This is fibber country

After using our patented razor, we were somewhat sceptical of Jussie Smollett’s allegations of an attack in Chicago last month.

Let’s get an update from that unbiased and objective news source, CNN:

Oh, that’s awkward.

The men, who are brothers, were arrested Wednesday but released without charges Friday after Chicago police cited the discovery of “new evidence.”

Interesting.

The sources told CNN the two men are now cooperating fully with law enforcement.

Which translates to something along the lines of, “police threatened to throw the book at them unless they confessed fully. This they’ve done and Smollett is toast“.

Smollett told authorities he was attacked early January 29 by two men who were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs.” He said one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him.

The sources told CNN there are records that show the two brothers purchased the rope found around Smollett’s neck at a hardware store in Chicago.

Two Nigerian brothers he just happens to know from his work.

Bill’s Opinion

When fighting in the Culture Wars, if a story emerges that supports your side and it seems perfect, the truth will certainly be 180 degrees reversed.

Australia discovers the internet

There’s an Australian government body, the ACCC, that regulates commercial competition, ostensibly new behalf of the consumer but, as we will discover, perhaps not.

Firstly though, let’s crack that old joke, “why is there only one anti-monopoly agency?”.

The ACCC has recently discovered that people aren’t getting so many newspapers delivered to their houses these days.

No, really.

The ironically-named “competition tsar”, Rod Sims says;

“I was getting the response of people saying ‘isn’t this just creative destruction? You know, classic Schumpeter, the way the world works?” he said in an interview ahead of the speech. “Well… it isn’t. This isn’t just like the car taking over from the horse and buggy, or more recently, Uber taking over from the taxi”.

What is it then?

The internet has been accessible to the majority of Australians since the mid 1990s. Therefore the value destruction of print media and journalists’ careers has been one of the most signalled disruptive industry changes in several generations, yet somehow the media organisations failed to adapt.

The ACCC estimates that the number of journalists employed in the print sector fell by 20 per cent in the three years to 2017; while between 2006 and 2016 the number of journalists employed by traditional publishers fell 26 per cent.

Let’s remind ourselves what those employed in news media are supposed to do every day they come to work…

The harsh reality is their real job description was, “produce interesting content that captures an audience for advertising”.

Perhaps the journalists would prefer something more worthy like, “identify and investigate important changes in the status quo and inform their customers”.

Either way, they’ve failed spectacularly.

Bill’s Opinion

From the mid 1990s, traditional news media failed to spot the impact the internet, cheap mobile phone data and smart/camera phones would have on their profession.

Which is a bit of a problem if your job is called “the news“.

Please don’t make us pay to keep this rubbish alive any longer than it needs to be.

Baby Hubris

Let’s hope this young journo doesn’t look back on this piece with regret.

Throughout 2018, I literally had recurring dreams where I would find out I was pregnant. Part of me blames Kylie – I often watch her content before going to sleep. Stormi is ridiculously cute. Part of me also blames my 26-year-old uterus’ own increasingly vocal biological agenda.

Having a baby right now doesn’t square with my career ambitions or financial reality. And, yet, Kylie has somehow hacked my brain into thinking having my own little Stormi right now is exactly what I want.

So far so biology or another woman’s fault. But wait, surely we can blame men for something?

Oh yes:

Patriarchal societies have a vested interest in making motherhood look like the ultimate utopic end goal women should prioritise above all else. This keeps women feeling “bad” if they can’t have or don’t want kids and naturalises their role as “caregivers” in society, thus helping to keep them from accruing the same influence as men in other domains like business, law, politics and culture.

Wait, what?

You’ve just admitted that your uterus is shouting at you to have a baby but somehow that’s duh patriarchy?

Men keep you feeling “bad” for not having a baby? Do women have any agency in this decision?

Bueller? Anyone?

Bill’s Opinion

Listen, Natasha Gillezeau, if your career was so important to you that you’d put your instinctive desires to give birth on hold, one would hope that it would have paid off by now.

As it is, you’re being paid a pretty crappy salary (you are on the books, right, and not just a freelancer?) working for a company that is very much in decline even for an industry that is in decline in general.

Mr Scientist puts it more eloquently:

No Natasha, if you want a baby and you’ve found the right person to have one with, chuck the contraception away and get on with it.

Finally, the financial reason you mention, which I assume will be something along the lines of, “we’re only renting a small apartment“, is just an excuse. Kids don’t give a stuff whether you’ve got a mortgage or a rental contract.

“All we are saying, is give pills a chance”

The infamous Sydney pirate, Peter Fitzsimons, jumps the shark today with this classic long bow to draw:

Not testing illegal drugs at music festivals is like the Vietnam War.

It’s not a parody. He starts by quoting John Kerry’s famous 1971 appearance before the Senate;

How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

And then makes the comparison with young people taking illegal drugs whilst dancing to music;

How do we ask another festival-goer to die for want of instituting the very policy advocated by most of those on the front-line – the police, doctors, and emergency workers?

Of course, this is written in a left wing newspaper so the claim that most professionals back drug testing doesn’t need to be qualified or supported with data.

We’ve written about this previously and the false dichotomy being presented for political purposes.

Do your own research to discover quite how effective drug testing at festivals has been in other countries and, indeed, whether the news that the pill one has just purchased is going to be bad for you has much effect on people’s intention to consume it.

The nearest he gets to a nuanced argument is that, although drug testing isn’t that accurate currently, it will be one day so we should do it now so that we’re ready. Ok, Pete.

Meanwhile, let’s just have a minute’s silence for the 58,220 dead American men who probably would have much preferred to have gone to a music festival instead.

Bill’s Opinion

The great value Peter Fitzsimons brings to society is that, for any issue other than sports-induced head injuries, if you can’t be bothered to spend the time to work out what the best position is to take, take the opposite of Peter’s.

I bet we’re not

Perhaps Donald Trump has done something that’s ground for impeachment, maybe he hasn’t. I don’t know and nor do you.

One thing’s for certain, our generation’s Woodward and Bernstein are unlikely to be currently writing listicles for Buzzfeed.

A report in BuzzFeed alleges that Donald Trump instructed his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen to mislead Congress about his plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, a claim that has been denied by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Got any documents or other evidence to support that then?

The latest developments have stunned the political class in Washington D.C and provoked broad agreement that this is one of the biggest and most damaging news stories for Trump since Mueller’s investigation began.

Well, that’s not a high hurdle to leap, is it? Meuller has been dry-humping this investigation for longer than some of Trump’s marriages and has so far failed to find a smoking gun, or even a gun that’s recently given up smoking and is now weaning itself off vaping.

In a story attributing its reporting to two unnamed law enforcement officials, BuzzFeed reported late on Thursday night local time that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations.

The authors of the story have broken some of the most significant stories on the Trump-Russia beat, and their reporting has later been backed up by the courts.

Right, and those stories amounted to what, exactly? Excuse our cynicism but the Russia collusion story hasn’t rocked the world yet has it?

If the BuzzFeed story is correct, we are not only at another level, we are at impeachment.

The word “if” seems to be doing all the hard work there.

Bill’s Opinion

Trump may be guilty of something illegal.

Evidence would be nice though. You know, how investigative journalism used to work.

UPDATE: The impeachment excitement barely lasted half a day this time before being extinguished.

Is there a single journalist alive today who can describe the meaning of “confirmation bias”? Anyone?

Have we hit “peak” Sydney Morning Herald?

Quite possibly.

In the past few years, the world has finally started to wake up to the socially constructed ways in which some people are given an easier ride through life than others.

Here we go, which people?

Male privilege acknowledges how being a man means earning a higher wage than women, not being discriminated against because of their gender, and being far less likely to be sexually assaulted. And white privilege recognises the ongoing discriminations faced by people of colour in job opportunities, safety and every other part of life.

Ah, men. White men being the worst.

Those white men who do all the jobs with the high fatality and injury rates?

Yes, those but especially the ones who don’t binge eat;

But what about being thin? Is there an advantage, nay a privilege, associated with being slim in our society? It seems that yes, there is.

Well, we can agree on that. Hence why many of us eat sensibly and exercise.

The “thin” in “thin privilege” is not about being supermodel-skinny but being at a weight that means you are not subjected to judgment and harassment from strangers. It means that you can go into almost any clothes shop and find something that will fit. You can eat a hamburger in public without people clearly judging your decision. You can wear something figure-hugging without people sniggering at you.

You’ve just described the effects, not the cause of being a reasonable weight for your height.

Melbourne academic and body positivity advocate Jenny Lee says that women are especially vulnerable to this type of rhetoric because “women are still valued for their beauty first and are socialised accordingly”.

Ok, “Melbourne academic and body positivity advocate” Jenny Lee and the author of this article, Alana Schetzer, are early contenders for the Steve Sailer First Law of Female Journalisn Award, 2019.

“When I speak about thin privilege, I am talking about the advantages that thin people in Western culture experience, such as being assumed healthy and having a wide array of clothes available, as well as a body that aligns with dominant ideas of what is attractive,” says Dr Lee, who teaches gender and literary studies at Victoria University.

Ok, I admit it, Jenny Lee doesn’t in any way align with my personal idea of what is attractive. Where do I report to be sent to my re-education camp and will I also have to be subjected to gender and literary studies lectures?

“It’s time to acknowledge thin privilege the way the Left has acknowledged white privilege, class privilege or straight privilege. As a white middle-class person, albeit with working-class roots, it is worth noting here that I can’t speak for all fat women, and I have barely been able to touch on the prejudice that fat people of colour experience.”

Ah, that’s a helpful clue about where the morbidly obese sit in the Victim Olympics medal table;

Gold – dark skinned working class fatties

Silver – white working class fatties

Bronze – to be determined, they’re still panting their way around the track.

The conversation around thin privilege got a kick-start when US blogger Cora Harrington wrote a series of tweets explaining what it is and how people can benefit from it, even if they don’t think of themselves as thin.

“No one groans or rolls their eyes when they have to sit next to me on a plane or a bus,” she tweeted in July. “ In fact, no one comments on my body at all. The ability to move through life without people insisting you need to be a smaller size … if you don’t have to think about that, it’s privilege.”

No, it’s just the default position for anyone who has learned to control their calorific intake. That doesn’t make them a Nazi, just a functioning human adult.

Society has long determined that overweight people are not only flawed but also fully responsible for their weight gain. That being “fat” is simply deemed to be a failure caused by nothing but greed and gluttony, a byword for laziness, being undisciplined, greedy and unintelligent.

Let me correct that for you;

Society Nature has long determined that overweight people are not only flawed….

If you were too heavy to chase dinner on the plains, the rest of the tribe would view you as a liability. There is a very simple evolutionary reason for “society’s” judgement on obesity and it probably pre-dates language.

Another take on the label is that it’s not so much that thin privilege exists but that “fat inconvenience” does – a sort of social tax that bigger bodies have to pay, whether it’s the lack of choice in shops to buy clothes, or nasty stares and under-the-breath comments from airplane neighbours for taking up too much space.

Let’s remind ourselves the author is writing for a media outlet with a default position that any problem can be solved by the government taxing it. It would seem you can’t have it both ways (yes, I was going to write “cake and eat it” but just caught myself); either the “fat tax” of society’s disapproval and inconvenience works or it doesn’t.

Whatever you want to call it, there is undoubtedly a series of hardships that bigger people face, most of which are socially constructed as a way to control and belittle them. If we can create it, then we can unmake it.

Are far higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, respiratory problems and early mortality also “socially constructed”?

Bill’s Opinion

Obviously it’s our fault that Alana has an eating disorder.

How do I know she has an eating disorder?

Well, according to her Twitter feed, she’s a single female who owns a cat. You rarely get those two without the third.

Oh, here’s her blog at The Huffington Post.

Over the past year, I knew I had put on weight. Dresses and pants that used to fit comfortably now squished against my growing belly and left nasty red lines against my skin.

Whenever I was upset, I would skip dinner and instead plunge into a family-sized bag of Doritos, and the only exercise I was getting was waddling to the fridge and back to the lounge room, where I would read.

And here’s the explanation behind most of her journalistic output;

Sailer’s 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.

So what you’re saying is…

….Japanese men compete hardest when there is more cultural “face” to lose, particularly when competing against women?

Here’s an insight from the economic heavyweight that is the Sydney Morning Herald’s Economics Editor, Ross Gittins.

To be fair, he’s achieved one requirement of journalisming; to inform. I, for one, had never heard of this Japanese sport before;

He also explains that there is a vast database of to be mined about how men and women compete in single sex and mixed sex races, both in terms of results and penalties for aggressive fouls.

What does this data tell us?

Wait for it; men are more aggressive than women, even more so when they are competing with women.

Which surprises no-one who has a passing knowledge of Asian culture.

There is then a whole bunch of word salad about something called “gender identity“. 

Bill’s Opinion

Japanese men in competitive sport don’t like losing.

Japanese men in competitive sport really don’t like losing to women.

Japanese women in competitive sport take fewer risks than men.

This research and Ross Gittins’ subsequent regurgitating of it is analogous to the discovery of the double helix by Watson and Crick in it’s importance to the human species. 

It’s possible that blog posts here may reduce in frequency soon, depending on how successful I am in my application for a 3 year research grant to investigate why men and women tend to urinate standing up and sitting down, respectively, and the influence of the cis-heteronormative patriarchy on the cultural appropriation of gender norms in the use of toilets.

In related news, if you want to understand how completely arrogant and boorish Gittins is, risk your mental health by listening to this podcast where he is interviewed by our friend Jess I can use a spreadsheet to diet, and you proles can’t Irvine

Gittins may be hugely qualified in his profession but, my goodness, when speaking he sounds an awful lot like every old bloke in the office you’ve ever met who’s close to retirement and wants to give you unsolicited advice at each opportunity that seems more about explaining how smart he is than being of any practical use to you.

 

 

Climate change maths salad

Like cooking, journalisming has its best results when using seasonal ingredients. January wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory look at all the weather records that were broken the previous calendar year. Here’s the Sydney Morning Herald’s effort, under the tagline “extreme weather” (“climate change” seemingly out of favour recently, suggesting some bet hedging is going on).

Unfortunately, the climate team’s intern, Nicole Hasham, was given the task of assembling the maths salad and, as we will see, is really not as competent at the task as her senior colleague, Peter “weather is climate” Hannam.

Regurgitating Quoting a Bureau of Meteorology report, Nicole starts off poorly;

Where to start?

Well, perhaps the first point to make is that averages, by their very definition need some values above and some values below. It would be remarkable if no temperatures were experienced above average during a long enough timescale.

It seems somewhat depressing to have to explain this to a senior climatologist (now there’s a job title of our time) and an environment and energy correspondent. At least one of them will have studied statistics in high school, not that you’d be able to guess it from the statement above.

The second point, and it seems somewhat obvious, is that the climate has no concept of a state or territory.

Finally, does Nicole understand, or expect her readers to understand, what “second warmest on record for daily high temperatures” means?

Or perhaps the only important words she wants us to read are “second warmest“?

Next up is a bunch of rainfall maths salad;

We dealt with this at the time.

Subsequently, the rain came along but just a little delayed.

To be fair to Nicole, she did regurgitate quote the report on this. It probably proves something significant and negative in her mind though;

“Respite”.

It’s almost as if, I dunno, the climate is a complex system that doesn’t drop a consistent volume of rain during a man made time interval known by the English noun, “month”.

This would be amusing if the Australian taxpayer weren’t picking up the bill for this so called “science”;

“Increasingly influenced by global warming”.

Really. Do tell us whose fault this is;

“Can only be explained by human influence”? Well, there’s the Scientific Method dispensed with in just 7 words. One can imagine the reception a researcher would get if they tried to apply for a grant to investigate the influence of solar cycles on global temperature.

Finally, we get to the chart that reveals Australia’s record-breaking run of rising temperatures;

That looks shocking, especially with all that red on the chart.

Let’s look a little closer at the scale and labels though….

The Y-axis is interesting; why set the zero point as the average of 1961 to 1990? Why not take the average of the entire time range? What would that chart look like? Sadly, we don’t know because, as far as I can tell, they haven’t published the data behind the chart. Here’s the link to the original report, where we learn that the chart is showing the anomaly; Anomaly is the departure from the long-term (1961–1990) average. We also discover that the chart above shows, Mean temperature anomalies averaged over Australia, again, calculated against the 1960-91 average for some unknown reason.

Wait, averaged over Australia“? WHAT???? 

So, in summary, you took ALL of the mean temperatures recorded across the entire continent of Australia, averaged them and then compared that against a similar average between the years 1960-91 on a chart starting at 1900?

What insight, pray tell, was this exercise supposed to result in?

 

Bill’s Opinion

To answer my final question above, this chart that is supposed to reveal Australia’s record-breaking run of rising temperatures does nothing of the sort. What it shows is a sliced, diced, mixed together, re-diced and re-sliced set of data and then selectively colour-coded to scare people who don’t understand statistics.

By which, I mean Sydney Morning Herald environment correspondents. Well, either Nicole doesn’t understand statistics or she’s blatantly pushing a political agenda and pushing it with lies.

Which is it Nicole?

Let’s face it, this is the climate science equivalent of a collateral debt obligation, and we all know where that led.

UPDATE; I made an error regarding means vs. median in the original post. That sentence has been deleted.


An irrelevant retiree from Queen’sland writes….

An obscure gentlemen living out his retirement years in Brisbane has had a lengthy letter published in the paper today, in the grand tradition of newspapers printing rambling rants from retired Majors in Eastbourne or “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells”.

We’ll save you the chore of having to read it by summarising the entire thing in one paragraph. Actually, we just need to reproduce the final paragraph of Mr. Rudd’s letter;

The core objective of course is to avoid a Royal Commission that would lay bare the actual nature of their Australian political operations and their destruction of the NBN.

For those who haven’t heard already, the NBN is a case study in governmental profligate spending on things nobody needed or that the existing market would have provided cheaper and better if the government had simply got out of the way. See an earlier summary here.

Clearly this disaster is eating away at Kevin Rudd and spoiling his twilight years when he should be playing with his grandchildren.

The letter is also a case study; of how one side of politics struggles to see the irony of their hatred of the other side. Let’s fisk some choice moments to illustrate;

This year will be an important year for three of the world’s oldest, continuing democracies – the United States, the UK and Australia.

The US will decide, post-Mueller, whether Trump’s presidency is terminal. The UK will decide whether to tear up a half a century of European integration. And Australia faces a general election.

Anyone hoping for anything other than a big nothingburger from Mueller really hasn’t being paying attention.

Britain is going to decide about the EU? What was the 2016 referendum about then?

It’s a hunt for Australian relevance to suggest the tri-annual federal election is in any way comparable to Trump and Brexit. Australia is almost at the point of selecting Prime Ministers by alphabetical order or like a jury service lottery.

It will also be an important year for the Murdoch media where its power in these three democracies is formidable, and in Australia’s case dominant.

Murdoch’s combined News Corp brands have an annual audience of 16m, of which there will be significant “doubling up” as that won’t be a unique visitor number.

The combined audiences for the state-funded ABC, the brand formerly known as Fairfax and the Guardian have far greater numbers for their left of centre bias.

Murdoch is hardly dominant.

Watching Fox is like watching a revivalist meeting of evangelical fundamentalist preachers seeking to out-compete each other for the affections of “the base”.

An interesting analogy for someone previously very comfortable to been seen saying his prayers out loud.

The result is that the Grand Old Party of Lincoln has been ripped from its moorings, with profound consequences for the American democracy at home, and the American-led global order abroad. Well done Rupert.

An alternative view might be the American voters finally broke the circuit of the una-party where the differences between the Democrats and Republicans could hardly be noticed on most policies, particularly globalisation and foreign policy.

But then he deployed his formidable media arsenal in full-throttled support of Britain leaving Europe during the 2016 referendum before finally hitting the Jackpot with Nigel Farage’s UKIP, the ever-opportunistic Boris Johnson and Brexit.

An alternative view might be, due to a catastrophic miscalculation by David Cameron, the British people were (mistakenly, according to people like Rudd) given a vote on something that had been denied them for 43 years and they chose liberty.

Once again, well done Rupert, and that’s despite the fact that his newspapers had already been found guilty of multiple breaches of the criminal law following the Leveson Inquiry into what became known as the “phone-hacking scandal” in 2011-12.

A little obfuscation there making it sound like Levenson was purely about Murdoch’s mastheads or at least right of centre publications; it was damning about both sides and particularly the left wing Daily Mirror.

By contrast, the Canadian democracy has been in reasonable shape. Interesting that there is negligible Murdoch presence there.

An alternative view might be that, without the balance of a strong right of centre media presence, the Canadian people are suffering awful virtue signalling legislation and have become the laughing stock of the western world under their man child trustafarian Prime Minister.

And then we’re back to where we started, “my beautiful NBN project failed because my very own political party fired me for being a useless and sociopathic control freak and every Prime Minister since has struggled with the reality that it made no economic or practical sense for the government to deliver telecommunications networks“;

This was not just to put Abbott’s mad, right-wing government into office. It was also about protecting his company’s commerical interests by getting Abbott and his then Communications Minister Turnbull to destroy my government’s Fibre Optic to the Premises National Broadband Network.

Bill’s Opinion

Once one understands quite how shallow and self-serving Kevin Rudd is, reading his ramblings can be a great source of shadenfruede; he’s clearly tormented by his total lack of political legacy and it’s completely eating him up during what should be a long and relaxing retirement at the generous Australian taxpayer’s expense.

Bravo!

Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat

….except when there’s a chance you’ve made the establishment look stupid.

The couple wrongly accused of the Gatwick drone chaos have spoken out about their treatment at the hands of Sussex Police, saying they feel “completely violated”.

Paul Gait, 47, and Elaine Kirk, 54, criticised the way officers searched their home and revealed that they are receiving medical care after being arrested late on Friday evening.

Just to be clear of the order of events here;

1. Reports of a drone “buzzing” the runway and control tower of Gatport Chavwick resulted in the UK’s 2nd busiest airport being shut down for 2 days and thousands of shaven-headed, heavily-tattooed Sarf Lahdahners having their Christmas getaways disrupted.

2. Police investigated, the army were called in, more reports were received of drone activity.

3. Eventually drone reports stopped, the airport was reopened.

4. The police notified the press that two arrests had been made and, remarkably, the media managed to work out who the suspects were.

5. An army of media researchers and curious internet folk investigated everything in the public domain that the couple had ever done, including interviewing friends, family, employers and anyone else with half an opinion.

6. The couple were released without charge after 36 hours in custody which, coincidently, is the exact length of the first extension the UK police can request from a judge for serious crimes.

Bill’s Opinion

Our Legacy Media (c) have lost their moral compass, if indeed they ever had such a thing. The UK police too.

Being arrested for a crime is not the same as being convicted of a crime or even having a body of evidence suggesting you had any relationship to the crime.

Somehow, the names of the couple arrested with regards to the drone activity at the airport were discovered by the press and were published, along with an amazingly detailed level of detail about their lives.

Contrast this with the reluctance to name the “Australian entertainer” arrested on suspicion of sexual abuse some years ago.

It is a dangerous game to play when we accept the “outing” of mere suspects of a crime, particularly in this age of social media and highly-interconnectedness. Within minutes, the world knew intimate details of the couple’s lives, such as Paul’s military record and the identity of his ex-partner and their child.

Be prepared to learn of some unrelated crime or socially-disapproved aspect of their lives in the coming days and weeks. After all, in the words of Lavrentiy Beria, Stalin’s security administrator, “Show me the man and I will show you the crime“.

Finally, one doesn’t need a drone to see that every cloud has a silver lining; I flew into Gatport Chavwick two days later and, thanks to the disruption to the car hire companies’ fleets, was handed the keys to an upgraded car several levels above the one booked and paid for.

Merry Christmas!