February 29, 2020

Horse 2664 - Leap Day Children (or: Why Peter Pan Is Not Allowed To Rob A Bank)

I was was Grand Poohbah and Lord High Everything Else, then the 29th of February would be a boring thing. There would be 30 days in January, 30 Days in February, and 31 days in March. That would be exactly 13 weeks in a quarter, every quarter; which an extra day after December which wouldn't be part of any month or week; which would serve as New Year's Day and every four years, there would be two such days. By doing this, there would only ever need to be one calendar printed forever.

However, we do not live in a world of sense and order, we live in a world of madness and insanity; where popery and politics has shaped the calendar and given us something nonsensical but which we are all too afraid to change because that would be like messing with the forces of nature even though it totally isn't. The universe does not care if there are seven days in a week, or ten; if there are thirteen months in a year or twelve; or even what numbers or names are attached to them. A day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day to the impersonal universe; it is only the people who are concerned about it who are concerned about it¹.

February 29th, the date that only comes around once every four years, is a bit like Peter Pan². I have a client who was born on 29th of February 1976; which means that he is having an 11th birthday party this weekend at McDonald's complete with games, Ronald McDonald, and ice cream cake. For most years that he doesn't have a birthday, he claims February 28th and March 1st 'just in case'.
Does that mean for these special Peter Pan type people who are born on February 29th that they are just allowed to go around committing crimes until their 18th birthday? By my reckoning that would mean that they would be 72 years old; which is fine if you want to be a February 29th Master Criminal but would be terrible for the rest of society. It is just as nonsensical a proposition as the calendar itself.

Fortunately, the law has already long determined what the answer to this question is.
Frequently throughout legislation, the law will read "at least 18 years of age"; which means to say that if you were born on the 29th of February 2000, you were "at least 18 years of age" on the 1st of March 2018. A period at law ends after a date has finished and for a date which never actually existed, then February ends when March begins.
This has all kinds of implications, such as a juvenile who happens to walk into a convenience store and just starts kicking off with petty larceny. On and after the 1st of March, they can be charged with crimes as an adult. By the same token, they can also purchase alcohol and cigarettes, be conscripted into the army, enter into contracts, run as a Member of Parliament, and do all of the things that we expect adults to do such as voting.

¹which by the way also includes your conception of god and their conception of you.
²Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up, could wear green tights and fly. If I were to try that, I would get kicked off of the aeroplane.

February 28, 2020

Horse 2663 - Coronavirusvirus Warning

Warning: This post is not actually about Covid-19. Please do not consider this post as medical advice.

Newsdesk Sydney:
Concerns this week about Covid-19, a.k.a. the Coronavirus, a.k.a. the Wuhan Flu, have themselves mutated into a new strain of meta virus called Coroniavirusvirus.

Coronavirusvirus appears to incubate as a form of mostly undetected paranoia, which is covalent with seemingly normal concerns about human rights abuses, censorship, and authoritarian concerns about the Chinese Government. This mostly undetected paranoia appears to incubate for approximately three weeks, and is exacerbated by a diet of 2GB, 4BC, 5AA, the Courier-Mail, Daily Telegraph, Adelaide Advertiser, Herald-Sun, Sky News, or any combination of these things.

If left untreated, Coronavirusvirus manifests itself in racist sentiment and actions with zero basis in either fact or reality. Coronavirusvirus also appears to leave the sufferer in a state of prosopagnosia  and ageographia, where they think that all people from Asia look the same and come from the same place.
In the worst cases, untreated Coronavirusvirus results in racist abuse being vomited from the mouth of the sufferer, and a general sort of paranoia which prevents them from normal interactions with Chinese people, people of Asian descent, and even people who have been born in Australia and have never actually been to either China or Asia generally in their lives.

The medical association advises that people who are beginning to suffer from the effects of Coronavirusvirus, to stop listening and watching paranoia inducing right wing media, flush out their brains with actual facts, and avoid all social media including Twitter and Facebook. Further suggestions from the medical association in dealing with the Coronavirusvirus include proactive interaction with people from China and Asia, patronage of their businesses including shops, supermarkets, and restaurants, and actually talking to people who look a bit different to you.

If the effects of Coronavirusvirus are too severe and has manifested itself in full blown racism, then treatment includes quarantining such people and removing all of their radios, televisions and all internet connected devices, and preventing them from any embarrassing social interactions; so that they will not be racist racist knaves.
If you find yourself beginning to suffer from the effects of Coronavirusvirus, please consider also doing likewise, or else prepare to be muted or blocked on social media by people who do not have the Coronavirusvirus.

One of the observed effects of the Coronavirusvirus is that sufferers will also avoid the Mexican lager Corona. While this publication would normally advise that this kind of action is demonstration of unreasonable paranoia, Horse still advises that the Mexican lager Corona should be avoided, as any lager which is so terrible that it can only be improved with a slice of lime deserves normal unparanoid condemnation.

This publication also advises that people avoid late 1970s and early 1980s Toyota Coronas and even Toyotas generally, as excessive use will manifest in the wearing of brown clothes, and becoming insanely boring. In most circumstances, substitution of a Mazda is the best policy.

February 27, 2020

Horse 2662 - Tools Of The Trade

Highly charismatic and visible jobs tend to have highly charismatic and visible tools. A builder will have a staple gun, a range of hammers and drills, et cetera. A mechanic will have a range of spanners and shifters, a range of greases and oils, and a store of replacement parts. A doctor traditionally has that doohickey thing, and depending on the speciality a range of machines that go ping and suchres and scalpels. What does an accountant have? Computers, calculators and pens and paper. Indeed accountants as highly uncharismatic occupations, tend to have tools of the trade that looks no different to any other desk office job.

Yet that means that one gets insanely particular about what kind of pens and calculators one uses. I have had the same calculator at three different workplaces and it has survived since last century with the same battery. It can only perform the most basic of operations and the most sophisticated thing that it can do is store one number to memory.
This brings me to the most particular and mundane of tools that anyone ever is likely to talk about; that is namely my pen and I am very particular about which pen is my preferred weapon of choice.

The Staedtler Stick 430M.

I bet that billions of these have been sold by now. The reason for this is that they are the best.

Firstly that the ball in the ball point doesn't scrape the paper as it is going along and that means that you don't get microfibres of paper in the point. The point of the 430M is not as fine as the 430F and so you get a thicker line. This means that even among different models from the same company, I have preferences.
Very fine ball point pens have an annoying habit of getting clogged up but not the 430M because its broader point allows the ball to go over the microbumps. It is like if you fitted nice big and wide chunky tyres to a car and then ran lower air pressure. You are more likely to bounce over the top of bumps and drive across sand and dirt, than if you had narrow tyres which cut the surface of the road.

Secondly the barrel of the pen is hexagon shaped. Unlike the Kilometrico by PaperMate, the Staedtler Stick 430M is not going to roll away from you on thee table; it is also not going to roll off of the table and onto the floor. Now while that seems like a microproblem, just remember that we are talking about a pen of all things.

Thirdly the weight and feel of the pen to hand, is excellent. I am sure that the people at Staedtler would have obsessively engineered every detail of this. Yes a Bic Crystal is also a hexagonal barreled pen but yet it somehow manages to feel both too light and too wavy. The 430M has the same sort of feel as the perfect cricket bat; which I am assuming is because the weight is perfectly balanced around the actual point of rotation of the pen as opposed to exactly half way.

Fourthly the ink in the Staedtler 430M is also just about perfect. I imagine that n order to work properly inside a ball point pen, that the ink has to be matched with mechanism, in details like viscosity etc. The ink doesn't tend to smudge and nor does it form little clumps. I have a range of colours such as black, blue and red (which I can't really tell from green) and they always work properly but the colours which I hardly ever use like green and purple, also work perfectly every time. I do not remember the last time that I bought a purple pen but I have the confidence that my purple 430M which is probably more than five years old, will work perfectly every time.

And that's just it, isn't it? Long ago in the 1960s and before IBM adopted its single word slogan of "Think!", they had the previous slogan of "Machines should work; people should think." Now that while that does imply that people shouldn't be mindless dolts, it also implies that when you buy a thing and expect it to work, it should work. Mr Winchester of the eponymous rifle and gun company is supposed to have said that "a gun which does not shoot is merely a stick". We expect that if we buy a thing that it will do the job that it is intended to do and if it fails at its only purpose, then it has failed. A pen which doesn't work is like a broken pencil: it is pointless.

As someone who's job it is to wrangle numbers, to round them up and to drive them into boxes, then unlike someone who works in a highly charismatic trade I do not have highly charismatic tools of trade. Nevertheless, I still appreciate the tools that I do have and when I find a good one, I uncharismatically stick to it.

February 25, 2020

Horse 2661 - Ms Hanson Needs To Be Removed From The Family Law Inquiry

Pauline Hanson has suggested killer dad Rowan Baxter may have been “driven to it” when he burned his three children and wife to death, adding “these things happen”.
Speaking on the Today show this morning, she called on Australians not to “bastardise all men” as a reaction to the despicable crime in Brisbane on Wednesday where Baxter killed his three children and wife by setting them on fire.

“Don’t bastardise all men out there, or women for that matter, because these things happen,” she said.
On domestic violence she said: “A lot of people are driven to this, to do these acts for one reason or another.”
Her comments on the Today show have prompted former host Lisa Wilkinson to ask why the One Nation leader is given a “regular weekly platform” on breakfast television.

“Why oh why does breakfast TV continue to give this woman a regular weekly platform?” she tweeted. “She is dangerous. Worse, she is taking these attitudes to her role as deputy chair of the Family Law inquiry.”

Ms Hanson said domestic-violence-related murders committed by women didn’t appear to get the same amount of coverage as those committed by men.
- The Daily Telegraph, 24th Feb 2020

I must admit that I have serious problems in comprehending why this country is the way that it is. I do not understand why people want to come out as apologists for hideous actions but we keep on seeing this time and time again.
I can expect people like Andrew Bolt who is a convicted racist to make racist comments, and I can expect Gerard Henderson to make vile comments about poor people, but I do not understand why the Commonwealth would reward Betina Arndt with the Order of Australia, nor do I understand why the Commonwealth would want Senator Pauline Hanson within a thousand yards of the Family Law Inquiry.
I personally think that the Commonwealth is suffering from a serious kind of moral failure if it wants to make murder acceptable and domestic violence tolerable.

I am not claiming to have some secret understanding of human nature but I have been working adjacent to the legal profession and industry for more than 20 years, and the biggest conclusion that I can come to is that people are universally awful.
Unlike Ms Hanson, I am prepared to bastardise all men out there and all women for that matter, precisely because these things happen. The one thing that you learn after listening to hundreds of criminal cases as I did as a court recorder, is that the profile of a criminal is literally everyone. If given appropriate means and motive, quite literally everybody is capable of larceny and malicious damage to life, liberty, and property.

I do not understand why the increasingly functionally fascist rightist media in this country wants to perpetuate the myth of men somehow being pushed to the edge, or why it wants to blame victims for what has happened to them. I do not understand what kind of social engineering advantage or outcome is trying to be developed here.
No, the overwhelming reason why we find women vastly overrepresented in domestic violence situations and why men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of said violence comes down to a single word - power.

You find in vast majority of domestic violence cases, that there is either a larger difference between the physical size of the people in it, than in couples where domestic violence doesn't happen. In jurisdictions like the United States, that physical size difference is partly negated by the existence of firearms and when that happens, domestic violence actually also correlates with the availability of those firearms.
The almost unstated through line here, is that where you have domestic violence cases, it almost always comes down to the ability of someone to exercise physical power.

There is no such thing as being 'driven to it" as Ms Hanson claims. As I have said, I do not think that men and women are wildly different from each other; which means to say that the very very very heavy bias in the statistics of who does exact violence upon whom, is not necessarily because of massive psychological differences between the sexes. In actual fact, to suggest that men are somehow driven to the edge, or mere beasts who can not control their primal urges, is to excuse 50% of the population of bad behaviour by writing a bizarre narrative which denies that their agency exists, when clearly it does.

It took a series of very deliberate actions for this monster to burn his wife and three children alive. Hannah Clarke and their three children did not deserve to die; so the assertion that these actions which were premeditated are the results of a monster being pushed around involuntarily by the vicissitudes of fate, is quite frankly an evil nonsense. Proper policy, of which Ms Hanson has been employed to help develop, should be looking at, at absolute minimum, harm minimisation. Trying to apologise for this in my opinion, should instantly invalidate someone from being part of the policy making process because they have demonstrated to be a bad faith actor.
Of course the realm of family law is always fraught with heartache and pain, but if there is to be a review, then it should be looking at improving both the outcomes and the quality of life for all of those involved. Maybe there does need to be some form of adjustment to recognise that men are interested parties but that should be in line with the general principles of creating peace, order and good government in and of society.
There should have also been some level of intervention well before this because clearly this person was hurting; so there has been a critical failure of the systems which should have ensured that both Ms Clarke and his immediate and pressing needs were being met.

As for Ms Hanson's suggestion that domestic-violence-related murders committed by women didn’t appear to get the same amount of coverage as those committed by men, there is a very good reason. Of total homicide figures, Women murdered by their boyfriends/husband accounts for about 30% of statistics while Men murdered by girlfriends/wives is only about 3%. When it comes to self-reporting of domestic violence data in Australia, then roughly 17% of women and only 5% of men report that they have been a victim at some point in their life. I would suggest that if Ms Hanson doesn't see domestic-violence-related murders committed by women getting the same amount of coverage as those committed by men, then that's because the number of incidents itself is a biased data set. It could also be that Ms Hanson, simply hasn't bothered to go looking¹. If anything Ms Hanson appears to have a conflict of interest and a personal sense of vengeance on behalf of her own son who by the way pleaded guilty in court to breaching an Apprehended Violence Order².
We have had two previous inquiries to do with the family law system and both of those recommended that children’s safety be the driving force behind any changes. Those inquiries came from the House of Representatives in 2010 and the Australian Law Reform Commission in 2019. The only thing that I can think of is that this latest inquiry which has included the appointment of Ms Hanson is deliberately designed to bury the recommendations of the two previous inquiries. At any rate, she should be removed.


February 21, 2020

Horse 2660 - Supercars 2022: The Next Steps.

Dear Supercars,

The end of the road has come for the Supercars in their current configuration. With no replacement of any kind from General Motors and presumably none from Ford, that effectively leaves the entire series orphaned as legacy vehicles. The ZB Commodore can continue into 2021 but with no underlying company or brand behind it and the S550 Mustang is virtually a bespoke piece of kit.
Actually, all of the cars have been bespoke to a very large degree since about 1999 when Ford ceased to produce their 302 Windsor V8 for the road and Holden stopped producing their own V8, with the racing engines being crate motors from GM's competition division.
I think that everyone can concede that the days of privateers building race cars out of stuff that they found out in the showroom probably ended by about 1990.

So where does that leave us? It either means that the top category of motor racing in Australia simply adopts GT3, or perhaps TransAm2, or TCR, or the rules from GT300 or GT500 from Super GT.
There is however another option.

Dallara is currently developing the standard chassis for NASCAR's Gen-7 iteration. NASCAR faced the problem of having no cars out on the showroom to develop into racecars in the late 1980's when none of the proposed cars on the road had a wheelbase of 110" nor did they carry V8 engines. Supercars could in theory simply adopt NASCAR's Gen-7 regulations virtually wholesale, but with the existing front and rear aero kits from the existing cars.

The other option which I see is just to abandon the premise that Supercars are based on road machinery and adopt the Mustang and its bespoke rollcage, undertray, gearbox, differential and drivetrain, wiring looms and ECUs etc, as the new standard.

The truth is that the Mustang Supercars don't really look like the road going versions at all. I do not know what kind of cars that they are supposed to be but I do know that provided you can change the front and rear light clusters and the grill up front, then you can make a standard race car adopt whatever identity you like.

Since the entire of the shell save for the dressing on the front and rear would be identical, then you could have a Mazda, a Volvo, a Skoda, a Great Wall, or any label that you like on the ends of the car. You could even have fictional motor companies like Mifune Motors from Speed Racer, Valiante from Michel Valiant, or even bring back Holden to the racetrack if you wanted.

If that sound like a daft proposal, just remember that Super GT with its GT300 provided a so called 'Mother Chassis' upon which a standard engine and drivetrain could be applied and that gave us the Mooncraft MC/RT-16 Shiden.

Super GT when faced with the prospect of having no native GT3 cars, simply opened up the rules to produce a GT3 equivalent and let everyone have a fairly open field; which was then tempered by Balance of Performance regulation. That is how we currently have a Toyota 86 with a Nissan VK45 engine, another with a Celica GT4 engine, another running the mother chassis and the standard engine, and a Subaru BRZ with the WRC engine.
The Mooncraft MC/RT-16 Shiden car ran for a few seasons and to be fair, the idea of a completely bespoke car is actually kind of cool.

Of course Formula One has always been running bespoke chassis since the late 1970s, with every team building their own kit; usually that only means a short run of about 5 cars per year. If Supercars adopted a common car and swapped out the light clusters and engines depending on what kind of brand that they were running, then there only needs to be a run of about 40 chassis per year which need to be centrally fabricated. For the initial season of the new chassis, all of the work could be done in time for February 2022.

The fundamental DNA of the sport with its loud engines and all of the current aspects of why the sport need not change; not even the existing Mustangs would need to be retired.
Also, the idea of having continual arguments about parity, which to be honest have been going on since before I was born, would simply cease. Apart from small differences in engine power which could either be solved with fuel restrictors like they do in GT3 or success ballast like they run in the BTCC.

Implementing any change will be difficult but it need not be. The solution to the problem could already be sitting out on the track.

Per ad Ardua Astra,

February 17, 2020

Horse 2659 - The War Will Not Be Televised

If you cast your minds back to 2016, there was real concern that there was interference in the 2016 US Presidential Election, with the propagation of fake news; and not just fake news in the sense that President Trump levelled at media outlets who dared question the things that he has said but a weaponised disinformation campaign by Russian actors in particular that may or may not have been directed by the Russian state itself.

We might be tempted to think that this is a uniquely American phenomenon but when you consider the almost open warfare which is being conducted upon institutions by private media companies, it makes me wonder if private media companies and organisations themselves aren't employing farms of people in poorer countries as trolls to conduct warfare upon the battlefield of ideas. Places like Facebook and Twitter are fertile grounds upon which to sow the seeds of discord and where thorns of stupidity and lies might be allowed to infest the ground. If you are engaging in a war, then the idea of preparing the ground to your advantage, harkens at least as far back as Sun Tzu's 'The Art Of War'.

I am not naive enough to believe that only foreign powers are engaging in interference in elections and the political process. Foreign powers could very well have their motives and might want to cause mischief but the most obvious powers which benefit from the propagation of propaganda are domestic political parties and the people who either control or own them.
It used to be that the skills of advertising and marketing were enough to persuade people of the benefits of an argument but now that practically everyone is on their mobile devices and drinking from the fire hose of information, the level of scrutiny that people are demonstrating over the quality of information that they are consuming, is very very low indeed. Maybe there was once a push for things like critical thinking skills in school, however the kinds of kids who would self select for such classes grow into the kinds of people who would have otherwise already scruitnised the information that they are consuming. It is the people who don't really care about facts who are the problem.

If you have people who don't care about the quality of facts that their news reportage gives them, then it is really easy to feed them complete lies and falsehoods.
One of those lies happened to be about the season of bushfires that we have had. The common lie being spread was there were 183 people who had been arrested for bushfire related offenses. If you actually bothered to read the statement from the NSW Police Force, then the number of people who were arrested on suspicion of arson was 24... over the calendar year. If you were actually follow the matter numbers in the NSW Local Court system, then 23 of those 24 were actually minors in suburbia who had been committing minor arson, like setting bins and For Sale signs on fire. The other 1 of 24 was for a guy who had set his building on fire in an insurance fraud attempt. News outlets if they bothered to read the report from the NSW Police Force would have found that the 24 people arrested on suspicion of arson, had nothing to do with the bushfires; unless you equate setting bins on fire eight months ago with the cause of a bushfire today.
The problem was that the headline number of 183 had already spread literally around the world and was being reported by news outlets who were too dog lazy to bother doing any fact checking at all.

One of the annoying things that keeps on appearing on social media, is that someone like Sky News will report something which is obviously wrong and designed to provoke controversy and then people will share the thing. Various trolls (mainly on the authoritarian right) will then argue a series of talking points; which you'll find are actually all similar and between 5 and 26 hours later.
People who I follow will invariably share a thing as though it were fact and on multiple occasions I have been included in conversations which I was never part of.
I also find it sufficiently annoying enough when something is so hideously wrong, to want to question the reason why an opinion exists and if possible for a person to provide evidence. I find it especially annoying when media outlets and government ministers post content which is not only either cruel but is itself designed to break down the civic institutions of society.

A nation like Australia is generally too small on the world stage to have much of an impact on very much. Nevertheless, the media companies which Australia has unleashed had a more than outsized impact on the world. One of them in particular is probably partly responsible for both the election of Donald Trump, the continued election of Tories in the UK for the past decade, and Brexit.
I don't think it beyond the realm of possibility that domestic media outlets, think tanks and other organisations aren't themselves funding a war of disinformation. Organisations which enjoy not only tax exempt status but which are deductible gift recipients and whose figures aren't publicly available, could very well be funding troll farms overseas. I also wouldn't be surprised if actual terrorism was being funded.

I know that this sounds a bit conspiracy theoryish but the fact that online arguments in Australia seem to follow almost playbook like precision, makes me think that there possibly is a playbook. As someone who works in the land of forensic accounting where the general rule is to follow the money and then we're deliberately not allowed to follow the money, it makes me very suspicious.
The thing about a conspiracy theories is that sometimes, they turn out not to be a theory but an actual provable conspiracy.

I suspect that there is a disinformation war going on, I have my suspicions about who is funding said war, and I suspect that if nothing is done about it, then civic institutions in this country will be dismantled.

February 12, 2020

Horse 2658 - Can't Anyone Fix America's Voting Woes?

Betteridge's Law Of Newspaper Headlines:
If a newspaper has a question for a headline, then the answer to that question is 'no'.

On Sunday, the Republic of Ireland voted for the next Dáil. While it looks like neither of the previously major parties are going to have a majority in their own right, it also doesn't look like Sinn Féin will be the larger of what ever coalition government is likely to emerge out of this (mostly because they only fielded candidates in 42 of 160 seats). Probably Sinn Féin will end up being kingmakers for the next government and they may even have a say in who the next Taioseach is.

In a country which has been known for its troubles, the whole election took place with absolutely no hint of voter suppression, voting machines breaking down, or interference from foreign powers (though it could be argued that Sinn Féin has been doing that in the UK for more than a century).
Ireland has managed to hold an election on a Sunday in a chronically Catholic country, done it on paper ballots, and used the Single Transferrable Vote; which all means to say that it has done a better job than the United States at doing an election.
This is because the voting system in Ireland is sensible; whereas the American voting system is not. While that previous sentence sounds like it has ended in the wrong place, it also has not. In essence, the system in which someone becomes President of the United States is so much of a decentralised and gobbledygooky entanglement of nonsense, that it is not really a system and in a lot of cases, doesn't have anything to do with voting.

It has taken a week for the Democratic Party of Iowa to determine the results of its caucus votes, due to reporting on an app which nobody received any prior training in and which crashed on the night. The mere fact that the app was created by a company called Shadow Inc. should have been enough for any sane person to be suspicious and for any would be superhero to suspect the work of either foreign interference, or by interference from a supervillain.
To be fair, the idea of a caucus in a very small community is sensible. If everyone moves around the room to show support for a thing, then that works out very well; provided that the thing you are voting for only affects that community. For anything larger, then it is a lot of a nonsense.
The Iowa Caucuses are still basically winner takes all systems on a precinct by precinct basis, except that there are multiple rounds of voting. They have managed to combine the Single Transferrable Vote with the vagrancies of letting old people loose with smart phones. Not only is electronic voting a terrible idea but if you give old people an app that they don't know how to use, then you should expect a total omnishambles.

Delegate Systems:
I can understand why the party owners and controllers would want to put their thumb on the scale; which is why the Democratic Party has so-called 'unbound' Super Delegates who can vote however they like and without reference to the wishes of the people but it's not really that democratic, is it?
The two parties engage in their own chicanery here and while people should be grateful that there are open primaries at all, it stomps all over the principle of 'one person, one vote'.

This system is then not only duplicated but baked into the Constitution, which deliberately overeggs the pudding with its delegate count for the Electoral College.
Many states use a winner take all system; after using a most votes wins system; which ensures that when you have anything more than two candidates, then you are almost always guaranteed to have someone elected with a minority of votes. Defenders of the system will point to its simplicity or other such nonsense but where you have a majority of people who did not vote for a thing, then you do not have the approval of the electorate.

The Democratic Party adopted the idea of superdelegates after the 1968 Democratic Convention which resulted in rioting both outside and inside the venue, and which finally resulted in the election of Republican Richard Nixon at the general election in November.
Both of these things are of themselves sort of all right ideas but for anything more than about 100 people, they simply do not work. The idea that you even have open primaries has only existed since the middle of last century and is probably a bad idea.

There isn't one.
The United States is vicious in its defence that it has a 'republican form of government' and is deeply suspicious of the federal government. This means that there are fifty independent little kingdoms with no kings and with private organisations running their own voting systems, the chance of any central organisation is precisely nil. Where have private organisation of the systems for public office, with no governance or oversight, then the chance that the system will either be broken or corrupt is all but guaranteed. I've even heard it said that America isn't a democracy; which sounds to me like the people have accepted for a long time that things are never going to get better.

The United States is crying out for an independent electoral commission, paper ballots, preferential voting, maybe proportional representation in the House of Representatives, voting on a Saturday, as well as post election scrutineering of votes but it won't get any of these things because it vehemently chooses not to.
The people in charge like the system being broken because it means that they get to stay in charge. If democracy suddenly broke out and people actually got to decide their own destiny then things would change.

February 10, 2020

Horse 2657 - If Nothing Is Right, What's Left?

The acquittal of President Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstructing justice did not go as I expected. I had thought that two Republicans would have crossed the floor but this week has shown us that only one managed to find a conscience and that one person was Mitt Romney.
What this means is that no signals were sent to the American people other than the obvious one that the Republican Party will be complicit in knavery if necessary. This however is entirely expected.

I tend to look at politics in the three most charismatic Anglophone countries, largely because I speak the language and largely because politics as a spectator sport, tends to have the most to report about these three. Politics in Canada tends to be far more quiet and politics in New Zealand due to its unicameral parliament is either one way or the other and never anything in between.
This means that the great pendulum swings in the Anglosphere happen in the US, the UK, and Australia. At the moment, all three are swinging to the authoritarian right; leaving the economic left and the cultural south flapping about in the winds of time. In all three countries, there appears to be no obvious plan or decided heading for either the economic left or progressive politics.

The problem that progressive politics finds itself in, is the problem that it hasn't decided what it wants to be. What we saw from about 2007 onwards, was the thrust forward of identity politics which offered itself as the alternative to mere politics by economic management; which is what the end of the twentieth century and beginning of the twenty first was about.
Australia was the start of this trend with the election of the Rudd Government but it immediately became obvious from 2008 with the Global Financial Crisis, that identity politics has no answer whatsoever to genuine economic problems.

Australia fortunately had the best Treasurer at the helm in Wayne Swan, and Kevin Rudd was replaced with a highly competent technocrat in Julia Gillard. The United States played identity politics as though it was football match and got Barack Obama in 2008 and the UK flailed about and got David Cameron's Conservative Government, which then made it a policy to kick the heads of the poor.
America didn't find any real solutions to the GFC and simply weathered the storm, the UK sunk, and Australia was the beginning of the next wave of identity politics when the right decided to play the game too, and played even more chips into the middle by playing borderline fascist cards.

Since 2013, Australia, the UK and the United States have all elected increasingly nativist and borderline fascist governments, while burning the underlying principles of any hint of economic management, while the progressive parties have all seem to forgotten how to do politics at all.
When Jeremy Corbyn became head of the Labour Party in the UK on a platform of actual lefitst economics, the rightist media absolutely lost their minds and simply had to kick him as hard as they could so that nobody would be looking while actual people burnt to death in building fires and while far right racists took centre stage and had their agendas legitimised by 'conservative' parties in order to buy votes. Thus we can explain Abbott, Dutton, Morrison, Trump, and Brexit fairly easily.

The obvious question then is what exactly is progressive politics' next move? America which has always been so hideously right shifted in politics, is currently grappling with the ideas that Bernie Sanders is putting forward; which was actually the platform of FDR in 1944¹. The rest of the Democratic Party however doesn't seem prepared to enter the 1930s and is still grappling with the same issues as it was with women's rights but over LGBTIQ issues instead. The Republicans on the other hand, are playing with the same play book as 1920s National Socialists were in the Weimar Republic.

The UK has retreated even further back, with Labour now being an irrelevance until mid-2024 and the Conservatives rapidly trying to undo the European experiment by adopting a 1900s approach to the world at large. The City of London should do immensely well out of what will be a new pewter age²; while the rest of the country and especially the North, now lives up to the promises that Thatcher left behind, of complete and utter neglect but still subsidising The City.

In Australia, the Labor Party has decided that the best form of Opposition is no opposition at all; while the Morrison Government has learned that it can practice open corruption and cruelty and racism without repercussions, and be praised for it by their owners at News Corp. Illegal pork barrelling warrants no investigation at all by the Australian Federal Police; neither does actual forgery of documents which were 'leaked' to the media and State Government.
Meanwhile, we are perfectly fine with locking up refugees and migrants and even people born in Australia, in gaols on tropical islands. The Australian people have then rewarded this behaviour by re-electing cruel governments.

The thing is that apart from Bernie Sanders and maybe Jeremy Corbyn (whose political career is now counting down to a return to the backbench), I see no actual leftists left. If Sanders actually achieves what I think is impossible and becomes President, he might be able to get a lot done but only if he has a friendly House and Senate which can only happen in 2022 at the earliest. Other than that, there is no grand vision from Biden (who has probably reached the end of the road), or Buttigeg, or Warren. Their only aim at this stage is the second Tuesday in November; which is exactly the same as Trump's³.

In the UK, Labour and the SNP have four years to think about what they're going to do, provided that the UK doesn't snap into three parts first.
In Australia, I honestly have no idea what an Albanese Government would do and I don't think that Albanese has any idea what an Albanese Government would do. Come to think of it, I think that the current Morrison Government has no idea of what it wants to do; except bash poor people and cut them out of the Commonwealth.

In the long game of politics as it literally becomes impossible to remember a past which people were never inside of, the left has already unlearned the past and the right is setting about taking back everything that it thinks is theirs. The Right makes might right, where the powerful do what they will and the poor suffer what they must. The Left has no idea what's left and unless they work out what's left then there will be nothing left at all.

¹FDR's 1944 State Of The Union address outlined what he hoped would be a Second Bill of Rights; however the United States doesn't actually believe in the rights of the people or the responsibilities of the state.
²The City is probably in the middle of a gilded age but the rest of the nation is looking like tarnished scrap metal.
³Trump has consistently proven that he had no real plans beyond that second Tuesday in November of 2016.

February 03, 2020

Horse 2656 - Tomorrow's News Today - Trump Acquitted - Justice Dies

It is not very often that I get to break news before it happens but the following series of events has all the inevitability of a game of Candy Land provided you rigged every card beforehand and in exactly the order that you wanted the game played in.

President Donald J Trump was acquitted of both counts of impeachment 51-49, after an overtly political process which is not designed to test guilt but rather the willingness of the Congress to remove a President, fell 16 votes short and in doing so refused to test the President's guilt and demonstrated the Congress' unwillingness to remove a President in the face of demonstrated unsuitability and overwhelming corruption. The defence used was 'yeah, he did it but if he thinks it's in the national interest, then it is'.
- Jeff Jefferson, Jefferson Chronicle (Jefferson City, JF¹), 4th Feb 2020

The standard of proof in a Senate impeachment trial is different from the courts because the Senate is not a court. If it were a court, then none of the Congress would be allowed to sit on a jury and neither would they be acting as judge on the case. Unlike a civil trial where the standard of proof is either equity, or the likelihood of a thing happening; and unlike a criminal trial where the standard of proof is whether or not the thing happened beyond reasonable doubt, the standard of proof in the Senate is either 'yeah, nah' or 'yeah, yeah'.

The Senate judgement represents a deliberate betrayal of justice; for the sole purpose of protecting the President.
We had at the weekend, a vote which refused to hear from witnesses in the trial; which is in stark contrast to the demands of the President during the House process of impeachment. During the argument before the vote was taken to deny hearing from witnesses, the Defence's case was that if the Prosecution was allowed to call its witnesses, then they would be allowed to call their own; as if that were some kind of threat.
Perhaps most galling of all is that the phone call which lies at the centre of this case, will never see the light of day. The President's repeated cry for people to 'read the transcript' is itself a piece of obstruction as the only document which has been released is a Memorandum Of A Telephone Conversation which is not a verbatim record (it contains many ellipses) and is therefore not a transcript. If an audio copy of the phone call ever existed, it will have been destroyed; which itself is an obstruction of justice.

The result of 51-49 which will include two dissenters (one of whom will be Mitt Romney) will be just enough to placate those people who would have wanted a conscience vote and will be mechanical enough to provide a simple majority. This enables everyone who might have a problem with voting to return the President for another term on moral grounds, to ignore their conscience in spite of everything that he has said and done, on the grounds that the other side is worse.

This will of course hit exactly in the middle of a newspocalyse in the United States, with the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire primaries all happening and the State of the Union address next week. Add this to Brexstravaganza, the criminal trial of Benjamin Netanyahu and Australia's Sports Rorts scandal and political news desks must be having a field day².
Since the news cycle has a memory of no longer than ten days, then by the time of the general election in November, this whole thing will have been long consigned to the mists of oblivion. The facts of the case, which even the defence concedes are true, are not enough to remove a President from office. This means to say that if it is still an open legal question of whether or not a President can be tried of a crime in a criminal court, and a President will not be removed from office even though crimes and misdemeanors have been committed, then what are the grounds for removing a President?

51-49 - The President is a king in everything but name; he can do whatever he likes; there are no checks or balances.

¹Jefferson being the 51st state³ of the Union.
²They will of course not have a field trip, as that means employing actual journalists to go out and collect the news; instead of just writing opinion pieces⁴.
³Which also helps to explain Disneyland who have 51 star flags on Main St, USA. They know the truth.
⁴The irony is not lost on this publication; which only ever produces think pieces.

Aside re the Wuhan/Corona virus:
Peter Dutton on ABC Radio actually said that he didn't want people coming from mainland China with the Corona virus, as the virus was more efficient than domestic viruses at killing people. 
I do not know if this is a genuine healthcare policy or a covert isolationist nationalist racist policy. It almost sounded like he didn't want Chinese viruses coming in and taking Australian viruses' jobs.