Widening jaws, bouncing dead cats

We’ve not updated this for a couple of months:

Well, that’s certainly telling an interesting story, isn’t it?

Regarding the lending figures; prior to 2019, the monthly change had only previously fallen to 0.3% or lower three times since the 1970s. It had never fallen as low as 0.1% until this October and November.

Market volumes must surely be playing a part in this picture.

Bill’s Opinion

Despite the voices claiming all is well and there’s never been a better time to buy, the lending data is flashing a red warning sign.

Unless buyers have found a new, magical source of capital, this recovery is likely to be short-lived.

My personal view is, stay out of this market until at least three consecutive months’ lending change figures above 0.3%.

The Tesco Christmas Card Hoax of 2019

A young girl in the UK allegedly found the following written in one of the Christmas cards she purchased from the supermarket, Tesco:

The factory identified by Tesco as being the source of production denies this, but by using weasel words.

We wrote previously about the ridiculously ineffective Modern Slavery Act and its various international variations, in which the following quote featured:

The BHRCC research, from October 2017, commended Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Unilever, British American Tobacco, Tesco and Vodafone for their work against modern slavery.

It would seem, Prima Facie, Tesco’s statement on a website didn’t do much to counter slavery in the supply chain.

However, our Bullshit Detector is flashing regarding this story.

Firstly, that note has zero spelling or grammatical errors or even any indication in the prose suggesting a non-native English speaker wrote it. Even the best speakers and writers of English as a second language usually give unintentional hints in the written form.

Secondly, it seems all too perfect a coincidence that a small girl would traumatically find the note. Of all the Christmas cards written in the UK, what percentage are written by small children, do we think? I’m going to suggest less than 2%.

Then there’s the interesting career of her father, Ben Widdicombe:

Today’s LinkedIn profile was brought to you by the words “political” and “activist“.

Bill’s Opinion

Two facts can be correct at the same time.

It is highly likely Chinese factories producing Tesco’s Christmas cards are using or have used forced (or at least, “coerced“) prison labour.

It can also be true that a man who has spent his entire life as a political activist wrote the note in the card and put it in a pile for his daughter to write.

I’m no fan of nor apologist for the Chinese government, as polemics such as this and this would attest, but my patented razor suggests the most likely explanation of this story is that it is The Tesco Christmas Card Hoax of 2019 and was perpetrated by Ben Widdicombe.

UPDATE

A correspondent has suggested the note has been translated and the original is not being shown to protect the writer.

Previous reporting of similar notes have stated this translation has occurred but I’ve yet to find reporting of this for this specific case.

Regardless, translated note or otherwise, the strongest indication of this being a hoax is the unlikelihood of the small child of a lifelong political activist finding a note in a card from a Chinese slave labourer.

Update 2: “Handwriting changed

The heat is on

Many people all over Australia received messages of support from overseas friends and relatives yesterday.

Why?

Because yesterday was “Australia’s hottest day“.

No, really it was.

See, this is the record of temperatures in Sydney during the day yesterday:

Nudging 25 degrees there. Phewwwww!

In other words, a pleasant day in early summer.

The “hottest day” is calculated by taking an average of averages across the entire continent.

Yep.

In other news, an average of Tom Cruise and Shaquille O’Neal is as tall as Chris Hemsworth.

Bill’s Opinion

Perhaps catastrophic man made global warming is an existential threat to humanity or perhaps it isn’t.

One thing is certain to anyone with any experience of reviewing data and reporting; the reporting of climate change is indistinguishable from blatant lying.

May Day!

The verb “may” and its synonyms do yeoman’s work again for the cause of global warming this week:

Australia “may” break a heat record this week.

Crikey (to use the vernacular), that’s scary!

What are the details of this climate catastrophe?

The mercury in Sydney’s CBD may shoot 12 degrees over the historical average for December this weekend while the western suburbs face their hottest day ever in the month.

Smart readers will already have mentally filed the first half of that sentence to the folder marked “bullshit” because of the use of the juvenile “average”.

We’ll come on to the second half of the sentence later.

There’s more heavy lifting for “may”:

“If Penrith gets shrouded by bushfire smoke, it may not get that warm – but either way we’re pretty confident of getting temperatures well into the 40s,” meteorologist Rob Taggart said. He noted that in some parts of western Sydney, measurements only went back 25 to 45 years.

Well into the 40s“, eh?

Oh, and records that only span one human generation?

In case you didn’t get the memo, “average” gets another run off the bench:

“At this stage, we’re forecasting a late breeze, but that may change. If it doesn’t come at all, we could see temperatures into the 40s,” he said.

The average December maximum for the CBD is 25.2 degrees.

Bill’s Opinion

Averages should play no part in any reporting of weather. None.

Why?

Last year, the coldest December day in New South Wales was 14.3 degrees. The hottest was 41.4 degrees.

When the wind shifts to blow from the south, there is no land mass between Sydney and the Antarctic. Good luck using an average temperature to make any useful weather-based decision about Sydney.

A note to those who wish to convince me and others of the climate emergency; try not using persuasion techniques that look indistinguishable from confidence trickery and lies.

Rosling would be ropeable

First, the good news; the suicide rate of gay people has fallen.

This was reported by Queerty, an activist website, as being caused by the introduction of same sex marriage legislation.

The legacy press outlets picked up on this and repeated it without question.

The original source of the claim is this academic study.

The researchers studied 28,649 individuals in same sex marriages in Denmark and Sweden (where the same sex marriage legislation was introduced in 1989 and 1995, respectively) and the suicide rates within that group.

They also compared the suicide rates in the opposite sex marriage cohort.

The suicide rate in same sex marriages was 0.3% and in opposite sex marriages, 0.2%.

Interestingly, the researchers split the time period in half. The reason isn’t made clear:

Covariates

The following covariates were examined: country (Denmark, Sweden), period (1989–2002, 2003–2016), sex (males, females), age group (18–34, 35–64, 65+) and current civil status (married, divorced/widowed).

The data showed a decline in suicides across the two periods for both groups (top left chart below):

Is it just me or can anyone else spot a flaw in the study methodology, conclusions and subsequent reporting?

Bill’s Opinion

I believe one can safely draw several conclusions from the study:

  1. The suicide rate of people in committed relationships in Denmark and Sweden has fallen since 1989.
  2. The suicide rate is higher in same sex relationships than opposite sex marriages in Denmark and Sweden.
  3. That’s it.

What one can’t safely conclude from the study is that the introduction of same sex marriage resulted in a reduction of the suicide rate.

Why?

There’s no data presented for the period prior to the legislation being introduced.

There’s also no data presented for unmarried people, which seems another major oversight.

But, magically, the legislation reduced the suicide rate, as regurgitated by formerly-respected news outlets such as the Grauniad.

If you were one of the Ctrl C/V reporters who published the fake conclusion of the study, ask yourself this question; wouldn’t it have served the world better to have known which group of people are most likely to commit suicide and why?

What a waste of time, money and opportunity.

Wokepac housekeeping

We’d like to tuck our best mate, Brian, up in bed and let him enjoy his retirement in peace, or at least until he gets called back for the court case.

Unfortunately, we have a little housekeeping to do first.

The coverage of the aftermath the source of our amusement today.

Ok, we’re calling plagiarism on the Spectator. An internet search will show the use of “Wokepac” started here. You’re welcome, chaps.

Then there’s this objective review of Brian’s awful performance by Peter Van Onselen much of which is indeed accurate. Let’s face it, Brian took his eye off the ball and didn’t pay enough attention to the core part of his job description, that is, running a bank.

The question is, though, what was he spending his resource on instead?

Well, we’ve answered that question continually here and neatly summed it up with the tag, “Wokepac”.

Peter is unable to point to the rainbow-coloured elephant in the room though.

Why?

Awkward.

Bill’s Opinion

Peter’s wife was fired by Brian resigned two years ago and Peter is still spitting tacks over it.

Question for Peter; how absolutely awful do you have to be at your job to be fired by Brian Hartzer whilst in possession of female genitalia?

Ainslie was part of the diversity diversion problem at Westpac. She, like many other diversity quota hires, had the easiest job in the world; turn up late, attend some “women in banking” conferences, collect pay cheque. Rinse. Repeat.

Yet she still got fired resigned.

The Duke of York’s Award

(From WikiPedo):

The Duke of York’s Award (commonly abbreviated DodgY), is a youth awards programme founded in the United Kingdom in 2001 by Prince Andrew, Duke of York, that has since expanded to several nations. The awards exploit adolescents and young adults and then gaslight them in the media.

The Duke of York’s Award programmes take between one and four years to complete, and they must be completed by the participant’s eighteenth birthday. There are around 300,000 participants annually. The programmes are at three progressive levels which, if successfully completed, lead to a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Duke of York’s Award.

With assistance from adult madams, pimps and fixers, participants select and set objectives in each of the following areas:

• Volunteering: being tricked in to servicing individuals or members of the Royal family.

• Physical: improving in an area of “sport”, pole-dancing or fitness activities such as providing “executive relief” to heirs to the British throne.

• Skills: developing practical and social skills such as understanding when to offer to sleep on the wet spot on the bed.

• Expedition: planning, training for, and completion of an adventurous journey in the UK or abroad (didn’t have to change that at all!)

• At Gold level, participants must do an additional fifth Residential section, which involves staying and working away from home for five days, doing a shared activity (nor that!)

Bill’s Opinion

QV “The Club“.

To be fair to Andrew, he’s simply following a long tradition where the second son of the monarch lives a feckless, drunken, debauched life of profligacy.

Unfortunately, he’s the first one to do it in a world where the commoners have legal protection, cameras and the internet.

When errors are a feature, not a bug

Woolworths are burning shareholder value in the latest wages underpayment “scandal” in Australia.

“Scandal” is presented in inverted commas because, frankly, it’s becoming easier to list the organisations not caught up in this problem than those who have.

After self-reporting their heinous crime, Woolworths have presumably poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into one of the big four accounting firms to get to the bottom of the problem.

In addition to the subsequent remediation costs (project resources, IT costs, management time and, obviously, the repayments to staff), they now have a class action to defend.

From the article, we can unpick the top level maths involved:

6,000 staff have been underpaid somewhere between $200 and $300 million since 2010 (let’s assume May 2010, as it seems an EBA was signed then).

So, a sensitivity analysis of this:

Worst case – $300,000,000 / 6,000 / 103 months = $485 a month or about $24 a day

Least worst case – $300,000,000 / 6,000 / 103 months = $323 a month, or about $16 a day

Not insignificant but not the difference between cashed up and struggle street either. It’s the equivalent of having to pay for your car parking if you work in a metropolitan area.

What isn’t explained is what the source and reason for these errors is likely to be. Is it an under calculation of pay, superannuation contributions, rostered days off, over-calculation of tax, etc.

Consider those questions when you read of these “underpayment” cases.

A lifetime ago, I worked in various jobs which involved variable pay for reasons such as overnight shift work, weekends and public holidays.

Every month when the pay packet arrived I would spend a few minutes with my diary and a calculator and check the numbers. Mainly the payroll department’s calculation was correct but there were several occasions where I found an issue to be corrected (always in my favour – strangely, I never mentioned the other ones).

I doubt I’d be capable of performing that check and balance if I were employed in a similar role in Australia in 2019. I’d be impressed if many of the current variable wage-earners could do so either.

Actually, if they could accurately calculate their wages, they’re missing a huge career opportunity to switch to working in payroll.

Bill’s Opinion

We’ve investigated these issues previously and explained why we think it’s a feature, not a bug of the Australian employment environment.

There are some heuristics when discussing this epidemic of Australian payroll “scandals”:

– You will never meet anyone in Australia who earns minimum wage. That’s not to say nobody earns at that rate, but there’s so few of them you stand little to no chance of ever meeting one.

– Anyone who claims to understand how to calculate payroll based on Australian Enterprise Bargaining Agreements is not to be trusted. Do not, I repeat, do not buy a used car from these people. I know payroll accounting managers with decades of experience who, in a quiet moment in the pub, will admit to not being certain about these calculations and waking up at night worrying about it.

– Any worker who claims to have been underpaid has only come to this conclusion after being told so by an “expert” (see the previous point).

– The reporting on these issues will never mention the labyrinthine employment regulations in Australia as being even partially-responsible for these screw ups.

Today’s blog is brought to you by the words, “shareholder” and “value”

Despite tomorrow being his final day as CEO of Wokepac, Brian is whooping it up on social media like a pouting Insta-influencer with brand new Botox lips.

He’s becoming the Creepbook for Business equivalent of herpes, only much harder to get rid of and without the preceding moments of pleasure.

Demonstrating a level of self-unawareness usually associated with people called Bono talking about climate change whilst sipping champagne on private jets, he is doing a high five lap of honour around Linked-in.

It’s the nature of the high fives that’s most amusing though. I’ve yet to see a single message of thanks and farewell from anyone who looks vaguely experienced or competent. Instead, it seems to be a lot of folks with job tittles one might expect to see on the cryogenic pods in the hold of the Golgafrincham Ark B.

Exhibit 1: A Monitoring and Control Manager

It seems to me, a paucity of “monitoring and control” might have been the prime reason Brian will be spending less time in a dinner suit from next week.

Exhibit 2: Maybe policemen are getting younger but this is a Senior Business Banker apparently.

Exhibit 3: Credit Assessor.

Exhibit 4: An “accomplished CEO“, which is surely code for “unemployed”?

Exhibit 5: A Regional General Manager, SME

I think Jason’s sycophancy is my favourite of the selection though; “Farewell to an inspirational leader that was tasked with navigating Australia’s oldest bank through the toughest conditions in history.

Tougher than, say, 1929-31, 1939-45, any of the subsequent recessions or the 2008 financial crisis?

Well no, perhaps nothing quite on that scale.

But still, perhaps the toughest self-inflicted conditions in history?

Yes, let’s agree on that.

Bill’s Opinion

I have two observations on Brian and his sycophants*:

1. He certainly got full value from that dinner suit, and

2. Get woke, go broke (well, at least fired).

* I think I may have seen Brian and His Sycophants supporting Primus at the Brixton Academy.

Sorry seems to be the easiest word – part VI

Here we go again.

William of Ockham passim:

Anyone who has been involved in rearing human infants will understand that the word “sorry” is the coda to the process of reconciling a malevolent or negligent act, not the start.

It’s also totally meaningless for the word to be said by anyone other than the person who committed the act, unless it’s used in the context of sympathy (“I’m sorry that happened to you”) instead.

And, on “institutional apologies”:

In addition to the word “sorry”, these apologies have a significant commonality; they are ….. meaningless because the speaker was not responsible for the crime. In most cases, the speaker was not even born at the time of the crime.

Consider then, the Mayor of New Zealand’s apology for a plane crash which, unless “gestational guilt” has become a thing whilst we were busy going about our business, she can’t be held responsible for in any sensible way.

My grandmother used to reply when, as a child, I asked how old she was, “as old as my eyes and little older than my teeth“.

Let’s give a pass, therefore, to the possibility of La Adern’s remarkable dental pre-natal longevity being somehow responsible for the downing of flight NZ901 on November 28th, 1979 (9 months before she was born) but, let’s face it, that’s a theory unlikely to make it past any scientific peer review outside of California.

On behalf of the government and, by extension, the people of New Zealand, she apologised for the tragedy today.

Do your own research into this but please keep in mind the fact ALL civilian navigation in 1979 was undertaken using equipment which would have been instantly recognisable by Captain Cook’s crew.

Excuse my language, but sextants (no, autocorrect, I didn’t mean to type “sexy ants”).

40 years ago, a plane flying over Antarctica, at an altitude low enough for scenic views, using celestial navigation and only air pressure to judge altitude, crashed into a mountain when it started snowing.

Everyone in every position of responsibility in the organisations involved in both the flight and subsequent cover up are dead.

“We” are sorry.

Bill’s Opinion

There is a point beyond which, we should just move on.

The problem is one of incentives versus personal cost, however.

The personal gain to Jacinda Adern for saying “sorry” is not zero. Let’s say she gains one percentage point in the approval ratings.

That’s not the important side of the balance sheet. The cost to her is the square root of fuck all.

The cost is carried by the New Zealand taxpayer who is now up for the potentially-difficult to defend compensation claims.

As always, incentives matter.

William of Ockham passim, again:

In other news, on behalf of the whole of western Christendom, I would like to take this opportunity to apologise for the sacking of Constantinople in 1215. Hopefully we can all move on from here and find common ground.