Denial, not a river in Egypt or India

I have been travelling extensively for the last two weeks. My travels have taken me through various Asian hub airports and around the Indian sub-continent.

Through observation, I can confirm the petty bureaucrats and rule-givers across Asia are as illogical and stupid as their counterparts in Australia.

In a message exchange to a good friend I expressed the sentiment that I have accepted the lunacy. He congratulated me on reaching the fifth stage of the Kubler-Ross rubric.

The fact that I may have reached acceptance still doesn’t make any of this madness right though.

For example, I must wear a mask on the train to Sydney airport. I can remove it in the airport. I must replace it on the Malaysian Airways flight, except whilst sipping on a drink or eating (I can nurse a drink for a loooong time).

The mask must remain on at Kuala Lumpur airport unless I am in the Business Class Lounge. It must go back on the moment I leave the lounge, of course.

I must also wear the mask on the Indian domestic flights. The pre-flight announcement requests us to maintain anti-social distancing between our fellow passengers, seemingly oblivious to the sardine-tin we are sharing. Officially, we must wear our masks in the airports, unless proving our identify but the local security staff nearly all use theirs as chin-warmers so are not enforcing the rule on the public anyway.

The day prior to a visit to a supplier’s office, a test kit was delivered to my hotel room with the request that I use it and bring the negative result with me the next day. This wasn’t requested at all during the visit.

Trying to make any sense of this results in a headache. Questioning why this still is going on is a fool’s errand; there is no consistent thread of logic holding any of this together.

In the meantime, my colleagues chuckle behind their hands at the ineffective and leaky Indian airport security checks as we remove shoes and belts, take laptops out of bags, display our power adaptors for inspection, etc. and make disparaging remarks about how silly it all is.

We don’t comment on the inconsistency of the masks though. There’s a code of silence as we put them on, take them off, rinse, repeat.

This is either a deadly disease that can be prevented by the addition of a knitted woollen barrier over the mouth and nose, or isn’t and it can’t.

That we are all continually living like this makes me wonder if we have become fully house-trained. What else might we quietly and compliantly accept now in the future?

Bill’s Opinion

I can think of only two possible reasons for this bio-security theatre to remain in place;

1. The process to remove the rule has far more steps and gatekeepers than the process to impose it. We must participate in the Holy Communion to the god of Covid until eventually a person in authority decides we can stop, or

2. It’s about the love of power and control. The gatekeepers preventing the removal of this ridiculous charade from our lives know it serves no purpose. They know we know it serves no purpose. They know we know they know we know it serves no purpose. But yet they keep the rules in place.

Aaaaand exhale.

The global IQ tests continue to be set

How did you do with this week’s IQ test? Pass or fail?

You may have failed if you’ve recently started a post on social media with the words, “As a <insert inherent characteristic you have no control over> person, my opinion on the overturning of Roe vs Wade is….”, or words of a similar sentiment.

Newsflash: nobody gives a fuck what you think, especially if you haven’t actually read the Supreme Court ruling and are opining on the newspaper reports of it instead.

Yes, I am aware of the irony of that statement on a blog post about it but, in my defence, people come here by choice for my opinions.

I’ve written about abortion twice before here. First time about an individual, second time specifically about New South Wales. My opinion hasn’t changed; I’d prefer to live in a world where abortion didn’t happen for factors of convenience but only for safety reasons.

Many of those who loudly champion abortion on demand leverage that last reason, stating the mental healths risks to the mother, inferring the risk of suicide. But that same logic has resulting in several thousand teenage breasts being sliced off in the last decade and, frankly, piss off with that as a justification.

If your best argument for taking a physical action with extreme consequences is a possible risk of suicide, perhaps you might want to investigate psychiatry and the possibility of dedicated round the clock nursing care.

But I digress.

Despite what the public statements of organisations such as Dick’s Sporting Goods or Atlassian might suggest, abortion is still legal in the USA, it’s just been downgraded from a Federal right enshrined in the Constitution, to a matter each State’s legislative body can write laws about. If you think this means California is about to ban or limit abortion next week, you’ve not been paying much attention to the changes in political mood of that State since Ronald Reagan was Governor.

But think about this for a moment; those who are wailing about the end of the world following this ruling are questioning that it should be a democratically-decided matter.

How confident must one be of the moral certainty of your position if you’d prefer it if your fellow citizens weren’t given a choice?

As for the front page coverage of the lesbian Wendyball player, Megan Rapainoe’s rambling and incoherent unsolicited Zoom broadcast (sorry, “press conference”); we’ve truly gone down the rabbithole. What next, A ten minute monologue from Elton John on his favourite brand of tampon?

Bill’s Opinion

Cool yer jets, everyone.

Abortion has not been made illegal in the USA. It may, in future, become so in a couple of states. If so, it adds yet another to our list of choices for those who are “pro-choice”:

  1. Abstain from having sex.
  2. Abstain from having sex with someone you know you don’t want to be be with for the rest of your life.
  3. Use contraception, but be aware this carries a residual risk.
  4. If an “accident” happens, carry the baby to term and decide whether you can cope with parenthood after it’s born.
  5. Offer the child up for adoption to one of the desperate couples who can’t conceive naturally.
  6. Drive across the border.
  7. Kill the damn thing like a virus.

Mostly peaceful

The online world is a bit of a dumpster fire this week, with everyone with an opinion feeling uninhibited enough to let us know their hot take on the situation, with the added not insignificant bonus of publicly demonstrating their virtue.

Careful observers with memories longer than a few months might spot some slight inconsistencies in these public opinions, however.

For example, those who are loudly proclaiming on their soshal mejia accounts the Trump supporters breaking into The Capitol was an attempted coup yet didn’t speak up against any of the following:

  • The four year campaign to impeach the President on the basis of an election “hacked” by Russia which, after an expensive taxpayer funded investigation, turned out to be a big nothingburger,
  • The nightly Antifa riots in Portland, the destruction of the city centre and the implementation of a lawless “autonomous zone”,
  • The nightly attacks on the Portland courthouse,
  • The invasion of the Senate by anti-Brett Kavanaugh protesters,
  • The riots across the USA and looting of department stores in the name of BLM,
  • BLM and Antifa threatening diners in restaurants and suburban residents in their homes.

Given time and motivation, we could continue to list multiple examples of illegal and violent protest over the last four years, and undertake the offence archeology on the accounts of those who were silent then, vocal now. People are doing this for high profile names such as Alexandria Occasionally Correct with amusing results.

But for the average person, you, for example, what’s the standard you’ve demonstrated? Have you applied the same principles when your team screwed up as when the other side did?

If you didn’t, what does that make you?

Bill’s Opinion

In the few jurisdictions where it still exists, your freedom of speech should be unaffected by your record of subjective and partisan commentary.

That statement notwithstanding, your inability to apply objective standards and principles and your lack of courage to do so in public massively reduces your credibility.

You may exercise your freedom of speech to attempt to persuade us that, despite the long history of coup attempts and successful coups around the world, an unarmed raggle taggle bunch of cosplay Davy Crockets entering a building is a clear and present danger to the world’s most powerful military force. We, however, will judge those twitterings in the context of your previously demonstrated commitment to consistency.

My view on the events in The Capitol are that it was illegal and the rule of law must be maintained. That was also my view on the looting during the summer of BLM, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, and all of the other illegal acts we witnessed last year but were given a free pass by many for reasons of political expediency.

I suggest this is a time for a long look in the mirror in case the Nietzsche quote applies to you:

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Happy Life Day!

Our Life Day celebrations are one of my favorite childhood memories from growing up on the planet Kashyyk. The whole family of Wookies would gather around across multiple generations and we’d tell stories and light the candles.

“Whether you’re celebrating this year with those you live with or over Zoom, happy Life Day!”-Kamala

Bill’s Opinion

Several people have expressed concern over the new regime about to be sworn in next month in Washington.

I have four words of comfort to help you through the next few years:

Funnier than Dan Quayle.

Why is this lying liar lying to me?

Today’s title is what the British current affairs interviewer, Jeremy Paxman, apparently used to ask himself whenever he interviewed a politician.

As a strategy, it can’t be faulted.

Witness:

For those who are unaware of the festival of Kwanzaa, it is a relative newcomer to the calendar, invented in 1966.

Some background on the Harris childhood may be useful too; She was born in 1964 to a Jamaican father and Indian mother. Her parents divorced in 1972. Kamala and her mother moved to Canada in 1976.

Of course, it is entirely possible an Indian immigrant single mother was an early adopter of a newly-invented festival for the sake of her mixed race daughters two decades before the rest of the USA had heard of it….whilst living in Canada.

It’s also possible Jussie Smollett was attacked by two Nigerian Trump supporters at 2am in a blizzard.

Bill’s Opinion

The chances the Harris family ever celebrated Kwanzaa aren’t quite zero but it is highly unlikely.

However, the explanation requiring the fewest assumptions to be true is that Kamala Harris is lying.

We can’t read minds, so the reason why she would lie about this can only be known by her.

The fact she chooses to tell lies about inconsequential matters such as this and the music she listened to whilst in college, is an indication of two possibilities though;

1. She must think people are really fucking stupid, and

2. She’s prepared to sell the most ridiculous fabrications as fact.

Neither of which are particularly comforting characteristics for the person who will take over from Joe Biden next year.

By the way, if you are reading this and thinking, “but Trump lied all the time“, you might want to consider the possibility you’ve fallen into a partisan mental oubliette where you don’t apply standards objectively.

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.

Super, smashing, great

Mark McVeigh, a 24-year-old environmental scientist from Australia, won’t be able to access his retirement savings until 2055. But, concerned about what the world may look like then, he’s taking action now, suing his A$57 billion ($39 billion) pension fund for not adequately disclosing or assessing the impact of climate change on its investments.

Cue picture of stereotypical ponytailed unshaven millennial affecting zher best serious face:

Is that shirt available in “ironed”, son?

Before launching the legal action, McVeigh asked Retail Employees Superannuation Trust, or Rest, how it was ensuring his savings were future proofed against rising world temperatures. Its response didn’t satisfy him and he ended up engaging specialist climate change law firm, Equity Generation Lawyers.

Readers outside Australia might not know this, but the legislation around Superannuation is excellent in terms of portability and choice for the consumer. If you don’t like how your fund is invested or administered, switching to another provider is relatively simple. In most cases it’s a quick and easy online process using an industry standard reference number.

So, our faux gravitas-faced soy boy could log on to the laptop pictured in front of him and switch to this fund, for example.

That he has, instead, chosen to engage an activist legal firm (who are hopefully acting pro-bono) to sue his existing fund requires some explanation, then.

Given that portability of funds, and the availability of real alternatives, it’s not unreasonable for observers to wonder at Mark’s motivation in this.

Is he genuinely concerned about how his investments are being made? Complete an online form and switch funds then.

Or, is this an attempt to set a legal precedent restricting the choice of the rest of us?

Bill’s Opinion

We can’t read Mark’s mind, but his actions suggest less concern about his personal investments and more a desire to interfere with ours.

The problem he will face is that the prime objective, written in law, of superannuation funds is to increase the wealth of the savers.

It won’t be hard for the Defence lawyers to argue that, compared to a pathetic 1.2% annualised performance, his current fund is performing their legal duties far more diligently then the virtue signalling “ethical” fund.

It won’t have entered Mark’s mind, given the incontrovertible truth that, starting about 20 years before his birth, the world has witnessed nothing short of a miracle in the reduction of human suffering as a result of economic freedom to trade and invest:

But sure, go ahead Mark, tell us all how we should spend our own money, because you’ve worked it all out for us in your 24 years of existence.

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.

Peter Hannam isn’t even trying now

Anyone who has worked in a job where the presentation of data is an important factor, such as manufacturing, finance, IT, HR, retail, government, education, etc., will know that there are several underhand tricks one can play to persuade the viewer of the opinion you’re trying to sell.

Canny observers are sensitive to these and quickly challenge the presenter or, in sales situations where they have an alternative, simply dismiss the sales pitch and move to a more truthful competitor.

Consider then, this latest chart crime from Peter “weather is climate” Hannam in the ever-declining organ, the Sydney Morning Herald.

If you’ve never seen a graph before, the fact that this one is showing the Indian Ocean Dipole ratio trending above 2.0 for the first time ever may send you off into a public mental decline á la Mx. Thunberg.

Everyone else with a brain looks at the X-axis and immediately asks themselves two questions;

  1. What happened in all the years before 2015? and,
  2. What is Peter Hannan’s agenda for not showing it to us?

Hannam can’t quite bring himself to completely lie by omission though, so leaves a clue in the article (highlighting mine):

Scientists caution that reliable observation data only goes back a couple of decades but it is clear this year’s positive-IOD is already one of the strongest of record. So-called “reanalysis” using a combination of observations and modelling suggests the event is also notable over the past 150 years.

After warming us up with that seemingly benign statement explaining that we’ve got about 20 years of observations and then just modelled the rest using a completely un-disprovable simulation, he then goes on to show us the “missing” part of the chart:

Tip for new chart readers; that small print below the graph, explaining the data collection method is where the real news lies (pun intended).

Then comes the obligatory explanations of the data by scientists paid to research the subject of which we are being persuaded is important:

While researchers are yet to settle on how much of a role climate change is already playing in big El Ninos or IODs, “we’re seeing extreme events become more common”, Abram says.

Go on then, define “extreme” and “more common”. We’ll wait….

England says that while IODs can act independently of the Pacific, the connections remain important. For instance, the so-called Indonesian Throughflow – where warm water from the Pacific funnels its way to the Indian Ocean – could change.

…and if my mother had wheels we could use her as wheelbarrow.

“The predictions are for that to weaken,” he says. “If it does, that would be a double whammy of more El Ninos plus more positive-IODs.”

The potentially huge consequences from such complex interactions are a reminder that researchers can’t rest.

Those poor researchers, unable to rest. Thank goodness there’s an infinite supply of tax-slaves to fund their unending Heraklean endeavours.

Bill’s Opinion

In all areas of life, beware of people brandishing suspicious charts. Question not only the data collection methodology but the start and end points of both the x and y axis and whether or not a logarithmic scale is more appropriate.

After all, I might have presented the x axis of this chart completing at November 25th:

Image result for happiness of a turkey chart

One of the scientists offered this word salad in the interview:

“We are perturbing the atmosphere in a profound way with greenhouse gases,” England says. “How this changes our modes of variability is uncertain.”

There’s a key point being made here; the driving forces resulting in the Indian Ocean Dipole ratio over the last 100 years and into the future are, wait for it, multi-variable, as in an almost infinite number of variables.

Anyone claims to be able to accurately predict, or even directionally-predict a multi-variable equation such as the ratio of sea temperatures between the western and eastern sides of an ocean is either a fool or a knave.

Peter Hannam has enough of a back catalogue of presenting this sort of mendacity as fact that we feel certain his motivation is to lie to us to push forward a personal agenda.

J’accuse, Peter Hannam. You are a liar.

On Extinction Rebellion and other doomsday cults

With the news this week of a family of cloggy Kaas Kops living in the basement of a farm for nine years waiting for the end of the world, perhaps we can poke some fun at the various Bedlamites living amongst us.

There’s plenty of examples to point at, they’ve been around for as long as humans have been around.

Millenarianism and apocalypticism are versions of this and students of history will pluck examples from thousands of years ago in all corners of the globe through to the present day.

Let’s start with the infamous Manson “family”.

Their beliefs were that Charles Manson was the reincarnation of Jesus and there was a forthcoming race war. The cult ended with the Waverley Drive murders, internecine murders and the trial and conviction of Manson.

Except it didn’t; murders were still committed by the “family” until the mid-70s. The cult members really had drunk deep from the well of Manson’s Kool-Aid.

Speaking of Kool-Aid, next we have the Reverend Jim Jones. For his first couple of decades of adult life, he led various churches which had increasingly cult-like qualities. The beliefs he promulgated were a mixture of socialism, nuclear apocalyptic prophesies and, eventually “transition” to another planet after suicide.

As investigations began to close in on his activities, he took nearly a thousand followers to “Jonestown” in Guyana and eventually persuaded many to commit suicide by ingesting cyanide mixed in the aforementioned Kool-Aid (where the expression “drinking the Kool-Aid” originates) or murder each other, including the children. Jones shot himself.

Over in Japan, Aum Shinryko was established by Shoko Ashara. The YouTuber Count Dankula has an amusing video on this group here, which is well worth a viewing.

Their beliefs were a hotchpotch of Buddhism, Hinduism and Shintoism with a spicy nuclear apocalyptic theme.

After a long history of extortion, violence and murders, they released the nerve gas, sarin, on the Tokyo underground with devastating effects.

Shoko was eventually hanged in 2018.

An interesting fact about the death penalty in Japan is that, once convicted, you aren’t given a date of when the execution will occur. You go to bed every night unsure if this is your last. If you’re still in your cell about an hour after breakfast, chances are you’ve got another day on the planet.

I can’t work out whether I think that’s “cruel and unusual punishment” or fitting for the crime.

Our next cult is the comet-hopping Heaven’s Gate. According to Wikipedia, they were/are (there’s still a couple of them around, apparently) a “UFO religious, New religious movement”, which as classifications go, surely can’t be a particularly large club.

Their belief system was based on the premise that the planet would be wiped clean and they had to leave to avoid being caught up in this global spring clean.

Have a read of their Wiki page and chuckle at how the beliefs had to be modified based on the inconvenient evidence of one of their key members dying rather than hitching a ride on a spaceship.

This change of belief resulted in a mass suicide to coincide with the arrival of the Hale-Bopp comet. The mass suicide was preceded by 8 of them voluntarily castrating themselves in 1997.

Bill’s Opinion

It’s probably fine if your religious belief involves an unprovable premise. After all, a synonym of that might be “hypothesis”.

However, if your religious belief requires you to murder others, mutilate the genitals of children or commit suicide, consider the possibility you’ve drunk the modern equivalent of Jim Jones’ Kool-Aid.

There seems to have been a bit of a theme running through all these cults where they are reacting to a catastrophic threat, be it religious, nuclear or alien, resulting in escalating extreme actions by the adherents.

So, all that said, what might history make of those crazy kids at Extinction Rebellion and the Swedish Cabbage Patch Doll, Greta Thunberg?

And whose fault do we think it might be that they have managed to wind themselves up into such a frenzy of fear?

History suggests one possible destination for some of the more gullible members.