It’s all about you

A useful golden rule when observing current affairs is to keep your counsel for a solid 48 hours. This is particularly true in the case of breaking news about violence and potential terrorism attacks.

The incentive structure in today’s digital age is diametrically-opposed to this rule of sober and prudent analysis, however.

Hence, depending on the source from which you consume your news you may have believed the city of Sydney endured a white supremacist attack, a radical Islamic attack or deadly violence from a mentally-unwell man.

Confusingly for narrative-obsessed journalists (but I repeat myself), the knife-wielder apparently had a USB drive with details of the recent Christchurch and El Paso racially-motivated attacks but also shouted the well-known catchphrase, “Alan’s Snackbar” at the police who arrested him.

Several possibilities suggest themselves here. It could be possible the attacker was:

  • Racially-motivated, or
  • A Jihadi, or
  • One of the two above whilst pretending to be the other in some elaborate hoax, and/or
  • Mentally ill

In a move that should surprise nobody, Lucy Cormack of the Sydney Morning Herald, clearly disappointed the attack wasn’t a good fit for the “white supremacy is everywhere” narrative, pivots and manages to make the attack seem as if it’s part of a war by men on women.

Bill’s Opinion

I think a suitable time has passed since the attack to confidently state, regardless of what he might have said or read, the prime reason the attacker committed the murder and an attempted murder was because he was suffering severe mental illness. It’s unfortunate but no matter how well we work to catch these in advance, there will always be a number of such tragedies in any society.

Claiming this is part of some wider problem of patriarchal and systemic male violence against women is like claiming the attacks on New York on September 11th were motivated by a hatred of open plan offices and elevators. 

Cheer up!

Switching on the news and browsing the media websites this week is unusually depressing. Without perspective and a wider source of information and analysis, one could be excused for thinking the world is going to hell in a handcart. I’m not going to list the reasons why one might be feeling low, the media do a good enough job of running “if it bleeds, it leads” stories. 

In any case, I’m not convinced it’s true. In fact, I think the reality is almost 180 degrees the other way; there are far more signs things are going well and what we’re being served as news is simply a mixture of confirmation bias and a logical reaction to incentives. A regular browse of the good news stories on Human Progress is a useful counter to the media confirmation bias.

I don’t say this lightly…. I have become convinced, via conversations with friends, family and colleagues that the media business model, what is left of it, has become detrimental to the general mental health of the world.

Technological advances have resulted in a proliferation of volume (24 x 7 updates) and sources (you’re reading a personal blog, but it’s still “a source”) of news. Our old friend, Pareto distribution, drives eyeballs and clicks to those presenting the most compelling new information.

Not much bad stuff happened today” is not a headline we’ll continue to tolerate on consecutive days for very long.  

Let’s lighten the mood a little today then. Because it’s human nature to take pleasure at others’ mild misfortune (after all, that describes the basis for all comedy), today’s blog post is simply a bunch of happy predictions I am prepared to make and the timeframe within which I expect them to occur. 

If you share my optimism and outlook, they might cheer you up immediately. If you don’t, you might experience the even greater pleasure of delayed gratification when the deadline passes and you can return to the comments section and have a chuckle at my expense. 

Either way, I will benefit from a warm feeling of selfless, righteous altruism….

Bill’s Opinion Predictions

Sports

The Bledisloe Cup match this weekend will be won by Australia and, if this prediction transpires, they will go on to draw or win the return match the following weekend and therefore finally win the Bledisloe Cup for the first time in almost a generation. This one is a long shot and is based more on a feeling New Zealand’s team has become fragile and somewhat “woke”.  

The 2019 Rugby World Cup will be won by a northern hemisphere team. My preference would be England but I could probably live with it being Ireland and, after a little introspection and professional counselling, even Wales. The important point is, it’s not going to be New Zealand.

Brexit

Britain will leave the EU on October 31st without a deal. Boris Johnson will be Prime Minister at the time, but will call a General Election in January and will be returned with a clear but not large majority.  

No material changes will occur to the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Britain will not experience significant disruption to trade or travel as a consequence to Brexit. Some luxury or highly-specialised goods or services might have a wobble but will be solved within a few weeks.

EU

As a consequence to the world not ending after Brexit, the EU will double down on their commitment to a European federal una-state, passing laws to ensure a single taxation code, a European military, centralised control of immigration and further adoption of the Euro.

Leo Varadkar will be ousted as Taoiseach by the Dáil before Christmas 2019 as a reward for being played by the EU with regards to Brexit.

USA

The Democrats will nominate Elizabeth Warren as the 2020 presidential candidate. Donald Trump will win a second term with an increased share of both the Electoral College and the popular vote. The presidential debates will comedy gold on a par with the best efforts of Mont Python and Ricky Gervais.

Media

Following the USA elections, there will be some high profile media casualties, with a consolidation or bankruptcy of several high profile brands such as CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post and the New York Times.

In other countries, such as Canadia and Australia, several mastheads and broadcasters will be further subsidised or even nationalised.

Global Economy

Despite the continuing call for a global stock market crash, higher highs will be reached on the major indices. Gold and silver will see a 20% increase by the end of 2020.

China will “lose” the trade war with the USA. This will be spun as the opposite to save face but the trade indicators will show a material improvement towards the USA.  

Australian Economy

Flat as a pancake over 2019 and 2020 with a slight uptick in unemployment.

House prices in the two main cities will continue a slow atrophy with the occasional dead cat bounce for a month or two which will be lauded as signifying the “new bottom”. At the end of 2020, prices will be lower than today.

 

Komment macht frei

Previously, we assessed that confusing reports in the media on matters Trans can be classified into two main categories:

  1. Trying to be sensitive to the mental health struggles of the subject suffering from body dysphoria, and
  2. Deliberately obfuscating the language for ignoble reasons.

We speculated that for the “category 2” articles, there was a sub-category where the motivation was to drive clicks and eyeballs to the online article as that is what was rewarded by advertising revenue.

Today’s example certainly seems to fall into a Category 2a Transgender article:

One can only chuckle at the editorial team’s dilemma in deciding where to put the inverted commas on that headline; should it be ‘seahorse’, ‘dads’ or ‘seahorse dads’?

After all“, they must have thought, “everyone knows what a seahorse is, and we all know what a dad is, so it’s just the compound noun that risks confusion, not the fact that we’re pretending a man gave birth. Yeah, we’ll go with ‘seahorse dads’ then. Sorted.“.

We could also only speculate at what might have been going through the unfortunately-surnamed Karl Quinn’s mind as he typed out the perfectly clear and unambiguous prose. One suspects the range of emotions covered one or more of the following options:

  • Fuck me, why did the editorial team choose me to write this review? Now I’ve got to put my name to this deliberate mangling of previously-understood nouns and pronouns“,
  • Ha! This is another great opportunity to change society for the better, underlining the biological reality that gender is a social construct and we can bend biology to our will“,
  • My numbers have been shit this month, thank god for a chance to wind up the trolls and get them to go ape on Twitter and Facebook by posting this article to their Nazi mates“.

Interestingly, the article had comments open for a brief duration but were closed once the total reached 33. Perhaps you might suspect this was to deliberately kick off a controversy but limit the amount of exhausting work the moderators had to do? We may never know.

The comments are gold though. Obviously, there were the usual bunch of gullible fools who believe it is possible to change someone’s opinion by leaving a message under a newspaper article. They aren’t the fun ones to read.

The folk who’ve fallen for the Critical Theory narrative are hugely entertaining though. My favourites are recreated below before a law is passed to make commenting on biological reality illegal:

karen.downes19

DNA has nothing to do with gender.

Captain Flashlight

The logic in the comments below states that:

1. Only women can give birth.

2. This person gave birth.

3. They are a woman.

There’s a couple of things wrong with this. Firstly, stating that only women can give birth, not only regulates women to child bearing fertility machines, it disregards women who are not able to give birth, or have decided to not have children. Does this qualify childless people with female anatomy as men? Does this qualify them as some sort of (godforbid) third gender? I’m seemingly lost here…

Oh and of course, this person is a man. Go figure. Congratulations to them, they are happy, and have brought love into the world. Why attack them, and the life they are living? Live and let live.

Chickpea

Hey Matthew, I’m what you would consider a female, but i dont have the ability to produce children – does that still make me female? If you dont have ovaries, are you still female? What about no female reproductive organs at all?

You need to really do some research on sex and gender 101 mate, cuz you’re just showing your ignorance. ff

Scotty

It is quite a contentious issue.

While anatomically you do need a womb and uterus to carry and give birth and most people have been taught that these are the exclusive domain of the female of our species.

Because this person identifies as a man, why do people get so upset about him saying he is a man?

And he has a beard for heavens sake, according to most of the red-necks I’ve ever met that is the key defining feature of a man, you’re not a real man unless you can grow a beard…

So there…

Bill’s Opinion

Recalling our rule of thumb on how to understand the reality behind mendacious re-definitions of nouns when reading an article about gender; go with your first visual instinct.

The picture of “Freddie” shows a weird looking bloke with the sort of beard a 16 year old boy grows until all his mates laugh at him. Conclusion; female.

The picture presented on Karl Quim’s profile is low definition and doesn’t zoom well. His facial features look a little ambiguous and, frankly, he’s no George Clooney, but the giveaway is the hair; no woman pretending to be a man would risk obvious casual categorisation mistakes by having a bouffant quiff. Conclusion; male, but probably only just.

This ends badly for everyone

A young person privately expresses views that are incompatible with those of their employer.

Someone notifies a national newspaper of these views.

The national newspaper publishes the correspondence.

The young person is fired and will likely struggle to find future employment in a similar field as a consequence.

A columnist writes a follow-up sarcastic opinion piece on the newly-unemployed person.

The public interest to justify publication; his brother cousin is famous.

No, seriously.

Let’s put it another way:

A private citizen had their private religious views made front page news and the newspaper contacted his employer for comment, presumably with the expectation the employer would act upon the information.

That’s the world in which we find ourselves in 2019. If you have impure thoughts you will be cancelled and, presumably pour encourager les autres, your family will be similarly targeted.

Bill’s Opinion

As we’ve previously stated, it is now clear that the Israel Folau case is the left’s chosen battleground for the culture war this year.

That his brother cousin, Josiah, has been targeted in this way further supports this hypothesis. It’s a tactic from the Soviets – not only do we want you to be punished publicly, but your family will be in our sights too.

That there seems to be little shock or surprise from the commentariat is also deeply worrying.

Peter Fitzsimons, for example, clearly didn’t think for one moment of what the consequences of this approach might be for his children, Billi, Louis and Jake. With two famous parents, this new standard makes them fair targets for analysis and scrutiny for thought crimes.

We will not enjoy where the road takes us if our private thoughts at the age of 23 are now legitimate front page material to serve one side or the other in a culture war.

UPDATE: Thanks to those who pointed out my reading comprehension skills are dusty and that Josiah is, in fact, Israel’s cousin, not brother. Of course, that’s even worse, isn’t it? What next, targeting the religious beliefs of their neighbours?

If it wasn’t for double standards…

…we wouldn’t have any standards at all.

There is an Australian heuristic that rarely lets you down; when you are in doubt about what the correct position is to take on an issue, look to see whether Peter Fitzsimons has pontificated on it….and take the opposite side.

Last week, Australia’s polymath with a red bandana wrote this stirring attack on a disgraced Chinese swimmer:

Fast forward a week, and Fitzsimons is calling for sober heads, sympathy and the benefit of the doubt for an Australian swimmer who has tested positive for a banned substance:

Outside observers can see the double standards of his position before even investigating the underlying stories about Sun Yang and Shayna Jack.

Further research makes Fitzsimons seem even more tribal. Sun Yang smashed samples that had been taken by people who were unable to present the correct evidence of authority to do so, Shayna Jack tested positive for a banned substance. It’s unclear whether Jack’s testers had the correct paperwork.

The first is not a positive drug test result, the second is.

Bill’s Opinion

The risk/reward for athletes doping is not the same for every sport.

If we were to order rank those sports by how much impact doping would have on performance, the sports with the least reward for doping would be those with a higher relative reliance on technique, tactical excellence and teamwork.

Conversely, there would be a better risk/reward payoff to dope in the more purely physical sports where results are decided by marginal physiological differences such as in weightlifting, running, cycling and swimming.

An extra 1% efficiency in blood flow might not help a rugby player lift the World Cup trophy with his team but it could mean the difference between gold and silver for a swimmer at the Olympics.

I’ve recently realised my favourite sports are also coincidentally ones where doping is less likely to have a positive payback, sports where tactics play a large part in addition to physical performance and technique. This wasn’t a conscious choice but it is interesting that this self-sorting occurred.

On the subject of self-sorting, Fitzsimons does something similar when expressing public opinions:

Of Brexperts and telepaths

As oft quoted here, “predictions are notoriously difficult, particularly about the future“.

The Dilbert cartoonist, Scott Adams, seems to have a knack at predicting stuff. After a particularly good run of predictions, he wrote this remarkable piece of advice to people who were going mad about the Orange Man winning the election.

His suggestion is, if you didn’t predict many of the 15 events he lists, perhaps a moment of introspection is warranted.

Building on that theme, I’d like to offer something similar on the subject of Britain’s exit from the EU. I’ve noticed in multiple conversations recently, people who have little knowledge of the subject have explained to me my reasons for voting Leave.

Not content with mere telepathy, they also offer multiple predictions of what will happen next.

If this describes you, may I suggest reviewing the following list of statements:

  1. Brexit is about immigration and racism. Anyone who claims controlling immigration was simply one of multiple reasons is a lying racist. Any brown people who voted Leave are a modern day “Uncle Tom” or suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.
  2. Immediately following a Leave vote, the UK economy will be plunged into recession, as predicted by The Treasury.
  3. In the weeks following a Leave vote, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be forced to implement a punitive emergency budget.
  4. The result of the referendum will be accepted and implemented by MPs.
  5. Following Brexit, the UK will be at the back of the queue (note, not “line”, as Americans usually describe it) for any trade deal with the USA. Presumably that’s because the UK’s “U” is later in the alphabet than Somalia’s “S”?.
  6. The EU is simply a trading block and has no plans to further expand the scope of its powers to include such things as creating a military arm, conformation of taxes, and centralised control (and distribution) of immigration to the EU.
  7. A Prime Minister who voted Remain would be a good choice to negotiate an exit from the EU and to heal the political divisions created by the referendum.
  8. The UK and Ireland will implement disruptive checks at the Northern Irish border crossings (all 300 of them).
  9. Boris Johnson’s political career is dead following his abortive leadership attempt.
  10. Boris Johnson is a buffoon with an IQ barely above room temperature and will never become Prime Minister.

Bill’s Opinion

Be honest with yourself. How many of those did you read in your preferred source of current affairs news and accepted at face value at some point in the previous three years?

If you believed more than, say, 3 of the 10, please try to listen a little longer to people you meet who voted Leave.

Also, consider taking the time to review the following statements and determine whether you agree with me that these are looking increasingly likely. Not guaranteed, mind you, but that the probability is trending towards them becoming reality.

  1. When negotiating, one always needs to have a credible BATNA. Boris Johnson has made solid noises to this effect now and the EU may reconsider their position as a consequence. The UK will leave on October 31st, regardless.
  2. There will be no hard border on the island of Ireland. A mix of random and targeted checks will occur but trade will continue relatively free of friction.
  3. Following a “no deal” Brexit, there will be slightly worse problems than those caused by the Millennium Bug. Other than a few pictures in the Liverpool Echo of sad, orange Scousers complaining about minor disruptions to “dream holidays”, and individual daft actions justified “because of Brexit”, everyone will carry on just fine.
  4. A couple of years after an uneventful “no deal” Brexit, several other EU members will have elected pro-Leave leaders. France would be first cab off the rank, if I had to guess.
  5. Five years after Brexit, the UK’s GDP will be significantly healthier than Germany’s and any other EU member.

The value of money is merely a concept enough of us have agreed to believe (or at least pretend to believe). The paper with printed pictures and numbers in your wallet only has worth because a critical mass of us agree it has. If we lose confidence in the currency, it loses value.

Democracy is a very similar concept.

It’s not the winning that counts

…but the taking part.

Lucky old Tom Decent; he was finally allowed to write about rugby yesterday, rather than being sent to the Folaus’ church to live blog from the Sunday service;

The good news for those who like the rugby status quo is that the Wallabies performed badly, lost a match and the coach and local commentators blamed a single decision by the referee.

Australia had just been awarded a scrum feed but right as the whistle blew Tupou belted South African back-rower Rynhardt Elstadt with a forceful hit. The TMO said he believed it was “clearly a shoulder charge to the chest”, while Williams said on the field: “The guy is sitting there and he’s come running in with the shoulder. It’s clearly dangerous, it hit him in the chest after the whistle. Away you go.”

Many thought a penalty would suffice but Australia were reduced to 14 men and it proved to be a pivotal moment in the game as South Africa ran away with the result to continue an eight-year winning streak on home soil against the Aussies.

Many thought” is doing a lot of work in those paragraphs above.

Many also thought it was fairly unintelligent to steam in to a ruck, shoulder first, in a stadium with more cameras than the Celebrity Big Brother House, particularly when the referee was playing advantage to your team.

A word to young aspiring sports journalists the world over; quoting Phil Kearns’ opinion on anything as if objective and knowledgeable is not conducive to being taken seriously. For example, the words “double movement” are nowhere to be found in the Rugby law book. Oh, and they are laws not rules, Phil.

Yeah, yeah, details are annoying.

Bill’s Opinion

It might be argued that Rugby Union is a dying sport in Australia. Certainly, the attendance figures for the top league are insipid and declining year on year.

Pinpointing when the rot set in is a tough task; the national team have had a reputation for over-performing for years compared to their perceived abilities and talent pool, which may have had an effect of disguising institutional problems.

Rather like Hemingway’s quote on how an individual became bankrupt, (“two ways…gradually and then suddenly“), one suspects the Australian rugby code is now reaping the poor harvest of inaction or actions of perhaps decades ago. My suspicion is the 2nd term of former CEO John O’Neil (2007-2013) might be a good starting point for an investigation and also the subsequent term of Bill Pulver.

Both were great examples of the the strange phenomenon of Australian upper class elite in a country that prides itself on being egalitarian and classless. O’Neil and Pulver attended St Joseph’s and “Shore” (Sydney Church of England Grammar School), respectively, as did most of their predecessors and peers. It’s a shallow and parochial talent pool which often benefits from the “closed shop” approach common to an “old boy’s network”.

Without forensically examining the board papers and internal memoranda throughout that period, it’s impossible to be certain what the causes of the malaise were. The consequences are plain to see though; declining attendance, participation and on-pitch results (there are people who are taking their driving lessons this year who weren’t born when Australia last won the Bledisloe Cup, for example).

Bill Pulver handed the reigns over to Raelene Castle who, although making encouraging noises about grassroots participation, has picked an ideological battleground which risks a heavy financial loss if unsuccessful, one which the sport can ill-afford at this febrile time.

There’s a glimmer of hope in the article linked above though; the semi-professional Shute Shield competition can draw crowds close to those of some of the Super Series teams.

Perhaps that’s the future of rugby in Australia; a recognition of financial reality and a reversion to the model where the athletes have regular jobs on civvie street and play for the love and prestige of the game?

Strangely, that might simultaneously save the sport and satisfy the Shore/Joeys alumni’s unspoken preference for the game to return to its “boutique” and exclusive roots; a visit to a top level rugby match in Sydney has the feel of an excuse for an old school social event rather than an outing for true sports fans.

With my feet in the fridge…

…and my head in the oven, I am experiencing an average level of comfort.

The Sydney Morning Herald Climate Change Bot ™ has produced this month’s weather article.

That’s a shocking headline, isn’t it? My only surprise is why it didn’t warrant a solid Peter Hannam-esque “Extreme Weather” tagline?

Seriously, 7 degrees is a long way above the average, even if it is caveated with both a “likely to” and an “up to”.

Except….

The missing piece of data is what the range encompasses.

Ah, 25.9 to 2.2 degrees.

That’s quite a temperature range for July, eh? The mean maximum is 16.4 degrees, (up to) 7 degrees above that is still 2.5 below the maximum recorded July temperature.

Bill’s Opinion

This isn’t #FakeNews, it’s simply #NotNews.

Hold the front page; winter is cooler than summer this year but well within the expected range based on observations.

By the way, in a surprise development, Jenny Noye’s degree was on the solid scientific subjects of media and gender studies. One assumes any “deviations” taught on the curriculum wouldn’t be of the statistical standard type.

News articles about transgenders confuse me

I am privileged enough to have benefited from an excellent education in English comprehension, some of which stuck in my sub-standard brain, but newspaper articles about transgender folk in 2019 always require re-reading.

Am I alone in this? Is this just me?

This one, for example, needed three passes before I worked out what was going on;

Zach Barack honoured to be Marvel’s first openly transgender star

The 23-year-old gushed about the role during an interview with Variety at the movie’s Los Angeles premiere on Wednesday. And reflecting on his casting, the star admitted his Hollywood debut still hasn’t sunk in.

“I’m kind of losing my mind a little bit, but I’m acting like I’m not. I don’t know that it fully has (sunk in),” he confessed. “I don’t quite have the capacity to explain how meaningful it is to me.”

Referencing comics as an “important” part of his childhood, Zach went on to explain that there’s “something very inherently trans about those stories”, where a character has to balance life as a teenager and their secret self.

Did you work it out? “Zach” is a woman who thinks she’s a man.

The pictures often help, to be fair. If you find your inner voice saying something along the lines of, “Christ, that’s an ugly man/woman“, it’ll be because they aren’t.

It turns out millions of years of evolution have resulted in the ability to rapidly sort other humans into potential mate/not potential mate categories before we are even consciously aware of the process occurring.

In “Zach’s” words;

“Especially being a transmasculine person, because sometimes there’s a pressure to be a different way than I feel naturally inclined to do because I want to fit in, and I have to actively fight that instinct,” he reflected.

Fighting one’s instinct to “fit in”? That’s a road to happiness and mental well-being, I’m sure.

“The fact of the matter is, being in this movie is so beyond incredibly meaningful, and I hope that it means something to other people.”

Well done, you got a job. It’s probably only meaningful to you and a couple of other people…. like your landlord and bank manager.

Here’s another example:

A transgender man who is fighting to have his child be the first in the UK to legally not have a mother made a documentary showing his child’s face whilst arguing that his family needed court anonymity to protect them from harm.

This being the UK’s Daily Telegraph, one of the last to get the “woke” memo, they give the game away early:

Freddy McConnell, who was born a woman, launched a High Court battle against the Government earlier this year after the General Registrar Office (GRO) refused to register him as the “father” on his child’s birth certificate.

Ok, it’s a woman who’s convinced herself that she’s a man… but not enough to stop her from going to a sperm donor and subsequently pushing a baby through the birth canal and out of her “male vagina” 9 months later.

As an aside, can you imagine the linguistic contortions the midwifery team had to put themselves through to avoid stepping on “Freddie’s” offence eggshells? One has to have some sympathy.

Selective acceptance of inconvenient facts seems to be a theme in “Freddie’s” world:

Mr McConnell was accused of being in “serious breach of his duty of candour to the Court” by failing to disclose the existence of a documentary called Seahorse, which he began filming three years ago. 

Throughout the documentary – which premiered at the trendy New York film festival Tribeca in April – Mr McConnell openly shares personal details including his attempts to get pregnant, giving birth and footage of his child’s face.  

The court heard how Mr McConnell completed his gender transition several years ago and was able to access a sperm donor 10 days after legally becoming a man. As a result, he became pregnant and later gave birth to YY.

Ah, nothing channels Marlene Dietrich’s “I vont to be alone” like being the star of your own BBC documentary. That takes living off the grid to a new level, eh?

The evidence prompted Sir Andrew <McFarlane, president of the Family Division of the High Court> to raise concerns about transgender men’s ability to access fertility treatment in the UK, as he called on the government to review the current legislation. 

Ya think?

Not least of the concerns should be that it’s highly unlikely “Freddie” paid for the treatment out of their own bank account but received it from the UK’s publicly-funded National Health Service.

As a slight digression, if “Freddie” was the recipient of thousands of pounds’ worth of IVF treatment on the NHS, let’s spare a thought for the minimum wage earning taxpayers stacking supermarket shelves on the night shift to pay for it.

But how did I make the leap of faith to assume “Freddie” didn’t get the IVF privately?

Because she/he isn’t on a high salary. We know that because the article helpfully tells us the name of her/his employer.

In April, two months after the initial court hearing, he gave an interview to The Guardian – where he works as a digital journalist – revealing his own full name, where they live and specific medical details of his transition process. 

So, an alternate headline for the story about Freddie and his male vagina could have been:

BBC makes documentary about transgender Guardian journalist.

Echo chamber much?

Bill’s Opinion

Confusing media reports of transgender folk fall into two categories; those that refer to their “new” gender in a sympathetic attempt to not further the subject’s psychological pain, and those that are deliberate in their attempt to obfuscate and change the meaning of previously universally understood nouns.

There’s possibly a third, supplemental reason for these misleading exercises in English comprehension; digital media is paid for by clicks and time spent on pages. If I have to page back and forth up an article until I’ve understood what’s being presented to me, it registers as a positive statistic to the advertising industry. There’s value in the confusion.

Or as the old sales cliché goes (borrowed from Sun Tzu), “where there’s chaos, there’s margin“.

The result of the confluence of these three reasons to change the meaning of millenia-old nouns is a change to our method of assessing the words presented to us. No woman of child-bearing age is going to look at “Zach” and unconsciously register “him” as a potential father of her future children. The lizard brain has got there first and already deselected “him” out.

There’s a solid scientific study simply waiting to be had to confirm this hypothesis. Good luck ever working again if you undertake it though.

So we unconsciously learn to associate “transgender” with the word “not“. As in “transgender woman” equals “not woman“. I somehow doubt this was the desired outcome of those who seek to change our language.

The cultural Marxists are generally not slow to spot failures of strategy though, so I predict there will be a concerted effort to no longer use transgender as a prefix in future, to be replaced with something else with less linguistic baggage.

We will know sanity has completely lost the culture war when we are told we should not (and later, cannot) use a prefix at all to describe transgender people.

UPDATE

I was unlucky enough to have to accompany some small children to the Spider-Man movie this weekend.

Firstly, the script writers need to be taken outside and shot as it surely cannot be difficult to to write an action movie that actually has action in the first half hour rather than trying to channel 1980s teen movies.

Secondly, one hopes “Zach” was paid commensurately to zher screen time and scripted lines… which amounted to 15 seconds and 6 words. Still, good payoff of publicity in the woke press….

Publish and be damned

This might be nothing or it might be quite significant. I’ll defer to our regular legal expert for the definitive opinion in the comments.

A defamation case has just concluded in Australia where the judge found in favour of the plaintiff’s claim that Creepbook page owners are liable for comments made under their content.

There is a very lengthy but highly-informative Twitter thread here with a detailed breakdown of why Creepbook page owners are simply unable to comply with the ruling. In summary, the tools aren’t made available to control the content and it is currently impossible to switch off comments…. wait for it… unless you are a pharmaceutical company.

No, really….. go to the bottom of that Twitter thread to find that gem and shake your head.

The ruling seems to hold a page “owner” liable for anything anyone posts in reply. Unfortunately, Creepbook doesn’t provide the ability to disable comments on pages (“groups” have this function though) and the keyword blocking function is far from watertight.

There’s much debate currently in the USA about whether the social media giants have become the de facto “public square” and therefore should be subject to the First Amendment or they are publishers curating content and therefore have liability for anything which breaks a law or incurs libel cases.

The general position of the tech companies is that they are common carriers like the postal system or a phone company. Except there’s a major inconsistency with their actions; the phone company doesn’t cut you off if you say something it disagrees with.

Somewhere between these three positions the US courts will eventually rule. Many other commentators have written and spoken extensively on this dichotomy and have speculated on how it might land. My voice isn’t going add much either way.

In the meantime, it looks like an Australian judge may have hurried things along a little.

Bill’s Opinion

It might be argued this ruling has restricted free speech in Australia. However, regular readers will likely concur that ship sailed from Australian shores a long time ago.

My personal position is one of free speech near absolutism; with the exception of calling for violence, I’m generally ok with people saying whatever the hell they want.

That’s not to say they can say it without consequence, public opinion and libel laws are useful moderators.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean the right to an audience though. If social media giants “de-platform” voices they dislike, that’s fine. Those voices will find a way to be heard, particularly if what they are saying resonates with others as being virtuous and true. We should have faith in our fellow humans in being able to discern mendacity from honesty.

This Australian case might result in changes to Creepbook globally, it might result in changes only to the way Australian companies engage on Creepbook, or it might result in very little change at all. Anyone who claims to know is deluding themselves and you.

Creepbook and its page owners might be liable for what’s written by others or they can remove opinions they dislike. I don’t care either way, I’m not on Creepbook so was unlikely to read it anyway.

Yet somehow I manage to keep myself informed of a diverse range of opinions. It’s almost as if, I dunno, there’s an entire world outside of Creepbook.