Bob’s yer uncle

Waleed Ally smuggled a thought bubble past the subbies:

Forget a president – here’s another idea.

It’s not all bad news though; the opening sentence probably resulted in an almond chai decaf latte being spat out in a chi chi Mosman café this morning; So, republicanism is now a minority position in Australia.

Put Peter Fitzsimons’ therapist on danger money, baby.

He then proceeds to state the bleedin’ obvious for several hundred repetitive and tautologous words, which he helpfully summarised early on in the piece, to save bored readers time:

…..a huge number found something appealing in it, even when the public relations were terrible. That’s true even with the absurdity of Australia having a foreign head of state, determined by hereditary rules.

Yes Waleed, people are irrational about the Monarchy. Also, the prospect of “President Rudd” or “First Lady Lisa Wilkinson” probably scares the living daylights out of them.

His answer though? You’re going to love it, it’s a doozy:

What if, instead of a monarch or a president, we had an Australian Elder? That is, a recognised Indigenous elder, appointed as our head of state for life.

Genius.

Can anyone see any potential problems with this? Beuller? Bruce Pascoe? Anyone?

Also, appointed by whom?

God?

Surely not The King?

Also, slightly controversial question; if we could poll the 24 million Australians, how many would be able to name even one recognised Indigenous elder?

Not a famous sports star or TV presenter, but “elder”, with all the inferred gravitas that noun contains.

We could even call our Elder “Uncle” or “Aunty”. And when our Aunty dies, deep rituals of mourning would already exist, ready for us to embrace as a nation.

He’s “thinking past the sale” here, we haven’t been able to think of an example anyone’s heard of yet.

Also, a teensy-weensy task of a communication exercise is required to let the rest of the world know that Australia will now be using “Uncle” in a different context to the two globally accepted norms of (1) parental sibling, or (2) “friend of Mum’s who often comes over when Dad is out”.

This though, is the ultimate in race-baiting projection:

Obviously, this office is racially closed. But so is the monarchy, which is always going to be white…

Which is another way of saying Prince George will be prevented from marrying anyone outside his race if he should wish to do so.

Scenario-play that through for a moment; let’s say in 2035, he’s been publicly dating an intelligent, beautiful, famous Nigerian heiress for a couple of years. Does anyone actually think he’s not going to be able to marry her? Or, that when it’s his turn to take the throne, there will be a law passed preventing the couple becoming King and Queen?

Waleed has the superpower of being able to see future racism from over decade away. That’s impressive.

Ultimately, as Waleed concludes:

It’s rough, and not fully thought through, I admit.

No shit, Sherlock?

(Uncle) Bill’s Opinon

Let replace an illogical tradition that’s evolved over a thousand years in to one the majority of people agree works well enough for them, with a newly invented illogical tradition and hope everything will go ok.

Alternatively, let’s focus our time and resources to crack on with doing something useful like inventing practical fusion energy generation or high speed mass transit or somethin’.

Could G K Chesterton please report to the office?

…and bring fence repair tools.

There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

For example, lengthy clinical trials before rolling out new medicines, sometimes lasting 7 years. That kind of “fence”.

Why do we bring this up? Well, the UK Government just quietly changed its policy regarding mRNA vaccines and pregnant or breastfeeding women (aka “pregnant people” and “chestfeeders”, in the vernacular).

Specifically:

Ok, well that’s a bit of a minor change with no negative implications, isn’t it. because previously, there was a significant amount or urging going on. In fact, there were urges everywhere, no corner of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was spared the urge.

Northern Ireland was urged:

England was urged:

Wales was urged:

I couldn’t find the Scotch urge, but it’s probably covered by this catch all:

And this urging:

Don’t forget, they were being urged and put on the priory list:

Let’s not forget, if you weren’t already scared shitless, pregnant people and chestfeeders who definitely had no comorbities could die with of Covid:

Finally, here’s the BBC (mission statement: “to act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain“) telling you it’s perfectly safe for the aforementioned pregnant and breastfeeding people to take the vaccine.

Fully vaxxed? Fully tested, natch.

Bill’s Opinion

I sincerely hope you and nobody you hold dear suffered any negative consequences as a result of taking a brand new medicine during pregnancy before the clinical trials had completed.

Someone must certainly have though, else why has this policy been changed now?

How many miscarriages and how many and how severe birth defects are we talking about, I wonder?

The shoes keep dropping.

Bourgeois chutzpah

Level: Jedi Knight

Written by Daniella White, who is also the author of this Numberwang from January, where she misses asking any questions about denominators or the relationship between numbers of Covid tests and positive cases but simply reports government statistics as if they actually meant anything useful.

So, Daniella is clearly one of the intended targets of this article.

People’s poor understanding of statistics resulted in misinformation and “fake news” spreading throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers say, as a study calls for changes to how mathematics is taught in schools.

Schools? Yes, those things we shut down for months at a time.

Australian Catholic University Professor of Mathematics Education Vincent Geiger, who co-authored the research, said more needed to be done to teach students how to critically interpret statistics like those published during the pandemic.

Not just students. Also every media outlet that ever published a percentage without an accompanying denominator, or a case fatality rate without comparing it to the ‘flu and the caveat we don’t test for ‘flu.

“Mathematics and statistics were used in the media like almost never before over COVID-19,” Geiger said.

Yes, we can all agree with that statement., unfortunately.

“What does flattening the curve actually mean?

Yes, we wrote about how the conversation quietly changed about that here, turns out it means whatever we want it to mean and we’ll stop using it as our strategy without telling anyone.

He said schools also needed to do more to help students scrutinise whether sources were credible, and the media should provide links to original sources of statistics and information quoted in articles.

Agreed. It kind of infers the churnalists understand numbers though. Big assumption, there.

Geiger said unless key skills were addressed at school, there was a real danger that students would grow up to be adults at risk of accepting “fake news”.

You see that tall mast disappearing over the horizon? That’s the ship that’s sailed already.

One example was misinterpretation of vaccine effectiveness data. While raw data might show a higher raw number of deaths and infections among the vaccinated population when most people have been vaccinated, the rate of infection and death in unvaccinated people is still higher.

“The numbers may appear simple, but they’re not, they’re what we would call composite variables,” she said.

Oh, I feel this might be a topic to which there will be many unhappy returns this year…..

Bennett said people should defer to the experts in the field to explain data and not necessarily attempt to draw conclusions from statistics for themselves.

Really? Do they have some computer models? They’re always very persuasive and worked out really well for us.

Bill’s Opinion

The fucking chutzpah and irony of a journalist writing an article bemoaning a lack of numeracy and critical thinking.

Anyone who, after the last two and half years, ever again finds themselves reading a data point in a newspaper without assuming it’s 180 degrees incorrect, should consider wearing a sign or some kind of symbol to let the rest of us know to avoid them.

Oh, they do already. It’s called a face mask.

The SMH’s high priest is in the bully pulpit

We start today with our constantly handy flow chart:

The Australian discount royal family, the Wilkinson-Fitzsimons of Mosman, are frequent content generators for this site, mainly due to their permanent resident status at the nexus of hubris, moralising, and self-unawareness.

They are the perfectly-suited couple, creating what must be the world’s most securely-vacuum sealed echo chamber in their bijou home. NASA scientists are craving research access to this natural phenomenon, where dissenting opinions cannot enter.

Lisa Wilkinson is the family bread-winner, despite many of her recent salary reviews being shockingly impacted by the patriarchy. She comforts herself in her selfless public service of tweeting helpful improvement suggestions to airport security processes to speed her route past her loyal subjects to the Qantas President’s Lounge

Crueller commentators than I might suggest Peter Fitzsimons’ contribution to the family income is somewhat irrelevant in comparison to his spouse, so much so, that others have even suggested she actually subsidises his army of history research interns churning out his regular contributions to the bargain clearance baskets in Australia bookstores.

Similarly, it seems barely credible his frequent vernacular-rich, comma-heavy columns in the Sydney Morning Herald attract a real wage. Few would be surprised if the rumours were confirmed that Lisa slips a cheque to the Accounts department each month to cover his “earnings”.

There’s no shame in this if it were true; it’s a perfectly respectable way for Executives in Manly to keep their wives busy with loss-making cup cake delivery businesses rather than having the time to spare for extra-curricular lessons with the tennis coach. Why not female TV presenters? Equality an’ all that, it’s 2022, you chauvinists.

Fitzsimons is a complex character nonetheless. I’m reminded of a quote about the late All Black, Keith Murdoch, who was infamously sent home in disgrace from a tour to Wales for cowardly knocking out a hotel security guard; “Keith was an unhappy drunk”.

Fitzsimons is sober these days. It’s unclear to me which is worse, being a thin-skinned bully when under the influence, or continuing this behaviour once the fighting juice has been forsaken?

Why do I ask this?

Consider his latest skirmish in the culture war. Peter has chosen a side on the debate about whether Aboriginal Australians should have further constitutional recognition, or “The Voice”. Unsurprisingly, Peter picked the one requiring least personal cost and maximum public virtue (check the flow chart above).

As is Peter’s idiom however, once a position has been taken, dissenting opinions are not allowed. Alternate takes are greeted as if calls for murder. Peter tends to spend so much time living in the logical fallacy, “ad hominem”, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn Lisa has bought their 5th home in that postcode to save on his rental costs.

(Yes, I’m aware of the irony that I’ve just accused someone of reverting to ad hominem attacks in a column which is almost entirely ad hominem. Sometimes that’s the only language bullies understand).

You can read the details about this week’s moralising in the Spectator. In summary, Senator Jacinta Price believes the energy and resources of the Voice campaign might be better directed to those in need in remote communities. Peter strongly disagrees and is alleged to have been less than a gentlemen about it when they met for an interview on the topic. On verra, if/once the tape is released.

He’s since made veiled legal threats to Price to retract her statement that he bullied her.

Some important context; Senator Price is Aboriginal, has spent a great deal of her life with these communities and devotes huge amounts of time and personal resources to delivering tangible outcomes for disadvantaged Aboriginal communities. She also has very little access to funding for a protracted legal battle.

Peter is a private school-educated spouse of a multi-millionaire and devotes huge amounts of time tweeting signals of virtue on his iPhone from the downstairs toilet of his wife’s prime Sydney real estate. Oh, and he’s a socialist (eye roll).

Bill’s Opinion

I’m genuinely undecided on “The Voice”.

However, it’s my observation there is a very lucrative industry channeling government funds to a growing metropolitan Aboriginal demographic. It’s the political third rail to suggest this is not right, and for your career’s sake, stay well away from what the definition of “aboriginal” is for the purpose of funding allocation.

Meanwhile, the infant mortality rate in some communities in NT and north QLD is STILL equivalent to some sub-Saharan African states despite decades of “intervention”.

Perhaps we can chew gum and walk at the same time. Observed fact suggests we struggle with that.

However, unlike Peter Fitzsimons, I treat situations where people disagree with me as learning opportunities. Particularly when they’ve got a far more relevant CV compared to mine.

As for Fitzsimons’ cup cake delivery business, I’m not across the details of the SMH’s accounts, but if I were Tory Maguire, Bevan Shields, Mike Sneesby, James Chessell, or the directors of Nine Media, I might ask for a reconciliation between payroll and accounts receivables. Is Lisa paying for his column inches?

Actually, it’s probably worse if they discover they really are paying for this bullying thin-skinned 1970’s sports jock throwback masquerading as one of the caring and the good. What does that say about their judgement and authority on the shop floor?

He can dish it out but can’t take it. We’ve all known people like that. When we meet them, if we are brave, we confront them on their terms. They always turn tail and run away.

The best performing teams generally operate a “no dickheads” policy. Perhaps it’s time for Peter to spend more time double parking his coal-powered car outside chi chi Mosman cafés.

Which cat killed curiosity?

You’d be forgiven for not paying attention to the “election” of the new Leader of the Conservative Party (AKA “The Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”) in the UK right now.

As some wag put it on the socials yesterday, it’s rather like having to choose your favourite Covid vaccine. Except you’re not being asked to choose.

There have been a series of press conferences and televised debates. Plenty of opportunity for our media class to pose the hard questions. One topic notably absent from the mouths of any of the candidates, not even the otherwise great Kemi Badenoch, and certainly not asked by the journalists is “whither lockdowns?”.

As in, were they a good idea, should we even consider them again, how did the cost/benefit analysis play out two years down the track, etc.?

Complete silence.

I have to check myself in my surprise at this. Am I wrong in thinking what we just lived through was without precedent in peace time? That the speed at which basic civil liberties and rights were cast aside was shocking and brutalising for huge numbers of citizens?

It seems more than strange that a single question hasn’t been reserved about it during the dozens of hours of candidate scrutiny. Is nobody interested in whether any of the candidates would use these powers again on us. Just me?

Bill’s Opinion

Many of us state a belief we are living with a fiction of choice, that our “democracy” is nothing more than a unaparty, a single party of government.

I would love to hear a counter argument to that view in the context of a political and media consensus to completely avoid discussing what’s just happened.

And when you finished explaining that, have an attempt at describing to me how an Epstein and a Maxwell can be convicted of crimes involving possibly hundreds of other co-criminals but no other investigations or prosecutions are apparently underway?

Please define “projection”

This is delicious from the Sydney Morning Herald’s Osman Faruqi, Culture News Editor and Columnist:

Diverse representation is important, but so is what people stand for.

Remember kids, everything before the word but is bullshit.

When the eight candidates in the running to replace Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party were officially revealed on Wednesday, one thing immediately stood out.

Four of them – former chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak, his replacement Nadhim Zahawi, Attorney-General Suella Braverman, and Kemi Badenoch – are not white. With Sunak considered the favourite, it’s probable that the UK will soon have a person of colour as its prime minister for the first time.

Tugendhat is Jewish, but that’s not a ethnic minority in Osman’s mind, presumably? Wrong kind of minority?

Sunak’s grandparents were born in British India before migrating to East Africa (what is now Kenya and Tanzania) and then eventually making their way to the UK.

So what? So was Gandhi and Cliff fucking Richards. Also, British India? Who on earth calls it that in 2022?

Despite this, Sunak has embraced policies that would deny that same benefit to thousands of other potential migrants.

No. He embraced a policy that would deny that same benefit to people who travelled across (checks the map) at least 4 countries in the EU to then cross the English Channel. Sunak’s family filled in the appropriate form and waited to be invited. Let’s compare apples with apples, eh?

Is (diversity) just about having a room full of people from different backgrounds, genders and sexualities to tick a box and make everyone feel good, regardless of what those people actually do with their power? Or is the goal really about leveraging people’s lived experiences to ensure policies take into account the needs and desires of groups that have been historically marginalised?

Or it is about everyone agreeing with me, Osman Faruqi, sole holder of the Sacred Compass of Truth?

Undoubtedly, there is something seductive about the narrative of a “first non-white” or “first female” prime minister, because of the supposed signal it sends about social progress. But without interrogating the ideology behind those firsts, and the kinds of policies they intend to implement for the groups they represent, the signal doesn’t mean anything.

Or, “you’re not really black if you don’t agree with me”.

Bill’s Opinion

Osman likes diversity but not that kind of diversity. See also; people who like freedom of speech except for speech they dislike.

Maybe, and I’m just going to put this out there, the colour of your skin doesn’t matter as much as the content of your character?

Bass motivation

Bill Wyman (no, not Mandy Smith’s ex) has smuggled another “Dear Diary, I wish the world was different” piece past the Editor again. He even got it into the Editor’s Picks category.

If his last one wasn’t bad enough, this one unravelled in 24 hours. Ironic, given his sub-headline:

“But the testimony delivered by an assistant to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows made it clear something more disturbing was going on. It will likely be an inflection point.

Here’s the assistant he’s referring to:. Cassidy Hutchinson:

What she claimed, under oath, you can read for yourself. The important part is it nearly all started with words to the effect of, “somebody told me that someone else said or did something”.

Ok Klass, who can tell me what the legal term is for that?

That’s right, Mylene; “Hear’Say”.

All it took was a few hours and a couple of phone calls to the people Hutchinson made claims about to debunk her testimony.

In fact, it was debunked before Australia went to bed last night, so why the Sydney Morning Herald went ahead and published Wyman’s latest fantasy is anyone’s guess.

Bill’s Opinion

The writers and editors in the news media are just not very good at their jobs, are they?

The entire column is anchored on an “inflection point” that was discredited before they even went to print, yet still it went on record.

There’s only two explanations; incompetence or mendacity.

Let’s be kind and say their intentions were pure but their intellectual ability is somewhat simple.

Can you name the crime?

If the Sydney Morning Herald editors want to outsource some work to me, I believe I can evaporate ridiculous columns like this one down to just the facts with a simple question, such as today’s title; can you name the crime?

Don’t bother reading the piece, the alleged crime isn’t described. Just a lot of Orange Man Bad guff.

To be fair to the bloke with the unfortunate name, he smuggled of a lot of this filler past the editors over the last few years, so he’s not been given any opportunity to learn from the grownups in the room:

Can you see a theme emerging here?

Bill’s Opinion

Imagine being this obsessed with Donald Trump. What must the inside of that head be like?

He gleefully tells us this one-sided process (when will the case for the defence be heard?) in Washington will result in Trump’s impeachment, but doesn’t complete the sentence, “…for the crime of <insert the name of a broken law>”.

It’s terrible to see a person captured by an obsession to the point their personal case of mind projection fallacy bleeds in to their professional life.

Accepting that how you want the world to be isn’t how the world probably is is an important step towards achieving inner calm.

Je suis un a former arts editor and assistant managing editor of National Public Radio in Washington.

Je avais un residence. Je habiter la A la south of France. Voulez vous partir with me?

If jealousy burned calories

…we’d instantly solve quite a few people’s major life issues.

But sadly, the effort expended on envious feelings is neither material nor measurable. This is both good and bad news for Mary Madigan, freelance writer for Mammamia (now there’s a career path to infinite riches!).

Good news because she can get a couple of hundred dollars knocking out heartfelt columns about why we shouldn’t celebrate an obese celebrity losing a lot of weight. Bad news, because Mary is burning emotional energy being bitter over other people’s good fortune, and even more mental energy avoiding reflecting on poor life choices she has made.

The back story is a minor Australian celebrity (if that isn’t a tautology), Chrissie Swan, dropped a wheelbarrow load of weight recently and has been congratulated by lots of commentators. Her Instagram feed has a flood of positive comments, many of which are middle aged men who’ve suddenly decided she’s hot.

Our “plus sized” columnist takes issue with their sudden change of opinion. Chrissie was always attractive, she claims. It’s a backhanded compliment to suggest she’s now looking great, according to our self-appointed moral arbiter.

Context is everything, of course.

This is Mary:

This was Chrissie Swan:

This is Chrissie Swan now:

I’m sure we can all agree on what a terrible and destructive transformation she’s inflicted on herself.

The feedback from Mary’s syndicated article was predictable. By which I don’t mean lots of stupid people went on the internet and called her rude names but that she would feign shock and surprise at this reaction and then post a self-obsessed semi-naked picture on Instagram affirming to herself how gorgeous she is and her superiority in the victim olympics.

It’s been a very tiring week because my inbox got flooded with abusive messages after an article I wrote for Mamamia got picked up by The Sun & New York Post. Obviously, when men attack women on the internet the insults are always about your looks. Fat, unattractive, unfuckable…. It’s unoriginal but it did make me feel sad but then I remembered I’m gorgeous and now I’m back.

Bills Opinion

There is no problem with Chrissie Swan’s weight loss. We celebrate it because, as decent human beings, we give positive feedback to obviously good life choices made by others.

It’s a social contract; we tell each other what we’re doing well and try to kindly point out areas for improvement.

If Mary doesn’t like that social contract, it’s incumbent on her to describe the alternative system she would suggest we employ.

It’s always dangerous to attempt to diagnose mental illness from a distance but it’s clearly an unhealthy thought process to convince oneself being grossly overweight is somehow a positive choice.

Would Mary sympathise with 500 words written by a chain smoker trying to convince us it’s wrong to celebrate someone giving up the cancer sticks?

Perhaps it’s just the sunk cost fallacy to wish to convince other people of these illogical views. In addition, the editors of the publications paying for these columns are encouraging negative health outcomes by printing it. Perhaps the editors are analogous to the circus ringmasters introducing the freak show exhibit.

It’s as if we are being asked to casually put aside several million years of evolution and consciously ignore the instinctive mental rank order sorting of other humans by attractiveness. Perhaps that’s possible, but the clever money and every sexual interaction in the history of the planet suggests the exact opposite is more likely.

This denial of reality can be neatly explained by Sailer’s first law of female journalism:

The most heartfelt articles by female journalists tend to be demands that social values be overturned in order that, Come the Revolution, the journalist herself will be considered hotter-looking.

More chins than the Hong Kong phone directory…..

The Taliban are wetting zherselves laughing at us

Remember how we’ve not been consulted on the language change that our legal and media institutions have decided we have to make? Yet we have to play whatever manipulative game criminals and those accused of some of the worst crimes decide they want us to play?

Well, it’s contagious. Gone viral like a Fauci research grant:

In case you weren’t aware, Pusey is accused of reckless driving. When he was pulled over, the police were struck by a lorry and four died. He posted a video on social media of the final moments of one.

Even before the conclusion of the court case, we can be fairly certain we’ll all be better off with him locked in a dark hole and then losing the key. Sure, due process an’ all that, but the preponderance of evidence suggests this is not a pleasant individual regardless of whether he’s convicted of a crime.

So, he announced his new pronouns to the judge, attendant court officials and media.

What was the response?

Exhibit A, your Honour:

I’m sure the journalist Erin Lyons is only following the approved style guide for News.Com.Au, but I’d love to ask her what she really thinks about having to write “they” instead of “he” or even the more accurate “despicable cunt”?

Bill’s Opinion

In law, we rightly operate on the principle ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (proof lies on him who asserts, not on him who denies).

But sudden announcements of a change to preferred gender pronouns do not fall into this category. The burden of proof must surely lie with the person who claims to be something the physical and biological evidence refutes.

Sure, we can be polite to these people and, in general day to day life, accomodate their preferences. It’s a free choice we might make, not a request which must be obeyed in all circumstances.

We might debate where in the range of circumstances polite society should ignore a person’s demand to comply with unusual uses of language. But if you feel convicted criminals or those accused of serious crimes should be granted a sudden demand to call them by new names, you and I are living in a different reality.

As with the fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes, it often takes innocent eyes to see the truth. Ask a child what they are looking at in these cases and their answer will be straightforward.

Perhaps Erin Lyons should unlearn her recent education and be welcomed back to the reality the rest of us inhabit.