Meghanivelli’s The Prince

Marry him or marry me

I’m the one that loved you baby can’t you see?

Ain’t got no future or family tree

But I know what a prince and lover ought to be

I know what a prince and lover ought to be

When is a prince not a prince?

This may be a silent question in many British minds currently.

When you “resign” from being a prince, do you cease being a prince?

What if we say you’re no longer a prince? Or the royal family say you’re no longer a prince?

Perhaps you cease to act in a way we would associate as “princely“? Still a prince?

Yes, probably.

Plato’s work on ideas and forms might help us here. Or, for those who are “bears of little brain“, like me, let’s think about my Grandad’s broom instead:

Grandad broke the shaft of the broom and replaced it. A few years later, the brush of the broom was too bare to be usable, so he replaced that. The broom was handed to my father who, in turn, had to replace the shaft and the brush a couple of times. I have the broom now and I’ve replaced both components too.

Is it still my Grandad’s broom?

As an idea, yes. As a form, no.

The British monarchy is something that doesn’t usually exercise my mind. When I think of it at all, I consider its current iteration as being of marginally more benefit than cost.

Why?

Similar to the way the US constitution uses the concept of God as a source of inalienable human rights, the UK unwritten constitution has evolved to view the Queen as the omnipresent benevolent figurehead, due considerably to her incredible personal discipline of keeping well out of matters of current affairs.

The corollary of this is the Napoleonic code in Europe, where human rights come from the government. Anyone who’s ever met a politician would find that concept repellent if they thought about it for a moment.

This burden of stoic and silent “duty” clearly sits uncomfortably on the shoulders of the following generation of royals. Charles has at various times expressed many half-baked opinions on climate, architecture, town planning and agriculture.

William wants us to stop having as many children as him, because he’s learned about Robert Malthus.

And Harry’s opinions are, well, whatever the fuck Meghan tells him they are.

Bill’s Opinion

“Prince” Harry is still a prince and, unfortunately for all of us, will be until and after he dies in a tragic road traffic accident on the way to the 2023 rugby World Cup final in Paris.

One has to have some sympathy for the fellah, though. Apart from the glaringly obvious massive privilege of his birth into a level of luxury and comfort us plebeians can only dream of, he was also handed the disadvantages of being a bit dim and ginger.

This seems like an impossible version of the game, “would you rather?”. Would you rather be poor and intelligent or massively wealthy and thick as mince? Tougher to pick than a broken nose.

Basically, he’s that mate you know who woke up one Sunday morning next to a “10” and then burned every bridge of friendship and family in order to keep her. Anyone who tried to suggest to him that her personality was attractive in inverse proportionality to her looks was ostracised immediately, preferably in a loud virtuous display to further prove his love and devotion to his girlfriend.

If the white Fiat Uno doesn’t get him on Le Peripherique, he’ll most likely top himself about three months after she grows bored of him. I’ll give it another two years, maximum.

“What about justice for the victim?”

For those of you (about half, looking at the stats) outside of Australia, a quick catch up on the background of this story:

It has been alleged a senior Federal Minister raped a girl in 1988. The woman committed suicide last year. The police have investigated the rape allegation and have found no evidence compelling enough to recommend prosecution.

Whatever the truth is, the situation is tragic. Tragic because a person was so disturbed they felt their only option was to end their life, and tragic because a man has a cloud of suspicion hanging over him but he and we have no way of seeking closure, either via a conviction of a crime or full exoneration.

Such is the imperfect world of criminal justice, unfortunately. That it happens all the time doesn’t make it any more tolerable, but there’s not a huge list of credible alternate systems with which we could replace the current version.

Many column inches have been partisanally hacked out on the subject, with the predictable red team/blue team split determining whether one is suddenly in favour of creating a shadow justice system or a moralistic championing of “the rule of law”. We could take these opinions seriously if they were in the context of a back catalogue of previously applying the same standard to their own side.

Very few, if any, are.

One such example is the TV appearance on ABC’s QandA of MP Anne Aly. She interrupted an opponent’s defence of the legal system with the words, “What about justice for the victim?“, scoring a solid 9/10 as a soundbite on the ABC’s show, which, as anyone who can tolerate watching it knows, is a show designed purely for soundbites rather than epistemology.

However, as a statement likely to take the sum total of human knowledge forward, it scores minus 1 million out of ten.

It’s a perfect example of the loaded question fallacy. The question assumes a crime has been committed and the victim is the female. Neither of which has been actually proven.

We expect our politicians, almost all of whom have no real world experience, to be partisan hacks. Their incentives are set to deliver such outcomes, so it’s unsurprising when we receive such mendacity.

What remains of journalism is delivering similar one-eyed tosh, too. Here’s one at the Grauniad which conflates three totally separate issues and ties them up with an obvious and predictable bow of duh patriarchy.

Humour me for moment as I lay out Katherine Murphy’s three unrelated topics:

1. Julia Gillard’s “misogyny speech” – more on this below.

2. A current ongoing rape investigation – let’s hope due process is followed.

3. An allegation from 1988 – the weak argument leaning on Le Coefficient de Gillard.

The Gillard speech is this particular type of journalist’s emergency grab bag whenever there’s a weak argument requiring support.

What they choose not to realise is the world divides into two groups;

1. People who think Gillard’s speech was analogous to MLK’s “I have a dream”, and

2. Those who saw it as a desperate ad hominem attack to divert from the awkward fact she was a dead duck PM relying on a highly compromised MP to cling to power.

Nobody in the history of the world has ever been convinced of an argument by being directed to Le Coefficient de Gillard.

Bill’s Opinion

Whilst legally obliged to vote in Australia, I choose to spoil my vote with increasingly realistic depictions of genitalia.

The reason for my conscientious objector status to casting a vote is because I am holding out for a voting option of a candidate who is willing to explain a standard and show they are prepared to hold their own side to it.

When they arrive on the ballot paper, I’ll vote for them.

In the meantime, if your view is, for this exceptional case of an allegation from the year before Taylor Swift and the entire cast of Hogwarts were born, we should suspend our justice system and do something else, perhaps you want to look around at your closest male friends and family and ask yourself, is this the future standard you want them to be held to?

Just expanding on this, do you want your father, brother or husband to be expected to resign from their job because of an unproven allegation from 32 years ago?

Alternatively, perhaps let’s accept the imperfect current system of criminal justice as the best we’ve found to date. If you have an alternative, you are more than welcome to describe it and start a movement to persuade us. Please keep Chesterton’s Fence front of mind if you do, though.

Jenna Hates MOPs

Today’s target of stern disapproval is a piece of legislation that performs no function other than enabling Ministers to hire staff.

The emerging facts as we know them:

Yet another Liberal Party staffer has alleged she was sexually assaulted by a parliamentary colleague, this time in Parliament House.

Yeah, that’s bad. It’s only 18 months since a similar alleged incident occurred in the offices of the same political party.

To be fair to Jenna Hates, she nearly continues along a non-partisan route of argument as if she might be interested in seeking truth:

Is the Liberal Party the worst workplace in the world? Is Labor any better? Can women only speak out after they leave?

That’s the second last time we hear about Jenna Hates’ side of the aisle though.

At the beginning of 2020, the Liberal Party released its National Code of Conduct, which insists any victim of criminal conduct should report the complaint to the police and parliamentary staffers should refer the matter to Parliament or government departments. Labor is in the final stages of updating its code of conduct and harassment policies and procedures. In its draft form, it at least says it will support the victim through the complaints process.

So, in summary; the code of conduct says “if the law is broken, tell the police“. Labor’s forthcoming version may add the coda, “and we will support you“. Lovely.

Jenna Hates seems to have also spotted a reversal of William Wilberforce’s famous campaign success:

Parliamentary staffers are the Uber drivers of the political process – they have no rights at work. They are hired and fired at the whim of the member of Parliament, under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act (MOPS).

The staff have no rights at work?

Wait. What??

What is this legislation that makes indentured labourers out of political staffers? Has anyone informed the UN or the International Court of Justice in The Hague?

This is the act of parliament she’s referring to. It may be worth a few moments of your time reading it (which would be more effort than Jenna Hates bothered to invest). The spoiler is, there’s nothing in the legislation giving immunity of prosecution for criminal acts nor overturning existing workers’ rights. It’s basically a vehicle allowing Ministers to use public funds to employ staff. That’s it.

Sadly, the premise Jenna Hates has wasted a column to assert is simply not true; the staff have all the protections any other junior employee has in the workplace.

The problem Jenna Hates has missed is these simply aren’t effective when very junior staff with huge ambitions are put in an environment with more senior staff with bad intentions and these two elements are mixed with alcohol. Taxpayer funded free alcohol too.

What has been alleged to have happened is simply what is always a risk in every workplace across the country when the edges are blurred between professional life and social life.

Bill’s Opinion

If Jenna Hates could think in a non-partisan way for just five minutes she would realise the alleged rapes and sexual assaults are not a problem unique to one political party, one parliament, one city or even just one country.

This is a uniquely human problem which can be reduced but is unlikely to ever be completely avoided.

If she were serious about preventing rape in the Federal Parliament, she’d write a column calling for an end to taxpayer funded parliamentary piss ups rather than trying to suggest the staff in Canberra are plantation workers being abused by the slave owners.

Then at least she wouldn’t be guilty of knowingly funding a rape culture with her taxes if that change were then to occur.*

* That’s a joke, I don’t really think she’s funding rapes, I’m just playing by her idiotic debating rules.

Everyone back in the trees!

Observed evidence suggests a possible hypothesis; in some pockets of the human species, evolution has stopped and has gone in to reverse.

The human species has reached a level of such great technological advance, the resulting inventions and indeed much of everyday life contains too much detail for the vast majority of people to fully comprehend. For many, it could be indistinguishable from witchcraft, to borrow a theme by Arthur C. Clarke.

This idea is neatly demonstrated by the excellent book and subsequent short animated video, “I, Pencil“. Although we take a pencil for granted, no one individual is capable of making one or even has the complete knowledge of how to make one.

Many of us are able to understand the principles behind much of the process though.

William of Ockham’s evolution in reverse hypothesis suggests we’ve left some people behind in this ability to understand complexity at a high level.

Today, I will offer two items of evidence for this but there will no doubt be plenty more over the coming weeks and months. Once seen, this phenomenon becomes visible everywhere.

Item 1: A CEO, whose entire business model is to offer sage advice to other organisations, couldn’t predict there would be any significant problems with paying exactly the same wage to every employee, regardless of age, skill level and skill value. In fact, the poor love seemed almost childlike in his wonder when he discovered a web developer in central London won’t work for the same wage as the office receptionist.

His brain hasn’t quite made the leap to the realisation other humans might have agency and will make choices that best suit their personal circumstances. Imagine reaching adulthood and not being even vaguely aware of that?

Item 2. A Senator of 14 years longevity in the Federal Parliament, who has spent her entire career sitting in vehement opposition to the government on the often inferred basis that it is a combination of corrupt, incompetent or even evil, believes a Government-developed internet search engine would be a useful project for taxpayer dollars.

This, despite the not entirely irrelevant facts there are already a dozen alternative free search engines which, between them, spend perhaps more than $3bn every year on research and development.

Yet she still believes we should trust the bureaucracy that brought you the NBN, CovidSafe App, expensive national firewalls to block websites such as PirateBay without understanding what a VPN is and countless examples of IT procurement and development with quadrupled budgets and minuscule realised benefits. This time they’ll get it right though, surely?

Bill’s Opinion

That they walk amongst us without their jaws wide open in amazement at the miracle of electric light bulbs, coffee machines, bicycles and adhesive stamps on envelopes, says much about these people’s lack of imagination or introspection.

Without getting all eugenics on the subject, it’s a bit of a worry for the species these genes are still washing around the system.

Somewhere in the world there is a tree working really hard. I think Calvin Benton and Sarah Two Dads owe it an apology.

Camembert Voltaire

I may disapprove of what you search, but I defend to the death your right to search it.
Evelyn Beatrice Hall
François-Marie Arouet
Voltaire
Guys, guys, let’s not break how search works.

I don’t know about you, but just like Voltaire, I’ve spent my life defending how search works.

It’s right up there in my list of priorities along with freedom of speech, the non-aggression pact and a commitment to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all.

After all, when I offer my friend directions to a coffee shop, it’s unreasonable for me to have to pay a fee to all of the other coffee shops they didn’t visit. Or at least I think that’s what she said whilst sincerely looking to camera.

If you can fake sincerity, you’ve got life sorted.

Bill’s Opinion

To summarise my earlier statement on this kitchen sink drama between Google, what remains of the Australian news industry and the government:

Two things can be true at the same time; Google can be a bunch of cunts and the Australian news industry can be a village populated by a collection of the entire nation’s village idiots.

I just don’t understand why we have to pay for either of those facts in a massively inefficient transfer of money via the Australian Tax Office.

Oh, and before anyone points out she was doing this media and Senate merry go round whilst heavily pregnant, I have been present at the birth of enough children to know there are plenty of women in this world who are equally, if not more, stunning and brave.

UPDATE: It’s been pointed out that the ATO aren’t involved in the proposed levy on Google, et al. It’s still not zero cost to the Australian public though, as new laws will need to be written and policed.

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.

The customer is always right

An interesting Twitter thread here on the subject of Chinese visa abusers students in an Australian university complaining about the subject material being taught.

This caught my attention for two reasons; firstly, it had never crossed my mind that, once reading the prospectus, applying and paying for the course, students would then vociferously petition to define the course material.

But the most instructive aspect of this is the reply by the University. Spoiler alert; it isn’t a single sentence along the lines of, “that’s what we’re teaching, if you don’t like it feel free to fuck off”:

To understand what’s going on with this story, you’ll need some specific Australian background. You can do your own research to confirm/reject these statements and, if you do, it’d be great to hear your conclusions in the comments:

Australia has been running two unofficial route to citizenship schemes for decades. The first is “457 visas” for IT workers where they are employed at lower than market rate until they achieve permanent resident status. In earlier times, this might have been called “indentured labour”. The second is a student visa whereby the children of rich foreigners with questionable qualifications and English language skills pay to attend a university course with the intention of staying long enough to achieve permanent resident status.

This has had the effect of keeping IT salaries lower than they might otherwise have been and inflating the revenue of the universities most guilty of turning a blind eye to non-bilingual students.

Following the events of 2020, these two industries are having to reassess this model.

Bill’s Opinion

The correct response from Monash should have been taciturn and Anglo Saxon. That it was a mealy mouthed equivocation tells us quite how reliant they are on the revenue being shipped in from mainland Chinese parents.

As the old axiom goes, “the customer is always right”.

Mostly peaceful

The online world is a bit of a dumpster fire this week, with everyone with an opinion feeling uninhibited enough to let us know their hot take on the situation, with the added not insignificant bonus of publicly demonstrating their virtue.

Careful observers with memories longer than a few months might spot some slight inconsistencies in these public opinions, however.

For example, those who are loudly proclaiming on their soshal mejia accounts the Trump supporters breaking into The Capitol was an attempted coup yet didn’t speak up against any of the following:

  • The four year campaign to impeach the President on the basis of an election “hacked” by Russia which, after an expensive taxpayer funded investigation, turned out to be a big nothingburger,
  • The nightly Antifa riots in Portland, the destruction of the city centre and the implementation of a lawless “autonomous zone”,
  • The nightly attacks on the Portland courthouse,
  • The invasion of the Senate by anti-Brett Kavanaugh protesters,
  • The riots across the USA and looting of department stores in the name of BLM,
  • BLM and Antifa threatening diners in restaurants and suburban residents in their homes.

Given time and motivation, we could continue to list multiple examples of illegal and violent protest over the last four years, and undertake the offence archeology on the accounts of those who were silent then, vocal now. People are doing this for high profile names such as Alexandria Occasionally Correct with amusing results.

But for the average person, you, for example, what’s the standard you’ve demonstrated? Have you applied the same principles when your team screwed up as when the other side did?

If you didn’t, what does that make you?

Bill’s Opinion

In the few jurisdictions where it still exists, your freedom of speech should be unaffected by your record of subjective and partisan commentary.

That statement notwithstanding, your inability to apply objective standards and principles and your lack of courage to do so in public massively reduces your credibility.

You may exercise your freedom of speech to attempt to persuade us that, despite the long history of coup attempts and successful coups around the world, an unarmed raggle taggle bunch of cosplay Davy Crockets entering a building is a clear and present danger to the world’s most powerful military force. We, however, will judge those twitterings in the context of your previously demonstrated commitment to consistency.

My view on the events in The Capitol are that it was illegal and the rule of law must be maintained. That was also my view on the looting during the summer of BLM, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, and all of the other illegal acts we witnessed last year but were given a free pass by many for reasons of political expediency.

I suggest this is a time for a long look in the mirror in case the Nietzsche quote applies to you:

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

…and don’t do it again!

…unless you want to.

Well, that certainly gave President Xi a piece of our mind. I hope he reads it carefully and has second thoughts about his nasty policy of reneging on the 50 year agreement to not impose Chinese legislation on Hong Kong.

One can only imagine the reaction in the inner circle of power in Beijing, they must be absolutely shitting their pants.

Well, imagine no further; we’ve been very fortunate to have access to a secret recording of President Xi’s reaction.

Helpfully, it has been translated for us by Kevin Rudd. Many of you may not be aware, because he doesn’t like to mention it, but the former Australian Prime Minister is fluent in Mandarin:

(Presidential aide passes the text of the Australian response to the arrests to Xi)

(Pause while he reads it)

(Xi scrunches the paper into a tight ball and aims it at the basketball hoop on his wall. Throws and gets it in).

President Xi: Three points! Yao Ming eat yer heart out!

Bill’s Opinion

In August 2019 I wrote about Australia’s quandary on how best to deal with China.

This piss weak response to a further incursion in to the freedoms of the Hong Kongers, supposedly protected under international law, tells us which side of the Chamberlain/Churchill spectrum the current Australian Federal Government have chosen to sit.

That’s fine, we can choose appeasement and cowardice if that’s what we feel is best for our interests. But let’s just admit it then, rather than pretending we’re some kind of moral arbiter and guardians of objective truth.

Without Chinese trade links, Australia is more fucked than a Wan Chai whore after a weekend when a US aircraft carrier has been in town.

They know that, we know that and they know we know that. Which means China can do what the fuck they like and we won’t lift a finger, except perhaps to wave a piece of paper thus:

Dine and discover unintended consequences

There’s a trial underway in New South Wales which apes Boris Johnson’s “Eat out to help out” stimulus from earlier in the year.

The NSW version is the “Dine and discover” programme.

It’s being trialled in The Rocks area of Sydney, later to be rolled out to the rest of the state.

It differs from the UK version however, as the business categories eligible for the stimulus are far greater, including “scenic and sightseeing transport”, “recreational activities such as go-karting, indoor climbing, mini-golf, billiards, bowling or ice-rinks”, “outdoor adventures”, and “travel agencies and tours.

Can anyone see a flaw in the scope of the trial and what do we think happens next?

Bueller? Anyone?

There are plenty of pubs and restaurants in The Rocks, but go-karting and outdoor adventures? Not so many. Similarly, there’s not a huge number of travel and touring businesses based out of the small historic part of Sydney.

Why is this a problem?

Well, what won’t be tested as these $25 vouchers are rolled out is whether there’s an opportunity for misuse and fraud.

Anyone who’s ever previously met another human will instinctively know the axiom, if fraud is possible and a large enough number of people are involved, fraud will occur.

Bill’s Opinion

It’s an absolute certainty there will be multiple cases of newly-registered or previously dormant businesses making a load of free money from innovative use of these vouchers.

At its simplest, a scam might simply launder part of the $25 back to the consumer, say, $20 in cash back to you while my “scenic tour business” pockets a fiver and nobody says anything.

More imaginative minds than mine will be working on various elaborate and profitable versions of this idea right now.

This is little league stuff compared with some of the Bernie Madoff-esque scams surely underway already in financial markets, though.

2021 is going to be the “everything bubble” party. Perhaps 2022 is when the hangover kicks in?