The customer is always right

An interesting Twitter thread here on the subject of Chinese visa abusers students in an Australian university complaining about the subject material being taught.

This caught my attention for two reasons; firstly, it had never crossed my mind that, once reading the prospectus, applying and paying for the course, students would then vociferously petition to define the course material.

But the most instructive aspect of this is the reply by the University. Spoiler alert; it isn’t a single sentence along the lines of, “that’s what we’re teaching, if you don’t like it feel free to fuck off”:

To understand what’s going on with this story, you’ll need some specific Australian background. You can do your own research to confirm/reject these statements and, if you do, it’d be great to hear your conclusions in the comments:

Australia has been running two unofficial route to citizenship schemes for decades. The first is “457 visas” for IT workers where they are employed at lower than market rate until they achieve permanent resident status. In earlier times, this might have been called “indentured labour”. The second is a student visa whereby the children of rich foreigners with questionable qualifications and English language skills pay to attend a university course with the intention of staying long enough to achieve permanent resident status.

This has had the effect of keeping IT salaries lower than they might otherwise have been and inflating the revenue of the universities most guilty of turning a blind eye to non-bilingual students.

Following the events of 2020, these two industries are having to reassess this model.

Bill’s Opinion

The correct response from Monash should have been taciturn and Anglo Saxon. That it was a mealy mouthed equivocation tells us quite how reliant they are on the revenue being shipped in from mainland Chinese parents.

As the old axiom goes, “the customer is always right”.

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.

There’s a strawman…

….waiting in the sky, he’d like to come and meet you but he thinks he’ll blow your mind.

With apologies to Saint Bowie.

This cartoon appeared in a national newspaper. It presumably got past the editor without too much difficulty.

The sycophantic responses to the cartoonist Cathy Wilcox’s soshal mejia post with this are instructive. Not a single reply pointing out what’s depicted is not “speech”.

What does that tell us? One possible explanation is that her little corner of Twitter is an echo chamber. Or, following the recent purges, perhaps that describes all of Twitter. I don’t know, I steer well clear of the modern Bedlam, only dipping in when people send me links.

Bill’s Opinion

To suggest the cartoon is guilty of falling for the strawman fallacy doesn’t seem anywhere near adequate a description of what’s going on here.

We have to assume one of two things are happening; either the cartoonist and editor have a wildly immature grasp of the concept of free speech, or they deliberately changed the definition.

If the latter, why?

I’m not a mind reader, I’m not going to speculate.

It saddens me though that the left seem to be currently taking great joy in encroaching or at least cheering the idea of encroaching on actual freedom of speech whilst hardly any of their team is suggesting moderation.

Remember when freedom of speech was the left’s cause while the religious right were the ones trying to shut it down?

If you don’t, let’s remind you of the true story behind the quote in the film, The Blues Brothers, “I hate Illinois Nazis“.

Can you imagine the ACLU defending that case today?

How about we all try a bit harder to define and agree a principle and then apply it objectively? The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.

Jenna hates….. the free speech of

….MP Craig Kelly.

Jenna Hates has been given the keys to the Sydney Morning Herald Grievance Vehicle again this week.

Today’s subject of her trademark bitterness and hatred is an MP whose views she can’t stand.

Jenna and I have much in common in that regard, she’s just more discriminatory than me as I can’t stand the views of all MPs.

One of Mr. Kelly’s constituents has decided to undertake a personal project of offence archeology and, helpfully, our resident academic, Jenna Hates, has convinced a national newspaper it’s interesting enough to publish. No, really.

Tom Kristensen is a landscaper, artist and just owner-built a house in Hughes. But sometime in 2019, he turned his mind to local politics. Not to stand for election, no way, he’s never been a member of any political party, too sceptical.

But his local member had started to use Facebook to spread messages which the ecology graduate knew were not based on any kind of scientific evidence. Kristensen got busy. He decided to note and analyse every single Facebook post on Craig Kelly’s page, its topic, its style of writing and its image.

…. as any reasonable person would do….. if they were OCD.

Also, “not based on any kind of scientific evidence” just slipped in there without a supporting description of the method used to come to that conclusion. We mention this because the word “any” is doing a lot of heavy lifting.

Jenna Hates helpfully reminds us of the peer review process or lack there of:

This isn’t for academic research. It is to save the nation from his dangerous conspiratorial and anti-science influence. His job is to represent his community. What he is actually doing is misleading his constituents, misrepresenting science, endangering lives.

We do love a good blood on their hands accusation.

What conspiracy theories is he peddling?

The worst seems to be the false flag theory about last week’s attack on The Capitol. Yeah, that’s pretty daft, particularly from someone who is an elected official. I’m not sure how it risks the lives of Australians though.

The other two themes Jenna Hates, erm, hates, are his suggestion that two existing approved drugs might be used as pharmaceutical treatment for the Kung Flu ‘rona.

Again, unless he’s able to influence the medical profession into prescribing these, it’s just words.

Of course, we could have predicted Jenna’s preference on how to deal with Kelly, it’s a shame the bookies aren’t taking bets. Spoiler alerts, it doesn’t involve presenting counter evidence and debating him or getting up off her arse and actively campaigning for an alternative candidate:

It is such a shame we don’t have a code of conduct for parliamentarians, or an Australian Federal Integrity Commission, which perhaps could punish behaviour like this and send those responsible to Siberia (looking forward to the debate in parliament this year).

Hands up who thinks she’s only partially joking about Siberia?

Bill’s Opinion

For the record, I have no opinion on Craig Kelly as I avoid reading about Australian politicians as much as I possibly can, mainly due to the obvious fact they are stupid at best but usually with the added bonus quality of venality.

I also don’t know whether the two drugs listed reduce the impact of the virus or not. I’m willing to bet neither do you or Jenna Hates. I’m certain Kelly hasn’t a Scooby Doo.

Why don’t we know? Because they’ve been politicised. If you mention them, you will be labelled a conspiracy theorist and dangerously right wing.

In a world other than the Clownworld we’re currently inhabiting, existing approved pharmaceutical therapies for conditions adjacent to the virus would be taken through objective scientific enquiry and the results published for the medical profession to assess. If they prove effective, we’d all be happy. If not, we’d shrug and move on.

In 2021, however, we talk about shutting down the speech of those who suggest such a thing.

2021 already looks like its theme will be authoritarianism.

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.

…and don’t do it again!

…unless you want to.

Well, that certainly gave President Xi a piece of our mind. I hope he reads it carefully and has second thoughts about his nasty policy of reneging on the 50 year agreement to not impose Chinese legislation on Hong Kong.

One can only imagine the reaction in the inner circle of power in Beijing, they must be absolutely shitting their pants.

Well, imagine no further; we’ve been very fortunate to have access to a secret recording of President Xi’s reaction.

Helpfully, it has been translated for us by Kevin Rudd. Many of you may not be aware, because he doesn’t like to mention it, but the former Australian Prime Minister is fluent in Mandarin:

(Presidential aide passes the text of the Australian response to the arrests to Xi)

(Pause while he reads it)

(Xi scrunches the paper into a tight ball and aims it at the basketball hoop on his wall. Throws and gets it in).

President Xi: Three points! Yao Ming eat yer heart out!

Bill’s Opinion

In August 2019 I wrote about Australia’s quandary on how best to deal with China.

This piss weak response to a further incursion in to the freedoms of the Hong Kongers, supposedly protected under international law, tells us which side of the Chamberlain/Churchill spectrum the current Australian Federal Government have chosen to sit.

That’s fine, we can choose appeasement and cowardice if that’s what we feel is best for our interests. But let’s just admit it then, rather than pretending we’re some kind of moral arbiter and guardians of objective truth.

Without Chinese trade links, Australia is more fucked than a Wan Chai whore after a weekend when a US aircraft carrier has been in town.

They know that, we know that and they know we know that. Which means China can do what the fuck they like and we won’t lift a finger, except perhaps to wave a piece of paper thus:

Dine and discover unintended consequences

There’s a trial underway in New South Wales which apes Boris Johnson’s “Eat out to help out” stimulus from earlier in the year.

The NSW version is the “Dine and discover” programme.

It’s being trialled in The Rocks area of Sydney, later to be rolled out to the rest of the state.

It differs from the UK version however, as the business categories eligible for the stimulus are far greater, including “scenic and sightseeing transport”, “recreational activities such as go-karting, indoor climbing, mini-golf, billiards, bowling or ice-rinks”, “outdoor adventures”, and “travel agencies and tours.

Can anyone see a flaw in the scope of the trial and what do we think happens next?

Bueller? Anyone?

There are plenty of pubs and restaurants in The Rocks, but go-karting and outdoor adventures? Not so many. Similarly, there’s not a huge number of travel and touring businesses based out of the small historic part of Sydney.

Why is this a problem?

Well, what won’t be tested as these $25 vouchers are rolled out is whether there’s an opportunity for misuse and fraud.

Anyone who’s ever previously met another human will instinctively know the axiom, if fraud is possible and a large enough number of people are involved, fraud will occur.

Bill’s Opinion

It’s an absolute certainty there will be multiple cases of newly-registered or previously dormant businesses making a load of free money from innovative use of these vouchers.

At its simplest, a scam might simply launder part of the $25 back to the consumer, say, $20 in cash back to you while my “scenic tour business” pockets a fiver and nobody says anything.

More imaginative minds than mine will be working on various elaborate and profitable versions of this idea right now.

This is little league stuff compared with some of the Bernie Madoff-esque scams surely underway already in financial markets, though.

2021 is going to be the “everything bubble” party. Perhaps 2022 is when the hangover kicks in?

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.

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.

So what’s the point of the vaccine then?

WHO’s chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan told a virtual press conference that there was no evidence yet that people who had been vaccinated could enter countries such as Australia without the risk of spreading the disease.

I have questions…..

Asked by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age what this would mean for Australia’s quarantine program, Swaminathan said “I don’t believe we have the evidence on any of the vaccines to be confident that it’s going to prevent people from actually getting the infection and therefore being able to pass it on”.

I have more questions…..

Dr David Heymann from London’s School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene went further.

“No matter what we’ve done to date, it will continue to spread, despite vaccines, despite therapeutics, despite diagnostic tests,” he said of the virus. “We have to learn to live with this and use the tools that we can in the best way possible.”

He likened the current pandemic to smallpox and the use of the “imperfect vaccine” to control and eventually eradicate the disease.

Smallpox? That disease with a 30% infection fatality rate?

We’re comparing smallpox with a virus from which 99.35% of people infected recover (and that percentage rapidly improves for those under 75)?

How is that useful?

Bill’s Opinion

Several of my friends are convinced the pandemic is a global conspiracy. I constantly argue against this from my experience of dealing with large organisations and governments, where I have learned hive minds are incapable of such efficiency.

Generally, if you want something really fucked up and not achieving the stated outcome, ask a government department to do it.

However, it’s hard to not sympathise with my tin foil hat friends given we’ve just spent the best part of a year cowering in our spare rooms waiting for the miracle to come, then we were told multiple vaccines with 90+% efficacy rates had been produced and now, as they’re being rolled out, we are told cool your jets, you’ll still need to spend two weeks in quarantine when you travel.

The chances of me voluntary taking a vaccine in such circumstances just became significantly less likely. What would be the point?