odds and feel it’s an acceptable risk, Jenna?

But while it is true that we have many excellent citizens who had had their swabs, that’s more of an “ohmigod, I might be sick and I should really get that checked out” action as opposed to the more purely selfless behaviour of those who wear masks at the shops and on public transport. Of which there is not enough.

Not enough? I was one of only three in the local supermarket not wearing a mask yesterday. I don’t wear a mask because I understand probabilities; the car journey to the supermarket is more dangerous than the virus.

Not enough? What’s your proposal to solve that, Jenna?

Which brings me back to the fireworks. Yes, they are lovely and exhilarating. Soaring, popping, being in large groups of people all aahing and oohing at once, as if they’ve rehearsed for months. But last year was a warning. As Australia burned, fireworks snipped and snizzled across our land. We had a few reflective thoughts about whether we should add more to our already poisoned air, whether we should heap particulate on particulate, but mostly went ahead anyhow, even as people were losing their families, both human and animal, and their homes. The spectacle mattered much more than our consideration of others.

Got a climate change reference in there. That’ll please your colleague Peter weather is climate Hannan.

This year, just broadcast the fireworks on various platforms. And next year, ditch them altogether.

Actually, this is a perfectly reasonable position to take if you’re being asked to pay for the fireworks.

Remember how we celebrated Earth Hour?

Yes! We have an annual tradition; we run a competition to see how quickly we can make the little dial on the electricity meter spin, by getting the kids to rush around the house switching on every electrical device they can find.

We give off so much heat and light for that hour, astronauts on the ISS can probably see Chez Ockham from space.

Switching off all the lights, watching the stars and contemplating how lucky we are, how lucky to be alive.

Oh, that’s not what we do. Are we misunderstanding Earth Hour?

Bill’s Opinion

As with the previous target for Jenna’s hatred, golf, I agree somewhat with Jenna about the fireworks.

My view is they are overrated but, if people want to use their money to fund them, fill yer boots. A subscription service or GoFundMe campaign would work. Just don’t use my taxes to fire 6 million bucks of gunpowder up in the air.

As with most of Jenna’s opinion pieces though, this one tells us more about her emotional state than the specific subject itself.

Jenna has more issues than Vogue. It’s nice of the Sydney Morning Herald to allow her to share the details of her ongoing therapy with us.

Everything needs a bail out

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, subsidise it.
Ronald Reagan
I learned something today; there is a 1c per litre tax on the petrol in my car’s tank used to subsidise Australian oil refineries.

Wait. WHAT???

Worse, the unions and Opposition think this isn’t going far enough.

Primarily, the reason given is the usual “to protect jobs” bollocks.

The government argues keeping refineries open will suppress the price of fuel and modelling suggests wholesale prices would increase by almost 1¢ per litre if production ended, adding up to $4.9 billion over a decade.

Oh good; they’ve got a model.

Well, why didn’t you say so earlier?

We love models in 2020, they’re such a great way to build our confidence in an argument, and they’ve got such a good track record, they’ve never lets us down previously…..

Interestingly, the part not being said aloud in this article is the national security argument. It is referenced by the union though, here.

….our politicians now seem to understand the significance that refineries have to our national and economic security and how difficult the operating environment has been.

A similar low bow was drawn before the car manufacturers took the taxpayers’ money and scarpered.

It was never quite made clear how the ability to build a shitty Holden Commodore would dissuade or slow President Xi and the PLA Navy from steaming into Sydney Harbour and Port Philip Bay with all guns blazing. An allergy to garish paint jobs and shaded windows?

Bill’s Opinion

Putting aside the hilarious concept of Australia needing a refinery for reasons of national security, the protection of refinery jobs is a classic example of the Broken Window Fallacy, best described by Henry Hazlitt.

It’s probably only fair we subsidise fuel refining, after all, we chuck money at wind farms, solar energy and the coal mining industry. Why not oil refineries?

2020; the year we all stopped worrying and learned to love being Keynesians.

Independent. Always. (Part 3,256)

The Sydney Morning Herald’s political correspondent in London filed a “proof of life” article this weekend, in a futile attempt to convince her editor she wasn’t spending all her time lounging around in Shoreditch bars and Brick Lane curry houses:

She probably could have stopped at the headline. Maybe she could have made it a little clearer, perhaps; “Opposition Party Opposes Government Position”.

Somehow though, she manages to fry up a couple of hundred words of absolute nothing burger on the theme:

London: Britain’s opposition is demanding Prime Minister Boris Johnson boycott Australia’s campaign to have Mathias Cormann installed as the next head of the OECD saying the former cabinet minister’s denialist climate change record makes him unfit for the job.

“Denialist”?

That’s a thoroughly modern adjective with really one main usage; to discredit an individual who expresses any level of scepticism with the climate change narrative.

How modern is this word? Here’s how many times it’s appeared in published books in the last couple of hundred years:

Labour’s spokeswoman for trade, Emily Thornberry has written to the British Prime Minister, demanding he guarantee that Britain will not back Cormann, who was instrumental in twice removing Malcolm Turnbull has Liberal party leader, over his record on climate policy. Australia’s Labor Party has backed Cormann’s OECD bid.

I’m confused, is UK Labour saying Cormann is a bad person for rolling a Prime Minister from the other side of the political spectrum? Or is the journalist making that assertion?

Also, Emily Thornbury, (also known as Lady Nugee); oh dear…. go to YouTube and look at her greatest hits. Fortunately for Emily, Dianne Abbott and Richard Burgon are still MPs so the Westminster Village Idiot position has an incumbent and succession plan.

Former Labor premier Mike Rann, who was replaced by the Abbott government just one year into his term as Australia’s high commissioner to Britain in 2014, added to the criticism.

Man who got the sack has an axe to grind.

Shocking.

But Cristina Talacko who chairs of the Coalition for Conservation said Cormann was not a climate change sceptic.

“Mathias is certainly not a climate denialist and that he will be very well placed to help the OECD member countries to achieve net zero given his experience on negotiations, his knowledge on how to apply the best methodologies and his fiscally responsible mind.

Woman from the same side of politics likes her side of politics.

Shocking.

British Labour’s opposition to Cormann’s candidacy is significant in the context of the UK-Australia bilateral relationship, particularly given the Australian Labor Party has endorsed Cormann’s candidacy.

So what? Do the UK Labour and Australian Labor (sic) Parties need to be in lock step about every issue? Who is Bourke trying to lobby here?

Number 10 declined to comment.

Number 10 might have a little more on their plate to deal with in 2020 than responding to Latika Bourke’s latest stating the bleedinobvious article.

Bill’s Opinion

The content of Bourke’s column is only relevant if you have the prior assumption Cormann’s stated position on climate change is incorrect at best, possibly mendacious.

It would have been written completely differently if the author was seeking to maintain a perception of journalistic objectivity.

There’s no law requiring the Sydney Morning Herald to be non-partisan, but their tagline is “Independent. Always“, after all.

Finally, the amusing, “Number 10 declined to comment” reminded me of this classic:

When the facts change

“……I change my opinion. What do you do, sir?”.

If not for Kung Flu, we’d have spent last week skiing down this slope and its neighbours:

That photo was from today via the webcam here.

At this time of year, there’s usually about a metre of snow where you can see grass.

Interesting. Shocking, actually.

The trap to avoid here is falling into the confirmation bias fallacy.

There’s several possible explanations that may be all playing a part.

1. Climate change. So much, in fact, that over a metre of snow hasn’t arrived compared to last year. We’re definitely into Al Gore/Saint Greta territory, if so.

2. It’s a cyclical bad snow season. Again, though, so bad that a metre’s worth hasn’t fallen? Sceptical.

3. Something else.

Bill’s Opinion

A little research suggests option 3 carries most of the blame: the resort manufactures most of the snow for the ski season (via those red machines in the picture). Because the resort is in Victoriazuela, Chairman Dan has shut it down for the season. That’s what the slopes look like without the machines running every night.

I’m actually shocked by this; I’d always assumed the machines topped up a pre-existing base level of snow, but certainly weren’t responsible for layering a metre of depth onto the slopes.

I don’t have the subject matter expertise to calculate this but it would be fascinating to learn what the emissions per skier are to make all this snow compared to, say, flying that skier to a natural snow field in New Zealand or Japan?

If a politician were genuinely concerned about climate change, that’s the sort of data they’d be seeking to publish to enable people to make the correct environmental choice.

Lessons children learn

…seem hardest for activists masquerading as journalists.

For example, noting the difference between an expressed and revealed preference.

One such example would be this, where Charlotte Grieve seems confused that, despite loudly banging the climate change drum in public, large pension funds still heavily invest in the industries that make profit pollute the most.

Four of the nation’s biggest industry super funds have billions of dollars invested in coal producers and other fossil fuel companies despite taking a vocal stance on climate change and pledging to support emissions reduction.

Research exclusively obtained by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald also shows support among super funds for shareholder resolutions that would force companies to take tougher action on climate change has fallen.

One must chuckle at the dressing up as “research” the process of browsing the funds’ websites to view the publicly-available information on investment allocations. They must have had a team working round the clock on that.

Of course, such an easily-written piece is the gift that keeps on giving for Charlotte; on its anniversary she can toss up a follow-up describing her horror that, despite the scandalous exposé of the mealy-mouthed funds and their double standards, the general public haven’t all rushed for the door and moved into a virtue-signalling “sustainable” fund.

Bill’s Opinion

People generally act rationally and in their own interests. This neatly explains making loud public noises suggesting concern over climate change whilst also investing in assets that produce a reasonable return on one’s investment.

As we’ve explored previously, the difference between a “green” fund and a regular fund is the latter has a reasonable chance of being an providing an income in retirement. The green fund doesn’t even track inflation.

Watch what people do, Charlotte, don’t listen to what they say.

Australia’s coal powered cars

In an amazing piece of good news for the planet, Australia has seen a massive rise in the number of electric vehicles sold.

New figures from the Electric Vehicle Council show 6718 electric cars, including hybrid plug-ins, were sold nationwide last year, up from 2216 in 2018.

That’s a tripling of the number sold in the previous year. Hurrah for Australians!

Oh, hang on:

Australia trails the world in the take-up of electric vehicles, with the plug-in market about 0.6 per cent of the total market, compared to Norway’s 56 per cent, Iceland’s 25 per cent, the Netherlands’ 15 per cent and China’s 4.7 per cent.
Oh. 0.6%? A bit of work to do then, and unlikely to be the biggest contributor to Tesla’s share price leap this week.

Also, there’s the awkward and inconvenient truth about how electricity is generated in Australia:

Only 16% “renewables”.

Bills Opinion

If you drive an electric vehicle in Australia, you’re an idiot.

Not only is the infrastructure not in place outside of the mung bean munching inner metro suburbs, but the electricity is generated by coal.

You’re simply signalling your virtue, disposable income and the obvious fact that you don’t visit anywhere more than a couple of hundred kilometres away from home unless you fly.

Finally, and on a related note;

A YEAR, GODDAMN IT!

The Australian bushfire climate crisis – an antidote to the chaos

After a self-imposed digital purdah over the holiday period where I managed to teach myself a lot about methods to replace structural bulkheads and fibreglassing on 30 a year old yacht, normal service has been resumed.

It may have not have come to your attention, but Australia has suffered a bushfire crisis this summer, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria.

While brave people have worked around the clock, mostly as volunteers, and stoical homeowners have watched as their possessions have been destroyed, metropolitan-dwellers such as me have expended terabytes of data explaining what the cause of these fires is and, by obvious extrapolation, the only solution.

There have been several occasions in my life where I’ve been fortunate to have been able to observe a moment of the zeitgeist in which I’m not personally-invested enough to take a side and could therefore watch friends I’ve previously considered sane, make total fools of themselves.

Examples of this include, the death of Princess Diana, the financial crisis of 2008 and the election of Donald Trump.

To offer a mea culpa and to show fallibility, sadly, I made a fool of myself immediately following the 911 attacks. So, my filter is probably as good as anyone else’s.

However, I’m watching the Australian debate on bushfires and climate change from a position of (self-perceived) neutrality. I’ve accepted that a debate about the various scientific aspects of climate change ultimately converts nobody from one side of the argument to the other.

People pick a team and then find justifications for their team. A compelling chart or dataset isn’t going to dent that certainty.

Once one accepts a role of observer, rather than team player, a different perspective can be offered.

Here it is:

The Australian debate over climate change and bushfires is not a scientific debate, it’s a discussion on opportunity cost.

By this, I mean Australia has finite resources to apply to a problem, any problem. It also has a finite range of influence over the global climate. Which problem it chooses to allocate those resources against and how, are the only two questions that should matter to anyone who has any interest in improving the situation.

Yet, the current hysterical debate in the media and pages of Facebook, Twitter, etc. is around the global problem and solutions.

Does anyone see a future where the two sides of that conversation could ever be reconciled?

I have a circuit breaker for Australia which I offer free to any Prime Minister (it’s a job filled in the same way jury service works, ensuring a new one every 18 months) smart enough to use it. This is copyright free, open source:

(For immediate release)

From the Office of The Prime Minister of Australia:

Fellow Australians, the terrible consequences of the bushfire crisis this summer has convinced many of us, myself included, that climate change is real and poses an existential threat to our planet.

With our unique flora and fauna and naturally dry conditions, Australia is particularly at risk from an increase in global temperatures,

The debate now is not about whether climate change real; the science is settled. The debate is about what we as a relatively small economic power can do in response to it?

This is not a question that can be answered by ideology or one specific scientific discipline; it is now a question for all aspects of daily life, from agriculture to economics, energy production, health, land-use, planning and so much more.

This is why this government is seeking input and answers from all relevant experts. Today, I announce a Royal Commission on the Climate Emergency with the aim of determining Australia’s response.

The terms of the Royal Commission are to include the following non-negotiable considerations:

  • We will disproportionately harm the most vulnerable in our society if we deliberately hamstring the economy, therefore any proposed solutions will be fully-costed and, in total, will not exceed 1% of GDP (benchmarked at 2020 levels).

  • Although Australia is well-respected internationally and is seen by many as a progressive thought leader, our relative ability to influence the global climate is low, therefore any proposed solutions should assume no international collaboration. We will lead by example but not be reliant on others.

  • To protect the weakest and most vulnerable, Australia needs low cost energy. The balance between ensuring this and preventing climate change needs to be clearly examined, therefore the Royal Commision will undertake a full cost/benefit analysis of all possible replacement energy sources, regardless of ideology and factoring in existing government subsidies, tariffs, tax allowances, etc. It is time to reconsider every aspect of energy generation.

I look forward to the full support of the leaders of all major parties in this, our biggest challenge since Gallipoli and the Bodyline Tour.

Bill’s Opinion

If you are 100% certain of what the primary cause of a multi-variable problem is, consider the possibility you’re suffering from cognitive dissonance.

To frame a Royal Commission around the terms above removes the dumb ideology from either side of the fight and concentrates on the opportunity cost to find the best pragmatic use of Australia’s money, time and effort.

The current narrative is one where we are allowing scientists to not only describe the problem but to also the solution when that solution is economic and societal, ie far wider than physics and chemistry. At the risk of going full Godwin, surely we had enough of scientists driving policy in the 20th century?

It has the added benefit of flushing out everyone’s indefensible ideological thoughts, such as the underlying Malthusianism and Millernariasm which, in my view, seems to be the motivation behind most of the louder commentary.

Predictions are notoriously difficult

…especially about the future.

But they are a fun diversion.

Here’s ten of mine for the year 2020. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

Australian Politics

Politicians of all sides of the aisle increase the warnings against reliance on China. There will be noises made by the Federal government to have closer trade and defence links with the USA (particularly following the USA election).

A Westpac executive is jailed for the AUSTRAC issues. Probably Lynn Cobley.

Global Politics

The UK will reach a WTO+ deal (ie closer to WTO terms than a full trade deal) with the EU and negotiations won’t be extended. Boris will call their bluff.

Congress won’t send the impeachment papers to the Senate. The GOP will make political hay about this all the way to the election.

Zeitgeist

Sentiment turns against Saint Greta. There’s a financial scandal involving her parents or handlers.

A judge in the USA finds a single mother of a transgender child guilty of abuse. The Supreme Court supports this finding on appeal.

Sport

Six Nations table:

1 England

2 Ireland

3 Wales

4 France

5 Scotland

6 Italy

Australia finishes bottom of the Rugby Championship table.

Economy

Gold to temporarily breach all time high ($1,895).

The Dow to breach 30,000.