Tricky this

File under; “Questions not asked or answered by the journalist“.

As reported, this is a tragic story of disadvantage, abuse and desperation.

As the Grauniad reporter Ben Doherty expects, our natural reaction is one of sympathy for a fellow human being whose entire life has been a series of events of terrible luck.

Can we ask some questions though, please?

First question; when did Said Imasi arrive in Australia and under what circumstances?

He admits to travelling on false passports, he says, because it is impossible for a person without a country to gain one legitimately.

Imasi arrived in Australia – by plane and intending only to pass through – in January 2010.

He got on an international flight with a false passport? Hands up who, in these post-911 days, likes the idea of getting on a plane with someone travelling under a false identity? You sir, Mr. Guardian Reader at the back, would you put your family on that plane?

Ok, next question; to an accuracy level of the nearest year, how old is Said?

He doesn’t know where he was born, or when. He has few documents to demonstrate who he is or where he comes from.

Imasi was born on or about 27 March 1989. He doesn’t know his exact birthdate, nor precisely where he was born.

That’s sad. It would make competing in a junior athletics competition a little tricky too, wouldn’t it? Yet somehow…..

That’s a mighty fine set of biceps and quadriceps the “teenage” Said is sporting there, relative to the weedy kids running next to him. It’s almost as if….. no, we’re imagining things.

Third question; other than for the international crime of travelling on false documentation, why is Said in a detention centre in Australia (well, on the Australian territory of Christmas Island)?

Oh, because he claimed asylum when he arrived in Australia due to fear of persecution. So perhaps the reason he’s not at liberty in Australia is because he’s undergoing the due process required by the Australian state to ensure the validity of the claims made by asylum-seekers?

Penultimate question; given that he’s living at the expense of the the Australian public and has requested they allow him to live among them permanently, is he motivated to help clarify their points of confusion about his background and the legitimacy of his claim?

The government has previously raised doubts Imasi is from Western Sahara and said he has been uncooperative, a claim rejected by the UN working group.

Oh, that’s awkward.

Final question; if his claim to be at risk of persecution were to be found to be valid, is he the type of person Australians would like to have as a neighbour?

From the article we can see that he has admitted to being a member of a criminal gang, drug-running, traveling under stolen or forged passports, violence and rape.

Although many of Australia’s citizens can trace their ancestry back to British and Irish criminals who were transported to the various penal colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries, it is no longer a requirement or, indeed, desirable for new immigrants to be hardened criminals.

Bill’s Opinion

There is no doubt that Said Imasi has lived a difficult life beset with many cruel twists of fate. He has, however, lied like a cheap fake Rolex at every opportunity offered to him to explain his identity, background and any other pertinent facts which might support his claim to asylum.

The people of Australia are well within their rights to detain him away from their society until these uncertainties have been cleared up.

What happens next to Said is entirely down to Said’s choices; he can either come clean about who he is, where he’s been and what he has done prior to arriving in Australia or he can give just enough information to prove that he has been resident of another country long enough to be able to claim asylum elsewhere.

In the meantime, enjoy the free food, high definition TV, internet and Xbox games at the expense of Australia.

Perspective is relative

Melbourne, Australia has a problem with gangs of young African men committing violent crimes. It’s been occurring for a while now, this example is from just under a year ago and there plenty more similar reports in the media.

The relative size of the problem can be debated and crime statistics are available to point to this particular ethnic group’s contribution to the total number of incidents and, indeed, the ratio of that group who are arrested and/or convicted of violent crime compared to other ethnicities.

On this basis, the Australian Race Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane, has called for less “panic, more perspective” over the issue, going on to claim that perhaps there are mitigating excuses for the crimes, such as “social and economic disadvantage”. He urges us to not reduce the issue to race and ethnicity.

We’ll address the debunked Cultural Marxist theory that poverty produces crime shortly. His request that we shouldn’t reduce the issue to race and ethnicity piques our interest primarily.

The chutzpah of Tim’s request is admirable; this from a department and a Commissioner with a recent track record of Identity Politics. Tim, for example, rushes to the assumption of racism for anyone who struggles to pronounce an unfamiliar 4 syllable name. It’s an overused sentiment  but really, this kind of hectoring and haste to label everything as racist and everyone as bigots “is why we got Trump“.

Tim requests that we don’t revert to labeling these crimes by the ethnicity of the perpetrators. He has a point, justice should indeed be blind. People in fear of being physically attacked are usually not blind, however, so is there perhaps some rationality to their response?

Consider the fact that people of an African appearance (no, not this type of African) are extremely rare in Australia, 92% of the population is European in origin, is it surprising that an uptick in crime from an easily identifiable ethnic group receives more attention than say a crime wave where the perpetrators are from a Scottish or French ethnic background?

In fact, does it not make logical sense that, if there’s a set of identifiable features (for example; males, between the ages of 15 and 25, African appearance, congregated in a group of 3 or more) linking a series of crimes that the police have a duty to focus their investigations on those sharing these features (without diluting the legal duties such as the presumption of innocence)?

In the same way that we would condemn the counter terrorism agencies for allocating resources to investigating potential violent Buddhists and Jihadists in equal measure, why would anyone question profiling groups of young African men if there have been multiple recent cases of violence reported at the hands of that demographic?

Bill’s Opinion

It’s not racist to report that there have been violent crimes committed by gangs of young men of South Sudanese origin. It’s also not racist for the police to focus on that demographic during their investigations and efforts to prevent further such crimes. It makes perfect sense and the police would be in derogation of their duties, in fact.

Lastly, poverty does not result in crime; crime results in poverty. If the South Sudanese have a culture which tolerates criminal behaviour, that culture will trump most efforts to integrate them into a law-abiding culture.

By the way, Australian taxpayers, you are paying Tim Soutphommasane’s salary for him to tell you how awful you are. If that’s not the definition of an abusive relationship, I’d be interested in hearing what is.

 

Finally; a pop star who’s actually read the job description

Following on from our boredom at Pink and Lorde’s kak-handed attempt at geo-political and social commentary, we have a belated Christmas present;

Taylor Swift refuses to be drawn into commenting on Trump, Charlottesville, climate change, gender choices of bathrooms, the quinoa vs kale debate, copper bracelets for rheumatism, the correct end to open soft boiled eggs, which wine matches duck a l’orange, or Russian hacking and simply concentrated on being a pop star.

Or, an alternate headline in this crazy contemporary version of reality; Taylor Swift faces criticism for saying she enjoyed 2017.

Yep, that sums up 2017 neatly.

Bill’s Opinion

She’s young, blonde, pretty, can presumably hold a tune (let’s give her the benefit of the doubt even though autotune is ubiquitous these days) and is making good coin singing bubblegum songs about shaking something off. Why on earth would anyone look to her for commentary on anything deeper than clothes, lipstick, the actor from the BBC John Le Carré series or songs in the key of G, as if she was this generation’s Gore Vidal or Norman Mailer?

At least she’s smart enough to work out that she will alienate fewer potential customers by keeping her personal opinions to herself rather than taking a position on any of this rubbish.

Very best wishes to her for that.

Pink “speaks” out

It is possible that Pink is simultaneously the least articulate and least self-aware mother alive today.

She also commended a school she had seen for having gender-neutral toilets.

“The bathroom outside the kindergarten said, ‘Gender Neutral – anybody’, and it was a drawing of many different shapes,” she said. “I took a picture of it and wrote, ‘Progress’. I thought that was awesome. I love that kids are having this conversation.”

“And I said to her, ‘Do you see me growing my hair?’ She said, ‘No, Mama.’ I said, ‘Do you see me changing my body?’ ‘No, Mama.’ ‘Do you see me changing the way I present myself to the world?’ ‘No, Mama.’ ‘Do you see me selling out arenas all over the world?’ ‘Yes, Mama.’ ‘Okay! So, baby girl. We don’t change. We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl. And we help other people to change so they can see more kinds of beauty.'”

Bill’s Opinion

Kids of five years old aren’t having this conversation, Cultural Marxist adults are and are projecting on to kids.

Why does Pink’s daughter get to be gender neutral while Pink is still “Mama” rather than a gender neutral noun?

Speaking of gender neutral nouns for parents, perhaps we could combine the two traditional names? Here’s some options;

Dummy – “Dad” added to “Mummy”

Mad – “Mum” combined with “Dad”

The pleasure, the privilege is mine

A video appeared on my Creepbook for Business feed today.

The first few seconds should be a good predictor of what’s to come, if your time is precious and you don’t want to completely ruin your blood pressure;

Put simply, if you had a sub-optimal start in life, you’re going to find yourself further away from the finish line and the lesson we should take from this is that this situation is unfair. The inference being that those of us who didn’t have such a sub-optimal start to life should accept that we have “privilege” and, presumably, hamstring ourselves to give others a fairer chance at the race of life.

Yes folks, this is what the CEO of BNP Paribas Sercurity Services India truly thinks. Now might be a good moment to check your pension funds to ensure no exposure to BNP’s stock.

As a very simple analogy, this video seems to illustrate a point we can all resonate with, as long as we don’t think too deeply about the subject. A little further contemplation brings up some uncomfortable questions though, such as;

  • Given we all have a different stating point, what would be the fairest mechanism to compensate for the differences and using what scientific or mathematical method?
  • Does this method factor in local differences? For example, the child of a displaced white farmer in Zimbabwe will presumably have to have some compensating actions to equalise their outcomes in relation to a relative of Robert Mugabe.
  • What’s the hierarchy of privilege, which restrictive component of our past and present trumps all others? Is one ethnicity more restrictive than another, if someone had diabetes plus an under-privileged ethnic background are they more or less privileged than a transgender person? Is there a handy matrix of relative victimhood we can refer to?
  • What role do genes play in the statistical probability of our relative success in life and, as a consequence, how do our informed choices affect us when we know the importance of certain genes? For example, if I know I have a family history of diabetes, how much can I mitigate the potential impact of the disease by making sensible dietary choices?

Bill’s Opinion

If there isn’t an objective mechanism for calculating the relevant impact of victimhood, we’ve just replaced one set of bias with another.

Depending on which twins study you reference, genetic differences can account for at least 50% of the differences in success across individuals.

Even if we could calculate the relative impacts of nurture, ethnicity, genes or a thousand other factors involved in our lives, it is surely counter-productive to society and humankind as a whole to use this knowledge to hamstring those not similarly impacted.

The modern game of trying to compete for “biggest victim” status (sometimes referred to as “intersectionality”) is massively-damaging to those in its targets.

Rather than encouraging a sense of victimhood, we should be showing examples of how people overcame disadvantage to thrive. It is highly unlikely that any of those examples will involve constant resentment of those better off.

It’s the illogical conclusion

No, it’s not the first day of April; a white person claims to be “transracial.

Not content with being transgender, Adam Wheeler explains that, despite being born into a body that wouldn’t look out of place on a rugby pitch, he believes that he’s actually a Filipino woman.

Here’s Adam;

And here’s a Filipino woman;

The resemblance is uncanny, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

In Adam’s own words;

“I think things that made no sense to most people make sense to us on an individual level in almost every person, like a swelling feeling you feel when you listen to dramatic music.” 

Bill’s Opinion

It’s worth considering that everybody’s world view is incorrect, none of us have a clear epistemological understanding of how the universe works. For most of the time, this doesn’t matter, we seem to bumble along quite well with the strange worlds inside our heads coming into conflict with each other surprisingly rarely.

It’s probably also true that most people are irrational and use retrospective reasoning to make sense of their decisions and views.

In a world where there is a growing consensus among some of those irrational world views that gender is fluid and humans are not actually dimorphic, it was perhaps only inevitable that someone would eventually consider themselves of a different ethnicity. Presumably, different species and inanimate objects will be next on the shopping list.

Back on Planet Reality, it’s obvious to most humans that Adam has either an irrational craving for attention regardless of the negative consequences or he’s nuttier than squirrel shit.

The bet that dare not speak its name

We would have used the Voltaire quote, “To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticise” as today’s title, except a cursory search suggests he never said it.

Nonetheless, this is quite an interesting discovery;

Apparently, Sportsbet and Crownbet have previously accepted bets on the result of the same sex marriage plebiscite but have bowed to pressure and removed their offerings.

In fact, we have been able to find only one Australian (well, British but their Australian subsidiary) betting agency willing to take bets on the Same Sex Marriage plebiscite.

For those not aware of the Australian betting formats, they use the decimal method. Under this method and using the odds expressed by William Hill, a $10 bet would pay a $60 return if it wins.

Bill’s Opinion

Brexit and Trump surprised the pundits possibly due to voters understanding and being embarrassed by the stigma of having to admit to the people undertaking the surveys and exits polls that they were a xenophobic, sexist homophobe.

William Hill’s offer seems fair value, therefore, if you feel that the result will be close*.

But more importantly, when did every other bookmaker grow scruples and a social conscience?

Ah, when Twitter outrage mobs get to decide what is offensive or not. This is not necessarily a good development.

 

*this does not constitute financial advice, in fact, if you were to take any kind of financial advice from this website you are tacitly admitting that you are financially illiterate and should immediately provide your email address in the comments so that we may send you fantastic investment opportunities in new and wonderful crypto-currencies.

It’s a Kon job

Australia has been housing people seeking refugee status on the PNG island of Manus for several years. The people arrived by boat at or near Christmas Island, an Australian territory 3,400km from the mainland and, to remove the incentive for future boat arrivals by bringing them to the mainland, Australia made a deal with PNG to house them on Manus.

PNG has since reneged on the deal and the detention centre has been forced to close. Alternate accomodation is on offer, either on the island of Nauru, where Australia has a 2nd detention centre, or within the township on Manus.

If they choose to relocate to Nauru, their asylum application to Australia can continue.

However;

That headline is two weeks old now and the centre is being dismantled. Running water and electricity have therefore been disconnected.

Understandably, those whose have chosen to remain in situ are starting to run out of the basics.

A refugee advocate, Kon Karapanagiotidis, is highlighting their privations and seeking donations and assistance from the public.

He is also very critical of the Australian government’s actions and inactions.

His Twitter account is busy with similar messages, which you can read for yourself.

Kon has a suggested solution for these problems, which he hashtags regularly – #bringthemhere. This campaign has consistently failed to make any ground with Australian governments of both political flavours. Perhaps it might help to examine why?

There’s a useful timeline here. As you’d expect from the BBC, what’s left unsaid is most important. The reason Manus was opened and then re-opened was in response to a large volume of arrivals, resulting in an unknown number, possibly in the thousands, drowning en route.

Put simply, rewarding a dangerous ocean crossing with permanent residence in Australia acts as a “pull” factor which people were prepared to put their lives at extreme risk to achieve. Politicians twice acted to remove this “pull”.

Those people who subsequently crossed multiple international borders and then boarded unsafe boats from Indonesia bound for Australia were relocated to Manus.

The #bringthemhere option has been tried twice and was deemed unpalatable from a human safety point of view.

So what options does Australia have left open?

Bill’s Opinion

Even the most desperate can make choices.

The people currently on Manus Island have made a series of choices;

  1. They chose not to claim asylum in the first country they arrived in after leaving their country of origin.
  2. They chose not to claim asylum in the subsequent countries they arrived in after leaving their country of origin.
  3. They chose to pay people traffickers for a place on a dangerous ocean crossing to Christmas Island.
  4. They chose to decline the option to be resettled in PNG.
  5. They chose not to move to the Nauru centre once Manus was closed.
  6. They chose not to move to the alternate accomodation on Manus.
  7. They chose to remain in situ at the closed centre on Manus.

In the absence of agreeing to #bringthemhere, with its twice-proven consequences, one struggles to understand what other solutions the people of Australia could offer.

Rather than hectoring and making accusations of racism, perhaps Kon could concentrate on seeking compromise solutions. If not, then one can only conclude that the welfare of the refugees is secondary to his desire to see an open borders policy despite a consistent rejection of this by the Australian electorate.

 

EDIT: Corrected Manus is part of PNG, not Indonesia.

I, racist robot

Machine learning is the new fidget spinner in IT circles, it would seem. The only problem is, those darn machines are sexist, racist bigots, just like the rest of us.

The article above explains how systems such as Google’s Sentiment Analyzer are producing results that infer a negative bias against certain groups based on ethnic, sexual or gender identifying nouns.

Everyone seems quite surprised and somewhat disappointed by this discovery.

Perhaps what should strike us as most strange about this is that anyone would predict that these systems would be unbiased.

Thinking about the root source of the learning material of the algorithms; all they have to start with is human speech and the written word. The programmers have let the software loose on the collected wisdom of mankind and asked it to draw its own conclusions.

Unsurprisingly, the software has discovered that we all use bias and we all use it all the time.

Perhaps the next conclusion the algorithms might offer is that bias is an entirely natural, logical and, indeed the only known way for humans to successful navigate the world.

“Bias” is a synonym for “in-group preference“, that is, the system every single one of our ancestors employed to stay alive.

Fear or careful suspicion of animals and plants of unknown species would have kept your and my ancestors alive on the plains of Africa long enough to mate and have offspring. That same fear and suspicion of other humans outside of their immediate group also protected our ancestors from being “victim zero” in the next inter-tribal raid.

Later in our evolutionary history, communicating at a distance with those outside of their immediate group will have saved countless of our ancestors from deadly diseases against which their genes hadn’t yet developed an immunity, again, allowing them to mate and have offspring.

How do we know this was a highly-successful strategy that beat all other competing strategies attempted by their peers?

Because I’m here and able to write this blog post and you are able to read it.

Bill’s Opinion

There is nothing shameful about bias, per se. It has served us well throughout every previous generation. Irrational bias is, by its nature, illogical, but before we write off every momentary expression of in-group preference as racist/sexist/whatever the current “-ist” du jour is, we might consider whether it is actually irrational or whether there is any utility to be had by employing it.

In the words of G. K. Chesterton,

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. 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.

Someone probably needs to take the role of parent here

My 5 year old son has decided that he’s a girl and, rather than distracting him with a fidget spinner or teaching him how to ride a bike, I’m actively encouraging his fantasies.

This will end well, I’m sure.

Tangentially, I’ve often wondered about the thought process used by those who believe that homosexuality is a “lifestyle choice”. This explanation of homosexual attraction seems to be in denial of the evidence of, until recently, how godawful that life actually is with those who “choose” it being the victims of ostracism, exclusion, violence and, prior to the 1970s in most countries, jail.

It might be argued that the same observation can be applied to transgenderism.

However, there seems to be a glaring difference between the two situations; in the first example, a person has made an informed choice, post-puberty, to have have sexual relations with people of their same rather than the opposite gender. Until they have reached the age of consent, it actually doesn’t matter much what their sexual desires are or aren’t. Certainly there’s little chance of an irreversible or regrettable physical change being implemented on their body.

In the second example someone has decided that they were born in the wrong body. The current school of thought in the progressive circles of society, including 35 year old “queer” feminist Emma Salklid, is that this is enough proof to commence encouraging this world view and, potentially, seeking hormone treatment and surgery to better-align their physical appearance with their brain’s self-image.

There is a chance that imposing Emma’s political world view on a 3 year old boy (this was the age when he declared himself as a girl) might not be the best course of action in this case. In fact, there is a chance that it might be highly regretted by the child in later life. Perhaps there might come a time when a 20 year old highly-screwed up transgender boy/girl/zirl turns to their mother and asks the following questions;

Mum, please can you explain why the fuck you took the word of a 3 year old and started making decisions that can’t be reversed, such as dressing me in skirts, organising play dates with girls rather than playing war games with other boys, commencing hormone treatment which resulted in my genitals not developing normally and, in fact, making my penis so small that there wasn’t enough material to work with for the gender-reassignment surgery?

Also Mum, why would you be so accepting of a 3 year old’s statement about gender when all the studies show that the suicide rate for transgender people is equivalent to those desperate people in German or Soviet concentration camps AND that this rate doesn’t drop following surgery?

Mum, why the fuck couldn’t you have been a parent rather than a political activist?

Bill’s Opinion

3 year old children say lots of things that don’t make sense. If they are insistent that they are a dog, most parents don’t buy them a lead and kennel.

There seems to be a mental problem at play here which would benefit from intense psychiatric help before hormone treatment and surgery become an option…..

And the 5 year old son should probably see a psychiatrist too.