Have you got it yet?

According to Waters, Barrett came into what would be their last rehearsal session together with a new song. He was calling it, “Have You Got It Yet?,” and the first couple times they ran through it, it seemed simple enough. Soon the band realized that the song wasn’t simple at all – Barrett would change the melody and the arrangement constantly with each new practice run – slightly at first, but more and more each time they played it. Barrett would play it again for them, with the capricious structure changes, and each time he would ask, “Have you got it yet?”

Exhibit A: you’d better have 3 vaccines or you can’t earn minimum wage in Victoria. Meanwhile, please come and play in our world class tennis event, no need to have a single shot.

Exhibit B: rare, rare, rare, rare, rare, rare side effects. Meanwhile, it’s perfectly safe, so safe we have to threaten you with losing your income to ensure you take it.

Exhibit C: your three year old son is a threat to the State’s health so you can’t be reunited with him. Meanwhile, I’m flying to Tokyo and back for a taxpayer funded jolly to ink a deal with only one bidder.

Exhibit D: if you thought breathing through a face nappy was difficult, try it with a hand around your throat. Meanwhile, we pulled the science behind those rules out of our arse.

Bill’s Opinion

As Syd Barrett once asked, “have you got it yet?”.

If this ever was about public health, it stopped being based on fact or logic a very long time ago.

Now, it’s about remaining in power because losing it might mean criminal prosecutions or worse.

Because

Because of a few songs wherein I spoke of their mystery, women have been exceptionally kind to my old age. Leonard Cohen.

That quote has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of this post, I just like it and it commences with “because”.

Conspiracy theorists always look for the “because”. It’s human nature to try to make sense of situations, particularly if they are causing you pain, suffering and anxiety.

It’s a fool’s errand though. The chances of someone affected by an externality to correctly guess the sequence of events leading to it are extremely unlikely.

What probably matters more is correctly observing all the pertinent facts about the present and drawing reasonable conclusions about how they might change in the future.

Some observable facts, then.

Using public health as the justification, despite 18 months of data showing it was, at a population level, a mid-severity flu and is now (with vaccines, regardless of what you may think about their safety), a very mild flu, the following changes have occurred:

  • International and domestic border closures,
  • Legislation and heavy-handed policing restricting freedom of movement, freedom of trade, freedom of association,
  • Curfews and military presence in suburban areas,
  • Legislation mandating quarantine of healthy individuals on the suspicion of infection,
  • Legislation mandating vaccinations for certain professions,
  • Closures of schools, replaced by very sub-optimal online lessons,
  • Vaccination of children against a virus that poses little threat to them,
  • Restriction of travel on several major airlines to those with proof of vaccination,
  • International airfares, for those allowed to travel, outside the budget of most people,
  • Unprecedented (there’s a word for our time!) government borrowing and economic stimulus, in the form of direct payments to business and individuals. In many cases, the government cheque is greater than the wage it replaced,
  • In those countries that have lifted some of the legislated restrictions above, the powers to re-impose them have been retained (the UK, for example).

That’s Australia today.

How might these situations change, do we think?

Borders will reopen and flights resume, but not for the plebeians for a very long time. The competition in international air travel drove prices down to a level where a middle class family could leave Australia once every second or third year. That’s not going to happen again for perhaps a decade. You’ll need a vaccination passport too.

Legislation restricting freedom of movement, trade and association will remain on the books, the powers to arbitrarily invoke the laws will be retained and used based on “cases” or new variants. Look at the decades old laws against terrorism for precedent.

Governments will not be tempted in the slightest to turn off the stimulus fire hoses. The creative destruction of free markets will be seen as a sign of policy failure. Universal Basic Income by another name will be here to stay.

Schools will re-open and close again several times based on “cases”. Masks for school kids, perhaps mandatory vaccinations too. Teachers’ unions will make demands for “safety” usually resulting in pay rises. The quality of the outcomes for pupils will be a distant footnote printed in tiny font.

Court cases will be brought by employees fired over vaccinations. They might win, they might not.

Bill’s Opinion

Don’t look for the because. You’ll drive yourself mad.

On the news every night, some idiot financial journalist will tell you “markets rose 17 points today because of new employment data”, or “fell because of new inflation data”.

Unprovable. All we can prove is markets rose or fell.

Similarly, we can’t be certain about the because of the situation we are living in now.

We can make reasonable extrapolations such as those I’ve offered above, though.

What to do then?

Here’s some suggestions:

  • Find a doctor who will give you a vaccine exemption. It might be accepted by employers, airlines, restaurants and governments for a while,
  • If you are eligible for a passport from another country, apply. Having options is wise. Ask any American male with a Canadian passport during the Vietnam draft era.
  • Consider alternative education models for your children. Take control of their curriculum and hire tutors. If you stay within the current system, focus them on what matters only. STEM.
  • Spread your assets across jurisdictions. Be nimble.
  • Perhaps move away from major population centres, if these are where all the police and army presence is focused.
  • Learn to sail. If you one day find it necessary to steal a yacht from the harbour and sail away, having the skills learned in the Day Skipper qualification would be important.

It’s all a bit tin foil hat, isn’t it?

But then, imagine a conversation between your 2019 self and your present day self.

Of course, once we’ve moved to Central Bank Digital Currencies, there will be nowhere left to hide anyway.

So enjoy your current freedoms.

It’s 2021 ok, there’s a war across the USA

Another year for me and you, another year with nuthin to do. (Apologies to The Stooges).

The previous post here attracted some interesting and thought provoking comments. One in particular (thanks Tom) prompted a journey to this Wikipedia page.

The “10 stages of genocide” were developed by Gregory Stanton of the US State Department in the late 1980s as a conceptual model for analyzing the processes of genocide, and for determining preventive measures that might be taken to combat or stop each process.

Of course, it could be used as a roadmap too, if you were that way inclined:

Stage One. Classification. People are divided into “them and us”.

Those who choose to take a vaccine. Those who decline it.

Stage Two. Symbolization “When combined with hatred, symbols may be forced upon unwilling members of pariah groups…”

Vaccine passports.

Stage Three. Discrimination “Law or cultural power excludes groups from full civil rights: segregation or apartheid laws, denial of voting rights”.

Commencing this month, residents of New South Wales who have not received two doses of vaccine will be unable to dine in restaurants, have a haircut, meet other people or leave their homes while those with the vaccine will be allowed these “freedoms”.

Stage Four. Dehumanization “One group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects, or diseases.”

Consider the language used by the President of the United States, directed at the approximately 41% of the population who have so far declined a vaccine. It’s a stretch to describe frustrated and run out of patience as dehumanising but it is unusual language for an elected official to be using to describe the people who voted for him (there may be a clue here, more on this later).

Stage Five. Organisation “Genocide is always organized… Special army units or militias are often trained and armed…”.

The army is on the streets of Western Sydney. Sure, they’re not rounding people up but let’s remember the context; we now have to accept a military presence ostensibly to protect us from a respiratory virus with a less than 1% infection fatality rate.

Stage Six. Polarization “Hate groups broadcast polarizing propaganda…”

Consider this comedy sketch parodying a TV advert for the major DIY retailer in Australia. This was created and broadcast by the state broadcaster, The ABC. It conflates those who are hesitant about their personal risks with a new vaccine with those who believe the earth is flat.

Stage Seven. Preparation “Mass killing is planned. Victims are identified and separated because of their ethnic or religious identity…”

Presumably this is a stage one doesn’t get to learn about until after the fact.

The remaining stages are when the real fun starts.

Bill’s Opinion

I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t believe there’s a secret cabal of Illuminati planning genocide or a new world order.

I do believe there’s a direction events are travelling, however.

A population who have been made fearful can be easily persuaded to accept otherwise not credible positions. “The unvaccinated are putting me at risk”, for example. It is unclear how this statement can be correct.

Once that position has been accepted, mandated vaccinations, exclusion from services and society, and a range of extremely distasteful and frightening subsequent laws can be justified.

Biden’s vaccine mandate announcement is, in my view, a declaration of civil war.

It’s clear that there is a massive correlation across the groups who are hesitant about the vaccines, those who most enthusiastically supported Trump, those who enjoy their Second Amendment rights and those who would never vote Democrat.

The polarisation of the population is undeniable. It’s deliberate and has been undertaken consciously.

Australia is at different stages of the Ten Steps and, as Stanton stated, these steps are not linear.

I don’t believe a quick reversal of this direction is likely. Fear is a very powerful motivator at a population level.

If you concur with this assessment, the next question to answer is, what will you do about it?

I don’t want to give them any more ideas, but….

Imagine you were the supreme leader of a dictatorial superpower country, currently engaged in a de facto but undeclared cold, sometimes warm, war with another superpower and its allies.

One day, a trusted deputy brings you a plan which would result in massive disruption to the society of your enemy, dividing its population, driving a wedge between friends and families, weakening societal trust and inducing huge levels of fear in day to day interactions.

An added bonus of this fiendish plan is it would utterly ruin their economy, sending them into a series of recessions and economic slowdowns.

One assumes, as it’s highly unlikely a moral actor would have ever made it to the top job in a dictatorship, you are a sociopath or at least have sociopathic tendencies. Therefore, this awful plan would be given some consideration, you’d want to hear more about it, you may be very tempted by it.

Completely unrelated to this hypothetical scenario:

Last year, in the early days of the pandemic, pictures and video footage were broadcast around the world, showing people dropping dead in the streets of Wuhan. This one for example:

Footage emerged of authorities welding people inside their houses and of massive amounts of bleach sprayed around the streets of the city.

New hospitals were built in days, to both the shock and awe of international observers.

Stories emerged of mass cremations, perhaps up to 50,000 dead within the first two months of the outbreak.

The rest of the world took notice and, understandably, geared up for something similar to happen in their countries. Emergency field hospitals were built, temporary morgues were set up.

They were never needed. The UK’s “Nightingale” hospitals treated just 54 patients before being closed down and converted into vaccination hubs.

What if there was an element of deliberate misdirection and mendacity in the initial reports coming out of China in early 2020?

With the luxury of hindsight, many of those photos and videos seem a lot less believable than they did when we were all shitting our pants in fear in February last year. Several of those “man falls down dead in Wuhan” stories and footage look somewhat suspicious today. Do an internet search and have a look for yourself, ask yourself how credible they look now?

We have also since learned this was not a naturally-mutated virus, but likely to have had its evolution helped along in a laboratory in Wuhan.

So, what just happened?

What happened to us, what did we just put ourselves through to protect ourselves from a disease we now know has a infection fatality rate well below 1%, making it less deadly than several recent iterations of the seasonal influenza?

Bill’s Opinion

My nascent hypothesis is this; once the Chinese authorities realised they had a leak from the Wuhan laboratory, they made a decision to not let a good crisis go to waste.

It didn’t require the virus to be deliberately created or leaked but, once it was out there, a little elaborate kayfabe was all that was required to send their enemies into a hugely damaging state of national panic.

Of course, this is just another conspiracy theory written on a minuscule blog in a brackish internet backwater.

However, even if there’s not a shred of truth in this theory, everyone in the world, good faith actors and bad, have just learned it is possible in the future. A bad virus, correctly publicised, will result in most nations’ governments destroying economies and freedoms previously thought to be ancient and sacrosanct.

With that fact now known, what can we in what we still laughingly call the free world do to prevent this provoked self-harm happening again in the future?

Some possible solutions I can think of are listed below, perhaps you can think of others:

  • When a new deadly virus emerges, call a referendum to put the solution to the populace, “do you want an enforced lockdown or would you prefer support to take your own personal risk mitigation?
  • Call a general election, assuming there’s a difference of policy between the major parties (sadly, generally there wasn’t; we have unaparties in most countries).
  • In advance, publish a national policy based on differing infection fatality rates. For example, “we will never close our borders and prevent people going about their lives for a disease that kills no more than, say, 0.5% of those it infects and certainly not if the average age of fatality from the disease is greater than the average age of death in a normal year”.
  • Stop electing career politicians with no courage, imagination or real world experience.
  • Pass legislation requiring all journalists to have achieved a high school level of competency in mathematics and statistical analysis.

Regardless, well played President Xi. Well played sir.

(Hat tip, Ezra Levant’s recent podcast on “feelings”)

Suppose They Gave a Law and Nobody Came

Day one of the ridiculous mandatory outdoor mask law in New South Wales.

An equally unscientific poll whilst driving around the local area suggests two thirds of the population don’t know about the new law or know about it and are ignoring it for the petty authoritarianism it is.

Mick Fuller and Gladys Berejiklian, it’s your move.

Bill’s Opinion

There must be nothing quite as terrifying for a State Premier and a Chief of Police than going through the process of creating a new law, publicising it and then trying to police it only to be met with the collective middle fingers of two thirds of the citizens.

What would you do at that point? A blitz of fines? Apologise and repeal it?

On balance, I think I’d try for a face-saving approach; “The medical advice has changed and we’re always following der science, innit”.

Australian police, who pays your salary?

There is long tradition in England of the concept of “policing by consent”. How long a tradition? It was documented by the founder of the modern police force, Sir Robert Peel in 1829. The nine principles describe how a police force can be accepted by the public only if they understand the concept of “policing by consent”.

The corollary of this is losing the support of the public and having to choose between political orders or the public will.

It would seem this choice is rapidly approaching Mick Fuller, the Commissioner of the NSW police force.

In the last two weeks he has demanded additional, unprecedented powers….which were granted within the day. He has also informed his staff he will be taking no disciplinary action should they be over-zealous in their interpretation of these authoritarian powers.

That’s nice. More powers, fewer controls, checks and balances. Accountability is clearly not a priority. Who wouldn’t want a job description like that?

This weekend, however, things have been kicking off a little. A violent protest in Sydney yesterday and, today, a pop up protest on the border with Queen’sland. I particularly enjoyed the report of the protestor asking the police who they thought they worked for.

All this is just before the new law kicks in requiring people to wear masks outside. What percentage of the population is going to ignore that unscientific restriction, do we think? Not insignificant, I suspect.

That will pose a conundrum for Mick. Quite how many arrests and fines will he and his police force be prepared to hand out before it becomes apparent they’ve lost the consent of the public?

If you’re not policing by consent, what type of police force are you, Mick? For a clue, have a look at some of the shittier places in the world, particularly the ones with the colour green on their flag.

Bill’s Opinion

The case count in the two major states of Australia are growing greater by the day. New South Wales will hit 1,000 a day by the end of next week.

Good.

Let me repeat that, good. It’s great news.

Why? Because the faster this outbreak gets out of reach of the authoritarians and petty rule makers, the sooner they will be forced to come to terms with the concept of trade offs and individual risk management.

We are in desperate need of some light relief in these scary times at the end of the western experiment with civilisation.

Watching mediocre career politicians such as Dan Andrews, Gladys Berejiklian, Scott Morrison et al having to come face to face with their failed strategies and brutal tactics is going to be a very pleasant diversion over the next few weeks.

As for Mick Fuller, Sir Robert Peel is turning in his grave.

A nation of convicts will always need plenty of jailers

….and it would seem there’s no shortage of volunteers.

Yesterday, at our local park, a woman was furtively photographing primary school age kids enjoying themselves on the skate park, because, in her words, they were “doing the wrong thing”.

Quite what she has since done with the photos is anyone’s guess. If she hasn’t found a suitable “grass on a neighbour” police webpage to upload them to, she could always sell them to those Wokepac customers who can no longer buy images from the Philippines via the online banking systems.

Just one anecdote, you say. Sure, then we have Pirate Pete continuing his multi-decade long sulk with the rugby coach who was mean to him all those years ago, Alan Jones.

Jones has recently had his Sky News rants removed from YouTube because they break “community guidelines”. Everybody is happy about this because, well, it’s Alan Jones and everyone knows he’s a cynical troll spreading misinformation and hate.

First they came for the trolls…

Peter Fitzsimons’ incoherent column today shows us exactly who he is and, frankly, any “part-ay!” he’s attending is one to be avoided. As Konstantin Kisin recently expressed, “we are beginning to learn which side of the barbed wire we’d be on”.

Fitzsimons is cheering the prospect of a vaccine passport to restrict access to travel, sporting events, bars and restaurants to those who are “deniers”. An Ngram chart of his use of “denier” would be an interesting graphic to see; it seems to be wheeled out regularly to close down discussions in which he doesn’t wish to engage.

After a world tour of all the leaders with whom he agrees, as if that somehow constitutes a logical argument, he dismisses suggestions of “authoritarianism” because words that end in “ism” don’t mean anything.

Peter is happy to, as H. L. Mencken put it, preference security over liberty:

Here in Australia, focus on a vaccine passport has so far been mostly for plane travel, the Prime Minister announcing plans for a “digital vaccination authentication” before you’re allowed on board.

Great. That’s a start. But political dynamic that pushes for vaccine passports for planes, must soon apply to everything else, too. The NRL has already announced that from next year no fans will be able to attend its games unless they provide proof of vaccination.

No one is forcing the nutters to get vaccinated against their will. But they, equally, cannot bloody well force the rest of us to stay home in perpetual lockdown. You must stay home. Trade some conspiracy theories in the darkness of your basement to pass the time. The rest of us are going out to part-ay!

Bill’s Opinion

As Jordan Peterson points out, “everyone likes to think they’d be Schindler, the statistics overwhelmingly suggest they’d be the camp guard”.

Take the vaccine, Peter, or don’t take the vaccine, I don’t give a fuck, but keep the hell out of my life and get back in the guardhouse.

Sydney, are you OK with this?

Well, that escalated quickly. The army are “assisting” with enforcing compliance of the increasingly authoritarian laws in Sydney.

In addition, helicopters are flying around western Sydney with sirens and loud hailers to “encourage” people to stay indoors and certainly not protest against these impositions.

The laws around this current lockdown have been strengthened and extended.

What type of laws? How about wearing a mask even when outdoors?

I’m sure there’s solid scientific evidence behind that massive dilution of civil liberties, it’s just not been presented yet. Erm….

We shouldn’t be surprised by this, though. After all, the precedent has been set for us as the UK and the USA went through this a year before Australia’s unofficial “zero covid” strategy fell apart in an embarrassing mess. Governments, local authorities and police forces the world over have shown exactly how little regard they have for individual rights.

Some of those rights we took for granted which we no longer enjoy include:

Freedom of speech – social media is removing and banning dissenting voices. Look at the history of the lab leak hypothesis and what happened to those who suggested it. That the censor isn’t a government makes no difference if they are achieving the same outcome.

Freedom of movement – in Sydney, you will be fined for leaving a 10km radius of your home.

Freedom of association – protesters in Sydney are being fined. Private citizens cannot visit each other’s homes.

Freedom to work and earn – tradesmen were banned from going to work last month, and any business relying on footfall or seasonal trade has already been destroyed.

And the process of removing these rights is being “assisted” by the army. That should surely ring a few alarm bells?

Perhaps then, the only question worth asking is, “Are you ok with this?”.

If your answer is “yes”, I have a supplemental question for you.

“What, then, would it take for you to become concerned?”

Bill’s Opinion

The framing of these changes is that they are “to keep us safe”. If one assumes good faith on behalf of the law givers, there’s a line of logic we can see behind some of the laws. The debate, which we’ve obviously lost, is whether the price is worth it.

Personally, I believe we are now paying far too high a price in terms of dangerous precedent for the safety we are benefiting from. That ship has sailed though.

However, it’s hard to accept a good faith argument with regards to some of these measures. Outdoor mask wearing, for example, appears to make no logical sense.

We know that. They know that. And they know we know that.

Yet, why then?

In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.
Theodore Dalrymple

Are you an artist?

An artist is someone who can hold two opposing viewpoints and still remain fully functional.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Some examples:

The threat of mental health impacts.

Position A: we must agree, without question, with children who say they are transgender because otherwise their inevitable negative mental health outcome and possible suicide will be our fault.

Position B: we must keep children off school and away from group sports for months to protect the elderly and chronically unwell. The mental health impacts of this are insignificant.

Climate change

Position A: climate change is the biggest existential threat to humanity, all necessary resources and national finances should be applied to solve it. We must think the unthinkable.

Position B: nuclear energy is too big a danger to use to generate our power.

Election fraud

Position A: Russia hacked the 2016 election resulting in the illegitimate Trump presidency.

Position B: there were no irregularities in the 2020 election. Anyone who suggests otherwise is a conspiracy theorist.

The World Health Organisation

Position A: it’s unfortunate the WHO made several significant mistakes over the efficacy of masks and the possibility the Kung Flu came from the Wuhan lab.

Position B: the WHO is correct that the vaccines are safer for all age and health cohorts than catching the virus.

Prophylaxis

Position A: there is no evidence from randomised double blind longitudinal studies of the effectiveness of existing generic pharmaceutical treatments for Kung Flu and anyone suggesting these should be further investigated is a conspiracy theorist.

Position B: a vaccine first produced less than a year ago is completely safe in both the short and long term for all age and health cohorts.

Freedom of speech

Position A: one of the greatest benefits of living in a western democracy is the freedom to criticise government policy without sanction.

Position B: there is no problem with private companies, some of whom have revenue greater than the GDP of many countries, to censor people who spread misinformation as these people are dangerous conspiracy theorists.

Bill’s Opinion

Perhaps there’s a bit of artistry in us all. It’s not those who have inconsistency who scare me most, but those with certainty.

Take it away boys: