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.

Clementine Ford’s son replies

The gift that keeps on giving, Clementine Ford, wrote a letter to her son.

Given that this organ has significantly more experience of being raised and raising male children, we’ve taken the liberty to reply on behalf of the young lad;

To my darling boy

Did you just assume my gender just because I have a penis????

Seriously though, thanks for noticing.

The first thing you need to know is that I love you. My love for you is a constantly evolving creature. It has made its home in my heart, but it travels through every part of my body finding new places to set down roots. Every night, I think to myself that it’s impossible for me to love you anymore than I already do; that my body is so full of love for you that it simply can’t fit a shred more in. And every morning I wake up and realise that, just like you, it’s grown just a little bit more in the dark.

I love you too, Mum. Can I have a Nerf gun for my birthday please?

At first, I didn’t know how to have a boy. I know how cruel the world can be to girls, and that this cruelty in turn affects the boys who don’t conform to what it is people expect them to be. I knew that no matter what kind of boy you turned out to be (if indeed you turned out to be a boy at all),

I’m sorry, what does “if indeed you turned out to be a boy at all” mean? And can I have a Nerf gun? One of those with the red light sights would be great.

it wasn’t guaranteed you would be treated kindly for it. To be girlish as a boy is to be deficient in some way. To do things ‘like a girl’ is to be embarrassingly lacking in skills and ability, a shameful waste of all the promise your masculinity is supposed to deliver on. The boys perceived to be ‘too feminine’ by a society terrified of what soft, gentle masculinity might mean are frequently subjected to the twin tyrannies of homophobia and misogyny. We will always provide shelter for you from other people’s fear and bigotry, but not every boy is so lucky.

What’s a “homophobia” or a “misogyny”? Is it like the Zombie Blaster that Jaxson at Pre-School got for his birthday? That’s a cool gun.

You’re only little now, and you probably think I have the answers to everything. But by the time you read this, you’ll be old enough to realise that I’m just as confused about life as you are.

Is that why you visit “Auntie” Jane and what you talk about at her clinic every Wednesday?

I can only tell you what I’ve learned along the way. Here’s what I know.

Your kindness and empathy are valuable. You have both of these things in spades, and you must hold on to them. If you trust what they tell you, they’ll help you to make the right choices.

Mum, I’m two years old. How on earth at this stage can you know how much empathy and kindness I’m going to have?

If I do prove you right though, can I have that Nerf gun?

Power is not gained by taking something from another person. Don’t use women as a way to reckon with your own feelings of inadequacy or anger. We are not the conduits for male pain.

Why would I feel inadequate or pain (other than because all my mates have Nerf guns and I don’t)? Who said I was going do that to women, why would you assume it’s an option, aren’t you going to bring me up to be a nice boy?

Violence is not the way to solve your problems. You’ll meet people along the way who think it’s normal for boys to scrap with each other, to use their fists to settle disagreements and try to come out the winner. These people are wrong. Violence is ugly and brutal, and you are neither of these things.

Jaxson punched me at pre-school last week because I took his pencil. I punched him back. What should I have done instead, Mum?

We all need to be held sometimes. Homophobia is such a destructive force in men’s life. It teaches you to avoid each other’s touch and to shield yourselves from platonic male affection. It’s okay to hug another man. It’s okay to cry in front of each other. It’s okay to say you love each other. Be stronger than the message that tells you sharing basic human emotions with another man makes you somehow less of one.

What’s a “homophobia”?

Respect women. Unless we succeed in radically changing the world in the next twenty years, understand that women have legitimate reasons to be afraid of you sometimes. This isn’t a reflection on your behaviour (I hope) but a response to the realities of the world they live in. Instead of getting upset about how it makes you feel, work with them to help make it different.

Seek intimacy. Sex should be a conversation between consenting adults. You are not owed anything by anybody. Recognise that there is infinite pleasure to be had in making sure your partner or partners are enjoying themselves, and exploring your mutual desires together. They can say no at any stage. So can you.

Why are you assuming my default position is that rape is ok? 99.9% of men don’t rape women, why do you, my mother, think I would be one of the 0.1%?

If I’m not a rapist, can I have a Nerf gun now?

Embrace sensitivity. Don’t let a world that’s frightened of soft men succeed in breaking you. We have too many broken men. We need men like you, men whose strength comes from being gentle. Have faith in this.

Cool.

Jaxson has invited me to a play date at his house. If the weather is good we will play Nerf guns in the garden otherwise his older brother will let us play Call of Duty on the Xbox.

Can I go please?

Remember, your life is no more valuable than anyone else’s. But you can live in a way that brings value to everybody.

These are the things I’m trying to teach you.

Ok Mum. Oh look, Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles is on TV.

I want this world to be different for you. I want you to have more choices about the kind of boy you want to be. Boys will be boys, but we have so far collectively failed to let you all be anything other than the most rigid, damaging and reductive form of boy that we possibly can. What if we tried to do things differently?

I don’t understand. What are you asking me to do?

Boys will be sensitive. Boys will be soft. Boys will be kind. Boys will be gentle. Boys will respect girls. Boys will be accountable for their actions. Boys will be expressive. Boys will be loving. Boys will be nurturing.

Who says I have to be all of those things?

What if I’m not?

Boys will be different from everything the world has so far told them they have to be in order to be a man.

Okaaaaay. Is there a manual I can read? Oh, please don’t point to those boxes of unsold copies of your book that we’re using as a coffee table.

To my darling son, my light and my life. I will not be the one who hands you the knife and shows you how to carve out the parts of yourself that don’t fit. To the sons of my friends, to my nephews. To the boys who want butterflies painted on their cheeks, the boys who twirl in dresses and the boys who always pick the sparkly shoes: we can do this together.

I didn’t ask you for any of these things. I just want a Nerf gun. Oh, and can I play rugby league with Jaxson next season?

Are you ready?

For a Nerf gun fight? Hell yeah!

Bill’s Opinion

The extreme left, the Cultural Marxists, do very little other than project, don’t they?

Is there any chance someone could call Social Services and get them to initiate an intervention in that poor boy’s life?

Freedom 2018

Freedom House, an “independent watchdog” has released a study which listed the most free countries in the world.

At least that’s the claim. Others might suggest the report proves something very different. For example, one possible conclusion that could be drawn from the report is that the authors are suffering from deep psychological issues of self-loathing perhaps bordering on Stockholm Syndrome.

Why?

Because the report claims the USA has slipped significantly in the levels of freedom available to its citizens.

Has it? What’s happened in the last 12 months?

Oh, President Trump said some mean words and passed Executive Orders halting immigration from countries with poor anti-terrorism vetting procedures;

The president has also lambasted and threatened the media—including sharp jabs at individual journalists—for challenging his routinely false statements, spoken disdainfully of judges who blocked his decisions, and attacked the professional staff of law enforcement and intelligence agencies. He signals contempt for Muslims and Latin American immigrants and singles out some African Americans for vitriolic criticism. He pardoned a sheriff convicted of ignoring federal court orders to halt racially discriminatory policies and issued an executive order restricting travel to the United States from a group of Muslim-majority countries after making a campaign promise to ban all foreign Muslims from the United States.

Ok, we get that “more than 130 in-house and external analysts and advisers from academia, think tanks, and human rights institutions” didn’t vote Republican in 2016 but has the USA really slipped back to the days of King John’s authoritarian rule?

If only there was an independent data set that showed what the population of the world thought and the subsequent individual choices they were making?

We’ll have to wait for an update to this survey but what’s the likelihood that the results have changed significantly in a year?

By the way, if you look closely, you’ll see Vilfredo Pareto’s observation proven correct again.

Bill’s Opinion

Is there any area of academia and the media in 2018 not tainted with confirmation bias?

The fact that Trump is President and tweets mean things about your friends is not the same thing as a South American dictatorship “disappearing” political opponents and beating the soles of their feet with electrical cable in the basement of the Secret Police building or Putin’s supporters killing journalists.

It just isn’t. Grow up.

Where wouldn’t you let your daughter holiday alone?

If you listen very closely you can hear the sound of Reuters breathing its last breath of life as a news agency.

As an organisation, it may still survive but it is no longer performing the function it has spent the previous 166 years doing.

The ten most dangerous countries in the world for women.

Number Ten on that list is……

The United States of America.

Wait, what?

THE United States of America?

Apparently so. According to Reuters, the USA is equal to Syria for sexual violence to women.

Does this pass the sniff test?

Before we answer that, let’s check out a few countries that aren’t in the 9 listed as worse than the US of A.

In no particular order;

South Sudan

North Korea

Sierra Leone

Libya

Venezuela

Iran

Iraq

Angola

So why is the USA worse for women than these countries?

Because (drum roll);

Oh, do just FUCK OFF.

So, 32,570,000 American women have been raped? Really?

That would certainly explain why there is such a massive exodus of women emigrating from hell holes such as, say, Boston, to claim asylum in Tripoli, Pyongyang, Caracas and Freetown.

Oh, hang on…

Bill’s Opinion

This is a classic “revealed versus expressed preferences” example.

A simple search for tourism numbers to any of the countries on Reuters’ list and my additional options versus those to the USA will tell you everything you need to know about this survey.

You would have few qualms about your teenage daughter holidaying in America. Sierra Leone, however?

One presumes the Cultural Marxists at Reuters simply searched the #MeToo hashtag and decided that every claim of rape equals an actual rape.

In reality, people base their decisions on where to live and where to holiday on more tangible facts, hence why there isn’t a rush to claim asylum on grounds of gender by half the American population of women and why teenage daughters holiday in the USA without their parents lying awake at night wracked with worry.

Lastly, in Reuters’ own words;

Yeah, right.

Google might need a new company motto

Actually, it has already changed it from “Don’t be evil” to “Do the right thing”.

Regardless, the contents of a leaked memo suggest the mottos are to be considered more a guideline than a non-negotiable rule.

Google has allegedly created a search engine that would censor information that the Chinese government finds objectionable. The memo shows that Google planned to require users to log in to perform searches and the software would then track their location. The memo also said that Google would share Chinese users’ search information with a third-party Chinese company, which could then be available to government authorities.

Oh, that’s nice of them. What might be the consequences of Google handing details of an individual’s search history to a “private company” (if such a thing actually exists in China)?

Nothing to be concerned about, I’m sure. China’s record on human rights and the integrity of their legal system is so impeccable after all.

Bill’s Opinion

I’ve recently been considering weaning myself off Google products.

Despite what people might suggest, they don’t actually have a monopoly on providing many of the services we use on a day to day basis.

The response by Google to the James Damore memo was a major indication that the company has stopped taking their motto(s) seriously.

If this latest leak is correct, perhaps now is the time to find another mail, maps and internet search provider.

Buying votes with other people’s money

Altruism is a truly admirable quality.

It’s particularly virtuous when it is performed anonymously and without any expectation of recognition or thanks.

Other forms of altruism also have virtue but perhaps we could agree a scale of righteousness depending on the motivation and other aspects of the charitable act?

Let’s score it on a 1 to 10 scale; 10 being the most virtuous and 1 being the least virtuous type of altruism.

Where do we think donating $400m of somebody else’s money to somebody else sits on that scale?

“This isn’t fair and it’s contributing to the growing superannuation gap between men and women,” he (Bill Shorten) said.

“Superannuation paid on parental leave is an investment in a better and fairer retirement for Australian women.”

An “investment”? By who? What’s the ROI?

Fairer? By what definition?

Bill’s Opinion

Whenever an Australian politician uses the word “fair”, it’s a safe assumption that someone’s wallet is about to be raided.

Curiously, this crudely political move might backfire on the Australian Labor Party; there’s no hint that the gift will be retrospective, so people who have been on parental leave in the past will not have their pension fund topped up. That might generate just a teeny bit of resentment.

If that describes you, here’s an idea; once the legislation is passed, lodge a claim in the Local Small Claims Court. The threshold there is $10,000. If you took 6 months maternity leave from a $150,000 per annum salaried job, the 9.5% superannuation contribution would be within that court’s purview.

It’s worth a punt.

Lastly, our favourite lesson on the four ways to spend money. Take it away, Milton;

Mission Impossible

Mission Australia are running a “Chugger” (“charity mugger”) funding campaign on the streets of Australia.

Young backpackers in purple T-shirts are pestering passers by with statistics about child poverty.

Where is the child poverty they are trying to reduce? Africa? Asia? South America?

Nope. Australia.

No really, according to Mission Australia, one in six Australian children are living in poverty.

Does that pass the sniff test? If you live in or have ever visited Australia, have you ever seen extreme poverty to that level?

No? Perhaps you didn’t visit the right locations. After all, poor people don’t tend to live in the apartments overlooking the Opera House, one supposes.

But one in six is still a lot of kids, where might they all be living if they aren’t immediately obvious to people in the main population centres?

Ah, perhaps the statistic is due to terrible poverty and deprivation in the Aboriginal townships?

Well, maybe but given that only 3.3% of the population is Aboriginal, that doesn’t make sense either.

Where are all these Aussie kids who are living in poverty then? There’s got to be a small city’s worth hiding in plain sight.

This is just a working hypothesis, but maybe there’s a clue to be found in the definition of the word “poverty”.

About halfway down their webpage, Mission Australia repeat the claim and point to this study as the source.

How is “poverty” defined in the Acoss study?

Ah;

So, poverty is defined as relative to other people, and before receipt of public housing, tax credits, unemployment benefits, Medicare and free schooling.

Of course, when your definition of poverty is based on what everyone else is earning, it’s hardly surprising that statements such as the one above, “Internationally, Australia’s poverty rate remains above the OECD average, despite our relative prosperity” can be written without a hint of irony.

Bill’s Opinion

Relative poverty isn’t poverty, it’s envy.

Anyone who has visited Africa, Asia or South America can tell you what child poverty looks like and it certainly isn’t what Mission Australia claims it is.

I find it highly unlikely that Acoss or Mission Australia were unaware of the statistical obfuscation they had to commit to print T-shirts claiming one in six Australian children live in poverty.

What might their motivation be for such mendacity, do we think?

“In the firing line”

This month’s Australian Prime Minister has apparently put the lives of transgender kids “in the firing line”, not once but three times already during the first couple of weeks into his 18 month tenure.

What a truly awful human being he must be.

What was it he said or did to put such venerable vulnerable lives in danger? See if you can guess from this handy list;

  • Gave the armed forces the powers to arrest kids on the street if they are wearing clothing inappropriate to their biological sex.
  • Gave an interview inciting violence against transgender children.
  • Whipped up a mob who subsequently recreated Kristalnacht on transgender children.
  • Wrote a tweet suggesting we stop paying “consultants” to encourage kids to identify as transgender regardless of whether they’ve previously articulated such sentiments or not.

The last one, obviously. This is the age of Victim Olympics, after all. A few alpha-numeric characters on a computer screen saying, “let kids be kids” is now the equivalent of actual violence.

Helpfully, the Grauniad has a guest column by a “Phd candidate in architecture” (which I think means, they’re not only not qualified in biology, psychology or any other ‘ology’ but they’re also not even qualified in architecture yet). There’s more chuckles to be had too as the PhD candidate’s name is Simona Castricum and they’re transgender and presumably were born “Simon”. So, instead of picking the usual female version of “Simon”, i.e. “Simone”, they decided to really underline the feminity they’re seeking by adding the more unambiguous letter “a” as a suffix. I don’t think I’ve ever met a “Simona” before, have you?

Hopefully he’s gone the full monty and had his bits removed too, making the surname so much more accurate.

Anyway, pointless ad hominens aside, here’s further evidence that we are currently living in a world where, as Scott Adams suggests, there are two different movies playing side by side and you’re likely watching a different one to a whole group of other people;

“Some boys have vaginas”? Not on the planet most humans occupy. We have a perfectly-usable noun to describe “boys with vaginas”. Clue: it starts with the letter “g”.

And thank you the Grauniad for pointing out that I’ve missed a further proliferation of the alphabet club;

LGBTIQA+? (the question mark is mine, just to clarify).

Is there a handy reckoning guide one can cut out and in keep in one’s wallet to help remember the rules of demarcation between those various letters and characters? Should we be concerned that the ASCII code is going to run out of characters soon?

 

Bill’s Opinion

Depending on which study you prefer, the scientific evidence points strongly that, left un-transitioned, most (i.e. >60%) of kids who claim they are transgender before puberty go on to return to identifying as their original gender but are homosexual.

Now, we could give these kids puberty blockers and encourage them to publicly act the part of the other gender but are we really comfortable with making permanent physiological changes and, probably, psychological changes when the chances are no better than a coin toss that they aren’t just experiencing an awakening feeling of being gay?