It’s all about me

Jessica (big) “smarty pants” Irvine was allowed another vanity column again this week:

I’ve lost loads of weight because I’m more intelligent than you“.

This continues along the same boastful theme she lectured us with 18 months ago, wherein she helpfully explained how, if you eat fewer calories than you expend in exercise, there’s a good chance you might lose weight over time.

Quite why it took most of her adult life to learn something most people have worked out by the time they’ve reached puberty, she doesn’t explain.

The entire column is barely more than a lengthy Facebook post that most people unfortunate to be connected to her would either skip past or consider justification for muting further updates from her.

That the editorial team at the Sydney Morning Herald let this get as far as publication speaks volumes for the rate of decline of the masthead.

There’s not much else to be said about this utter vanity effort except perhaps a data point for Jessica (well, she claims to be good with numbers) in response to her featured Instagram post:

A six hour marathon?

That’s the cut-off limit of that race.

Bill’s Opinion

Actually, the official results show Jess “ran” the race in 6 hours and 9 minutes.

So they were clearly packing everything up and heading home when she crossed the finish line.

There were only 39 people behind her. Her finish time is on the last page of those who completed the course.

Perhaps Jess’ New Year’s resolution for 2020 should involve developing some level of self-awareness and undertaking a little more introspection.

As for the Sydney Morning Herald editorial team, it might be worth going on to Google Maps and plotting a scenic route to your nearest Centrelink office for later in the year. If you get in the habit of collecting your dole money by foot, you too can become as fit and healthy as Jess Irvine.

The Tesco Christmas Card Hoax of 2019

A young girl in the UK allegedly found the following written in one of the Christmas cards she purchased from the supermarket, Tesco:

The factory identified by Tesco as being the source of production denies this, but by using weasel words.

We wrote previously about the ridiculously ineffective Modern Slavery Act and its various international variations, in which the following quote featured:

The BHRCC research, from October 2017, commended Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Unilever, British American Tobacco, Tesco and Vodafone for their work against modern slavery.

It would seem, Prima Facie, Tesco’s statement on a website didn’t do much to counter slavery in the supply chain.

However, our Bullshit Detector is flashing regarding this story.

Firstly, that note has zero spelling or grammatical errors or even any indication in the prose suggesting a non-native English speaker wrote it. Even the best speakers and writers of English as a second language usually give unintentional hints in the written form.

Secondly, it seems all too perfect a coincidence that a small girl would traumatically find the note. Of all the Christmas cards written in the UK, what percentage are written by small children, do we think? I’m going to suggest less than 2%.

Then there’s the interesting career of her father, Ben Widdicombe:

Today’s LinkedIn profile was brought to you by the words “political” and “activist“.

Bill’s Opinion

Two facts can be correct at the same time.

It is highly likely Chinese factories producing Tesco’s Christmas cards are using or have used forced (or at least, “coerced“) prison labour.

It can also be true that a man who has spent his entire life as a political activist wrote the note in the card and put it in a pile for his daughter to write.

I’m no fan of nor apologist for the Chinese government, as polemics such as this and this would attest, but my patented razor suggests the most likely explanation of this story is that it is The Tesco Christmas Card Hoax of 2019 and was perpetrated by Ben Widdicombe.

UPDATE

A correspondent has suggested the note has been translated and the original is not being shown to protect the writer.

Previous reporting of similar notes have stated this translation has occurred but I’ve yet to find reporting of this for this specific case.

Regardless, translated note or otherwise, the strongest indication of this being a hoax is the unlikelihood of the small child of a lifelong political activist finding a note in a card from a Chinese slave labourer.

Update 2: “Handwriting changed

The heat is on

Many people all over Australia received messages of support from overseas friends and relatives yesterday.

Why?

Because yesterday was “Australia’s hottest day“.

No, really it was.

See, this is the record of temperatures in Sydney during the day yesterday:

Nudging 25 degrees there. Phewwwww!

In other words, a pleasant day in early summer.

The “hottest day” is calculated by taking an average of averages across the entire continent.

Yep.

In other news, an average of Tom Cruise and Shaquille O’Neal is as tall as Chris Hemsworth.

Bill’s Opinion

Perhaps catastrophic man made global warming is an existential threat to humanity or perhaps it isn’t.

One thing is certain to anyone with any experience of reviewing data and reporting; the reporting of climate change is indistinguishable from blatant lying.

May Day!

The verb “may” and its synonyms do yeoman’s work again for the cause of global warming this week:

Australia “may” break a heat record this week.

Crikey (to use the vernacular), that’s scary!

What are the details of this climate catastrophe?

The mercury in Sydney’s CBD may shoot 12 degrees over the historical average for December this weekend while the western suburbs face their hottest day ever in the month.

Smart readers will already have mentally filed the first half of that sentence to the folder marked “bullshit” because of the use of the juvenile “average”.

We’ll come on to the second half of the sentence later.

There’s more heavy lifting for “may”:

“If Penrith gets shrouded by bushfire smoke, it may not get that warm – but either way we’re pretty confident of getting temperatures well into the 40s,” meteorologist Rob Taggart said. He noted that in some parts of western Sydney, measurements only went back 25 to 45 years.

Well into the 40s“, eh?

Oh, and records that only span one human generation?

In case you didn’t get the memo, “average” gets another run off the bench:

“At this stage, we’re forecasting a late breeze, but that may change. If it doesn’t come at all, we could see temperatures into the 40s,” he said.

The average December maximum for the CBD is 25.2 degrees.

Bill’s Opinion

Averages should play no part in any reporting of weather. None.

Why?

Last year, the coldest December day in New South Wales was 14.3 degrees. The hottest was 41.4 degrees.

When the wind shifts to blow from the south, there is no land mass between Sydney and the Antarctic. Good luck using an average temperature to make any useful weather-based decision about Sydney.

A note to those who wish to convince me and others of the climate emergency; try not using persuasion techniques that look indistinguishable from confidence trickery and lies.

The ballad of Israel Folau

We’ve been following the petty story of Israel closely for some time now. It was obvious it wasn’t going to end well for Rugby Australia and, lo it came to pass.

They’ve settled with him before the court case, probably because of the minor difficulty that they forgot to insist on a social media clause when his contract was renewed 10 months ago.

I’d guess that mistake is worth about 5 years’ of his salary, so somewhere between $7m and $8m.

The missing social media restriction clause would have been no more than 50 words. So, about $150k a word.

Even Ed Sheeran doesn’t get paid at that rate.

In the main, the commentators on this organ knew what was going on; this was the latest skirmish in the Great Culture War of 2019. Obviously, ever the contrarian, Bardon decided Folau wouldn’t win the case.

If he’d gone to court, perhaps he wouldn’t. But, as we say in our house, “if me mam had wheels she’d be a trolley“.

I daren’t look at Pirate Pete’s opinion piece on the settlement. I genuinely haven’t read it but I imagine it will contain virtue signalling to the diverse (but not religious brown people), wokescolding against the religious bigots (but only one type), and soft criticism of Rugby Australia for signing inadequate contracts of employment.

Bill’s Opinion

As I have said repeatedly on this subject, I don’t care nor want to know what an athlete’s views are on theology.

I also would prefer to live in a world where those views, as long as they don’t call for violence, don’t result in them losing their job either.

Finally, the heuristic remains; if you need to quickly determine what is correct or to predict the future, check what Peter Fitzsimons has preached and assume the 180 degree position.

Compare and contrast

Same testimony, different takes:

Left wing.

Right wing.

Bill’s Opinion

Is it just me or is anyone else utterly bored by activism and opinion masquerading as “news”?

Perhaps it’s an unreliable memory, but I have a vague idea there was a time when journalists and editors genuinely aspired to report facts as objectively as they could in order to allow their readers to form their own opinions.

It seems to me that, as politics continues to bifurcate, the journalist class increasingly views the public as unable to form an accurate opinion. We therefore require our opinions to be ascribed to us.

Thanks.

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself.

Book ‘em Danno; First Degree Statistics Crime

Here’s a example of the modern malaise of innumeracy:

Drought hits Sydney

Whilst it’s clear there’s been a paucity of rainfall in the state of New South Wales, the article is riddled with unasked questions.

Sydneysiders are using higher than average amounts of water and face the prospect of four more years of restrictions and a hike in bills from next July if the drought does not break.

Higher than average.

Per person? Per household? In total and therefore compared to previous years?

Has the denominator changed, such as an increase in population, for example?

We aren’t told.

Instead, we have a late entry for the 2019 Stating the Bleeding Obvious Prize:

Although a typical household bill would be 2.5 per cent higher under the latest submission, customers could cut bills by saving water.

We do get a clue to the answers to the earlier questions though:

But despite a recent increase in usage, the Berejiklian government says Sydneysiders are using less water per person each day than they were during the Millennium drought.

Ok, that suggests a population increase has occurred. Funny the article doesn’t spell that out though.

That dreaded noun, “average”, makes yet another appearance:

It says rainfall across the catchments over the past two years was “below to very much below average” and the Bureau of Meteorology predicts a dryer and warmer than average summer.

Below to very much below.

Well, that clears things up for us….

Bill’s Opinion

Either the journalist writing this article is completely innumerate, not curious, blindly regurgitating a press release or trying to drive an agenda.

If the first explanation, perhaps they should read Factfulness.

The climate of crazy ideas

The former Australian rugby player, Israel Folau, is in the news again today (not really; he’s only in the Sydney Morning Herald).

Yesterday, he gave a sermon at his church where he suggested the recent bushfires in Australia were a direct result of the godlessness of the country’s population.

Of course, the ever-declining business masquerading as a news outlet has inferred because of this, Folau is a religious nutcase.

Picking on the religious beliefs of others is always a fun pastime, mainly due to the low cost to oneself; a religious belief, by its definition, is one that not capable of being disproven using the scientific method.

I must admit to having never entered the auspicious offices of The Sydney Morning Herald in Pyrmont, but if I did, I would be unsurprised to discover the following demographic boxes and beliefs ticked by the vast majority, if not all editorial employees;

  1. Politically left
  2. Accepting of the concept that the west is a toxic patriarchy
  3. Accepting of the concept that the west is systemically racist
  4. Accepting of the concept of gender fluidity
  5. The concept of Judeo-Christian values or worth is to be dismissed as morally-inferior
  6. Acceptance of every report issued by the IPCC as being accurate, including every prediction and solution

If you are or know someone who is employed in that department and don’t tick one or several of those statements, please do correct me below.

Bills Opinion

We all hold unprovable beliefs.

Sit on a bus or a train and look around you. Do you know even a fraction of the thoughts appearing in your fellow travellers’ minds?

Of course not.

Does it matter?

Not if they aren’t harming you in any way.

Israel Folau isn’t attempting to dip into my bank account, restrict my ability to heat/cool my home, drive a car or take overseas holidays.

Izzy can believe whatever utter garbage he wishes.

On bush fires and global warming

The human brain, when faced with complex, multi-variable problems requires simple, easy solutions. Sadly, this is rarely feasible.

Take, for example, the huge outbreak of bush fires currently occurring in New South Wales, Australia.

These fires are serious. Tragically, lives have been lost.

Residential properties have been destroyed, with all the concomitant heartbreak that entails, the photos, the documents of memories, the moments in places that have been forever changed or destroyed.

While the fires are still burning, rational people ask what they should do to protect themselves and their families. This describes my current situation, living as I do in an area with a heavily forested area within an easy stone’s throw.

Those not in immediate danger wonder what they might do to help their neighbours.

Then there are those who live in the Australian equivalent of Islington.

Before the bodies of the dead have been recovered, they have already determined the effect, cause and solution.

The effect is obvious; catastrophic fires.

The cause is man made climate change.

The solution is to artificially hamstring the economy in a massive transfer of wealth and power from individuals to the state:

Bill’s Opinion

A more curious mind might read the coverage of the fires and search for answers to questions such as these:

Obviously, to answer these questions one would need a lot of time to undertake research or a competent and non-activist news media to perform this on our behalf.

Instead, we are presented with the simple message that these fires are definitely the result of man made climate change and the only viable solution to the problem is renewables such as solar and wind turbines.

Finally, I challenge you to find a single mention in the Australian media or political discourse of the vaguest possibility of nuclear energy being even a minor part of the solution.

Our media are mendacious, low IQ or a mixture of the two.

Lifting the veil on the narrative

Consider this tragic story of prejudice and bigotry:

The mood after the race was jubilant. Sixteen-year-old Noor Alexandria Abukaram, who had just run her best time yet, hugged her high school teammates as they realised they were headed to regionals.

So far, so inspiring.

Then the students went to check their individual times at last Saturday’s Ohio cross-country meeting, Abukaram remembers. It seemed there was a mistake – her 22 minutes 22 seconds was not listed.

Oh no! Why not?

Other team members who’d sat out Abukaram’s race told her what they’d heard: an official at the Ohio High School Athletic Association approached their coach just before the race to say Abukaram needed a waiver to wear her hijab. Without it, she couldn’t compete.

That’s awful. Imagine thinking you’d competed and won fairly only to discover an obscure rule you’d never known previously had disqualified you.

Abukaram had never experienced this type of bureaucratic nonsense over religious clothing before, after all.

Abukaram says she’s watched her older sister come home crying from soccer games, after being told to change out of religious garb like the long pants she wears in addition to a headscarf.

Oh, that’s awkward.

The article then mentions a different, elite-level, athlete with similar problems:

Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first US athlete to compete in the Olympics with a hijab, has described sticking out uncomfortably at competitions and being asked to remove her headscarf for an event ID photo.

Well, unless everyone is forced to wear a headscarf, then I suppose she would look different, wouldn’t she?

As for ID photos requiring an unrestricted image of the competing athlete, I’m sure someone with even the mildest ability to hypothesise could think of how waiving that rule might result in a bad result.

Back to Abukaram’s tragic case. What say the athletics event organisers?

The Ohio High School Athletic Association says it wasn’t singling out Abukaram last weekend, just enforcing its rules. Students need a waiver to run cross-country in “religious headwear”, spokesman Tim Stried told The New York Times, and Abukaram’s school had not requested one.

Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they, the bigots.

Abukaram’s request after Saturday’s race was approved “immediately”, Stried said. That means Abukaram can run this weekend in regionals.

Oh.

For Abukaram, the decision to strike her time was still hurtful. She wants the waiver requirement dropped – something OHSAA is now considering, Stried told the Times.

Quite right too. Everyone should be forced to change because of one person’s inability to ask for a waiver….which was granted immediately when requested.

Bills Opinion

Crybully is an interesting noun which explains much of what we see in cases involving participants in “The Oppression Olympics”.

In the entire article linked above, and the countless clones of it available via a Google search, the word “why” is conspicuously missing.

As in, “why does the Ohio High School Athletic Association ban head coverings unless agreed in advance?

I can’t find the reasons on the association’s website, mainly because the bylaws and general rules pages have been removed. Interestingly, they are proud enough of their transgender policy to leave that up (spoiler alert; it’s a fudge, like Cricket Australia’s).

We’ll have to speculate then.

I imagine the rule was made because, unless they legislated for every possible religious headgear, they had to reserve the right to review each individual case and not be unreasonable in granting the waivers.

How might a general rule allowing headgear be abused?

Well, we could ask why cyclists wear this type of helmet, for example:

Then there might be reasons of safety; headphones are banned because its restricts competitors’ ability to be aware of other runners.

It seems reasonable, therefore, to check each proposed headgear before a race.

But, claiming victim status and throwing accusations of bigotry is rewarded because incentives matter.