March 26, 2019

Horse 2524 - Mueller's Report Found No Collusion For A Good Reason.

Unless you have been living under a rock (and in which case I might envy you), the news that the Mueller Report into the 2016 Presidential Campaign found no evidence that Donald Trump had colluded or conspired with the Russians and that there's not really anything which might make a provable case for obstruction of justice, will have been fired at you like drinking from a fire hose. Naturally Mr Trump as you'd expect, is carrying on like the chess playing pigeon who has pooped all over the board, knocked over the pieces and claimed victory.
This means that Mr Trump has jumped up at least two spaces up my personal list of the worst presidents, coming above James Buchanan and Richard Nixon but maybe not higher than Warren Harding. He is likely the third worst president and maybe might be the fourth worst.
My Twitbook and FaceSpace feeds have more or less exploded again, changing from the perpetual argument trying to excuse guns following the murders of fifty people in Christchurch, to a return to the usual perpetual argument where Democrat and Republican voters just yell at each other forever.  Unlike just about everyone in my social media feeds, I am actually not all that surprised that Donald Trump wasn't found to have colluded with the Russians; I also wouldn't have been surprised if he had been either.

I think that it has been comprehensively proven that Mr Trump's administration is generally incompetent. He has a few people on board who have previous experience in running government departments and so it is not quite an absolute omnishambles but it is sufficiently understaffed that it lets governance wither. In some cases, there are still unfilled positions in senior offices; which is insane considering that we are two years out from the beginning of this term and have rounded the corner towards the campaign for the next presidential election¹.
It is that level of incompetence which explains why I am not surprised that Mueller's report couldn't find evidence of collusion. For there to have been collusion, I think that there would have had to have been sufficient competence to be able to do so, and from what we have seen that competence has simply never existed.

Remember Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Mr Trump, the consummate showman, more PT Barnham at putting on a show and more Harry Houdini at escaping from trouble than Herbert Hoover at running a government, had such a skeleton staff during the 2016 Presidential Campaign that it was mostly run from a single room. The thing that he was and is fantastically skilled at, is saying things so terrible and sucking all of the oxygen out of the room that nobody else can get a word in edgeways. This was best displayed during the debates in 2016 with Hilary Clinton when you had on one side of the debate, the single most qualified and competent politician to run for president since FDR on one side, and a man who had been declared bankrupt and whose career was only really resurrected because of a television show on the other.
I think that it should come as no surprise to anyone that someone who has had several eponymous casinos go bankrupt and into administration, did not collude with the Russians because that would at very least require running an internal organisation which was capable of doing so and I just don't think that that was ever the case.
If you have a pie which is made almost exclusively from whipped cream, you then can't take turn around and expect to find any meat in there. If you put your face into it, which is what the American people have essentially done by hiring this unfunny clown, then you can't expect to chew anything of substance.

At any rate, the basic questions that there has been collusion are pretty well much established at law:
1. Does an arrangement exist between two or more parties?
2. Is there a formal agreement or arrangement?
3. Is the arrangement supported by payment or kind?
4. Is the arrangement supported by undue influence?

For there to be a provable case at law requires there to have been mens rea, a guilty mind, that is the mental element of a person's intention to commit a crime or that lack thereof would otherwise cause a crime to be committed through inaction. With Trump, I'm not even sure that we have a mens conscia recti², a mind aware of what is right. He personally doesn't seem to be aware of what the difference between truth and lies actually is, so answering the basic questions of guilt might be bordering on the impossible.
I don't know if you believe in God or not but given the opening years of the twenty-first century where the United States went to wars on the premise of lies, for them to elect a president who doesn't know the difference between truth and lies, kind of looks like some sort of divine retribution.

Mueller's report couldn't find evidence of collusion probably because Trump's campaign was too stupid to have done it. I have no doubt that there are plenty of Russian agents who may have used Twitter and Facebook to influence millions of people but all that serves to prove is that a great many of the more than 62 million people who voted for this orange headed chess playing pigeon, are as useful idiots as the chap himself. Mueller's Report into the 2016 Presidential Campaign found no evidence that Donald Trump had colluded or conspired with the Russians; if it had been charged with trying to look for the sheer incompetence and stupidity of the campaign, then the report would probably still be collating evidence by the end of 2119 because it is practically limitless.

¹Although Trump never stopped campaigning.
²See The Aeneid, by Virgil.

March 25, 2019

Horse 2523 - Gladys Berejiklian Returned As Premier - Five Things We Learned

With the 2019 NSW Festival of Democracy now drawn to a close, with the Berejiklian Coalition Government returned to power with possibly a majority of nil, and with the Federal Election looming for either May 11 or 18 (I think that the 18th is more likely), the question that now needs to be asked is "what in tarnation just happened?" The answer is very close to but not exactly, three quarters of two fifths of bupkiss.

In the final wash up, it looks like the only two seats which changed hands were a National Seat to a Shooters and Fishers and another to Labor. Every other seat in the entire of NSW moved nowhere. There are 5 conclusions which might be able to be drawn from this:

1. People are generally happy with their local member.
This is a fairly good kind of answer because in most cases, the sitting member was returned to their seat. If electorates were unhappy, then they would have sent a different member to Macquarie St.
Unfortunately, that doesn't really help us answer the big question.

2. People are generally ambivalent about state politics.
In the grand scheme of things, people care about the big question of who runs the country and who takes care of their immediate problems like the bins and whether or not there should be a roundabout on the intersection of Banana Street and Pleasant Crescent. Even though this state government sold off the poles and wires of the state's electricity network and the ferries and wants to sell off the bus network, and put tolls on the M4, and gave the contract of building the M4 east to a consortium backed by the a former Premier in a staggering piece of corruption, and had the first Premier ousted because of another piece of corruption... that's still not enough for the people of NSW to change their mind.
In fact, several people that I know, didn't know even know that there was a state election on, much less who they should be voting for.

3. People are rusted on to their political party.
If you compare the electoral map for both state and federal governments, most of them in New South Wales haven't moved in at least a decade. On too of that, neither the electorate that I live in or work in have changed hands in principle, at both state and federal level ever. One has voted for the Labor Party since the inception of the party in the 1890's and the other has voted for the Liberal Party and its predecessors for an equally long time.
Australians are generally culturally conservative and really only move on social ideas and issues when the rest of the world has done so. The only reason that we had the franchise of women, compulsory voting and preferential voting in this country is by dint of historical accident. Inside that voting system, Australians in general and the people of NSW in particular do not have much in the way of progressive ideas and certainly not much of a progressive vision of the future at all. The Berejiklian Coalition Government although it is building infrastructure, is doing so about 60 years after it was needed and has come at the extra expense of selling other assets which we the good and fair people of New South Wales will never get back. But as long as our house prices keep on going up, we're mostly fine with it. It is an attitude of  "I've got my own, ha ha lol".

4. We are easily manipulated.
In the wake of 51 people being shot to pieces by a white supremacist terrorist monster, the people of NSW actually doubled down at the ballot box on their own racism and wish for more selfish violence. The Shooters and Fishers Party won an extra lower house seat and One Nation increased its vote and will most likely send narcissist supreme, Mark Latham, to the upper house.
The people know that they are being stomped into the ground by big business and especially the banks but instead of voting for politicians who might change legislation to try to curb this, they have lurched to cultural authoritarians who want to blame people of other.
Nevertheless, in NSW, between News Corp, Nine Entertainment Co. which owns both Fairfax as well as Channel 9, Seven West Media, and the Macquarie Radio Network, people were able to see Pauline Hanson on a fairly regular basis, Mark Latham on an almost equally regular basis, and when a video from several years ago surfaced which showed Michael Daley complaining that Asians in Western Sydney were taking people's jobs, it completely made people forget the almost identical comments that Ms Berejiklian had made about African migrants and the dogwhistling for almost three months about wanting to halve immigration levels.

5. Feminism is actually a political irrelevance (no really it is).
The racists and the nativist morons who don't care about the outcomes of people different to them, continue to not care. Ms Berejiklian is the first female Premier of New South Wales to be elected as leader of a party as opposed to becoming Premier part way through¹.
I don't know whether or not that that should be celebrated because it shows that this glass ceiling is broken, or celebrated because it is so unremarkable as to be passé. Between Angela Merkel, Jacinda Ardern, Teresa May, Annastacia Palaszczuk  and the returned Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, women have comprehensively proven that they are as inspiring, incompetent, good, bad, and indifferent as men, at running governments. I think that it is fair to say that there is no discernible difference between a female or male run government².
The actual difference is the men in the political parties. The Labor Party would probably be fine with say Senator Penny Wong being Prime Minister but the Liberal Party have a distinct woman problem and National Party are still getting a grip on the fact that women can be elected to parliament.

I don't think that Ms Berejiklian as the first elected female Premier of New South Wales is necessarily a good, bad or meh thing. In the long run, we either get choc-banana or banana-choc politics with a few fruits and nuts, and Ms Berejiklian's government is as flavourless as the ten which came before it.
Aw well.

¹The first actual female Premier of New South Wales was Kristina Keneally who inherited a chaotically run Labor Party and who never really managed to control the ship of state as it careened into the wharf of incompetence. 
² I think that the last actually good Premier of New South Wales was Jack Lang. I also think that the last actually good Prime Minister of Australia was Ben Chifley. Both of them looked forward to a future which was going to outlive them when they were gone.

March 22, 2019

Horse 2522 - Pendle Hill Station: A Neo-Futurist Scar On Pendle Hill

As part of Ms Berejiklian's train station maintenance scheme which began while she was still Minister for Transport and Infrastructure (and which only really seemed to extend to railway stations in electorates which voted LNP - hence reason why Doonside Station has serious rust issues and why it still doesn't have lift access), the railway stations from Granville to Seven Hills all had major renovations.
The most drastic of the changes was at Pendle Hill Station; which as far as I can tell, went from almost 1955 to 1993 without having anything done to it at all, when the ramp on the northern side of the station simply collapsed one day. That ramp was replaced and realigned but nothing else was done to the station until 2018 when the new substantial pedestrian overpass was built, save for the odd cosmetic changes like signage and whatnot. The basic core of the buildings at platform level remain unchanged.

Like so many places in Sydney, Pendle Hill is named after a place in England. The suburb of Toongabbie which once upon a time used to encompass Pendle Hill, was the third settlement of the colony of New South Wales and has its founding date of 1790; which means that white people have been here for a very long time. As is white people's wont to rock up at a place and steal country through the cunning use of flags before renaming the place insensitively, Pendle Hill is named after a place in Lancashire which is most famous for being the site of witch trials in which the Witchfinder General found already marginalised women guilty of witching and had them executed.
Today, Pendle Hill is mostly populated by migrants who are the children of the remnants of empire and thus, the suburb has many people from the Indian subcontinent. Consequently, Pendle Hill has one of the most delicious smelling streets in all of Sydney and is one of the quiet jewels of the western suburbs.

As I scoot forth and back to work, I whizz through at about 100km/h and have not had the opportunity to stop in a long time. When there was a chance to finally walk around and have a look, I took it.
One of those things that I see regularly but only fleetingly is the Impressive Cafe. I have to say though that I wasn't impressed enough to go in.

After the old pedestrian overpass was finally deemed to be a safety hazard, the new one was built at the western end of the station. It is in that same kind of sharp style that a lot of apartment complexes are being built in across Sydney; which I can only think is the result of the architectural computer programs that generate the plans. My suspicion is that materials and building supply companies provide textures and wire models of their products so that architects and civil engineers can insert them into CAD programs, which is why so many new buildings look similar.

As this is a pedestrian overpass, there are no ticket machines nor are there any toilets or the stationmaster's office at this level. It feels very much like being in the space next to a car park. This is an example of unfriendly architecture, where the intent is to dissuade people from staying. This space is meant to be passed through and everything about being inside it screams that you are not welcome.
My immediate thought though was that if I was 14 years old and on my way home from school, that this is a government provided indoor football court. All the 'windows' are made of very sturdy metal screens which would allow a football to bounce off nicely.

As I walked down the stairs to platform level, I was reminded of the former attraction at long closed and almost forgotten Wonderland, Scooby Doo's Silly Stix. The difference here though is that this is the unfunnest jungle gym in Western Sydney.

The view from platform level looking down the line is a reminder that this is still ordinary rolling boring suburbia. Railway lines by virtue of their existence are places where we can not completely scrape away nature. Suburbia often has bits of nature left over; especially along the edges of railway lines, where it is to expensive to build apartment blocks (for now).

Looking back across at the westbound platforms, it is pretty obvious that this structure is meant to be imposing. It hasn't been finished off in brushed metal or had the screens painted green to take the edge off, but with black screens and slightly darker than necessary bricks. The are no round features like the old station building had and so for a building which will probably be here in 2069, it is the triumph of utility over style. Wentworthville Station which is the next one to the east, has lift towers which look practically identical, which says to me that this was done by the cheapest contractor.

As if to reinforce the point that this is a place in which you are not welcome but must pass through, the view that one has when stepping off the train and past the passimeters, is like that of a prison. I imagine that at nighttime when the darkness closes in, that because light travels in straight lines, that the only illumination visible will be that of the building. Blacktown Station has glass windows so that you can see a wide vista. This vomitoria is very closing in aspect; very deliberately so.

In fact the only way to even see Pendle Hill from the inside of the new pedestrian overpass at Pendle Hill Station, is to engage in effort. This is a shame. On the outside, Pendle Hill is a lovely suburb with a quaint high street. On the inside, while you might be covered for a little while when the rain comes down, you are a temporary prisoner and everything about this new pedestrian overpass reminds you of that.

The old pedestrian overpass almost certainly needed to be replaced and/or have lifts installed. While this new one looks incredibly solid, it gives me the impression that it was done begrudgingly and is meant to be a scar on the suburb. Of course it could just be that this is a result of the computer programs and building materials available but either way, this is not a kind place.

March 21, 2019

Horse 2521 - New Zealand's Echoes of The Bill Of Rights 1688
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has just revealed the changes in a press conference.
"On March 15 our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place," Ardern said.
"Cabinet agreed to overhaul the law when it met on Monday, 72 hours after the horrific terrorism act in Christchurch. Now, six days after this attack, we are announcing a ban on all military-style semi-automatics (MSSA) and assault rifles in New Zealand."
- NZ Herald, 21st Mar 2019

Less than a week after the white supremacist terrorist monster who shall not be dignified with a name by the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the Beehive has moved with swift action and passed legislation that bans automatic and semi-automatic weapons as well as other kinds of assualt rifle.
Unlike the United States where even trying to suggest the barest of background checks is likely to have you targeted online by all kinds of vile wingnuts, the New Zealand Parliament moved with relative ease on the issue and it was met with bipartisan support.

The right to bear arms has of course existed, and been world famous in New Zealand since ages ago. One of the things that came out of Waitangi was that the Maori were more or less given the same rights as Pakeha. The law of the Pakeha already included the Bill of Rights Act 1688, which conferred the right to bear arms among other things.
That the subjects which are protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law.
- Section 7, Bill Of Rights Act 1688

Note those two caveats. The Bill of Rights Act 1688 already contains the admission that the ramifications of the law could very well be different for different people with the words "suitable to their conditions". It can be argued with a fair amount of reasonableness that a farmer might need guns for the purposes of destroying pests which might kill their livestock. Likewise it can be argued that killing rabbits is a reasonable justification for owning a weapon as they might damage both crops and the land itself. If you live on the land, then eliminating the threats to your livelihood, is both reasonable and suitable to their conditions. I think that this also passes the reasonableness test of the man on the Clapham Omnibus.
I think that it is also reasonable to arrive at the conclusion that an assault rifle or a semi automatic weapon, where the intended purpose is the hunting of people, that these things are not suitable to anyone's conditions.

This brings us to the next few words in that section "and as allowed by law". The New Zealand Parliament, when confronted with an incident of terrorism, which should not be acceptable or excusable, has with due reasonableness passed legislation. It has been presented with the evidence which carries a lot of gravitas and has deemed that certain kinds of weapons are not suitable to anyone's conditions and therefore should not be allowed by law.
This is what should like at the heart of deliberative democracy. In a rare occasion where the perpetual football game of politics has been set aside, elected members of a 'thing' in the old Nordic sense of the word, have come together and listened to the hue and cry which has arisen as the result of a deeply troubling national injury and have made a decision to change the law. Now whether or not laws should be passed after the fact or passed before an event happens as part of norm forming policy is kind of irrelevant here because the offence is so deep that it has warranted immediate action.

The response from the New Zealand Parliament has been one of swift action where the intent is to protect the lives and liberties of New Zealanders and I think that it stands as a shining example of what proper leadership looks like. Right from the very top, from the Prime Minister's office, the actions of the New Zealand Government have been about trying to help heal the injury. Granted that no government action can ever hope to make amends for the shocking atrocity but offering to pay for the funeral expenses for the fifty-one victims is a practical start and the actions of practical love which includes the provision of meals for the families of the victims and the public displays of the haka by various community groups has at least part way said that the mosques are part of the collective 'us' of New Zealand. That's Kiwi as.

Aside 1:
The response from the Australian media and particularly from News Corp newspapers has been kind of schizophrenic. On one hand they have tried to condemn the murderer, while at the same time been trying to make statements about immigrants and refugees who do not integrate into society. News Corp papers in particular, along with Sky News and Seven West Media to a lesser degree have tried to almost wash their hands of anything that they may have done, to outright attacking people likeTim Soutphommasane for not speaking up sooner despite the fact that he very clearly did.
This white supremacist terrorist attack has happened in the midst of two election campaigns (though officially the Federal Election campaign remains undeclared) and I have now seen no fewer than fourteen articles blaming immigration policy on the Labor Party.

Aside 2:
The white supremacist terrorist monster said in his manifesto that among the reasons for doing this was to not only highlight that terror can strike anywhere but to stir up racial. cultural and religious tensions in the United States and specifically spark more debate about the Second Amendment. The problem there is that that is settled law.
America is completely fine with sacrificing its children and vulnerable on the altar of its modern Molech. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of children and innocent lives. It is its natural manure.
The Supreme Court has effectively reduced the words of the Second Amendment to "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" and nothing else. Heller v DC 2008 struck off any hopes of the words "well regulated"; which means that whatever the intent of the framers had, is long irrelevant. It also completely destroys the terms "suitable to their conditions" and "as allowed by law" from the 1688 Bill of Rights.

March 20, 2019

Horse 2520 - Put Your Sword Back In Its Place, Fraser Anning.

These are not the words of the white supremacist terrorist monster who shot and murdered fifty people at two mosques in Christchurch last week but the words of the democratically elected Senator from Queensland, Fraser Anning. These words are from the same Senator who in his maiden speech to parliament, deliberately chose to invoke the words 'final solution', which came from the translation of the name for the policy of Nazi Germany with respect to the systemic and efficient extermination of the Jews.
I put forward that the murders of fifty people are not the actions of a madman because that would either imply a temporary loss of sensibility or a mental disability of some capacity, but rather these are the actions of a calculated and completely sane cancer of a man. Likewise, Fraser Anning's words are not a mistake or misstep and neither have we taken them out of context. Fraser Anning is an elected representative who is an apologist for terrorism.

If we do want to talk about words taken out of context, then the closing paragraph of Senator Fraser Anning's address is an example in point:

"As we read in Matthew 26:52 'all they that take the sword, shall perish by the sword' and those who follow a violent religion that calls on them to murder us, cannot be too surprised when someone takes them at their word and responds in kind"
- Fraser Anning, 15th Mar 2019

If we do actually want to bother to interrogate the context in which those words appear, then a broader scope of that passage in Matthew's gospel is essential.

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
- Matthew 26:27-56

What Fraser Anning has done, is lifted two clauses from a sentence and made it say exactly the opposite of what is intended. This would be like telling a nine year old boy that "You are not allowed to have ice cream for dinner" and the boy then going off and chowing down on a bunch of ice cream claiming that the instruction was "allowed to have ice cream for dinner".
If you were to read just that verse by itself, then you find that in most translations, the verse actually begins with the statement "Then Jesus said: 'Put your sword away'" and what we actually have is a rebuke from Jesus to Peter for being a violent knave. Jesus' next action is to heal the high priest who had his ear cut off; thus absolutely repudiating Peter's violent actions. It absolutely does not condone or apologise for the actions which caused harm to someone and in the broader context of Jesus' ministry, in no way allows for the direct actions of harming someone, much less killing them.

In the broader context of what this white supremacist terrorist monster wanted, in his manifesto which laid out why he was going to be a terrorist murderer, he said that he wanted to cause disharmony along racial, cultural and religious lines in the United States and carried this out in New Zealand for maximum shock value.
The United States in particular has managed to create the conditions for a more violent society over many years and has cultivated the narrative nicely. In doing so, the Christian right has often been co-opted in this perpetual war on my itself and you will often find the following passage in Luke's gospel quoted as the justification for why Christians should have weapons:

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”
“Nothing,” they answered.
He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”
The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”
“That’s enough!” he replied.
- Luke 22:36-38

I consistently find this justification for Christians having weapons completely fraudulent.
Even in context this doesn't look like a generic command to Jesus' followers and it certainly doesn't look like a set of standing orders for peaceful living. If we want to take the Sermon on the Mountain from Matthew 5 and onwards as Jesus' manifesto, then we find that is the poor in spirit who own the kingdom of heaven, those who mourn who will be comforted, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness who will be filled and the peacemakers who will be called children of God.
In the that light, then the only standing command is one which is repeated and reinforced throughout the New Testament:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
- Matthew 22:36-40

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
- John 13:34-35

And now I urge you, dear lady--not as a new commandment to you, but one we have had from the beginning--that we love one another.
- 2 John 1:5

Not only is Peter rebuked outright for his actions but Christ heals the high priest's ear. In no possible world does The logic follow that having a sword is a general command from Christ to his followers; and even if you were to make that morally bankrupt leap of logic, the new standing command which follows right through the entire of the New Testament excludes the action of harming someone anyway.
How is it possible to love someone in any sense of the word if you have pointed a gun at them, much less kill them? Also, how does it show any love at all to the victims' families who have been left behind?

Moreover, it should go without saying that it is obvious that other people are going to have differing beliefs about how the world works, as well as differing religious beliefs and differing faiths. If we live in a society with not only do differing faiths (where you have Christians of varying flavours, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sihks, Shintoists, Animists, as well as people who have arrived at the positions of agnosticism and atheism, and have all done so independently because one's faith and belief set is deeply personal), then if you actually were to eliminate everyone who had different faiths and beliefs to you, then if you were actually being internally logically consistent, you would have to murder every single person on the planet without exception.
The fact that this monster has gone into a mosque and shot up a bunch of people, means that he has made a very deliberate choice to be specifically exclusionary and discriminatory and deliberately chosen to ignore the standing command to love people.

In that respect, then what we have seen in New Zealand over the last few days is a better example of carrying out those orders of loving people in the face of the evil actions of a white supremacist terrorist monster.
We saw Christchurch High School perform the haka as a show of sympathy and compassion and welcome to country; there have been floral tributes to the victims; there have been businesses offering free goods and services and free meals to grieving people; and the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has not brought meaningless platitudes of 'thoughts and prayers' but a call to action for a change in legislation as well as hugs and tears. If you want to know more what strong leadership in the face of a national crisis looks like, Jacinda Ardern is it.

Fraser Anning appears to have memorised one line of scripture and has deliberately chosen to take it out of context. That isn't very clever.

Mark you this, Bassanio,
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart.
Oh, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!
- Antonio, The Merchant of Venice, Act 1, Scene 3

If we want to put that line of scripture which Fraser Anning has quoted back into context then:

Love one another...

Love your enemies..

That's it.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
- Matthew 5:43-44

The thing is though, that the people who were in the mosque at the time, were just peaceably going about their business. That's like the weirdest enemies in the world. Sure, they might have different beliefs to you and you might disagree with those beliefs but the simple fact of the matter is that lots of people have different beliefs to you and everyone just wants to peaceably go about their business.

Maybe what Fraser Anning really needs to hear and indeed everyone who wants to stoke the fires of ugly racism, nativism and knavery are the words of Jesus which he didn't quote: Put your sword back in its place.

Put your sword back in its place, forever. Then we will be surprised when someone takes them at their word and responds in kindness.

March 18, 2019

Horse 2519 - The Media Can't Find Any Reasons Why 50 People Were Killed In Christchurch

I would like to say that the media is struggling to find answers as to why a terrorist murderer shot 50 people in two mosques last Friday but sadly, they aren't. The media doesn't seem to be genuinely interested in doing investigative journalism and the reason that I suspect that it will not do any, is because you only have to scratch the surface just a little bit to see that they helped to create the environment which bred this monster. No story is told in a vacuum.

I shan't dignify this monster's name but it appears that the attack on two Christchurch mosques has been deliberately calculated, to cause as much media coverage as possible, the use of firearms has been specifically designed to cause political disharmony in the United States, and that it has been deliberately designed to stir up as much trouble as possible in western countries down "cultural, religious and racial lines".

A person like this doesn't exist in a vacuum but is cultivated over many many years. I have accumulated many many sources in the research for this post, however these I think are the most poignant. This article is from 2018.
It should also be noted – there is an implicit slippage, in the sense that a negative story about Muslims isn’t necessarily a story about Islam. Thus, I would argue that the definition may be overbroad.
With that proviso, it’s not much of a secret that the Murdoch press constantly attacks Islam and Muslims. So, given this definition, how frequent were stories featuring Muslims or Islam in a negative sense?
There were 2,891 of them. That’s almost 3,000 negative stories relating to Islam in one year. Which is an incredible amount. That’s almost eight stories a day, every day, for the whole year, somehow relating Muslims to terrorism or violence or whatever.
- Michael Brull, New Matilda, 3rd March 2018

If you tell a story once; it is a nice story. If you tell it twice, it might become a bit boring. If you tel the story 3000 times a year, then it's very likely to be believed.
If you take a broader and wider scope than just the newspapers (though the pages of News Corp newspapers especially peddle their own kind of hatred), then over the 6 years since the last change of government, we have seen an active change of direction from Prime Ministers Abbott and Morrison and to a lesser degree Turnbull, and from Immigration Ministers Morrison and Dutton. We have seen an active othering of people seeking asylum and an active outpouring of direct hate speech in the parliament from Morrison, Dutton, and right wing nut jobs Fraser Anning and Pauline Hanson.

From the floor of the parliament and ably back by the media in this country, we have seen speech deliberately designed to make Australians fearful of Muslims and people who have come to this country who are not white (especially African migrants).
We have also seen the terminology change from "asylum seekers" or "refugees" in cases where through the help of this country's military actions we may have caused people to leave their homes, to calling them "illegal immigrants" despite the fact that it is not only not illegal to seek asylum but thanks to the United Nations Refugee Convention of 1951, asylum seekers are actually exempt from prosecution. Nevertheless, we have found ways to actively imprison and gaol people in horrible conditions; and shirk our responsibilities of human decency.
But that is actually fine; the system is working as intended...

Because in this past month, Abbott, Morrison, Dutton, Anning and Hanson have all gone on record on TV and radio as saying that asylum seekers are:
- illegal immigrants (even if they have never actually made it to Australia)
- queue jumpers who will kick you out of emergency medical care in our hospitals
- terrorists
- pedophiles
- rapists who throw away their passports
- free loaders who will take your public housing
- people who will get citizenship through the back door

This continual repeating and staying "on point" as is often said in the media, has to have an effect at some point; however, the people who generate this kind of thing are equally as quick to absolve themselves of any obligation or guilt; often hiding behind the cloak of free speech.
The monster who murdered 50 people in New Zealand this past weekend was described by the Daily Telegraph as an "angelic boy", by the Courier-Mail as a "working class madman". The West Australian, Courier-Mail, Adelaide Advertiser, Herald-Sun, and Daily Telegraph have all run pieces blaming social media for this incident, in an effort to wash their hands of anything they may have done.
The lunatics are running the asylum. That asylum is social media and the mad men — like the Christchurch attacker — are the lunatics.
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have consistently said they are in control of their platforms but they are failing.
- Jenna Clarke, The West Australian, 16th Mar 2019

The Daily Telegraph's piece (which sickened me and hence the reason why I didn't quote it) appears opposite another apology piece from convicted racist and pedophile apologist Andrew Bolt.

This is not anything other than deliberate. The continual barrage by media is not a case of semantics either.
It is about saying that people who look different do not belong here. It is about instilling a sense of fear and making you think that foriegn looking people are dangerous. It is about propagandising and convincing you to fear the other. It is about making you sufficiently scared enough that you will believe the narrative and then getting your support to do previously unthinkable cruelty in the name of protecting "us”. In short, it is about deliberately dehumanising people, and then after they have been dehumanised, ceasing to show any care, or familial love, or common human decency to people.

What really really irks me is the statement from Queensland Senator Fraser Anning shortly after the massacre. In it, he blamed the shootings on Muslim immigration to New Zealand and quoted a phrase out of context from the gospel of Matthew:
"As we read in Matthew 26:52 'all they that take the sword, shall perish by the sword' and those who follow a violent religion that calls on them to murder us, cannot be too surprised when someone takes them at their word and responds in kind"
- Fraser Anning, 15th Mar 2019.

This is of course the same parliamentarian in his maiden speech, deliberately spoke of a "final solution to the immigration problem", invoking of course the "Endlösung" or "the Final Solution to the Jewish Question" which was the official code name for the mass murder and extermination of Jews in Nazi Germany.
It seems to me that it is not Islam which is a violent religion that calls on people to commit murder but people like Fraser Anning, who cannot be too surprised when someone takes his at his word and has responded in kind.

Mind you, the current resident of the Lodge, Mr Morrison , in an effort to flounder and flap about the place, has tried his best to try to look like a leader:
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned against a growing culture of “tribalism” in Australian life that could help extremism take hold in the wake of the terrorist attack in Christchurch.
Mr Morrison called for a calmer approach to public debate to counter the “shouting from the fringes” on issues including multiculturalism and migration.
He said the “us and them” debate meant individuals would no longer be defined by their unique worth and contribution but by the “tribe” they belonged to, undermining the “happy coexistence”  that made diversity work.
- Sydney Morning Herald, 18th Mar 2019.

However, the only conclusion that I can draw is that the monster who shot 50 people in Christchurch, is the logical endpoint of a deliberate engineering program which was first proposed back in 2011:
THE opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate's growing concerns about "Muslim immigration", "Muslims in Australia" and the "inability" of Muslim migrants to integrate.
Mr Morrison's suggestion was made at a meeting in December at which shadow ministers were asked to bring three ideas for issues on which the Coalition should concentrate its political attack during this parliamentary term.
- Sydney Morning Herald, 17th Feb 2011.

Maybe Prime Minister Scott Morrison would like to speak to former opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, various parliamentarians and look at the possibly 20,000 newspaper articles on television, radio and in print since the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison goverment came to power and maybe he can work out why a terrorist murderer has killed 50 people in two mosques, because even with all of this by way of background, I still can't work out why.

March 17, 2019

Horse 2518 - The All New Electric Bicycle Littering Service

I have noticed recently that where once there were red, yellow and blue bicycles which used to be littered around the city, they have now been replaced by green and orange bicycles in a brand new range of electric bicycle littering services.

I would not be surprised if they were owned by the same companies; who also happen to own the private sanitation and rubbish removal businesses like Cleanaway; which I suppose would mean that they derive the bulk of their income from local councils paying them to clean up their damaged bicycles rather than actually renting them. My suspicions are further piqued in my private conspiracy theory by my ongoing observations that the number of actual meat bag humans that I have seen using these bicycles ever, is nil.

Apart from the fact that I think that Sydneysiders are just awful people (the reason why you are not allowed to have late night alcohol trading is because you keep on king hitting and glassing each other) and will throw bicycles into the harbour and put them up trees and bend the wheels, I think that the people who own the bicycles obviously do not live in Sydney and know nothing of the topology of the city.

Anyone who has in Sydney for any particular length of time will attest to the unavoidable fact that Sydney is very hilly. Unlike Beijing which is relatively flat, or London which is both flat and small, Sydney is a rollercoaster of land with changes in elevation everywhere and in the greater environs of the city this is reflected in the arterial roads, none of which are straight.
Even just a little walk from Wynyard to Town Hall Stations or from Town Hall to Central Station will very quickly reveal to traveller that the change in elevation is surprisingly immense; almost unduly so for a city in which you'd want to ride a bicycle, so not many people do.

This is indeed the problem then. The bicycles in a public space which although are branded as belonging to someone, may as well be owned by nobody at all because their owners are absent and no attempt whatsoever is made to secure their property. If these bicycles were stored in racks which were only unlockable by the app, I am sure that they would be treated with far greater respect than they are currently. I completely expect that they'd still be vandalised though, because the underlying cause that Sydneysiders are awful people would still remain.

I think that these bicycle littering services are hoping that by adding battery power that people will be more inclined to use them and that through that use that the sight of them will be normalised. Again, that's valid in a city where bicycles are already prevalent and where the people are more communal in nature but this is Sydney and where if bicycle use had been practical it would have already been normalised and we're all just a bit too nasty to want to share anything.

I don't know how many of these new battery powered bicycles there are but I do know that a non zero number of them will end up in Sydney Harbour. Perhaps Sydney Harbour is already so polluted that this is not a concern but if you were to propose to Sydney City Council that your business model involved throwing a thousand batteries into the harbour and leave the problem of clean up to someone else, I am sure that such a plan would be looked at with a very hard stare.
Yet this is pretty much exactly what has happened here. The first wave of bicycles just appeared out of nowhere and then slowly found their way into the urban environment as large pieces of rubbish and this second wave will come to exactly the same outcome except this time, the urban environment will now be littered with batteries; including batteries in the harbour.

If Sydney wasn't Sydney and was a flat place like Amsterdam, or a place in which the people were more community minded, and the bicycle littering services installed racks so that there was more of a proper sense of proprietorship over the bicycles, then these companies would be successful and there wouldn't be as many bicycles ending up in trees, draped over street signs and hurled into the harbour.

March 11, 2019

Horse 2517 - The All New Mazda Not Deathwagon

Like all decent stories made from epoxy, this comes in two parts:

Part 1:

As alluded to in Horse 2516, the new Mazda CX-30 has been unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show.

For those people not obsessed with motor cars as I am, here is a quick run down of what it is: Thingy thingy thingy, bla de bla de bla, 2.0L petrol engine, a 1.8L turbo-diesel, horsepowers, torques, SkyActive, i-Activ all-wheel drive, G-Vectoring Control system, other technical words, numbers, numbers, numbers, business, business. If you want to read those things, find a real motoring journalist and buy a magazine.

The reason why a jacked up hatchback/CUV/SUV piqued my attention is not because I like it (I really don't) but because it is named wrong. The car which is 120mm longer and 30mm wider than the current CX-3, is supposed to fit in the lineup between the Mazda CX-3 and CX-5. The logical name for it should be the Mazda CX-4 however, the number 4 in Mandarin supposedly sounds like the word for "death" and Mazda don't want to have a car which might be mistaken for a car called the Mazda Death.
Why can't I have a Mazda Death? That sounds cool. There's already a Dodge Hellcat, Ford Scorpio, Dodge Viper, Ford Mustang, that all have vicious animal names; Holden sold cars called Thunder and Storm, so why not?

Naming a car is traditionally difficult. There have been some truly horrendous cases where a name has unfortunate consequences when translated into another language such as the Mitsubishi Pajero, Chevrolet Nova and Toyota MR2, and likewise there have been some hilarious names like the Kia Bongo Friendee. The Germans have more or less given up with luxury car makers using alphanumeric names.
Nevertheless, a name like the Chevrolet Black Widow is still cool, some six decades later.

For the Japanese domestic market, Mazda already call their 2, 3 and 6, the Demio, Familia and Axela, respectively; so it's not as if the motor company is above naming their stuff. I don't see why they can't name their car CX-4 for the rest of the world and the CX-30 for China only.
Better yet, why not double down on the name and just call the thing the Mazda 'Death 13'? It wouldn't be enough for me to want to buy a jacked up hatchback but at least it would be logical. The truth of the matter is that we've all got used to cars with names after animals, places, vague call concepts and downright gibberish (I'm looking at you Mitsubishi Delica Highway Star Space Gear), so I think that the Mazda Death 13 sounds almost sensible. The Mazda CX-4 is a wee bit dull.

Or at least that's the story which Mazda wants you to believe...

Part 2:

There it is, as large as life. The Mazda CX-4 which is a China only model.

The word sei 四 (four), sounds identical to the word sei 死 (death), in all the Han languages. Not only in every single written piece of text does the characters CX-4 appear but it even has its own website.

If the story wasn't confusing enough, Mazda have had to backpedal; claiming that the reason for the odd nomenclature is that this is to avoid confusion between two cars sold under the same nameplate in different markets. That in itself is nonsensical.
For a very long time, the Ford Escort in Europe was a totally different car to the North American Ford Escort which was a Mazda 323/Familia cousin. Holden has had the nameplate of Astra sitting on a rebadged Nissan Pulsar before switching to the Opel Astra and quite recently, the Astra name plate has been sitting on both the Opel Astra and the Chevrolet Cruze in the same caryard in Australia. Honda used build one version of the Civic and Accord for Europe and separate ones for America.

Both the CX-30 and the Chinese only CX-4 are so ridiculously close in dimensions that it boggles my mind why there would even need to be two cars. I don't know why there needs to be two different cars, and I don't know why the official unveiling had a story which made no sense. If someone wants to give me a Mazda Death 13 though, I won't turn the offer down.

March 08, 2019

Horse 2516 - It Is Not Quite Superstitious Nonsense, That Buildings Don't Have A Floor 13 or 14

Without naming names, someone I follow on Twitter this week, mused that it was superstitious nonsense that buildings don't have a floor 13 or 14. 13 is probably considered unlucky in the west because there were 13 people at the Last Supper and that didn't turn all that well for Jesus, and 14 is considered unlucky in the east because it sounds a bit like death in Mandarin.
That sounds entirely believable to me because humans are pattern recognition machines who sometimes have religious leanings and beliefs. This also helps to explain why the car which Mazda are slotting in between the CX-3 and CX-5 will be called the CX-30 instead of the CX-4.
However and more importantly, the biggest reason why there is not usually a level 13 or 14 in a building is far more practical than mere superstition.

When you suspend a column of water in a pipe, there is a point at which the weight of the water pushing down on the column exerts enough pressure downwards to overcome the pressure of the water that is normally held within a pipe. For the most part, water is a non compressible fluid and so that creates supply problems for very tall buildings. In the olden days when there were no elevators, that posed less of a problem because supplying water for the building could be done with the normal pressure that municipal water corporations provide but that is not possible, once you reach a certain height.
It probably wouldn't necessarily be a problem except for the fact that humans like to do things with water; namely using it for drinking, cooking things in, washing things and themselves, and more importantly for the owners of the building, using it to put out fires.
There is a distinct advantage to putting out fires because it means that people's stuff doesn't get burned and people themselves don't generally like being on fire or dying as a result of being on fire either. From the somewhat limited scope of written material on the subject, humans that have either been on fire or been in a place that has been on fire, taste like pork chops when eaten though the market for this kind of meat appears to be insanely small.

The Home Insurance Building in Chicago, the world's first skyscraper, had neither pumps and risers, but being only 10 storeys tall and being completed in 1885 which was before the advent of modern fire fighting systems, it never had them. The automatic glass disc wet bulb sprinkler wasn't invented until 1890 and two years later its inventor Frederick Grinnell, started the General Fire Extinguisher Company.
In order to supply water to height of more than 50 metres, pumps and risers need to be installed because the water corporation will not guarantee pipe head pressure at anything higher than that. Since the usual conversion rate between metres and storeys in a building is typically 0.30303 then pipe head pressure limits buildings to 15 storeys and even then, the 15th floor would have dubious pipe head pressure if it was running a wet bulb water sprinkler system to prevent fires. In Australian the Australian Building Codes and AS2419.1-2005 specify where pump houses and risers have to be; including access to those things.
In a typical high rise building, there will be pumps and risers on the 13th and 14th floor, not for reasons of mere superstition but to give humans ample supply of water and to prevent their stuff and their person from being on fire; which is generally considered advantageous. From a personal standpoint, I have never been on fire and I intend that to be the case for as long as possible.

Probably superstition has something to do with it, and for the record I have been in a building which had levels of: G, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 88, 888, and 8888. However, if pipe head pressure isn't guaranteed beyond the 15th floor of a building, then a little bit of superstitious nonsense is a good cover for insurance and prudence.

March 06, 2019

Horse 2515 - Tony Abbott Complains About Branch Stacking And Runs A Possibly Illegal Internship Program

Although I live in the bogan western suburbs of Sydney, I work in the Insanic Kingdom of Mosman. Mosman is possibly the blue riband seat of the Liberal Party and we have found this week that even the thought that someone might challenge the sitting member Tony Abbot in the as yet uncalled May election (May 18, mark my words) is enough for both the Mosman Daily and the Manly Daily to lose their minds.

"The story here, I think is not that one or two short-term Liberals were ostentatiously resigning. The story was that GetUp was sufficiently sophisticated to plant people."
Mr Abbott said there was "absolutely no doubt" that branch stacking attempts were being made in Mosman branches of the Liberal Party is a bid to destabilise his support base.
"This group, the North Shore Environmental Stewards (founded by one of the former Liberals, Rob Grant) was created for the purpose of trying to get people, climate activists into the Liberal Party for the purposes of making trouble for me," he said.
- Manly Daily, 6th Mar 2019

In passing I will comment that both the Manly Daily and the Mosman Daily, having both lost their editorial independence, now both carry puff pieces masquerading as news. Their letters sections mirrors their mothership newspaper the Daily Telegraph and also chime in with their blatant partisanship.
The Mosman Daily exists almost entirely to sell properties to other people living in Mosman, while the Manly Daily exists as the propaganda wing for the IPA/News Corp/Liberal Party triumvirate/cabal.

I will also point out that the Manly Daily, doesn't really have a proper staff of journalists and cadged the front page's article off of Tony Abbott's twitter feed:

“Zali’s Liberal Army” (today’s Manly Daily headline) has just two members. Julie Giannesini who hasn’t been a member since 2007 and when she tried to rejoin late last year was rejected by the Mosman branch because she was so obviously a plant.
- Tony Abbott MP, via Twitter, 2nd Mar 2019 (7:56pm)

And Rob Grant who joined a branch just 12 months ago as part of a left wing stack. These aren’t Liberals, just left wing entryists who joined so they could ostentatiously resign. The MD was told this but still chose to peddle fake news
- Tony Abbott MP, via Twitter, 2nd Mar 2019 (7:56pm)

I find it somewhat ironic that a democratically elected member of parliament should complain about attempts to undermine democracy by acting in ways that are actually entirely democratic in nature. I find it especially ironic considering that once in parliament, Tony Abbott has been very influential in playing factional politics; which was in fact the reason why he became party leader in the first place and subsequently Prime Minister, and then further playing factional politics, which is the reason why Peter Dutton had a tilt at the top job at all. This is further built on the irony that Tony himself has the position in that seat, because of the career that he had.

After being president of the National Union of Students, and surviving a charge for indecent assault after he lawyered up and basically out stared the lady who took him to court, he became a youth pastor of sorts at Emu Plains and quit that job because it was too hard.
For a time he worked as a plant manager for Pioneer Concrete (probably at Pendle Hill) before becoming press secretary to Liberal Leader John Hewson from 1990 to 1993, helping to develop the "Fightback!" (exclamation mark included) policy; after which he was parachuted into the extreme safe seat of Warringah, which has always been held by the Liberal Party of Australia or its predecessors since its inception in 1922.
Tony's political career itself is purely because of the directives of the Liberal Party and the crushing of the local party branches.

I would think that the very practice of signing up members for a local branch of a political party with the express purpose of changing policy within the party, is in fact one of the highest and best expressions of democracy. Actually getting people to have say about the preselections of candidates as opposed to doing it through the ballot box, is by definition, a way of enacting change from the inside.
It is somewhat bewildering to me that the Manly Daily article, suggests that just 12 people are enough to destabilise his support base, and by inference, the people of Warringah should be very very worried.

There is a second and somewhat troubling chapter to this story though:

Former prime minister Tony Abbott will hire up to 20 unpaid interns to work on his re-election campaign in Warringah in a clear sign of the enormous electoral pressure facing the 25-year political veteran.
An advertisement posted on Mr Abbott's Battlelines website announces a snap four-day search for "dedicated and energetic people" to assist on the campaign over the next eight weeks.
- Michael Koziol, Sydney Morning Herald, 5th Mar 2019

The text of that website is thus:

Politics is a noble calling that is all about improving people’s lives.
And running smart, effective political campaigns is absolutely essential in achieving those lofty aims.
There has never been a more important time to invest in the future of bright, young, upcoming talent – which is why I’m launching the Battlelines Bootcamp.
Battlelines Bootcamp will introduce recruits to best-practice campaign techniques and provide on-the-ground practical campaign training.

So here’s everything you need to know:
8-week internship based in the Warringah campaign
Up to 20 internships are available for dedicated and energetic people eager to learn the art of political campaigning
Learn best-practice campaign techniques with on the ground practical training
We’re looking for people with advanced IT skills who have a demonstrated commitment to the values of the Liberal Party.
Please send applications to with at least 2 current references.

Applications open Tuesday 5 March and close Friday 8 March 2019.
- Battlelines Bootcamp as at 6th Mar 2019

There is a distinct problem with this. As the Sydney Morning Herald reports and as I have subsequently confirmed independently by emailing them, those 20 interns are unpaid.

As Fair Work Australia has said on their website:
Unpaid work experience, job placements and internships that are not vocational placements will be unlawful if the person is in an employment relationship with the business or organisation they are doing the work for. People in employment relationships are employees of a business and entitled to:
- a minimum wage
- the National Employment Standards
- the terms of any applicable award or registered agreement.

These "internships" are not vocational placements and are explicitly about running a political campaign. On the face of it this appears to violate the Fair Work Act 2009.

To summarise:
We have an MP complaining about supposed branch stacking in his own party while at the same time conducting unpaid internships which appear to be on the face of it illegal.
And he wants to remain as the Member for Warringah? 

February 21, 2019

Horse 2514 - Despite Massive Corruption And Scandal, This Government Will Likely Be Reelected - Australia: You Are A Pack Of Stupids

There are at least six corruption scandals currently taking place in this government, seven things that are horrifying:

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said Australians should stop shopping at Aldi or Coles if they wanted a sustainable dairy industry.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud - and whose chief of staff is former government relations manager for Woolworths - calls for boycott of Woolworths' competitors.

The Australian Financial Review has reported that Paladin Group’s $420m of contracts to provide security to refugees on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea was extended by the home affairs department in January after a closed tender process.
The "curriculum officer" at Paladin Solutions PNG is named Karen Dutton - A relative to Peter Dutton? The Home Affairs Minister?

Mathias Cormann admitted under questioning at Senate estimates that on three occasions in the last three years he called Helloworld Travel chief executive Andrew Burnes to arrange his trips.
The revelation came when Senator Cormann faced questions about why he hadn't been charged more than $2,700 for flights to Singapore.

Federal Small Business Minister Michaelia Cash insists she has provided a witness statement to police about raids on union offices — despite the Australian Federal Police (AFP) saying she did not.
A member of her staff tipped off the media that police were raiding the Melbourne offices of the Australian Workers' Union back in 2017; which is now part of a civil court case.

Mr Wilson led town-hall style meetings across the country seeking feedback on Labor's plan to scrap franking credits, which form part of SMSF funds income.
Mr Wilson has confirmed he sought a testimony from a high-profile fund manager and a distant relative, Geoff Wilson, who manages his investments.
Geoff Wilson is the founder and manager of Wilson Asset Management, which manages some of Tim Wilson's investments.
Tim Wilson is the chair of the House Economics Committee; who just happnes to have a conflict of interest as he's a shareholder in Wilson Asset Management.

Peter Dutton reportedly has a business interest in childcare centres, which two constitutional law experts have suggested could amount to an “indirect pecuniary interest” in an agreement with the commonwealth and disqualify him from parliament.
According to Dutton’s register of interests he, his spouse and children are beneficiaries of the RHT Family Trust.
This would disqualify him from sitting in parliament under Section 44(v) of the Constitution.
The government has refused to refer him to the High Court.

And 7:
Secretary of the Department of Human Services, Renée Leon, explained to Senate Estimates that because suicide victims are no longer alive, there can not be a proven causal link between their suicides and the Robodebt scandal following overpayment and demand notices from Centrelink. 2030 people have died. 1778 (87%) were under the age of 65.

The kicker:
Labor has suffered a sharp fall in popular support after a week of incendiary political claims over border protection, with the party leading the Coalition by 51 to 49 per cent in its narrowest result in more than six months.
Voters have shifted against Labor in significant numbers amid the escalating row over the refugee medical transfer law passed by Parliament last week, cutting the party’s lead over the Coalition from the previous result of 54 to 46 per cent last December.
- Sydney Morning Herald, 17th Feb 2019

What is wrong with you Australia? Are 49 percent of you just criminally stupid or deliberately belligerent?
Of course we have also passed legislation which moves sick asylum seekers on medical grounds from one tropical gulag, to another tropical gulag with such inadequate medical facilities that no babies have been born on Christmas Island in two decades (including an asylum seeker from Iran who miscarried in 2013).

This is the government you elected Australia and will likely return to power in May.

February 20, 2019

Horse 2513 - My Electricity Problem, The Bigger Electricity Problem, And Why Privatisation Is Stupid

The Problem:
At about 8am yesterday morning, Mrs Rollo was disturbed not by the usual onslaught of feline hostilities which rage from time to time but by a white car and a man with a BA in Clipboardology. He came to the house, shut the power off at the power box, put a tape over the switches which are a criminal offence to remove and drove away.
I had recently arrived at work and had made a cup of coffee (of everyone’s favourite zero star coffee International Roast) and was about to settle in for the morning to do a spot of grunt work when I was told that there was no electricity.

The poles and wires in our part of the world are owned by Endeavour Energy. It was they who sent around their man in the car to switch off the power. However, I wasn’t to know that as in the first instance, I had to ring our retail electricity provider, which was Origin Energy.
Except it wasn’t.

The last bill that we had from Origin Energy was back in November last year. The account was showing $0.00 outstanding and so it was nonsensical to the person who I rang at Origin, why the elecrity was cut off.
I was sent to Endeavour Energy.

Endeavour Energy asked me if I’d run my retail electricity provider. I told them I had. They told me that I needed to track down an order for  cut off, so that it could be reversed.
So back to Origin Energy I went.

Origin Energy told me that they had sent no such order to Endeavour Energy and that I should ring Endeavour Energy to see where the order for cut off had come from.
So back to Endeavour Energy I went.

After speaking to someone at Endeavour Energy and having to reexplain the situation, I was then sent on a series of numbers until I found someone who could tell me where they order had come from. It had not come from Origin Energy as I had thought, and who I had been paying our electricity bills with but from AGL.
So I rang AGL.

AGL were incredibly confused. Not only could AGL not identify me as a customer at this address but they had details of me living at a house that I had moved out of more than five years ago. They sent me back to Endeavour Energy to see which National Meter Identifier (NMI) had been cut off.
So I went back to Endeavour Energy.

Endeavour Energy were able to tell me what the NMI for this property was, sort of. There is also a granny flat out the back, and they couldn’t determine which one it was and as they do no have accounts linked to NMIs because they are not the retail electricity provider, they sent me back to Origin Energy to get the NMI.
Which I did.

I then took that NMI to AGL, wherein I had to set up a new account because apparently (and this is the kicker) our property was an AGL owned account but unattached to any customer. This means that AGL have been supplying electricity to us, without us even knowing about it and because the account was unattached to any customer and nobody paid the bill, this is what triggered the cut off order.

So I had to create a new account with AGL, who then sent an immediate order to resupply electricity and the same man in the white car who had been around at 8am, came around at 2:25pm to turn the power back on.

Between three companies, nobody had a clue as to why we’d been transferred from Origin to AGL without our knowledge, or even how it had happened.

The Bigger Problem:
Electricity supply as far as the customer is concerned, something of a natural monopoly. The customer shouldn’t have to care about comparing a godzillion number of plans and rates, in a giant confuseopoly because in the end, electricity is  exactly fungible. 240 volts at 10 amps should be exactly the same if it comes from Kalgoorlie to Karratha or from Katoomba to Kiama. I give zero hoots about where it comes from. Broadly speaking, I’d like it to come from less fossil fuel burning, but that should be government policy and not incumbent on the poor consumer who is stuck in the middle of a retail price maelstrom to decide.

Because Electricity supply is both a natural monopoly, and a piece of national infrastructure, then history consistently proves that privatisation is rubbish. I’m not trying to make some grand statement about socialism here but if it takes the best part of six and a half hours and three companies to resolve an issue which could have been solved in less than four minutes, then you can stick whatever comments you have to make about free markets into the sun.

Private companies who have multiple administrations, which are basically duplicates of each other, who are all being funded at the lowest possible rates in the name of spinning a profit, are terrible for the consumer. Had it been back in the days of Prospect County Council which was a state-owned corporation owned by the Government of New South Wales, you would have had a guy called Geoff walk down the corridor to another guy called Steve and ask “Why’d you cut the power off at 33 Banana St?” and there would have been an answer immediately.

Privatisation has not brought prices down for consumers and to be perfectly blunt, it more than anything else was probably the root cause of the 2016 South Australian blackout, when almost the entire state losing its electricity supply due to busted interconnecters and physical destruction of wires due to storms.

The then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that state governments had paid "little or no attention to energy security", and prize knave Queensland One Nation senator, Malcolm Roberts, blamed the incident on relying on renwable energy sources.
The truth is that without wires, electrity doesnn't flow and the real culprit for not doing proper maintenace was ElectraNet who are 46% owned by the State Grid Corporation of China, 33% owned by a Malaysian company called YTL, and something called Australian Utilities Pty Ltd.

The fact that the electricity isn't owned by the South Australian state government is stupid and all who sold off need to be put into a room with no electricity so they can think about what they've done.
The same goes for the state governments of New South Wales. Whoever thought that this was a good idea and everyone who voted for it, is criminally stupid.

More recently Mike Baird campaigned to lease 49% of NSW's state-owned electricity distribution network and as soon as he got a better job with the NAB, he jumped ship citing "family reasons" (I think that we know exactly what those "family reasons" were). It is decisions like this that stretch back to the 1980s, which explain why it takes three companies to shut off my electricity for no good reason at all.

More than six hours after the power went off and after I’d been on the phone almost continuously, doing the equivalent of their administration  for them, the power came back on again.

I had a phone call later that afternoon from AGL, asking me if I’d enjoyed the customer experience and if I would recommend them in the future.

February 15, 2019

Horse 2512 - A Company Pays A Living Wage - Oh Der!

One of the things that happens a fair bit on Facebook, is that when people post links to things, they will often tag their friends and family in posts; in what I can only imagine is an attempt to get a huge internet pile-on of likes. As someone who uses Facebook primarily through browsers and almost never on the app, I imagine that my user experience of the platform is significantly different to most people. I imagine that most people get their likes and hearts and then move on; whereas I on the other hand will tend to stew on something for far longer, and want to pick apart the things posted.
Ah yes, Facebook, that bastion of news outlets, that is always at the cutting edge with the greatest and latest news, except when it is not; which is most of the time.

In my Facebook feed this week, a tangential article about the fast food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A, was praised as though it were doing something noteworthy:
The owner of a Chick-fil-A location in Sacramento, California, calls it a "living wage." In Eric Mason's view, that would be $17 or $18 an hour, which is what he vows he'll be paying his workers, starting Monday, June 4. The rate represents a sizable increase for employees now making $12 to $13 an hour. 
"As the owner, I'm looking at it big-picture and long-term," Mason told a local news station. "What that does for the business is provide consistency, someone that has relationships with our guests, and it's going to be building a long-term culture."
The idea, Mason said, is to hire workers -- he prefers "hospitality professionals" -- who will stick around, a worthwhile goal for a brand known for its customer service that's in an industry that had a 73 percent turnover rate in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
- Kate Gibson, CBS News, 1st June 2018

The idea that an employer would pay their employees more, in an effort to reduce turnover is hardly a new one. Reknowned anti-Semite and industrialist Henry Ford famous paid his workers $5 a day in 1914, not because if the alturistic notion that his employees would be able to afford one of his flivvers but rather, Henry started paying a more livable wage because of simple economics. High employeer turnover kills productivity. The obvious solution is that if you pay the workers more, they won’t quit. It is an entirely rational and logical decision; made with cool brute logic.
I have no doubt that Eric Mason probably looked through his accounts and came to that same conclusion. Pay them more and they won’t quit. Incidentally, at 4% inflation (which has been the historial average since the beginning of the Roman Empire), Henry Ford's $5/day or 62.5c/hour, works out to $38.40/hr now.

The truth is that workers who supply their labour, do so for a pretty pragmatic reason - they need to eat and sleep somewhere. Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation", proposed a theory called the "hierarchy of needs"; which is mostly so obvious, you wonder why anyone needed to write a paper on it at all.
It's like the concept of physiological needs is one of the Great Ders of History  and the fact that it needs repeating, makes me want to cry "Oh Der" repeatedly.
But when it comes to how individual businesses should decide what to pay, my economic logic is simple. You — and many employers — have already discovered it, even if you all pretend otherwise: Nobody’s going to work for you because it costs more to live than the peanuts you’re paying.
You cannot — or you refuse to — pay fair-market compensation. That’s why you can’t hire the workers you need, no matter what your rationalization is. As I explained last week, the “talent shortage” is a creation of employers’ own making.
Fair-market compensation is an amount people need for shelter, food, transportation and other basics of life. That’s more than $70 a day where most people live.
- Nick Corcodilos, 12th Feb 2019

Oh Der!

The problem is that throughout history, people need to repeatedly yell "Oh Der" because it's almost as if everyone who becomes an employer and would like to pay their employees absolutely nothing if they could get away with it (that's why we have unpaid internships in the 21st Century), instantly forget that people need to eat and sleep somewhere. Oh Der!

"The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education."
-  Franklin D. Roosevelt, proposed Second Bill of Rights,  State of the Union Address (1944).

Oh Der!

Bear in mind that FDR is speaking from the midst of a war here. One of the things about wars is that it suddenly dawns on the people who have power and control, that the people who are out on the battlefield actually have value. You do not win wars unless the people who do the fighting, believe that there is a thing worth fighting for. FDR also realised that wars do not last forever and unless the country recognised the value of its citizenry, then winning a war was pointless if you then do not win the peace.
FDR's proposal for the Second Bill of Rights never materialised because ultimately, it has been consistently proven that the people who own capital and by extension who own the systems which run democracies, do consider the general public as expendable. America has ultimately decided that people really only have value when they are actually fighting wars, because as soon as veterans get home, they are all too frequently discarded by the nation; as a practical demonstration of the value that they no longer have.

In principle, America thinks so little of the value of its people that not only did it not accept the Second Bill of Rights but it also refuses to be a signatory to the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights as well as other statements and commitments to the value of people, such as the 1967 Protocol to the Refugee Convention. Speaking of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, it contains the following article:

"Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and for his family an existence worthy of human dignity."
- Article 23, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

Oh Der!

This sentiment echoes on and on throughout the centuries.
Adam Smith, the father of economics, had this to say in his 1776 work "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations":

"No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed and lodged."
- Adam Smith, The Wealth Of Nations (1776).

Oh Der!

Paul had to write to Timothy in the early days of the church:

"Elders who lead effectively are worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and, “The worker is worthy of his wages.”
- 1 Timothy 5:17-18

Oh Der!

And just to prove this sentiment is as old as dirt, we find it repeated again and again in the old testament:

"Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.
Do not hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight."
- Leviticus 19:13

Oh Der!

"Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty of sin."
- Deuteronomy 24:15

Oh Der!

Time and time again, it seems that people need to be told again that you really do need to pay people a proper wage because they need it to be able to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. How hard is that to understand? Seriously?

Okay, the owner of one Chick-fil-A restaurant realised that people need a proper wage in order to have a decent life; but what about everyone else? The multi-billion and possibly trillion dollar company Wal-mart pays its workers so very very little that it estimated that it costs U.S. taxpayers $6.2 billion in public assistance including food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing. How 80% of the employees of a company with turnover of more than $125bn can not still manage to pay a living wage is beyond me.

This is not the sort of thing which should be praiseworthy. You shouldn't be praised for doing a thing which everyone should already be doing. It really just makes me want to yell "Oh Der!" again; which as shown has to be yelled again and again and again.

Oh Der!

February 12, 2019

Horse 2511 - Why Should Warringah Send Tony Back To Canberra?

...In which I respond to Tony Abbott's column in the Sydney Morning Herald.
In the past two years, I’ve had meet-the-member public meetings all around Warringah for voters to tell me their concerns. Almost to a person, they’re sick of overdevelopment and the traffic jams that make the best suburbs in the world a misery as soon as you want to go anywhere else.

As someone who has been working in the electorate of Warringah, I have personally met Tony Abbott only twice in not quite sixteen years. Admittedly I am only here during office hours but I would hope that Mr Abbott actually speaks to the people of his electorate more often, than merely when it is time to stand upon the stump to pony up for votes.

I’m running again so the Northern Beaches tunnel finally gets built. Yes, it’s the Liberal state government that’s going to do the work but the money is only there because of the Liberal federal government and its funding partnerships. Even though the tunnel is now finally close starting it still needs a champion to get it across the line.
Local people need the tunnel if we’re to get our lives back from spending hours in traffic gridlock. It’s the only local issue that can improve every local person’s life forever and I’m the only local federal candidate who’s 120 per cent for it.

On that note, as someone who lives in the western suburbs and therefore not a constituent of the electorate of Warringah, my opinion counts for very little. Although as a commuter and having to live with the problem of congestion, the reason why there is such terrible traffic in the Northern Beaches, is that by reason of geography, there are only a few select arterial roads which run across the ridge tops.
The best option to remove cars from the road would be to build a heavy rail tunnel. One eight car train removes 2000 cars an hour from the roads. The problem with that, is that the carrying costs are borne by the NSW State Government, and given that the previous Member of the New South Wales Parliament for Manly and the 44th Premier of New South Wales left parliament citing "personal reasons" only to be parachuted into a cushy job at the National Australia Bank, that can not be allowed to happen. The Premier of NSW simply has to build a toll-road, and give the profits to their banker friends.

I’m also running to keep a good government in Canberra that knows how to keep our country safe and our economy strong. In a seat like Warringah, voting for anyone other than the endorsed Liberal candidate would just bring a Labor government closer. And that would mean that 10,000 local retirees would lose thousands of dollars a year in franking credits as well as a much weaker economy due to all the extra taxes and union control that Labor would bring.

I work in an accountant's office in Mosman and I can tell you that running an SMSF makes zero sense unless you have at least $500,000 in the fund because you need to pay audit fees. If you're single and a Non-homeowner then the value of assets that you are allowed to have before the full age pension¹ is reduced is $465,500.
I would like to point out here that currently, investment income a SMSF receives from its assets is tax exempt to the extent that those assets are supporting retirement phase income streams. This income is called exempt current pension income (ECPI).
I want to know how exactly it is just, that someone who derives income from the work of other people, should be assessed at 0% tax, when I who actually does real work for a living, is assessed at effective tax rate which is more than the ASX200.

Thanks to the people of Warringah, I’ve had the chance to lead the Liberal Party out of opposition and into government; where we stopped the boats, repealed the carbon and mining taxes, unleashed the biggest infrastructure program in our country’s history, and finalised the three big FTAs. Sure, my 2014 budget struggled in the Senate but thanks to consistent good management the budget is now finally coming back into surplus and more tax cuts are in the offing.

I don't know if the Liberal Government actually did stop the boats. They have stopped reporting on boat arrivals; which isn't exactly the same thing.
Repealing the "Carbon Tax" was politically expedient. Well done. I'm sure that the people of 2119 will thank you.
Repealing rent resources levies more than likely damaged the structural integrity of budgets; as did successive waves of tax cuts during the mining boom which we completely squandered.

Before that, I was a frontbencher throughout the time of the Howard government and, for much of it, the Prime Minister’s one man Praetorian Guard. I was largely responsible for stopping the Keating government’s proposed sale for development of defence land around Sydney Harbour and for the Howard government’s preservation of it forever in the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.

Fair enough.

I haven’t just served the people of Warringah in the Parliament but in a host of practical and personal ways too: on patrol on the beach at Queenscliff and on the truck as part of the Davidson Rural Fire Brigade. Then there’s the annual Pollie Pedal charity bike ride that’s so far raised about $7 million, including for local causes such as the Pioneer Clubhouse, the Royal Far West, Bear Cottage, and the Manly Women’s Shelter. Margie and I have always encouraged our girls to take community service seriously but you can’t really preach it unless you live it.

Also, Fair enough.

As is well known, I didn’t support same sex marriage but I gave change a chance with the plebiscite and accept that it’s now the law of the land.

Also, Fair enough.

Climate change is real, mankind makes a contribution and we should take sensible action to deal with it but, with Australia responsible for just 1.3 per cent of global emissions, there’s no point damaging our economy in futile green gestures. And if we’re fair dinkum about drastically cutting emissions, we should at least end the legal prohibition on nuclear that is currently the only feasible form of emissions-free baseload power for Australia.

Hang on a second, if "Climate change is real, mankind makes a contribution and we should take sensible action to deal with it" them why did you openly crow only a few paragraphs before about repealing the carbon tax?
Changing behaviour is often achieved through economic incentive and disincentive. If we accept the premise that " there’s no point damaging our economy in futile green gestures" then if everyone in the world collectively does nothing, then we don't just damaging our economy but potentially the sustained ability of the planet to support life.

The idea that our Parliament should lose people with a proven record of achievement and the insights that only experience brings just because they’ve already been prime minister is absurd, especially if they’re as fit as most people 20 years younger. Likewise, the idea that backbench MPs should refrain from speaking and writing or somehow dilute their ideas lest they be accused of “wrecking” doesn’t bear scrutiny.

I agree with this entirely; however, every single MP is only at the employ of their constituents and while Section 9 of the Bill of Rights Act 1689² does agree with you that "freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament", the ideas that are contained within that same free speech ought to be judges and evaluated. The idea that someone who has previously been prime minister ought to be exempt from that scrutiny is also absurd.

As for the remark that someone is "as fit as most people 20 years younger", I fail to see how that is relevant. If this is a question of physical fitness, then that is not a disqualifier of ability and as for the mental fitness of someone even into their 80s, 90s and beyond, provided someone is sufficiently annoyed and excitable mentally, they are fit for task.

I’d be proud and honoured to serve another term as the Member for Warringah and to devote all the clout that a former prime minister has to the service of my area. And when you think about it, only a dyed-in-the-wool Labor voter would want to deprive the parliamentary Liberal Party of a most effective political warrior.

When it boils down it, in the 40 years that I have been alive, I have been fundamentally betrayed by both of the two political football teams in this country. You've both sold off the family silverware, recently you've both proven that you're cruel and heartless when it comes to the issue of vulnerable people both within and without this country.

To me, so many issues in the political life of the Commonwealth of Australia, are treated as though we are at a Wanderers v Sydney FC game. Hooray. Boo. Hooray. Boo. The difference there is that the songs are wittier at an actual football match, they are more focused in achieving goals, and after 90 minutes the two ends of supporters stop yelling at each other and they go home.

Tony Abbott is the member for Warringah and a former Australian prime minister.

Rollo is a citizen of the Commonwealth Of Australia and who would like to be a paid member of the commentariat, instead of just a hack who has to put up with terrible journalism.