Desperately seeking alpha

WilliamofOckham.com content generator and great friend of this organ, Jess Irvine has written another informative Facebook post on her child’s nursery chat group.

Before we get into it, let’s have a quick reminder of an important phenomenon; the Dunning Kruger Effect. This has been summarised thus:

“.…If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent … The skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.

With that context in mind, let’s have a look at Jess’ genius Mumsnet story.

Jess tells us she’s knocking on the door of her 40th year and has never invested in stocks outside of her Superannuation fund, which presumably is managed by somebody else. I’m not sure this is the sort of admission a “Senior Economics Writer” should make in public. One would be sceptical of a surgeon who admitted to never actually holding a scalpel, after all.

But still, not one to be worried by inconveniences such as competence, capability or knowledge, Jess has announced she’s going to be sharing her top stock picks over the near future.

I may need to write a “Jess Irvine piss take bot” to cover these announcements.

The secret to Jess’s investing success starts, as with all of Jess’s advice, with a spreadsheet. To a man with a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.

So, with the spreadsheet, she has categorised the stocks in the ASX into her own unique budget labels: housing, household, utilities, transport, food, health, education, appearance, lifestyle and professional fees.

Curious minds might wonder at this point, why Jess’s investing strategy is limited to the Australian exchange, especially as most major tech companies are on the NASDAQ and the world’s major corporations are listed in London or New York? Keep wondering, as we aren’t told. I’m sure it’s nothing to do with a lack of knowledge and experience.

If you’re paging down the column looking for the first stock pick, don’t bother, we’re being made to wait. After all, Jess doesn’t want to rashly splash her $10,000 on just any old crap.

Wait, didn’t I mention this entire column is to tell us that one day, sometime in the future, Jess may buy up to $10,000 worth of shares?

That’s not strictly true, she does manage to get a mention in about her astute purchase, at the last market peak, of a tiny Sydney apartment, which she now owns is renting from a bank and, that she’s got nearly $300,000 in her pension, which suggests she’s made three fifths of fuck all alpha on the principle over the 20 years she’s been paying in.

The only missing components of a classic Jess Irvine’s Mumsnet post are mention of her coming last in a marathon and having a baby. Plenty of time for that when the stock picks are shared though.

Bill’s Opinion

There’s no real way to confirm this but I’m going to wildly speculate about Jess Irvine, Senior Economics Writer at the Sydney Morning Herald:

  1. The only reason she has that job title is because of her gender. She could not, surely, have been the most qualified business and economics writer available to that newspaper.
  2. The ongoing requirement for the news desk to maintain diversity quotas has emboldened her to push this kind of pointless and, frankly, embarrassing writing on the editors and, being spineless, they roll over and publish it.
  3. All of Jess’s stock picks will rise at least 10% in value over the next year. This will be hailed as genius (self-assessed). proof of her financial acumen and mastery of a pivot table.

In the meantime, nearly everything on the ASX will rise 10% too, what else can it do in an era of central banks hitting CTRL P to infinity?

My advice is don’t take slimming advice from an overweight person and don’t take stock tips from the shoe shine girl.

We sleep soundly at night…. redux

……because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.

Winston Churchill

Today is a lazy repost of this entry.

Why? Well if journalists are able to reprint the same story with new pictures but no additional evidence of war crimes, I’m allowed to recycle my response to their bullshit too.

Pretend fellatio in a bar describes pretty much every senior grade footy club everywhere in the world after 9pm on a Saturday night. If that’s a war crime, please send a postcard to my new address in The Hague.

I really have no idea what goes on in bars the SAS drink in after a day out on patrol being shot at with live ammunition but, unless they actually commit a crime in said bar, it’s their business and I thank them for their service.

So, feel free to re-read “We sleep soundly at night….”:

Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith was photographed cheering on an American soldier drinking from the prosthetic leg of a suspected Afghan militant whose death is now the subject of a war crimes investigation into the war hero.

The world is divided in to exactly three types of people;

  1. Those who see the photo above and think, “so what?”,
  2. Those who see the photo above and think, “that’s disgusting, get the lawyers in The Hague on the blower”, and
  3. Those who see the photo above and think, “the infidel dogs in the west must die”.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald have obtained two photographs that show Mr Roberts-Smith, the country’s most decorated living soldier, posing with the prosthetic leg which was used as a novelty drinking vessel.

Obtained” or, in English; “paid top dollar for“.

The photographs appear at odds with claims made by Mr Roberts-Smith’s lawyer in the Federal Court last year that the war hero was utterly disgusted by the use of the leg as a drinking vessel. Lawyer Bruce McClintock stressed Mr Roberts-Smith “never drank from that thing … Because he thought it was disgusting to souvenir a body part, albeit an artificial one from someone who had been killed in action.”

He’s not drinking from it. He’s next to a person drinking from it, neither of whom probably realised that, years after risking their lives on our behalf, investigative journalists would be frothing up a story where front line soldiers in Afghanistan are judged by standards applicable to wine bars in Glebe.

The fake limb gained further notoriety earlier this month when photos of soldiers and non-commissioned officers drinking from it were leaked to The Guardian. The photos supplied to The Guardian did not include any images of Mr Roberts-Smith posing with the leg.

In other news, I visited Dallas once but the authorities are still struggling with collecting the evidence necessary to convict me of assassinating JFK.

The Guardian story, written by freelance journalist Rory Callinan, included photos of two soldiers with faces blurred posing with the boot. The story claimed “rank-and-file” soldiers believe they have been unfairly criticised by the Brereton report and suggest that drinking from the boot could be classified as the war crime of pillaging because the leg was property taken without the consent of its owner.

Rory Callinan’s Twitter feed is to be found here. It is fair to say he posts little else other than allegations of Australian war crimes and the reporting of the investigations. That’s fair enough, he can be a single issue journalist if he wants. Readers may wish to bear this obsession in mind when reading his output, however.

“…drinking from the boot could be classified as the war crime of pillaging“. Perhaps this is technically correct, but when detailing the backlog of various breaches of the Geneva Convention to be prosecuted and in what order, this may be close on the list to the whole of class detention your child got last week because two other kids were misbehaving. Collective punishment is a war crime under the 4th Geneva Convention, after all.

Perhaps it’s time for a comment from an adult:

Australian Defence Association chief executive Neil James wrote on Friday that, “to our national detriment, much of the public discussion on war crimes alleged to have been committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan is focusing on secondary, peripheral or irrelevant issues.”

Quite.

Bill’s Opinion

Unfortunately, I’ve no doubt war crimes have been committed in my name. I am certain, at times, armed forces acting for my country have shot first, asked questions later. After the fog of war has lifted, it’s correct to investigate these incidents and take appropriate action against the individual and to examine whether it indicates a culture that should be addressed.

However….I don’t give a flying fuck about our “rough men” drinking out of a dead Taliban’s false leg. In fact, send me the GoFundMe page link and I’ll chuck a few quid in to buy a round of beers for them.

My suspicion is this is the view of most people outside of the ABC, Sydney Morning Herald and Grauniad’s news rooms.

Intersectional Boolean Logic

I’m sure most of us have played Cluedo (or “Clue” if you speak ‘Murican) before; there’s been a murder, Dr. Black shuffled off this mortal coil and your job is to determine the murderer, weapon and scene of the crime using a series of observations, eliminations and a final deduction.

It’s a process of elimination as you rank order sort the suspects, weapons and location then remove them from your investigation.

Well, another clue just dropped in the Intersectionality version of Waddington’s classic. We may be about to learn which racial group has more Wokémon points than another if this continues much longer:

Jamie Chung accessorises with a “Stop Asian Hate” handbag.

No, I’d never heard of her previously either, but she made it in the news with the massive activist work she has undertaken with, erm, some words on a purse. Our generation’s Rosa Parkes, indeed.

“Asian Hate” then, what is it and, assuming we can agree on the definition of “Asian”, who is guilty of it?

The answer to that second question is where those who have leaned a little too far over their logical skis are going to find discomfort. If one has a fixed world view where racism and race-based violence flows exclusively from one group, the Stop Asian Hate campaign might introduce you to a feeling of cognitive dissonance.

Why? Well, this 2019 reprint of a 2010 San Francisco Chronicle report might give us a clue. Turns out the victim is often Mrs Kim, the weapon was an unregistered pistol, the crime scene was a Korean convenience store and the murderer was Dr. Black.

Bill’s Opinion

There’s probably only three ways this campaign is going to go.

The first is an honest data-driven discussion in the media about the actual perpetrators of the majority of this particular crime category. Unlikely, based on everything we’ve learned over the last few years.

The second is a misdirection by pretending the reason Robert Long killed 8 and injured one Asian massage parlour employees and other bystanders was a deeply-felt racial hatred despite his obvious previous strenuous efforts to overcome this by paying to have sex with them on a regular basis.

The third and most likely outcome is the hashtag will quietly atrophy as newsrooms quickly spike the results of their investigations into the ethnicity of the main perpetrators.

In the meantime, given there have been millions of global sales of the game of Cluedo, let’s assume each game is played once every couple of years, why is nobody outraged about the genocide of hundreds of millions of Dr. Blacks? Could they have made it any more obvious, perhaps the weapon was a noose and the murderer was a lynch mob?

Hey, hey it’s offence archeology

It’s a slow news week in Australia. Nothing much worth reporting about; the flood waters have subsided, Federal parliament is on holiday from their rapey calendar, the number of covid cases is back down to zero, and we’re not due a new Prime Minister for weeks yet.

To pass the time, the Sydney Morning Herald news room has borrowed a silver DeLorien, revved it up to 88mph down a deserted George St. and has discovered an important crime against humanity to report upon.

The serious and sober investigative journalist Andrew “Deep Throat” Hornery, kicks us off.

Broede Carmody, who looks like he was yet to be conceived when the show last aired, also piles on….and, just to ensure he got the roadkill, he reversed back over it again.

Rebecca Shaw offers us more of the same.

Someone who reads the news off an autocue at SBS gets in on the act.

Finally, back to the SMH with Julia Baird adding to the canon with this one.

When I say “finally”, obviously I don’t mean that’s the end of it; the former news outlet has clearly found a safe target with which the journos can contrast their prescience and righteousness and will continue to ejaculate column inches until the data analytics team point out nobody is actually reading them.

So, what is this sordid story of evil racism and what lessons can we learn?

Well, you may wish to sit down before you read any further as I have some disturbing news for you….

You won’t believe this but a light entertainment TV show made in the 1980s doesn’t, upon review, pass the 2021 Reinheitsgebot.

No, seriously; some of the jokes relied on crude racial stereotypes, sexist and gauche humour which, by today’s standards, are unacceptable.

Shocking, isn’t it. What a marvellous public service the brave and selfless staff at the Sydney Morning Herald have performed to inform us of this.

Andrew Hornery, for example, had to decline a cushy ex-pat posting to Basra in order to bring us the important and vital revelations that a 40 year old TV show didn’t age well.

This truly is the work of a future Pulitzer Prize winner. One can easily envision Mr Hornery being called in to news studios during the twilight of his career to be asked for his opinion, à la Bob Woodward, on the latest scandal. And, as with Woodward, nobody will be interested in a damn word he says until he delivers the moneyshot, which, instead of “worse than Watergate“, will be, “worse than Hey Hey, It’s Saturday“. Bang! Mic drop.

Bill’s Opinion

The previous post here was a defence of some aspects of “cancel culture”.

The problem is, of course, lazy journalists take the admirable theme of reviewing the past to learn by our mistakes as an excuse to churn out hundreds of column inches pointing out the bleedin’ obvious: we were all different back then.

What I’ve yet to read is an explanation why the show (which I’ve never seen, by the way) was cancelled? Could it be the ratings had fallen because it was out of touch with the mood of the audience?

What would that say about the discerning Australian public? That they rejected cheap humour based on lazy stereotypes?

That would be inconvenient to the narrative, wouldn’t it?

In the meantime, can someone send a few DVD box sets over to the SMH with the back catalogue of Til Death Do Us Part, On the Buses, The Goodies, The Dukes of Hazzard and, heaven forbid, The Black and White Minstrel Show?

That should keep them busy right up until the point the newspaper is finally closed down.

Covid numberwang

Have we reached the point where there is any credibility left in academia or the news industry when they present numbers to us?

Here’s an example. London bus drivers three times more likely to die from Covid.

Well, that’s bad, obviously.

I came across this article because I’d been waiting for data to appear to help answer a question that’s been nagging my brain for some time. That is, what’s the relative rates of infection, hospitalisation and death for the workers who’ve been unable to work from home for the last year. I’m thinking of bus drivers and supermarket cashiers, specifically.

Read the article for yourself, but data points offered include:

  • 51 bus drivers have died of covid.
  • This equates to “three times” the rate of other workers (but the actual rate isn’t offered, nor is the denominator).
  • “….an earlier introduction of the lockdown on 23 March 2020 would have saved lives“.
  • The report confirms driving a London bus is one of the most dangerous jobs during the pandemic.”

If we accept the UK population is about 67 million, give or take a couple of million illegal immigrants, and the offical total of covid deaths is about 126,000, then the population fatality rate is just under 0.2%.

Despite the BBC article not bothering you with this detail, a search would suggest there were approximately 24,500 bus drivers in London in 2014. So, 51/24,500 x 100 = a death rate of 0.2%.

Obviously the UK-wide calculation is using the overall population, including retirees who would skew the ratio up, but also children who would skew the ratio down. But, as a sniff test, it suggests there’s not something wildly different going on with bus drivers, despite what the report claims.

The assertion that driving a bus is one of the most dangerous professions seems to be doing a little heavy lifting and one many cycle couriers and North Sea divers may want to take issue with.

The report’s conclusion seems suspiciously in line with precisely what Sadiq Khan paid them to write was expecting, i.e. evil and stupid Boris Johnson should have shut down the country earlier.

In other news, if nobody ever travelled by car again, there would be no more traffic fatalities and, in a specific example, if James Dean had taken a train instead of driving Little Bastard he might still be here today. Just because a statement is true doesn’t mean it’s helpful.

If you wish to bypass the useless reporting, the full 87 pages of the UCL report can be found here. Fair warning, it won’t improve your confidence in the existence of objective science, though.

The report attempts to parse diverse data sets on areas such as age, ethnicity, health, social status, housing, and methods of commute to work to produce a conclusion on why the death rate was so high (a prior assumption which we can challenge) and what could have been done or can still be done to ameliorate it.

Judge for yourself whether this was achieved and whether or not objective scientific analysis was used.

Bill’s Opinion

Personally, I’m none the wiser on two important questions:

Have front line workers been disproportionately infected or killed by the virus, and if so, why?

The report has convinced me of one fact, however; this is a multi-variable problem and seeking a single reason is pointless. 87 pages of pointlessness, in this case.

Some clues can be found within the report, if one looks hard enough though. Once you get past the headline conclusion of, “keeping everyone at home earlier would have stopped bus drivers from catching a virus and dying from it“, there is a tell tale admission in the second recommendation:

2) In the longer term, early interventions on ill-health prevention are needed to reduce obesity in the population as a whole, with responsible employers playing their part. In particular, measures are needed among younger London bus drivers who have higher rates than other young people of the same age.

Finally, he who pays the piper, calls the tune. This is a flawed and political study, primarily for the purpose of shifting blame on to the Mayor of London’s political opponent.

The clue is even in the organisation name, the Institute of Health Equity.

Equity. Whenever one sees that noun, it’s a clear signal you are dealing with disciples of Critical Theory and should treat the call for action with the same credibility as the Heaven’s Gate Cult.

A year on and we still can’t trust any number offered on the subject.

“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…..

.…the Australian David Icke.

Don’t bother clicking the link; it’s little more than an emotional rant about MP Craig Kelly whilst cheering her favourite female MP.

Jenna Hates has written the definition of a Canberra circle jerk about the most “inside the beltway” story of the year. Literally nobody with a life outside of Canberra or the media gives a damn about it.

In fact, the reporting on Kelly is the epitome of laziness.

Why?

Because the media have a wild eyed conspiracy theorist to report on, they don’t have to be inconvenienced to ask any of the questions more curious minds would like to hear the answers to.

Sure, the Aussie version of Alex Jones is an annoying tool, but why is he the only person with a platform taking about treatments for the virus?

I’ve not read a single report anywhere about the therapeutic treatments of the virus since about June last year when we were all working out how to build a ventilator using parts available from the hardware store. Remember when the supermarkets ran out of paracetamol?

Think for a moment; when was the last time you read or heard a news report about treatments? Is it not strange that dog isn’t barking?

How is it being treated around the world and what’s proven to be effective? The medics in the UK and USA must have learned a load of lessons now.

Is nobody other than MP Craig Kelly curious about what works?

When did medical treatment become a political litmus test?

Bill’s Opinion

I hate all media. Loathe them. The industry is no longer fit for purpose. The vast majority of journalists are low IQ, low rent automatons at best, partisan mendacious hacks more likely

I can count on the fingers of one foot the number of objective good faith and intelligent people working in the news industry.

Their adherence without question to a received narrative shows a lack of imagination and curiosity of mind. There is simply no room for nuance and we are all the poorer for it.

As for Jenna Price, one imagines the last time an original thought entered her head, it was politely but firmly shown the door.

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.

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?”

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.