Sunday, 14 August 2016

Sense & Censusbility

The ABS's new and improved 'hack proof' data collection method

After this year’s census, The Spear is left feeling a lot like a 16 year old girl the morning after prom-night.  The ABS told The Spear they loved him.  They told The Spear they needed him.  They told The Spear he could trust them and that they would never betray him.   And it all ended in tears.

The Spear feels like a putz.  His household dutifully completed its census duties early and honestly, before the gargantuan ineptitude of the ABS and its systems were made manifestly clear on Tuesday night.  He can almost hear the statisticians at the ABS sniggering as they review The Spear’s lone complete entry in their systems, “Oh my God, some doofus actually fell for it.”

There has always been an asymmetry in responsibility between government and citizen.  As The Spear walks along the platform of his local train station, the speakers dutifully prompt him to “exercise extreme care, surfaces may be slippery when wet.”  So while we, mere average citizens, cannot be trusted to walk for more than a few meters without falling over and cracking our big stupid heads, the government acts as if it is infallible.  “We make the rules, and we get to decide just who is breaking them.  Oh, and by the way, it’s up to you to understand and comply with them all, no matter how convoluted and inane.  Good luck with that.  Suckers.”

So while we were all threatened with $180/day fines if we didn’t complete the census on time, the government agencies themselves seemed to suffer a lack of imagination when brainstorming the possible negative outcomes from a failed census, if it was given much thought at all.  Only after the fact is the PM now grandiosely proclaiming that ‘heads will roll’.

Mr Turnbull may want to first check with The Fair Work Commission to make sure that those meeting the guillotine aren’t likely to object on the basis of race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, age, mental or physical disability, marital status, family or carers responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction, or social origin, or because they were temporarily absent from work because they were sick or injured, or because they joined or did not join a trade union or participated in industrial activities, or because they exercised or proposed to exercise a workplace right.

He wouldn’t want to be responsible for creating the wrong impression, now would he?

Sunday, 7 August 2016

The Language War Prt 1

Sick of being constrained by language dominated by the progressive left, the Spear is proposing a few new definitions to use when fighting the continuous language wars for the domination of public thought.

Climate Change Replier:  Somebody who, no matter what the situation, when asked about the cause of a problem, will reply that its source is ultimately linked back to climate change, whether it be bushfires or the Lynx effect. Usage example: “Don’t bother asking him, he’s just a Climate Change Replier.”

Bigotourette’s Syndrome: Someone who suffers from an uncontrollable, compulsive need to say the word ‘bigot’, over and over, whenever confronted by somebody with an opposing view.

Privilegophobe: a person with an irrational fear of white males.

Thempowerment:  An outwards version of ‘empowerment’, whereby a group transfers responsibility for their condition to ‘them’.  ‘Them’ can include anybody else, so long as it isn’t ‘us’.  That way, the problem can continue indefinitely while ‘they’ take the blame.

Sympatheticist: Somebody who makes decisions based on nothing but the degree of perceived sympathy owing to a given group.  Otherwise known as a Vestal Virtuen.

Publicschoolaphobia: The fear that a public education may befall your child, which can often lead to a condition known as ‘whiteflightitis’.  Usage: “The influx of refugees lead to a large outbreak of Publicschoolaphobia in the otherwise progressive neighbourhood”.

Gender-flu:  A condition whereby a man may or may not be a woman, or a woman may or may not be a man.  Otherwise known as ‘persona indecisiva’.  Symptoms may last longer than 24 hours.

Islamophobeophobia: the irrational fear of people who fear Muslims, or otherwise the fear of being known as somebody who fears Muslims.  Sufferers may at times outnumber the number of actual Islamophobes.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Canberra: Wrong way, go back

The Spear visited this nation’s capital of Canberra for the first time this weekend, and the experience, like his one souvenir, still hasn’t quite left him.  He is left with a very odd feeling that he can’t describe, something akin to waking from a dream about work: you can’t quite remember what is was about, nothing quite made sense and it sure as hell didn’t rock your world.

The borderline libertarian that he is, Canberra is actually more the stuff of nightmares than dreams to The Spear.  

An entirely planned city, there was something about Canberra’s low-density if aerially-aesthetic layout that struck him as wholly unnatural and discomforting.  Simply put: there was too much space and macrolandscaping for a person to feel at home.  At times it was as if The Spear was walking around in a post-apocalyptic ghost town, except that everything was far too immaculately maintained to suggest that its inhabitants had caught even the vaguest whiff of the end of days.

And as if the physical landscape wasn’t eerie enough, it’s makeup was almost entirely uniform: every way The Spear turned his eyes were met with a rectangular medium sized concrete building of drab colour with signage proclaiming the department of X or the bureau of Y.  The Spear was even forced to look directly into the bowels of the beast form his hotel window which happened to abut the Australian Authority for the Pushing of Paper.  And oh how beautifully maintained.

Canberra is government solidified.  One gets the impression that it largely exists for it’s own sake, a well-planned monument to itself and its ability to extract its lifeblood from the rest of the nation, along with the administrative necessities to keep the money flowing.  You can’t help but think things in our nation’s capital aren’t running exactly as leanly as they could be, and that there are many cost savings measures hiding in plain sight.  Graffiti removed before it has a chance to be seen.  Remedial works for assets that look like they were built yesterday.  It is by far the cleanest and most well maintained city The Spear has ever set foot in.

The souvenir The Spear picked up during his trip? A magnet reading “Canberra: Wrong Way, Go Back.”

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Warming Up the Helicopters

They had then learned how easy it is to issue it; how difficult it is to check its overissue; how seductively it leads to the absorption of the means of the workingmen and men of small fortunes; how heavily it falls on all those living on fixed incomes, salaries or wages; how securely it creates on the ruins of the prosperity of all men of meagre means a class of debauched speculators, the most injurious class that a nation can harbor,—more injurious, indeed, than professional criminals whom the law recognizes and can throttle; how it stimulates overproduction at first and leaves every industry flaccid afterward; how it breaks down thrift and develops political and social immorality.

The above doesn’t refer to Venezuela or Zimbabwe in modern times.  These words were written in 1896 by Andrew D. White, in relation to the calamitous experience of the French with fiat money in the 1790s (only some 70 years after a similar debacle involving the collapse of the Banque Générale under John Law). And they could very well be applied to our current global zero interest rate environment.

This week The Spear got to listen to one of Japan’s leading investment banking economists talking about Japanese Helicopter money, a policy which is already covertly underway via on-market debt purchases of government bonds by the BOJ, but which may become more overt over the coming years.  His long-term outlook was grim: eventual hyperinflation.

Japan has a three digit currency rate today because of a similar experience in the 1930’s, when the central bank was directly underwriting government debt issues and engaging in widespread stimulus programs due to the great depression (which got our of control after the finance minister was assassinated by the military due to his attempts to reduce military spending).

And today from CNBC:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday his government would compile a stimulus package of more than $265 billion to reflate the flagging economy, media reported, though it is unclear how much will be spent to directly boost growth.

The premier's 28 trillion yen ($265.30 billion) stimulus package, which exceeds initial estimates of around 20 trillion yen, includes 13 trillion yen in "fiscal measures," Jiji reported. Those measures are likely to include spending by national and local governments, as well as loan programs.
Abe's announcement, via a speech in southern Japan, came earlier than expected and pressures the Bank of Japan to match his big spending plan with additional monetary easing at its closely-watched rate review ending on Friday.

"The amount is so large that the stimulus package is bound to have a big economic impact. It is impossible to spend this much money in one extra budget, so this may take place over the next few years," said Hiroshi Miyazaki, senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

"The BOJ is likely to ease policy, including increasing government debt purchases, so you could say the BOJ can absorb the new debt. It also makes it easier to show that the BOJ and the government are working together."

Unfortunately in our global economy, this type of action spurs central bank easing by the likes of the ECB and Fed who want to maintain a competitive currency, for currency markets are a zero-sum game.  Japan actually ends up exporting its current deflation to the rest of the world.  Cheap debt is used to maintain standards of living, and the debt pile grows bigger yet, necessitating further easing.
As the use of the helicopter - the printing press - becomes more frequent, common and overt with seemingly no consequences, the more likely we are to use it.

Once the helicopter is in use, money has become a political tool.  There can be no helicopter money without collusion between the central bank and government, as it is a fusing of monetary and fiscal policy.
But when the free money stops, there be a lot of wailing (and assassinations).  And since the only thing a politician fears more than death is unpopularity, once the helicopter starts it is almost impossible to stop.

Stimulus, anyone?

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Evolutionary Monotheism

Societies without a fear of God have a habit of disappearing in the long run, as do those polytheistic societies with a pick-and-choose menu of Gods (which The Spear would argue waters down the whole concept of theistic omnipotence, and hence the fear).  The polytheistic ancient Egyptians, Greeks, pagans and Aztecs.  The cosmopolitan Roman empire, with their cult of the Emperor, conquered by Christians.  The conquering of animistic and polytheistic tribes by Islam.  The iconoclasm of Communist states driving religion underground for decades, only making those of faith more resolute.  The survival of the Jews despite great persecution.

How does one compete with a belligerent ideology whose adherents are willing to die for their beliefs?  How does one defeat a self-reinforcing idea which calls for conversion or eradication of unbelievers?

To paraphrase an old saying, the atheists have the watches, but the theists have the time.

While we in the west may like to think that science and technology has conquered religion - that, in the words of Nietzsche, God is dead - The Spear would argue that in the long run, it is these very things which shall spell the doom of largely irreligious societies (i.e most of the modern western world).

Theism will always beat atheism in the long run, because theists are willing to fight for their beliefs, in a literal sense.  They are willing to die (and sometimes kill) for it.  They are fighting with the belief that God is on their side, and that by doing so they shall be rewarded in the after-life.  Who among the atheists are willing to put their life on the line to protect mere worldly possessions whose very utility will be negated if the fight shall be lost?  No virgins, no pearly gates and eternal bliss for the Godless.  Better to lay low, beg for mercy or convert if threatened (theists have weapons too, and no fear of mutually assured destruction).

Perhaps atheists would die for their children or family, but there is no purely selfish motivation.  Capitalism is such a strong force because it hijacks people’s greed and selfishness.  In a way, a religion which promises rewards in the afterlife for following its doctrine uses the same incentive mechanism.  Atheists, on the other hand, weakly cling to life in the hope that the ultimatum of ‘convert or die’ does not come a knocking, because theirs is a bluff that will inevitably be forced to fold.

Why fight?  Why kill?  Unable to comprehend the thought processes of someone for whom death is welcomed, you beg for your life to logically be spared.  There is no logical reason for you to die, you say, as if you are arguing with someone who values a boat or a car as much more than they do eternal bliss (which to them is a very real notion).  You cannot win that argument without converting unless you fight and risk entering the eternal nothingness for which you believe awaits. 

So you convert.  So you may have to follow some silly rituals, who cares?  At least you cling to your worldly possessions for another day.  But your children may very well become true believers.  

Ad infinitum.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Expert who confidently predicted Bremain confidently predicts dire results of Brexit


Local expert Benjamin Hammersmith, who mere moments before the Brexit vote tally was confidently predicting a 95% chance of a Remain outcome, has today released a report forecasting the exact amount of economic and social damage the Brexit vote is to have out to 2066.

Mr Hammersmith’s report, entitled “A Specific Scientific Quantification of Brexit Impacts over the next 49.5 years,” goes into great detail upon the precise effects that the Brexit vote, which took him completely by surprise, is to have on many measures including GDP, Unemployment, Inflation, rates of Domestic Violence, changes in sea level, global surface temperatures and rates of Islamophobia.

“Our modelling shows that by 2066, Britain is to have a GDP up to 15.5% lower than would otherwise be the case,” Mr Hammersmith said of his half-century forecasts which shared the same fundamental biases, unquantifiable unknowns and human fudge factors as his models which failed to predict the results of a national vote which had already occurred mere moments in the past.

“If there’s one thing that readers should take away, it’s that Britain will DEFINITELY be worse off as a result of Brext, now and forever,” said the man whom at that very moment could still not process the fact that the real world had deviated from the lazy assumptions, estimates and just plain pluck-it-out-of-your-arse guesses that underpinned the beautiful black and white results that he would have preferred.  “15.5% worse off.  And don’t get me started on the impact on the polar bear numbers!”

At press time, Mr Hammersmith was heard to be muttering that the logic underlying his democratic model remained sound, and that it clearly must have been the voters who had produced the wrong result.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Too Sexy for Sadiq

In case you missed it, this week saw London Mayor Sadiq Khan announce a ban on “body-shaming” ads on the London Underground.  The move came in response to Protein World’s “Are you beach body ready?” weight-loss protein powder advert below, which sparked a protest in Hyde Park, as well as the obligatory petition (although it was not banned by the Advertising Standards Authority).

 The gist of the argument made by Mr Khan et al is that the advert can demean, upset or offend people by making them feel ashamed of their bodies.  We the people have been deemed too fragile to look upon an ‘unrealistic’ bikini clad model, lest we feel inadequate in our own skin.

Yet by that logic, The Spear must argue that the following advertisement must also be banned:

 Usain Bolt, you magnificent bastard with your rippling guns!  No matter how hard The Spear trains he will never be as fast, toned, black or cool as you!  The Spear can never change that!  Stop making him and countless others feel inadequate in their own puny unathletic uncool skins with your ‘unrealistic’ image!

But far from a Hyde park protest and a petition, the advert actually proclaims “Celebration” of the fastest man on Earth.  It recognises that this man is the best in the world at something, largely due to his physical attributes, and it celebrates his excellence.  Now why can’t we similarly celebrate other people for being exceptional in their own way, even if that way is having a great bikini body?

You may say the bikini body advert is sexualised, that the woman’s confidence stance is suggestive, even aggressive, and ‘forward’.  Oh no!  But isn’t that something the feminists should be cheering -  the right of a woman to show off her body, no more than she would at the beach, without fear of being judged for being too ugly or too ‘sexy’?  And doesn’t it make sense that a company that makes weightloss products would want to associate their product with somebody with an ‘unrealistically’ sexy body?

Perhaps Sadiq and the protestors would prefer a more modest advert, one showing less skin, possibly along the lines of:

But not so fast – still too confident and with a smile that suggests this woman knows how to have a ‘good time'.  And the show of the ankle! Better be on the safe side in case someone gets offended:

  The Spear is once more reminded of Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘The Sirens or Titan’ whereby Earth’s society creates a religion of “The Church of God the Utterly Indifferent”, whereby people do their best to diminish advantages that exist amongst themselves in order for everyone to be equal.

Every strong member of faith accepted handicaps gladly, wore them proudly everywhere. The weakest and meekest were bound to admit, at last, that the race of life was fair”.

“Everyone wore handicaps of some sort. Most handicaps were of an obvious sort - sashweights, bags of shot, furnace grates - meant to hamper physical advantages. But there were, among Redwine’s parishioners, several true believers who had chosen handicaps of a subtler and more telling kind. There were women who had received by dint of dumb luck the terrific advantage of beauty. They had annihilated that unfair advantage with frumpish clothes, bad posture, chewing gum, and a ghoulish use of cosmetics. One old man, whose only advantage was excellent eyesight, had spoiled that eyesight by wearing his wife’s spectacles”.

In another short story of a similar vein, Vonnegut has intelligent people purposely handicapped by the government with radios in their ears which buzz with nonsense whenever they start thinking too much.

If you support the removal of this advertisement, logically you must support the removal of the Bolt advertisement, and the removal of any other public displays of natural inequality in stature or talent.  While we can’t all have the bikini body of the woman in the advert (oh how The Spear cries his nights away), neither can we all be a gifted sportsmen, artist or mathematician.  Sure, we can make some improvements, but thankfully, we will never be truly equal.  How boring would a world without ‘unrealistic’ exceptions be?