July 22, 2021

Horse 2867 - Signalling Virtue - 0 - The Starting Assumption

One of the phrases which right wing media with distinctly authoritarian overtones has decided to weaponise in its arsenal in fighting the culture war, is "Virtue Signalling". I find this kind of phrasing used as a weapon both baffling and annoying because if anyone actually bothered to think about what the phrase means in political, economic, and philosophical terms, then you immediately run into an immense amount of either hypocrisy or knavery, or perhaps both.

Is the right complaining that people who are virtue signalling not genuine; in which case, are they actually concerned about the issues at hand? Is the right complaining that the virtues being signalled, differ from their value set; in which case, would they actually prefer that vice is signalled? Moreover, why does the right choose to fight perceived virtue signalling with signalling of their own? Is the right merely complaining that virtues exist and that the only possible overlay is that the only allowable lens to view the world is an economic one? If that's true, since virtue doesn't and shouldn't exist, then by right I should literally murder everyone and steal to get what I want. 

It should be apparent that I explicitly reject the notion that virtue shouldn't be signalled because as a member of society and part of the commonwealth of people, I think that it is almost self-evident that everything simply works better and more pleasantly if everyone is nice to each other. Ironically, my rational selfishness leads me to believe that everyone is better off if everyone isn't individually selfish all the time. 

Virtue is that part of character which is good for being good. People will disagree about what kind of motives and philosophical standpoint produces goodness or even what goodness is but in general, most people are fine with the four cardinal virtues as described in Plato's "Republic" because it's useful to have a common framework.

Plato named four cardinal virtues in the Republic and maps them to both the social classes of the imagined ideal city described therein and within the faculties of people. Plato's conception of what constitutes a good city and what constitutes a good person are practically identical and that's one of the central points of his narrative, where he imagines a discussion of the makeup of the character of both a good city and a good person.

It's almost Kantian in that he doesn't actually have to go anywhere or even necessarily need to produce data to arrive at any empirical evidence for his reasoning.

The four cardinal virtues identified in the Republic are: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance.

What I find particularly telling when it comes to the right's complaint about virtue signalling is that the virtue which is almost always being complained about is Justice. Indeed the term employed by way of abuse by the right is 'Social Justice Warrior' which concedes the point that there is a culture war going on and that the enemies of the right are fighting for justice.

That's often been the case through history. The chartists, trade unions, suffragettes, and now movements like Black Lives Matter, have all been crying out for justice to be served; usually because injuries exacted by the right have resulted in increased harm and poverty of the powerless. It does not surprise me that part of the arsenal employed by the right, is to brand social movements like Black Lives Matter as Marxist; as if that were some kind of magic curse. Again, if anyone actually bothered to read what Marx wrote, then you immediately run into an immense amount of knavery. 

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

- Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto (1848)

You might disagree with the prescription which Marx writes to deal with the treatment of the disease which he sees but his dianogsis is pretty difficult to disagree with. At the time, most people in the world didn't even have the right to vote; much less any say about what laws governed them. Trade unions and collective bargaining were outlawed across Europe and in the United States, actual slavery where people were owned as chattel goods wouldn't be abolished for another 17 years. 

In my lifetime especially, the lessons which were learned by generations who live through two world wars, the 1918-20 flu pandemic, and the Great Depression, made people realise that there was more power in standing together than apart. For a while, those who had been oppressed appeared to gain ground; so those people who run what amounts to private monopolies and who want to act as if they have responsibility to the nation at large, simply had to destroy what was built. In a modern political context, nothing has changed: oppressor and oppressed - standing in constant opposition to one another.

Marx knew that people tend to on most occasions to act in accordance with their own interests. If you extend that principle out beyond the realm of economics, I think that it holds true across all kinds of areas where you have people with power and people in control of that power. There are definitely socialists within Marxism and there are definitely socialists within the Black Lives movement as there have been in every single social movement but that does not make those socialist movements, it makes them mass movements.

To the people who have power, authority, privilege etc. any kind of pushback at all is treated as though it is oppression (even if that is the instrument which is being exacted upon the people who are pushing back). Since power being wielded cruelly tends to be a feature right across the authoritarian north of the political compass, then resistance against the pushback tends to look mostly identical to that same power being wielded.

The common feature of the Chartists, Trade Unions, Reformers, Suffragettes, Civil Rights movements, and the Black Lives Matter movement are people crying out for the virtue of Justice to be honoured. Calling that Marxist as a term of abuse, makes sense because Marx himself looked around the world in which he found himself and saw workers being exploited, slavery still in action, and the people who were being exploited with no say at all about what was happening to them. 

That's why the term 'virtue signalling' as a term of abuse seems so baffling to me. It is really strange to me that stating the truth is used as a form of abuse. Where people are accused of virtue signalling, then it is usually true and the specific virtue which they are both signalling and crying out for, is Justice.

Pushing back against virtue signalling is itself signalling that someone is not only find with injustice being allowed to exist but that they want it to flourish. It is a strange world when virtue itself is seen as something to be quashed. 

July 19, 2021

Horse 2866 - Talkback Radio: Selling Complaint Through The Destruction Of Public Philos

As Sydney has entered an extended lockdown due to the deliberate indifference of the current Federal Government in wanting to rollout an effective vaccine program, I have been driving to and from work across this swirling conurbation. That means that I have had the opportunity to listen to the radio. What have I learnt?

Some talkback radio stations which used to be thoughtful have recently made the editorial decision that it is a good idea if the general public is offended and affronted by any and all policies which governments took to protect people from dying due to Covid-19. 

Of course flooding the airwaves with this constant wash of complaint, has meant that instead of any sense of public philos being generated, this has produced a work of lots of individual affrontery (as opposed to effrontery which is just insolent or impertinent behaviour). If the beast that shouts "I" at the heart of the world is allowed to shout louder and louder, then that is all that is heard. Suddenly, any sense of community which might have existed and any sense of public duty and philos which could have been built, is burned upon the altar of selfish atomos.

There is of course a lot of profit to be made in manufacturing outrage because outrage sells advertising space. That outrage can be manufactured quite easily if you can make the beast that shouts "I" at the heart of the world, shout ever louder. If you can get that beast to shout about some notion of freedom; including where individual freedom is going to result in the harm of other people, then sooner or later that notion of freedom with be transformed into a sense of entitlement; which only burns public duty and philos faster upon the altar.

In the before times the radio stations who play to their audience of people who on the whole are older than I, loved to play the game of baiting their audience into disparaging millennials, for not being hard working or perhaps soft. I find this particularly mind bending because the Lost Generation, Greatest Generation, and the Silent Generation, who were in many cases conscripted to fight two of the bloodiest conflicts in the history of the world and who also lived through the Great Depression, were the ones who built the world which the audience of talkback radio now lives in. The two World Wars and the Great Depression built moral goods like nothing else could have done and that sense of shared community which was forged as a result, is the reason why the modern welfare state exists. People thought that other people's welfare was something worth purchasing. Today? Not quite so much. At some point, the people who run media decided to convince us that other people are disposable, if the ends of that are our imagined freedoms.

No trial, whether it is thrown up by other people, by the vicissitudes of history, or in this case by nature itself, seems pleasant at the time. At the time that someone is going through hardship, it can in fact only seem painful. However, once the trial has passed, it generally leaves people changed in some way. The kinds of moral goods that the work of trials produce are virtues like resilience, perseverance, patience, maybe even kindness and the realisation that other people have inherent value and should be afforded respect and dignity.

If you were going out to face a fast bowler in a cricket Test Match, then you would think it most advisable to wear some kind of protective gear such a helmet, shinpads, maybe a forearm guard and a protector for other parts. I would have also hoped that you would have done the practice beforehand, to learn things like timing and stroke selection in batting practice. The most successful Test batters also learn patience and temperance, and how to be calm in the face of 90mph screamers from 22 yards away.

By definition a novel virus is one that people's immune systems have never seen this before. The virus is novel. Just like other viruses which are endemic, this one has started out with nobody having had it before; that means that herd immunity is only built up either through everyone's immune system having learned to recognise it through a vaccine or having actually gotten the virus. The latter of those two, that is actually getting the virus, has a non zero chance of death.

The inherent problem with a novel virus is that it is like sending out a batter to the centre of the field, with no bat. There's not exactly any training that one can do for that. You can send out a batter with the requisite pads and protection but they can not score any runs whatsoever because runs only come off of the bat. The only option is that they either get out or manage to survive because the bowler fails. 

It would be advisable then for the batter to lift up their hands that are dangling and brace their knees and shins and wear a helmet and a face guard. Maybe even learn and practice those moral goods like patience, resilience and long-suffering; so that when you are bruised you won’t be put out of joint, but will heal. The problem is that the repeated yelling of the beast that shouts "I" at the heart of the world, demands freedom for itself and that other people go out to the middle of the field with no bat. 

I kind of suspect that the underlying rules of economics and ethics work in similar ways. I don't think that it is imprudent to assert  that people act in ways that they perceive will bring them maximum good.

You could make an argument that a lack of wisdom results in people making bad choices instead of prudent ones but I think that if you can repeatedly yell offence, affrontery and complaint in the name of freedom, then people will yell so loudly that public health, public philos and any sense that anyone owes any duty to anyone can be yelled out of hearing. 

July 10, 2021

Horse 2865 - The Delta Variant In Sydney: Handbags For The East And Police For The West

As Sydney enters ever tighter lockdown restrictions for longer periods of time, it has become increasingly obvious that the NSW State Government has a different approach to combating the virus depending on the economic class of people whom it is showing up in.

Three weeks ago, when a few Delta variant cases were discovered in Bondi the NSW Government decided that instead of locking down the area immediately that they would respond “proportionately”. By "proportionately" we now know that that meant doing squat all and allowing people to buy things at Prada and Gucci. Right wing conservatives in the media cheered them on  as the lie was kept up that the NSW Government would try and contain the outbreak with contact tracing. They didn’t. Instead, once the virus jumped the famed "Red Rooster Line" in Sydney, that meant that the authoritarians in the government could have a field day.

If the there are positive cases of the virus in the Eastern Suburbs and richer areas, then the solution is to get private school children vaccinated as quickly as possible; including if that means that they jump the queue, such as was the case at St Joseph's College and an unnamed girl's school. But if there are positive cases of the virus in the Western Suburbs and in poorer areas, then the solution is increased policing, fines to be handed out and even police brutality for the lucky few.

The messaging to the general population is vastly different. For cases in the Eastern suburbs it becomes "We need to balance stopping COVID with avoiding imposition on people. Buying bath towels is essential."

However, for cases in the Western suburbs it becomes "We are launching a major police operation. If you have food, don't leave the house." 

Very classist messaging is very often followed by racist messaging because one of the things that the Enlightenment gave us along with the ideas of freedom, liberty, and human rights, is the idea that there is a socio-political order based upon physical difference.

Although the media might not be conscious of the fact, I keep on hearing the phrase "multicultural communities in western Sydney" from the media when the expression that they should be reaching for is "people in western Sydney". How come the media never speaks about “multicultural communities in Eastern Sydney"? I suspect that "multicultural communities in Eastern Sydney" don't exist until those people happen to own and operate ethnic restaurants; in which case they then become part of the rich tapestry of society.

On the other side of The Red Rooster Line, those multicultural communities magically seem to become ghettos and enclaves according to the media. Suddenly they don't want to assimilate into society and are othered by the media. That othering by the media then translates into people spouting racist claptrap in the comments section of newspapers and media outlets' YouTube channels. 

Admittedly a lockdown is a good idea but only because of the gross incompetence of both the Federal and State Governments and especially the Federal Government's dereliction of duty when it comes to matters of quarantine, vaccination rollout and ironically, border protection.

Sydney's Western Suburbs do not need extra police patrolling the streets. It needs Doctors and Pop-Up clinics who can administer the vaccine. That of course means actually ordering and delivering the vaccine instead of merely announcing it. Telling me that I have been booked in for a vaccination on September 23 is kind of a bit late with respect to the current lockdown in July.

What Sydney's Western Suburbs do not need are to be made scapegoats for a failure in Government policy. I now know of at least four cases where the media has hounded someone for getting the virus. I find that incredibly knavish when we know that this current outbreak was started by an unnamed entitled darling who lives in the Eastern Suburbs.

If this current Delta variant outbreak of the virus has taught us anything it is that the media who have employees who predominantly come from the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, don't really see us who live West of the Red Rooster Line as worthy of respect or perhaps even as human. There is definitely class warfare going on and the side of the city who controls the media are winning.

July 07, 2021

Horse 2864 - Patient Zero: The Wuhan Lab Leak Theory Theory

It is understandable that when people are inconvenienced or hurt and especially when people die, they want explanations and answers. What they also want is to assign responsibility and culpability for the negative or undesirable thing and possibly recompense and justice. 

In relation to where Covid-19 came from, this desire to know where the coronavirus came from assign is very much about assigning responsibility and culpability, and has devolved into a political issue as much as a scientific one. It has also devolved into and increasingly stupid debate as conspiracy theories are pushed and debated; almost as and antidote to science. Voices of dissent yell louder and louder; pushing for a "proper" investigation, without any clue as to what a "proper" investigation is.

What's interesting is that just like searching for the first documented patient in a disease epidemic within a population who is the so-called patient zero, you can use the evidence of what has been published to find out who the patient zero is for a conspiracy theory.

Although it is certainly possible that Covid-19 came from a laboratory and found its way into the community at large, is that sensible? While we would like more transparency from China, it does change the fact that we don't know the actual source and we might never actually know. It is probably more likely that the coronavirus came from an animal. The SARS outbreak of 2002-04 probably started in Guangdong and also spread through wet market vendors, farmers, chefs, and other people in the food industry.

The proponents of the Wuhan Lab Leak Theory, don't really want to look at the SARS outbreak of 2002-04 or perhaps the influenza pandemic of 1918-20 because that would then mean that they'd have to admit that we might never actually know the actual source of the virus. That would be terribly undermining to waging the political war to assign responsibility and culpability. Remember, an admission of uncertainty isn't actually a condemnation of science. One of the fundamental principles of science is that we do not know things and need to test them.

Asking the question of where the Wuhan Lab Leak Theory came from, is a little bit easier. The internet acts rather like finding a horde of documents. If you want to find when a theory started, you keep on chasing the chain of ideas until you find the earliest date. Since conspiracy theories follow memetic rules (things go "viral" on the internet), then it is relatively easy to look for key words and phrases to find who the patient zero is.

The earliest think that I can find which supports the Wuhan Lab Leak Theory is this article in the Daily Telegraph:

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/coronavirus-australia-chinese-scientists-linked-to-virus-probe-studied-live-bats-in-australia/news-story/702b1f91ee7a2e69cbc2aff821d8f857

Two Chinese scientists — who western intelligence agencies are looking into as part of their probe into the origins of the global coronavirus contagion — studied live bats in Australia in research jointly funded by the Australian and Chinese governments.

An exclusive investigation can reveal the Five Eyes intelligence agencies of Australia, Canada, NZ, UK and US, are understood to be looking closely at the work of a senior scientist at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Peng Zhou, as they examine whether COVID-19 originated from a wet market or whether the naturally-­occurring virus may have been released from the level four laboratory in Wuhan that was studying deadly coronavirus pathogens from bats.

The Australian government’s position is the virus most likely originated from the Wuhan wet markets but it is possible it was accidentally released from a laboratory.

It can be revealed that Zhou — the head of the Bat Virus Infection and Immunity Project at the Wuhan Institute of Virology — spent three years at the bio-containment facility, Australian Animal Health Laboratory between 2011 and 2014, where he was sent by China to complete his doctorate.

- Sharri Markson, The Daily Telegraph 27th Apr 2020

Not only is the claim that Covid-19 was accidentally released from a laboratory untestable but as this hides behind the masthead of The Daily Telegraph, it means that under the Evidence Amendment (Journalists' Privilege) Act 2011 neither the journalist nor their employer is compellable to answer any question or produce any document that would disclose the identity of the informant or enable that identity to be ascertained.

That being said, it means that not only can none of these "cables", or "warnings" be independently verified but as the relevant legislation protects journalists from having to produce any document that would disclose the identity of the informant, those documents don't necessarily have to exist. Never assume that someone must be right simply because they can not be proven wrong.

https://twitter.com/SharriMarkson/status/1254746436845006853

Exclusive: Two Chinese scientists, who western intelligence agencies are looking into as part of their probe into the origins of coronavirus contagion, studied live bats in Australia in research jointly funded by the Australian and Chinese governments.

- Sharri Markson, @SharriMarkson Twitter, 27th Apr 2020

There is a problem here. The current version of the article as published on The Daily Telegraph's website is dated 8th May 2020. Sharri Markson's original link to the article, which was actually when the article was first published, was 27th Apr 2020. I find it interesting that at a press conference on April 30, 2020, the then President Donald Trump said the administration had evidence showing COVID-19 came from a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, although he declined to provide specifics. “I can’t tell you that. I’m not allowed to tell you that,” Mr Trump said.

I would suggest that the reason why Mr Trump declined to provide specifics is because he never had any. When combined with the fact that the article has been edited from the original, seems to suggest that it was edited to take into account new aspects of the theory because the theory was mostly made up. Practically nobody is going to question dates of publication; which means that the article can now supply facts after bootstrapping them after the fact.

And boy, did the bootstrapping come.

https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/coronavirus/bombshell-dossier-lays-out-case-against-chinese-bat-virus-program/news-story/55add857058731c9c71c0e96ad17da60

China deliberately suppressed or destroyed evidence of the coronavirus outbreak in an “assault on international transparency’’ that cost tens of thousands of lives, according to a dossier prepared by concerned Western governments on the COVID-19 contagion.

The 15-page research document, obtained by The Saturday Telegraph, lays the foundation for the case of negligence being mounted against China.

...

The Western governments’ research paper confirms this.

It notes a 2013 study conducted by a team of researchers, including Dr Shi, who collected a sample of horseshoe bat faeces from a cave in Yunnan province, China, which was later found to contain a virus 96.2 per cent identical to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that caused COVID-19.

The research dossier also references work done by the team to synthesise SARS-like coronaviruses, to analyse whether they could be transmissible from bats to mammals. This means they were altering parts of the virus to test whether it was transmissible to different species.

Their November 2015 study, done in conjunction with the University of North Carolina, concluded that the SARS-like virus could jump directly from bats to humans and there was no treatment that could help.

- Sharri Markson, The Daily Telegraph 4th May 2020

Never mind that the material within this article never actually establishes a direct link between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the COVID-19 pandemic. If the article used to cover up the suspicion doesn't reveal any specifics and the original article refuses disclose the identity of informants, then we run back into the problem that this theory is inherently impossible to falsify. 

Ms Markson of course resents the fact that anyone would dare question whether or not she made up the whole thing and went out on the attack.

https://twitter.com/sharrimarkson/status/1258194834382176257?lang=en

The utter hypocrisy of Nine newspapers dedicating resources of two senior journalists over at least two days to try expose my confidential sources while going to court to protect their own.

- Sharri Markson, @SharriMarkson Twitter, 7th May 2020

By the 7th of May 2020, the Wuhan Lab Leak Theory had already leaked and been caught by The New York Times, ABC in America, CBS, Breitbart News, One America Network, FOX News, BBC, and then come back to Australia to Sky News, The Australian, and back to the Herald-Sun, Courier-Mail and the Daily Telegraph which could crow loudly that all of these other outlets were reporting this, then it must be a thing.

By the time the Wuhan Lab Leak Theory had already run around the world twice, the truth could never ever hope to get its boots on. The theory may have existed before Sharri Markson's Daily Telegraph article of 27th Apr 2020 (edited and republished 8th May 2020) but it certainly didn't have any traction by that date and it wasn't being spouted by powerful people in politics and the media. It should be noted that making unfalsifiable claims is one of the prime drivers of conspiracy theories because once you've decided to leave rational discourse and evidence behind, people are free to believe whatever they like.

July 03, 2021

Horse 2863 - Why The 2021 Batley And Spen By-Election Gave The Wrong Result And Why We Will Never Know What The Right Result Was

 The 2021 Batley and Spen by-election which was held on the 1st of July, following the resignation of the previous Member of Parliament Tracy Brabin, who was elected Mayor of West Yorkshire (and became intelligible to sit as an MP, once again highlights the utter stupidity of the First Past The Post system. 

There is in fact no post which the candidates must get past; which you would naturally assume as the name implies, that there would be some minimum standard. That simply isn't the case. 

To wit, the results of the election are thus:

13,296 (35.2%) - Kim Leadbeater LAB 

12,973 (34.3%) - Ryan Stephenson CON

8,264 (21.9%) - George Galloway WOR

3,245 (8.6%) - Everyone Else OTH

The fact that George Galloway is mounting a legal challenge to the result when under the current system he has zero chance of winning, indicates that given the opportunity, he would have voted for the Conservative candidate as a second choice. Herein lies the idiocy of the First Past The Post system. It isn't actually the first past the post who wins but merely the one with the most votes who wins. 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,"

- Thomas Jefferson, Declaration Of Independence, 4th July 1776

I think that it is also self-evident that the United States which was created in the wake of this Declaration, which did not extend the franchise to men without property, all women, and lots of people on the basis of race, was not instituted upon deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed. Quite the opposite. It was conceived in liberty for a select few.

Nevertheless, the principle that governments should derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, is a good one; especially considering that the two biggest things which determine what a government is are the ability to write, administer, and enforce laws, and the monopoly on violence therein. 

That might sound incredibly harsh but bear in mind that both Bodin and Hobbes arrived at this conclusion and Max Weber in his 1919 work "Politics As A Vocation" which was written in the aftermath of the First World War and kind of foreboding foreshadowing of the rise of the Soviets, the Fascists, and the Nazis, who would all exact violence in hideous ways.

His conception of the concept of the state itself is any entity which holds the exclusive right to use or authorise physical force against the residents within the geographical borders of a territory. That monopoly of force must always occur via a process of legitimation.

What does this have to do with the mechanics of elections? Elections for members of parliaments, who are the representatives of the people; who then take part in the process of writing and if in government the exercise of the administration and enforcement of laws, can only arrive at legitimacy through deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. My question is: how do you arrive at that consent if more than half the population did not vote for you?

The thing is though in Australia, we have compulsory preferential voting; which means to say that not only is every MP in Australia chosen by at least 50%+1 of the vote but because everyone is compulsorily asked what they think, then that consent is achieved, although perhaps begrudgingly.

People might make the case that there is a right not to vote but I would argue that all citizens who live within a country and choose to continue in the civic life of that country, owe their opinions of consent to that country. If they want to express that none of the candidates are good enough, then that should also be an option. However, if someone does not want to take part within the civic life of the country, then should be forced to leave. 

In the case of Kim Leadbeater, 64.8% of the population did not vote for her. In the case of Ryan Stephenson 65.7% of the population did not vote for him. In the case of George Galloway 78.1% of the population did not vote for him. I would argue that none of these candidates actually have the consent of the governed.

If there had been preferential voting, then the people would have been asked to whom they would ultimately consent to as their Member of Parliament until someone did achieve at least 50%+1 of the vote. I think that it is fair to assume that 50%+1 is the bare minimum threshold of where consent actually lies, instead of the current system where the people have not been asked at all. Who you like best and who you will consent to are in fact different questions and the Most Votes Wins system fails to address this.

When the AV referendum was held in 2011, the argument made against the Alternative Vote (which is just another name for preferential voting) was mostly that implementing AV would be expensive, due to the necessity of installing electronic voting machines. Clearly that is idiotic dumbwittery on a massive scale because Australia uses paper ballots to conduct elections; which means that the actual paper looks identical to that used in the United Kingdom.

On the existing ballot papers, the instruction "Number the boxes from 1 to 16 in the order of your choice" is so simple that a ten year old child could follow it. I can only assume that the No to AV campaign thought that the average intelligence of the Great British public was less than that of ten year olds.

If they took this view, then that says to me that the people who are actually in charge of the United Kingdom, don't care about the consent of the governed and they certainly aren't interested in asking for that consent. Instead we get an MP whom almost two thirds of the electorate might despise. However, this is true for every election for the House of Commons.

July 02, 2021

Horse 2862 - The Morrison Government And Peter Poe's Law

It is a strange state of affairs when the Herald-Daily-Courier-Advertiser-Telegraph-Sun and The Australian have turned on a Liberal Party Prime Minister but given that we have half the population of this country effectively locked down and we haven’t heard from the Prime Minister in days, it is understandable.

Considering that half the country is in lockdown, with public health advice in mass confusion, what on earth is he doing? From the 27th of June when "Lockdown II: Electric Boogaloo" began until this afternoon, the Prime Minister (Scott Morrison) gave Zero media interviews; held Zero press conferences; made Zero public statements; and made Zero posts on social media.

It is reasonable to ask what kind of leadership that going missing in action during critical moments demonstrates but as was proven during the 2019–20 Australian bushfire season when the Prime Minister (Scott Morrison) went to Hawaii, Scott Morrison going into hiding is his signature disaster strategy. 

History though, tells us the lesson that when any debacle comes crashing down around a tory Prime Minister in Australia, reverting to being completely bereft of any leadership whatsoever, is true to type. A century ago after state controls on movement were not able to stop the spread of the Spanish flu, the then Prime Minister Billy Hughes, also said very little to clarify things in the middle of a pandemic. He said almost nothing about the influenza pandemic as Prime Minister and as far as I can tell, never mentioned it by name in any official capacity. 

The Prime Minister who was described by his opponents as a spider, a rat and a crab, and who was a political journeyman who would go on to be a member of six different political parties and be expelled from three of them, also like Scott Morrison tried to handball the responsibility to the State Governments and Premiers where ever he could. 

https://electionspeeches.moadoph.gov.au/speeches/1919-billy-hughes

"With the exception of quarantine, all matters affecting public health are within the control of the States. It is doubtful whether Australia will ever be able to satisfactorily cope with some of her grave problems while exclusive power remains with the local authorities. Many preventable diseases still ravage our people, and the full co-operation of all our Governments is alone likely to lead to success. Millions of pounds are annually lost to the nation through sickness and death, and great suffering and sorrow brought by such diseases to the homes of the people. Tuberculosis, venereal complaints, typhoid and other epidemics will yield to treatment if all the forces of Government are combined in their attack. The Government is prepared either in conjunction with the States, or independently if such conjunction is impossible, to undertake this urgent task.

Nothing is so supremely important as the health of the people, and Australia is, because of the present division of authority, lagging behind [unreadable] countries in the [unreadable] of the subject [unreadable] lines."

- Prime Minister Billy Hughes, 30th Oct 1919

https://electionspeeches.moadoph.gov.au/speeches/1922-billy-hughes

"The Commonwealth does not suggest duplication of existing machinery nor to take the matter out of the hands of the States, but believes that by co-ordination and co-operation the desired results can be obtained. With a view to giving effect to this proposal, and acting in co-operation with the States, the Government will appoint a Royal Commission to consider and report upon the best means for co-ordinating the various activities and improving the nation’s health."

- Prime Minister Billy Hughes, 20th Oct 1922

I find it amazing that in the middle of a pandemic and only after the largest pandemic in recorded history which raged, from February 1918 had April 1920 had broken, did infection control became a national issue. It was only after state controls on movement proved insufficient to stop the spread of the "Spanish flu" (H1N1), that the Nationalist Hughes officially created the Department of Health on 7 March 1921.

What I also find amazing was that Dr John H Cumpston was appointed as Director-General of the brand new Department of Health, after being hastily appointed as the Federal Director of Quarantine during the pandemic and then remained head of the Department of Health until 1945. Dr Cumpston was the chap who suggested the creation of a Health Department and the introduction of universal health care.

What I don't find amazing is that the idea of universal health care which actually was implemented in the UK with the NHS in 1948, would take a further 36 years to be implemented in Australia. Before the introduction of Medicare in 1985, the vast majority of Australians had to pay for private insurance to cover their expenses in hospital.

It was a Curtin Labor Government which passed the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act (1944) which underpins the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme we still have today, and allows the Australian Government to negotiate for prices upon and subsidise medications. You'd think that the memory of the 1918-20 influenza epidemic and the Second World War would have been enough to convince tory parties in Australia that public health and preventative medicine were worth pursuing, but no.

Although Menzies' Government did expand subsidies for residential aged care services and did create a government owned private health care with Medibank (in the National Health Act 1953), the tory Liberal Party which he founded, killed off any hope of universal healthcare in favour of private insurance funds and private health care providers (mainly charitable and religious based organisations).

The Institute of Public Affairs which calls itself a conservative, non-profit free market public policy think tank but which is nothing more than a private enterprise cheer squad, was set up by G.J. Coles (Coles), H.G. Darling (BHP), C.D. Kemp (Australian Paper Manufacturers), Sir Keith Murdoch (Herald & Weekly Times), and G.H. Grimwade (Drug Houses of Australia) and has always hated the idea of universal healthcare.

https://ipa.org.au/ipa-review-articles/be-like-gough-75-radical-ideas-to-transform-australia

And the public’s bias towards the status quo has a habit of making even the most radical policy (like Medicare, or restrictions on freedom of speech) seem normal over time. Despite the many obvious problems of socialised health care, no government now would challenge the foundations of Medicare as the Coalition did before it was implemented.

...

20 Means-test Medicare

21 End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education

29 Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency

72 Privatise the CSIRO

- IPA, 5th August 2012

The Morrison Government which is under instruction from the IPA (as most Liberal Governments have been since 1949) is just the latest in a long line of tory policy. In the grand scheme of things, Scott Morrison being absent at times of national crisis and emergency is not unexpected. The Morrison Government being absent at times of national crisis and emergency and doing things at an utterly glacial pace, is also not unexpected. This kind of policy and attitude has now lasted for more than a century. That looks like even deeper Laws and Principles are in operation and that leads me to consider both Poe's Law and The Peter Principle.

Poe's Law:

https://www.christianforums.com/threads/big-contradictions-in-the-evolution-theory.1962980/page-3#post-17606580

Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won't mistake for the genuine article.

- Nathan Poe, 10th Aug 2005

The Peter Principle: observes that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their maximum level of incompetence.

With just 5.9% of Australians fully vaccinated and our rollout being the 95th most efficient in the world, I would like to say that the Prime Minister (Scott Morrison) presenting only some vague plan to exit from "Fortress Australia" only after eighteen months after the start of the pandemic, would normally suggest that we are the prisoners of an incompetent government but sadly that's not the case. "Fortress Australia" has now been breached 26 times and still we haven't got anything concrete.

twitter.com/GregHuntMP/status/1357177406189051904

On the advice of the Scientific Industry Technical Advisory Group on Vaccine lead by Professor Brendan Murphy, the Australian Government has secured an additional 10 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

- Greg Hunt, Minister for Health and Aged Care, 4th Feb 2021

This is full on Peter Poe's Law from the Federal Government, where it is no longer possible to tell incompetence from intentional malfeasance. It should be restated that in 2019/20 and 2020/21, the Morrison government did not build any quarantine centres or buy enough vaccine. That's the bottom line here. The Morrison Government should have been expected to be missing in action from the start of this because his party has always hated the idea of universal healthcare, and tory Prime Ministers in Australia revert to being completely bereft of any leadership whatsoever.

June 30, 2021

Horse 2861 - Actual Real Music Exists On Community Radio

"Lockdown II: Electric Boogaloo" has meant that for the first time in a long time, I am driving to work. As I have a Mazda 2 DJ, this is quite a pleasant experience because unlike the masses in their Turramurra Tractors, I can punt through traffic with joyous abandon.

This time around instead of listening to podcasts, I turned on the radio. Neither AM or FM Radio work particularly well on the train because trains work a lot like a Farady Cage and the biggest noise that you get is RF interferense from the train itself. After being bored by ABC Radio National, ABC News Radio and ABC 702 Sydney which were all doomcasting, 2GB which had Ben Fordham blaming the Sydney Covid outbreak on the Labor Party in a weird case of ragecasting, and rather than listen to Triple M or Triple J for a morning dose of rock, or weird, I bothered to listen to 2Day FM and Nova 969. 

Now admittedly because I am sufficiently old enough that probably have less days in front of me than behind me, that means that in theory I should have a natural bias to say that all of the music back in my day was better, despite and in spite of that being demonstrably untrue. In general, time has a habit of eliminating unmemorable dross by making it unmemorable. The general bias is then backed up by both the Confirmation Bias and the Hindsight Bias, working in tandem, because the music in the present has not yet benefitted from the filter of unmemorability removing the unmemorable. 

Knowing this from the outset, my expectations were pretty low; which is actually a good thing because it meant that I did not have to feel bad if I didn't engage with the music. Once you assume the mindset that you don't have to be entertained by the music and it is just a thing for analysis, then listening to/ignoring it, is a far easier act.

The songs that are being put out for consumption in 2021 after an era of lockdowns and isolation appear to be mostly anthemic variations on the familiar chord progressions:

I - V - vi - IV

I – vi – IV – V

I - ii - VI - V

vi - IV - I - V

The people who write songs, are very good at selling things that are already familiar and that means selling music which followed well-worn familiar chord progressions. I reckon that most of the Top 40 are variations on these for formulae. Also, it is very obvious that the hallmarks of 2010s music and onwards are still the same: autotune, the use of the supertone. 

However what I have found really strange is that the bands and artists who are being interviewed by 2Day FM, rather than using the time and space that the pandemic has afforded them to perfect and improve their music, have talked about their experiences during the pandemic as though it was really profound. I understand that people haven't been able to perform live but not being able to go out has been a common experience of lots of people, not just bands and artists.

If I was a professional musician and I couldn't tour or play live, then I would go back into my back room and either hone my musicianship or use the hurt to produce better writing. What I find absolutely incredulous is that the artists being interviewed by 2Day FM and Nova 969, don't seem to have used the time to have learnt how to play better, write better, or learn basic music theory. It is not uncommon to see five or six credits for the Writing and Producing of a modern pop song and so I wonder how much input that the artist actually has in a song. Of course I am assuming that the artists could play music in the first place; which might very well be a mistake. It is also a mistake to assume that in the age of autotune and pitch correction, that all that many artists can actually sing either. 

The solution to all of this is community radio, where the level to entry is lower and the diversity is massive. In Sydney we have these stations just to begin with:

88.1 - 2RDJ

88.9 - Radio Skid Row

89.7 - Eastside Radio

94.5 - FBi Radio

So far I have heard rock and EDM (which is to be expected), country, the blues, and even new jazz. New Jazz? That's a thing? Suddenly I'm listening to 4ths, Suspended 7ths, key changes and modulations, and chord progressions which are amazing.

This leads me to believe that what happened to the music industry is that as production quality skyrocketed, the sound design became amazing and every single vocal can be polished to the point of technical perfection, is that the wrapper got shinier and shinier but they've forgotten to put anything in the wrapper. Pop music which appears on 2DayFm and Nova 969 today is just empty.

Perhaps community radio which isn't driven as insanely hard by the profit motive, is where all of the crunchiness is. It doesn't change the fact that most of what I was listening to is still unmemorable dross but time will as always apply the filter of unmemorability by removing the unmemorable. What I've found on community radio is a kind of rebellion against the commercial stations by playing bands and artists who don't have the best equipment, who might not be able to sing or play as well but who have spent their time going back and noodling around and playing music. What a novel idea.

June 28, 2021

Horse 2860 - Peter Brock Probably Is The GOAT

 In most sports there is invariably one person who stands alone above the rest. In basketball it is Michael Jordan. In tennis it is Serena Williams. In cricket it is Sir Donald Bradman; on that note, Bradman is so many statistical deviations above the mean that across all sport, Bradman is the greatest athlete of all sports.

In motor racing, that is easier to quantify because all you need to do is count the superlatives. In Formula One the greatest of all time is Sir Lewis Hamilton. In NASCAR, that mantle is shared by Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and Jimmie Johnson. However when it comes to our own backyard and the greatest Touring Car Driver to have graced Australia, that answer is a little more difficult to quantify.

Aaron Noonan on the V8Sleuth podcast recently made the bold assertion that Craig Lowndes' 7 Bathurst victories are greater than Peter Brock's 9. To be fair Brock's 9 also comes with not just 1 but 2 wins where he jumped into the second car to win the race; where that's not simply been allowed according to the rules of late and so I can understand the reason for this. However as the rules at the time allowed it, then those two extra wins quite rightly stand. In order to win a thing, you have to compete according to the rules and if the rules state that you can do a thing then if you want to win, you can do that thing.

There is always the problem that as unreasonably subjective spectators, our own opinions of who the greatest is will be hampered by our own experience. The most intense emotions that someone generally has is between the ages of 13-25 and that 12 year period will often shape loads of our opinions. In my case, I really didn't like Peter Brock because I though he was annoying. That doesn't mean that I didn't have incredible respect for what he did and achieved. There has to be a way of eliminating emotion from the calculation; so that means establishing empirical rules for handling the data.

There is the obvious question of what the relative values of an Australian Touring Car Championship are, as opposed to a Bathurst 1000 win or a Sandown 500. At various times, the Bathurst 1000 was separate to the ATCC and at other times it was part of it. There are also those years early on in the piece where the ATCC was awarded after just a single race. Are those championships worth less because the champion only needed one win or are they worth more because the champion only got one crack at it and had to get it right the first time?

As someone who lives in the land of numbers, when you are faced with a lot of raw data, you have to decide what to do with it and that sometimes means making value judgements. As the value of things are measured relative to each other, then the value that you decide upon has to have some basis in sentiment.

When it comes to Australian Touring Car Racing, then there are some things which help you establish that relative value.

Four time Bathurst winner Alan Moffat once said that the ATCC was "just a warm-up for Bathurst". The actions of Nissan Motor Company in 1984 when they deliberately didn't win the championship by not fielding George Fury at Oran Park, just so they could get concessions in the technical regulations for Bathurst, indicates what they valued. Six times Bathurst winner Larry Perkins once said that "winning the championship only allows you to put number 1 on the door but winning Bathurst writes your name into immortality". 

Bathurst is indeed valuable but I do not think that it is worth more than the championship; especially when some championships contain it as a component. 

If the ATCC is worth 1, then I think that Bathurst is worth 4/7ths; which is slightly more than half. It follows that Sandown is worth half of that at 2/7ths, the Six Hours at various places also at 2/7ths and a 12 Hour Race being worth the same as a 1000 also feels about right to me. I think that the 24 Hours was such a rare thing that it can be rightly afforded the value of 8/7ths and the Round Australia Trials although being rallies, attracted so many touring car drivers that they are also worth 8/7ths. They especially cram thousands of kilometres into a very small space of time; so this also feels about right.

One of the other things that you learn about statistics is that they are always subject to interpretation when the result leads to many different conclusions that could be drawn. I could have not included the 24 Hours or the Round Australia Trials, or valued things differently and Jamie Whincup would be the greatest of all time. Would that have been a reasonable conclusion given that Peter Brock only won three ATCCs? Definitely. It would certainly reflect the fact that Brock was a relatively bad sprint racer. The argument could be made that Brock at the top of his powers basically had no real competition whereas Whincup won Bathursts and Championships in a highly professional and fiercely competitive era; which is what Aaron Noonan's argument boils down to and it is a good argument.

All that being said, this is the spreadsheet and the raw data:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1mkrTkMciUZzlwZmK8vySrgTrreVC9xOP/view?usp=sharing

That gives you the following index:

12.57 Peter Brock

11.29 Jamie Whincup

9.86 Craig Lowndes

9.14 Jim Richards

9.00 Mark Skaife

8.00 Allan Moffat

7.86 Dick Johnson

6.29 Bob Jane

5.57 Ian Geoghegan

4.71 John Bowe

4.29 Larry Perkins

4.00 Garth Tander

3.57 Steven Richards

3.57 Greg Murphy

3.57 Scott McLaughlin

3.43 Harry Firth

2.57 Marcos Ambrose

2.57 Glenn Seton

2.43 Shane Van Giz

2.14 Russell Ingall

2.00 Norm Beechey

1.86 Colin Bond

1.86 Mark Winterbotton

1.71 Bill Pitt

1.57 Bob Morris

1.43 John Goss

1.00 James Courtney

1.00 Robbie Francevic

This mostly feels about right; which is good enough. Brock won 9 Bathurst 1000s and Sandown 500s but did relatively badly in the ATCC. Whincup is the only 7x ATCC Champion but has underperformed at Bathurst. Lowdnes like Brock has underperformed in the ATCC. The GOAT is one of those three; with two stories still yet to be concluded.

June 25, 2021

Horse 2859 - Voting On Paper - Not Voter ID

Not quite 7½ moths after the 2020 Presidential Election, former President Donald Trump still refuses to concede that he lost the election. With everything from box loads of ballots being fed into counting machines, to massive amounts of voter fraud, to voting machines, all being the subject of accusations as to why Mr Trump lost (as opposed to the public just being sick and tired of corruption, abuse of power, and general incompetence), in states that are predominantly Republican controlled, instead of taking measures to actually address the issues that they've just cited, thoughts have been turned to voter laws.

I don't have a problem with voter ID per se. In places like Norway, Sweden, and Germany, all voters are sent Voter ID cards before an election; and if the voters can not produce the cards upon request then they can still provide proof of who they are with through 100 point identification. That also means that Norway, Sweden, and Germany, all have reasonably up-to-date electoral rolls. In Australia where voting is compulsory, there isn't a requirement to produce any voter ID and all you have to do is state your name and address before you get your named ticked off on the roll. That being said, the number of people actually found to have committed voter fraud is so incredibly small, that the number of elections which could have been swayed is exactly zero; in more than 10,000 elections across Australia (since every seat in every lower house is actually a separate election).

With that kind of data set, the fact that news outlets are trying to dissuade trust in public institutions so that their preferred political football team wins, should be viewed with the same sort of spirit as we afford other terrorists. 

Nevertheless, the lesson that voting systems should be improved to prevent mass tampering, especially from political parties themselves, is a good idea.

Here are some basic preventative measures that can be taken immediately; which cost less than zero in some cases.

1. Paper ballots.

... actually, that's all you need.

Yes. Having people write their choices on pieces of paper. This is an idea which seems so incredibly mundane that in none of the discussions which have been put forward, it has even been mentioned.

The underlying assumption that I suppose that lawmakers have is that technology is always implicitly better, right? Wrong! Paper ballots are in fact slower to count and will mean that the result will take longer to find out but when you are dealing with the appointment of people who have the authority and assigned power to run government, then efficiency and the speed of the count is entirely irrelevant. The only thing that matters is that the count is correct. Correctness is dependent on the security of the election and ability to check and counter check the accuracy of the result.

Paper ballots are the most secure method of conducting an election for the simple reason that it is really really hard to mount a scalable attack on them. During an election, you can have someone from every interested party not only check the collection box before the election is conducted but that box can be manned during polling day and then subsequently checked while the counting is going on. If that is happening at every single polling station, then for a foreign actor to mount an attack, then they would need to visit more than 3000 places across millions of square kilometers. 

Furthermore, if everyone is mistrustful of everyone else (which given our current age of politics where trust of institutions is close to zero), then that mistrust should be used as the mechanism to ensure that the result is correct.

The blatant problem with voting machines is that they should not be trusted. With literally every single kind of voting machine, that introduces a second layer of items that have to be checked. That also means that the person who is checking the checking has to be checked. With in person, paper ballots, not only is the record of someone's vote physically present but in the event of a recount, that same physical record is still present to be checked again. 

This came into sharp focus during the 2000 Presidential Election, when the utter failure of voting machines in producing a trustworthy result became democracy manifest. In Florida, the so called hanging chads left behind after a voting machine failed to correctly punch holes into the voting card, became the material of a Supreme Court hearing. That would have never have happened had the election been conducted on paper ballots because the very first check to see whether or not the voters had made their intentions obvious, would have been the voters.

Did anything change after this? No. Even after a proven failure of voting machines to produce a reliable and trustworthy result, they were still used. That is a practical demonstration of idiocy; that is, deliberately taking action in spite of knowing that it is wrong.

In the 2020 Presidential Election, the Trump campaign which although has been living in a fantasy land, accused the machines of Dominion Voting Systems of producing fraudulent results. The accusations remain unfounded and unproven but given that level of mistrust, it should give rise to interrogating the voting system for a better answer.

That answer very simply is that all voting machines should immediately be got rid of and all elections should be conducted on paper. Anyone who tries to convince you that voting machines have any benefits, needs to be ignored.

Getting back to the issue of Voter ID itself (even though it is the wrong answer to the question), believe it or not I actually do not have a problem with the idea of voter ID being required. If it is to be implemented though, then the responsibility of making sure that people have the relevant ID rests entirely with the government.

If the government announces an election on a particular date, then there needs to be some central independent authority which conducts the elections and which issues the relevant identity documents.

Admittedly this opens the door to nefarious self-interested parties using voter ID as a way of suppressing the franchise of people who would choose something different to them; so as before there should be checking mechanisms to ensure that the franchise is properly extended and can be exercised.

The deliberately knavish thing that keeps on coming up during the debates surrounding voter ID implementation is that there is a determined refusal to set up any kind of independence of the electoral systems or the agency to run them. 

The number of permanent employees of the Federal Electoral Commision in the United States is 339. It is argued that because the United States is a collection of republican (small r) states, that the power to run elections should lie with them. That's rubbish if the aim is to produce a reliable and trustworthy result. How anyone can trust a government body to run elections when it is unable to function, due to lack of a quorum, is beyond me. 

If there is someone in person, who has presented themselves to vote and they have either the card with them or sufficiently enough ID for any reasonable person to determine that they are a citizen/resident then that aught to be enough. The assertion that there are millions of people who vote illegally is a bald faced lie and needs to be ignored. 

June 21, 2021

Horse 2858 - Three Tribes At War

 For a nation as vast, wide, and unwieldy as Australia, it is remarkably homogeneous. A lot of that has to do with the founding of the modern nation state being so late in time; this is in contrast to the many languages of indigenous people groups who were here before the British stole a continent through the cunning use of flags. This also has to do with the modern nation state of Australia being founded in the electric age; with the unifying instruments of mass media (radio and television) both coming within a single lifetime.

Nevertheless, Australia is still a nation which is marked by regionalisms and cultural differences. It has too many unnecessary codes of football, it has railways that change gauge when you cross a state line, and weirdly it has different names and packaging for the same suspicious meat roll. Woolworths (also called Safeway and Roelf Vos in other states) produces a suspicious meat roll which depending on where it is sold, is either called Polony, Fritz, or Devon.

You can check the ingredients and nutrition information on the side of the packaging to confirm that they are in fact identical. Woolworths changes the plastic wrap depending on where it is going to be sold. This is different from pepperoni and salami which are different things which look similar. Polony, Fritz, and Devon, come out of the same sausage machinery and are in fact the same hot dog type thing. In principle this is Schrodinger's meat, for it is impossible to know what is inside (don't ask what how the sausage is made) and it impossible to know what it is going to be called until it receives its wrapping. 

I can only assume that the name Fritz is given to this thing in South Australia because of the post-First World War immigration from Germany. The Northern Territory which is in a political disunion with South Australia, is influenced more by the by the neighbour to the south than the neighbour to the east.

South Australia started out as a different colony to the rest of the country because it was the only one which wasn't a convict colony. Fritz as a name for suspicious meat roll appears to be an inter-war name, which is almost certainly the result of Germans coming to Australia during the White Australia Policy; who then made some kind of fleischwurst. The other two names are way harder to track down.

The name Polony is more than likely British via Italian and is a transliteration of Bologna, which also becomes Baloney in the United States. I am assured that Baloney is the same kind of suspicious meat roll and because it is made from suspicious meat and filler, the name Baloney has also passed into metaphor for untruth/nonsense. 

Devon on the other hand is a strange strange mystery, for unless suspicious meat roll was coming from that county in the south west of England, then it makes no sense. Devon as a name for suspicious meat roll is so suspicious that even the name is a mystery.

On that last note, the name Devonshire as in Devonshire Tea is a nonsense as the county's name is just Devon. I have no idea why if Cornwall is known for pasties, why Devon gets an incorrect moniker for fancy afternoon tea. Devon and Cornwall are in their own weird battle in the great Scone War, over whether jam goes on the scone first and then cream, or whether cream goes on the scone first and then jam. 

Quite clearly a multi billion dollar company like Woolworths isn't going to question why Australia has a tripartite disagreement over what to call suspicious meat hot dog type roll and so rather than fight it, they acquiesce and merely sell the product according to the name in the relevant market. To be fair, Australia is so vast, wide, and unwieldy, that the three tribes of suspicious meat roll leave the same factory and aren't confused. A batch which is bound for the eastern states is marked as Devon, a batch which is bound for the western states is Polony, and the batch for the inbetween states is Fritz.

Given the vast distances between The markets where Polony, Fritz, and Devon, are sold, I bet that the appearance of the wrong one in the wrong place would cause sufficiently large enough ripples of confusion that it would make page 7 of a daily newspaper. The convergence of news media might mean that the same story would be published across different states but it would still need to be subedited to catch the "they call it this but we call it this" aspects of the article. Even then I can still see them getting it wrong.

Of course the question at the heart of there being three different names for the same suspicious meat roll is, is this necessary? On the face of it, no. Woolworths could if they wanted to, enforce their product name upon everyone in the country and that would be the end of it. Should they? Again, no. In fact, if anything the diversity in names of suspicious meat roll should be celebrated. As a nation divided, we could come together in changing the flag.

Or not.

June 18, 2021

Horse 2857 - Never Bought, Never Sold, Never Driven

 As someone working in an accounting firm, I get to see a fairly largish range of expenses, as well as receipts for the buying and selling of motor cars. However, there is a really weird blind spot where not much happens; so you don't get to see the consequences. There is a really weird category of motor cars which are virtually silent when it comes to appearing in people's accounts. These are the cars which are never bought, never sold, never driven, and do not incur much by way of maintenance and repair expenses.

Mr Banana (not his real name) is a property developer who lives on the lower northern beaches of Sydney. Mr Banana has an SUV which is his daily driver, his wife has a smaller SUV which is her daily driver, and the younger of his two daughters who lives at home has the family's old BMW 3er; which is pretty beat up and isn't worth very much. He has fourth car which doesn't do very much of anything at all; it is a Peugeot RCZ.

- Cars like this live sad lives in dark garages.

Since I have an interest in motor cars, I was asked what he should do with his Peugeot RCZ. I told him that if he likes it enough to keep it then he should keep it and if he doesn't like it enough to keep then he should sell it. He was confused by my answer because as he explained, he thought that it would make a good investment.

Firstly, the market for cars to actually become a good investment is so long that unless you are committed to the prospect of never ever driving your cheap new car, then you can almost but not entirely forget it. The timeframe for a cheap new car to become a really valuable investment piece, is at least 30 years. Almost all cars that have fetched ridiculous prices at auctions, have been 30-50 years old.

Secondly, the Peugeot RCZ is one of those strange points of automotive data, that is never bought, never sold, and never driven. Partly that is a consequence of that first point and partly because it is too nice to drive as a daily driver. 

Out on the roads, you will definitely see more expensive cars than the Peugeot RCZ. There are plenty of Porsche Cayennes, BMW Xers, Range Rovers and Lexii. Again, this has to do with the SUVification of everything and forty years ago these kinds of cars would have been likely to have been wagons and sedans before SUVs came along and replaced everything. The primary purpose of these cars is their perceived usefulness even though a wagon would in most cases be more useful and be nicer to drive. SUVs exist purely for their perceived utility and not for their coolness. Proper off-road enthusiasts buy proper off-road vehicles; which means that the entire market for SUVs is for people who have a family and who might want to drive on a gravel road once a year, if that. There's nothing wrong with that but it isn't cool, it isn't exciting, and that means that they are treated like the utilitarian pieces that they are perceived to be.

The vast majority of cars are working assets that get used and then cease working. People buy a car because they have a need to cart themselves, their tools, their stuff, their sprogs, and their groceries around. Very few cars are bought for the sole purpose of being a fun machine. The cars that are bought with the express purpose of being a fun machine, are almost exclusively bought by the top pentile of people on the economic spectrum or by car enthusiasts who have a fair amount of money to play with.

Herein lies the reasons why cars like the Peugeot RCZ are never bought, never sold, and never driven. You generally don't find them in car yards because they either get traded in enthusiasts' circles and are therefore only the subject of private sales. As they are never bought, they are also never sold because in order to have a market which operates, you need buyers and sellers who meet at a price. Cars like this are almost never driven because they aren't used as daily drivers and while the idea of using them on track days seems appealing, the kinds of people who buy them are invariably too busy to use them that way. Cars like the Peugeot RCZ are kind of like purchasing a gym membership: the idea is there but the execution is rarely there to accompany it. 

Curiously if you move up the economic spectrum, cars like the Porsche 911 actually are used on a regular basis because they are likely to be someone's only car. People who own that kind of car as a daily driver are also more likely to own other high performance cars like Ferraris and McLarens, and those kinds of cars have a similar kind of turnover to cheaper cars like the Peugeot RCZ.

The Peugeot RCZ sits in the same category as older Corvettes, the Audi R8, and Lexus. They're all quite worthy GT cars but they're not cheap enough to be hurled around in anger, and they're not expensive enough to live pampered lives as concourse queens. 

There is of course the obvious solution to this and that is to just accept that you're not going to make any money from motor cars as an investment. If that is then the framing device through which you look at your motor car, then what you are now looking at is a fun machine which is being wasted.

If I had a Peugeot RCZ, then I still wouldn't use it as a daily driver but you can be sure that within five years, it will have been over heaps and heaps of roads. I'm assuming that if you have that kind of money, then staying in cheap hotels is not an issue for you. There are vast ribbons of black top in this wide brown land; it would be a shame to let that go to waste. It would still be the kind of car that is never bought and never sold but it would be driven.

June 17, 2021

Horse 2856 - Supercars Should Go Forwards Into The Past

The Supercars category in Australia faces a problem which is entirely the result of its own creation. Broadly speaking the current formula for 5L V8 powered cars, results from the long tail of decisions made not quite thirty years ago. The Supercars are a Group 3A category which is basically the last refuge of the international FIA Group A category for touring cars, except that this particular appendix was designed for the then 5L V8 Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon which regular people drove. Since then, the progressive tumble of falling real wages, the SUVification of everything, the deliberate collapse of the Australian motor industry by the Liberal Party, and the consequent spiralling upwards of performance car prices now means that there are no motor manufacturers who want to play by the 1993 rules anymore. Ford want to campaign their Mustang, Holden no longer exists, and the part time travelers of Volvo, Nissan, and Mercedes-Benz have all been and gone.

The place that we've been left in where no players want to play by the old rules, has meant that the so-called Gen-3 set of rules is having to be made on the fly; to suit two door coupes, which run a 5.0L V8 and a 6.2L V8. If that isn't a recipe for parity calamity then run my nose in the dirt and call me 'stinky'. 

But once again, as someone who has absolutely zero authority change anything, that makes me eminently qualified to pontificate about a subject which I know very little about. As I know diddly-squat about the engineering challenges or about the mechanical trickery needed to make anything work, I am the perfect impartial and objective observer.

If I was Grand Poohbah and Lord High Everything Else, then I would suggest... building Falcons and Monaros.

The category currently sits atop a common floorpan, it has a common gearbox, it has a common wiring loom, and it has a common spool drive. Since the cars are now dimensionally identical, then if what lies underneath the skin can be standardised, then the sheet metal which sits on top should also be standardised.

The thing which NASCAR has taught us for many years is that provided the light clusters at the front and rear and the grille and brightwork looks like the road car, then the entire of the car between the front and rear, including the glass house and everything contained between the A-Pillar and C-Pillar, can be pretty much anything. The Toyota Camry which races in the NASCAR Cup Series is a 6.0L V8, despite the fact that there has never been a road going V8 Camry. It is perfectly fine.

In Australia, we've been fine in the past with the idea that the Volvo S60, Mercedes-Benz E63, and Nissan Altima were 5L V8 cars on the racetrack despite there never being road going variants like that; we've also been fine with the ZB Commodore and the S550 Mustang being stretched and narrowed like taffy to fit the dimensions of the AU Falcon, which is what the current set of dimensions are ultimately based around. 

I have seen funny car dragsters which bear only a passing resemblance to an HZ Monaro, '57 Chevy Bel-Air, '59 Studebaker, late model race cars which only have the front grille and headlights as a sticker on the front, and it's perfectly fine.

All that being said, if it has been consistently proven that what lies beneath the skin doesn't matter and everything between the front and rear of the car ultimately doesn't matter either, then the only thing which does matter is the story which the bodywork conveys. To that end, provided that Ford and GM are fine with race cars looking like long discontinued products, then I don't see any reason why the Supercars category shouldn't run Falcons and Monaros. 

If you have complete control over the packaging of a thing from the outset, which is what Gen-3 affords Supercars to have, then you don't really have to worry about taking the existing panels off of a road car and stretching them like taffy to make them conform to the design requirements. They could be bespoke bits of kit.

The S550 Mustang does look a bit of a gumby but it needn't have done so. As the NASCAR Mustang proves, it could have been made to look pretty reasonable, if the pretense of it having to look like a road car was done away with. By selecting the Falcon and Monaro, which were already two door coupes, the category could mine the memories of the past, to refresh the dreams of the present.

I am even willing to say that if an unbranded engine was made available, which is currently the case in the British Touring Car Championship, then there might be interest from other manufacturers who would be willing to throw money at the sport. 

Yes, the series would bear no relation to what's on the road but considering that you can't buy the Supercars Mustang and can't even buy a Commodore at all any more and more than likely won't be able to buy a Camaro in future either, what's the difference?

June 15, 2021

Horse 2855 - Sky News Australia Warns Us That Euro 2020 Is A Marxist Plot

I am convinced that the local branch of the bank where I go to deposit the few remaining cheques that we get, lurches between hyper capitalism and ultra communism in its staff's political opinions, depending on who is at the teller's windows on any given day.

On the same set of telescreens I have seen Peppa Pig, Bluey, Dora the Explorer, Paw Patrol, Sharri Markson, Chris Kenny and this afternoon Rita Panahi. Between ABC3, ABC News 24, and Sky News Australia, you would come to the conclusion that the world is either wonderful or awful in a multiplicity of different ways.

On Friday, Peta Credlin was banging on about how Euro 2020 was all a Marxist plot and that the Black Lives Matter campaign and various players across Europe kneeling before a football game was also part of this Marxist plot. I couldn't help but feel that if the tournament was on Fox Sports, instead of Optus, then they'd be singing from an entirely different hymn book.

Speaking as one of the great uninformed and unintelligent masses whom Sky News seems to think needs to be corralled into thinking like they do, I am glad that I have been informed of the Marxist plot which has been bubbling away below the surface because otherwise I would have never have known.

That's where I've been going wrong all these years. I would have never have guessed that Gareth Southgate missing that penalty against Germany at Euro '96 was actually because he was trying to encourage the toiling masses to overthrow the ruling order in favour of a communal system of production; instead of just being a colossal git.

I would have never have guessed that David Beckham actually wanted for everyone to be paid exactly the same, irrespective of where they are in the hierarchy; because the creation of the Premier League and the escalation of wages to many millions of dollarpounds is actually all just a front. Who would have thought that that the television companies were actually massive supporters of Lenin and that there is no bigger supporter of Marxism and Communism than Fox Sports. I would have never have thought that Lord Sugar and Rupert Murdoch were actually bolshie red leftists but there you go.

What's more, Peta Credlin is talking nothing but spun gold truth when she says that if you kneel in support of Black Lives Matter, you are supporting all and every violent event that has ever happened at a Black Lives Matter protest, anywhere in the world.

Because fair's fair then it follows that if you support the Australian Flag then you are also supporting every occasion that it's been flown; including war crimes in Iraq and the locking up of refugees on tropical gulags, especially if they require medical treatment and/or they've been born in Australia. Presumably that also means that Scott Morrison is also a follower of the teachings of Ivan Milat or Martin Bryant, or perhaps the True Blue Crew and Reclaim Australia.

It's a good thing that Sky News Australia warned us that Euro 2020 is a Marxist plot because I would have never have thought that playing a flat back four instead of a stopper and a sweeper and playing Marcus Rashford up front as a lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation was in reality an attempt to set up a farming collective which is communally owned by the peasantry.

I also wouldn't have guessed that Nike, Reebok, Umbro and Adidas weren't sports and leisurewear companies but actually fronts for the Bolshevik Menshevik People's Revolutionary Workers Party.

Here I was thinking that Black Lives Matter had something to do with institutional racism, which results in the incarceration and murder of black people by the police in disproportionate numbers.

Apparently I have had it wrong when I thought that the Black Lives Matter movement in Australia is particularly concerned with the outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who are also incarcerated and ill-treated by police in disproportionate numbers. Apparently I am also wrong in thinking that there is an historical element to this, as I live in the local government area called Blacktown which was named after an internment camp/school for indigenous peoples before their lands were confiscated and their populations exterminated in what is unofficially called the 'frontier wars' because we refuse to admit that they happened; so what do I know?

When a global movement emerges committed to combatting racism following repeated murders in one country and it then inspires other countries to look seriously at their own pasts, then according to Sky News Australia, it's not actually real.

To be honest I am kind of surprised at how Sky News has taken what should be a pretty obvious statement and turned it into a designated acceptable point of hatred. There's nothing Orwellian in that at all. 

The more rational explanation is that Sky News Australia is more likely to be a right wing media outlet, which stirs up really stupid outrages, while their supporters push the government even further to the right. Sky News Australia loves to rail against glib slogans because it is politically expedient.

The problem that Sky News Australia has is that 'Black Lives Matter' is a pretty simple and somewhat obvious slogan, so they have to invent reasons to oppose it. In the case of Euro 2020 and players kneeling, Sky News Australia has to declare Black Lives Matter as a Marxist plot because  they would otherwise have to openly admit that as part of the media group which has been found guilty of violating the Racial Discrimination Act, they are institutionally racist.

Of course in daring to suggest such a thing and publishing ungoodthink, how do I know that I am not part of this Marxist plot? 

June 10, 2021

Horse 2854 - THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE v THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA [2021] - Judgement

The Fake Internet Court of Australia


THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE v THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA [2021] - Judgement


H2854/1


"We really have everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language."

- Oscar Wilde, The Canterville Ghost, (1882)

It has come to this fake internet court's attention (again) that the American usage of the word 'check' is very very silly. The American usage of the English language is not quite as silly as the Roman usage of the Latin language; which it must be said is pretty lively for a supposedly dead language. Oscan was the most widely spoken Italic language before the spread of Latin; which marched through the Empire, while hanging off the skirt tails of the Roman Army's Tunica. Latin has a nominative, a vocative, accusative, a genitive, a dative and ablative. It is amazing that the Romans got anything done at all with such a silly language.

Judgement Praecido:

Latin, you are dead. Go back to your grave.

Back to the case at hand:

We had a client who visited us recently to have their income tax returns done. Everything went cordially and efficiently but at the end of the meeting they asked the rather odd question:

"Could you send me the check (?) when it is all done?"

My boss looked decidedly confused but I answered that we would include the invoice along with the tax returns and the meeting concluded with the usual flurry of pleasantries and salutations. 

This is where linguists, sociologists, and other people from the humanities department of a university start speaking about intersectionality as though it was some ultra-über hip and happening concept. Yeah, I'm home with the downies; I'm a real hep cat. Speaking as someone who lives in a land of numbers and from my apartment on Pedant Corner, the only thing that I hear whenever I hear the word 'intersectionality' is the ensuing honking of horns from the traffic jam of nonsense which is about to follow.

If we interrogate what this person said, we run into the problem which George Orwell hints at in the appendix to '1984'; which is that when an idea can not be expressed in words, at least so far as thought is dependent on words, then it  should be literally unthinkable and makes all other modes of thought, impossible. Can an idea actually exist if it can not be thought? We have the dual problem of the word 'check' trying to act in places where it really shouldn't and this wouldn't be improved with the written word either because American English makes no distinction between a 'check' and a 'cheque'. Clearly this is an issue which needs to be resolved.

This is different and distinct from this court's opinion on that blackguard and scoundrel Webster Noah whose crimes against the English itself are wanton and deliberate. His deliberate attempts to produce a new language for a new nation represent not an act of negligence but of abject culpability against the flower of English.

This case and dispute is not about mere spelling, or whether or not a dictionary should be prescriptive about how to use spelling or descriptive of how it is actually used but rather it is about the very meanings of words themselves; as distinct units of conveyances of thoughts and concepts.

That great sage Pauline Hanson ('sage' in the sense of that herb) once had her words twisted to say "My language has been murdered; my language has been murdered; my shopping trolley murdered; my groceries just gone." I could make a pretty convincing case that the twisting of those words produced more sense  than the entirety of Ms Hanson's political career but I want to focus on the central message and implications of those words. When we murder language it leads to unfortunate consequences; such as the loss of groceries in this case.

These are the facts as this court sees them:

There are three things which need separate and distinct words because they are separate and distinct things. The prime purpose of language is the presentation of information which is then understood by others. While it is fun to live in the land of ambiguity, it is like living in a permanent fog and is quite unproductive. For clarity, these perfectly cromulent words will embiggen people's understanding.

Bill - in the sense that is relevant here, a bill is a list of demands. Bills of Rights are the official list of demands of rights, that a people group and/or citizenry is claiming. A Bill of Sale, which is what is handed to someone in a restaurant, is a demand for payment which is based upon an itemised list of things provided (which is usually the various components of a succulent meal).

Cheque - a cheque is an instruction to pay. A cheque is usually drawn upon a bank and is an instruction for that bank to pay some other person or their nominated bank account. It is named after the chequered cloth upon which the Chancellor of the Exchequer would sit; who then pays out the coin/money of the realm from atop a bank of monies.

Note - a note is a statement that a thing exists. Technically a bank note is a promissory note which states that the issuing bank (usually the central bank of the nation) promises to pay a sum specified. A Twenty Dollar Note states that the bank promises to pay the bearer on demand, the sum of twenty dollars. In the past this may have been twenty gold or silver dollars but since the age of fiduciary currency, this promise is merely for the abstract concept of whatever a dollar happens to be at the time.

--

When you go to a restaurant, they hand you a Bill which is a demand that you pay them; based upon a list of things provided. You will then either hand over some Notes which are promises from the central bank that the amount of money stated is good for payment, or you will hand over an instruction for your bank to pay theirs; which is called a cheque.You do not ask for a cheque. You do not hand over a bill; in fact, the bits of paper/plastic that you hand over as payment, will actually state that it is 'note'. 

Judgement:

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."

- Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass (1871)

The problem with this line of thinking and abuse of language is that if language is mangled so that anything can mean everything, then nothing means anything at all. The purpose of language is the conveyance of meaning and while dictionaries are best at being descriptive of how language is used, as opposed to being prescriptive for how it should be used, the underlying language shouldn't be murdered or otherwise everyone's groceries will be just gone.

This court hereby orders that the words 'Bill', 'Cheque', and 'Note' be used properly, and that existing usage of 'check' when you mean 'bill', 'check' when you mean 'cheque' and 'bill' when you mean 'note' be stopped immediately. 

The United States Of America, you are guilty of both conspiracy and deception. You have brought hateration and holleration into this fake internet court and as you have no business mucking with a language that doesn't even bear your name, we order you to cease, desist and stop this egregious pretense. If we ever see you back before this court, the penalities will be severe. Get out; lest you make a mockery of my courtroom. We are already perfectly capable of making a mockery of this fake internet courtroom as it is. You are malevolent and have now ensnared others in your villainy. Can you not see what trouble thou hast wrought? 

- ROLLO75 J

(this case will be reported in FILR as H2854/1 - Ed)

June 09, 2021

Horse 2853 - Defund, Degrade, Destroy, Privatise. (The Future Story Of Sydney Buses)

This week I had the strange experience of filling out a survey on board a route 100 bus from Taronga Zoo to City QVB; getting on at Spit Junction and getting off at Wynyard. We were told on board the bus that this was to help improve the service, I think that this is actually just ruse before the whole region is privatised. 

Late last year the cotracts for the Sydney Bus Regions 7, 8 and 9, that this the northwestern suburbs, northern beaches, and eastern suburbs, were all marked for privatisation and handing over to private operators between November 2020 and the end of the year. That hasn't happened presumably of because the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic but given the Liberal Party's proven track record to hand over government services to their criminal friends for a peppercorn (which is why Sydney Ferries is a subsidiary of Transdev Australasia) it looks like it will happen at some point in the future.

I can already blame the then Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian for her abject refusal to connect the North West Metro to the Richmond Line, for her part in the process which gave Hillsong Head Office its own Metro Station while being practically inaccessible to the suburb of Norwest which it is named after; so this just looks like more of the same. The current Transport Minister Andrew Constance used to work as a lobbyist for industry bodies and was parachuted into a safe seat with which he had no connection on the basis that he was the former President of the Young Liberals. I suspect that he has been employed to deliver infrastructure projects to Liberal voting areas before flogging them off to his mates. Both he and Gladys will probably both go the way of former Premier Mike Baird who jumped ship to join the NAB.

I have been told by some of the drivers (yes I speak to bus drivers) that they were allowed to look at a document which had the suspicious looking stamp of "sensitive" on the outside and it said that everyone who wasn't directly employed as a driver, which includes all admin, finance, and scheduling staff, everyone who maintains the fleet, all of the cleaners, would not be guaranteed to retain their job when there was a new private operator.

I suspect that I am a victim of blind A/B testing; where the bus services are being deliberately made worse, to test the bottom limits of people will accept. The 100 bus operates as an "all day" service with no real time table, the B1 bus also runs on this basis and they have decided to run fewer buses. Running fewer buses is fine from an operational point of view because it reduces costs but if you are waiting for a bus on the second to last pick-up stop on the route, then seeing buses with "Sorry Bus Full" signs on them are not helpful. One day last week, I had to wait 36 minutes for a bus to arrive which wasn't full. I have a big black scary coat and so I am fine when it is 8°C and windy but when it is 5°C and raining, it is unpleasant.

Normally if you had to wait 36 minutes for a bus, then I would either think that you were waiting for a long distance service, or a service in a suburban/semi-rural area. Buses from Sydney to Melbourne might run once or twice a day. Buses in suburban/semi-rural areas are more likely to run on a half hour service; so a bus being 6 minutes late might not be a problem. I live in a suburban area and so waiting for a bus for half an hour is not an unusual thing, however this is a photograph of what in theory is just seven kilometers away from Wynyard Station. 

There has existed a thing in tory politics for so long that it makes me wonder if it is a guiding principle. Obviously the people who fund tory politics and the political machines therein want to act as if they have no responsibility to the nation or society whatsoever but politics is the art of the enactment of policy; in this case denying and abrogating any responsibility that you might have to the nation and its people, then metastasises into actively destroying the assets which are held in common. In Australia at least, the perpetual slogan of the Liberal Party (which has now abandoned the pretense of being in favour of liberal democracy) should be "Defund, Degrade, Destroy, Privatise." Of course if there is a collective action problem which comes along, then the same people who demand that kind of policy are all only too happy to then demand a public bail out when it all turns to nonsense.

I suspect that Andrew Constance will say that privately-run buses will be better able to stick to the timetable or other such nonsense. Andrew Constance as MP for Bega and who almost certainly doesn't actually live there, seems to deny reality itself because no buses, either public or private, can outrun the swirling conurbation that is traffic within the five million souls of the metropolis of Sydney. Timetables aren't set by Sydney Buses but by the State Government and the Ministry for Transport and Roads itself. Private operators as private business always have the prime incentive to cut costs and reduce service standards in order to extract profits from the public. Transport choices tend to be rather inelastic in demand because even when the price changes, even when the level of service is deliberately degraded, we still need to get to and from work. If only there was a responsible Transport Minister.