To a woman with a hammer

….the entire world looks like a nail.

Or, put another way:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

With that Upton Sinclair quote in mind, one wonders what the outcome might be of Bristol University’s decision to hire a researcher to investigate whether or not the institution has any residual guilt for its part in the transatlantic slave trade.

Strictly-speaking, my description above is likely to be more specific than the actual job description. The press releases all quote the investigation to be into “slavery”, rather than one specific trade route of the egregious abuse of humans.

If the remit if her job was expanded to look at the impact of any slavery, we could save her some time; of course it has. Everyone alive has.

Slavery has historically been the only route to wealth for 99% of the duration of modern humans as a species. The fact you are alive today, strongly suggests some or many of your ancestors exploited the labour of others to survive.

The degree (pun intended) to which Bristol University benefited from this seems quite a strange choice of investigation. Surely a more useful and interesting area of inquiry would be whether slavery still exists in the world and what form it takes?

Bill’s Opinion

The two universities in England most likely to have been recipients of money made from the transatlantic slave trade are Liverpool and Bristol, because the trade flowed through the ports of those cities.

The risk, 228 years after slavery was made illegal globally by the UK parliament, is to contort oneself and, by extension, our institutions to find some way of making history “right”.

Which takes us back to the who/whom? problem.

But anyway, of course a person paid to find something will find it. Imagine the awkward conversation a year later if she were to submit a report passing a clean bill of health, historically-speaking.

Lifting the veil on the narrative

Consider this tragic story of prejudice and bigotry:

The mood after the race was jubilant. Sixteen-year-old Noor Alexandria Abukaram, who had just run her best time yet, hugged her high school teammates as they realised they were headed to regionals.

So far, so inspiring.

Then the students went to check their individual times at last Saturday’s Ohio cross-country meeting, Abukaram remembers. It seemed there was a mistake – her 22 minutes 22 seconds was not listed.

Oh no! Why not?

Other team members who’d sat out Abukaram’s race told her what they’d heard: an official at the Ohio High School Athletic Association approached their coach just before the race to say Abukaram needed a waiver to wear her hijab. Without it, she couldn’t compete.

That’s awful. Imagine thinking you’d competed and won fairly only to discover an obscure rule you’d never known previously had disqualified you.

Abukaram had never experienced this type of bureaucratic nonsense over religious clothing before, after all.

Abukaram says she’s watched her older sister come home crying from soccer games, after being told to change out of religious garb like the long pants she wears in addition to a headscarf.

Oh, that’s awkward.

The article then mentions a different, elite-level, athlete with similar problems:

Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first US athlete to compete in the Olympics with a hijab, has described sticking out uncomfortably at competitions and being asked to remove her headscarf for an event ID photo.

Well, unless everyone is forced to wear a headscarf, then I suppose she would look different, wouldn’t she?

As for ID photos requiring an unrestricted image of the competing athlete, I’m sure someone with even the mildest ability to hypothesise could think of how waiving that rule might result in a bad result.

Back to Abukaram’s tragic case. What say the athletics event organisers?

The Ohio High School Athletic Association says it wasn’t singling out Abukaram last weekend, just enforcing its rules. Students need a waiver to run cross-country in “religious headwear”, spokesman Tim Stried told The New York Times, and Abukaram’s school had not requested one.

Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they, the bigots.

Abukaram’s request after Saturday’s race was approved “immediately”, Stried said. That means Abukaram can run this weekend in regionals.

Oh.

For Abukaram, the decision to strike her time was still hurtful. She wants the waiver requirement dropped – something OHSAA is now considering, Stried told the Times.

Quite right too. Everyone should be forced to change because of one person’s inability to ask for a waiver….which was granted immediately when requested.

Bills Opinion

Crybully is an interesting noun which explains much of what we see in cases involving participants in “The Oppression Olympics”.

In the entire article linked above, and the countless clones of it available via a Google search, the word “why” is conspicuously missing.

As in, “why does the Ohio High School Athletic Association ban head coverings unless agreed in advance?

I can’t find the reasons on the association’s website, mainly because the bylaws and general rules pages have been removed. Interestingly, they are proud enough of their transgender policy to leave that up (spoiler alert; it’s a fudge, like Cricket Australia’s).

We’ll have to speculate then.

I imagine the rule was made because, unless they legislated for every possible religious headgear, they had to reserve the right to review each individual case and not be unreasonable in granting the waivers.

How might a general rule allowing headgear be abused?

Well, we could ask why cyclists wear this type of helmet, for example:

Then there might be reasons of safety; headphones are banned because its restricts competitors’ ability to be aware of other runners.

It seems reasonable, therefore, to check each proposed headgear before a race.

But, claiming victim status and throwing accusations of bigotry is rewarded because incentives matter.

The age of Rorschach tests

This is an example of a Rorschach Test image:

Related image

In the movies, psychiatrists show their patients these and try to seek meaning in the answer to the question, “tell me what you see?”.

For the record, in this example I see Lord Lucan recreating the Marty McFly guitar solo part during the cover of Johnny B Goode in the film Easy Rider while Edward G Robinson waves a declaration of cooperation next to an airplane that had recently landed from his meeting with Chancellor Dido.

Some people see a butterfly.

I digress.

These strange situations where people report wildly different experiences when seeing or hearing the same situation are not as rare as one might think.

Recall the “viral” dress that was either blue and black or white and gold?

It’s not limited to visual experiences; here’s “yanni or laurel”.

It’s unsurprising then, to find these differences between our perception of reality elsewhere in life. Some examples we can find by simply watching the news;

– Some people believe there are only two genders and this situation is fixed by the facts of biology. On the other hand, some people believe there are more than two genders and a person can choose to transition between them with the help of surgery and hormones or simply by stating it verbally.

– Some people think it’s highly unlikely an individual or group of individuals can collect and analyse enough data to successfully manage to a national economy. Some other people disagree with this, despite 200 million dead bodies in the ground during the 20th century, and are certain the best three people to undertake this task are called Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott.

Perhaps the pinnacle of this phenomenon of people having wildly divergent views of the same situation are the reactions to Donald Trump’s presidency.

The British have an expression that describes the differing reactions to Trump; like marmite.

Marmite is a salty yeast extract paste (similar to Vegemite in Australia). Nobody is ambivalent about its taste, you either love it or would rather chew your own fingernails off than eat it. A fact the marketing department used to their advantage a few years ago.

Similarly, I’ve yet to meet an American who metaphorically shrugs their shoulders and suggests Trump is neither terrible or the second coming of the Messiah.

Recently, I had a coffee with an American acquaintance and, towards the end of the meeting, she made a comment about how insane her home country was currently under the evil President.

Being an argumentative bugger, I thought I’d probe this opinion further, “ok, I’m not saying you’re wrong, but can you give me your three strongest reasons to persuade me he’s worse than any other previous president?

In order, here they are and the counter points I offered:

  1. He said the Nazis who murdered a woman in Charlottesville were “fine people”. – no, he didn’t. CNN selectivity edited the quote.
  2. He paid off a woman he had extra-marital sex with before he was president. – is that worse than getting the most junior staff member to give him oral sex in the Oval Office?
  3. He’s a dangerous warmonger. – perhaps, but pulling troops out of several current theatres of war and declining the option to bomb Iran suggests otherwise. He’s also running far behind the rate set by Obama.
  4. (She offered a 4th) He’s separating families at the Mexican border. – This has been policy for years and occurs until it can be ascertained the children are actually related to the adults and aren’t kidnapping victims.

Bills Opinion

It’s a difficult task to find a person who can express a nuanced view on President Trump, a view that suggests he’s neither the worst or the best holder of that office.

Why?

It’s my opinion that most people take their opinions verbatim from their selected news source.

Why aren’t the news sources presenting this nuance then? Perhaps it’s not in their interests.

The best explanation I’ve heard so far was expressed by Brett Weinstein on this podcast (go straight to the 1 hour mark and listen for about 4 minutes).

It’s an interesting theory that everyone knows the ideas of the last 10 years are insane but it’s not in anyone’s interests to say so publicly, so the madness remains. Weinstein articulates this far better than I, though.

In the meantime, my pronouns are zhe, zher and zhers:

Like being savaged by a dead sheep

Spare a thought for this week’s Australian Prime Minister (it’s a job selected like Jury Service, so we’re not sure whose turn it is at the moment); he or she has just been “lashed” by Headspace’s new “Ambassador”, Georgie (née George) Stone.

Lashed.

Here’s Georgie:

Georgie is 19 years old and is transgender. So, at any other time prior to about 2010, “she” would be a gay boy, in other words.

The Prime Minister’s lashing is a consequence of expressing just the slightest doubt that, just because George claims to be female, despite being the proud owner of a matching set of female penis and testicles, he is female.

For this failure on the part of the leader of a G20 member nation to agree up is down, black is white and gender is a social construct, the impartial journalists in the ever-declining Australian legacy press have written a unsympathetic article about him (sorry for assuming the gender of whoever is in the job these days).

Bill’s Opinion

Ok, full disclosure; I’m vaguely aware the Prime Minister’s name is Scott Morrison. The media hate him because he’s not afraid to admit to being a Christian.

Until about 6 years ago, the American Psychiatric Association, the main body of professional thought on matters mental, classed transgender (A.K.A gender dysphoria) as a mental illness.

Here’s a question for anyone who agrees with the sentiment expressed in the newspaper’s treatment of “Georgie” and “her” pronouns;

Would you prefer that the person who commands a well-armed military, a large Federal police force and has access to the resources of a secret service, to go around agreeing with every unproven claim made by highly confused 19 year olds?

If so, I’ve got a manifesto written by a mentally-ill 16 year old Swedish girl I’d like to sell to you for a couple of thousand dollars-worth of Bitcoin.

Did we stop you beating your wife?

Probably not.

Speaking personally, I was only vaguely aware of The White Ribbon Foundation through seeing a poster in the kitchen area of an office in which I was recently working.

Some male colleagues had signed their names on the poster under statements pledging to not hit their partners and to speak up should they see someone they know committing domestic violence or abuse.

My reaction was to think it was a pointless exercise but also a good scam; trick and bully corporates into paying the White Ribbon “protection fee” to have a representative come in and give a day’s awareness and have the company name added to the online register of organisations that don’t encourage their staff to beat up their spouses.

Domestic violence and abuse is one of those unopposable causes isn’t it? “What, you don’t agree we shouldn’t beat women up? What kind of a monster are you?”.

I’m somewhat surprised therefore by the financial collapse of the charity. Prima facie, this was a business model that should have been simplicity itself to maintain and earn a good living from.

Bill’s Opinion

In recent years, the corporate world has become a target for charity shakedown operations of which the White Ribbon Foundation seems to have been one of the more obvious.

The model seems to work along the lines of;

  1. Define a worthy cause and frame it in terms that are incapable of being opposed without risk of catastrophic publicity,
  2. Offer corporate “training” at an inflated fee,
  3. Request “donations” in return for being named as a partner/ally/supporter.
  4. Rinse and repeat.

Examples I can think of operating right now include all our favourite subjects; climate change, LGBTQptanyangkipperbang, indigenous businesses, gender equity, etc.

The credit for the original idea seems to be due to the infamous American race-baiting politician, Jesse Jackson, as described in the book “Shakedown” (the customer reviews are entertaining).

One wonders whether Jackson has ever thought to claim royalties from the numerous copycat charities operating around the world these days? Perhaps that’s a level of chutzpah too far even for him.

Perhaps this is how the Roman Empire ended

Jenna Guillaume lives in Sydney and is paid to write articles such as this one, in which she takes around 300 words to explain to us that she has clicked the “unfollow” button next to an American reality TV star’s name on Twitter.

At the risk of encouraging this rubbish, a delve into her Twitter account allows us to speculate about the reasons why she’s a) unfollowed the Kardashians, and b) wrote about it.

The reason she unfollowed the reality TV people is because it was making her unhappy about her body. Faced with the choice of doing something tangible to lose about 30kg or to use her thumb once on a smart phone, Jenna selected the less strenuous option.

The reason she wrote about it is because she clearly has no other employable skill. Let’s face it, if you’re a freelance writer “formerly” of Buzzfeed (fuck, how shit do you have to be to be let go from Buzzfeed?), employment options aren’t going to be very forthcoming. Uber driving, maybe?

As fun as it might be to pick on Jenna and her psychological issues relating to being a wheezing land whale, that’s not what today’s subject is really about.

We’ve written about this phenomenon previously; Golgafrincham Ark Buzzfeed.

Perhaps Jenna is a symptom of a cultural malaise. We’ve become so successful as a society and culture that we can afford to carry passengers such as the otherwise useless, Jenna Guillaume.

Bill’s Opinion

On the one hand, it’s a sign of how far we’ve come that someone with so little of worth to offer can still carve a living writing about such vacuous subjects as reality TV and “body positivity”.

The flip side to this is an atrophying of the qualities and values that are likely to have been contributing factors to our wealth and civilisation.

In another time or place, someone like Jenna Guillaume would have found her struggle with “body positivity” a long way down the list of priorities of topics for concern. Not dying of an incurable disease, violence or, ironically, a paucity of calories would have been rather more pressing day to day issues.

Somewhere in Syria, a jihadist is reading Jenna’s twitter account and reinforcing his belief that his god truly is on his side not ours.

Little Forethought by the Sea

From the book of faces:

This follows on from the Sydney suburbs of Leichardt and Haberfield being renamed to “Little Italy”.

What a great idea and an utterly genius way to improve the social cohesion between various ethnicities living in the melting pot of Australia.

Let’s step through some versions of the possible logic behind this decision:

  1. Everyone is envious of Chinatown having a name other than “the southern part of Sussex Street”, so we should let everyone else name their place accordingly, or
  2. We love multiculturalism so much, although we can’t really explain what it means but it feels like it’s a warm and lovely version of that 1971 advert for Coca Cola, or
  3. There’s a majority of a particular ethnic group in my constituency and this locks their vote in for me next election.

As with all political decisions, the implications of this are only considered when they directly impact the next election cycle.

More curious minds might ask whether naming areas of a city after the majority ethnic groups residing there is a sound long term strategy?

Where might this lead?

Slippery slope fallacies are to be avoided but, if we now have three areas named in such a way, there’s obviously some level of trend to be observed.

It’s not hard to imagine a situation in the near future where tensions are inflamed because of a perception that this is “our area” and a particular ethnicity isn’t welcome.

It probably happens already to a certain extent but now such an attitude has a perception of legitimacy through Council decree.

Bill’s Opinion

Where might this end? Here’s some suggestions for future naming changes:

Lakemba: Little Lebanon

Glebe: Big Lesbos

Mascot: Little Guangzhou

S’nives: Little Jo’burg

Point Piper: Little Taxation

Paramatta Road: Little Hope And Maintenance

Gosford: Little Dentistry

Mosman: Little Empathy On Sea

Canberra: Little Accountability

Bondi: The Irish and the Jewish communities will have to fight it out for naming rights. The clever money is betting Mossad will beat Continuity Backpackers by a cricket score.

As fun as this is, there’s a couple of versions of the future that could be reasonably envisioned. They are both probably unrealistic, but I suspect only one was ever in the minds of the people behind this push to rename suburbs:

Only bad people like you can be sexist

It’s unclear precisely when the facts changed but, at some point during the previous decade, the received opinion in the group of people who know these things is that it is not possible to be racist if you are not white.

The “logic” behind this repurposing of language is that racism=power+evil, or some similar daft equation.

So, for example, if you’re a black man shouting abuse at “crackers” you aren’t racist as long as the subject of your opprobrium is richer or more powerful in some other way than you. Actually, even that doesn’t matter; you could be a rich black person abusing a poor white person and still not be racist because four generations ago people who looked like you were enslaved by people who looked like the other person.

So the other person is the racist by genetics or, if they aren’t related to a slave owner and you aren’t the descendant of slaves, osmosis.

I think I’ve got that about right. Please correct me in the comments if not.

Similarly, being sexist is a crime exclusively committed by people who are bad people. Put another way, if you are a good person, you cannot be sexist.

Sounds a bit of a circular argument? Let me offer a worked example:

Let’s say your name is Arwa and you are a good person. You write a column in the Guardian, a newspaper that only publishes the thoughts of good people. Let’s say the article is full of opinions that, if written by a man who isn’t a good person (but I repeat myself) would be considered highly sexist because it explicitly states a woman’s worth is directly proportional to her beauty and appearance.

Therefore the completely objective assessment of the article is that it can’t be sexist and YOU are the sexist for thinking it might be sexist.

I hope that clears things up for you all.

In completely unrelated news, here’s an excellent article by Arwa Mahdarwi that doesn’t at all malign another woman as a completely brainless bimbo who is manipulated like a rag doll by those around her.

It is possible Trump just felt like cutting her hair. But if the Trumps care about anything, it is image; I wouldn’t dismiss the idea that Trump’s new cut is an attempt to get us to take her politicking more seriously. Women’s hair, after all, is tangled up in traditional ideas of femininity. There is a reason so many female politicians sport a short style known as the political bob (pob): it is less “feminine”, which makes them seem more powerful. So be afraid, be very afraid: Trump’s new do may well signify that she has ramped up her political ambitions. God help us all if she goes brunette.

Bill’s Opinion

If it wasn’t for double standards, the woke brigade would have no standards at all.

Imagine if anyone else had written that Guardian article explaining why Ivanka Trump has no personal agency and is, in fact, a tabula rasa to be written on by the men in her life.

Mad mothers of mermaids

Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, otherwise known as Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (FDIA):

…..is a condition where a caregiver creates the appearance of health problems in another person, typically their child. This may include injuring the child or altering test samples. They then present the person as being sick or injured. This occurs without a specific benefit to the caregiver. Permanent injury or death of the child may occur.

Consider then:

A proud mum of one of Britain’s youngest transgender children said she ‘grieved’ letting her little boy go.

Luna Schofield, born biologically male, has identified as female since the age of three.

“Since the age of three”.

Right.

She said: “Luna was asking when she could be a girl soon after her third birthday. I brushed it off as a phase and told her to stop being silly.

Good option. My experience of and, as a consequence, advice for dealing with unreasonable or dangerous requests from three year children is to ignore them and, if they continue, misdirect. “Oh look, Peppa Pig is on TV”.

Is that what Jeneen did, perhaps?

Of course not.

“But she kept asking. My family felt she was too young to make the decision to be a girl, but I didn’t want to tell her how she felt and knew this wasn’t going away.”

Jeneen’s family sound sensible. Shame the genes were only partially shared with Jeneen.

It’s interesting to learn the job titles of the medical professionals consulted on this issue:

Social psychologist Dr David Canter said: “No one should be assigned the label transgender before puberty. If the child is unhappy then the reasons should be explored without assigning labels.”

Consultant psychiatrist and TV doc Raj Persaud added: “A careful medical assessment is needed to understand what is going on. Only then can decisions be reached.”

So psychologists and psychiatrists. It’s almost as if we’re dealing with, erm, I dunno, a mental problem.

It’s also interesting to observe that, just like Emma Salkild and Charlize Theron, the mother of this transgender child no longer has the father in her life.

Bill’s Opinion

One of the great things about bringing up my children with their mother is, when one of us has a questionable idea or is acting unreasonably, the other parent takes them to one side and quietly tells them to stop being so fucking stupid.

It’s an imperfect system but the evidence from our household and millions of examples throughout history is that it probably works better than the alternatives. Expecting a single parent to make good decisions 100% of the time seems unrealistic, yet that’s what is inevitably required to happen.

Without wishing to pretend to be a mind-reader, it would seem like there’s more than a hint of attention-seeking on the part of the mothers in these cases. In each of these examples of pre-pubescent “mermaids”, there’s a large streak of mental illness on display, but it’s probably not the child who is demonstrating it.

“Luna” is probably fucked up for life already.

It will be interesting to read the subsequent court cases in 15 years time as zhe joins the massive class action against the UK’s NHS. My commiserations in advance to UK taxpayers.

Rights without responsibilities

If you’ve been living under a rock, been busy, aren’t interested in Australian politics or, frankly (and ironically), have a life, you might not have heard there’s an abortion debate going on in New South Wales.

Obviously, the first casualty in this type of debate is the truth. For the record, the legal status quo looks like this (where New South Wales is in green):

Keep that in mind before we look at the reporting on this issue.

In summary, a pregnant woman can have an abortion in NSW for several reasons, often quoted by pro-abortion lobbyists as the most valid arguments for terminating an unborn child’s life.

The one reason for an abortion not allowed in NSW is as a method of contraception. There’s a couple of big howevers to that; the woman could drive across the state border to the Australian Capital Territory and access abortion on demand there or find a doctor who is willing to prescribe abortion for reasons of mental health.

In other words, abortion in NSW is safe, legal, rare and, wink wink, not to be allowed for contraception.

That isn’t acceptable in these modern times though. Abortion on demand is a woman’s “right”, according to, well, the usual people we find ourselves regularly observing with incredulity here.

As the NSW government tears itself inside out trying to change the law whilst not losing the slim parliamentary majority it has, cue hand-wringing articles in our favourite woke organs of record.

This one, for example, which lists lots of terrible events which might lead to the agonising decision of a woman to kill her unborn child…. all of which are legal already and aren’t under threat of being criminalised.

Then there’s this article, which also describes an agonising choice made by a pregnant woman that is, wait for it, also not under threat of being made illegal.

What I’ve yet to find (please correct me in the comments if you’ve seen it) is an article explaining the current legislation and what impact the proposed changes will have if passed. i.e. will the categories of valid reasons be increased or decreased, will the time limit be decreased or increased, will abortion be available to be used as a form of contraception?

Bill’s Opinion

As I’ve stated earlier, my opinion on abortion has hardened the further away in time I have become from being likely to benefit from it.

The reporting on the current debate is actually activism not journalism. Cases on the margins are being cited as arguments for the change in legislation without explanation that these are already allowed.

If you are pro-abortion, I would suggest that, if your view is without nuance that it is completely the right of the pregnant woman to decide whether or not to continue the pregnancy, you are practicing a form of self-delusion.

If you believe the media reporting on the issue is balanced and impartial, I’d further suggest you may have a form of cognitive or mental deficiency. Perhaps I’ve only seen the worst examples though, so do post links to balanced reporting if you know of any.

There is a moral choice to be made with regards to abortion, but it is not the one many lobbyists might think. The choice to take an otherwise viable human life by abortion is actually the final choice in a long series of choices. In chronological order, those are:

  1. Abstain from having sex.
  2. Abstain from having sex with someone you know you don’t want to be be with for the rest of your life.
  3. If you wish to have sex with someone who isn’t an obvious life partner, diligently and responsibly use contraception. Be aware that there will still be a residual risk of pregnancy.
  4. If an “accident” happens, carry the baby to term and decide whether you can cope with parenthood after it’s born.
  5. Offer the child up for adoption to one of the desperate couples who can’t conceive naturally.
  6. Kill the damn thing like a virus.