Grubby fingers on the scales

For those not normally exercised by the parochial freak show that is Australian politics, “the Morrison government” is a coalition of two parties that pitch themselves as being on the side of free markets and smaller government.

Obviously, as they say in Tasmania, “it’s all relative”.

The Greens are, well, what Greens are the world over; water melons.

The Greens are willing to help the Morrison government pass contentious new laws to make global digital tech giants pay local news media companies for content, but its Senate support will be contingent on the inclusion of both public broadcasters in the mandatory industry code.
Under the proposed laws foreign technology platforms such as Google and Facebook would be forced to pay news companies for use of their articles, share key data and warn them of any changes to their algorithms or face fines of up to 10 per cent of local revenue.

Prima facie, these are curious bedfellows.

Some understanding of the nature of Australian politics is required to make sense of this.

First though, read this sentence and see whether it makes any sense to you:

“There is no reason for the ABC and SBS to be excluded … public broadcasters deserve a fair return for what they produce and what the tech platforms benefit from. If the aim of this code is to ensure the viability of Australia’s media, then the government should ensure ABC is included, that AAP doesn’t fail and that small and independent publishers don’t miss out.”

For the benefit of our overseas readers, the ABC and SBS are government broadcasters. The concept that a government department “deserves” revenue from its competitors in the private sector tells you everything you need to know about Senator Hanson-Young’s understanding of commerce, economics or, indeed, the correct limitations of government.

Obviously, that we’re even talking about taxing one company to pay a competing government department is ridiculous, but the conversation started without anyone challenging the idea of taxing a company to pay for the failings of another.

Why are Facebook, Google, et al going to be clobbered with this potential tax? Because the local Australian media haven’t managed to get a viable subscription service in place to replace their century old paper-based revenue stream.

Did the Pony Express receive tax subsidies from the telegraph once the lines were laid?

Bill’s Opinion

Three things can be correct at the same time; the Australian political landscape can be populated by bedwetting collectivists and crony capitalists, the Australia legacy media can be incompetent and venal AND the big tech companies can be run by utter cunts.

Witness today’s auto-fill suggestions:

And yet:

The Sydney Morning Herald meme maker

Much outrage abounds today as the Australian left’s chief bogeyman, Tony Abbott, spoke overnight to a UK Parliament Select Committee.

The headline could almost write itself. In fact, it’s not beyond the imagination to see this screenshot being used as a generic meme template.

For example;

Abbott says water is wet

Or

Abbott claims night is dark

The actual headline was, “Abbott criticises Victoria’s lockdown“. Actually, better still, it had the qualifier, “Former PM“, presumably to remind us all that there have been two more Prime Ministers since he was fired (the office of Australian Prime Minister being a very temporary appointment, rather similar to jury service).

Anyway, after sifting through what Abbott said, the activists at the SMH decided the most egregious thing was something along the lines of, after we’ve experienced 6 months of economic destruction and the concomitant social and human cost that incurs, perhaps we might consider the possibility that the old and seriously ill should be allowed to take their chances against viruses while the rest of us get back to being productive, educating children, having lives with rich experiences and continuing the economic progress and global trade that has lifted billions out of extreme poverty in the last 50 years?

Or, as the SMH translates it; “let granny die“.

Let’s have a moment’s silence for the death of nuance and reasonable good faith debate, shall we?

Bill’s Opinion

Aaaand we’re back.

In the meantime, the news you won’t find on the pages of the SMH is this report from the USA’s Center for Disease Control (I’ve linked to the “fact check” version, to “steelman” what I’m about to claim).

The report confirms 94% of the deaths attributed to Kung Flu in the USA had at least one co-morbidity.

So, millions of otherwise healthy people are being subject to draconian restrictions to their life to avoid a disease that would be extremely unlikely to kill them. Shouldn’t they be given the choice?

Reprinting government press releases

Otherwise known as “the New Zealand news media“.

It’s long been an axiom that no sports journalist in New Zealand ever bothers submitting copy critical of the All Blacks unless they’ve already signed a long term contact of employment overseas.

It would seem that self-censorship now extends to the political and current affairs desks in the various broadcast and print outlets in the shaky isles.

For 6 months now, Jacinda Adern has spared no public expense to pursue a policy of total eradication of the Kung Flu. “Envy of the world“, the headlines proclaim.

Thats fair enough, there are indeed many jealous eyes upon New Zealand at present.

However, there are also those who question whether it’s the smartest long term strategy to try to completely avoid a virus that has now infected 20 million people around the world when the price the country pays is to be unable to return to normal travel and trade until a yet to be developed vaccine has been rolled out?

You may agree with the Kiwi strategy and that’s fine, but are you not curious about the other side of the debate?

By which I mean not what is the other side of the debate, but where is the other side of the debate?

There’s plenty of gushing articles like this one by John Weekes, Senior Journalist and Crime Reporter, where he quotes “experts” who confirm the current policy is the best.

There are many holes that can be picked in the statements made in the article, each data point could be challenged with credible published information from other countries. But, for reasons know to himself and his editor, John hasn’t.

Why?

Bill’s Opinion

Of course, you don’t have to share my opinion on the efficacy of Jacinda Adern’s policies, but surely you must share my curiosity of the situation where nobody in the New Zealand media questions it?

2020 has shown us many things, some of which we’ve subconsciously known for a long time.

One such example is the fact that the news media is no longer fit for purpose. Perhaps it never was.

We’ve learned definitively that the media is staffed by a mixture of political activists and people with no training in critical thinking or understanding of data.

The sooner the anachronism that is the news media is buried, the happier and better informed we’ll all be.

Don’t take your financial advice from Mumsnet

Jessica “big smarty pants” Irvine has written another blog post on Mumsnet again this week.

This time she’s woman-splaining to us all about three topics; how financially astute she is, how she can lose weight by the magical discovery of eating fewer calories than she burns and how she likes a good stationery order from Office Works.

No, seriously; without a hint of irony, The Sydney Morning Herald has published an article under “economics” where this type of self-indulgent guff is written:

…..I was completing my daily paper-tracking sheet for my food consumption and energy expenditure.

At the end of the day, after I’ve finished eating and calculated my daily calorie deficit, I get to enjoy the immense satisfaction of emblazoning the day’s tracker with a depressible ink stamp that says “ENTERED”.

It continues in the style of a low IQ Jordan Peterson self-help guru:

The desk contains six wooden pigeon holes that house my stamp, my highlighters, my paper receipts for the month and my three paper-based journals.

They are an appointments diary, a gratitude journal and a thoughts journal, into which I periodically spill all my deepest, darkest thoughts. Exposed to the crisp, white pages, these thoughts lose their power. Having identified the thoughts – and the resulting emotions – I journal new, more helpful thoughts to hold.

She also reminds us that she is considerably more intelligent than you and I:

I don’t know about you, but my brain definitely runs faster than my ability to write. By committing to writing things down by hand, therefore, you force your distracted monkey brain to sit.

Hands up who else suspects her lips still move when she reads, though?

The thing is, her Mumsnet post is just a rehash of this self-indulgent shite from two years ago. The only difference is the admission of a love of a tidy desk and coloured pencils.

That’s fair enough, I suppose, the SMH can publish whatever guff they want, but it does seem somewhat tin-eared to print Jessica’s verbosity about her ability to save money during a once in multiple generations recession while there are a record number of Australians registered as unemployed and many more about to join them. Saving money must seem a luxurious memory for those souls.

Not to worry though, we can amuse ourselves with the knowledge that Jessica is stuck inside a shitty two bedroom apartment that she bought at the very top of the property market and is now staring down the barrel of that most depressing of financial situations, negative equity. She hasn’t realised that, if she loses her job now, she’s homeless.

Bill’s Opinion

We’ve learned a lot of things during these months of Kung Flu. In addition to the incompetence of experts and the cowardice of politicians, we can also finally put to rest the notion that anyone employed in the media understands graphs and statistics.

That’s probably why Jessica is writing about crayons and coloured paper, like some teenage girl in a bedroom full of cuddly toys and posters of ponies.

We can’t blame Jessica for not wishing to write about economic reality though, as this updated chart is what it looks like before the government wage subsidies taper off and the unemployment figures start to more accurately reflect what’s been going on since March:

Don’t look down, Jessica.

Hubris in a “post experts” age

Experts, eh?

Remember when we outsourced so much of our key life decisions to “experts”?

“We lied about the effectiveness of masks, sorry ’bout that”.

“The USA will be 6 degrees warmer by 2020”.

“The USA housing crisis is contained”.

Etc. etc.

So, ladies and gentlemen, drum roll please….

Here’s the “experts” who will guide you out of these difficult and febrile times:

Stop laughing at the back.

The beard on the left is Ross “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” Gittins, of whom we’ve written previously.

Pole position is Jess “I’m smarter than you proles” Irvine. Again, she’s not escaped our attention, in fact on multiple occasions we’ve laughed at her ridiculous Facebook posts masquerading as journalism and her heavy reliance on feelings over data.

I’ve no idea who the other chap is, so I assume he’ll be the one made redundant in the next round just like the nameless crew member who is transported to the planet with Captain Kirk.

Bill’s Opinion

Seriously, who in their right mind would listen to anything these clowns say?

They’ve predicted nothing other than sunrise and sunset. Worse, they’ve had no actual useful experience of a recession outside of the lecture theatre of a university.

Jess Irvine bought her first property at what was clearly the very tippety top of the market. She needs an excel spreadsheet to lose weight and run a marathon at a pace that put her behind the team clearing up.

No, but thanks Sydney Morning Herald, our economic advice is in safe hands. What next, Pirate Pete lecturing us on virtue signalling?

Send in the clowns. Oh look, they’re already here.

Casually sinister, Prime Minister

Headlines are often misleading, usually written by someone other than the article’s author.

Regardless of that, the casual manner in which this is written, seemingly without considering the alternate ways it might be read and received, is truly frightening:

Earn“. As in, “earn” your freedom.

…more app downloads are needed“. All that’s needed to complete the sentence is, “or else“.

Perhaps the headline doesn’t reflect the facts contained within the story. After all, the Sydney Morning Herald had hundreds of headlines about Russian hacking of various elections without providing any evidence within those articles.

Sadly, no; The Prime Minister really went there:

About 3.6 million people, or 15 per cent of the population, have downloaded the CovidSafe app, used to determine who has had contact with an individual carrying the virus, since its release last Sunday. This is far short of the government’s target for 40 per cent adoption, with a focus on those over the age of 16.

“That is the ticket to opening up our economy – to getting people back into jobs and getting businesses open again,” Mr Morrison said.

Great. Suddenly that “voluntary” app (that still hasn’t had the associated privacy legislation passed, by the way) is starting to feel a little less of a free choice with no negative consequences for conscientious objectors.

In fact, who else wonders whether, if 80% of the population vote “nien danke” to the app, there won’t be further legislation defining what public services and spaces one is unable to use without showing it running on your device?

Bill’s Opinion

The opinions about this app are polarised. It’s yet again another Brexit/Trump/gay marriage type issue; if you’re on one side of the conversation, you are able to loudly express your opinion without fear of censure. The other side, however, sit quietly seething in the knowledge they will be shouted down for even suggesting there may be a microscopic smidgen of merit to the suggestion the app is government overreach.

Personally, I’m not downloading the app voluntarily. If I find myself restricted in society as a consequence, I’d reconsider that for precisely as long as it takes me to emigrate.

The question would be at that point, to where? The entire globe seems to have pivoted overnight to a socialist, Keynesian, semi-authoritarian dystopia.

Periodic fable

More dispatches from the ABC’s correspondent in ClownWorld;

The backlash to inclusivity was real

Last year, Ms Harrison ran a handful of focus groups in her community to hear more about peoples’ experiences with menstrual taboos and stigma.

She wanted to be inclusive of the fact that not everyone who menstruated was a woman.

Wait, what?

“I put a callout asking for anyone who menstruates to come along and I was very surprised by the responses,” she said

As one does.

“People definitely put up a wall and made it very clear that they thought only women can menstruate and that if you don’t menstruate, you’re not a woman; this idea that that’s what defines an individual as a woman.

Your post-menopausal grandmother might have something to say about that. But, as a general rule, it’s a good indicator.

“Considering the spectrum of gender identities, this is a very narrow way of looking at things. Your femininity and your identity is so much more than whether you do or do not bleed.”

I’m starting to wonder whether Ms Harrison is really that interested in helping people with toiletries or just has a weird obsession with periods?

The backlash has not stopped Ms Harrison from working to make her movement more inclusive, starting with the language she uses to describe periods and the people who get them.

Backlash“, or as 99.9% of the world calls it, “biological reality“.

Who is highly likely to experience homelessness?

Generally, I’d take a guess that those with severe mental illness make up a large ratio.

There are currently no reliable figures on the number of trans and non-binary people in Australia, according to Australian Research Centre for Sex Health and Society researcher Jennifer Power.

No shit? Given that, about five minutes ago, we were told self-identification is reality and the alphabet people’s categories expand annually (Q? Plus sign?). Jazz hands up who’s surprised nobody can accurately measure who fits in which demographic?

“We just don’t have that population-level data in Australia for transgender people or for people of different sexual identities.”

Dr Power says this means we cannot know how many trans or non-binary people experience menstruation.

No, that’s wrong, we can solve that numerical question for you; it’s all the trans people who have “female” on their birth certificate who aren’t taking testosterone and haven’t experienced the menopause yet. You’re fucking welcome.

But the most comprehensive available data on trans homelessness rates in the country, in 2016, reported 22 per cent of trans people aged 14-25 had experienced either accommodation issues or homelessness.

See the comment above about mental illness.

Speaking from his lived experience as a trans person who has periods, Mx Blundell said menstruation itself could distress trans and non-binary people.

“Trans people can be really terrified of getting their periods. For me, it meant that puberty had started and that my body was no longer in my control.”

Really terrified“, or in other words, “reminded of biological reality“. Oh, and if you think you are in full control of your body before puberty, you might want to read about a thing called “disease”.

“Even the idea of opening a pad or a tampon packet and that being heard by people [in the men’s toilet], there’s an added anxiety,” Mx Blundell said.

{note to readers: if you’re feeling disoriented at this point, don’t panic, it’s the ABC that’s insane, not you}

“And sanitary bins are often limited to women-only spaces.”

Oh just fuck off.

But there’s more. Christ, there’s always more:

What can we do to erase the gender-based stigma surrounding periods?

Hands up who, until just now, didn’t realise there was a gender-based stigma surrounding periods?

To start, Mx Blundell says we need to get the language around periods right in the first place, whether they are being discussed in schools or on the labels of period products — but not for the reasons you might think.

We need to get the language around periods right“. Oh, we do, do we?

Do we get to express an opinion on this language change, the like of which hasn’t been seen since The Great Vowel Shift?

No? We just have to fall in line, right?

Yes, ma’am sir. What else should we change, pray tell?

“It’s not just about including people, it’s about being factually accurate,” he said.

“If you’re talking about a cervix, call it a cervix, if you’re talking about ovaries, say ovaries rather than ‘the female reproductive system’.

“And if you’re [using the phrase] feminine hygiene products, just call them pads and tampons.”

This may come a surprise, but the number of occasions I’ve found myself speaking about any of those nouns in the last 12 months is about zero. I have spoken about my (female) wife’s periods however, and subsequently picked up a packet of tampons for her whilst I was doing the weekly shopping.

Guess what? I managed to buy them without stigma too. Stunning and brave.

The stream of consciousness from the Bedlamite continues;

The companies behind period products have a role to play too, he said.

“The images used of bodies on packaging are often thin, hyper-feminine-looking bodies. Maybe go for some diversity there.”

What, like a builder in a dress waving a box of Tampax around at his colleagues on the construction site? Maybe to a Motörhead soundtrack?

Mx Blundell has a great future career ahead of zher in the advertising industry, clearly.

And then there is the wall of pink packaging in chemists and supermarkets.

“I personally love pink, but we’ve got to stop linking periods so explicitly to womanhood,” he said.

Yes. Quite right. We should probably do more to link periods to crop rotation in the 16th century or the pentatonic musical scale. What were we thinking, with our insensitivity linking periods to womanhood. Madness.

Mx Blundell explained using the right language and having the right imagery was important because calling and depicting things as they are would help break down society’s gendered notions of periods, making menstruation itself less likely to distress trans and non-binary people.

“.…calling and depicting things as they are“.

Yes, I think we can all agree that’s important.

From there, Mx Blundell said talking to trans people about their needs when it came to periods was paramount.

Paramount (adjective): more important than anything else; supreme.

We’ve solved all the other big issues in the world then, phew.

I’m getting bored now. One more quote:

There are some things that should happen regardless of location though, he added, such as ensuring access to specialised bins for period products in all bathrooms.

How many public bathrooms do we think there are in Australia? Maybe somewhere between 1 and 2 million?

Let’s say a quarter of those are gender neutral. Let’s estimate a tampon disposal bin costs $100.

That’s about $75,000,000 we’ll need to find from public coffers to install a new sanitary bin in every male toilet in the country to satisfy the demands of perhaps 1,260 people in Australia.

You read that number correctly. The 2016 census found 1,260 “non binary” people.

Let’s assume that number is too low by a factor of ten. We’re still expected to spend $6,000 (not including labour and administrative costs) on for each “non binary” person to put a new bin in every male toilet, to help them not feel stigma. Probably double that, if we assume only half are women people who menstruate.

Bill’s Opinion

Here’s a thought experiment for you to try:

Imagine you had a time machine and a universal translation device. Go back to various points in human (and even pre-human) natural history and ask the question, “who has periods?”.

When would be the first time someone answered the translated equivalent of anything other than “women“?

Probably about 2012, right?

This is a bizarre social experiment, isn’t it, the aim of which is something like; throw away all language and definitions of everything we rely on to navigate around life without serious daily conflict, and see what happens.

In fact, if you read the works of Rousseau and Foucault, that’s exactly what this is. It’s an attempt to destroy “constructs” to enable the tabula rasa to be re-written upon.

It’s my strong suspicion there are three broad categories of people pushing this crap;

1. Those who know what it is, or at least suspect, and are enjoying the destruction and their new super power to get people to act as they please. Mx Blundell, for example.

2. Those who just want to be kind and haven’t worked out what’s really going on and the likely highly-negative consequences. “Useful idiots”, in other words. Ms. Harrison, most likely.

3. Those who are utterly petrified of expressing an impure thought and having the mob completely destroy them forever. The journalist Yasmin Jeffrey, would seem to fall neatly into this description.

Perhaps there’s a quiet 4th category; the 99.9% of the population who are reading this in utter despair and rage.

Defund the ABC, it’s long past its sell-by date.

Kwality sports gernalisming

“It’sh bloody good of you to shhout me thish lunch, Mazzo, are you shure the paper won’t mind?”

“Nah Singo, no problemo maate. What’s the use of a corporate Amex if you can’t splash the plash on an old mate, hey?”

“Bloody solid of you, mate. Thish Grange is bloody lovely, fancy a top up? What do you want to yarn about anyway?”

“How about how we would fix the utter clushterfuck that bloody awful Kiwi woman is making of rugby? What would we do differently?”

“Bloody oath. Get the shport out of the weshstern shuburbs, for a shtart, the islandersh are ruining the shport. Remember when the Wallabies were nearly all from Joeys, apart from the couple of token Shhore twats?”

“Yesh! And what’s thish shtupid crap about shending coachesh to shtate schools? Who the fark wants public shchool oiks playing God’s own shport?”

“Don’t get me shtarted; with their parents’ crappy Holdens in Kings’ car park for gala days. Another bottle of Grange or shall we try a bottle of shticky?”

Bill’s Opinion

No, this article doesn’t really go like that but it’s not far off. Remember when you’d pay for a paper and read it as if it contained relevant information?

Roy Masters, filing his best copy after lunch since 1967.

Bravely fighting last century’s battles

The alphabet people have been feeling “more distressed” since the law changed to allow same sex marriage.

Spoiler alert; questions not asked in the article include, “measured how?” and “are all LGBTQ+ people equally distressed?“.

Those missing questions do seem somewhat pertinent, however.

How “distress” might be objectively measured would be fascinating to learn. Sadly, the Social Sciences haven’t made this breakthrough yet, and simply fudged the issue with a questionnaire on SurveyMonkey.

A slight digression and a useful heuristic; if your chosen academic discipline has the word “science” in the title, it probably isn’t. See also, “Centre of Excellence”.

The more interesting unasked question is how this fuzzy “distress” is broken down by the letters and symbols. Are gay men more or less distressed than the plus sign people? And if so, what is the favoured explanatory hypothesis?

The SMH article offers the example of Mitchell (photo below) as an illustration.

Mitchell is so distressed and concerned about the general public’s reaction that he has to hide his true self from the world, and daren’t let others know he’s not a heterosexual man.

Oh, wait.

Bill’s Opinion

This is the year 2020. Why are we still fighting the battles of the 1970s?

Is there really anyone left who seriously gives a shit about who other people choose to have sex with?

In an earlier generation, Mitchell might well have been an extremely repressed man living a daily lie. He may even have been stuck in a passionless marriage of convenience to avoid scrutiny and reduce the risk of imprisonment by the authorities.

In 2020, presumably he doesn’t feel so distressed that he can’t walk the streets of Darlinghurst sporting green hair and lipstick in constant fear of being physically or verbally attacked.

It’s seems to me this is a massive improvement, exponentially so, in fact.

This is not to deny there aren’t places or individuals who are victimising others on the basis on their sexuality, but that’s not the situation where the vast majority of us live and work.

Actually, most residents of those places where homophobic attacks are common, when given a choice and a travel visa, choose to move here, regardless of whether they are gay or straight.

In the real world, the non-Twitter, non-media bubble world, most of us haven’t heard an anti-gay statement or a disparaging joke said with unkind sentiments since disco died.

So why are we still being berated in hand-wringing articles like the one in the Sydney Morning Herald about our falling short as “silent allies“?

One hypothesis, and the one this organ considers most likely is, “projection” on the part of the authors of this fantasy.

The rest of us just don’t care who other people shag. We really don’t.

Lessons children learn

…seem hardest for activists masquerading as journalists.

For example, noting the difference between an expressed and revealed preference.

One such example would be this, where Charlotte Grieve seems confused that, despite loudly banging the climate change drum in public, large pension funds still heavily invest in the industries that make profit pollute the most.

Four of the nation’s biggest industry super funds have billions of dollars invested in coal producers and other fossil fuel companies despite taking a vocal stance on climate change and pledging to support emissions reduction.

Research exclusively obtained by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald also shows support among super funds for shareholder resolutions that would force companies to take tougher action on climate change has fallen.

One must chuckle at the dressing up as “research” the process of browsing the funds’ websites to view the publicly-available information on investment allocations. They must have had a team working round the clock on that.

Of course, such an easily-written piece is the gift that keeps on giving for Charlotte; on its anniversary she can toss up a follow-up describing her horror that, despite the scandalous exposé of the mealy-mouthed funds and their double standards, the general public haven’t all rushed for the door and moved into a virtue-signalling “sustainable” fund.

Bill’s Opinion

People generally act rationally and in their own interests. This neatly explains making loud public noises suggesting concern over climate change whilst also investing in assets that produce a reasonable return on one’s investment.

As we’ve explored previously, the difference between a “green” fund and a regular fund is the latter has a reasonable chance of being an providing an income in retirement. The green fund doesn’t even track inflation.

Watch what people do, Charlotte, don’t listen to what they say.