As the applause dies down…

A few short months ago, people all across the UK were coerced by peer pressure to stand outside their homes one evening a week and give a round of applause “for the NHS”.

For those of you unfamiliar with those three letters in that order; National Health Service, the UK’s biggest employer, the state run, centralised health service.

Everyone from the Prime Minister to babes in arms were out there every Thursday doing impressions of performing circus seals to celebrate a massive bureaucracy overseeing a clinical negligence bill that is increasing at a worrying rate (doubling over the previous four years).

And then there’s this:

What’s the likely consequence of that, do we think?

Bill’s Opinion

The Cancer Research charity estimates 350,000 urgent cancer appointments were missed or delayed. They speculate this might translate to 35,000 additional deaths.

That speculation is obviously as scientific and as credible as the original Imperial College model that got everyone into this mess, of course; can a subsequent cancer death really be proven to have been avoidable or was it just earlier than might have been reasonably predicted?

But nonetheless, the absolute number of increased deaths from cancer isn’t zero.

Repeat that for all manner of treatable diseases and conditions.

Then close your eyes and repeat the mantra, “we cannot make trade offs, one life lost to covid is one too many” until you forget all the inconvenient evidence to the contrary.

WHO could’ve known?

The World Health Organisation has amended its advice to governments over the efficacy of quarantine lockdowns.

“We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Dr Nabarro told The Spectator.

“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”

This is the WHO’s latest volte face (a better term than “back flip”, surely; back flips result in you facing the same direction). Some of us are old enough to remember that “the situation in Wuhan is contained”, there was “no community transmission” and that “masks aren’t effective”.

Let’s add those to the list of statements not to be believed, along with, “the cheque is in the post”, “of course I love you” and, “no, I definitely promise to pull out before it’s too late”.

Anyway, this is not exactly helping the various leaders around the globe who score high on the “authoritarian” end of this quiz, which, until the start of this year, we wouldn’t have thought included people like that Churchillian libertarian, Boris Johnson.

Some awkward press conferences await Jacinda and Dan, for example. Well, there would if we had the remnants of a functioning press.

Bill’s Opinion

Just stop pretending. We all overestimated the risk back in March.

Just admit it and we can all get on with our lives and doing the things that make our short time on the planet tolerable; visiting family, playing sport, taking holidays.

Enough. Enough.

Banana splits

Perhaps this is the best illustration of how bifurcated the perception of the world is on some of the most important issues facing humanity:

Depending on your source of news, the names on this list are either worthy recipients of the prize or a combination of the incompetent and mendacious.

It’s such a mix of opposites, one almost expects some names to disappear off the page as they cancel each other out, as if when matter and anti-matter combine.

The latter part of the list has more than a hint of trolling to it; one struggles to think what Erdogan and Putin have done to progress peace, love and understanding, for example.

Obviously, we can all get behind the campaign to vote Piers “I never hacked a phone” Morgan as this year’s Peace Prize winner, if only to ensure the end of the Nobel Committee.

Bill’s Opinion

Regardless of your opinion on who should win it, this list tells us everting we need to know about why the world is currently the way it is.

Credibility level: Smollett

America is in crisis. The demand for hate crimes is outstripping supply.

As with all supply-side shortages, unsatisfactory, sub-standard products flood the market as a consequence until the natural balance is restored.

Consider the sad tale of Althea Bernstein; the likelihood of this “hate crime” happening as described by Ms Bernstein is so small it would need to be measured by an electron microscope.

Althea borrowed her Mum’s car, drove to near where a riot was occurring, replete with an large arson attack, then returned home past her curfew time with some light burns.

Anyone who reads this story and believes that four boys actually sprayed her with lighter fluid through a car window and followed it up with a lit cigarette lighter needs to seriously take a deep breath and down a cup of coffee.

Nonetheless, some high profile folks have accepted this at face value.

Who?

A couple of dumb football players, for a start. Let’s face it, critical thinking isn’t a core competency for kicking and catching a ball, but Todd Gurley and Oren Burks have managed to underachieve the already low intellectual expectations for their profession.

This is exquisite, though; Megan Markle spoke with Althea for 40 minutes. Apparently, “Meghan and Bernstein formed a connection over being biracial, and Meghan advised her to stay away from social media to avoid seeing negative comments“.

Negative comments such as, “liar, liar, pants on fire“, presumably?

Bill’s Opinion

You, I and everyone we know will read a story like the one Althea told her mother to justify coming home late with light burns to her face and immediately guess what happened; she disobeyed her mother, went to the riot and got splashed whilst having some innocent fun with Molotov cocktails.

That figures such as the football players and the ex-Princess are prepared to publicly state their support for her version of the evening leads us to believe only one of two things is true. Either;

1. They really are so gullible that this story seems credible. In which case, we should pity them, or;

2. Like us, they realise this doesn’t pass the sniff test but have decided to pretend that it does.

If (2) is correct, perhaps Theodore Dalrymple’s explanation is the best way to understand what is going on:

Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. 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. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.

Decisions have consequences

The Guardian is likely to publish an awful lot of columns along this theme over the next few years as many of its readers and writers come to terms with the inevitable atrophy of their ovaries; I don’t want children but being an aunt is the joy of my life.

The writer then proceeds to tell us how great it is to have nieces and nephews and that it is the happiest experience of her life. However, she’s still very happy with her previous decision to not be a mother.

Very happy.

Very, very happy. Honestly.

See, doesn’t this paragraph just ooze happiness:

Adrienne Rich states that motherhood is a patriarchal institution. It shames mothers into a specific set of expectations that are impossible to attain. Mothers are judged for allowing their children to use devices, co-sleeping, engaging in paid work, not engaging in paid work, being fat, being thin, breastfeeding, using formula – the list goes on. I have seen what must be sacrificed – body, career, relationships – and how this is never enough for a culture that is always wagging its finger at you. I have witnessed the bravery it takes to be a mother in a patriarchal world, and I do not wish to cast myself in that net. It is the act of mothering, Rich defines, which is the potentially empowering experience.
This paragraph is brought to you by the adjectives, “bitter” and “projection“.

Also, let’s have a moment of contemplation for the fact a functioning adult human wrote the words, “motherhood is a patriarchal institution” without any hint of irony.

Bill’s Opinion

In recent years I have noticed an increasing number of female colleagues my age who are waking up to the reality they were sold a lie and made the wrong life choice.

At some point in their past they were told or independently developed the idea that the benefits of motherhood were not material enough compared to what they might have to give up.

Now, since their eggs have died, they are able to regret this choice at their long leisure.


The attitudes to this seem to fall in to three main categories;

  • Bitter and angry. This often results in an increased career focus. If you’ve ever met a woman in the work environment whose behaviour is on a par with or worse than the most offensive alpha males, chances are they are childless,
  • “Living well is the best revenge”. Instagram account full of images of ostentatious partying and holidaying, always the oldest person in the nightclub.
  • Quiet melancholy. The stereotype of the cat woman exists for a reason.

I am genuinely sad for them.

England, for all thy faults I love thee still

“I said at Calais, and have not forgot it”

But, bloody hell:

One front page, two moments of utter disconnect with the country I thought I had left versus what it seems to have become.

The first point of astonishment is with the fact that a Conservative government is instructing citizens to inform the police if their neighbours are meeting with more than 5 people.

Is that what the English have become, a nation of cowering dibber dobbers hiding behind their curtains furtively whispering down the phone to Plod because some people are freely associating with each other?

Then we look at the picture to the right of that news item and see a rugby club kneeling á la BLM to commemorate a murdered police officer. Fuck me, there’s a lot going on in that photo, none of it having any semblance of internal logical consistency however.

Bill’s Opinion

The UK is suffering terribly with Covid19 in all ways except medically.

As for bidding farewell to a murdered team mate by assuming the symbolism of a self-declared Marxist racist American organisation; perhaps the most charitable thing we can say about East Grinstead RFC is they are poorly-informed utter twats.

“If”, as the Spartans would say

You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city.

Can anyone see the significant assumption being made by the UK government in their justification for an even further destruction of freedom, democracy, the economy and national credibility?

“If doubling occurred every seven days”.

Ok, but doubling what? Confirmed cases?

Well, that depends on how many you test, surely?

Given that a massive proportion of people who catch it have either no symptoms or very mild symptoms, wouldn’t a better measure be how many people present at hospital?

Where’s the data showing the capacity versus occupancy rates of the hospitals?

Where’s the data showing recovery rates of the cases?

Bill’s Opinion

This is simply confirming lesson 2 and 3 from our 2020 Hindsight.

And that’s Numberwang!

Having 2020 hindsight

There, I’ve got that headline in before all the wanky retrospectives start to land in the media around early December.

Seriously though, we’re three quarters of the way through, what have we learned (or perhaps had reinforced) this year?

Here’s my personal list, in no particular order:

  1. All data is shit. All of it. It took a global pandemic to show us that multi-national organisations like the WHO have been collecting unrelated data across countries yet making decisions as if there was even an iota of credibility when comparing, say, China’s medical statistics with France’s and New York’s.
  2. No politician or journalist can read a chart or has any comprehension of statistics. Understanding the relationship between testing volume, testing results, ICU admissions and fatalities is critical to making informed evidence-based decisions, yet not a single politician or journalist has been able to articulate this properly. The consequence is an epidemic of panicked headlines about rising case numbers without any reference to the possibility this might be a function of increased testing.
  3. The only models we should trust are made by Hornby and go round a Double O gauge rail track. Seriously, just fuck off with your models predicting the outcome of a situation with an almost infinite number of inputs. “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy” an’ all that. Keep that shitty model you created using Lotus 123 with a Commodore 64 in your parents spare bedroom where it belongs.
  4. Experts. If ever there was a devalued noun, expert would be it. Sure, you might be the foremost authority on a coronavirus, or you may know more than any other human about the spread of infectious diseases, but you probably know less than my pet goldfish on how a complicated modern supply chain functions, the impact of reduced social contact on mental health, the long term impacts of a year’s loss of primary school education or the consequences of the removal of economic progress on life expectancy in the third world. An expertise that is twenty fathoms deep but only one inch wide is not what we need to make national level decisions.
  5. Our neighbours are more bovine than lionlike. They’re happy to take government largesse for months despite the very awkward silence about an obvious change of strategy (“flatten the curve” became “zero cases” without anyone being told, let alone being asked). They’re also really quick to post accusatory pictures and comments on social media damning each other’s behaviour.

Bill’s Opinion

The Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect should be at the front of mind from now on for the rest of our lives:

  • “Masks don’t work”
  • “Flatten the curve”
  • “Get tested”
  • “Don’t waste tests”
  • “Stay indoors”
  • “Vitamin D is best”
  • “We trust the carbon emissions data from China”
  • “Look at and trust our computer model predicting climate change”

As for all our virtue signalling hashtagging fellow citizens….. Jordan Peterson has been proven correct; we all think we’d be Schindler, but statistically, the evidence is we’d be the unquestioning camp guard.

Grubby fingers on the scales

For those not normally exercised by the parochial freak show that is Australian politics, “the Morrison government” is a coalition of two parties that pitch themselves as being on the side of free markets and smaller government.

Obviously, as they say in Tasmania, “it’s all relative”.

The Greens are, well, what Greens are the world over; water melons.

The Greens are willing to help the Morrison government pass contentious new laws to make global digital tech giants pay local news media companies for content, but its Senate support will be contingent on the inclusion of both public broadcasters in the mandatory industry code.
Under the proposed laws foreign technology platforms such as Google and Facebook would be forced to pay news companies for use of their articles, share key data and warn them of any changes to their algorithms or face fines of up to 10 per cent of local revenue.

Prima facie, these are curious bedfellows.

Some understanding of the nature of Australian politics is required to make sense of this.

First though, read this sentence and see whether it makes any sense to you:

“There is no reason for the ABC and SBS to be excluded … public broadcasters deserve a fair return for what they produce and what the tech platforms benefit from. If the aim of this code is to ensure the viability of Australia’s media, then the government should ensure ABC is included, that AAP doesn’t fail and that small and independent publishers don’t miss out.”

For the benefit of our overseas readers, the ABC and SBS are government broadcasters. The concept that a government department “deserves” revenue from its competitors in the private sector tells you everything you need to know about Senator Hanson-Young’s understanding of commerce, economics or, indeed, the correct limitations of government.

Obviously, that we’re even talking about taxing one company to pay a competing government department is ridiculous, but the conversation started without anyone challenging the idea of taxing a company to pay for the failings of another.

Why are Facebook, Google, et al going to be clobbered with this potential tax? Because the local Australian media haven’t managed to get a viable subscription service in place to replace their century old paper-based revenue stream.

Did the Pony Express receive tax subsidies from the telegraph once the lines were laid?

Bill’s Opinion

Three things can be correct at the same time; the Australian political landscape can be populated by bedwetting collectivists and crony capitalists, the Australia legacy media can be incompetent and venal AND the big tech companies can be run by utter cunts.

Witness today’s auto-fill suggestions:

And yet:

Going postal

This story is messily complicated, there are many moving parts and, depending on your prior personal views, you can find positives, negatives or justification within it.

My summary follows;

  • A public housing block in Melbourne, mainly populated by immigrants, is under lockdown following a large cluster of the virus.
  • Controversial politician, Pauline Hanson, made anti-immigrant comments as a consequence.
  • She then posted branded cheap items to the residents.
  • Australia Post is relying on her vote to pass a bill in the organisation’s favour.
  • The City of Melbourne prevented the post from being delivered.
  • Australia Post CEO threatened police action as a consequence.

Depending on your view, you might think Hanson is despicable, Australia Post’s CEO is conflicted or The City of Melbourne have over-reached their authority.

Then there’s this; the curfew wasn’t a medical recommendation and wasn’t requested by the police.

At what point do people in Melbourne decide they’ve had enough and what would that look like? Not for a while; Dan the man is doing well in the polls.

Bill’s Opinion

The slippery slope fallacy should be avoided; situations always change and it doesn’t follow that a negative direction will continue forever. However, situations can become very much worse until they correct.

How many more civil liberties will be removed by arbitrary governmental decisions before the push back gains traction?

I don’t know, but it doesn’t look like people have reached the limit of what they will tolerate yet.

Depressing beyond tablets.