March 28, 2019

Horse 2525 - Mankad v The Spirit of The Game

I was listening to the BBC World Service on the radio and the presenters were going nineteen to the dozen about a Mankad incident which had happened in the opening match of this year's Indian Premier League. It was as if someone had comitted a terrible crime.

The ABC had this to say about the incident, two days ago:
Ravi Ashwin ran out Jos Buttler at the non-striker's end in the Rajasthan Royals' season opener against Kings XI Punjab in Jaipur, as the Englishman wandered out of his crease prior to Ashwin's delivery stride, assuming the Indian spinner was about to deliver the ball.
Instead, the Kings XI spinner paused and waited for Buttler to leave his ground before whipping off the bails.
- ABC News, 26th Mar 2019.

As you would expect, this offended the sensibilities of the presenters of the BBC World Service programme that I was listening to; who in what can only be described as a series of very English grunts, railed against this as being a 'low act' and 'an affront to the spirit of the game'.
Naturally, this being Radio 4 which is possibly the most singular expression of Englishness, where complaining about everything is itself a national sport, the bowler was chided as though he'd committed war crimes; and the crazy thing is that this was Rajasthan v Punjab, where England wasn't even playing, though given that it was Englishman Jos Buttler maybe that explains the jingoism.

By way of background, the Mankad is named after former Indian test cricket player Vinoo Mankad, who ran out Bill Brown in the second Test of India's tour in 1947/48¹. To do it once would have been notable but he had already done exactly the same thing to Brown in the game against an Australian XI (non-test team) earlier on the tour, while taking 8/84 in the match (run outs aren't included in bowling statistics).
The Australian captain at the time, Sir Donald Bradman no less, said of the incident:
For the life of me, I can't understand why the press questioned his sportsmanship. The laws of cricket make it quite clear that the nonstriker must keep within his ground until the ball has been delivered. If not, why is the provision there which enables the bowler to run him out? By backing up too far or too early, the nonstriker is very obviously gaining an unfair advantage.
- Don Bradman, 13th Dec 1948

To be honest with him, I think he was absolutely correct.

On the that note, I think that the spirit of every game is to win. Different games might have different win conditions and this includes collaborative games where everyone is trying to collectively arrive at the win conditions but if there are no win conditions, I don't think that what you have is in fact a game. Playing to win therefore is the spirit of the game.
I don't care if you are talking about playing a game of bridge on the kitchen table or the Football World Cup Final, the difference between the two is really only a matter of the scale of the audience who are looking on and playing by proxy. Really that's all televised sport is, it is many many people playing by proxy. While people joke that they might be playing 'for sheep stations' when in actual fact they're really only playing for the very ethereal and temporary glory which will fade and be forgotten, as far as the people playing are concerned, it may as well be identical in the moment.
It is precisely because playing games doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, which is why it matters so very very much. To that end, cheating is an affront to the spirit of the game because it is outside the defined scope of what the allowable win conditions are. What's up for dispute here is whether or not the Mankad is within the rules and on that point, the rules are tremendously dithering. You can not really look at the rules themselves to find out whether or not they like within the spirit of the game and so you need to look at the broader context of cricket itself.

As a bowler, your objective is to get the batsman out. In a Test Match, which is the highest form of the game, the win conditions mean that you must get more runs than the other side at the close of two innings each. To close out the other side's innings, unless they declare their innings closed, then the win condition is that the bowling side must take ten wickets². Actually, as a bowler in any form of the game of cricket, your objective is to take wickets.
I think that if a batsman has left their crease, then I don't care whether or not someone wants to label it as a 'low act', it is still the bowler's objective to get them out and if that means flicking off the bails while the batsman has left their ground, then so be it. By leaving their crease, the batsman has not only signalled that they are trying to gain an advantage but by doing so have already started to do so. They are already playing the game; so as far as I'm concerned, that's where this discussion ends. Mankads are in the spirit of the game because they are the bowler trying to achieve their objective.

I personally approve of Ravi Ashwin's actions because as a bowler it is his job to take wickets. The batsman Jos Buttler has already moved out of his crease and is already trying to achieve his job of scoring runs. I don't know how you can argue anything other than the game is already afoot and therefore it is already game on. The grand ontological question³ about whether or not the game has started is in my mind, settled; playing in the spirit of the game which is to meet the win conditions almost compels the bowler to take the wicket.
I approve.

²To date, only Jim Laker and Anil Kumble have managed to take all wickets in an innings by themselves.
³ The Greek philosopher Parmenides thought that "existence is timeless". He would have been right when applied to cricket before 1939:

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?