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:

Brian the size of a planet

Former CEO of Wokepac and reliable content generator for this organ, Brian Hartzer, is on the publicity milk round for his new book, The Leadership Star. He keeps popping up on the Creepbook for Business timeline grinning in selfies with various people at book signings and coffee meetings to tout his wares like a truckstop hooker at 2am.

Occasionally he scores a wider audience such as a guest appearance on a podcast, as he does on this one:

I took the time to listen to this and regular readers may be surprised by my reaction…. I thought Brian came across as extremely knowledgeable about the banking industry.

Less frequent readers might be forgiven for thinking, “well duh, one doesn’t get to be CEO of a major bank if you don’t know banking inside out”.

Somewhere between those two points of view lies a question; if Brian is such a banking industry subject matter expert, how come he made such a custard of running one?

Before we answer that, I do need to comment on a couple of points he made in the interview.

Firstly, he talks about improving customer experience to increase market share. This is a medium-sized elephant in the room; there are four main banks in Australia and a large gap between 4th and 5th place. I can’t find figures on customer attrition rates in Australia, but my assumption is it is low compared to other jurisdictions. He doesn’t go into details in the interview either which, if it were a great factor would be presumably data rich.

My hypothesis is customers don’t move banks much in Australia, which explains why the customer service is so shite.

The second comment I’d like to pick him up on is where he mentions his duty to constantly reduce operating costs. When he took over from Gail Kelly, he chose to not integrate the wholly-owned subsidiary, St George, keeping its duplicate infrastructure, staff, products and premises. Go to any high street in Australia and there will likely be two Westpac branches not far from each other, one with a red logo, the other with a dragon. Cost cutting, me arse.

To be fair to Brian, he does talk about lessons learned. Taking more interest in compliance reports and making individuals explicitly accountable being two very relevant lessons he’s clearly taken on board. He actually sounds quite contrite and, ironically, rather like the theory that the safest time to fly is immediately after a major plane crash, he’d probably make a better bank CEO now.

Bill’s Opinion

Brian isn’t stupid, in fact, he obviously got his last job on merit. Yet he still fucked up royally. Why?

My hypotheses is he allowed his focus to drift to the ESG/woke stuff. There are only so many hours in the day and it’s a foolish person who doesn’t concentrate on his or her core objectives for 99% of those waking hours.

Oh well, at least he’s got plenty of time to spend on his hobbies now.

My car’s preferred pronoun is “Semolina”

No it isn’t, but you started it first:

On a similar theme; remember how Charlize Theron’s thee year old is transgender?

Bill’s Opinion

It is long past the time for us to stop playing let’s pretend.

Dogs are not vegan, three year old children are not transgender, my car doesn’t have a preference to be addressed as if it were a durum wheat-based pasta ingredient and we should treat anyone who asserts the opposite with the same seriousness we would a small child.

Or worse, perhaps they are seeking to exercise power over us by fooling us into using such illogical language, despite our sub-conscious rejecting the concept?

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Kick long, smash packs

Our old friend Hannah Mouncey is back in the news; he’s shes’s suing the Australia Rules Football league in Canberra for the right to play in the top women’s grade.

The main story is a bit boring, the usual guff as a sporting body tries to navigate the absolute minefield that is balancing the rights of one group (women), with another (men who believe they are women).

What is interesting though, is the imperfect solution currently in place. It’s a classic example of the law of unintended consequences.

Read carefully what the league’s current alternate solution is to allowing Hannah to play A grade:

From a community football standpoint, the new policy states that “transgender women may play in women‘s competitions, transgender men can play in men’s competitions and non-binary people can choose which competition to play in.”

Also at community level, the statement notes that “Gender diverse players may not be excluded for reasons of relevant competitive advantage over cisgender players in the competition.”

Mouncey, who will instead have to play in the B grade because it’s not considered part of the AFLW development pathway, said she was making a stand for the wider trans community.

Think about it for a moment; because they want to protect the women on the pathway to elite level, they’ve put an already physically stronger player down a grade to smash the lower quality players instead.

I imagine there was much back slapping and congratulations when they came up with that genius compromise. Turns out it’s not an acceptable solution to our builder in a skirt mate anyway.

Bill’s Opinion

The league are clearly trying their hardest to be sensitive to Hannah, you can even see it in the use of the highly politicised noun, “cisgender“, a word literally nobody in regular society ever uses.

They’re failing of course. What is being demanded by Hannah is the rights of women, including the right to play sport against broadly equivalent physical competitors, are encroached upon rather than face biological and physical reality.

Until about five minutes ago, women’s sport was a limited entry competition. To join, you were required to posses a vagina and not have benefited from testosterone outside of a normal range for women.

Not that the entry criteria used to be quite as gauche to state that, but we all understood the meaning of the noun, “woman”, back then.

Stories like this are implicitly requiring us to not comment on the physical evidence being presented to our eyes. Any innocent young child will look at the picture above and realise there is a man standing in a group of women.

As adults, we are being dared to notice and comment on it.

As Douglas Murray points out in his excellent book, The Madness of Crowds, now we pretend we don’t know things we’ve always known to be true until very recently.

Predictive test

Predictions for 2021 incoming later today.

In the meantime, it’s end of year report time. On January 1st we made the following ridiculous suggestions:

Australian Politics

Politicians of all sides of the aisle increase the warnings against reliance on China. There will be noises made by the Federal government to have closer trade and defence links with the USA (particularly following the USA election).

A Westpac executive is jailed for the AUSTRAC issues. Probably Lynn Cobley.

Hindsight score – 7/10. As with the Victorian hotel quarantine fuck up, it’s looking unlikely anyone will be found accountable for the Wokepac kiddy-fiddling scandal.

Global Politics

The UK will reach a WTO+ deal (ie closer to WTO terms than a full trade deal) with the EU and negotiations won’t be extended. Boris will call their bluff.

Congress won’t send the impeachment papers to the Senate. The GOP will make political hay about this all the way to the election.

Hindsight score – 8/10. As anyone who has ever negotiated anything could have predicted, when faced with a credible threat of a walk away, the EU blinked.

The impeachment went to the Senate and we all yawned.

Zeitgeist

Sentiment turns against Saint Greta. There’s a financial scandal involving her parents or handlers.

A judge in the USA finds a single mother of a transgender child guilty of abuse. The Supreme Court supports this finding on appeal.

Hindsight score – 5/10. St Greta has been relatively quiet this year, so we can be thankful for small mercies.

Sentiment and the courts are turning against the child abusers masquerading as transgender allies.

Sport

Six Nations table:

1 England

2 Ireland

3 Wales

4 France

5 Scotland

6 Italy

Australia finishes bottom of the Rugby Championship table.

Hindsight score – 6/10. I correctly called the winner and loser of the disrupted Six Nations, and Australia did indeed come last in the amended Tri Nations.

Economy

Gold to temporarily breach all time high ($1,895).

The Dow to breach 30,000.

Hindsight score – 10/10. Expect more of this to come, we are truly living in the “everything bubble”.

Bill’s Opinion

Not bad, all things considered.

Inviting the kids into the candy store

“What did you learn in school today, kids?”

“I learned you’re a cisgendered bigot, Mummy”.

Remember, you’re the bigot:

“You just know that the people pretending to be livid that a drag queen read a book in a school are also the people who run out to buy their kids the latest Grand Theft Auto on release day.

“Your homophobia is transparent.”

That’s Mhairi Black, SNP MP tweeting at you.

Here she is sitting at the table to the right of Cruella DeVille.

When we drop our children off at primary school every morning, what are our expectations of what will and won’t happen to them during their day?

Well, obviously a collection of educational outcomes; they will be better able to read, write and count than they were yesterday, for example.

Perhaps also some level of improvement to their ability to function socially, learning how to behave reasonably around others.

Perhaps the most obvious requirement is that they will be kept safe, both physically but also mentally. We shouldn’t be setting them up for nightmares.

Erm:

Bill’s Opinion

Does it need to be said?

Men who perform sexualised acts in nightclubs whilst dressed as women should not be allowed in our children’s schools.

When did we forget this?

For fucksake, these people shouldn’t be allowed within 500 metres of a school.

In other news, the Scottish education system is going backwards in its most basic responsibility; teaching kids to read, write and count.

Keep voting SNP, Scots. I’m sure they’ll improve things for you eventually.

UPDATE

A rather clever Twitter thread on the subject here.

Periodic fable

More dispatches from the ABC’s correspondent in ClownWorld;

The backlash to inclusivity was real

Last year, Ms Harrison ran a handful of focus groups in her community to hear more about peoples’ experiences with menstrual taboos and stigma.

She wanted to be inclusive of the fact that not everyone who menstruated was a woman.

Wait, what?

“I put a callout asking for anyone who menstruates to come along and I was very surprised by the responses,” she said

As one does.

“People definitely put up a wall and made it very clear that they thought only women can menstruate and that if you don’t menstruate, you’re not a woman; this idea that that’s what defines an individual as a woman.

Your post-menopausal grandmother might have something to say about that. But, as a general rule, it’s a good indicator.

“Considering the spectrum of gender identities, this is a very narrow way of looking at things. Your femininity and your identity is so much more than whether you do or do not bleed.”

I’m starting to wonder whether Ms Harrison is really that interested in helping people with toiletries or just has a weird obsession with periods?

The backlash has not stopped Ms Harrison from working to make her movement more inclusive, starting with the language she uses to describe periods and the people who get them.

Backlash“, or as 99.9% of the world calls it, “biological reality“.

Who is highly likely to experience homelessness?

Generally, I’d take a guess that those with severe mental illness make up a large ratio.

There are currently no reliable figures on the number of trans and non-binary people in Australia, according to Australian Research Centre for Sex Health and Society researcher Jennifer Power.

No shit? Given that, about five minutes ago, we were told self-identification is reality and the alphabet people’s categories expand annually (Q? Plus sign?). Jazz hands up who’s surprised nobody can accurately measure who fits in which demographic?

“We just don’t have that population-level data in Australia for transgender people or for people of different sexual identities.”

Dr Power says this means we cannot know how many trans or non-binary people experience menstruation.

No, that’s wrong, we can solve that numerical question for you; it’s all the trans people who have “female” on their birth certificate who aren’t taking testosterone and haven’t experienced the menopause yet. You’re fucking welcome.

But the most comprehensive available data on trans homelessness rates in the country, in 2016, reported 22 per cent of trans people aged 14-25 had experienced either accommodation issues or homelessness.

See the comment above about mental illness.

Speaking from his lived experience as a trans person who has periods, Mx Blundell said menstruation itself could distress trans and non-binary people.

“Trans people can be really terrified of getting their periods. For me, it meant that puberty had started and that my body was no longer in my control.”

Really terrified“, or in other words, “reminded of biological reality“. Oh, and if you think you are in full control of your body before puberty, you might want to read about a thing called “disease”.

“Even the idea of opening a pad or a tampon packet and that being heard by people [in the men’s toilet], there’s an added anxiety,” Mx Blundell said.

{note to readers: if you’re feeling disoriented at this point, don’t panic, it’s the ABC that’s insane, not you}

“And sanitary bins are often limited to women-only spaces.”

Oh just fuck off.

But there’s more. Christ, there’s always more:

What can we do to erase the gender-based stigma surrounding periods?

Hands up who, until just now, didn’t realise there was a gender-based stigma surrounding periods?

To start, Mx Blundell says we need to get the language around periods right in the first place, whether they are being discussed in schools or on the labels of period products — but not for the reasons you might think.

We need to get the language around periods right“. Oh, we do, do we?

Do we get to express an opinion on this language change, the like of which hasn’t been seen since The Great Vowel Shift?

No? We just have to fall in line, right?

Yes, ma’am sir. What else should we change, pray tell?

“It’s not just about including people, it’s about being factually accurate,” he said.

“If you’re talking about a cervix, call it a cervix, if you’re talking about ovaries, say ovaries rather than ‘the female reproductive system’.

“And if you’re [using the phrase] feminine hygiene products, just call them pads and tampons.”

This may come a surprise, but the number of occasions I’ve found myself speaking about any of those nouns in the last 12 months is about zero. I have spoken about my (female) wife’s periods however, and subsequently picked up a packet of tampons for her whilst I was doing the weekly shopping.

Guess what? I managed to buy them without stigma too. Stunning and brave.

The stream of consciousness from the Bedlamite continues;

The companies behind period products have a role to play too, he said.

“The images used of bodies on packaging are often thin, hyper-feminine-looking bodies. Maybe go for some diversity there.”

What, like a builder in a dress waving a box of Tampax around at his colleagues on the construction site? Maybe to a Motörhead soundtrack?

Mx Blundell has a great future career ahead of zher in the advertising industry, clearly.

And then there is the wall of pink packaging in chemists and supermarkets.

“I personally love pink, but we’ve got to stop linking periods so explicitly to womanhood,” he said.

Yes. Quite right. We should probably do more to link periods to crop rotation in the 16th century or the pentatonic musical scale. What were we thinking, with our insensitivity linking periods to womanhood. Madness.

Mx Blundell explained using the right language and having the right imagery was important because calling and depicting things as they are would help break down society’s gendered notions of periods, making menstruation itself less likely to distress trans and non-binary people.

“.…calling and depicting things as they are“.

Yes, I think we can all agree that’s important.

From there, Mx Blundell said talking to trans people about their needs when it came to periods was paramount.

Paramount (adjective): more important than anything else; supreme.

We’ve solved all the other big issues in the world then, phew.

I’m getting bored now. One more quote:

There are some things that should happen regardless of location though, he added, such as ensuring access to specialised bins for period products in all bathrooms.

How many public bathrooms do we think there are in Australia? Maybe somewhere between 1 and 2 million?

Let’s say a quarter of those are gender neutral. Let’s estimate a tampon disposal bin costs $100.

That’s about $75,000,000 we’ll need to find from public coffers to install a new sanitary bin in every male toilet in the country to satisfy the demands of perhaps 1,260 people in Australia.

You read that number correctly. The 2016 census found 1,260 “non binary” people.

Let’s assume that number is too low by a factor of ten. We’re still expected to spend $6,000 (not including labour and administrative costs) on for each “non binary” person to put a new bin in every male toilet, to help them not feel stigma. Probably double that, if we assume only half are women people who menstruate.

Bill’s Opinion

Here’s a thought experiment for you to try:

Imagine you had a time machine and a universal translation device. Go back to various points in human (and even pre-human) natural history and ask the question, “who has periods?”.

When would be the first time someone answered the translated equivalent of anything other than “women“?

Probably about 2012, right?

This is a bizarre social experiment, isn’t it, the aim of which is something like; throw away all language and definitions of everything we rely on to navigate around life without serious daily conflict, and see what happens.

In fact, if you read the works of Rousseau and Foucault, that’s exactly what this is. It’s an attempt to destroy “constructs” to enable the tabula rasa to be re-written upon.

It’s my strong suspicion there are three broad categories of people pushing this crap;

1. Those who know what it is, or at least suspect, and are enjoying the destruction and their new super power to get people to act as they please. Mx Blundell, for example.

2. Those who just want to be kind and haven’t worked out what’s really going on and the likely highly-negative consequences. “Useful idiots”, in other words. Ms. Harrison, most likely.

3. Those who are utterly petrified of expressing an impure thought and having the mob completely destroy them forever. The journalist Yasmin Jeffrey, would seem to fall neatly into this description.

Perhaps there’s a quiet 4th category; the 99.9% of the population who are reading this in utter despair and rage.

Defund the ABC, it’s long past its sell-by date.

Bravely fighting last century’s battles

The alphabet people have been feeling “more distressed” since the law changed to allow same sex marriage.

Spoiler alert; questions not asked in the article include, “measured how?” and “are all LGBTQ+ people equally distressed?“.

Those missing questions do seem somewhat pertinent, however.

How “distress” might be objectively measured would be fascinating to learn. Sadly, the Social Sciences haven’t made this breakthrough yet, and simply fudged the issue with a questionnaire on SurveyMonkey.

A slight digression and a useful heuristic; if your chosen academic discipline has the word “science” in the title, it probably isn’t. See also, “Centre of Excellence”.

The more interesting unasked question is how this fuzzy “distress” is broken down by the letters and symbols. Are gay men more or less distressed than the plus sign people? And if so, what is the favoured explanatory hypothesis?

The SMH article offers the example of Mitchell (photo below) as an illustration.

Mitchell is so distressed and concerned about the general public’s reaction that he has to hide his true self from the world, and daren’t let others know he’s not a heterosexual man.

Oh, wait.

Bill’s Opinion

This is the year 2020. Why are we still fighting the battles of the 1970s?

Is there really anyone left who seriously gives a shit about who other people choose to have sex with?

In an earlier generation, Mitchell might well have been an extremely repressed man living a daily lie. He may even have been stuck in a passionless marriage of convenience to avoid scrutiny and reduce the risk of imprisonment by the authorities.

In 2020, presumably he doesn’t feel so distressed that he can’t walk the streets of Darlinghurst sporting green hair and lipstick in constant fear of being physically or verbally attacked.

It’s seems to me this is a massive improvement, exponentially so, in fact.

This is not to deny there aren’t places or individuals who are victimising others on the basis on their sexuality, but that’s not the situation where the vast majority of us live and work.

Actually, most residents of those places where homophobic attacks are common, when given a choice and a travel visa, choose to move here, regardless of whether they are gay or straight.

In the real world, the non-Twitter, non-media bubble world, most of us haven’t heard an anti-gay statement or a disparaging joke said with unkind sentiments since disco died.

So why are we still being berated in hand-wringing articles like the one in the Sydney Morning Herald about our falling short as “silent allies“?

One hypothesis, and the one this organ considers most likely is, “projection” on the part of the authors of this fantasy.

The rest of us just don’t care who other people shag. We really don’t.

Starbucks can go get…..

Fucked.

We’re proud to partner with UK charity Mermaids with a limited edition Mermaids Cookie. With every cookie sold, 50p will go to the charity to support their helpline, providing support for transgender and gender diverse young people and their families.

Available at participating stores, whilst stocks last.

“Mermaids”.

It sounds so lovely, doesn’t it? Evoking images of feel-good Disney cartoons, Peter Pan and children’s bedtime books.

In reality, it’s a charity that promotes the castration of young boys.

Let’s repeat that; there is an organisation in the UK, with charitable status, promoting the castration of children.

One supposes the workshop to decide the name quickly moved past “The Eunuch Society” or “Castrato Revival Association” as options.

And Starcunts has chosen this as its cause du jour.

Seriously.

Bill’s Opinion

It’s not as if the world really needed another reason to boycott Starcunts; the quality of their hot beverages is no better than instant coffee, made drinkable only by infusion of vast quantities of flavoured syrup. The food on offer is over-priced and inedible. The saccharine jazz and blues soundtracks polluting their outlets makes a Michael Bublé loop tape seem tolerable.

And now they are donating money to permanently disfigure children in devastatingly life-changing ways.

There is reason for hope, though.

Yesterday, the English High Court ruled that a police investigation into a joke about transgenderism was not only unwarranted and unlawful, but sinister and a very serious over-reach.

In the US, “cisgender girls” (or “girls” in the vernacular) are suing athletics’ organising bodies for allowing boys to compete in female competitions.

Regular people, by which I mean anyone who doesn’t spend their life on Twitter, working in media or attending fringe political meetings, are waking up to the real-life implications of this insane attempt to destroy societal norms without any serious discussion of the long term impacts.

2020 looks to be the year where some adult supervision occurs.

Finally, this movement could probably find a more articulate, less Godwin-invoking spokesman, but this will do as a start:

TransIndigenous Mediation

Australian author Bruce Pascoe is in a spot of bother. His ancestry has been referred to the Australian Federal Police for investigation into his ethnicity.

Ponder that for a moment; in 2020, it’s in the purview of the police to question and, presumably, lay criminal charges as consequence of what they might find regarding someone’s ethnicity.

How on earth did we get here?

In Pascoe’s case, it’s been a lengthy journey and one which, depending on which “team” you are on looks like this chronology listed by Andrew Bolt or the more sympathetic version (presumably written by supporters) in his Wikipedia entry.

What’s apparent from either side of the story is Bruce’s claimed Australian Aboriginal ancestry is not likely to amount to many actual relatives who existed anywhere but his fertile imagination, if any at all.

But how did he manage to get away with this fantasy for so long?

Obviously, the opportunity was created by well-meaning politicians. When trying to rectify centuries of appalling and egregious treatment of the first people of Australia, politicians needed to create a definition against which they could allocate the additional state funding and resources.

That definition is as follows:

An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he (she) lives.

Can any bright students see the problem with that?

Yes, young girl at the back of the class, what’s the answer?

The words identify, accept and community all require definition to remove subjectivity.

If not, there is a situation ripe for exploitation by people who want free money.

As in most situations, where America leads, Australia follows.

Famously, 2020 Presidential hopeful, Elizabeth Warren, was the recipient of a place at law college reserved for a Native American after claiming to be Cherokee.

Cheekier still, Rachel Dolezal claimed to be of African American ancestry to become chapter president of the NAACP without having any black ancestors.

What can we learn from this?

Bill’s Opinion

As always, incentives matter.

In a situation where there’s free value (money, housing, academic places, increased employment prospects, perception of victimhood) and little obvious consequence for lying, there will be fraud.

The fact that this isn’t obvious to legislators says more about their IQs and knowledge of human nature than the dishonesty of the people who claim to be an ethnicity they are not.

Warren and Pascoe and Dolezal (see what I did there?) are at the top end of the fraud town. It’s not beyond imagination to suspect there are likely countless more frauds at the bottom end.

And who can blame them; presumably people already living an underprivileged life have a great incentive to invent a memory of an distant indigenous background like Pascoe’s to get to the front of the queue for housing or free dental care, for example.

What is going to be interesting about Pascoe’s case is to see what the decision might be regarding the potential crime committed. I’m not a lawyer so my research for precedent utilises the same resources as you, i.e. Google.

The best I could find was this campaign, which infers there’s definitely suspected cases of Aboriginal identity fraud but doesn’t describe any consequence.

My suspicion is, the crime rarely, if ever, results in a successful prosecution for two reasons; 1) there would need to be proof of intent rather than a mistaken “family memory”, and 2) until Pascoe, the people committing the crime were already in relatively humble conditions so the authorities took a lenient view.

Of course, like Elizabeth Warren, Pascoe has a low cost and quick remedy to clear his name; take a DNA test with 23 and Me.

We’ll wait, Bruce. We’ll wait.

In the USA, people who fraudulently claim to be military veterans are guilty of the crime of “Stolen Valor” (in the UK, they’re referred to by the name “Walt“).

In Australia, the Aboriginals suffered the pain and trauma of the Stolen Generation.

Now it would seem Bruce Pascoe and others might be accused of Stolen Victimhood.

Again, incentives matter; when victimhood is increasingly seen as having value, don’t be surprised to see fraudulent claims to it.