Race ya!

We have a classic good news/bad news tale for you today.

Good news: the number of Australian Aboriginal people on the national census has doubled in 20 years.

Bad news: it’s probably not because there’s many more Australian Aboriginal people.

First of all, as with all surveys, the question asked is critical:

Rather than the current question – which asks respondents whether they are of “Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin” – he wants the ABS to ask: “Are you a verified or authenticated Aboriginal person?”

Verified or authenticated. Is it just me, or does anyone else feel mild discomfort at the thought of having to prove one’s ethnicity and receive an offical confirmation?

I feel certain we’ve seen that in the past and it never really ended well.

There’s a few contradictions the linked article chooses not to discuss.

An obvious one springs from these two paragraphs (bold, mine):

Bronwyn Carlson, the head of Indigenous Studies at Macquarie University, said there was no need for a “fury of panic” about the increase in Indigenous self-identification.

….It was only later in life, after researching her family history, that she wholeheartedly embraced her Aboriginal identity.

Am I reading that correctly? A person who didn’t previous realise they were Aboriginal now heads up an academic department studying matters Aboriginal? Was there no suitable applicant who was actually, y’know, raised in an Aboriginal family?

Not to labour the point, and I know one doesn’t need to be Greek to study the ancient Athenians, but it does feel like Macquarie Uni missed a golden opportunity for affirmative action in recruiting that job.

Another contradiction is the often raised subject of the historic and, sometimes claimed, ongoing genocide of this group of Australians. It’s hard to reconcile this with a doubling in 20 years of the same demographic. Perhaps this is explained by the third contradiction;

If being Aboriginal is to guarantee a life of persecution and discrimination, why are so many more people identifying as such?

Bill’s Opinion

Incentives matter. Ask Bill Pascoe.

If we legislate by ethnicity, we will eventually have to have the uncomfortable discussion about definitions of race. That will lead inevitably to definition of gradients of the ethnicity and creation of methods to prove it.

Play that movie to the end for me, please.

Can you name the crime?

If the Sydney Morning Herald editors want to outsource some work to me, I believe I can evaporate ridiculous columns like this one down to just the facts with a simple question, such as today’s title; can you name the crime?

Don’t bother reading the piece, the alleged crime isn’t described. Just a lot of Orange Man Bad guff.

To be fair to the bloke with the unfortunate name, he smuggled of a lot of this filler past the editors over the last few years, so he’s not been given any opportunity to learn from the grownups in the room:

Can you see a theme emerging here?

Bill’s Opinion

Imagine being this obsessed with Donald Trump. What must the inside of that head be like?

He gleefully tells us this one-sided process (when will the case for the defence be heard?) in Washington will result in Trump’s impeachment, but doesn’t complete the sentence, “…for the crime of <insert the name of a broken law>”.

It’s terrible to see a person captured by an obsession to the point their personal case of mind projection fallacy bleeds in to their professional life.

Accepting that how you want the world to be isn’t how the world probably is is an important step towards achieving inner calm.

Je suis un a former arts editor and assistant managing editor of National Public Radio in Washington.

Je avais un residence. Je habiter la A la south of France. Voulez vous partir with me?

1st world lethargy

Lethargy (noun)
A lack of energy or vigor; sluggishness.
A lack of interest or enthusiasm; apathy.

Seems apt for a first world country facing power cuts.

This, in a county with 2 million tonnes of uranium sitting under the soil. Or about 3.000 years’ worth of energy at today’s rate of annual demand.

But here we are, facing the risk of power cuts in a country claiming to be close to the peak of technological development and collective intelligence.

Surely there’s a typographical error, the sub editor must have missed an auto-correct replacement of “Australia” for “Afghanistan” or “Angola”.

Regular visitors to these infrequently-updated pages (yeah, I know; life has been busy) will know I don’t want or expect much from my governments; secure borders, rule of law, national defence and, if the government feels it must interfere in the provision of the utilities of water and power, keeping the bloody lights on.

If the government can’t even do that, what is the point of having one?

Seriously, if you one day find yourself with the job title of Prime Minister or Premier and the lights go out on your watch, perhaps consider firing every Diversity and Inclusion Officer, cancelling the budget for every Christmas party and closing every department not focused on the aforementioned core business of secure borders, rule of law, national defence and keeping the fucking lights on.

Bill’s Opinion

Australia is likely still 10 years away from breaking ground on its first nuclear power plant. So brace yourself for eye-watering energy bills, wearing a lot of layers in the winter and sitting around in air conditioned shopping malls in the summer.

The unintended consequence of not confronting transgender kids

The trans nonsense became very real for my family recently. Fortunately my family are all sane and safe, but a peer of one of my children took her own life last month.

Anyone who has experienced a suicide will know the incredible reach of utter devastation it delivers to everyone touched by it, regardless of family connection or closeness of relationship to the person. Everyone in the wider community is impacted and left with unsettling questions and emotions.

I will try to keep the details as generic as possible; it’s going to help nobody if this random corner of the internet can be traced back to the dead child.

The child who committed suicide “identified as transgender” from the age of 12. She changed her first name and required use of grammatically incorrect pronouns.

Her parents, the high school, and the medical professionals went along with this charade for two years.

In fact, in a private conversation with the High School Principal last year, I realised it was a source of professional pride that the high school had a “trans” student. Let me stress that; rather than expressing sympathy for a young person in their charge who was clearly demonstrating mental illness, the School Principal was happy to boast about the situation as if it was progress.

This is the same High School Principal who, in an email to me, suggested I give one of my children a mobile phone to take to school as “it’s not great for kids to stand out as different” when I complained that my child was annoyed there was nothing to do at lunch and break time because all their peers were glued to their phones (most of which had completely unrestricted access to every possible internet site), so wouldn’t talk or play.

Around this time, the school LGBTQ Pride Club was established, with a teacher supervising the lunchtime meetings and free biscuits on offer to those who attended.

Shortly afterwards, other pre-pubescent girls in the school announced themselves to be transgender.

Now, the tragedy has occurred and everyone is running for cover.

Bill’s Opinion

When we send our children to school, we do so with the primary expectation they will be physically safe and the secondary expectation they will not be subjected to experiences negative to their mental well-being.

Receiving an education in core subjects such as Maths, Science and English” seems to have become a far distant third priority these days.

Increasingly, it seems not even these two basic expectations are being met. if this were the case, perhaps a grown up might have said, at any time in the last two years, “no, you aren’t transgender; you were born a girl, will remain a girl throughout your life and, if an archaeologist digs your remains up a thousand years from now, they will immediately recognise your body as being female”.

Language has been bastardised too. Forget the current pronoun lunacy; “suicide” is now a verb, as in, “to suicide” or they “suicided”.

What was it before? “To commit suicide”. Why? Because it is a sin; someone has sinned and the result is a lost life. It is a failure of some kind, not simply an inevitable consequence of announcing one’s new pronouns and gender. We should not accept this premise and we should not accept the false logic that confrontation with reality will harm people living a fantasy; we have the proof neither route works perfectly, so choose truth.

Throughout the last two years, several people with a duty of care have failed to divert this child’s attention from negative opinions on the internet, otherwise the 12 year old wouldn’t have randomly discovered the concept of transgender and wouldn’t had found a route to sell nude photos of herself online to fund puberty blocking drugs.

The clues were there should the activist teaching staff had bothered to have looked. They might have heard about Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria and realised that more than one trans child in a school of 1,000 students is a statistical improbability. There were none in my school when I was growing up, as I’m sure there weren’t in yours either. There were plenty of kids who later turned out to be homosexual and very happy in their adult lives, however.

There are people in our community who are culpable for these failures. Let me list the main failures so, should they read this, they can assess whether they own any:

  • Unrestricted internet access for children.
  • Unrestricted use of screens in break time and at lunch at school, rather than physical interaction.
  • Treating mental illness as trivial and “going along with” unrealistic world views as if they were based on fact.
  • Establishment of a school club for 12 year olds based on sexuality and unrealistic opinions on gender when there are another four years until the age of consent for any sexuality, gay or straight.

If you were involved in this person’s short life, perhaps ask yourself the question, “Consider the possibility that, rather than being kind, you made things worse by agreeing with rather than confronting her fantasy. What if she was just gay? Or even maybe a David Bowie Ziggy Stardust era fan who’d eventually evolve to The Let’s Dance album?

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.

Hi ho Silver! Away!

The Lone Ranger famously used a cunning disguise in the form of a mask over his eyes, causing such confusion that bad guys had no chance of ever discovering his real identity of Texas Ranger, John Reid.

As you can see in the photo above, this was completely effective and not at all a rubbish cinematic device which required the complete suspension of belief by the audience to enjoy the show.

Similarly, in those jurisdictions where we’ve “been given our freedoms back” (and what a godawful phrase that is to utter in a country governed by Common Law and a history which includes the various iterations of Magna Carta) there are still plenty of not so Lone Rangers walking amongst us with the flimsy light blue paper over their mouth and nose.

Unusually for these times, I’m of the view people are allowed to make their own health choices, and my opinion of the efficacy of these decisions is and should be entirely irrelevant to them.

If only others would afford me the same courtesy, heh?

My opinion may be irrelevant to these mask wearers and I’d never be so gauche as to confront anyone over these facial nappies (“diapers” if you’re from the former colonies).

But it does leave me with some unanswered questions though. I genuinely would like to learn the answers, so if you are still performing the Covid holy communion of applying a face mask when you are out and about, I’d appreciate it if you could comment below.

Specifically:

Do you have an underlying health condition requiring the mask, and if so, wouldn’t it be safer for you to stay home?

Do you use the medical standard N95 version? If not, why not?

What’s your best estimate of the marginal additional percentage protection your mask confers? 90%? 5%?

What data point would make you consider reverting to the mask free life?

Do you think that data point will ever be achieved or is this a permanent part of your routine now until the end of your life?

Bill’s Opinion

I don’t understand the reasons for continuing to wear the masks. Perhaps I would be persuaded by the arguments for it but these are presumably unique to the individual.

In my mind, it almost falls in to the category of neck or facial tattoos; I’m sure you have reasons, I just can’t think of what they might have been.

The critical question must surely be, what is the data point required to stop wearing them? I honestly hope they’ve thought about the answer to that question otherwise we would have to assume a terrible failure of cognition and agency by somebody whom we might have previously thought to be sentient.

Anyway, for the current time, we are back to a situation where personal choice is a thing again. Enjoy it while it lasts.

I’m every woman

The 2022 version of the classic false premise question, “when did you stop beating your wife?” is:

What is the definition of ‘woman’?

Hilariously, it’s catching out all sorts of people. To be fair to the left wing politicians and Supreme Court nominees, it is an absolute gotchya question, designed to trip you up.

The two popular answers are, “adult human female” and “anyone who identifies as a woman”, and either will get you into huge trouble on social media and neither are particularly satisfactory.

The first is somewhat circular as it relies on another inferred definition, “female”. What’s a woman? It’s a female. What’s a female? It’s a woman. Turtles all the way down.

The second makes the usual error of the left-leaning in that it assumes we can over-rule or or completely discount human nature and response to incentives as a factor. Probably a billion family trees have ended abruptly due to that mistake and several women have been raped in female only prisons in the last few years for the same reason.

The husband and wife biologists on the Dark Horse podcast have an interesting discussion on their latest episode where they explore the underpinning biological reality of sex in our species and others. It’s an educational chat and debunks some of the more insane hot takes to be found on the digital Beldam that is social media. But it still misses the mark.

What we need is a pithy, definitive reply to the question. One that deals with the existence of the extremely rare genetic mutations we class as intersex and the increasingly vocal category we used to categorise as gender dysphoria but now call “stunning and brave” and invite into primary schools to read stories to pre-pubescent children.

Bill’s Opinion

The correct answer when asked the question, “what is the definition of ‘woman’?” is, in the words of Justice Potter Stewart:

I know it when I see it”.

Remember our handy heuristic; If you find your inner voice saying something along the lines of, “Christ, that’s an ugly man/woman“, it’ll be because they aren’t.

Use that as the basis of your response. Trust the tools evolution has equipped you with. If someone wants to play language games with you, put it back to them; “show me a picture of someone whose sex is unclear to you and I’ll try help you work it out for that specific case”.

Of course, this answer is probably more helpful to those who’d normally answer, “adult human female” than the other answer, but I’ll put it out there for royalty-free usage anyway.

If jealousy burned calories

…we’d instantly solve quite a few people’s major life issues.

But sadly, the effort expended on envious feelings is neither material nor measurable. This is both good and bad news for Mary Madigan, freelance writer for Mammamia (now there’s a career path to infinite riches!).

Good news because she can get a couple of hundred dollars knocking out heartfelt columns about why we shouldn’t celebrate an obese celebrity losing a lot of weight. Bad news, because Mary is burning emotional energy being bitter over other people’s good fortune, and even more mental energy avoiding reflecting on poor life choices she has made.

The back story is a minor Australian celebrity (if that isn’t a tautology), Chrissie Swan, dropped a wheelbarrow load of weight recently and has been congratulated by lots of commentators. Her Instagram feed has a flood of positive comments, many of which are middle aged men who’ve suddenly decided she’s hot.

Our “plus sized” columnist takes issue with their sudden change of opinion. Chrissie was always attractive, she claims. It’s a backhanded compliment to suggest she’s now looking great, according to our self-appointed moral arbiter.

Context is everything, of course.

This is Mary:

This was Chrissie Swan:

This is Chrissie Swan now:

I’m sure we can all agree on what a terrible and destructive transformation she’s inflicted on herself.

The feedback from Mary’s syndicated article was predictable. By which I don’t mean lots of stupid people went on the internet and called her rude names but that she would feign shock and surprise at this reaction and then post a self-obsessed semi-naked picture on Instagram affirming to herself how gorgeous she is and her superiority in the victim olympics.

It’s been a very tiring week because my inbox got flooded with abusive messages after an article I wrote for Mamamia got picked up by The Sun & New York Post. Obviously, when men attack women on the internet the insults are always about your looks. Fat, unattractive, unfuckable…. It’s unoriginal but it did make me feel sad but then I remembered I’m gorgeous and now I’m back.

Bills Opinion

There is no problem with Chrissie Swan’s weight loss. We celebrate it because, as decent human beings, we give positive feedback to obviously good life choices made by others.

It’s a social contract; we tell each other what we’re doing well and try to kindly point out areas for improvement.

If Mary doesn’t like that social contract, it’s incumbent on her to describe the alternative system she would suggest we employ.

It’s always dangerous to attempt to diagnose mental illness from a distance but it’s clearly an unhealthy thought process to convince oneself being grossly overweight is somehow a positive choice.

Would Mary sympathise with 500 words written by a chain smoker trying to convince us it’s wrong to celebrate someone giving up the cancer sticks?

Perhaps it’s just the sunk cost fallacy to wish to convince other people of these illogical views. In addition, the editors of the publications paying for these columns are encouraging negative health outcomes by printing it. Perhaps the editors are analogous to the circus ringmasters introducing the freak show exhibit.

It’s as if we are being asked to casually put aside several million years of evolution and consciously ignore the instinctive mental rank order sorting of other humans by attractiveness. Perhaps that’s possible, but the clever money and every sexual interaction in the history of the planet suggests the exact opposite is more likely.

This denial of reality can be neatly explained by Sailer’s first law of female journalism:

The most heartfelt articles by female journalists tend to be demands that social values be overturned in order that, Come the Revolution, the journalist herself will be considered hotter-looking.

More chins than the Hong Kong phone directory…..

Retired-Dictator Island (“ze plane! ze plane!”)

Is the lack of retirement options for murderous dictators perhaps one of the world’s least talked about but most obvious and destructive problems?

Sure, extra-judicial killing of problem journalists and political opposition is firmly in the “not nice” category, but if these crimes then lead a dictator into believing he (for they are nearly always male – New Zealand and Queen’sland notwithstanding) has no feasible chance of retiring in peace with their ill-gotten billions, then they will feel forced to double down and continue on their murdering trajectory.

Let’s consider a few “sliding doors” thought experiments from the recent past:

Bashar Hafez al-Assad

If Assad had been offered a Learjet and a couple of military transport planes, escorted by NATO jets, to evacuate his family and trinkets to a well-defended tropical island in early 2011, perhaps the Syrian Civil War might have been avoided, or at least have been shorter in duration and with less devastating human cost?

Robert Mugabe

He held a firm and stifling grip on Zimbabwe for decades longer than probably he or any of his original supporters would have wanted. But he stayed stubbornly in power, destroying the country’s society and once-thriving agricultural economy in the process.

In reality, he probably felt trapped in the job; stepping down and enjoying a long and quiet retirement would have seemed to have a low probability of success.

Far better, perhaps, for a deferential court official from The Hague to have sought a private counsel with him where he obsequiously offered a golden ticket on The Retired-Dictator Express to a luxury resort with courtesans, chilled Krug on free pour and a lifetime guarantee of immunity from prosecution.

Muammar Gaddafi

One imagines Gaddafi would have grabbed that golden ticket if it were offered in late 2010 but, instead of playing squash on Tuesday evenings with Bashir al-Assad, 18 months later he ended up with a bayonet suppository and an uncomfortable final rideshare in an Uber Toyota Landcruiser.

Bill’s Opinion

A Chinese proverb tells us, “He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount“. Perhaps that’s what it’s like in the latter stages of the job of dictator? You had to make some tough decisions, you broke a few eggs to make the omelet, but now the popular support has atrophied and your once-secure position is feeling a little less permanent.

The problem is, your options are often limited to a long stretch in a cell in The Hague, extra-judicial execution Ceausescu style, cyanide pills with Eva Braun or doubling down and shooting anyone who looks even mildly disapproving of your decisions.

The relative cost to the world of housing these people with immunity from prosecution on a five star luxury island resort with a permanently-enforced 100km radius no fly/no sail zone would be trivial. The UN could diarise an annual diplomatic visit with a reminder of the open invitation to skip town before things got too hot.

Imagine the internet meme fun we could have sending fake invitations to Justin Trudeau, Jacinta Adern and Mark McGowan:

Congratulations Justin! You’ve finally made it into the world’s most exclusive club. A military transport plane will be waiting for you at Ottawa international airport at 21.00, bring as much gold as you can carry. Please advise us of your ‘plus one’ as soon as possible so the appropriate immunity from prosecution paperwork can be quickly lodged“.

Of course, there is a risk that the prospect of an all expenses retirement might incentivise the opposite outcomes of those we desire. In much the same way there was a definite business model in the early 2000s of creating an Internet start-up without needing to turn a profit, but just get noticed by Google, or the way Australian microbreweries seem to only aim to become popular enough to be bought by one of the members of the brewing duopoly, perhaps we might find nascent dictators pop up with the express intention of getting that coveted invitation.

Regardless, the lack of retirement plans for dictators remains a global concern.

(Full disclosure; this not an original thought – I recall hearing Scott Adams mention the lack of retirement options for dictators being a problem)