A line was crossed

Bold highlighting, mine:

A large number of people walked out of Jerry Sadowitz’s show [contrary to Sadowitz’s tweet] as they felt uncomfortable and unsafe to remain in the venue. We have received an unprecedented number of complaints that could not be ignored and we had a duty to respond. The subsequent abuse directed to our teams is also equally unacceptable.

“At the Pleasance, our values are to be inclusive, diverse and welcoming. We are proud of the progress we have made across our programming, which includes significant investment and support for Black, Asian and Global Majority artists, LGBTQ+ voices, those from working-class backgrounds, and the strong representation of women. We do not believe that racism, homophobia, sexism or misogynistic language have a place in our venues.

“In a changing world, stories and language that were once accepted on stage, whether performed in character or not, need to be challenged. There is a line that we will not cross at the Pleasance, and it was our view that this line was crossed on this occasion.

“We don’t vet the full content of acts in advance and while Jerry Sadowitz is a controversial comedian, we could not have known the specifics of his performance. The Pleasance has staged his work numerous times over the years, but as soon as we received complaints from those in the building which caused us great concern, we knew we could not allow the final performance to go ahead.

“The arts and comedy, in particular, have always pushed the boundaries of social norms but this boundary is always moving. Our industry has to move with it. However, this does not mean that we can allow such content to be on our stages.”

Same week:

Salman Rushdie stabbed in New York State.

Bill’s Opinion

If you don’t value free speech, feel free to stop using it.

Defending free speech as a concept is useless if you then fail to defend speech with which you disagree.

I’ve seen Sadowitz live twice. They were two of the best comedy and close hand magic (that’s his other skill) shows I’ve ever seen. The jokes he told were outrageous and offensive, and I laughed like a drain.

On stage, he plays a character, a bitter, hateful failure with mental illness. It’s partially based on himself, of course, but it is an on stage persona.

If the line we can no longer cross is in-character comedy, or if offensive words are treated as if the context in which they are spoken is irrelevant, how do we differ from the Ayatollah who ordered what happened to Salman Rushdie?

If you want to help, buy a Sadowitz DVD and a book by Rushdie (Midnight’s Children is least bad; I generally dislike his writing but I’ll defend to the death his right to write shite).

Which cat killed curiosity?

You’d be forgiven for not paying attention to the “election” of the new Leader of the Conservative Party (AKA “The Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”) in the UK right now.

As some wag put it on the socials yesterday, it’s rather like having to choose your favourite Covid vaccine. Except you’re not being asked to choose.

There have been a series of press conferences and televised debates. Plenty of opportunity for our media class to pose the hard questions. One topic notably absent from the mouths of any of the candidates, not even the otherwise great Kemi Badenoch, and certainly not asked by the journalists is “whither lockdowns?”.

As in, were they a good idea, should we even consider them again, how did the cost/benefit analysis play out two years down the track, etc.?

Complete silence.

I have to check myself in my surprise at this. Am I wrong in thinking what we just lived through was without precedent in peace time? That the speed at which basic civil liberties and rights were cast aside was shocking and brutalising for huge numbers of citizens?

It seems more than strange that a single question hasn’t been reserved about it during the dozens of hours of candidate scrutiny. Is nobody interested in whether any of the candidates would use these powers again on us. Just me?

Bill’s Opinion

Many of us state a belief we are living with a fiction of choice, that our “democracy” is nothing more than a unaparty, a single party of government.

I would love to hear a counter argument to that view in the context of a political and media consensus to completely avoid discussing what’s just happened.

And when you finished explaining that, have an attempt at describing to me how an Epstein and a Maxwell can be convicted of crimes involving possibly hundreds of other co-criminals but no other investigations or prosecutions are apparently underway?

Freedom – Technical analysis

Technical Analysis is a method used by some to make investment decisions. From Wiki:

A core principle of technical analysis is that a market’s price reflects all relevant information impacting that market. A technical analyst therefore looks at the history of a security or commodity’s trading pattern rather than external drivers such as economic, fundamental and news events.

Or as my financial adviser puts it, “follow the market”.

A key aspect of Technical Analysis is to look for patterns and trends over time. For example, a pattern of higher highs is thought to indicate an upward trend, such as this one:

Conversely, lower lows suggests you’re going to lose heavily betting on that stock.

Using that simple logic, how are your freedoms looking these days?

Taking Australia as our case study, what has the trend been over the last few decades?

In the chronology below, I’ve tried to show key moments for and against individual freedom and liberty, making a purely subjective justification for each item. For example, Responsible Service of Alcohol legislation could be argued as a positive for freedom because it might assist those who don’t want to be beaten up by drunks, but in my view it’s an unnecessary imposition on the rest of us, if only for the additional cost overhead (training, enforcement, regulation, dedicated government departments) applied to our drinks.

Since the 2001 September 11th attacks, you can be detained without trial for 14 days.

The government can keep your “metadata” (I bet nobody knows what that means without searching) and you can have your citizenship revoked, even if you were born here.

You can’t write or publicly speak about an alleged disconnect between the people profiting from Aboriginal grants and employment perks and their ancestry or skin pigmentation.

Your right to employment, travel, entry in to shops and restaurants, and to protest can be revoked immediately without parliamentary debate or approval but on the word of an unelected Chief Medical Officer.

You must take an experimental treatment to remain employed in a huge number of jobs in a wide range of occupations. The source of this may be State government legislation OR private employer mandates, but the freedom to choose has been revoked either way.

On the plus side, Uber rideshares are legal (although you had to bail out the taxi licence speculators).

Bill’s Opinion

If freedom was charted, I reckon it’d look something like this:

(That’s Bitcoin for the last month, if you were curious).

You might get some temporary wins, and these should be cheered, but it’s just lipstick on a pig.

We’ve been losing rights and freedoms at an increasing pace for quite some time. It’s an interesting question to ponder; when did it start?

My guess is we were most free probably just prior to the First World War. The government interfered in our lives to such a minimal degree, you could go through a day without interacting with its officers. In fact, a passport with a photo was only introduced by the UK (and by extension, Australia) in 1915.

However, there’s a pragmatic aspect to the answer too; “freedom” isn’t worth much without access to dentistry, penicillin, clean water, power, affordable protein, etc.

It’s just an opinion, but I think the rot set in when the Berlin Wall fell. We bought a lie that we had the best system so what’s the only logical action from that conclusion; MORE of that system. Let it take care of us from cradle to grave.

I hate it.

Preferred pronouns: murderer, killer, psycho

Australia doesn’t have many serial killers or mass murderers. Well, not if one excludes South Australia from the census, anyway.

One of the recent cases involves this person:

“A NSW woman convicted three times for homicide has been arrested again in Sydney.”

Riiiiiight.

In the same news outlet, a report of a child abuser who breaks the gender stereotype for that crime as she is female:

Riiiiight…..

Bill’s Opinion

Imagine looking in from the outside on a society that panders to the whims of triple murderers and child abusers by changing the language and cultural norms of thousands of years. What conclusion might one draw regarding the sustainability of that society?

I have no proof that Reginald Arthurell and James Tubbs aren’t genuinely deeply convinced they were born female in male bodies, or whatever version of the several explanations we are offered for transgenderism, but I do know that the very last people I’m prepared to offer the benefit of the doubt to have been convicted of murder and sexual assault.

Presumably, at some point in the recent past, Catie Mcleod, Audrey Conklin, Michael Ruiz and Emma Colton were summoned to a briefing at Holt Street, Sydney and received instructions on the new style guide for News.Com.Au, requiring their copy to be filed using the preferred pronouns of anyone they write about, regardless of the likely credibility of such demands.

Such a briefing must have occurred as this switch in language is now consistently applied throughout the publication. No journalist is going to get off the spike if they refer to Arthurell as “Reginald” or male.

Meanwhile, 99.9% of people read the reports linked above and feel a visceral disconnect from the words and reality. We read the report of “female” Regina and think, “Fuck off. He’s an evil piece of shit who is taking the piss out of us. He even chose a female name with such an obvious double-entendre rhyme as part of his sick joke. Whoever writes this crap must know this too, so why do they pretend down is up and black is white?“.

Perhaps we should applaud this self-destructive writing from the media. The more they insist on ignoring reality, the fewer of us believe anything they report.

A nation of convicts will always need plenty of jailers

….and it would seem there’s no shortage of volunteers.

Yesterday, at our local park, a woman was furtively photographing primary school age kids enjoying themselves on the skate park, because, in her words, they were “doing the wrong thing”.

Quite what she has since done with the photos is anyone’s guess. If she hasn’t found a suitable “grass on a neighbour” police webpage to upload them to, she could always sell them to those Wokepac customers who can no longer buy images from the Philippines via the online banking systems.

Just one anecdote, you say. Sure, then we have Pirate Pete continuing his multi-decade long sulk with the rugby coach who was mean to him all those years ago, Alan Jones.

Jones has recently had his Sky News rants removed from YouTube because they break “community guidelines”. Everybody is happy about this because, well, it’s Alan Jones and everyone knows he’s a cynical troll spreading misinformation and hate.

First they came for the trolls…

Peter Fitzsimons’ incoherent column today shows us exactly who he is and, frankly, any “part-ay!” he’s attending is one to be avoided. As Konstantin Kisin recently expressed, “we are beginning to learn which side of the barbed wire we’d be on”.

Fitzsimons is cheering the prospect of a vaccine passport to restrict access to travel, sporting events, bars and restaurants to those who are “deniers”. An Ngram chart of his use of “denier” would be an interesting graphic to see; it seems to be wheeled out regularly to close down discussions in which he doesn’t wish to engage.

After a world tour of all the leaders with whom he agrees, as if that somehow constitutes a logical argument, he dismisses suggestions of “authoritarianism” because words that end in “ism” don’t mean anything.

Peter is happy to, as H. L. Mencken put it, preference security over liberty:

Here in Australia, focus on a vaccine passport has so far been mostly for plane travel, the Prime Minister announcing plans for a “digital vaccination authentication” before you’re allowed on board.

Great. That’s a start. But political dynamic that pushes for vaccine passports for planes, must soon apply to everything else, too. The NRL has already announced that from next year no fans will be able to attend its games unless they provide proof of vaccination.

No one is forcing the nutters to get vaccinated against their will. But they, equally, cannot bloody well force the rest of us to stay home in perpetual lockdown. You must stay home. Trade some conspiracy theories in the darkness of your basement to pass the time. The rest of us are going out to part-ay!

Bill’s Opinion

As Jordan Peterson points out, “everyone likes to think they’d be Schindler, the statistics overwhelmingly suggest they’d be the camp guard”.

Take the vaccine, Peter, or don’t take the vaccine, I don’t give a fuck, but keep the hell out of my life and get back in the guardhouse.

A very mean reversion

A virtual Grand Tour around the various right of centre, libertarian and free market media sites and commentators over the last few years may have resulted in the, not unreasonable, conclusion there is a kind of Anglospheric Exceptionalism. From Roger Scruton, through Douglas Murray, Matt Ridley, Ben Shapiro, Jonathan Haight, Lionel Shriver, and many other voices who pop up regularly in each other’s podcasts and on the pages of The Spectator.

The unique Anglo cultural phenomenon is hard to define but likely to include elements of the following (in no particular order); individuality, free speech, free trade, freedom of movement, property rights, rule of law, meritocracy, religious and sexual tolerance, morality, and fairness.

Different versions of this are shown to perhaps apply variously across countries.

Australia, for example, has almost an entire national identity built on the shifting sands foundation of a concept of “fairness”. Everyone who has travelled around the Aussie media, legislation and government services will have encountered the word “fair”, without it ever really being defined. Australian fairness is defined as, to recycle the words of US Justice Potter Stewart, “I know it when I see it”.

The USA’s proud boast is based more on free speech, individual responsibility and the creative destruction of free markets.

The UK spends much of its currency of national conversation on expensive angst about how racist and intolerant it is whilst simultaneously being the destination of choice for immigration from almost every ethnicity and religion. UK tolerance is clearly a national trait, as witnessed by the inability of most of its citizens to complain about customer service.

The Canadian, New Zealand and Irish flavours of Anglospheric Exceptionalism are harder to define. They’re three irrelevances on the world cultural stage, taking their cues heavily from their larger neighbours and generally piggybacking on the good stuff whilst pointing at the negatives as if they were a problem of some other.

There’s clearly a place for the theory of Anglospheric Exceptionalism, otherwise so many of the products of these countries, both tangible and philosophical, from iPhones to fundamental legal concepts, wouldn’t be adopted and/or envied by other less happy lands.

Culture must be a factor too, otherwise the success of the USA might perhaps have been replicated to some degree on the west coast of Africa when the newly formed country of Liberia adopted a CTRL C/V version of the USA Constitution. Last time we checked, Liberia wasn’t at the top of the list of countries people were battling to emigrate to.

Some amazing outcomes have been achieved from the children of the anglosphere. As a proxy measure, Cambridge University has produced double the number of Nobel Laureates than the entire country of France. Interestingly, France has produced four times the number of Nobel Laureates than the entire continent of Africa (including the Africans of European ancestry).

Clearly, cultural relativism is a bollocks concept. Not all cultures are equal, as anyone trying to get to the grocery store and home again unharmed in Johannesburg or Durban could tell you right now.

It’s easy to fall into the fantasy that we’ve found some magic civilising incantation, a secret formula to civilise the world and ensure the direction of travel is forward.

Worse, if you’re tempted down the roads of patriotism, ethnic pride and supremacy-thinking, you might believe this has something to do with genetics or another hard to define concept, “race”.

What if we’re wrong? What is history telling us?

It’s easy to ignore the inconvenience of history. Until really very recently, say, until the second quarter of the 20th century, life for everyone was uncertain in duration, brutish and tough.

Freedom of speech, for example, would have been quite a distant thought for most people in the anglosphere when faced with the prospect of having to bury a child every year or two. Freedom of movement and property rights were theoretical for the vast majority, who had only the option to emigrate vast distances with little to no possessions, often to escape religious intolerance, indentured labour and restrictions to their ability to trade freely.

If we’re really being honest with ourselves, these modern miracles about which years’ worth of podcast content and self-congratulatory books have been produced, are a specifically modern phenomenon probably not yet even 100 years old.

The normal scenario was benign rule by king or emperor if we were lucky, but brutal authoritarianism mostly. After all, Marcus Aurelius was only one man in an empire lasting more than a millennium.

Bill’s Opinion

Perhaps we’ve been living in a dream? Perhaps we’d convinced ourselves the circumstances all but our last four generations found themselves in had been prevented from recurring.

Our ability to choose and find work, travel freely in and out of countries, speak freely in public, make our own health decisions, manage personal risk, protect our wealth and family and to take individual responsibility no longer exists.

Perhaps it never really did. Certainly, the swiftness with which these “rights” were removed indicates the fragile grasp by which we held them.

Le plus ça change, le plus c’est la meme chose, as your great great grandparents probably couldn’t pronounce but understood implicitly.

The reversion to the mean, is indeed very mean.

Are you an artist?

An artist is someone who can hold two opposing viewpoints and still remain fully functional.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Some examples:

The threat of mental health impacts.

Position A: we must agree, without question, with children who say they are transgender because otherwise their inevitable negative mental health outcome and possible suicide will be our fault.

Position B: we must keep children off school and away from group sports for months to protect the elderly and chronically unwell. The mental health impacts of this are insignificant.

Climate change

Position A: climate change is the biggest existential threat to humanity, all necessary resources and national finances should be applied to solve it. We must think the unthinkable.

Position B: nuclear energy is too big a danger to use to generate our power.

Election fraud

Position A: Russia hacked the 2016 election resulting in the illegitimate Trump presidency.

Position B: there were no irregularities in the 2020 election. Anyone who suggests otherwise is a conspiracy theorist.

The World Health Organisation

Position A: it’s unfortunate the WHO made several significant mistakes over the efficacy of masks and the possibility the Kung Flu came from the Wuhan lab.

Position B: the WHO is correct that the vaccines are safer for all age and health cohorts than catching the virus.

Prophylaxis

Position A: there is no evidence from randomised double blind longitudinal studies of the effectiveness of existing generic pharmaceutical treatments for Kung Flu and anyone suggesting these should be further investigated is a conspiracy theorist.

Position B: a vaccine first produced less than a year ago is completely safe in both the short and long term for all age and health cohorts.

Freedom of speech

Position A: one of the greatest benefits of living in a western democracy is the freedom to criticise government policy without sanction.

Position B: there is no problem with private companies, some of whom have revenue greater than the GDP of many countries, to censor people who spread misinformation as these people are dangerous conspiracy theorists.

Bill’s Opinion

Perhaps there’s a bit of artistry in us all. It’s not those who have inconsistency who scare me most, but those with certainty.

Take it away boys:

Manchurian OpEds

You’d have to be deliberately obtuse to not recognise the nefarious influence China leverages across “western democracies” (for want of a better descriptor).

We wrote about some Australian examples here.

Without any proof whatsoever, I’m going to have a punt that this may be another example. Excuse the photo of the article, but it’s behind a paywall and I’m not prepared to pay:

Fans of Betteridge’s Law might want to consider a related variation resulting in the following answer to the headline’s question; “It won’t, you fool”. Let’s face it, if you believe China is credibly aiming at a carbon net zero scenario by 2060, I’ve got a harbour bridge you may like to buy.

If that also summarises your view on China’s commitment to the Paris Climate Accord (our analysis of that devalued document here), you may wish to also focus in on the Hans Christian Andersen chart presented as authoritative:

CO2 production to peak in 9 years time and then fall quicker than a Premier League soccer player in the penalty box? Okaaaaay.

By the way; Source: CAIXIN. This CAIXIN? Excuse me if I express mild scepticism as to their ability to be objective whilst remaining on the preferred side of a Chinese prison wall.

There’s a lot to parse from the article, feel free to invest the time to read every word. Alternatively, here’s my TL:DR version:

The best way to ensure China achieves its international climate change commitments is for the entire global economy to implement a new form or carbon pricing based on my employer’s complicated computer modelling combined with increased public policy and regulatory rules. No, I’m not going to share the computer model nor what regulatory and policy rules should be imposed.

So, who is Peng Wengsheng, what does his employer do and who’s behind them?

Dr Peng Wensheng is managing director, global chief economist and head of research at CITIC Securities….. Dr Peng was born in 1966 in Anhui Province, China. He received a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Nankai University in 1986, and continued to study at the postgraduate school of the People’s Bank of China. He received a Master’s degree in banking and finance and PhD in economics at the University of Birmingham in England in 1988 and 1993 respectively. Dr Peng is an adjunct professor at Tsinghua University and Nankai University, and was voted first and second in the area of macroeconomic research for China by “Asia Money” and “Institutional Investor” consecutively in 2013 and 2014.”

CITIC Securities Co., Ltd. is a Chinese full-service investment bank. It offers services in underwriting, research, brokerage, asset management, wealth management, and investment advisory. CITIC Securities was established in 1995 and it is headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province.”

Any other information regarding CITIC? Oh, this:

On August 25, 2015 the Chinese news media announced that several executives within CITIC Securities were under investigation for possible wrongdoing.

Bill’s Opinion

It is entirely possible Dr Peng’s opinions published without examination in The Australian Financial Review are written in good faith. It is also entirely possible his employers, CITIC Securities and the media group CAIXIN are operating freely and without influence from the Chinese Communist Party.

Let’s give a probability to these things shall we?

Your assessment may radically differ from mine but my view is a man who grew up in China, has spent all of his adult life in the pay of Chinese universities and Chinese banks and whose family presumably nearly all still live within the regime…. isn’t an objective commentator.

Similarly, no mater how motivated the CAIXIN media group or CITIC Securities executives are to be independent from the Chinese government, having one’s colleagues investigated would tend to focus the mind somewhat.

I’ll estimate there’s a less than 5% chance this isn’t a Chinese government endorsed, if not written, OpEd.

I actually don’t care that Peng and his employers are stooges. I’m more intrigued as to why the AFR published it without question.

We sleep soundly at night…. redux

……because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.

Winston Churchill

Today is a lazy repost of this entry.

Why? Well if journalists are able to reprint the same story with new pictures but no additional evidence of war crimes, I’m allowed to recycle my response to their bullshit too.

Pretend fellatio in a bar describes pretty much every senior grade footy club everywhere in the world after 9pm on a Saturday night. If that’s a war crime, please send a postcard to my new address in The Hague.

I really have no idea what goes on in bars the SAS drink in after a day out on patrol being shot at with live ammunition but, unless they actually commit a crime in said bar, it’s their business and I thank them for their service.

So, feel free to re-read “We sleep soundly at night….”:

Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith was photographed cheering on an American soldier drinking from the prosthetic leg of a suspected Afghan militant whose death is now the subject of a war crimes investigation into the war hero.

The world is divided in to exactly three types of people;

  1. Those who see the photo above and think, “so what?”,
  2. Those who see the photo above and think, “that’s disgusting, get the lawyers in The Hague on the blower”, and
  3. Those who see the photo above and think, “the infidel dogs in the west must die”.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have obtained two photographs that show Mr Roberts-Smith, the country’s most decorated living soldier, posing with the prosthetic leg which was used as a novelty drinking vessel.

Obtained” or, in English; “paid top dollar for“.

The photographs appear at odds with claims made by Mr Roberts-Smith’s lawyer in the Federal Court last year that the war hero was utterly disgusted by the use of the leg as a drinking vessel. Lawyer Bruce McClintock stressed Mr Roberts-Smith “never drank from that thing … Because he thought it was disgusting to souvenir a body part, albeit an artificial one from someone who had been killed in action.”

He’s not drinking from it. He’s next to a person drinking from it, neither of whom probably realised that, years after risking their lives on our behalf, investigative journalists would be frothing up a story where front line soldiers in Afghanistan are judged by standards applicable to wine bars in Glebe.

The fake limb gained further notoriety earlier this month when photos of soldiers and non-commissioned officers drinking from it were leaked to The Guardian. The photos supplied to The Guardian did not include any images of Mr Roberts-Smith posing with the leg.

In other news, I visited Dallas once but the authorities are still struggling with collecting the evidence necessary to convict me of assassinating JFK.

The Guardian story, written by freelance journalist Rory Callinan, included photos of two soldiers with faces blurred posing with the boot. The story claimed “rank-and-file” soldiers believe they have been unfairly criticised by the Brereton report and suggest that drinking from the boot could be classified as the war crime of pillaging because the leg was property taken without the consent of its owner.

Rory Callinan’s Twitter feed is to be found here. It is fair to say he posts little else other than allegations of Australian war crimes and the reporting of the investigations. That’s fair enough, he can be a single issue journalist if he wants. Readers may wish to bear this obsession in mind when reading his output, however.

“…drinking from the boot could be classified as the war crime of pillaging“. Perhaps this is technically correct, but when detailing the backlog of various breaches of the Geneva Convention to be prosecuted and in what order, this may be close on the list to the whole of class detention your child got last week because two other kids were misbehaving. Collective punishment is a war crime under the 4th Geneva Convention, after all.

Perhaps it’s time for a comment from an adult:

Australian Defence Association chief executive Neil James wrote on Friday that, “to our national detriment, much of the public discussion on war crimes alleged to have been committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan is focusing on secondary, peripheral or irrelevant issues.”

Quite.

Bill’s Opinion

Unfortunately, I’ve no doubt war crimes have been committed in my name. I am certain, at times, armed forces acting for my country have shot first, asked questions later. After the fog of war has lifted, it’s correct to investigate these incidents and take appropriate action against the individual and to examine whether it indicates a culture that should be addressed.

However….I don’t give a flying fuck about our “rough men” drinking out of a dead Taliban’s false leg. In fact, send me the GoFundMe page link and I’ll chuck a few quid in to buy a round of beers for them.

My suspicion is this is the view of most people outside of the ABC, Sydney Morning Herald and Grauniad’s news rooms.

My car’s preferred pronoun is “Semolina”

No it isn’t, but you started it first:

On a similar theme; remember how Charlize Theron’s thee year old is transgender?

Bill’s Opinion

It is long past the time for us to stop playing let’s pretend.

Dogs are not vegan, three year old children are not transgender, my car doesn’t have a preference to be addressed as if it were a durum wheat-based pasta ingredient and we should treat anyone who asserts the opposite with the same seriousness we would a small child.

Or worse, perhaps they are seeking to exercise power over us by fooling us into using such illogical language, despite our sub-conscious rejecting the concept?

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.