Masquerading as the enemy of the people

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

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

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

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

How do I know most Australians feel this way?

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

Hold that thought in your head for a moment.

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

Would it look something like this?

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

Nation building stuff, eh?

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

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

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

Bill’s Opinion

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

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

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

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

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

Jenna hates….. the free speech of

….MP Craig Kelly.

Jenna Hates has been given the keys to the Sydney Morning Herald Grievance Vehicle again this week.

Today’s subject of her trademark bitterness and hatred is an MP whose views she can’t stand.

Jenna and I have much in common in that regard, she’s just more discriminatory than me as I can’t stand the views of all MPs.

One of Mr. Kelly’s constituents has decided to undertake a personal project of offence archeology and, helpfully, our resident academic, Jenna Hates, has convinced a national newspaper it’s interesting enough to publish. No, really.

Tom Kristensen is a landscaper, artist and just owner-built a house in Hughes. But sometime in 2019, he turned his mind to local politics. Not to stand for election, no way, he’s never been a member of any political party, too sceptical.

But his local member had started to use Facebook to spread messages which the ecology graduate knew were not based on any kind of scientific evidence. Kristensen got busy. He decided to note and analyse every single Facebook post on Craig Kelly’s page, its topic, its style of writing and its image.

…. as any reasonable person would do….. if they were OCD.

Also, “not based on any kind of scientific evidence” just slipped in there without a supporting description of the method used to come to that conclusion. We mention this because the word “any” is doing a lot of heavy lifting.

Jenna Hates helpfully reminds us of the peer review process or lack there of:

This isn’t for academic research. It is to save the nation from his dangerous conspiratorial and anti-science influence. His job is to represent his community. What he is actually doing is misleading his constituents, misrepresenting science, endangering lives.

We do love a good blood on their hands accusation.

What conspiracy theories is he peddling?

The worst seems to be the false flag theory about last week’s attack on The Capitol. Yeah, that’s pretty daft, particularly from someone who is an elected official. I’m not sure how it risks the lives of Australians though.

The other two themes Jenna Hates, erm, hates, are his suggestion that two existing approved drugs might be used as pharmaceutical treatment for the Kung Flu ‘rona.

Again, unless he’s able to influence the medical profession into prescribing these, it’s just words.

Of course, we could have predicted Jenna’s preference on how to deal with Kelly, it’s a shame the bookies aren’t taking bets. Spoiler alerts, it doesn’t involve presenting counter evidence and debating him or getting up off her arse and actively campaigning for an alternative candidate:

It is such a shame we don’t have a code of conduct for parliamentarians, or an Australian Federal Integrity Commission, which perhaps could punish behaviour like this and send those responsible to Siberia (looking forward to the debate in parliament this year).

Hands up who thinks she’s only partially joking about Siberia?

Bill’s Opinion

For the record, I have no opinion on Craig Kelly as I avoid reading about Australian politicians as much as I possibly can, mainly due to the obvious fact they are stupid at best but usually with the added bonus quality of venality.

I also don’t know whether the two drugs listed reduce the impact of the virus or not. I’m willing to bet neither do you or Jenna Hates. I’m certain Kelly hasn’t a Scooby Doo.

Why don’t we know? Because they’ve been politicised. If you mention them, you will be labelled a conspiracy theorist and dangerously right wing.

In a world other than the Clownworld we’re currently inhabiting, existing approved pharmaceutical therapies for conditions adjacent to the virus would be taken through objective scientific enquiry and the results published for the medical profession to assess. If they prove effective, we’d all be happy. If not, we’d shrug and move on.

In 2021, however, we talk about shutting down the speech of those who suggest such a thing.

2021 already looks like its theme will be authoritarianism.

Jenna hates… fireworks

It has become obvious to me we need a new category here; Jenna hates…

Unfortunately, the Sydney Morning Herald’s readership has declined in recent years so the original opinion pieces by Jenna Price don’t receive the widespread acknowledgment they deserve. We hope to rectify this by providing a summary here to give her the audience she so richly deserves.

This week’s insight into the mind of a visiting fellow at the Australian National University and a regular columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald won’t disappoint:

There is no justification for having New Year’s Eve fireworks, none. Not this year, not any year.

I agree, utter waste of taxpayers’ money.

Years ago, I felt differently. I would take my children down to the nearest view of soaring Catherine wheels, of sparkling flowers and hearts. One year, we even ventured down to the Rocks. It was awful. Drunken brawling, men catcalling my not-yet-teenage daughters, all for the best possible view of six million bucks going up in smoke.

Why on earth would you take kids younger than 13 to a location where people do pub crawls on stag nights… at midnight? Talk me through the thought process resulting in that parental decision.

Not that we mere mortals ever get the best possible view. That’s reserved, this year more than others, for those with real estate privilege: Green Zoners, those who live or have a reservation in the CBD or the lower north shore of Sydney (that bit’s not too far from plague central also known as Avalon) will have access to city venues with “valid passes”; Yellow Zoners, those who live a little further out, can go hell-for-leather, untethered, unmasked, unsurveilled and a danger to all. Pyrmont Park and Potts Point will each have to be renamed Peril Park.

Envy is the ugliest of emotions.

This is what real estate privilege does for you; Gaia knows who has those reservations to swanky harbourview restaurants and berths in CBD boltholes but my money is on some of Daryl’s mates or similar, developers of one kind or another, various tollroad builders, airport establishers, G8way to heaven, United World Enterprises, icare or some other bit of dodgery.

Real estate privilege.

165 million Bangladeshis would like to have a word with you about your real estate privilege, Jenna.

Good move to cancel the acknowledgment of frontline workers with a front-row seat at the fireworks. Let’s acknowledge them the best way possible. Give them a bloody pay rise, all of them.

Beautiful virtue signal there; pay other people more of other people’s money.

The recent behaviour of those in Sydney during COVID-19 times has confirmed for me that the government should cancel the fireworks this year. It’s Christmas Day at Bronte Beach and idiots are cavorting in board shorts and Santa caps, chanting at the top of their lungs as if we don’t potentially have the plague on every breath. The Sydney Fish markets attempted to pull itself together on Christmas Eve by taking temperatures and enforcing QR check-ins, but it didn’t insist on masks. Attending police tried to persuade but weren’t wearing masks themselves. My favourite fishmonger didn’t even have staff wearing masks. Not too many masks at the Hillsong light display in Bella Vista, even fewer at Westfield Parramatta.

There were seven cases in NSW yesterday after over 300,000 have been tested this week.

7/300,000 x 100 = 0.0023% of the people who thought they might have the virus. As a percentage of the population of the state, that’s 0.00009% with a virus that 99.97% of people fully recover from.

Perhaps people see those odds and feel it’s an acceptable risk, Jenna?

But while it is true that we have many excellent citizens who had had their swabs, that’s more of an “ohmigod, I might be sick and I should really get that checked out” action as opposed to the more purely selfless behaviour of those who wear masks at the shops and on public transport. Of which there is not enough.

Not enough? I was one of only three in the local supermarket not wearing a mask yesterday. I don’t wear a mask because I understand probabilities; the car journey to the supermarket is more dangerous than the virus.

Not enough? What’s your proposal to solve that, Jenna?

Which brings me back to the fireworks. Yes, they are lovely and exhilarating. Soaring, popping, being in large groups of people all aahing and oohing at once, as if they’ve rehearsed for months. But last year was a warning. As Australia burned, fireworks snipped and snizzled across our land. We had a few reflective thoughts about whether we should add more to our already poisoned air, whether we should heap particulate on particulate, but mostly went ahead anyhow, even as people were losing their families, both human and animal, and their homes. The spectacle mattered much more than our consideration of others.

Got a climate change reference in there. That’ll please your colleague Peter weather is climate Hannan.

This year, just broadcast the fireworks on various platforms. And next year, ditch them altogether.

Actually, this is a perfectly reasonable position to take if you’re being asked to pay for the fireworks.

Remember how we celebrated Earth Hour?

Yes! We have an annual tradition; we run a competition to see how quickly we can make the little dial on the electricity meter spin, by getting the kids to rush around the house switching on every electrical device they can find.

We give off so much heat and light for that hour, astronauts on the ISS can probably see Chez Ockham from space.

Switching off all the lights, watching the stars and contemplating how lucky we are, how lucky to be alive.

Oh, that’s not what we do. Are we misunderstanding Earth Hour?

Bill’s Opinion

As with the previous target for Jenna’s hatred, golf, I agree somewhat with Jenna about the fireworks.

My view is they are overrated but, if people want to use their money to fund them, fill yer boots. A subscription service or GoFundMe campaign would work. Just don’t use my taxes to fire 6 million bucks of gunpowder up in the air.

As with most of Jenna’s opinion pieces though, this one tells us more about her emotional state than the specific subject itself.

Jenna has more issues than Vogue. It’s nice of the Sydney Morning Herald to allow her to share the details of her ongoing therapy with us.

I’ve been playing a round with my Secretary….

….she’s hoping I might get her in the club.

Poking fun at at the lunacy that passes for journalism and academia is one of the few remaining opportunities for fun during these days of no travel, no concerts, limited seating sports and all the other restrictions imposed on us for our own good.

So, ladies, gentlemen and binary non-conformists, please enjoy the Sydney Morning Herald’s resident and tenured Bedlamite, “Jenna Price is a columnist and academic“:

Shut them down. Shut them all down. Golf courses sit in the middle of our cities, using up valuable space in places that need more genuinely public land. Hectare after hectare devoted to a few people wandering around attempting to whack a ball into a hole in the ground. While kids across the city queue for swings and the handful of remaining naughty roundabouts, the golfers do not queue except for expensive memberships in elite clubs.

Using up valuable space“, which would otherwise be used how? A newly built Chesterton’s Fence?

While kids across the city queue for swings and the handful of remaining naughty roundabouts…“, please post any photographic evidence of these queues for swings.

“….the golfers do not queue except for expensive memberships in elite clubs.“. Jenna then proceeds to use her entire column to tell us public, not private golf courses, should be shut down.

Sydney’s lord mayor Clover Moore is in the spotlight again because she wants to decrease the number of holes in the Moore Park golf links from 18 to nine. Here is why. Moore Park is just over 113 hectares, according to City of Sydney staffers. Less than one-tenth is for general recreation. One-tenth. That’s compared with 45 hectares for the golf course (a sport that so few people play) and 46 hectares for all the other sports fields and courts used by the vast majority of us. Moore Park Golf Club is what’s called a public club although those fees don’t seem particularly public to me.

“Less than one-tenth is for general recreation. One tenth.” Moore Park has a cricket stadium, a rugby/other sports stadium, multiple flat spaces for seasonal participation sports, several lakes and a lot of trees. What is the correct ratio for this parkland? We aren’t told.

Also, “links” doesn’t mean what Jenna thinks it does. But I’m sure she knows all about golf as they wouldn’t let someone who doesn’t know what the bloody hell they are talking about write a column. Cough, Peter Fitzsimons, cough.

Moore’s proposal to turn it into nine holes is such a good idea – but it doesn’t go far enough. Boot all the golf clubs out of cities where there is just not enough open space. Already the sport is being abandoned. Participation has plunged from 8.2 per cent in 2001 to 5.2 per cent in 2020, a decline of over 36 per cent in 19 years.

Participation has plunged from 8.2 per cent in 2001 to 5.2 per cent in 2020, a decline of over 36 per cent in 19 years.“. Erm, there were 18,769,249 people in Australia in 2001, there are 25,649,985 here today. So, about 205,279 fewer people play golf. I make that a 12% decline in real numbers, not 36%.

You may wish to get someone from the Mathematics Faculty to do your sub-editing in future, Jenna.

Compare that with the sports that don’t rely on big footprints, fancy clobber, expensive gear, such as recreational walking, which has increased by 70 per cent to just under half the population.

No source for that claim in a column otherwise littered with hyperlinks, I note.

Why are we giving up massive amounts of space to a pursuit that offers so little to so few? Build a few outback golf links and send the 18-hole obsessives on a long drive.

Are you sure your objection is not an emotional reaction? This seems to delight in the prospect of punishing someone.

The cost and the way the sport is offered is just so off-putting for the majority.

So’s cricket, dinghy racing, Thai kick-boxing, cycling, high stakes poker and sky-diving. It’s still not an argument, Jenna.

Professor of sport at Federation University and also at Victoria University Rochelle Eime loves golf so much she even signed up her twin 14-year-old sons to the game when they couldn’t play footy because of COVID.

Some similarly aged children quite close to me have played nearly a full season of rugby union and rugby league this year and only missed a few weeks of training. Didn’t Rochelle get the memo?

That cost a total of $100 at the social club rate. When she wanted to join her local club, she was told it would cost $1000. Then told she could only play on certain days of the week.

Different clubs and membership types cost different amounts and have different restrictions. Who knew?

She works full-time. She can’t be popping off for a quick 18-holes on a workday.

Describing 18 holes of golf as “quick” suggests quite a lack of basic knowledge of what is involved.

Eime says golf is a traditional sport, rooted in the male competitive model and that’s hard to break down to something that works for modern lives, including those of women.

Sport can be competitive? Again, who knew?

Is competitive sport an exclusively male thing? The Williams sisters are on the phone and want to have a chat, Jenna.

Also, if your “modern life” doesn’t have time for golf, consider the possibility golf might not be for you. As an alternative, I believe there’s a clue in the name of F45 which might better help your diary planning.

“We need female voices in the decision-making.”

Ok. Hopefully that’ll be inclusive enough to include women who play golf or are at least vaguely aware of it. No, not you, Jenna, sit down.

Malcolm Gladwell, in A Good Walk Spoiled, possibly my favourite ever episode of his long-running series Revisionist History, spends the entire podcast exploring the social, political and environmental wrongdoings of golf.

And there we have the admission; Jenna heard a podcast once and the Sydney Morning Herald let her write a column about it.

…social, political and environmental wrongdoings of golf.” Oh come on, you can tick a few more boxes than that, Jenna. What about race, trans, gender and sexuality? Also, what about that chapter of Mein Kampf extolling the virtues of the sport?

Golf itself knows there is a problem and does its best to paper over them. A drive for membership here, a recognition that the game has to change there. By July this year, membership of Australian golf clubs had risen by 0.05 per cent, the first increase since 1998

Hands up who can spot a contradiction with an earlier claimed statistic? Bonus point if you can explain why, prima facie, the two numbers can exist together and still both be correct.

Golf Australia said in a statement that it would argue to retain any public golf course in Australia. Fine. But now it has to build a sport that fits with contemporary values and the lives of working women.

Because? Reasons.

Ready for the big finish?

Let’s see if it has the drive for that.

Boom tish. Try the veal.

Bill’s Opinion

Full disclosure; I have only ever played golf twice and consider those several hours as a an even worse waste of my life than the 3 English Premier League wendyball matches I was tricked into attending (spoiler alert; four and a half hours of no score…. and the fans still applauded as they left!).

The only practical use for golf is to separate out the sporting population from those of us who have realised team sports, particularly those involving physical contact, are the only ones worth playing. It serves a similar purpose as the ability to purchase personal car number plates, it’s a shibboleth.

However, unlike Jenna, I’m not filled with an irrational jealousy and resentment of those who find joy in participating in golf.

In fact, I’d be curious to know precisely what Jenna Price finds joy in, as her back catalogue suggests the answer is, well, not much, not much at all.

Give us a smile, Jenna!

Actually, on second thought, please don’t.