Some competitions are not worth winning

It is unlikely Rebel Wilson has ever experienced winning anything athletic or academic during her school years.

She’s coming third in a competition nobody sane actually wants to win, however.

Bill’s Opinion

First ‘plus sized’ girl to lead a ‘Rom Com‘” isn’t exactly “first woman to sail solo around the world” or “first man on the moon”.

Let’s give her a participation award.

Vegan humour failure

tautology (noun)

1 the saying of the same thing twice over in different words, generally considered to be a fault of style (e.g. they arrived one after the other in succession ).

This definition amuses me. Although not a tautology in itself, it is verbose. My preference is, “redundancy of words“.

Anyway, “vegan humour failure” is clearly tautologous.

Witness;

Vegan pitches rubbish idea, is rejected in a mildly funny way, then gets the guy fired.

BuzzFeed reported that Sitwell, the former editor of Waitrose Food magazine, made the statement in an email to freelance writer Selene Nelson, who had pitched a series on plant-based cooking.

In his response, Sitwell reportedly wrote to her, “How about a series on killing vegans, one by one. Ways to trap them? How to interrogate them properly? Expose their hypocrisy? Force-feed them meat? Make them eat steak and drink red wine?”

Not the funniest rejection letter in history, granted, but it’s not without humour.

Of course, if he’d have realised that it was going to be read by the vicariously offended, rather than just the original recipient, he may have worded it slightly differently. “No thanks, this is not of interest to our readers“, probably would have sufficed.

Here’s an interesting statement;

Following an uproar, Sitwell, who is also a food critic on BBC’s “MasterChef,” apologised and said that he is resigning from his position at the magazine, which states it features “recipes and articles from the world’s best chefs and food writers.”

An “uproar”?

I must have missed the edition of the Oxford English Dictionary where the definition of “uproar” was amended to include “half a dozen Twitter users complaining“.

Bill’s Opinion

The correct response to the criticism should have been, “it was a joke, feel free to laugh or fuck off“.

Instead, William Sitwell made the fatal mistake of apologising. This only encourages the social media mob pile on until their target’s career has been destroyed. Better still, if their life has also been destroyed.

The rule of our age is simple; never apologise, never explain.

There is another axiom we have been reminded of too;

There are three questions one never needs to ask;

1. Are you from Texas/Yorkshire/Queen’sland?

2. Do you do CrossFit/BootCamp?

3. Are you vegan?

For those of you who may have been traumatised by the gratuitous mentions of vegans in today’s post, here’s a soothing picture of a delicious serving of Steak Tartare;

Only the truly selfless become parents

Anyone who’s raised children will understand that it’s a fairly ego-destroying process for significant periods of time. In the early years your sleep patterns are hugely disrupted, your social life hits a somewhat lower gear and holidays can sometimes involve almost as much work as relaxation. As for those days when one could jump on a plane for a last minute weekend city break to somewhere romantic like Rome or Manchester….. nah.

From a purely accounting point of view, the decision to become a parent is irrational. For most people, however, it’s a quite selfless act of altruism to bring a new life into the world, nurture it, keep it safe from harm and gradually let them gain increasing levels of independence.

Science has other plans for us, it seems. As we’ve seen recently, science now enables pathologically-single late middle-aged women to fly to third world countries, ignore the orphans languishing in state institutions, buy someone else’s fertilised eggs and give birth to a child with which they share no common genes.

Hopefully Manda is learning to be a little less self-centred by now, but we doubt it.

She has a lesbian equivalent in the USA, it would seem; same sex couple play pass the parcel with an embryo.

The question that remains unanswered throughout the article linked above is, why?

There are hints scattered around though, if one cares to search. For example;

Although they both hoped to one day have children, Bliss wanted a baby that was biologically hers but did not want to be pregnant.

Gosh, that’s a bit of a problem, eh? Speaking personally, I’d quite like to have a big night out drinking the finest wines known to humanity until sunrise, have a couple of hours shuteye and wake up with a clear head.

Same-sex female couples usually have children via a sperm donor with one woman carrying the baby and the other adopting it.
However, both Bliss and Ashleigh wanted to be involved.

Hmm, well, if it’s that important a solution must be found.

Bill’s Opinion

On a scale of selfishness, Bliss and Ashleigh are certainly not as extreme as our friend Manda who, but for the purchase of someone else’s baby, was one step away from buying cats.

It does seem somewhat self-centred nonetheless. And that’s ignoring the stupid first name the poor lad has been saddled with. Tssk, Texans, eh?

Let’s give the last word to their doctor, Cathy “howdy” Doody, who presumably said this without a hint of irony or sarcasm;

 Dr Doody believes Effortless Reciprocal IVF allows same-sex female couples to have a unique bond with their babies and makes for a more ‘natural’ pregnancy.

What does “sorry” even mean

Another day, another national apology on behalf of someone else;

This month’s Prime Minister of Australia (c) apologised to victims of institutional sexual abuse.

As we’ve seen previously, Sorry is a very easy word to say when there are only positive consequences for the speaker.

These national vicarious apologies on behalf of perpetrators who are long dead or languishing in jail would be amusing if it weren’t for the seriousness of the situations they are describing.

Politicians who make these public statements seem to have missed the fact that “sorry” has two meanings;

The first is an expression of contrition and regret for an action you personally were responsible for undertaking. “I’m so sorry I ran over your cat on my driveway“.

The second is an expression of sympathy. “I’m so sorry you have been diagnosed with cancer, that must be devastating for you“.

These national apologies seem to fall into the second category whilst pretending to be the first.

Where might this all lead, do we think?

If we have a duty to apologise for historical crimes for which we have no responsibility but just have some vague connection to the criminal such as nationality, ethnicity or ancestry, what other crimes should we ask the jury to take into consideration?

Bill’s Opinion

Some time ago, I submitted my DNA to Ancestry.com to understand my ancestral heritage.

The summarised results are shown below;

it’s fairly clear to even the casual observer that, at a minimum, I should apologise for the following historic crimes;

– The Jallianwala Bagh massacre

– The Battle of Stamford Bridge

– The tyranny of the Danelaw

– The Reconquista

– The First World War

– The Second World War

– Child labour in the factories during the Industrial Revolution

– The reign of King John and the subsequent War of Independence

– Brexit

– James Corden

I’m so, so sorry*.

*not sorry

Embassies in Jerusalem? Sometimes it’s enough just to observe who it upsets

We aren’t a fan of fallacious arguments round here, we prefer to start with a hypothesis and then observe empirical evidence before refining our views. Sometimes though, a fallacy is a good enough touchstone for a more robust investigation.

What’s the correct name for the fallacy of dismissing an argument because a large number of people who are almost always wrong about most things are upset by a particular argument? It’s not quite ad hominem, perhaps poisoning the well?

Regardless, this is of interest;

This Month’s Australian Prime Minister (c) has announced he will be following Trump’s lead and relocating the Australian Israeli embassy to Jerusalem.

It’s a highly political move, not least because there is a critical election currently underway in a constituency with a large Jewish population.

Why this political move surprises anyone is perhaps the great mystery. After all, as Thomas Sowell said;

No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems.  They are trying to solve their own problems — of which getting elected and re-elected are No. 1 and No. 2.  Whatever is No. 3 is far behind.

The list of people apoplectic with rage about this announcement is instructive. The entire mainstream media, the government media, academia, celebrities and even bandana-wearing househusbands are united in their view that it is a bad thing.

The Sydney Morning Herald has no fewer than 5 different articles on the decision today. If nothing else, the decision has brought some positives to the lives of those journalists who are paid by the word;

Have you got that, readers; it’s a bad thing.

Out of curiosity, do we think there could be any room in a newspaper with the tagline, “Independent. Always” for just one article with a headline such as, “This was clumsy by the PM but of course the embassy should be in the country’s capital“?

Nah, didn’t think so.

Bill’s Opinion

Is Australia’s decision to relocate her embassy to Jerusalem a bad thing?

Let’s list the reasons offered by the critics;

1. It’s an obscenely politically move in an attempt to win an election.

Well yeah, duh. We refer you back to the Sowell quote; everything politicians do is political. Does that make it the wrong thing to do though?

2. It might upset Indonesia.

The correct response to this is to point out it is a decision by a sovereign nation with regards to its relationship to another sovereign nation. If a third sovereign nation feels it can offer an opinion on this, they should be prepared for similar advice and guidance to be offered on their domestic policies. Mind your own damn business, Indonesia, it’s not as if you are the moral beacon of the world.

3. We are not anti-Semitic, but we are against the state of Israel’s policies and actions with regards to the Palestinians.

Everything before the word “but” is always bullshit. The Palestinians keep electing groups who openly call for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews. If you can draw moral equivalence between the Palestinians and the Israelis, you are simply not debating in good faith are you?

Scott Morrison is a politician, which means he is grubby, self-interested and venal. Sometimes, however, even the grubby, self-interested and venal will make a correct decision for incorrect reasons.

Bravo.

The madness of Queen Shebah

Mischievous readers in Australia could have some fun, if they were that way inclined.

Shebah is a ride share service like Uber and Ola. It differs in one significant way, however; the drivers and passengers are female.

Fine“, we might say, “it’s perfectly reasonable for female passengers and drivers to want this additional safety measure. Men can call an Uber“.

If that was the policy, there’d be no opportunity for fun and this blog post wouldn’t need to be written.

Of course, we are living on Planet Insanity so the Shebah folks have tied themselves into logical knots by trying to be more woke than you and I.

Sit back and enjoy our little ride into madness courtesy of the FAQ section of their website (additional questions in bold are ours);

Who can drive or ride with the service?

Ok, only women or children, including boys under 18.

So, the teenage Said Imasi would have been ok to ride on his own then? Here’s a picture of him when he was “fourteen” (he’s the fully grown man on the right);

What about trans people?

Great, so in your “intersectionally feminist” opinion, “Hannah” Mouncey is ok to drive and ride;

As is the serial rapist, “Karen” White.

Okaaaay.

Discrimination is definitely not a thing you condone?

When you say you don’t discriminate, are there any limits?

That’s quite a complex set of restrictions and exceptions. It feels like it could be better illustrated with a decision tree/flow chart diagram along the lines of, “do you have a penis but you are accompanied by a woman and very small child?

Speaking of discrimination, how do you prevent a man or a “woman” with a penis from registering as a driver? What checks are there?

You’ll need to upload photos of all of the following – legally, they must be current so make sure they’re always up to date!

 Your gorgeous face

 Your car: front, back and side view

 The front of your drivers licence

 The back of your drivers licence (with current home address if changed)

 Your car registration

 A roadworthy certificate that is less than 12 months old

 Current rideshare insurance for the car you’ll be driving*

 A Passenger Transport Licence Code from Services NSW (formerly the Department of Roads and Maritime Services)

 A Working With Children Check valid for paid work

Not much in that list to prevent someone like “Hannah” Mouncey from registering to drive then. “Karen” White might struggle with the Working With Children Check, of course.

Bill’s Opinion

Male Australians wishing to have some fun might register for the Shebah service, wear a wig and hail a cab.

They could then claim discrimination if their custom is refused on the grounds of their gender.

Why? Well, if you say you’re a woman, you’re a woman, according to Shebah. It’s right there in their policies and terms of service. If you took Shebah to the various state anti-discrimination ombudsperson, a strong case could be made that the logical inconsistencies of their policy negate any claim of a valid exception to the anti-discrimination laws.

For the sake of clarity, let’s list the inconsistencies;

1. We don’t discriminate. However…. no male drivers, no male passengers under 13, or over 18 unless accompanied by a woman and a baby.

2. We are a female service for females. However…. see (1) regarding male passengers. Also, if a man says he’s a woman we accept him/her at his/her word.

3. We take our drivers’ safety very seriously. However…. see (2), we aren’t going to perform a Crocodile Dundee genital cup to check whether the trans driver still has his/her boy’s bits or not.

Hands up who’s prepared to be the test case for Sanity vs. Shebah 2018?

Reefer madness

The Climate Council (no, not a shite Paul Weller band) quoted a UN official recently;

The inference being, of course, if you care about the Great Barrier Reef, you need to care about climate change because that’s the biggest cause of damage to said reef.

Obviously these scientists know what they’re talking and in no way are they obfuscating or trying to mislead.

Oh, this is awkward.

The overarching consensus is:
Key Great Barrier Reef ecosystems continue to be in poor condition. This is largely due to the collective impact of land run-off associated with past and ongoing catchment development, coastal development activities, extreme weather events and climate change impacts such as the 2016 and 2017 coral bleaching events.

Current initiatives will not meet the water quality targets. To accelerate the change in on-ground management, improvements to governance, program design, delivery and evaluation systems are urgently needed. This will require greater incorporation of social and economic factors, better targeting and prioritisation, exploration of alternative management options and increased support and resources.

The evidence base supporting this consensus is provided in a series of four supporting chapters. The main conclusions were:

1 The decline of marine water quality associated with land-based run-off from the adjacent catchments is a major cause of the current poor state of many of the coastal and marine ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef. Water quality improvement has an important role in ecosystem resilience.

2 The main source of the primary pollutants (nutrients, fine sediments and pesticides) from Great Barrier Reef catchments is diffuse source pollution from agriculture. These pollutants pose a risk to Great Barrier Reef coastal and marine ecosystems.

3 Progress towards the water quality targets has been slow and the present trajectory suggests these targets will not be met.

4 Greater effort to improve water quality is urgently required to progress substantial pollutant reductions using an expanded scope of tailored and innovative solutions. Climate change adaptation and mitigation, cumulative impact assessment for major projects and better policy coordination are also required to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

5 There is an urgent need for greater investment in voluntary practice change programs, the use of regulatory tools and other policy mechanisms to accelerate the adoption of practice change, and robust monitoring and evaluation programs to measure the rate and effectiveness of adoption.

6 Strengthened and more effective coordination of Australian and Queensland government policies and programs, further collaboration with farmers and other stakeholders, and strong evaluation systems are critical to the success of Great Barrier Reef water quality initiatives.

7 Priorities for reducing pollutant loads are now established at a catchment scale, based on the exposure of coastal and marine ecosystems to land-based pollutants, and should be used to guide investment.

8 A greater focus on experimentation, prioritisation and evaluation at different scales, coupled with the use of modelling and other approaches to understand future scenarios, could further improve water quality programs.

Hang on, the biggest problem is water quality, primarily due to agricultural run-off?

How curious.

Why then, would the Climate Council of Australia suggest climate change is the biggest enemy?

Bill’s Opinion

Follow the money (highlights mine);

The Climate Council is Australia’s leading climate change communications organisation. We provide authoritative, expert advice to the Australian public on climate change and solutions based on the most up-to-date science available.

We’re made up of some of the country’s leading climate scientists, health, renewable energy and policy experts, as well as a team of staff, and a huge community of volunteers and supporters who power our work. As an independent voice on climate change, we get climate stories into the media, produce hard-hitting reports, call out misinformation as we see it and promote climate solutions such as the transition to renewables.

The Climate Council was founded in 2013 by tens of thousands of Australians to create a new, an independent and 100% community-funded organisation in response to the abolition of the Australian Climate Commission.

Please keep donating money so that we can all keep our jobs“, in other words.

There is an uncomfortable axiom about charities and not for profit organisations; they have an ecosystem (no pun intended) around simply existing that keeps many people employed and feeling important.

That the initial facts justifying the creation of the charity/NFP may have changed, are no longer compelling or worse, are proven false, can be of little interest to the organisation when so many people rely on its existence for their day to day subsistence.

A recent example of this is the UK’s Kids Company. Similarly, there were cases of US polio eradication charities that struggled with the existential threat following the success of the vaccination programme and, in a few cases, resorted to changing their mission and committing fraud.

Obviously, one hesitates to accuse the Climate Council of fraud so there must be some other reason that they would have forgotten to mention the significant role of agricultural run off in the damage inflicted to the reef.

In other news, the head of the Climate Council is Tim Flannery, a man with a stellar track record of science-based predictions.

Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm syndrome

noun

Feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor.

Fair warning; if you are allergic to the accent demonstrated in the song Valley Girl, this is going to hurt. You may consider soaking a box of Q-tips in bleach in preparation for repairing the aural damage.

This week, as part of my regular reconnaissance of enemy territory, I have subjected myself to the Ezra Klein podcast.
Ezra writes for Vox. On balance, it’s fair to say that Ezra has a great voice for print media. If you didn’t know otherwise, you might be forgiven for thinking Ezra was a 16 year old girl living in the San Fernando Valley.
Ad hominen fun aside, his podcasts are a great insight to a particular media mindset; this one is a doozy.

In it, Ezra interviews Amy Chozik, author of the book “Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling“.

Before you set off with us on the journey of discovery, perhaps have a pencil and paper handy to count the number of redundant times the words “like” and “so” are used. The podcast might have been 15 minutes shorter if precision of language was a concept the pair understood.

In the podcast, our protagonists discuss the reporting of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. The overwhelming emotion expressed by these two objective journalists is one of regret and, dare we suggest it, shame.

The pair talk about “bias” a lot but not in terms of any suggestion they were biased towards wishing for a Clinton presidency but that they weren’t biased enough in their reporting.

For example, at 17 minutes in, they discuss the “tragedy” of the result. This is not the language employed by unbiased professional reporters. However, any semblance or artifice that they would describe themselves in those professional terms is shed as the conversation develops.

Ok, so we have two partisan writers discussing an election that didn’t go their way. At least the form of the conversation should be easy listening? They’re paid to write for a living, at least.

Nah. Wince as the English language is mangled under our brutal wrestling tag team; “lightning rod-ness” was a particular stand out, as were “stories we pre-wrote” and “pre-writing” whilst discussing the articles they hoped to file after Clinton’s victory. Presumably “pre-writing” is the writing one does before one writes?

See also, “pre-planning“, the planning one does before one plans, and “pre-warning“, the warning one gives before a warning, (to be clear, they don’t use these terms, they’re just two of my pet peeves).

Wonder also at how “gendered” the media coverage of the election was. Other people’s coverage, of course, our two heroes never once made any capital out of the biological differences between Hillary and Bernie or Donald. Oh no sir-ee (or madam/gender fluid person).

Enjoy also the exquisite irony of the use of the phrase, “abdicating our responsibility to think it through“. Spoiler alert; they aren’t talking about why the public didn’t trust Hillary or their reporting of Hillary.

An almost a throwaway line; “Trump’s bashing of the first amendment” was instructive. The fact that there’s no explanation of what is meant by that assertion speaks volumes; Ezra accepts it unquestionably as an axiom we all understand (or should be forced to?). It’s still not clear what he’s done to stop free speech.

Perhaps the best amusement is to had towards the end of the interview where we discover that the abuse directed at journalists was worse from Bernie Sanders’ supporters than anything Trump’s redneck, white-supremacist, misogynist, homophobe, transphobe, Islamaphobes could throw. Really? The left can be more brutal and threatening? Who knew?

Bill’s Opinion

Theres a significant problem with much of what passes as contemporary political discourse; people have lost the ability or desire to understand the opposing view. It is fashionable to write off one’s opponent as acting in bad faith and therefore deserving of whatever sanction we see fit, ranging from “no platforming” to impeachment and prosecution.

Subjecting ourselves to interviews such as this one help us understand how the other side are thinking. The expression “to steel man an argument” is something worth exploring if this is of interest.

A secondary advantage of listening to interviews like this is it is unintentionally fucking hilarious and a wonderful example of the meaning of the word schadenfreude.

Lastly, among his many verbal tics, Ezra frequently uses the expression “I’m curious” to commence a question that could simply have started with “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, “why” or “how”.

Ironically, it is apparent to the most casual observer that the one characteristic Klein doesn’t posses is curiosity;

The unexamined life is not worth living.

Socrates

Welcome to the Hotel Wagga Wagga

You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave“.

One wonders what the likelihood is of this idea being successfully implemented and being successful in its outcomes;

A Government proposal to mandate immigrants live in regional areas.

For some mysterious reason, known only to a select few people with massive intellects, new immigrants to Australia almost exclusively favour the largest cities as their first choice when selecting an area to move to.

To be more specific, the they favour the two largest cities; Melbourne and Sydney.

This causes significant headaches for politicians as they are required to ensure infrastructure and essential services are in place and planned commensurate to the likely population levels in each area.

There are other headaches to be had for those poor hard-working politicians too. Specifically, the problem that the economies of their regional constituencies are being “hollowed out” as young people increasingly vote with their feet as soon as they are able and leave their rural hometown for life in the busy metropolitan areas (no, we’re not talking about you Adelaide, sit down).

There’s a critical mass problem in regional Australia where there needs to be farmers and farm workers to grow the produce the city slickers want to eat but providing quality infrastructure services, ensuring there’s good medical and dental care, maintaining a public school system, etc. becomes increasingly expensive relative to the economies of scale that can be achieved in higher density areas.

To a certain extent, t’was always thus the world over. Australia has an additional nuance to this due to her physical size and lower density of population distributed outside the main conurbations.

Over the very long term, one can imagine the solution to Kim Stanley-Robinson’s Malthusian Fallacy will be found using technology and scientific breakthroughs to automate agricultural production reduce the reliance on humans performing traditional roles on farms.

Perhaps the problem is only a 10 to 20 year one then, after which everyone can live in in the megacity with hot and cold running soy decaf and kale smoothies on demand.

Nonetheless, there’s a bit of a problem to be solved here; the politicians don’t want to hamstring economic growth. One way to ensure the GDP figures keep rising is to increase the number of productive workers contributing to it. Put bluntly, they have to persuade the existing population to either throw away their birth control pills or accept a constant flow of immigration.

Note, the politicians aren’t offering a third or fourth option to have flat/contracting GDP growth, or economic growth built on a technological solution to productivity. The parameters of the debate are constrained within an Overton Window to “rising GDP is good, immigration is the solution to achieve this“.

Which is, of course, the the reason why the debate has turned to methods to encourage immigrants to live in places the existing population, especially the politicians, don’t want to. Our old friend expressed versus revealed preferences is at work again.

Back to our original question then, what’s the chances it’ll work?

Some categories of Australian immigration visas already mandate and enforce an element of rural living. There is a “working holiday visa” which rewards the holder to a longer duration of stay if they spend a period of their time performing seasonal work on remote farms. So there is precedent.

There’s some not insignificant differences between what is currently in place and what might be proposed however, not least of which is the demographics involved. The seasonal workers tend to be young people, often single and with no dependents. They are here for a good time not a long time.

The new immigrants who will be mandated to live in the regional areas are likely to be older, married and parents of dependent children. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, their prime concern is to going to be less focused on earning enough to spend the weekend partying on MDMA and browsing what’s on offer on Tinder but more about improving the quality of their housing, the education of their children and affording the airfare back to their country of origin every couple of years.

If the employment options, housing, schools, medical care and ability to save money are sub-optimal in Buttfucksville, Queen’sland, they are going to pack up their belongings and move to the city.

How might the government prevent this, do we think? Checkpoints on all the major roads? Random visa checks? Further requirements on employers to perform the role of Immigration Officer?

Perhaps there’s a clue in the incentives for the working holiday visa workers? Perhaps the initial visa granted is temporary and it can only be converted to permanent residence status after a defined and proven period living in the regional area? What might go wrong with that idea?

Bill’s Opinion

Mandating where immigrants live when they have made the huge personal decision to relocate countries feels like a reasonable idea but it relies on so many factors to be aligned to ensure success;

What if there are no job vacancies in the area, what if the available jobs aren’t suitable for the immigrants’ skills or don’t pay enough to make life sustainable to support their families?

What if the education options available can’t cope with the additional demands of children living in households where English isn’t spoken?

These people will, quite reasonably, claim special status and exemptions due to the government not holding up their end of the bargain.

Here’s a prediction worth noting; the Australian government’s proposals, whatever they are, will not result in a significant shift in the location immigrants live and work, ether due to gaming of the system or failure of an arm of government to plan effectively and exemptions being granted as a consequence.

But the most interesting aspect about this debate is what we are not talking about; what is the full range of solutions to the problem of falling productivity and why aren’t we being shown these, if only for the opportunity to agree that immigration is the only solution?

Open the Overton Window!

Peter Hannam is either mendacious or stupid

Peter “weather equals climate” Hannam has been fighting the good fight with more intensity recently, with many words written bemoaning Trump’s disdain for the Paris Agreement, despite it making no logical sense to anyone who cares to examine the facts.

One of his recent pieces of work is interesting;

Australia’s driest September on record“?

That’s quite a claim and it would certainly indicate a major problem with the environment if true.

Firstly, let’s just mention that nature doesn’t really have a concept of what a “September” is. No, really it doesn’t; think about it for a moment.

Let’s have a look at Peter’s opinion piece kwality jernalism and see if we can find the factual basis for that headline;

Australia has notched its driest September on record, with less than a third of the usual rainfall for the month, extending the dry spell that has farmers and firefighters increasingly desperate for rain.

Yes, you’ve said that in the headline already (but thanks for confirming it wasn’t an editorial decision to make up a headline). What’s the data source?

Victoria posted its second driest September, also collecting just a third of its typical September rain.

Ok, so a large portion of the country was dry but not as dry as it has been before. That’s not supporting the headline though, is it?

Also, as with a “September“, Mother Nature doesn’t really understand the concept of “the Australian State of Victoria“.

NSW also had another dry month, with less than half the normal rain, bringing the state’s year-to-date tally lower than any year but 1902 and 1965, according to Blair Trewin, senior climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology.

Nope, still not hearing any data supporting the “driest ever” claim.

“Below average rainfall covered almost the entire country” last month, Dr Trewin said, adding that it pipped 1957 as the driest September, and trailed only April 1902 as the driest for any month.

Still not “driest ever” though, is it?

Melbourne posted its fifth-driest September on record, with no days recording more than 5 millimetres of rain – only the second time that’s happened for that month in records going back to 1855.

Yawn. There’s a pattern emerging here, dry but not “driest ever“.

Sydney’s rainfall was less extreme, coming in about one-quarter below average.

Snore.

A lack of rain has been a standout feature of much of eastern Australia this year, drying out soils and forests. All of NSW has been declared in drought, while the fire season has started early and is forecast to be an active one.

For the rest of the year, the bureau’s outlook suggests odds particularly favour drier than average conditions in Victoria, southern South Australia and Tasmania.

Still not “driest ever” though?

“The signal in the outlook [for October to December] that’s really strong is warmth,” Dr Trewin said, noting that almost all of the country has an 80 per cent chance of warmer than usual maximum and minimum temperatures.

For September, daytime temperatures were 1.41 degrees above the average for the 1961-90 period.

The Murray-Darling Basin, Australia’s food bowl, had its driest January-September since 1902 – the end of the Federation Drought – Dr Trewin said.

Warm but not “driest ever“?

And then, almost as if these things are driven by some kind of natural cycle, the dry weather is replaced by, erm, wet weather;

Note the tagline for Cassandra’s article; “Weather“.

Peter, however, is the real Cassandra in the Greek sense with his default; “Extreme Weather“.

Bill’s Opinion

In addition to Occam’s Razor, there is another shaving device that is useful when analysing people’s public statements and acts; Hanlon’s Razor.

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

As much as we would like to use this principle with Peter Hannam, he makes it bloody hard to not draw the conclusion that he is acting in bad faith.

He is a veteran journalist who will have been taught the wisdom of concise, factual writing, critical thinking and use of source data.

So why, therefore, does the headline and opening paragraph make a claim that is not substantiated anywhere within the body of the article?

We suggest one of the following explanations for this discrepancy;

  1. After all these years to hone his craft, Peter made a genuine mistake, forgetting to add the all-important sentence or paragraph that would have corroborated his claim.
  2. Peter is incompetent and has been languishing in the role of serious journalist for several years without being in possession of the requisite skills and experience to perform the role.
  3. He knew that there was no supporting evidence for the claim of “driest ever” but went ahead with the assertion, both as a headline and in the body of the article.

Our suggestion is that, based on his extensive public record of writing, (3) is the most likely explanation.

If you accept this explanation that Peter is deliberately trying to deceive the reader, we perhaps should ask ourselves, why?

Actually, perhaps we should ask Peter that?

Hi Peter Hannam, are you a fool or a knave and, if the latter, to what purpose?

If someone on Twitter could ask him, we would be most grateful – @p_hannam
In the meantime, let’s just remind ourselves of Mencken’s quote;

The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.