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.

Goodwin’s Law

Anyone with more than 5,000 followers on Creepbook for Business is most likely to be a purveyor of vacuous bollocks.

Followers, rather than connections. And there’s a clue in that adjective; these charlatans rely on the ovine nature of many users of the networking site electronic Rolodex of people you met at work.

Obviously, Goodwin’s Law is not to be confused with Godwin’s Law, which states:

“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches”. That is, if an online discussion goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Adolf Hitler or his deeds, the point at which effectively the discussion or thread ends.

Goodwin’s Law is, instead, named after this prolific onanist, Tom Goodwin. As well as posting his utter shite on Creepbook for Business, he liberally sprays his brain diarrhoea on Twitter, here.

From what one can gather by a quick MBA at the University of Duck Duck Go, he’s a British expat living in the Miami area.

As an aside, speaking as someone who also has an English accent and has spent time working in the USA, it isn’t hard to understand the reason behind an element of his success: many Americans, bless ’em, seem to assume a magical extra 20 IQ points just because someone sounds a bit like Hugh Grant. Fair enough if he’s leveraging that advantage.

What type of bollocks does Tom Goodwin spout?

Well, there’s this drivel, replete with supernumerary apostrophes:

Sometimes he comes up with insightful business ideas like these two niche opportunities which might be already be filled by things called “hotels”, “taxis“, Airbnb and Zip Car:

Sometimes, after a few glasses of Paul Masson rosé, we are lucky enough to gain an insight in to The Tao of Tom, such as this deep enquiry into the human psyche:

Bill’s Opinion

When somebody posts this type of tosspottery into your LI timeline, do yourself a favour; click the three little dots to the side of their name and select, “unfollow but stay connected“.

Repeat until the pollution ceases.

If Tom Goodwin (or Brigette and Oleg) can make a coin from this nebulous wankery, best of luck to him. After all, the effort and cost is minimal, it only requires suspension of the duty of care for his soul.

Jenna Hates…..

.…the Australian David Icke.

Don’t bother clicking the link; it’s little more than an emotional rant about MP Craig Kelly whilst cheering her favourite female MP.

Jenna Hates has written the definition of a Canberra circle jerk about the most “inside the beltway” story of the year. Literally nobody with a life outside of Canberra or the media gives a damn about it.

In fact, the reporting on Kelly is the epitome of laziness.

Why?

Because the media have a wild eyed conspiracy theorist to report on, they don’t have to be inconvenienced to ask any of the questions more curious minds would like to hear the answers to.

Sure, the Aussie version of Alex Jones is an annoying tool, but why is he the only person with a platform taking about treatments for the virus?

I’ve not read a single report anywhere about the therapeutic treatments of the virus since about June last year when we were all working out how to build a ventilator using parts available from the hardware store. Remember when the supermarkets ran out of paracetamol?

Think for a moment; when was the last time you read or heard a news report about treatments? Is it not strange that dog isn’t barking?

How is it being treated around the world and what’s proven to be effective? The medics in the UK and USA must have learned a load of lessons now.

Is nobody other than MP Craig Kelly curious about what works?

When did medical treatment become a political litmus test?

Bill’s Opinion

I hate all media. Loathe them. The industry is no longer fit for purpose. The vast majority of journalists are low IQ, low rent automatons at best, partisan mendacious hacks more likely

I can count on the fingers of one foot the number of objective good faith and intelligent people working in the news industry.

Their adherence without question to a received narrative shows a lack of imagination and curiosity of mind. There is simply no room for nuance and we are all the poorer for it.

As for Jenna Price, one imagines the last time an original thought entered her head, it was politely but firmly shown the door.

Masquerading as the enemy of the people

Today is Australia Day, the national holiday celebrating the arrival of of the First Fleet of convicts to Australia in 1788.

Over the years, there have been calls to change the date, celebrate something other than the start of multiple harsh prison sentences or make it a day of national mourning on behalf of the people who were already here and were subsequently subjugated.

It can sometimes be bit controversial, to say the least.

However, it’s currently Australia’s national day. The weather is usually pretty good and workers get a day off to go to the beach, barbecue and drink beer. Most Australians you talk to are pretty happy about the national holiday and see no reason for it to change.

How do I know most Australians feel this way?

Because a survey in 2019 showed exactly that. 72% of the Australians surveyed don’t care enough to support a change. Plenty of similar surveys repeat these findings.

Hold that thought in your head for a moment.

Now try this thought experiment; imagine you were the agent of an enemy country and you had managed to gain influence on the editorial decisions of a national newspaper. What would be the theme of the news articles and opinion pieces you would commission on the host country’s national day?

Would it look something like this?

As at 11am this morning, those were the headlines, in order, on the Sydney Morning Herald’s front page.

Nation building stuff, eh?

Now, please don’t misunderstand me or place words in my mouth. I am not saying the SMH editors should not be allowed to commission so many articles of such a similar theme, I’m also not saying the editors are traitors or unpatriotic.

I am, however, pointing out the massive disconnect between the views of the overwhelming majority of the country and the very obvious theme being presented by this newspaper. Nobody can be in any doubt as to where the SMH sits on the “whither Oz Day?” question.

Meanwhile, most Australians don’t actually even consider it a question worth asking.

Bill’s Opinion

If President Xi wanted to run a subversion operation in the Australian media, it would probably not look very different to today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

I doubt that is what this is, but it’s remarkable how much similarity is hiding in plain sight.

I’m sure the writers of these articles have the best of motivations, they would genuinely like to see significant improvements to the welfare and lives of indigenous Australians. Writing these articles probably makes them feel they have helped.

One might cynically ask them, “What tangible actions have you personally taken, such as donating money or time to an Aboriginal charity, or did you think banging out 300 words about the morals of people long dead was enough?“.

As for the commissioning editor, I would ask the following question, “Are you getting paid by President Xi or is this just pro-bono?”

Just duck duck go and call their bluff

Executives from Google and Facebook’s Australian offices were dragged in front of a Senate hearing where they were savaged by Green politician Sarah Two Dads, which must have been scary for them.

If you missed the story, the chronology can be summarised as follows:

1989 Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web

1998 Larry Page created Google

2020 The Australian news industry discovered the internet

2021 Australian politicians tried to tax the internet

Ok, there’s a bit more to it than that….but not much.

To get a completely unbiased version of events, read this article published by the Sydney Morning Herald, an organisation whose entire raison d’être was to write about new stuff, yet has failed to change its business model every year since 1998.

Bill’s Opinion

As Ben Shapiro is fond of saying, two things can be true at once. Google and Facebook can be ruthless and unscrupulous operators, willing to steal content and commoditise everything they touch AND the Australian news media can be guilty of failing to adapt their business model to make money and not have to keep firing journalists.

In the unlikely event Google switch off their search engine in Australia, nobody should care. Other search engines are available and some, such as Duck Duck Go claim not to track you like a Stasi surveillance team.

I suspect the politicians will blink first, but who really cares anyway.

What is most amusing is the news outlets most exercised by this. Outlets like The Australian and, in the UK, The Times, Telegraph and Spectator have all made a success of the paywall model. This Australian spat says more about the outlets who haven’t, doesn’t it?

Newspapers such as the Sydney Morning Herald are desperate for a government handout, nominally paid for by Google. To understand why, one only needs to answer the following question; “where would a Sydney Morning Herald reader go for free news if they locked the paywall?”.

The answer is, of course, the government news agency, The ABC.

The SMH can’t compete because they have no Unique Selling Point to offer to someone whose politics leans towards the left.

Yet don’t expect to see calls in the SMH for The ABC to be defunded.

It’s the Australian equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome.

As for losing the Google search option in Australia…. I’m reminded of this exchange in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

Prosser: Mr. Dent, have you any idea how much damage that bulldozer would suffer if I just let it roll straight over you?

Dent: How much?

Prosser: None at all.