If “democracy” is the punchline, what was the joke?

Australians’ cup of democracy runneth over.

Those lucky souls in the lucky country have the opportunity to change Prime Minister in a few short weeks’ time.

The state of New South Wales getS to change their parish council too.

How exciting!

Except, Australians get a new Prime Minister every 18 months anyway, whether they voted for one or not.

Seriously, they do.

Of course, this leads to a surplus of ex-Prime Ministers. By May this year, the list of people who are still alive and claiming the not-insubstantial pension and benefits of the highest office in the land, will probably look like this;

Bob Hawke (run out)

Paul Keating (bowled)

John Howard (bowled)

Kevin Rudd (1st innings run out, 2nd innings bowled)

Julia Gillard (run out)

Tony Abbott (run out)

Malcolm Turnbull (run out)

Scott Morrison (bowled)

That’s a lot of pension payments, allowances for an office and staff and, of course, the free Qantas first class flights for life.

Thank goodness the Australian economy can afford it. Oh, wait…

Voting is compulsory in Australia. Let me repeat that; it’s illegal to not turn up and pretend to cast a vote in elections.

Chances are, you’re reading this in a jurisdiction where voting isn’t mandated, so you might think there’s something to be admired by this system.

Well, consider the probability that a voter of above average intelligence could navigate and make sense of this voting form;

If you choose to number your preferences “above the line”, the candidates then distribute your secondary votes as they see fit, should they not win a majority of primary votes.

If you choose to vote “below the line”, you can distribute your votes to each individual candidate.

Either way, it’s not clear what each person stands for or what commitments they would give to vote in a particular way should they find themselves in office. There’s an awful lot of single-issue candidates in that list, one assumes the well-informed “high information” Australian voters have read each and every manifesto and election promise these people have pledged.

Yeah right.

Bill’s Opinion

Many of the great leaps forward of the human condition involve a critical mass of the population agreeing to believe a man-made concept. The value of money is a great example of this; a dollar has worth because enough people agree it has. When that changes, the value of money collapses very quickly.

Democracy is a similar fallacy that works because we say it does.

On March 29th, 17.4 million voters in the UK may discover that fallacy isn’t as robust a concept as they previously thought.

With a system as laughable as this one, the people of Australia may not be far behind in that discovery.

Sporty Spice has let herself go a little

Addiction is no laughing matter, so apologies to “Lauren” if she feels this is targeted at her.

The actual target is the (either) stupidity or mendacity of people like Paul McNamara;

I can’t comment on the cause of the other hundreds of deaths of homeless people, but I’m willing to bet my home on the fact that Lauren’s partner, Dean, didn’t die of homelessness. He died because he miscalculated how much (presumably) opiate he injected into his blood stream.

Paul McNamara either knows this and is tweeting his hashtags in bad faith or he’s a bit simple.

I’d like to assume McNamara is tweeting in good faith and is just a little naïve, but when one looks into the subject it becomes obvious here’s some significant obfuscation going on. In a trend that seems to be common to every area of public discourse these days, the definition of terms one would have previously assumed were universally-agreed has been subverted.

In this example, the term “homelessness” seems to no longer mean that someone is living on the street, in a doorway in the cold, but more like “living in short term accommodation”, which, although not ideal, is very definitely not the same as being exposed to the extremes of the climate and random violence.

In fact, finding reliable statistics on the previous definition of homelessness requires a search for terms like, “sleeping rough”. At which point, this research is found.

Its findings? The reason 50% of the people in the UK who sleep on the streets are not in safe accommodation is because they have mental health issues. The second largest cause at 43% is drug and alcohol addiction.

Bill’s Opinion

Claiming homelessness is the cause of deaths on the street is like claiming gravity is the cause of death of mountaineers.

Lies, damn lies and pointless statistics

new “experimental analytical index” uses census data to measure relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage for households in very small areas

An early contender for this week’s most pointless news article and even more pointless research has emerged from the crowd.

Disparities in social advantage within Sydney suburbs have been revealed by data that shows a pocket of about 80 households in the northern suburb of Frenchs Forest is the city’s most well-off locality.

Six of the 10 most advantaged suburban enclaves are located in the city’s north-west, but none are in the east, the Australian Bureau of Statistics new Index of Household Advantage and Disadvantage (IHAD) shows.

The second most advantaged neighbourhood was a cluster of just over 100 homes not far from Taronga Zoo within the harbourside suburb of Mosman.

Or put another way, “areas everyone already knew were affluent, are affluent“.

No, seriously.

If you have five minutes spare and fancy a chuckle, read the methodology here.

According to the calculation, if your mortgage payment exceeds $2,800 a month, you are “advantaged”. Lucky you!

In total, there are over 50 variables that have been shaken together in this advantaged/disadvantaged cocktail to provide the lovely colour-coded map reproduced in the news article.

When all the data has been crunched, what did we learn?

The people living in expensive areas with new German cars on the driveways of large houses with swimming pools are, in the main, “advantaged”.

Bill’s Opinion

When the employees of the Australian Bureau of Statistics go home on a Friday evening, do you think they tell themselves they’ve moved the human condition forward at all?

The same question applies to “churnalists” such Matt Wade and Nigel Gladstone.

The secret to becoming a millionaire in Australia

….is to invest three million dollars into a business built by a real estate “entrepreneur”.

Exhibit 1 McGrath Estate Agents

John “Million Dollar Agent” McGrath has presided over one of the most classic examples of wealth destruction of our time. I think the people we should feel most sorry for are those who bought into the bull traps in 2016 and 2017. It must have been like that exhilarating feeling a surfer gets as they catch a large wave but then realise they’ve got the angle wrong and are shooting to the bottom rather than gracefully gliding across the face of the wave.

Exhibit 2 – Yellow Brick Road

It would seem others have been paying attention to Mr. Bouris too:

ASX suspension? What ASX suspension?! Yellow Brick Road’s Mark Bouris has spent the week since the business failed to lodge first-half accounts doing what he does best. That is, self-promotion.

Ah, self-promotion. That’s a common factor, isn’t it?

Those who’ve spent some time in the UK might recognise the type:

Bill’s Opinion

Australia entered a per capita recession this week. Property prices have been on the slide since September 2017.

The two examples above are both completely reliant on the health of the real estate market to return a profit. Which direction do we feel these share charts are going in the near to mid-term? At the time of writing, Yellow Brick Road shares are on their 4th business day of suspension.

In the words of Bob Dylan, “just when you think you’ve lost everything, you find out you can always lose a little more“.

Forget due process, let’s convict on da feelz

Australia’s top Left Footer, Cardinal George Pell, was convicted of kiddy fiddling last week.

Actually, he was convicted weeks ago but a suppression order was in place preventing reporting. The hilarity of a situation where a judge believes the secret can be maintained after a verdict was given in open court shouldn’t be lost on us. Presumably nobody has pointed out the invention of “an interweb” since he/she finished law school?

Also, suppression orders didn’t seem to be of much interest to Australian judges during the Spycatcher debacle. What’s good for the goose….

So, the most poorly-kept secret since Rolf Harris is out now and a million column inches are able to be devoted to “whither the Catholic Church?” discussions such as this:

To be fair to Amanda Vanstone, she didn’t write the headline, nor anything near that sentiment in her opinion piece. Quite illustrative though, isn’t it, that the editorial folk decided that the readership’s feelings about the possible outcome of a legal appeal are of relevance to the case?

Helpfully, other writers have advice for Australian Catholic Church on how to stop kiddy fiddling problems arising in the future, such as this by Linda Morris, where she strongly suggests what’s needed is more women in senior leadership positions in the church.

Maybe that’s correct, or maybe it’s a call by an interest group to link a scandal to their single issue campaign. Certainly, a skip through Ms Morris’ twitter timeline doesn’t suggest any previous concerns for the health of the Catholic Church. Climate change, yes, things left footed, no.

Bill’s Opinion

It’s worth questioning the motivation behind angsty opinion pieces about a religious institution most journalists secretly despise. They might be written in good faith but they may also be cynical attempts to further their own desires for cultural revolution.

At the risk of whataboutery, has the journalist written similar opinions calling for a moderation of Wahhabism, for example?

Is Pell guilty and going to lose his appeal? I don’t know and neither do you, so how you feel about it is completely irrelevant.

The patriarchy of board and card games

This piqued my interest this weekend:

Wait, what?

Geir Helgemo, who is Norwegian but represents Monaco in bridge events, tested positive for synthetic testosterone and the female fertility drug clomifene at a World Bridge Series event in Orlando in September.

Now I’m really confused, but probably not as confused as Geir sounds.

We could wander down the well-worn path of laughing at the logical knots the Cultural Marxists tie themselves into trying to square mental illness as normal, but we’ve been there enough times recently.

What’s more interesting is looking at the inconvenient facts that undermine the claims that gender is a social construct.

If that were the case, and that a “male brain” can exist in a female body and vice versa, we might expect competence to be reasonably well-distributed across human endeavours not requiring the physical advantages of a male body.

Bridge being one such example. Chess and Scrabble are others.

Bridge then; we’ve just ascertained that the top player in the world is male, albeit a little confused about things.

Full disclosure; I have no idea about the game of bridge and I must also report that the world ranking system seems equally as impenetrable to the outside observer.
However, it would seem that there isn’t a female in any of the 21 players listed as the best of the best.
Chess rankings are a little easier to decipher, fortunately. We can categorically state that Hou Yifan is the 59th best player in the world and the best female player.

Here’s the Scrabble player world rankings

They don’t state a gender and some of the names are a bit ambiguous but, helpfully, there are profile pictures. 
The first woman on the list? Lisa Odum at #64.
What does this all mean?
Bill’s Opinion
I suppose there are multiple explanations that might help us understand what’s going on here; the first is the Cultural Marxist go-to answer that there’s no difference between men and women (the tabla rasa argument) AND that a pernicious patriarchal conspiracy has and is preventing any and all women from moving 16 chess pieces across an 8×8 playing board better than men.
The alternate explanation is that men and women have innate differences which manifest themselves at the extremes of the distribution.
Our razor suggests the fewest assumptions point the way……

Oh, if you aren’t convinced, go to the Twin Galaxies leaderboard for any arcade game hi-score and see if you can find a female name.

I’ll wait.

Introducing the “Are we there yet, Mum?” Index

In case you haven’t realised it already, the organisations that most loudly proclaim their “Independent. Always” credentials are, in fact, some of the worst peddlers of fake news. At best, there is a distinct lack of critical thinking when it comes to reporting what clearly vested interests are pitching. No-one is really looking for the dog that isn’t barking……

Worse, there are people out there heavily-invested in certain outcomes yet being interviewed and given publicity as if they were a credible information source; Stephen Koukalous, for example, long property much?

The epitome of this Lord Haw Haw mentality is the Doctor of Property himself, Andrew Wilson, a man with so little credibility, Fairfax fired him.

Two recent outputs from this mendacious fool have prompted the creation of the “Are we there yet, Mum?” index;

Firstly, this one where he claims prices have bottomed because the median price at auction didn’t fall significantly since the previous week. Just re-read that again slowly…… (by the way, I’m pretty sure he edited this from an earlier version that even claimed prices were on the rise – if anyone can confirm my suspicions, I’d be grateful).

And this one where he claims a high auction clearance rate despite the glaring problem that only 55% of results were reported;

Therefore, readers who are interested or mildly bemused by the current “completely unpredictable” housing bust occurring in Australia may enjoy this new monthly feature.

William of Ockham’s “Are we there yet, Mum?” index.

This is a collection of public data, which is intended to illustrate the bottom of the Sydney housing market, when it arrives.

The datasets used are as follows;

Housing credit source: RBA
Monthly indices source: Core Logic
Auction data source: Core Logic

The last one was created by looking back on the Core Logic website for the final print of weekly auction data. I stopped at August last year but will continue collecting it while on a dull conference call. Of course, if anyone has access to an Excel version of the back series, please do let me know and I”ll drop that into the chart.

These charts will be updated monthly, probably just after the RBA credit change data is published.

Any debate or discussion on dataset chosen, interpretations or additions/modifications are welcome in the comments section.

(note: there are 4 to 5 weeks in December and January where auctions volumes are too low for Core Logic to bother reporting).

Connecting the dots V2

Remembering our speculation from last week, well, it looks like it’s getting legs;

Bill’s Opinion

It must be remembered that Christopher Pyne is a happily married, heterosexual man who absolutely will have no embarrassing secrets to hide buried in his parliamentary email history which may or may not have been hacked recently.

We cannot confirm whether or not he enjoys show tunes…..