Et tu, Tony?

It’s quite amazing this took so long:

It’s an utter non-story. Don’t take my word for it though, follow the link and judge for yourself.

What’s important is that the #MeToo movement is coming after Tony Robbins. Whether they are successful or not will be instructive, mainly because there were so many reasons to have taken Robbins down in the past, if this one is his nemesis, we now know where the power sits.

Let’s face it, the man has made an absolute fortune selling evangelical Christianity without the Christianity part. We’ve all met someone who’s got the religion at one of his $8,000 conferences and tried to make some massive change in their life… and usually failed.

He’s a snake oil salesman and has been for decades. If he was untouchable all that time but is taken down by an old video with few off-colour comments at a paid for conference, that’s very instructive.

Bill’s Opinion

It’s not clear what Robbins has done to become the next target. If you think the controversy is about the comments on the video, you’re being somewhat naive.

First they came for, ah fuck it.

Bill Pulver’s letter to Raelene Castle – exclusive

(from an anonymous source in the ARU)

Dear Raelene,

Kia-Sportage bro, as you and Jacinda say in the vernacular.

I hope you’re having fun in the not so new gig and the daily drive out to Olympic Park isn’t too tiresome. Strewth, it is truly a godawful place to have to work from, thank goodness the Wobblies only play there once or twice a year. I can understand why the fans prefer to stay at home and watch it on their sofas. Well, that and the fact that they can do something else with their time in the second half of the match, once the result has been decided.

Anyway, I digress.

I wanted to drop you a quick note to wish you the best of luck in the forthcoming World Cup in Japan and send my best wishes for the preparations. Hopefully Chek has got a great esprit des corps in the changing room now, with all of those unique characters working well together. I can just imagine the larrikins Quadey and Pocock must get up to, surely they will be great room mates in Tokyo.

I wanted to mention something I missed in the handover documents. In addition to the two envelopes, I thought you might want to consider some changes to the player contracts in the next round of contract extensions.

Increasingly, and as a result of our strategy to stop funding grass roots rugby and simply poach the better mungoes from Rugby League, you’ll need to have a strategy to deal with the God-botherers.

Obviously, the majority of these are Westies with apostrophes in their names, so any successful strategy is going to have to be reasonably unsubtle and articulated mainly in monosyllables. Try to pitch it at a level that an ABC for Kids viewer could comprehend.

There’s likely to a bit of a clash of cultures with that LBTQI+ptangyangkipperbang thing you and David Pocock committed the sport to in your pitch to the Board. Those happy-clappy types aren’t so keen on the shirt-lifters so you’ll need to reign them in on the old interweb thingy. Apparently, some of them have suggested that Caitlyn Jenner might not be completely female.

I know, madness, eh!

Some sort of contractual clause about not expressing religious or political views should do the trick.

The alternative is to do what the ABC do when one of their vastly more intelligent journalists tweet some extreme left wing opinion (i.e. always); state that their views outside of work are their own and they have the right to express them without any consequences to their livelihood of providing unbiased and objective reporting.

You’ll have to pick one of these approaches though otherwise you’ll be left in a terribly difficult and probably expensive no-man (or gender non-specific) land the first time one of them gets an injection of the Ol’ Time Religion one Sunday morning.

Actually, thinking about it, maybe you’ll be in such a mess if you don’t that you’d make my CEO term look halfway competent, which, let’s face it, would have been unthinkable a year or two ago.

On second thoughts, I think I won’t bother sending this letter after all.

Yours, in rugby,

Bill Pulver

Bill (Ockham’s) Opinion

It’s a funny old world when the European colonialists spend 200+ years telling Pacific Islanders, often at the end of a gun barrel, about the salvation of Jesus Christ and then sack them from their jobs for believing the message.

Pay the jizya for your dhimmi, Australians

On Thursday, two members of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) found the checkered headscarves used during the exercise were not necessary and would have been recognised by members of the public as keffiyehs, used by Palestinian and Arab communities.

During the exercise, the pretend offenders pointed their index fingers in the air.

The use of the headscarves had the capacity to encourage members of the public to believe that “Palestinians and/or Arabs were to be feared, despised, hated, and/or held in serious contempt as possibly or probably being terrorists“, especially given that it was NSW Police who used them, NCAT found.

Is a headscarf really likely to have that effect?

One of the officers was wearing a skeleton face mask. Do we expect Halloween celebrations to be subdued this year as people shy away in fear from skeleton images after this police exercise?

Unlikely.

But wait, go back and have another look at the screen grab image from the Sydney Morning Herald….

What’s the news item 2 down from the one about the gelding of the police?

Oh, just an Islamist stabbing a passerby. Nothing to see here.

To be balanced, the alleged attacker wasn’t Arabic or from Palestine, he was from Pakistan.

He knew enough Arabic to shout it at random strangers in the street in the months preceding the attack though (note to police; this is what might be called a “lead indicator“. You’re welcome):

And that Parramatta shooting he was so inspired by, what was that all about, who committed that act of terrorism?

A Kurdish Iranian. Let’s keep that balance; neither Kurdish or Persian Iranians are classed as Arabic.

Neither was the perpetrator of the Lindt Café shooting Arabic.

He didn’t have a skeleton face mask either.

These mentally-ill religiously evil idiots do have one common factor though, don’t they? One that Arabs and Palestinians also share. Perhaps it’s asking too much of Australian police to really analyse the cultural wardrobe distinctions between various ethnic groups in the Islamic diaspora when planning a terrorism response training exercise.

After all, it’s not the hurt feelings of those who share the religion of the perpetrators they are training to protect, but the lives of those targeted by the terrorists.

So, precisely how many people actually complained about this police exercise designed to keep us all safe?

Oh, just the one.

The racial vilification complaint was made by Sam Ekermawi, who identified himself as an Australian ethnic Muslim of a Palestinian national origin.

Is he a sensitive soul who is easily offended or is he perhaps trying to modify the definitions of what can or can’t be said or worn in public in a (previously) free country?

Well, he does have “previous” (in the police vernacular) against which we can judge this complaint:

He previously filed a racial vilification complaint against the Today show following comments from Sonia Kruger that she would like to see the immigration of Muslims to Australia “stopped now”. That complaint was dismissed in February.

Bill’s Opinion

This is surely a form of Stockholm Syndrome.

The police governing body, NCAT, has made the conscious decision to sympathise and prioritise the feelings of one man from a protected class over the operational duties of the police.

Someone might want to point out to the Australian police that they have a live hostage emergency incident to deal with; Sam Ekermaw has captured several national institutions and is forcing them to comply with his religious demands on the basis that the general public shouldn’t be afraid of people wearing keffiyehs.

Sure:

A voter exercises his democratic right

…to treat politicians with the utter contempt they deserve.

The problem with legally-compelled voting is the elected politicians can convince themselves they have a mandate.

The additional major problem with the Australian version of compelled voting is that one needs a PhD in Confusopoly to comprehend it. Frankly, you stand more chance of accurately comparing a Telstra mobile phone “dollar” with the Optus version than navigate this form;

(Excuse my handwriting; I am a medical doctor).

Here’s a scanned version for clarity, in case you are voting in New South Wales and wish to become more acquainted with the various policies on offer;

Bill’s Opinion

Changing government every 3 years and Prime Minister (by bloodless coup) every 18 months whilst fining those who choose not to engage in the voting process is not democracy.

Convince me otherwise and maybe you’ll get my vote next time…… Be ready to demonstrate that you’ve achieved something in the real world other than organising a union or working for a law firm, you useless and entitled twats.

International house of fruitcakes

Allona Lahn is standing for the next Australian Federal Election, representing IMOP (involuntary medication objectors Party).

In case you’re a little mentally lethargic today, they’re a group of anti-vaxxers.

Here’s an irony that’s presumably lost on the party of personal freedoms; they are standing for an election where voting is compulsory by law.

Here’s another irony; vaccination isn’t compulsory in Australia, as witnessed by the current outbreak of measles in wanky middle class tofu-eating areas.

The IMOPpers have presumably confused not being able to work in government departments, particularly in the healthcare sector, or not being able to send your kids to public schools unless vaccinated as being compulsory vaccination. They are also upset about the so-called “no jab, no pay” policy, which sounds quite draconian but the “pay” concerned refers to government benefits.

If they’d truly thought the libertarian argument through they would have realised they still have the choice to work elsewhere, to home-school their children and, frankly, if you need to rely on taxpayer largesse to afford to have children, perhaps you should consider the possibility you can’t afford to have children.

What’s also intriguing about the IMOPpers is that they have a “cultural adviser” to provide an Aboriginal perspective on immunisations. Presumably this starts with the words, “thank you, white people, for immunising our people, at least that rules out one potential cause of early death and an infant mortality rate equivalent to a sub-Saharan shithole“?

Bill’s Opinion

At least we can be sure there is still some semblance of free speech remaining in Australia; if you really wanted to cement their commitment to conspiracy theories, you’d try to prevent them from campaigning.

You can do your own research on the correlation and likely conclusions about the potential harmful side-effects of vaccinations versus the clear benefits (do you personally know of anyone who has died of a transmittable disease for which there is a vaccination?).

It’s great that anti-vaxxers exist and have a platform as it indicates we’ve solved all of the other major issues facing humanity. Let’s face it, no-one in a poverty-stricken third world country is refusing to vaccinate their children, most likely because they’ve already learned the hard way by burying several already.

“Free speech” isn’t just the speech you agree with, Fitzy

An Australian rugby player has annoyed people on social media by posting evangelical Christian beliefs.

An ex-Australian rugby player, now a columnist, has called for his contract to be suspended until he apologises and, in his words not mine, repents.

Slow news days in Australia tend to be like this.

Peter Fiztsimons has a good point; Israel Falau’s contract with the ARU does have restrictions on his public behaviour and speech. In that regard, by signing the contract he has agreed to further limitations, beyond those already on the law books, to his freedom of speech.

This is a matter between employer and employee.

So far, so boring. We all have a range of views on the topic Folau has posted about on social media, some of us have multiple opinions on the same topic depending on the time of day. That’s not really the point.

What’s fascinating here is the use of the term “repent” and the suggestion that Folau’s behaviour is homophobic. To risk bringing the concept of nuance and subtlety to a nation not previously known for its philosophers and intellectuals, could we suggest that there’s actually no proof that Folau is homophobic?

Sure, he’s stated that homosexuals are on their way to hell, but that’s simply repeating a view endorsed by, among others, the Catholic Church, most Anglican denominations and Islam. So, it’s a view shared wholly or at least partially by almost 5 billion people, i.e. more than half of humanity.

It’s worth noting that he’s never stated that he hates homosexuals or that he believes they are deserving of eternal damnation, just that his understanding of scripture suggests that’s where they’re heading.

Again, a subtle point but we do need to try to pull the conversation back to what was said, not what we think was in the mind of the speaker. None of us are mind-readers.

As for Fitzsimon’s call for Folau to repent, it’s not clear what form this would take for it to be acceptable. An apology for breaking the terms of his contract of employment doesn’t seem like it would satisfy Peter. By the use of the verb, repent, he seems to be suggesting a change of opinion is the only acceptable way to seek forgiveness.

In other words, he needs Folau to stop believing something that he, presumably, holds as true as part of the core teaching of his faith.

Bill’s Opinion

I don’t want to know what sports people’s beliefs are on matters of religious doctrine. I really just don’t give a fuck. I don’t share Israel Folau’s views on this or many other philosophical areas of discourse. I do like the way he can catch a ball, sprint and side-step, however.

I also don’t want the world I live in to be one where bandana-wearing columnists get to call for the termination of someone’s employment for having the wrong faith.

There is much whataboutery we could invoke at this point. For example, we could ask for just a single example where Fitzsimons has defended anyone with an opposing opinion to his to hold that opinion without being hounded off social media, out of their employment or other similar consequences.

The easiest job in the world is to defend someone’s right to believe the same things as you.

Where are the April Fool articles?

Stop reading this. Open a new browser window and go to your favourite news source (I’m talking about Australia here).

Where are the April Fools joke articles?

Traditionally, editors have a bit of fun on this day, publishing articles on Italian spaghetti trees or the Olympics creating a backwards 100m event.

Perhaps I’ve not looked hard enough but there seems to be nothing that qualifies as an April Fool on the main Australian news sites. I’m not dismissing the possibility that I’ve been gullible and walked past one and assumed it was true.

Please correct me in the comments.

Bill’s Opinion

Perhaps we are in a “post humour” era where every joke offends someone, somewhere and, because of this, all jokes must be silenced.

Oh wait, we’re saved; The Sydney Morning Herald have one;

Here come the freedom restriction laws

A good knee-jerk reaction is only worth doing if it’s quick enough, especially in election season (which, to be fair, is every second year in Australia);

Media bosses face jail over sharing content.

Hasty legislation is so very tempting to those in power as they feel under pressure to be seen to be doing something, anything, in the wake of exceptional or unique events.

The Australian government is therefore making noises about introducing legislation enabling the prosecution of the leaders of technology companies on whose platforms the video footage of the Christchurch murderer’s crimes were shared should similar situations occur in the future.

Our confirmation biases trick us into thinking there is merit with this approach. There are multiple problems with what has been proposed in this thought bubble of a policy description however. Let’s list them and see if you agree:

1. Opportunity cost – given finite resources of time, money and personnel, is this the best and most urgent response the legislators and law enforcement authorities can take to minimise the risk similar murderous violence doesn’t re-occur? I say “minimise the risk” because, despite what anyone would like to think, there is no palatable way to completely prevent murders occurring. The shooter was hiding in plain sight on various internet discussion forums, perhaps some more diligence on behalf of those tasked with crime prevention might be the better priority?
2. Legislation requiring innovation – a law that would deliver jail time to the CEO of Facebook Australia for hosting a snuff movie is, in effect, demanding the company either throw thousands of content moderators at the problem 24×7 OR they invent 100% foolproof algorithms to automatically remove the content the moment it is uploaded. Neither of which is particularly likely, which brings us to problem #3….
3. The law of unintended consequences – the CEO will be extremely motivated to remain at liberty and without a criminal record, therefore they will scale back their content and offering to the Australian market. 99.9999% of livestream content breaks no law, yet faced with the risk of jail, an intelligent CEO is going to simply pull that functionality and content from the Australia IP addresses. Worse, the risk to the CEO has still not gone away due to problem #4…..
4. Virtual Private Networks – VPNs are cheap and easily procured. If content is blocked in Australia, it’s likely users could hop on to a VPN and spoof their location to a different geography and see it anyway. Anyone who enjoys using torrent services that are geo-blocked in Australia already knows this. Faced with this risk, perhaps the tech companies would withdraw or scale back their Australian office footprint?
5. Who defines what content is banned? – if we were to legislate against “dangerous” content, hasty legislation would be a mistake. The definition of what is to be banned is going to require significant discussion and debate, followed up with extreme legal scrutiny to ensure the legislation is unambiguous and not simply providing a censor’s charter to a future government.

Bill’s Opinion
In a crisis, people revert to what they know. Politicians know how to announce and create rapid, ambiguous legislation that satisfies the expediency of being seen to act but fails the test of sustainability and desirability over the long term.

Expect more of this.

Also expect legislation to make subscription to a VPN illegal once someone explains their use to the politicians.

Longbowmanship over Christchurch

As suggested earlier, in the wake of a major atrocity or tragedy, it’s safer to steer well clear of all forms of social media. There’s likely to be some truth available and even some cool heads but finding it amongst the virtue signalling and calls for further limitations to freedom will be nigh on impossible.

Some of the rubbish washes up on the shore regardless of how little time one tries to spend on websites and apps where it lives.

Blame is being directly thrown at a wide range of targets.

Let’s be clear; The person responsible for the decision to murder 50 unarmed men, women and children last week, was the same person who stockpiled the weapons and fired them.

Nobody else.

It’s a shame I feel the need to have to state that axiom, but it seems like a day doesn’t go by without a serious commentator claiming other sources of blame which, utterly coincidentally, reflect their previously-stated biases.

Examples follow;

1. Trump – the go-to blame focus for all that is bad in the world. The shooter’s own manifesto states that he likes Trump because of his ethnicity but can’t stand his policies. On that basis, anyone in the Whitehouse who was white might be blamed. Trump’s actions, words and opinions have been documented in detail for decades, yet there’s nothing we can point to encouraging violence against Muslims. Longbow.

2. Candace Owens – anyone who took the shooter’s claims that she was his greatest influence at face value is clearly not paying attention and has not read or listened to her opinions. The shooter is trolling the media and they’ve taken the bait. Longbow.

3. CNN – on a recent podcast, Scott Adams suggested CNN have contributed to the misinformation by focusing on race and identity. Longbow.

4. Facebook, Twitter, etc. – various political figures are stating the platforms are responsible because live-streaming functionality enabled the shooter to have a far wider audience. Do we think he wouldn’t have murdered anyone if he was unable to live-stream? Longbow.

5. Gun laws – The NZ parliament is bound to pass stronger gun legislation in the next few weeks. New Zealand’s gun laws are far looser than Australia’s, however, despite there being far more guns in circulation per capita, the ratio of guns deaths was (prior to this incident) about the same. Do we really think the legalities of gun ownership are a factor in a murderous extremist’s decision to slaughter 50 people. Longbow and, unless there is a massive search and confiscate programme, pointless virtue signalling.

6. “Islamophobic” comments by politicians – Waleed Aly seems to conflate criticism of a violent interpretation of Islam with taking a gun to kill unarmed citizens. Longbow.

And then there’s this;

Internet service providers and mobile phone network operators took the decision to block a group of websites, ranging from a financial discussion forum (Zerohedge) to the home of those crazy 4Channers. Curiously, the ISPs all decided to do this together at the same time, almost as if they were instructed to do so.

As the screenshot above points out, these smaller players had a minimal percentage of the traffic of the killer’s video compared to Facebook or YouTube, yet these didn’t get banned.

I checked this for myself and can confirm that, for a while, the block was in place but could be bypassed by use of a VPN. The block has since been lifted.

In other more ridiculous news, there’s a push to rename the local rugby team, the Canterbury Crusaders, to something less offensive to the residents of the holy land circa 1095 to 1492. May I suggest The Canterbury Cucks?

Perhaps while they’re at it should they rename Saracens to something less offensive to people living in Spain in the 12th century and the Barbarians to a name that won’t upset the residents of Rome living there in the year 410?

Bill’s Opinion

Shutting down speech, particularly the blocking of internet discussion forums (I want to write “fora” but I know that makes me pretentious) is not a road we should travel any farther along.

The New Zealand government has already been tacitly involved in the de-platforming of Stefan Molyneaux and Lauren Southern and the Kiwi media were clearly incredibly biased in their interviews.

The Australian government has had three positions in as many weeks on whether or not Milo Yiannopolous would be granted a visa, despite allowing him to visit 2 years ago and, as far as I am aware, he’s not committed any criminal offences in the meantime.

Gavin McInnes and Tommy Robinson remained banned.

You don’t have to agree with anything these people say to question whether it’s a smart move to prevent the people who would want to listen to their views from doing so on Australian or Kiwi soil. They can still consume their output via the internet.

Blocking the websites where these views can be read or heard is impractical, as proven by use of a cheap VPN last week.

But, if you wanted to disprove the widely-held belief of the crazies that there’s a global conspiracy against them, private companies blocking websites would be about the worst possible action you could take.

I want these violent crazies to have a public forum to spout their views, for two clear reasons:

1. People who are sane can argue with them and show the insanity of their claims, and

2. If they’re speaking this shite in public we at least know who they are.

The alternative is that they go deeper down their rabbit holes and end up communicating via in game messages on Fortnite, private Whatsapp groups or a range of similar covert technology solutions. The conspiracy would be easily-believed by newcomers if that were to occur.

Finally, in all this blame-chucking, I’ve yet to see a single suggestion that there has been a failure of the domestic intelligence services. The killer was apparently prolific on the various Internet forums and platforms, what monitoring is in place to alert the security services of the threat? For fuck’s sake, it was all there in plain sight to anyone with a computer, they didn’t even need the police state internet snooping legislation of recent years to view it.

Don’t be evil (please define evil)

If you are ever in any doubt how bad an idea it is to simply accept the moderation and policing of content by large technology companies, compare and contrast their willingness to “deplatform” those who have the wrong opinions against this; Google and Apple have an app to help prevent Saudi women running away from home.

Nice.

In his recent interview with Joe Rogan, Jack Dorsey struggled to articulate Twitter’s policies on censorship.

On one hand, that’s an embarrassing admission for the CEO that he’s not across what is arguably the most controversial current issue facing his organisation. On the other, perhaps it’s an indication that the policy is more along the lines of, “whatever we decide it is at the time”.

Ultimately, the big technology companies, Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, etc., are private companies, nobody is forced to use their product and their terms of service are whatever they want them to be.

If Google wants to assist the Chinese government in monitoring its citizens, that’s Google’s business decision. Likewise, if Google and Apple are happy to host apps used by Saudi men to monitor their wives and daughters, fair enough. Obviously, we can judge them accordingly.

Bill’s Opinion

Morality is a moving target over time and geography. What was considered acceptable in 1909 or even 1969 is quite different in 2019. Just ask the US politicians who are being berated for costumes and comments being unearthed in their school year books by Offence Archaeologists.

Similarly, social attitudes in Saudi Arabia differ considerably with those elsewhere in the world.

The technology companies have to navigate these border differences. As individuals we also have the added risk over time; who knows today whether an anodyne social media post this year might be regretted if re-published in twenty years’ time? It’s tricky.

The technology companies seem to simultaneously want to pretend that they are simply dumb platforms, like the postal service or telephone carriers, yet kick off those deemed to be holding incorrect opinions. With such questionable views on what constitutes ethical behaviour, these platforms might not be the best places to store one’s data or express opinions that are outside of the norm.