Covid numberwang

Have we reached the point where there is any credibility left in academia or the news industry when they present numbers to us?

Here’s an example. London bus drivers three times more likely to die from Covid.

Well, that’s bad, obviously.

I came across this article because I’d been waiting for data to appear to help answer a question that’s been nagging my brain for some time. That is, what’s the relative rates of infection, hospitalisation and death for the workers who’ve been unable to work from home for the last year. I’m thinking of bus drivers and supermarket cashiers, specifically.

Read the article for yourself, but data points offered include:

  • 51 bus drivers have died of covid.
  • This equates to “three times” the rate of other workers (but the actual rate isn’t offered, nor is the denominator).
  • “….an earlier introduction of the lockdown on 23 March 2020 would have saved lives“.
  • The report confirms driving a London bus is one of the most dangerous jobs during the pandemic.”

If we accept the UK population is about 67 million, give or take a couple of million illegal immigrants, and the offical total of covid deaths is about 126,000, then the population fatality rate is just under 0.2%.

Despite the BBC article not bothering you with this detail, a search would suggest there were approximately 24,500 bus drivers in London in 2014. So, 51/24,500 x 100 = a death rate of 0.2%.

Obviously the UK-wide calculation is using the overall population, including retirees who would skew the ratio up, but also children who would skew the ratio down. But, as a sniff test, it suggests there’s not something wildly different going on with bus drivers, despite what the report claims.

The assertion that driving a bus is one of the most dangerous professions seems to be doing a little heavy lifting and one many cycle couriers and North Sea divers may want to take issue with.

The report’s conclusion seems suspiciously in line with precisely what Sadiq Khan paid them to write was expecting, i.e. evil and stupid Boris Johnson should have shut down the country earlier.

In other news, if nobody ever travelled by car again, there would be no more traffic fatalities and, in a specific example, if James Dean had taken a train instead of driving Little Bastard he might still be here today. Just because a statement is true doesn’t mean it’s helpful.

If you wish to bypass the useless reporting, the full 87 pages of the UCL report can be found here. Fair warning, it won’t improve your confidence in the existence of objective science, though.

The report attempts to parse diverse data sets on areas such as age, ethnicity, health, social status, housing, and methods of commute to work to produce a conclusion on why the death rate was so high (a prior assumption which we can challenge) and what could have been done or can still be done to ameliorate it.

Judge for yourself whether this was achieved and whether or not objective scientific analysis was used.

Bill’s Opinion

Personally, I’m none the wiser on two important questions:

Have front line workers been disproportionately infected or killed by the virus, and if so, why?

The report has convinced me of one fact, however; this is a multi-variable problem and seeking a single reason is pointless. 87 pages of pointlessness, in this case.

Some clues can be found within the report, if one looks hard enough though. Once you get past the headline conclusion of, “keeping everyone at home earlier would have stopped bus drivers from catching a virus and dying from it“, there is a tell tale admission in the second recommendation:

2) In the longer term, early interventions on ill-health prevention are needed to reduce obesity in the population as a whole, with responsible employers playing their part. In particular, measures are needed among younger London bus drivers who have higher rates than other young people of the same age.

Finally, he who pays the piper, calls the tune. This is a flawed and political study, primarily for the purpose of shifting blame on to the Mayor of London’s political opponent.

The clue is even in the organisation name, the Institute of Health Equity.

Equity. Whenever one sees that noun, it’s a clear signal you are dealing with disciples of Critical Theory and should treat the call for action with the same credibility as the Heaven’s Gate Cult.

A year on and we still can’t trust any number offered on the subject.

Today’s Gell Mann example

“Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

Pay attention at the back….

Cyber attack on hospitals results in cancelled surgeries.

And on the same front page:

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller is spearheading a push to introduce consent technology via an app.

Mick Fuller is NSW’s top police officer. We pay him $649,500 to keep us safe from harm and lead the citizens through times of crisis with a quiet and commanding gravitas-based leadership.

One can only imagine the clown-like thought bubbles and word salads we’d be subjected to if we paid him something closer to the median annual salary which, depending on where you look, might be about a tenth of what he’s pulling.

A source close to the HQ* of the NSW Police Dept. has leaked the following suggestions to keep women safe that didn’t quite make it on Mick’s press statement:

  • Dress shop front mannequins as NYC Guardian Angels and locate them on train station platforms at night.
  • Any women who have a Tinder swipe left to right ratio greater than 1:2 are to be designated as too attractive to be allowed out in public without wearing a full yashmak and are limited to low alcohol drinks in bars and other hospitality venues.
  • All boys of high school age are to register on a centrally-held database once they’ve achieved “2nd base”, along with details of the skatepark or children’s playground in which this milestone was reached.
  • Nobody who has watched Last Tango in Paris is able to purchase butter, salted or unsalted, without the appropriate Service NSW QR code.
  • Women who commence extra marital affairs with men who rely on the “my wife and I sleep in separate bedrooms and are more like good friends than lovers these days” defence, are able to anonymously download their lover’s official NSW shagging records for confirmation.

Bill’s Opinion

No, this is fine. I can’t see any issues arising with the possibility of a central database tracking citizens’ sexual activity being in the hands of government.

I mean, it’s not as if we get a mea culpa about a massive data breach every couple of weeks, is it?

Also, I’m sure there’s absolutely no possibility someone who’s a bit rapey could use your thumb to open your phone after you’ve been rohipnol’d…..

Probably the worst part of this story isn’t the window-licking reporting of this brain fart with the obvious amnesia about how frequently we read of data breaches. It’s the fact it was floated by the person who, apparently on merit, made it to the tippety top of the competence hierarchy of the police force.

It’s quite an achievement, but perhaps Mick Fuller makes Cressida Dick look capable, which is really bad news for the many Brazilians living in Sydney.

*our source is currently unavailable for further comment as he’s just scored a fresh bottle of turps and is sheltering from the rain under a sheet of cardboard.

Australia’s lack of ambition

Stars lobby for Netflix to face 20 per cent local content quota.

Seriously? Just 20%? You’re selling your talent short, guys.

Why not 50% or even 75%? If “Australian content” is so good, surely we should be pushing for more of it? Who doesn’t like “Australian content”?

In fact, why not 89.56161 (recurring) %?

Who on earth wouldn’t want to be faced with pages and pages of Netflix options of shows featuring stars and A listers such as Simon Baker, Marta Dusseldorp, Bryan Brown and Justine Clarke?

We’ve all enjoyed their back catalogues, haven’t we?

Well, at least you’ve heard of these people, right?

Clue: Baker has starred in a USA TV crime series. As for the others, your guess is as good as mine; it’s probably safe to assume they’re panellists on some crappy quiz shows on the ABC.

Anyway, we digress.

This call for legislation mandating the origin of the entertainment offered by Netflix raises many questions. Questions such as:

  • Why is there so little Australian content on Netflix?
  • Of the existing Australian content, how popular is it with the Australian public relative to content from other countries?
  • What’s the international worth of this Australian content? Are other countries lining up to buy it off us faster than we create it?
  • Who the fuck are these so called “stars” and couldn’t they even get Huge Ackman to join them, given his track record of turning up to the opening of anything more significant than an electricity bill?

Bill’s Opinion

There’s a few things going on here. Firstly, this is a very Australian response to the reality and impact of market forces; seek government intervention in the form of protectionism, regulation and subsidies.

From car manufacturing to baked beans, there isn’t an industry in the country that, even before the luxury communism of covid, didn’t benefit from taxpayer largesse. Australia went from being a nation of ex-convict sheep farmers without a chance of leaving to a nation of farmed sheep without a chance of leaving.

More amusingly though, this is the type of lunacy we get when people who get paid to play “let’s pretend” for a living try to interfere in economics and business. That they’ll even get an audience in Canberra for this stupidity also tells us much about the IQ and real life experience of the political class.

In the meantime, anyone with an understanding of economics or recent experience with paging through reams of unpalatable viewing options of woke, race baiting, climate change pushing, unfunny, uninteresting and, frankly, preachy bollocks on Netflix, will be able to tell you what the likely unintended consequences of this will be; cancelled subscriptions.

If your “Australian content” is so good, sell it to us and the world like France does with series like Bureau des Legendes or Dix Pour Cent. Don’t force it on us like medicine.

Toot toot chugga chugga big red car….

Consent craving

As is often the case, multiple stories on a similar theme are suspiciously appearing in the media and on people’s Creepbook feeds at the same time.

Exploring the reasons behind the coincidence of the trend, the narrative, can be the theme of another day.

Meanwhile, the current cause du jour is sexual harassment, rape and murder of women by men.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but I’m certain we can all agree those are bad things. Reducing them from our societies should be high on the priority list of everyone.

Note, I didn’t say “eliminate”.

It seems to me, the nexus of anger is to be found between the concepts of reduce and eliminate.

There’s clearly anger. Anger at the murder of Sarah Everard, anger at multiple sexual assaults and allegations of sexual assault by various political workers in Canberra, anger at domestic violence and the fact it’s committed mainly (but not exclusively) by men.

One of the banners at the Australian protest stated we should, “End Rape Now”. I would love to hear the placard owner’s thoughts on how a transition to that world might be achieved.

Banners at the London protests took issue with the fact it isn’t always safe for a lone female to walk on the street.

These statements of protest are clearly well-intentioned uses of rhetoric and hyperbole, but are they helping?

To return to that nexus; if you believe a world with zero rapes is possible, calling for a curfew for men would make sense.

If you rejected that idea, though, the screaming around the theme “all men are rapists” has the effect of drowning out a more sober discussion about practical actions to achieve reduction.

A related conversation was had between a group of fellow parents at our local high school recently; “the school should teach our children about consent“, was the cry.

An unpopular opinion was offered by one foolish soul:

a) I send my kids there to learn maths, English and science. I’ll teach morality, thanks.
b) If your kid doesn’t already know how to respect other people’s bodies by Year 7, YOU are the problem.
c) “Consent” has a specific legal definition which no teacher I’ve met would be capable of teaching in a one hour struggle session.
That went down like a cup of cold vomit, obviously.

Bill’s Opinion

Unusually for Spiked, this is sensible take on the problem.

It is not safe to walk home alone. It’s never been safe to walk home alone. Regardless of whether you are female or, and I cannot stress this strongly enough, male.

As Brett Weinstein stated recently, we are all descendants of rapists and murderers. The statistical probability you aren’t is so unlikely it’s not a credible option. Genetically, we have the capability within us. The miracle is that it doesn’t happen with much greater frequency.

To consider a zero rape world feasible is to believe millions of years of genetics can be overridden for 100% of the population 100% of the time.

If this describes your view, may I politely suggest you meet more human beings.

If you have a son, teach them to keep their hands to themselves unless invited. If you have a daughter, teach them most men are lovely, but some are cunts and they don’t often wear badges to explain which group they are a member of.

In the meantime, if you want to feel safe walking the streets, don’t do it after 6pm if there’s a “man curfew”; the men who stay home won’t be the ones you need to be concerned about.

Meghanivelli’s The Prince

Marry him or marry me

I’m the one that loved you baby can’t you see?

Ain’t got no future or family tree

But I know what a prince and lover ought to be

I know what a prince and lover ought to be

When is a prince not a prince?

This may be a silent question in many British minds currently.

When you “resign” from being a prince, do you cease being a prince?

What if we say you’re no longer a prince? Or the royal family say you’re no longer a prince?

Perhaps you cease to act in a way we would associate as “princely“? Still a prince?

Yes, probably.

Plato’s work on ideas and forms might help us here. Or, for those who are “bears of little brain“, like me, let’s think about my Grandad’s broom instead:

Grandad broke the shaft of the broom and replaced it. A few years later, the brush of the broom was too bare to be usable, so he replaced that. The broom was handed to my father who, in turn, had to replace the shaft and the brush a couple of times. I have the broom now and I’ve replaced both components too.

Is it still my Grandad’s broom?

As an idea, yes. As a form, no.

The British monarchy is something that doesn’t usually exercise my mind. When I think of it at all, I consider its current iteration as being of marginally more benefit than cost.

Why?

Similar to the way the US constitution uses the concept of God as a source of inalienable human rights, the UK unwritten constitution has evolved to view the Queen as the omnipresent benevolent figurehead, due considerably to her incredible personal discipline of keeping well out of matters of current affairs.

The corollary of this is the Napoleonic code in Europe, where human rights come from the government. Anyone who’s ever met a politician would find that concept repellent if they thought about it for a moment.

This burden of stoic and silent “duty” clearly sits uncomfortably on the shoulders of the following generation of royals. Charles has at various times expressed many half-baked opinions on climate, architecture, town planning and agriculture.

William wants us to stop having as many children as him, because he’s learned about Robert Malthus.

And Harry’s opinions are, well, whatever the fuck Meghan tells him they are.

Bill’s Opinion

“Prince” Harry is still a prince and, unfortunately for all of us, will be until and after he dies in a tragic road traffic accident on the way to the 2023 rugby World Cup final in Paris.

One has to have some sympathy for the fellah, though. Apart from the glaringly obvious massive privilege of his birth into a level of luxury and comfort us plebeians can only dream of, he was also handed the disadvantages of being a bit dim and ginger.

This seems like an impossible version of the game, “would you rather?”. Would you rather be poor and intelligent or massively wealthy and thick as mince? Tougher to pick than a broken nose.

Basically, he’s that mate you know who woke up one Sunday morning next to a “10” and then burned every bridge of friendship and family in order to keep her. Anyone who tried to suggest to him that her personality was attractive in inverse proportionality to her looks was ostracised immediately, preferably in a loud virtuous display to further prove his love and devotion to his girlfriend.

If the white Fiat Uno doesn’t get him on Le Peripherique, he’ll most likely top himself about three months after she grows bored of him. I’ll give it another two years, maximum.

Jenna Hates the IWD

No, not the erstwhile Intellectual Dark Web, subsequently disbanded because Sam Harris can’t get over his extreme case of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Instead, Jenna Hates wants to cancel the International Women’s Day (today, by the way).

As many of Jenna Hates columns often do, this one takes three or more seemingly unrelated elements and then stitches them together in a quilt of misandry using a thread of logical fallacies.

Marvel at the dexterity with which she simultaneously claims an alleged rapist is innocent until proven guilty but then points out the chances of a woman ever making a false accusation of rape are minuscule, to the point of being nearly impossible.

Actually, if you read her column carefully, she doesn’t even offer him the olive branch of presumed innocence before chucking this feel-pinion in:

Just for the record, the director of Monash University’s Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre, Kate Fitz-Gibbon, tells me it is rare – very rare – for a woman to make a false allegation of rape.

Got any data to back that assertion up?

Nah, no need for academics to bother with supporting evidence when making claims of truth.

Fortunately, here in the real world, we have access to search engines which suggest somewhere between 2 to 10% of rape allegations are fabricated (source 1, source 2, source 3).

So, we could “believe all women” and send a lot of innocent people to jail, or we could, I dunno, use the existing legal processes to test these claims and try our hardest to maintain some level of justice and standards for society to operate within.

Jenna Hates is not so concerned about that idea however, because all the circumstantial evidence points to Porter being a member of the political party she hates Nazi scumbag.

Exhibit 1 – He made a political decision Jenna Hates, erm, hates:

While he was minister for social services, he oversaw the destruction of the national sexual assault and counselling hotline, 1800 RESPECT, moving it from a women-led service to one which became part of Medibank, a company now profiting from rape.

By the way, does anyone else wonder whether Medibank’s legal team are planning on challenging that allegation? Get the popcorn in.

By that logic, Celgene, the manufacturer of Revlimid, is profiting from cancer. Don’t hold your breathe for the class action law case.

Exhibit 2 – There are allegations of his philandering:

It also doesn’t help his brand that he was one of the politicians pinged on the Four Corners episode Inside the Canberra Bubble, reported by Louise Milligan, where it was alleged he was seen “kissing and cuddling” a young woman staffer at a popular bar.

One can’t be sure what Jenna Hates hates the most about this; the alleged infidelity, the kissing, the age of the woman or the popularity of the bar?

Exhibit 3 – He’s had failed marriages:

In the meantime, he has had two marriages fall apart. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

One feels there may be an element of projection going on there. Has Jenna Hates loved and been rejected by any chance? Say it ain’t so.

Bill’s Opinion

As commentator Michael van der Riet infers on a reply to an earlier post, if you are prepared to suspend your standards simply because a convenient stick to beat an opponent presents itself, you have rejected the right to be taken seriously in future.

But yes, Jenna Hates, he definitely did it because he’s been divorced twice and changed the funding model for a support help line.

Burn him and anyone else who reminds me of my ex-husband!

“What about justice for the victim?”

For those of you (about half, looking at the stats) outside of Australia, a quick catch up on the background of this story:

It has been alleged a senior Federal Minister raped a girl in 1988. The woman committed suicide last year. The police have investigated the rape allegation and have found no evidence compelling enough to recommend prosecution.

Whatever the truth is, the situation is tragic. Tragic because a person was so disturbed they felt their only option was to end their life, and tragic because a man has a cloud of suspicion hanging over him but he and we have no way of seeking closure, either via a conviction of a crime or full exoneration.

Such is the imperfect world of criminal justice, unfortunately. That it happens all the time doesn’t make it any more tolerable, but there’s not a huge list of credible alternate systems with which we could replace the current version.

Many column inches have been partisanally hacked out on the subject, with the predictable red team/blue team split determining whether one is suddenly in favour of creating a shadow justice system or a moralistic championing of “the rule of law”. We could take these opinions seriously if they were in the context of a back catalogue of previously applying the same standard to their own side.

Very few, if any, are.

One such example is the TV appearance on ABC’s QandA of MP Anne Aly. She interrupted an opponent’s defence of the legal system with the words, “What about justice for the victim?“, scoring a solid 9/10 as a soundbite on the ABC’s show, which, as anyone who can tolerate watching it knows, is a show designed purely for soundbites rather than epistemology.

However, as a statement likely to take the sum total of human knowledge forward, it scores minus 1 million out of ten.

It’s a perfect example of the loaded question fallacy. The question assumes a crime has been committed and the victim is the female. Neither of which has been actually proven.

We expect our politicians, almost all of whom have no real world experience, to be partisan hacks. Their incentives are set to deliver such outcomes, so it’s unsurprising when we receive such mendacity.

What remains of journalism is delivering similar one-eyed tosh, too. Here’s one at the Grauniad which conflates three totally separate issues and ties them up with an obvious and predictable bow of duh patriarchy.

Humour me for moment as I lay out Katherine Murphy’s three unrelated topics:

1. Julia Gillard’s “misogyny speech” – more on this below.

2. A current ongoing rape investigation – let’s hope due process is followed.

3. An allegation from 1988 – the weak argument leaning on Le Coefficient de Gillard.

The Gillard speech is this particular type of journalist’s emergency grab bag whenever there’s a weak argument requiring support.

What they choose not to realise is the world divides into two groups;

1. People who think Gillard’s speech was analogous to MLK’s “I have a dream”, and

2. Those who saw it as a desperate ad hominem attack to divert from the awkward fact she was a dead duck PM relying on a highly compromised MP to cling to power.

Nobody in the history of the world has ever been convinced of an argument by being directed to Le Coefficient de Gillard.

Bill’s Opinion

Whilst legally obliged to vote in Australia, I choose to spoil my vote with increasingly realistic depictions of genitalia.

The reason for my conscientious objector status to casting a vote is because I am holding out for a voting option of a candidate who is willing to explain a standard and show they are prepared to hold their own side to it.

When they arrive on the ballot paper, I’ll vote for them.

In the meantime, if your view is, for this exceptional case of an allegation from the year before Taylor Swift and the entire cast of Hogwarts were born, we should suspend our justice system and do something else, perhaps you want to look around at your closest male friends and family and ask yourself, is this the future standard you want them to be held to?

Just expanding on this, do you want your father, brother or husband to be expected to resign from their job because of an unproven allegation from 32 years ago?

Alternatively, perhaps let’s accept the imperfect current system of criminal justice as the best we’ve found to date. If you have an alternative, you are more than welcome to describe it and start a movement to persuade us. Please keep Chesterton’s Fence front of mind if you do, though.

My car’s preferred pronoun is “Semolina”

No it isn’t, but you started it first:

On a similar theme; remember how Charlize Theron’s thee year old is transgender?

Bill’s Opinion

It is long past the time for us to stop playing let’s pretend.

Dogs are not vegan, three year old children are not transgender, my car doesn’t have a preference to be addressed as if it were a durum wheat-based pasta ingredient and we should treat anyone who asserts the opposite with the same seriousness we would a small child.

Or worse, perhaps they are seeking to exercise power over us by fooling us into using such illogical language, despite our sub-conscious rejecting the concept?

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

Goodwin’s Law

Anyone with more than 5,000 followers on Creepbook for Business is most likely to be a purveyor of vacuous bollocks.

Followers, rather than connections. And there’s a clue in that adjective; these charlatans rely on the ovine nature of many users of the networking site electronic Rolodex of people you met at work.

Obviously, Goodwin’s Law is not to be confused with Godwin’s Law, which states:

“As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches”. That is, if an online discussion goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Adolf Hitler or his deeds, the point at which effectively the discussion or thread ends.

Goodwin’s Law is, instead, named after this prolific onanist, Tom Goodwin. As well as posting his utter shite on Creepbook for Business, he liberally sprays his brain diarrhoea on Twitter, here.

From what one can gather by a quick MBA at the University of Duck Duck Go, he’s a British expat living in the Miami area.

As an aside, speaking as someone who also has an English accent and has spent time working in the USA, it isn’t hard to understand the reason behind an element of his success: many Americans, bless ’em, seem to assume a magical extra 20 IQ points just because someone sounds a bit like Hugh Grant. Fair enough if he’s leveraging that advantage.

What type of bollocks does Tom Goodwin spout?

Well, there’s this drivel, replete with supernumerary apostrophes:

Sometimes he comes up with insightful business ideas like these two niche opportunities which might be already be filled by things called “hotels”, “taxis“, Airbnb and Zip Car:

Sometimes, after a few glasses of Paul Masson rosé, we are lucky enough to gain an insight in to The Tao of Tom, such as this deep enquiry into the human psyche:

Bill’s Opinion

When somebody posts this type of tosspottery into your LI timeline, do yourself a favour; click the three little dots to the side of their name and select, “unfollow but stay connected“.

Repeat until the pollution ceases.

If Tom Goodwin (or Brigette and Oleg) can make a coin from this nebulous wankery, best of luck to him. After all, the effort and cost is minimal, it only requires suspension of the duty of care for his soul.

How long have you got?

  1. Underarm bowling.
  2. Ansett Airways.
  3. Russell Crowe.
  4. Pavlova.
  5. Crowded House.
  6. Welfare tourism.
  7. Phar Lap.
  8. Raising the IQ of both countries.
  9. Four more years, boys.
  10. Brenton Tarrant.

Bill’s Opinion

Frankly, it’s a wonder the two countries aren’t already at war.

Actually, it’s not; New Zealand has evolved into a thumb-sucking safe space for virtue signalling purple-haired wokistanis who value feelings over facts.

We should offer asylum to Buck Shelford and his generation of All Blacks. They must surely not recognise Head Girl, Jacinda’s country: