So what you’re saying is…

….Japanese men compete hardest when there is more cultural “face” to lose, particularly when competing against women?

Here’s an insight from the economic heavyweight that is the Sydney Morning Herald’s Economics Editor, Ross Gittins.

To be fair, he’s achieved one requirement of journalisming; to inform. I, for one, had never heard of this Japanese sport before;

He also explains that there is a vast database of to be mined about how men and women compete in single sex and mixed sex races, both in terms of results and penalties for aggressive fouls.

What does this data tell us?

Wait for it; men are more aggressive than women, even more so when they are competing with women.

Which surprises no-one who has a passing knowledge of Asian culture.

There is then a whole bunch of word salad about something called “gender identity“. 

Bill’s Opinion

Japanese men in competitive sport don’t like losing.

Japanese men in competitive sport really don’t like losing to women.

Japanese women in competitive sport take fewer risks than men.

This research and Ross Gittins’ subsequent regurgitating of it is analogous to the discovery of the double helix by Watson and Crick in it’s importance to the human species. 

It’s possible that blog posts here may reduce in frequency soon, depending on how successful I am in my application for a 3 year research grant to investigate why men and women tend to urinate standing up and sitting down, respectively, and the influence of the cis-heteronormative patriarchy on the cultural appropriation of gender norms in the use of toilets.

In related news, if you want to understand how completely arrogant and boorish Gittins is, risk your mental health by listening to this podcast where he is interviewed by our friend Jess I can use a spreadsheet to diet, and you proles can’t Irvine

Gittins may be hugely qualified in his profession but, my goodness, when speaking he sounds an awful lot like every old bloke in the office you’ve ever met who’s close to retirement and wants to give you unsolicited advice at each opportunity that seems more about explaining how smart he is than being of any practical use to you.

 

 

Climate change maths salad

Like cooking, journalisming has its best results when using seasonal ingredients. January wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory look at all the weather records that were broken the previous calendar year. Here’s the Sydney Morning Herald’s effort, under the tagline “extreme weather” (“climate change” seemingly out of favour recently, suggesting some bet hedging is going on).

Unfortunately, the climate team’s intern, Nicole Hasham, was given the task of assembling the maths salad and, as we will see, is really not as competent at the task as her senior colleague, Peter “weather is climate” Hannam.

Regurgitating Quoting a Bureau of Meteorology report, Nicole starts off poorly;

Where to start?

Well, perhaps the first point to make is that averages, by their very definition need some values above and some values below. It would be remarkable if no temperatures were experienced above average during a long enough timescale.

It seems somewhat depressing to have to explain this to a senior climatologist (now there’s a job title of our time) and an environment and energy correspondent. At least one of them will have studied statistics in high school, not that you’d be able to guess it from the statement above.

The second point, and it seems somewhat obvious, is that the climate has no concept of a state or territory.

Finally, does Nicole understand, or expect her readers to understand, what “second warmest on record for daily high temperatures” means?

Or perhaps the only important words she wants us to read are “second warmest“?

Next up is a bunch of rainfall maths salad;

We dealt with this at the time.

Subsequently, the rain came along but just a little delayed.

To be fair to Nicole, she did regurgitate quote the report on this. It probably proves something significant and negative in her mind though;

“Respite”.

It’s almost as if, I dunno, the climate is a complex system that doesn’t drop a consistent volume of rain during a man made time interval known by the English noun, “month”.

This would be amusing if the Australian taxpayer weren’t picking up the bill for this so called “science”;

“Increasingly influenced by global warming”.

Really. Do tell us whose fault this is;

“Can only be explained by human influence”? Well, there’s the Scientific Method dispensed with in just 7 words. One can imagine the reception a researcher would get if they tried to apply for a grant to investigate the influence of solar cycles on global temperature.

Finally, we get to the chart that reveals Australia’s record-breaking run of rising temperatures;

That looks shocking, especially with all that red on the chart.

Let’s look a little closer at the scale and labels though….

The Y-axis is interesting; why set the zero point as the average of 1961 to 1990? Why not take the average of the entire time range? What would that chart look like? Sadly, we don’t know because, as far as I can tell, they haven’t published the data behind the chart. Here’s the link to the original report, where we learn that the chart is showing the anomaly; Anomaly is the departure from the long-term (1961–1990) average. We also discover that the chart above shows, Mean temperature anomalies averaged over Australia, again, calculated against the 1960-91 average for some unknown reason.

Wait, averaged over Australia“? WHAT???? 

So, in summary, you took ALL of the mean temperatures recorded across the entire continent of Australia, averaged them and then compared that against a similar average between the years 1960-91 on a chart starting at 1900?

What insight, pray tell, was this exercise supposed to result in?

 

Bill’s Opinion

To answer my final question above, this chart that is supposed to reveal Australia’s record-breaking run of rising temperatures does nothing of the sort. What it shows is a sliced, diced, mixed together, re-diced and re-sliced set of data and then selectively colour-coded to scare people who don’t understand statistics.

By which, I mean Sydney Morning Herald environment correspondents. Well, either Nicole doesn’t understand statistics or she’s blatantly pushing a political agenda and pushing it with lies.

Which is it Nicole?

Let’s face it, this is the climate science equivalent of a collateral debt obligation, and we all know where that led.

UPDATE; I made an error regarding means vs. median in the original post. That sentence has been deleted.


Stop giggling at the back

One would have to have a heart of stone to not find this amusing.

The unannounced move by the US State Department, which has not previously been reported, downgraded the EU delegation’s diplomatic status in Washington from member state to international organization.

Excellent.

“We don’t exactly know when they did it, because they conveniently forgot to notify us,” an EU official who is familiar with the matter told DW in an interview.

“I can confirm that this has not been well received in Brussels,” the person said, adding that the issue and an official EU response was still being discussed. Meanwhile EU officials in Brussels said on Tuesday that per protocol, the diplomatic rank of David O’Sullivan, the EU’s ambassador to Washington, had been reinstated.  

Not well received in Brussels” must be one of the least intimidating phrases known in the English language.

It reminds me of that classic line from Dennis Healey, “I must say that part of his speech was rather like being savaged by a dead sheep.”

‘Forgot to notify us’

A Washington-based diplomat of an EU member state also confirmed the downgrade, and denounced the move.

“This is clearly not simply a protocol issue, but this is something that has a very obvious political motive,” the person said. The diplomat added that the negative view of the EU mission downgrade was shared by the majority of member states.

After discovering the downgrade, EU diplomats in Washington reached out to the State Department, which is responsible for diplomatic affairs, for clarification. “They have told us that they forgot to notify us and that this is a decision they have taken because that is apparently what the chief of protocol thinks is the proper thing to do,” the person said.

That’s the thing about invites, surely; you don’t tend to get notified when they are not offered.

Bill’s Opinion

Once I was a young man

All I thought I had to do was smile

While you are still a young girl

And you bought everything in style

So once you think you’re in you’re out

‘Cause you don’t mean a single thing without

The handbags and the gladrags

That your poor old Granddad had to sweat to buy you

We’ve always been at war with the Eurasia Group

The usually sound Ambrose Evans Pritchard regurgitates a press release from the Eurasia Group risk report in the Telegraph (Sydney Morning Herald paywall avoidable version here);

The answer to questions like this in headlines is almost always, “No, you’re just trying to get eyeballs“.

Oh, that’s worrying.

By that I mean, it’s worrying that the UN isn’t also in the list of global institutions past their sell-by dates that are in crisis. In the words of Saint Augustine, “Oh Lord! Make me pure, but not yet!“.

Bloody hell, we’re almost on the brink of another world war? There’s no way the government will allow that, just think what it would do to their plans for annual skiing holidays and the values of their Caribbean villas.

It all sounds very worrying though, whatever might be the cause?

Ah, it’s just another #OrangeManBad #LiterallyHitler article.

One of these political thinktank pieces isn’t compete without an economic prediction, of course;

Sure, the EU is going to have a few challenges ahead, especially if the UK is lucky enough to exit without a deal and gets to keep the £39bn ransom, but we’re heading for deflation, are we?

Given that the USA inflation figures for 2018 were 2.54% and projected to be ~2.44% this year, I wouldn’t go holding one’s breath for it to turn negative. Something like a meteor strike would have to happen in 2019 to turn that into deflation.

Oh goodeee, another article telling us the reason why we voted to leave the EU.

Personally, it was Magna Carta, 800+ years of Common Law, legislative sovereignty, the right to determine our own immigration laws and the fact that calling 73 MEPs for a population of 67m “democracy” seems like a sicker joke than anything Louis CK could come up with. But no, Eurasia Group, do tell us why we voted Brexit.

As for the problems between China and the USA, yes sure China is not running as hot as before (-16% sales of smartphones was an interesting recent data point), however, Xi looks to be trying to rapidly build bridges with Trump. It’s almost as if, I dunno, Trump’s strategy is working. Perish the thought.

So, after you’ve scared us half to death, what’s the chances of any of this happening?

“Muddle through”.

We do like a good old fashioned muddle.

Bill’s Opinion

As you were, platoon. We’ll be just fine.

Sometimes “free” is more expensive in the long term

On my Creepbook for Business feed, the following paid content appeared today;

This piqued my interest because I’ve long suspected that, if species preservation of the “big five” in Africa was agreed to be an important aim (excuse the pun), then making hunting an efficient and sustainable industry would be the most probable route to success.

Certainly, if observable results were something one took seriously, nearly every alternative that had been tried so far hasn’t worked effectively

Similarly, if we wanted to significantly reduce the impact of poaching of elephants and rhino for ivory, flooding the market with cheaper farmed ivory might well be the only solution.

I suppose there are two other alternatives; either raise the standard of living in sub-Saharan Africa to a level where there were plenty of other employment opportunities that didn’t involve killing elephants or persuade a billion Chinese people that ivory powder doesn’t cure bone tumours.

Ockham’s Razor suggests farming is the most likely solution.

I’m not an expert on the complexities of African hunting economics, politics and species protection so I’ll defer to others with more insight.

However, the link to ENergise REsources was intriguing. Firstly, that’s a really annoying capitalisation of the 2nd letters and secondly, who are they what are they all about?

From their website;

Ok, on the one hand it’s admirable that they are offering services pro bono to charities. On the other hand, they are clearly quite choosy about which charities they are going to help.

Which charities?

Basically, any that work in the fields of the Guardian’s favourite cause célèbres.

Exhibit A;

Exhibit B;

Exhibit C;

The website shows a list and the profiles of the current members (about 25 of them) and, frankly, there’s nary a single private sector worker amongst them. If you were a charity looking for some pro bono advice from an IT professional with exactly the same ideas and experience as every other IT professional who’s ever worked for you, you’ve come to the right place.

What’s really amusing though, is the unthinking acceptance of the Guardian/BBC/NY Times prioritisation of issues to be solved. If you hadn’t read the previous paragraphs on this page and I had asked you to write a list of the top 10 priorities for left wing charities, I imagine you’d have repeated nearly all the content on their website.

This is an alternative approach that they have not considered however;

Bjorn Lømborg’s Copenhagen Consensus.

Bill’s Opinion

The refreshing thing about the Copenhagen Consensus is their recognition that, when talking about about finite resources, environmentalists almost always forget that economic resources and human hours are also finite; a dollar spent on the solution to a problem cannot be spent on another problem. Similarly, an hour of your time spent on one solution can’t be re-spent somewhere else.

In fact, it’s worse than that; there are a myriad of potential solutions to the same problem, and logic states these should be prioritised by likely success and impact.

In effect, what the Copenhagen Consensus recognises that few others in the field do, or choose to ignore, is the concept of opportunity cost.

Once you apply that economic lens, our old friend Vilfredo Pareto can bring his ruler into play and measure which activities we should do first and which we should drop because they only feel nice rather than doing any good.

But if you really want to confirm that Lømborg is an outcome-driven, facts don’t care about your feelings sort of chap, sign up to the website; when you’re asked to select a country of residence, they list USA first, not Afghanistan.

This is a group that logical thinkers can get behind without having to suffer the ideological crap.

How refreshing.

Not something to particularly brag about

For reasons not quite clear to me, I found myself reading the IP Australia 2018 report. That’s the governing body for the lodging and managing of patents, in case you were wondering.

They categorise patents into overseas requests (e.g. directional drilling for oil extraction) and domestic (e.g. the rotating clothesline).

The narrative on the page is quite dry, factual and perhaps a little taciturn. For example, this paragraph;

While applications grew overall in 2017, applications for standard patents by Australian residents decreased by about five, per cent from 2620 in 2016 to 2503 in 2017. These figures include those who filed directly with IP Australia and those who entered through the PCT route, together accounting for around nine per cent of total patent applications in Australia. The leading Australian standard patent applicants in 2017 (Figure 3) were Aristocrat Technologies (157 applications), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) (45) and The University of Queensland (18).

No mention of what types of inventions are being patented and for what applications. One wonders why?

Then there’s this breakdown of the top 5 patented applicants;

Two universities, one government department (the science research organisation) and two commercial companies.

Even the least business-savvy can guess what Bluescope Steel do – the clue is in the name.

But what of Aristocrat Technologies Australia? What is the nature of this truly innovative leader of the drive for human development and progress in Australia, what is it they do for a living?

The make gambling machines.

In various countries’ vernacular; slot machines, fruit machines or pokies.

And how’s that going for them?

From the most recent annual report, very fucking well it would seem; a 48% increase in revenue over the year to a total of $3.6bn.

Business is good!

In comparison, here’s the list of overseas applicants;

We all know what Halliburton do, they get billion dollar contracts without having to tender when their ex-boss invades Iraq they’re and oil and gas services supplier.

Qualcomm and Samsung produce IT hardware, phones, TVs, etc., Novartis design drugs to keeps us healthy, Coviden make surgical equipment.

That’s a bit of an interesting compare and contrast with the company who keeps searching for new ways to lighten the load in the wallets of problem gamblers.

Bill’s Opinion

Next time an Australian politician stands up and makes some inspirational speech about innovation and preparing the Australian economy to transition to the 1990s dot com era benefit from digitisation and the like, remind yourself of which companies are currently innovating most domestically.

Let’s face it, Australia primarily sells dirt to China and houses to each other. Useful innovation? Not so much.

Of course, the final word needs to go to Gilbert Gottfried who received boos from the audience after making a bad taste joke the week after 911 about being worried his plane was scheduled to stop at the Empire State Building. Being a consummate professional, he then proceeded to tell the comedians’ “in-joke” for possibly the first time in public.

Trigger warning; if you’re a sensitive soul, you may wish to put some kale in the microwave and not listen to this.

Ladies and gentlemen; The Aristocrats;

An irrelevant retiree from Queen’sland writes….

An obscure gentlemen living out his retirement years in Brisbane has had a lengthy letter published in the paper today, in the grand tradition of newspapers printing rambling rants from retired Majors in Eastbourne or “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells”.

We’ll save you the chore of having to read it by summarising the entire thing in one paragraph. Actually, we just need to reproduce the final paragraph of Mr. Rudd’s letter;

The core objective of course is to avoid a Royal Commission that would lay bare the actual nature of their Australian political operations and their destruction of the NBN.

For those who haven’t heard already, the NBN is a case study in governmental profligate spending on things nobody needed or that the existing market would have provided cheaper and better if the government had simply got out of the way. See an earlier summary here.

Clearly this disaster is eating away at Kevin Rudd and spoiling his twilight years when he should be playing with his grandchildren.

The letter is also a case study; of how one side of politics struggles to see the irony of their hatred of the other side. Let’s fisk some choice moments to illustrate;

This year will be an important year for three of the world’s oldest, continuing democracies – the United States, the UK and Australia.

The US will decide, post-Mueller, whether Trump’s presidency is terminal. The UK will decide whether to tear up a half a century of European integration. And Australia faces a general election.

Anyone hoping for anything other than a big nothingburger from Mueller really hasn’t being paying attention.

Britain is going to decide about the EU? What was the 2016 referendum about then?

It’s a hunt for Australian relevance to suggest the tri-annual federal election is in any way comparable to Trump and Brexit. Australia is almost at the point of selecting Prime Ministers by alphabetical order or like a jury service lottery.

It will also be an important year for the Murdoch media where its power in these three democracies is formidable, and in Australia’s case dominant.

Murdoch’s combined News Corp brands have an annual audience of 16m, of which there will be significant “doubling up” as that won’t be a unique visitor number.

The combined audiences for the state-funded ABC, the brand formerly known as Fairfax and the Guardian have far greater numbers for their left of centre bias.

Murdoch is hardly dominant.

Watching Fox is like watching a revivalist meeting of evangelical fundamentalist preachers seeking to out-compete each other for the affections of “the base”.

An interesting analogy for someone previously very comfortable to been seen saying his prayers out loud.

The result is that the Grand Old Party of Lincoln has been ripped from its moorings, with profound consequences for the American democracy at home, and the American-led global order abroad. Well done Rupert.

An alternative view might be the American voters finally broke the circuit of the una-party where the differences between the Democrats and Republicans could hardly be noticed on most policies, particularly globalisation and foreign policy.

But then he deployed his formidable media arsenal in full-throttled support of Britain leaving Europe during the 2016 referendum before finally hitting the Jackpot with Nigel Farage’s UKIP, the ever-opportunistic Boris Johnson and Brexit.

An alternative view might be, due to a catastrophic miscalculation by David Cameron, the British people were (mistakenly, according to people like Rudd) given a vote on something that had been denied them for 43 years and they chose liberty.

Once again, well done Rupert, and that’s despite the fact that his newspapers had already been found guilty of multiple breaches of the criminal law following the Leveson Inquiry into what became known as the “phone-hacking scandal” in 2011-12.

A little obfuscation there making it sound like Levenson was purely about Murdoch’s mastheads or at least right of centre publications; it was damning about both sides and particularly the left wing Daily Mirror.

By contrast, the Canadian democracy has been in reasonable shape. Interesting that there is negligible Murdoch presence there.

An alternative view might be that, without the balance of a strong right of centre media presence, the Canadian people are suffering awful virtue signalling legislation and have become the laughing stock of the western world under their man child trustafarian Prime Minister.

And then we’re back to where we started, “my beautiful NBN project failed because my very own political party fired me for being a useless and sociopathic control freak and every Prime Minister since has struggled with the reality that it made no economic or practical sense for the government to deliver telecommunications networks“;

This was not just to put Abbott’s mad, right-wing government into office. It was also about protecting his company’s commerical interests by getting Abbott and his then Communications Minister Turnbull to destroy my government’s Fibre Optic to the Premises National Broadband Network.

Bill’s Opinion

Once one understands quite how shallow and self-serving Kevin Rudd is, reading his ramblings can be a great source of shadenfruede; he’s clearly tormented by his total lack of political legacy and it’s completely eating him up during what should be a long and relaxing retirement at the generous Australian taxpayer’s expense.

Bravo!

Rejoice! Clementine Ford returns in 2019!

For some unfathomable reason because most of her opinions are subject to cognitive dissonance, Clementine Ford has been suffering from depression but made it through the festive season without offing herself and has even managed to knock out another couple of hundred words of insanity and/or mendacity.

Trigger warning; You may want to sit down before reading the next sentence.

Clementine Ford doesn’t like the things Louis CK said in a recent comedy routine.

No, really.

She was fully onboard with all of his previous material, such as;

I don’t have a gun, but if I did, I would shoot a baby deer in the mouth and feel nothing.

And she’s fine with his monologue on the N-word;

Take responsibility. They found a way to say nigger—because when you say ’the N-word’ you put the word nigger in the person’s head. You say ’the N-word’ and I go ’Oh, she means nigger.’ That’s just white people getting away with saying nigger. Don’t hide behind the first letter like a faggot.

She really appreciated his joke about pedophile child murderers;

When you fuck a kid, you’ve gotta toss ’em. The guy could just call you, ‘Hey, I fucked your kid. You want me to drop him at soccer?’

And Clementine laughed aloud at his joke about wanking in the time between the two towers falling on 911;

How long after 9/11 until you started masturbating again?

But the material on a recent leaked audio following his #MeToo moment is really beyond the pale for Clementine, resulting in her swooning onto her chez longue in horror;

Leaked audio from a recent show lasting almost an hour laden with racism, ableism, transphobia and the good old-fashioned outrage of a white man who can’t take responsibility for his actions.

Of course, she’s not actually listened to it otherwise she would have written this sentence far more accurately;

There was the commentary on the Parkland shooting victims, who shouldn’t think they’re interesting just because they got shot.

Nope, he doesn’t say that on the leaked audio.

What he does say is that the children who didn’t get shot didn’t magically become imbued with the wisdom of experts on constitutional policy relating to gun crime. That’s a very different and subtle nuance that we wouldn’t expect Clementine to pretend to hear.

And does anybody really believe this statement by La Ford (highlighting mine);

I’m not offended by the idea that any of these topics could be fodder for comedy. But they have to be done well, by the right people, and without the laugh relying on the kind of lazy punch down that all too many comedians reach for because they’re actually far less skilled at their jobs than they think they are.

Pray tell, who gets to decide who the right people are?

But the most telling sentence in Clementine’s first masterpiece of 2019 is the following;

In a recent speech, the genuinely clever and evolving comedian Hannah Gadsby spoke of “the line in the sand” that separates good men from bad men, but that all men reserve the right to be in control of.

If you you are wondering what an “evolving comedian” might be, I suggest you seek out some of Hannah’s work.

Bill’s Opinion

Louis CK has always been a controversial comedian dancing on the edge of good taste. To expect him to suddenly start doing knock knock jokes is to not understand how he’s made people, a lot of people, laugh for several decades.

Hannah Gadsby, on the other hand, is a totally dull scold who plays the room for nods of approval rather than the visceral belly laugh generated by actual comedy. “Evolving comedian” is Clementine’s code for “not fucking funny in the slightest”.

As for Gadsby’s speech on men sexually harassing women, we’ll let you draw your own conclusion on the likelihood of it ever happening to her.

La Ford’s faux outrage at the comedy routine reminds us of this excellent summary;

But perhaps the final word should go to the left wing comedian, Jonathan Pie, who increasingly seems to be travelling the road of enlightenment previously taken by Dave Rubin;

Incentives matter, #7538

How on earth will I manage to find something to be cynical about this?

Greece has awarded citizenship to three migrant fishermen – two Egyptians and an Albanian – who rescued Greeks from a devastating fire near Athens last July.

At a ceremony the Greek President, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, thanked the fishermen for showing “solidarity and humanity” by rescuing dozens of people.

“You are now European citizens too, and so you can teach all our partners who don’t realise the values of Europe, to do what they ought to do,” he said.

Bills Opinion

The three men did a great thing and deserved a reward.

The problem is, the Greeks have just indicated to the market that the price of a European passport is to heroically save a life from a fire.

Most illegal immigrants won’t do anything malicious based on this price signal.

There will be some who will, however. My prediction is that there will be at least one fire set simply to enable an illegal immigrant so “save” a life. Let’s hope nobody dies as a consequence.