Thursday, 26 May 2016

Commuter Plays Solitaire with Magical Wonder Window


Reports are emerging that local area worker, Bryan Grey, today used his personal hand-held magic wonder window to play Solitaire in a bid for entertainment on the bus ride home.

The commuter, who would rather move electronic cards from one pile to another than explore all of the collective knowledge of human history, was said to experience difficulty in locating the number 2 of spades among the digital 52 card deck.

“I thought I saw it once, but that may have been the 2 of clubs,” Mr Grey responded to journalists’ queries.  “I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty sure.”

The man, with literally no better idea of how to use more personal computing power at the touch of human fingers than any person in existence prior to 2010 except to play an eighteenth century single-player card game, was said to be looking forward to finishing the triviality otherwise known as ‘patience’ in the near future.

“I hope they have the little animation at the end like the original Microsoft 1995 version,” Mr Grey confided to reporters.  “That would be nice.”

At press time, there are reports that Mr Grey has taken to using his personal hand-held magic wonder window as some sort of modern candle to illuminate the keyhole of his door.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Homeground Advantage

Attending a conference for the conservatively minded the other week, the main thematic that The Spear was able to grasp from conversations with his young peers was a tone of despair: whatever the zeitgeist was, it clearly wasn’t moving in their favour.  In their daily lives they felt isolated and intimidated.  Their views felt illegitimised and dismissed by their fellow young adults.

The age-old problem for the conservatively leaning is one of squeaky wheels.  The progressive cause is, by its activist nature, constantly seeking change in one form or another.  Whether it be marriage equality or safe-schools, the basic premise remains the same: we’re not happy with the current situation, and we are going to be vocal about it.

This constant, outspoken pressure for change in all forums, and a passion for the cause they believe in, helps progressive causes capture media attention.  Activist groups hound those who they perceive as public ‘deniers’ of the cause, and create a general atmosphere of fear and intimidation whereby people, even if they happen to disagree with said cause, will keep silent lest their career, business or livelihood be put in jeopardy.  ‘Great’, the progressive cause says.  ‘Serves the bigots right’.

For those under 30, telling your friends and co-workers that you’re a conservative is now in some respects akin to coming out of the closet.  You seriously don’t know how people will react if, for instance, you were perhaps to suggest Tony Abbott wasn’t so bad a bloke.  There is genuine fear that close relationships could fall on hard times or that it could affect your career, so you keep silent.  Better than being called a Nazi within the space of half an hour. Thus progressive causes have the homeground advantage in that they are active, they are in your face and they usually relish in politics, the medium of codifying and legitimising change.

Conservative causes on the other hand... Well they’ve typically got encumbancy, which is a big advantage, but not much else.  Conservative causes are by their nature reactive rather than proactive, in that they are typically proponents for maintaining the status quo.  How passionate can one be when the cause is by and large ‘carry on’?  How can one be motivated to engage with politics, the medium for or opposing change, when one generally seeks to minimise state intervention in their daily life?

To The Spear, political engagement, even for causes he believes in, is more of a necessary evil - a counter effort against those who would enlarge the state to no ends - rather than a pure force for good.  He feels dirty just thinking about handing out leaflets or standing in a rally.  But he would do it, and thinks some day he will be forced to do it, if the threat to individual liberty is great enough.

And that is why people are so amazed when a Tony Abbott or a Donald Trump gets a portion of the vote that is seemingly out of whack with their unpopularity as portrayed by the (progressive) media.  How could anybody support them when the overwhelming majority of the commentariat, all of the righteous intelligentsia, condemn them as vile and stupid?  Are there really that many gullible, uneducated buffoons out there who don’t know what’s best for themselves?  How could people vote for such backwards, bigoted pigs when the progressive cause is so strong and all encompassing?

The answer would be that the progressive media have managed to get ahead of even themselves in what proportion of society truly agrees with their agenda of change.  Count the votes people!  Tony Abbott, a renowned conservative, got voted into the lodge in 2013!  Trump, who some might call the most bigoted, backward candidate of the postwar era, is all but Republican nominee!  While they may not be vocal, the silent types who like keeping to themselves have votes too, and they will use them when they perceive the threat as big enough!

The proletariat may not be very squeaky, but when their wheels start spinning, they can get on a roll all the way to the white house.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Random Insult Generator

In that distant land of the 1990’s, wherein The Spears’ childhood rests in peace, there once was a saying commonly told to children of the day by their parents and teachers: ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’.

Then again, perhaps it was not so commonly told.  It is The Spear’s generation after all - and that on either side of it - which seem to live with more fear of the possibility of ‘sticks and stones’ being construed as culturally insensitive, than the sticks and stones themselves.

And The Spear doesn’t blame them for it.

How could he blame them, when the very possibility of straying ever-so-slightly from the politically-correct narrative can end one’s career?  When making a joke without reading from the morally-superior approved script can see you branded in print as a ‘racist’, a ‘bigot’, or a ‘sexist hate spigot’?   You see what The Spear did there?  Gender-neutral pronouns all day long, lest Xe or Ze take offence at The Spear’s blatant show of insensitivity to the progressive cause.  

It’s becoming automatic now.

And the less these ‘offensive remarks’ are made, the more offended will the ears of the morally-pure be when they do hear them, and the louder they shall squeal.  Like children of over-protective parents upon first contact with a prolific profaner, they will cover their ears and reel from the words as if in physical pain.  How DARE you infringe upon their RIGHT to not be offended.


Feeling offended anyone?

It’s easy to say you’re an advocate of free speech, but that’s kind of like saying you like ice cream.  Everybody likes ice-cream, right?  But does that mean you like every flavour?  Because saying you like free speech is like saying you’ll eat every flavour, even that really shitty one that everyone else eats around, so long as the ice cream isn’t inciting violence.

[Why does The Spear get the feeling some cocky bastard is now going to take the piss by creating a new ice-cream flavour called inciting violence? Oh well, good on them.]

To remedy the situation of easily offended ears and as a means of maintaining free speech (even the kind you don’t personally agree with), The Spear proposes the widespread use of what he is dubbing a ‘Random Insult Generator’.  In reality this would be a simple piece of software like an app, which would draw upon a large database of various ‘categories’ to string together into insulting statements which could pass for opinion, automatically posting the content to social media of the user (is it really free speech if nobody else is allowed to hear it?)

Examples would be of the following variety:

Geriatric gay polo-players are horrible.  Latino Anglican halal-eaters are worse.  

Etc etc.

Now if such vitriol was commonplace, could the thought-police (which these days are now the real police) really take action against everybody?  Wouldn’t it be a great way of toughening our ears up a bit, but in a way which could be argued as being fair to all in it’s randomness, just as cruel blind fate is to us all?

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Meaty Burgers, Bimbos & Free Speech

As The Spear has documented on numerous occasions - whether it be due to Silent Medals or Student of The Week Awards for ‘trying hard to use a quiet voice’ in his early years - he has tended to drift through life with the general intention of trying not to create a fuss.  Never before, an official complaint has he lodged, that is, until Christmas 2015.

The complaint in question, to the Advertising Standards Bureau, was in regard to the following, seemingly innocent commercial.

The first time The Spear watched the ad, he couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was which disturbed him.  By the second and third time however, it was abundantly clear that the advertisement, while on the surface squeaky clean, was in fact a perfect example of a discrimination so prevalent and commonplace that it genuinely hides in plain sight: the denigration of men (who in this instance also happen to be whiter than an episode of Family Feud).

So why not file a complaint? The Spear thought.  In our hyper politically correct age, where he who wins the argument is he who can be the most offended, why not take some offence and see just how far his taxpayer-funded regulatory body will go to protect The Spear’s newly found thin skin. Test the system, test your rights.

The complaint, in its entirety, and its summary dismissal can be viewed here.  

The complaint was worded thus:

The advertisement reinforces the sexist stereotype of stupid, infantile males. If a similar advertisement were to show women mesmerised by music, asking their men for money and stealing their wallet (as a man in the ad does to his presumed wife), running after a handbag mobile into a handbag store, there would be no doubt of sexism. The same standards should apply regardless of the sex being affronted.

An excerpt from the Board’s findings:

The Board considered whether the advertisement complied with Section 2.1 of the Code which requires that 'advertisements shall not portray or depict material in a way which discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community on account of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, age, sexual preference, religion, disability, mental illness or political belief.'

The Board noted the complainant’s concern that if the genders were reversed and a woman took a man’s wallet to chase after a handbag van then it would not be acceptable... The Board considered that its role is to consider each advertisement on its own merit and that addressing hypothetical alternatives is not part of their role. 

However, for not being able to consider hypothetical scenarios, the ASB sure is good at investigating The Spear’s non-existent complaint about discrimination of women.

The Board noted the scene where the man takes his wife’s handbag and considered his reaction is in response to his wife’s slowness at opening her bag and there is no suggestion that the man is stealing her bag but rather that he needs the money more quickly than she can get it out and that his impatience with her at not being able to access her bag quick enough to give him money is not discriminatory towards women but reflective of an impatient moment that could happen to either gender. 

Now here the ASB is truly in denial, the cognitive dissonance is so strong that they are making up complaints to investigate.

The Board noted the overall theme of the advertisement which likens the Mr Angus van to an ice-cream van which is generally a positive experience for those following and considered that the depiction of men chasing after the van is similar to the reaction young children would have to an ice-cream van and that most members of the community would find this image to be humorous and reminiscent of childhood and this is why the men are depicted as acting like children. The Board considered that the advertisement does not suggest that men would behave like this otherwise and the use of men chasing the van was consistent with the target audience for meaty burgers. 

The Board considered that the advertisement did not portray or depict material in a way which discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community on account of gender. The Board determined that the advertisement did not breach Section 2.1 of the Code. Finding that the advertisement did not breach the Code on other grounds, the Board dismissed the complaint.

ASB:1, The Spear: 0.  So much for The Spear’s thin skin and his newly found right not to be offended.  Oh well, it’s not like the ASB would contradict themselves by taking the opposite stance in the very same meeting where they considered The Spear’s argument now is it? The Spear thought.  After all, it is a Standards bureau, and the Standard had been set.

Oht oh, seems like The Spear was indeed mistaken, for at the very same meeting the ASB considered the below ad for what would appear to be the same argument but for the opposite sex, ie, the denigration of women by being shown as unintelligent.  And boy, how different the outcome was.

The case in full can be viewed here

The Board noted that the intent of the advertisement is to depict two women unexpectedly breaking down – with the advertiser suggesting that regular services from Ultratune will prevent such an ‘unexpected situation.’ The Board accepted that the intent of the advertisement it to show an unrealistic situation. However the Board considered that the women are depicted as unintelligent in the way in which they sit passively, with blank faces, in the car on the train tracks and also in the way they appear to not notice the oncoming train.

This behaviour, in the Board’s view, makes the women appear unintelligent and presents them in a stereotypical helpless female situation. In the Board’s view, the depiction of the women’s reaction to their situation is a negative depiction of women and does amount to vilification of women. The Board considered that the advertisement did portray or depict material in a way which discriminates against or vilifies a person or section of the community on account of gender and determined that the advertisement did breach Section 2.1 of the Code.

Now, on the one hand, the ASB dismisses a case of vilification of men because ‘the advertisement does not suggest that men would behave like this otherwise’, but on the other hand, upholds a case of vilification of women because ‘the women are depicted as unintelligent’ even though they recognise ‘the intent of the advertisement it to show an unrealistic situation.’ 

So what is the Standard?  Unrealistic denigration of men as unintelligent : okay.  Unrealistic denigration of women as unintelligent: not okay?

To the Spear, the thing that really gives away the underlying probability of denigration in the McDonalds ad is that McDonalds chose to use the only target which is safe to freely humiliate in our society - middle aged white men.  The asian man at the beginning is shown respectfully gardening, not running after the bus like a buffoon.  There isn’t a tan in sight on those chasing after ‘meaty burgers’ as the ASB would put it.  The Spear reckons the producers knew what they were up against, and chose forthwith the only safe target to depict as unintelligent.

Now is The Spear truly so upset about the depiction of men as unintelligent in what is pretty much a harmless advertisement? No.  What The Spear was trying to point out is that the right to be offended and to seek official censorship and compensation, as such currently exists, is not truly a universal right.  It is only a right so long as it fits the established, pre-approved bien pensant views of who can be offended and what can be offensive.

And therein lies the problems with restrictions on free speech.  They are ultimately arbitrary, and stifle the expression of views outside of what is currently considered orthodox. Sure, people should be able to seek compensation for outright untrue published defamation.  But to restrict what can be published lest it offend?  It’s only so good so long as the arbitrary decision maker agrees with your notions of what constitutes offence.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Malcolm Turnbull Negatively Gears Latest Poll Results


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today downplayed the latest Newspoll results which show the coalition trailing Labor by 51 per cent to 49 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.

"Around a third of the people who run for election are investing in the future of the nation, and most of them will be polling negatively," Mr Turnbull said at a press conference outside parliament house.

"Even if they were positively polling ... if for whatever reason they suffered a net polling loss, they'd have to recover it from their personal reputation, so it is a very big risk,” he continued.

“70 per cent of the people who negatively poll in Australia run for one election, and another 20 per cent run for two. Most of these people, most of these Australians - myself included - are hard-working Australians just trying to get ahead,” he said.

“And anyway, once you take into account negative poll deductions, poll gain concessions and the first time pollsters grant, I think you’ll find I’m actually ahead,” he proffered while gesturing with his glasses.  “Just ask my accountant.”

Upon being asked if he had any modelling or evidence to back his assertion, Mr Turnbull appeared agitated.

“Now really, it’s a matter of common-sense now isn’t it?  If my net satisfac­tion rating deteriorates from minus 10 points a fortnight ago to minus 13 points today - which it has - well then that’s more negative poll-deductions for Malcolm B.Turnbull.  And when these negative poll results are deducted, that is, ‘subtracted’, from my existing poll numbers, my overall profits - I mean polls - become larger, as the negatives cancel out.  Now, when you consider that the overall increase is eligible for the 50% concession, BEFORE it passes through the Cayman Island Hold-Co. VIA the wife’s concessional SMSF, well, it doesn’t take a Malcolm B. Turnbull to realise who’s coming out ahead, now does it?”

At press time, it is reported that Mr Turnbull is sitting down with his tax advisors to structure a way of transferring his latest poll-loss offsets against the future poll-gains of his children.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Monetary Abuse

Auctioneer - “It’s just money people, the banks print it down the road every day!”

The Spear recently heard an auctioneer use the above line to try and elicit more bids from a gathered crowd.  When The Spear first heard it, he thought it a cheap gimmick - a play at people’s irrationality and an appeal to emotion.  But the more The Spear thinks about it, the more he comes to believe that for all intents and purposes, the auctioneer was right.  

Money, once a gold-backed standard, has been used and abused so much in recent times that one can see how buying into the perverse logic of maximising debt-accumulation for hard asset purchases becomes not so much a matter of choice, but a matter of necessity.  As weak individuals held captive by our monetary system, sitting out the game is not an option.

Do you seriously believe that this far down the rabbit hole of Zero rates, Negative rates, Quantitative Easing, Currency Wars, Bailouts, Corporate Bond Purchases, Stock market intervention and the like, that the governments of the world will sit idly by and let their economies go bust without playing out the game Monetary Abuse to the very end?

One need only look to the 2014 budget to see where attempts at even moderate fiscal restraint and the reversal of debt-accumulation get you these days: a one-way ticket on the Siberian express (just ask Tony).  The people want MOAR, so MOAR is what they shall get.  Something for nothing is the motto of the day.

Japan and pockets of Europe are nearing what The Spear would refer to as the ‘end-game’ of Monetary Abuse.  Policies such as Negative Rates aren’t even having the desired consequences, such as a weaker currency. The aura of infallibility surrounding the masters of the monetary presses, the reserve bankers, is waning. It seems that the Neo-Keynesian model of injecting money with crack to keep it hustling is beginning to break.

After just one rate rise in Dec 15 by the Fed, the markets went into meltdown in early 2016 until the doves were force-bred, released and made to do laps around the trading rooms of the world.  In an era of forward-guidance, where the words of central bankers and their perceived motives can move markets far more than actions, chairwoman Yellen seems to have thrown in the towel on rate normalisation.  The markets want MOAR, so MOAR is what they shall get.  Something for nothing is the order of the day.

There’s lies, damned lies and statistics. Bastardised inflation measures ignore the reality of rapid asset price appreciation, and the incentive to design inflation measures to show minimal inflation is significant.  How better to reduce the real burden of unsustainable government benefits which are pegged to CPI indexes?  Let the silent, unmeasured inflation do its work without losing a single vote.

All of this leaves the man and woman on the street in a pickle of a situation.  Unrewarded, nay, even punished for saving.  Shrinking government support in real terms (unless perhaps you happen to be working as part of the protected sect of civil servants, with your ring-fenced Future Fund just to make sure that YOUR benefits can be paid in full).  Your investment-property owning elected politicians well and truly captured by the system.  A global environment of competitive money-printing.  How to prevent one’s wealth from being abrogated by the funny-money beast?

You borrow.  You borrow to the hilt, because that’s all you can do.  You buy your assets and vote for MOAR, because that is the only way you will never have to reap what you sow: just like the rest of them.  Because something doesn’t come for nothing, why should you continue paying for the excesses of others?

Of course none of this ends well.  You hope the inevitable depression or revolution doesn’t come in your time, but eventually it will.  Once the carcass of the funny money can be jolted with electricity and made to dance no more, the inequity becomes too hard to hide.  How does one buy votes once money has been murdered?  But before that day comes, there’s a lot of Helicopter Money and other zany schemes to look forward to.

Don’t blame money.  Don’t blame those who try to make it.  Blame those at the top who abused it in the quest for power and left us in this seemingly inescapable situation.  It is they who force the hands of individuals to do what they would otherwise not.

Something for nothing?  Sounds like a vote-winner to The Spear.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Serious Sillyness

There is this vague feeling which permeates The Spear’s existence, at once everywhere yet seemingly out of reach, to be sensed but never gazed upon.  Perhaps it is angst, anxiety, or maybe just good old fashioned depression, but in many ways is is simply the struggle of a life taken seriously.

The Spear wishes he wasn’t such a serious person.  While it has its advantages, typically material in nature, it can sometimes make life seem like just another job to be completed as quickly and efficiently as possible.  To what end this mindset could possibly serve beyond survival of the species is quite mysterious, and certainly not voluntary.

To be a serious person means to also be thinking quite far into the future, and to be as self-reliant and responsible as possible.  Much planning and forethought is given to decisions, and there is always a long term plan to be achieved.  To the serious person, life is essentially a series of problems to be solved, a test to be passed.

The problem is nobody's really keeping score except yourself, but you happen to be the harshest judge.  It’s like performing on stage to an empty hall, but still being nervous about the review.  The fear of failure is palpable, and haunts your exam-hall laden dreams.

So it’s great when you find someone who can make you lighten up a bit and engage in some sillyness with.  The Spear has spent most of his life in a form of homeostasis, fluctuating between extremes of seriousness and sillyness.  As you flick through Spearbook, you will find philosophic monologues interspersed with satirical tidbits.  On the whole, there is a form of balance.

Sillyness is like a release valve to the pressure of the struggle.  It’s free to consume, and healthier than alcohol or drugs.  And while sillyness in itself may not count for much, when it comes from a serious person, with the dedication and application that only a serious person can bring to the game, there are few things more splendorous.