Westpac and O’Sullivan’s Law

If their social media profile is any measure of these things, one of the four main Australian banks, Westpac, is firmly in the vanguard of the Australian First Battalion of the Social Justice Warrior armed forces.

Their CEO, Brian Hartzer, is clearly one of the main drivers of this “progressive” attitude, witnessed by the following samples from his Creepbook for Business activity;

And this word salad that seems to be channeling Eric Morecombe’s line, “they’re all the right notes, just not in the right order“;

Some more virtue signalling that is surely guilty of cultural appropriation (or perhaps the drag queen beauty parade was ironically named after Islam’s holiest city?);

More here. No, really ladies, your promotion was entirely merit-based and not simply to hit Brian’s 50% diversity target;

We’re starting to run out of female leaders prepared to be touted as public examples so we’ll recycle a couple here;

And then we see something quite telling, hiding in plain sight, so to speak;

Actively and publicly supporting a political candidate (multiple times too) on the far left of the political spectrum. Well, that speaks volumes, doesn’t it? Obviously he’s allowed to have a personal political opinion but it seems mildly inappropriate to be expressing this in a work-related context.

However, he’s got form on this. Last year, during the same sex marriage referendum, Hartzer approved an SMS to be sent to all Westpac employees’ mobile phones encouraging to get out and vote “Yes”. Which, as measures of good shareholder value go, wouldn’t be top of the priority list, one imagines.

Similarly, Hartzer is happy to splash shareholders’ cash on rainbow lighting on the facade of the HQ during IDAHOBIT Day and have rainbow lapel pins handed out to his staff, none of whom feel at all intimidated or coerced into wearing them, I’m sure.

In a further example of Hartzer’s Olympic gold medal level of virtue signalling, the latest Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (h/t the Welsh Twinkie) with the staff include the following gems;

  • Time off for transgender transitioning, and
  • Time off for “Sorry Business”, i.e. Aboriginal staff can take leave because many non-Aboriginal Australians are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

Bill’s Opinion

O’Sullivan’s Law states that any organisation or enterprise that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time.

Westpac is the case study of this.

Let’s remind ourselves of the purpose of banks; they are to provide shareholder value by securely-holding deposits and prudently writing loans in as efficient a way as possible. Anything else is gravy.

How’s Westpac tracking against that mandate?

Here’s an example to consider; the New Payments Platform (aka Osko), a method to quickly transfer money using a short ID code, was widely launched last year in Australia.

How’s Westpac going with implementing it?

Oh. That’s awkward.

Every city or house divided against itself will not stand

A recent survey suggests that London might not be the swinging epicentre of liberal values that it once was.

How strange.

About 15 years ago, I was delighted to witness the work of the hilariously bipolar close-hand magician and foul-mouthed comedian, Jerry Sadowitz, at the tiny Soho Theatre. One of his throwaway lines was the following;

So anyway, I was drinking in a gay bar just round the corner last night. How did I know it was a gay bar? Well, it’s in fucking London, isn’t it?“.

That this joke is/was funny is testament to the national stereotype London has of being a centre for all manner of non-traditional non-conservative values and lifestyles.

Comedy is built on kernels of commonly-held axioms. In the recent past, London was universally thought to be the home of the freaks, the weirdos, the people on the edge of society. It was a place where one could go and be relatively safe from harm and avoid people who were harshly judgemental.

The survey suggests this is a memory now, not reality.

What might have caused this, do we think?

Two obvious explanations come immediately to mind, either;

1. The population of London has changed its opinion, or

2. The population of London has changed, i.e. there’s been a replacement.

There’s an hilarious clue in the survey’s narrative;

Or, in other words, “if we exclude everyone with a religious opinion from the data, the remaining people are just as tolerant as everyone else“.

Quite.

But apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy your evening at the theatre?”.

Bill’s Opinion

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that, when a city’s population has a large increase of a particular demographic with conservative religious views, they bring their opinions with them largely unchanged.

God only knows what I’d be without Zhou/Zhe/They

Picking holes in the belief systems of the religious is a fun but ultimately unsatisfying exercise.

By definition, faith doesn’t require empirical evidence. Therefore anyone with an enquiring mind can use the Socratic method to dismiss claims of the reality of reincarnation, prophets flying to the moon on winged horses or all animal life descending from ancestors saved from a flood on a boat.

We couldn’t let this pass, however; Episcopal Church considers making God gender neutral.

The headline is, in itself, amusing. Presumably God might have an opinion that should be considered by the committee, given that he/she/zhe will have to live with their decision?

I’m sure the church committee wouldn’t have phrased the headline in the same way so we won’t dwell too long on it.

Obviously the motivation behind this investigation is erm, something, something, blah, blah, diversity and inclusion.

One wonders whether there’s a a risk of a guest appearance by our old friend the law of unintended consequences, however?

Why?

Let’s look at the uneasy relationship the Christian faith has had with science, particularly evolutionary biology over the previous 159 years. There has been a cautious dance undertaken by people of faith to accomodate the increasing evidence that all life today is a result of millions of years of evolution and, therefore, the planet and all the beasties crawling on it wasn’t actually created in 6 days a few thousand years ago.

Somehow, otherwise intelligent senior members of the church have managed to negotiate a position whereby God still exists but the parts of the bible that seem to describe particular biological or geological situations that conflict with observed reality are to be taken as symbolism not “gospel truth”.

So, a gender neutral God, what’s the problem?

Firstly, perhaps we should remind ourselves of the evolutionary history and purpose of there being any genders at all. Put simply, having 2 distinct genders enables genes to be more effectively passed on to the next generation as new combinations will find evolutionary advantages that neither parent might have exploited with theirs.

Gender, therefore, is a function of reproduction.

A discussion about the gender of the creator of the universe and all life therein should also seek to answer what purpose the gender (or not) serves?

Does God reproduce sexually? If so, with whom? Mrs. God?

If God doesn’t need to reproduce sexually, then there’s no obvious use for a gender for God. Presumably this is going to be the crucial question the church committee pondering God’s gender has to get to grips with.

A supplemental question might be, “if God has a neutral gender, how might he/she/zhe reproduce?”. Presumably reproduction does occur by God as humans were made in their image (Genesis 1:27).

Bill’s Opinion

It might seem like a smart move to decree that the Christian God is gender neutral, but it risks opening up a much wider set of questions for which the church may struggle to find comforting answers.

Ultimately, the dogma behind most religions (probably all religions but I’ve not investigated every one) require a suspension of the use of logic and empirical evidence. Exposing logical fallacies with religion is therefore the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.

Surfism

Clementine “the other gift that keeps on giving” Ford directs her ire at professional surfing this week.

Obviously she doesn’t feel the need to write about this week’s survey that lists the worst countries to live in if one was female, Saudi Arabia’s recent relaxation of the laws banning female drivers or, I dunno, any other actual tangible, physical, systemic, legal abuse of women anywhere in the world other than western countries.

Nope, the worst thing in the world of wimmin this week was that there is a 100% differential between the prize money for male surfers and female surfers.

It’s a fact, there is.

Using our razor we might investigate the possible reasons behind this.

A material piece of evidence might be found by looking at the viewing figures for various surfing competitions. Helpfully, direct comparisons between the popularity of male vs female competitions can be seen in real time by simply looking at the ASP World Tour YouTube channel.

The contests are helpfully separated on the channel and by looking at the viewing figures below it’s obvious to anybody with a mind open to the possibility that not everything is sexist that the girls are getting a fraction of the eyeballs than the boys.

No, really. It’s about a tenth of the viewing figures for nearly every comparison made.

How might we explain this anomaly? After all, as La Ford points out, they’re surfing the same waves.

Perhaps the majority of viewers are women and they like to ogle at the chiselled and highly-skilled men? Well, no, this study suggests not.

So, if men make up most YouTube viewers and dominate the viewing figures for sport, why aren’t they watching the athletic, toned girl surfers?

This must surely be the mystery of our age.

Bill’s Opinion

The total consistency of a performance delta in Olympic records (and any other objective sporting test you might use) between men and women would suggest that, as with everything else, elite males are more competent at surfing than elite females.

The professional surfing bodies pay their staff accordingly.

Clementine Ford dislikes the reality of this situation and claims it is due to sexism.

Actually it is due to the biological fact that humans are a dimorphic species.

Facts don’t care about Clementine’s feelings.

Let’s keep it low key and not make a fuss, Darling

Second marriages tend to be understated events; both parties are older, wiser, more experienced and often are focussed on making the public commitment to each other in front of a small group of close friends and family. Unless one or both parties were widowed, there’s a recognition that the “to death do us part” element of the commitment isn’t quite as legally-binding as they may have thought during the giddiness of their first attempt at the ceremony.

Obviously, there’s always an exception to prove the rule. Witness; planning a non-binary wedding.

I couldn’t even pick a pronoun. How was I supposed to decide what costume to wear on one of the most important days of my life?’

Yes, you sound a real catch, nice and stable, a great choice for a long term life partner.

“I’m in a body that isn’t saying the right things. It’s not me,” I explained. “I feel like I’m wearing a rubber suit all the time and nobody can see me inside it.”
“I see you,” he said. I knew he did. I felt it.

Is it just me or does anyone else remember this Peter Cook line from the classic film, Bedazzled;

George Spiggott (the Devil incarnate): In the words of Marcel Proust – and this applies to any woman in the world: If you can stay up and listen with a fair degree of attention to whatever garbage, no matter how stupid it is, that they’re coming out with, ’til ten minutes past four in the morning… you’re in.

I’d recommend not reading the article and, let’s face it, it’s on the Guardian’s website, so few will but it continues in a very similar LOOK AT ME!!! theme;

When I walk down the aisle this time, in front of every person who knows me, it will be as someone who lives in their body. Not a bride on a cake, but as myself, a person who is too complicated for the simple rituals that are the pattern of our lives.

Let’s have moment’s silence for all those poor brides and grooms who were married as people not living in their body, but brides on cakes who sadly were commensurately-simple for those simple rituals.

No, I’ve no idea what any of that word salad means either.

Further ramblings and some pictures of a woman with a short hair cut can be found here.

Bill’s Opinion

There are few modern ironies greater than the fact that the only member of ZZ Top not to proudly display a beard is called Frank Beard.

However, the lack of self-awareness of people who angst about what their preferred pronoun should be is a close candidate.

The swimsuit issue

Reading or watching the news this week will have enlightened you with the fact that the Miss World competition is dropping the swimsuit element of the pageant and will be focussing instead on the achievements and character of the contestants rather than physical appearance.

….which is not dissimilar to existing competitions in the real world such as university entrance exams, job interviews, and other merit-based selection processes.

“How very progressive”, I don’t hear you say.

Of course, the coverage of the news aligns with whichever agenda the news outlet prefers to push; the NY Times piece linked above, for example, makes great mention of the female majority on the organisation’s board.

Statistics that seem to be lacking, on the other hand, include the viewing figures of the current competition. Perhaps my research is flawed but it would seem that, in the USA, only 172,000 tuned in to the 2016 broadcast, which is probably only a few more people than the extended families and friends of the contestants.

This chimes with the anecdotal experience too; think about it, have you ever had a conversation with a family member, friend or acquaintance about the Miss World competition? If so, was it at a time before or after the original Dukes of Hazzard tv series was still in production?

Bill’s Opinion

News articles helpfully informing us of changes to the Miss World competition format are about as relevant to most people’s lives as a 3 hour documentary on the relative merits of the viscosity of engine oil.

As for the future of Miss World now that the diversity balance has been addressed on the board, time will tell. It would seem that the prime objective of the competition (bringing an acceptable level of soft porn and glamour to mainstream TV viewing) has been somewhat usurped and trumped by the vast range of porn available on the internet.

Whether or not the competition can re-launch itself as a merit-based competition where physical beauty isn’t a factor will be interesting to observe, given that’s how most of the rest of human endeavour is judged anyway.

Of course, now that looks don’t matter, it surely won’t be long before the gender requirements will be challenged and dropped and the various attention-seeking types will enter the competition. A prediction for the archives; by 2025 a transgender person will be lauded for winning Miss World.

“Not diverse enough”

Have a guess what today’s headline is describing. Go on, give it your best shot.

We’ll start you off with a few options;

  • An exclusive golf club with an outdated dress code,
  • A 200 year old London gentlemen’s club,
  • The executive team running a FTSE100 company,
  • The government cabinet of ministers,
  • The shadow government cabinet of ministers,
  • The board of a charity with somewhat “progressive” credentials,
  • The nominees for a prestigious movie awards event,
  • Henry, the mild mannered janitor?

Nope, it’s the awfully-right wing London Pride carnival.

A quick history lesson for the younger readers; London’s “Pride” was originally “Gay Pride”, and started in 1972 on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village, New York. The riots were a response to Police brutality during a raid on a gay bar and are seen as a key pivot point for gay rights.

Language and definitions are useful milestones on the journey here. From the Wiki page on the Stonewall Riots (emphasis added);

Very few establishments welcomed openly gay people in the 1950s and 1960s. Those that did were often bars, although bar owners and managers were rarely gay. At the time, the Stonewall Inn was owned by the Mafia. It catered to an assortment of patrons and was known to be popular among the poorest and most marginalized people in the gay community: drag queens, transgender people, effeminate young men, butch lesbians, male prostitutes, and homeless youth.

All of those groups in italics were comfortable enough to be grouped as “gay” for the purposes of the subsequent civil rights activism which resulted in discriminatory laws to be repealed. i.e. the LGBTQI movement of today would have just the one one letter, “G”, back then and the “LBTQ and I” folk would have willingly got right behind it.

Bill’s Opinion

What started out as a civil rights movement in the 1970s has been incredibly successful. When the gay rights movement is compared with other civil rights struggles (Blacks in the USA, Catholics in Northern Ireland, for example), it’s clear that the key goals of the movement have been achieved in a remarkably short time period.

When many individuals can agree on a common goal, they naturally self-identify within a group; that’s the “gay” part of gay pride, an individual’s sub-category of gayness is less important whilst the main shared goal is still being pursued.

Perhaps though, when the shared goal has been attained and the consensus can’t agree on a compelling replacement, the group will fracture back down to the individual level. At the lowest level of analysis, we are all ultimately sitting in our own unique subset at the intersection of a myriad of Venn Diagram circles. Finding critical common unaddressed needs, gripes and complaints across very diverse individuals is actually quite rare in most circumstances.

The current trend is for this fracturing of previously large groups into much more tightly-defined smaller groups, hence the continued proliferation of letters each year on the LBGTQI continuum.

This should be actively encouraged by any sane individual who loathes identity politics because the natural end of the road for this trend is that we are all considered a minority; the individual is the world’s smallest minority.

Is “attention-seeking” a personality disorder?

The legacy media ™ newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald, continues its laudable campaign to help people with mental health issues by giving them a public platform to express their issues so that others might better understand the challenges they face.

Well, that’s one way of explaining why they arranged for a lengthy photoshoot to provide multiple “arty” photos for an article about Jess Hodak’s multiple personalities.

Apparently, her other personalities include an 8 year old girl, a middle-aged man and a wolf.

These multiple personalities and their random intrusions into her day to day life, coupled with the heavy medication she is prescribed, means that Jessica is unable to find work or hold down a job.

Presumably, her physical appearance might be a factor in some of those job application rejections too.

It’s interesting to note that, with a plethora of legislation available allowing health authorities and concerned family members to “intervene”, nobody has seen fit to request a restraining order against her preferred tattoo parlour. Also, how does a person with no income afford so much inkwork?

The video of Jessica’s 8 year old personality is particularly interesting. One wonders whether this sketch show character provided partial inspiration;

What do we think; is it more or less likely that her symptoms will reduce following an extensive photo shoot, video and detailed story about her in a nationally-syndicated newspaper?

Bill’s Opinion

Jessica clearly has a lot of issues to deal with, not least of which is an overwhelming desire for attention.

It is not sympathetic to a fragile and distressed individual to glamorise the consequences of their condition by treating it like a fashion show. It’s actually a reprehensible and egregious abuse of power with the sole motivation to drive eyeballs and clicks to their website.

But then, this is the same media outlet that believes President Trump was stigmatising those suffering from dementia by calling the Las Vegas mass-shooter, “deranged”, which makes one wonder what adjective is allowed to be used to describe someone who murders 59 people with no apparent motive?

Luke Sayers – 100% inclusive

We’re all different.

We’re all equal.

Only one of these statements can be correct.

If I differ from you in ability to sprint the 100m, let’s say it takes me 15 seconds whereas you can cross the line in 12, we’re not equal in our ability to run the 100m. We are different, diverse, perhaps.

Should I be disbarred from entering sprint competitions? Of course not.

Will I win one? Unlikely.

Consider Luke Sayers, replete with ribbon, CEO of PwC Australia, then;

What we’re trying to do at PwC is be 100% inclusive“.

Here at William of Ockham, we like precision of language. If we can agree on definition, we can start to sift through the noise to the truth.

So what might “inclusive” mean and, therefore, what would a totality (100%) of it look like?

Judging by this video and this statement on the corporate website, it means future partner admits will be 40% male, 40% female, 20% either male or female (cynically, that gives Luke an “out” to make it almost 60% male). It also means 20% of future partner admits will be from a “diverse cultural background“, rising to 30% in 2020.

What qualifies as a “diverse cultural background“? No definition is available. To repeat, without an agreement on definitions, we can’t find the truth. Is an ex-pat Harvard-educated Anglo-Saxon male called Bradley diverse enough for Australia, perhaps? What about a Parisian, educated at the Sorbonne? Tssk, those pesky definitions, eh?

There’s also a commitment to hiring people with disabilities, which was really the main focus of the video, but tellingly, no tangible metrics on that promise. Nothing about the ratio to be employed, nothing about their pay relative to their peers.

The chap in the video, Jeremy Kwok, has a vision disability. Given that a large component of the work of a corporate tax analyst and any other field of accountancy is analysis of financial data in spreadsheets, and that an ability to rapidly assess information on a screen is a foundational part of that work, how efficient is Jeremy compared with a hypothetical peer who has equal abilities in all other aspects? Would we expect them to be paid equally?

Does PwC pay Jeremy the same as his fellow graduates? We aren’t told.

Back to our original question. Perhaps being inclusive is to give a job to Jeremy, a person who, through no fault of his own, will never be able to glance at a spreadsheet and make an efficient analysis of the most appropriate course of action (which, as a client being billed by PwC by the minute, I’d desire) as quickly as a fully-sighted peer, but that job is paid at a lower rate?

What might 100% inclusive look (excuse the pun) like then? In the absence of definitions and metrics from PwC, one could be tempted by both the Strawman and the Slippery Slope fallacies here. For example, perhaps PwC are intending to offer jobs to every type of physical and mental disability such as those poor souls suffering in persistent vegetative state? Of course not. So is that being 99% inclusive then?

What of the 20% culturally diverse partners? Diverse from what, exactly? Being Australian? That should be a facile achievement given that 26% of the population in 2016 was born overseas. Again, for a firm that makes its revenue from counting numbers against defined rules, it is being very imprecise in its own backyard.

Bill’s Opinion

Luke Sayer is unable to articulate the concepts he is espousing in a way that most of the audience will understand. This might be for one of several reasons;

  1. The message is far too complicated for most people. In which case, why bother trying to explain it on a slickly-produced corporate video?
  2. He, and all of the corporate marketing team are incompetent and couldn’t distill the information into a precise message.
  3. It’s a flawed strategy that hasn’t been fully-thought through. The sentiment might be noble but the implementation requires far more introspection, analysis and a more honest assessment of what is feasible.

 

Occam’s Razor suggests option 3.

Poor old Luke. He’s confused feelings for facts and it’s made him feel warm and loved.

So, this song by his namesake is for him (replete with a chord progression plagarised from Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat).

https://youtu.be/uXNjMTTW58U