Friday, 7 October 2022

" 2:21 / 5:35 INVESTIGATION: Fauci Funds Wuhan Lab Group, Ignores NIH Warning"


This is quite extraordinary. That Dr Fauci should fund the very same outfit -- EcoHealth Alliance -- that is implicated in the “Gain of Function” research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, at the centre of the hypothesis that the pandemic was caused by a leak from that lab.

The folks above are not crazies. Saager has done a detailed comparison of the two main hypotheses, the zoonotic and lab leak theory. 

My flabber is gasted that Fauci should be so tone deaf as to approve this research. Mind, he’s at the end of his term and maybe just DGAS.



Thursday, 6 October 2022

“Fair Work” vs. Fear Woke

Essendon president saying the quite part out loud
A big kerfuffle, or storm in a teacup, depending where you stand on the issue of how the law should handle the pressure from the woke-erati. Andrew Thorburn, newly appointed to CEO of the Essendon Football Club in Melbourne had to step down after just one day. The issue? It was found that the church he belonged to, City on a Hill (CoH), had some dodgy beliefs on homosexuality and abortion. 

Thoughts below as a life-long atheist, agreeing with neither of the views attributed to the City on the Hill church:

This is surely against the law. Which is clear, in the Fair Work act. You can’t be discriminated against for your religion.  But Essendon is because they Fear Woke. Thorburn’s initial defence, that the church had varied views, was irrelevant. Now he’s offering a more sensible one: it’s a dangerous idea that religious faith could render someone unfit for an office. Agree. Thorburn was CEO of a couple of banks before he retired, and his faith appears to have been irrelevant to his performance then. As one would expect.

Does anyone still not know that most religions, and probably all branches of Christianity, have pretty grim views about gay folks and about abortion. How can that be surprise to anyone? Even if they are voiced in rather strong terms, as it appears they may have been back in 2013 by the CoH.

Many on Twitter have commented “what about Muslims?”. Indeed. Islam is even more anti pillow-munching than the City on a Hill brethren.  For example Warren Mundine, Aboriginal elder, weighs in.

All US presidents so far have claimed a version of the Christian faith. Kennedy a Catholic -- robustly anti gay and anti abortion. Jimmy Carter a Southern Baptist, founders of slavery, who still say homosexuals will “burn in hell”, and abortion doctors should die. 

Dan Andrews, Victorian Premier, signalled his virtue by calling the views of CoH “appalling and abhorrent”.  I might even agree, as a lifetime atheist. But, again, irrelevant. He should have been loudly proclaiming the right for people to have their faith. That’s the law. Or are we to see Andrews loudly proclaiming he finds beliefs of Islam “appalling and abhorrent”? Like to see that!

This was a huge pile-on, based on complaints by a few Essendon supporting gay activists. This is what  we’ve come to these days. People fear the woke. More than they believe in “Fair Work”. People are going the have faith-based tests before they can be employed. This is not going in a good direction.

ADDED: Essendon’s mealy-mouthed statement, a classic of the genre. 

“ Americans overestimate the size of minority groups and underestimate the size of most majority groups”

From YouGov poll
Blue = what people think. Red = actual number.

The chart above is terribly interesting.  Imagine that people think 30% of Americans live in New York! Also note there are more registered Republicans than registered Democrats. Which you wouldn’t think from the media. 

Wednesday, 5 October 2022

“Our Kestrel" -- or perhaps (more likely?) a Peregrine Falcon

Above video by Jing, in our backyard, after killing a starling, plucking it on a branch of our Poinciana tree, showering us in a snow-flurry of feathers, then proceeded to eat it over the next few hours. Leaving a half-eaten bloody carcass from time to time for a bit of a fly. I imagine if you’re a falcon, flying must be super fun, what with the wings of angels, and wonderful eyesight.

My photo: Falcon just killed a Speckled Starling, on our back lawn.
Keeping a falcon eye out for potential thieves

I’m still not 100% sure, Kestrel or Peregrine. Of course, both are falcons. 

I thought we’d identified it as a Kestrel on the basis of the “The Birds of Hong Kong”, a winter visitor, October to March, which we’d last seen on the same tree on Christmas eve last year, and thus “our Kestrel” returned. But then, the colour seems too dark, and it’s a bird that it’s killed. Peregerines are darker, Kestrels usually brown. Peregrines kill other birds, Kestrels tend to kill small mammals on the ground. (So Wiki tells me).

If it is a Peregrine falcon, it’s a member of the family which is the fastest animal on earth, reaching speeds of 380 kph in their “stoop”, or steep dive. They have special bone formation in their noses (beaks?) to limit to flow of air to their lungs during dives, to avoid damage to the lungs from the speed of the incoming air. That’s also pretty amazing!

Have been sent a link to webcam in Melbourne, showing the Peregrine falcon there with her chicks. Thanks to Jane! It was that that got me rethinking the identity of “our Kestrel”, as I looked them all up on Wiki. Kestrels and Peregrines both members of that noble family, falcons or “Falconiformes”. They mate for life (👏). Females larger than males. In the wild, nest high on cliffs. Now thriving in cityscapes where they love to nest on the side of tall buildings, as at 367 Collins St. 

Imagine stepping off that ledge -- as I just saw mummy Peregrine do -- and not plummeting to the earth, but soaring..., sharp eyes out for a yummy pigeon. Which I’ve just watched her feed to the four chicks. She took ages over it, hungry squeaking fluffy balls.

"The trouble with ‘bourgeois’ environmentalism” | Spectator

Extinction Rebellion guy shows he cares
/Snip:

The left needs to shake off its ‘bourgeois environmentalism’. It needs to distance itself from the ‘bourgeois environmental lobby’ and make the case for fracking and the building of new nuclear power stations.
Who do you think said this? Some contrarian commentator? A right-winger irritated by eco-loons? Nope, it was Gary Smith, the general secretary of the GMB trade union. [More...]

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Living in Interesting Times. Twitter-Watching discussion on how to avoid nuclear war in real time

It’s more than “interesting”. It’s downright amazing! That we can watch -- via Twitter -- some of the smartest people in the world, some of the most influential people in the world, some of the most consequential people in the world, discuss how to avoid going nuclear over Ukraine

Love or hate Twitter, surely that’s a good thing.

Elon Musk has tweeted a proposal to bring peace to Ukraine. Gary Kasparov, the former chess world champion -- and a Musk fan -- criticises the proposal. He had a spat with Elon over it. Others have come in on either side. And this is happening in real time, on Twitter

Will this influence the decision makers? Most certainly. It already has, Ukraine president Zalensky is in this Twitter battle. But better battle on Twitter than on the ground with nukes. Right??? 

Note: Musk has donated $US80 million in StarLink Satellite dishes to Ukraine. And $0 to Russia. Yet he’s been trolled as repeating “Kremlin talking points”. 

It may be that Putin needs an “exit ramp”. A Musk-like proposal might have the makings of an exit ramp. While giving significant victory to Ukraine over the course of the war. 

But my point here, is what an amazing thing it is that we can watch these people argue and agree, haggle and hate, dispute and discuss, right in front of our eyes. Right there, in real time. Hoping, as we do, that we avoid another 1914 or 1939.

Following this on Twitter, you have to make sure you’re tuned in to the right people. That you follow the consequential ones, the smart ones, and you need to make sure you cover all sides, as it’s all too easy to be blinded by confirmation bias, by cognitive dissonance and only “Follow” those who reflect your own views. You have to avoid that. Make sure >30% of your Follows are people on the "other side". 

Mullet

Things I don’t get: Putin supportism

From DiEM25. Revanchism in Europe
Reasons Putin invaded Ukraine? I think they come down to two, mostly alternative:

1. NATO dun it. Reckless pushing east of the Treaty countries made Putin nervous. He repeatedly warned them. They did it anyway. So he had no choice but to push back. Self-defence in Ukraine.

2. Putin the revanchist. Had to get back the “old countries”. The collapse of the Soviet Union was “the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century”, said Putin. A Russian neo-imperialist in action in Ukraine.

Both views have strong arguments. I lean to the latter, with a tinge of “NATO offered the excuse”.

Whichever is true, there’s something I don’t get: whatever you lean to, and even if you lean totally to the “NATO is responsible” camp, if you’re in the west, why would you barrack for a Putin win? That I find puzzling. I do see many in Twitter gloating when Putin has an advance and nonplussed when he has a retreat. Why that? I don’t get it.

ADDED: To say Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons complicates matters is surely the greatest understatement. We can’t dismiss it. After all, everyone was dismissing Putin invading Ukraine, right up to the moment he did. And then what do the No.1 camp say? It’s still all the west's fault? Can we possibly contemplate the horror of horrors? A nuclear war on European soil? And then whose fault is it?

Could that be why there’s Putin supportism? That if he “wins” or think he wins, if he has a credible off ramp, then he does not go nuke? Perhaps. And it may be right. If they explained it like that, rather than in uniformly anti-western terms, might help their case.

Writing this I come across Diem25.org a group of mostly left wingers, out to radically increase transparency and democracy in the EU. The ex Finance Minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis is a founding member. I’ve a lot of respect for him. Here is their Manifesto

Monday, 3 October 2022

It is not “Climate Denial” to state the facts about hurricane incidence in the US

Click above to go to Tweet and the thread
The red dotted line is the trend line 1900-2020
Which facts about hurricanes in the US are:

  • The number of hurricanes making landfall in the US since 1900 has declined in the century.
  • The costs of hurricanes making landfall in the US since 1900 are steady, no increase, in the century.
  • The deaths by hurricanes making landfall in the US since 1900 have fallen sharply in the century.

Those are the data. And yet, all we see on the media -- like in the wake of Hurricane Ian -- is that hurricanes are more frequent and more deadly. That’s not true. Even the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration talking to CNN, saying this, doesn’t convince the likes of CNN to change their tune. 

The thing I realise is that if people have a fixed view, the science, the data, is not going to change their minds. So I wonder, what then? If people are impervious to the data, to the reality, to the truth, to the science, what can be done, and how do we move forward on tackling climate change, in a way that makes scientific sense? Or is it me? Am I the one suffering cognitive dissonance? 

Yet, we don’t deny the reality of climate change because we show these data. We merely show the facts. 

Yes, we must tackle climate change. But from a basis of understanding the facts. Not by scaring people. For scaring people can backfire, people not trusting anything said by the climate alarm proponents.

“Helpers deserve to be permanent residents too” | My Letter published

 


Saturday, 1 October 2022

This is an important free speech case

In the US the government is not allowed to infringe on the rights of anyone to say anything. But what about when it asks a third party, a private entity, like a Facebook or Twitter, to do the suppression of free speech on their behalf? 

That’s about to be litigated in the US, over the shutting down of the Great Barrington Declaration, back in 2020. Over Covid policy. 

This is terribly important. The first of its kind. And the video above covers the main issues. 

Please do watch, as it revolves around core principles of the American body politic. What makes America tick. The right to free speech. And who and how it might be infringed. 

1 October 2016 Dolomites Italy

Drove around in a 1950 Jaguar XK120. Skied, walked

And also China National Day. Yay!

ADDED: My Jag, Brescia, Italy, in 2002, before the Coppa D'oro. 

It’s a 1950 with bronze badge from Coventry factory that it reached 125 mph in 1951. Note the rear wheel spats.


What woo-woo nonsense will now be facilitated by YouTube? The case of TCM

Click to enlarge and clarify
I’m posting this again, after having talked about it the other day, because I realised that my flabber was well and truly gasted, by what these senior Health officials here in Hong Kong are saying about the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine. By the fact it was carried on the front page of our “paper of record”, the South China Morning Post, the largest-selling English language paper in Asia. By having our top health experts propagating this woo-woo. For we must be clear: it is woo-woo, with no valid medical research, double-blind control tested showing any benefits. The fact that millions in China take TCM, and believe they benefit, is nothing more than the placebo effect. (also to be clear: the placebo effect is real. But to the extent that it does help, sometimes, it’s because of the mind of the patient, not the effect of the medicine).

At first, I thought: “If I posted this woo-woo on YouTube, they would cancel me for posting misinformation”.

Then I realised something weirder, after going to the YouTube Covid-19 medical misinformation policy: which spells out what you’re allowed to say, and what you’re not allowed to say on YouTube:

YouTube doesn't allow content that spreads medical misinformation that contradicts local health authorities’ (LHA) or the World Health Organization’s (WHO) medical information about COVID-19... [the rest...]

So, here’s the thing. If our LHA, which in Hong Kong is the Centre for Public Health, posts something about Covid, I have to make sure that I don’t contract them. Our Centre for Health Protection have endorsed the use of TCM to prevent and treat Covid. If I challenge that, I’m the one that gets cancelled!

If I say that TCM is unscientific, that the “studies” they have done are bogus, because they have no control groups, if I say they are propagating dangerous nonsense, I will be the one cancelled because I “contradict the local health authorities”. 

How’zat! Stumped!! Bowled out.

ADDED: I’ll pick out a few gems from the article above, the one on the front page of the SCMP:

“Hospital Authority chief executive Henry Fan called for ‘significant expansion’ of the role that TCM played in healthcare and greater collaboration between its practitioners and Western doctors”.

Comment: (1) Zero science showing TCM in healthcare is useful. And (2) When western medicine is used in conjunction with TCM,, who can say which one is effective? TCM pushers claim -- with no evidence -- that it’s TCM. 

“Professor Bean Zhaoxian... said 71 percent of the participants were diagnosed ... with Qi deficiency of lung and spleen and Qi and Yan deficiency...”. 

Comment: Oh, really!?  Woo woo writ large. 

“... researchers found that 36.5 per cent of [recovered patients] -- more than one in three -- reported improvements in ‘long Covid’...”.

Comment: would they have improved anyway? How do we know? We don’t. There were no control groups. And why not? Because “... it might have been harder to prevent those participants [in the Control Group] from knowing they were not receiving the treatment because the herbs could have a recognisable taste”. Oh, for heaven’s sake! And so we’re supposed to be ok, with that? It only heightens the nonsense of TCM that it is dosed out in literal herbs that still taste like herbs. 

To add insult to injury, we are told that increased numbers of  “experienced and reputable” TCM practitioners from China will be foisted on Hong Kong. 
This is such nonsense. It is also dangerous. And it’s embarrassing for a city that is supposed to be a modern science-based one. Shocking. 

Friday, 30 September 2022

December 2021

Solving the homeless crisis in California: Tough Love vs Puppy Love

Things to know about the homeless crisis in California.

It’s been decades in the making

A lot has been spent on trying to solve it. 

A lot of money is committed to trying to solve it: 6% of the Cali budget, around $US 20 billion per year, or $500 for every man woman and child in the state. 

Yet it has only got worse. As Kenneth Meiji shows for LA. And Michael Shellenberger shows for San Francisco.

What to do? 

What do I know? Answer: nothing. What I do know is that there are different approaches. Some, the progressive ones, have been tried again and again, and have failed. At least so far. The measure of failure? That homelessness has gotten worse. Problem is data doesn’t matter. Same as with the response to “socialism has been tried and doesn’t work” which is: “well it hasn’t been tried properly”, we get the “we just have to try harder”. But getting ahead of myself. What are these main approaches to tackling the homelessness crisis in California?

The two basic approaches (my words): Tough Love vs Puppy Love. “Be responsible” vs “don’t blame the victim”.

Also known as: Systems vs Goals. Republicans think systems are better to deal with crises. Democrats think Goals are better. Also knows as “Shelter First” or “Housing First”.

“Shelter First” is: provide basic, clean bed and and chafed amenities. Work on mental health and drug addiction problems. Provide housing as a reward for steps forward. 

“Housing First” is:provide a standalone, single-occupancy dwelling. Usually there is no follow up so high rate of people drop outs back to the streets to score. This is the policy being adopted now in California. But not the rest of America. So comparisons can be made. Shellenberger looks at the issues from all angles: the homeless, the carers, the non-profits, the parents, the kids. 

Having been a progressive, environmental activist, Shellenberger is now a critic. As I said to Kenneth, well worth a read, no matter your politics. Even, ,synergies even especially, if you’re a self described progressive. 

It’s only “progressive” if it progresses things. If it moves them forward. To a better place. The problem with treating the homeless crisis in Cali via progressive policies, is that they are no longer progressive. They’re doing the thing that Einstein warned about: trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. It’s like the Left’s view of socialism: “It’s only failed because it hasn’t been tried properly”. 

I’ve been re-reading San Fransicko, coz researching the County Controller candidate Kenneth Meiji, yesterday. Who strikes me as a serious and committed young man. But driven by the same progressive policies that have captured Cali and captured the homeless issue -- aka “the homeless industrial complex”. IOW, don’t think it will work. And if so, what then? Surely young folks like him have to have some success to make it worth it for them. And to have success, he may need to look at and try some tough love, instead of puppy love. 

A certain birthday

 

Thursday, 29 September 2022

“Coronavirus: Chinese medicine may help relieve ‘long Covid’ symptoms such as fatigue, Hong Kong study shows”

The study shows nothing of the sort. This nonsense on the front page of SCMP print edition.  There was no control group. Insane. And useless. "Results" with no control group are not results. This is nonsense.
As all the commenters note.
Embarrassing!
Misinformation! 
Imagine. A “doctor” talks of “rebalancing” the “Qi”. Oh, dear, oh dear.. Good for woo-woo. Not for real Science. This is the sort of nonsense taught at “quackademia”. The only reason our paper of record puts it on the front page is because Dear Leader Xi Jinping is pushing it. And why he’s pushing it I don’t know. Except perhaps pandering to the rather large number who actually believe it. But large numbers believing doesn’t make it true. We used to believe the world was flat. 

White Chapel Discovery Bay Hong Kong April 2020

Who is Kenneth Mejia?


Who is Kenneth Mejia? He’s the guy I referred to yesterday. In the post about Patrick Soon-Shiong.

And why do I care about him? Because I’d read that he said “defund the police town to the last dollar”. And this is a person going for be LA City Controller. Where we have family interests. Would you want someone like that in a city where crime is rising? We have family in LA. Hence the worry.

I delved into Kenneth. Did he really say that? Not so sure. Google him and he comes across as a fresh-faced young kid. Keen. Hard working. There’s nothing like “defund the police down to the last dollar.”  

I do find reference to a website “mejiadangerous.com” but that is password-protected (?!). Mejia reports on money flowing to the LAPD, but not sure he wants to defund it “down the the last dollar”, which would be suicidal. He’s sure a leftie and a progressive. He’s photoed with Jane Fonda. She of “China Syndrome” which single-handedly enfeared the public against nuclear, so I’d label her as bigly responsible for our current carbon dioxide problems. But I doubt Kenneth even knows that. To him she’d just be a progressive icon.

Still I have hopes for the young lad. I emailed him. The book mentioned is “San Fransicko” which is a must-read for anyone interested in things Californian. Email: 

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

“In praise of billionaires”… but not this one

Patrick Soon-Shiong. A biotech billionaire who bough the LA Times in 2018 and handed it over to Nika, his 28 year old daughter who has turned it into a platform for her favourite woke causes, including “defund the polices down to the last dollar”. We know from actual facts and actual experience that where the police have been defunded, including in LA, crime has spiked, up to 200%. But ideology is immune to facts. 

Nika has forced the Times to endorse a radical socialist for the WeHo County Board. And as someone who has lived in an actual socialist country (China in the seventies) I have no time for socialism writ large. In my view, Patrick is doing harm to California by negligently allowing his crazy daughter to push her own extreme views through the West Coast’s “paper of record”. An early Guardian report.

Stick to bio-tech Patrick. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Permanent Residency for Domestic Workers | LETTER TO SCMP

Now we have easing of Covid restrictions, could our government please add another item to its agenda? That is, granting PR status to all people in Hong Kong on an equal basis: the same criteria for all.
In our household we were proud to earn our Permanent Residence status fifteen years ago. All, that is, but our domestic helper, who has been here even longer than us, yet is not eligible for Permanent Residency.
I can think of no reason for this, save outright discrimination. 
I'm sure there were fine-sounding justifications when the policy was first implemented.  But they don't hold up today. Concern about overcrowding, if ever relevant, is now moot, given structural falls in our population growth.
Domestic helpers throughout Hong Kong have been with us throughout the pandemic. They helped us survive. It's high time we rewarded all those who have committed to this place with permanent residency, on the same basis for everyone. 
Peter Forsythe
Discovery Bay 
9308 0799

The wise man

 


Monday, 26 September 2022

Hong Kong opens up today... kind of

There’s still all this PPE nonsense at our airport
Today’s the day we cancel the quarantine we’ve had for nearly three years. Now it’s what they call “0+3”. That is, no quarantine on arrival, but three days of self-administered medical observation. Which I take to mean having daily RAT tests. 

There’s still to be PCR testing at the airport, but apparently you won’t have to wait for the result. That’s a positive. 

All this means easier for HK residents to travel and come back; not so sure it’ll be attractive enough to tourists. We’ll see. And travel to-fro the mainland has not improved as they have to do quarantine on the Chinese side, and by all accounts it can be pretty dire.

All other restrictions remain: limited numbers at restaurants and bars, limited opening times, vaccine passes mandated everywhere, masks mandated everywhere. So there’s all that that’s more restrictive than anywhere else in Asia.

In praise of billionaires

Depressing, to me, that nearly 40k people had Liked this
by the time I had saw it today. Reich’s is a false narrative
That’s a tweet from Robert Reich. First up I thought it was parody. But no, it’s just Intelligent Idiocy. 

There’s no doubt professor Reich is intelligent. Wouldn’t be a professor if not, right? And he did do some good things, when he was Labor Secretary under Bill Clinton. Things like job training schemes. 

But he’s also an idiot. [ADDED: I wrote this before I found out Musk called Reich the same]. Provably so. He pushed the NAFTA accords. At the time he said the labour unions were “absolutely wrong”, to fear massive job losses in the car industry. Turns out he was the one “absolutely wrong” -- NAFTA led to 50% job losses, loss of well-paying jobs in middle America. 
50% job losses after Reich’s NAFTA deal
US Bureau of Labor Statistics figures
So while this Washington gnome destroyed tens of thousands of well-paying American jobs, he now berates people who create jobs. For without Musk, no Tesla. Without Elon, no SpaceX. Without Bezos, no Amazon. Without Jobs, no Apple. Without Buffet, no Berkshire. And without them all million fewer jobs. 

As for “inherited wealth”, those he mentions in his odious little hit job of a video, had none. Musk certainly not, as shown here. [LATER: Reich says Musk “came from a wealthy family that owned an emerald mine in Apartheid South Africa”, a story that is completely false; Reich either couldn’t be bothered finding out, or knew it and lied knowingly. Either way, that’s shocking. Full background here]
Bezos was born to impoverished teenagers. Much later his wider family scraped together some starting capital for his new business idea (Let’s sell books online!). But that is what everyone, everywhere, every time, does to get started. It’s what we did with the business we started here in HK. You borrow money from family and friends. To class that as a version of “inherited wealth” is ludicrous. 
As is classifying Gates’ mother giving him an intro to IBM as some kind of privilege. It’s always what you do with the chances that counts. What you do with that fortuitous introduction. 
Same with Warren Buffett, who grew up with entrepreneurialism in his blood. Not wealth, just a burning desire to make money -- delivering papers as a youngster and selling used golf balls. Which he parlayed into a gargantuan empire. Not just for himself but for millions of workers and shareholders in his company. 

Buffett classed his business as “Asset Allocation” and that’s what he did -- allocate capital, in ways so productive it energised thousands of companies, shareholders and employees around the world. I’ve seen the Asset Allocation capacities of Red Raw Socialism in China in the seventies. It’s horrible and wasteful and inefficient and demoralising. China's “State-Owned Enterprises” behemoths of blah.

I’m no mind reader and I don’t want to try to read Robert Reich’s thoughts. From his presentation in the video, one gets the impression -- at least I do -- that he’s jealous of the billionaires. And so he plays out his jealousy by demonising them as a group, those whose money is a measure of their success, not of their wickedness. Those without whom the world would be a worse place. Whereas, without Reich pushing NAFTA in 1995 the US would also have been a better place. At least for the workers that Reich pretends to care about. 

PS: Larry Summers, the Democrat and ex Treasurer of the United States, agrees with me!

ADDED: Amazon Anecdotes: Last year I tried to buy some ecologically sound goodies as Xmas presents and found some on a British website. Got all the way to the check out, all the way to the very end, putting in the credit card details, only to be told, at the very very end, that they don’t ship outside the UK. Sigh. Back to Amazon. 
Another time a friend who’d just published a book asked if I could buy it via the publishers, not Amazon, as she made clear she though it a horrid capitalist company. So, again, I hie me to the publisher’s website, only to be told they don’t ship outside Australia. In both cases I ended up back on Amazon. And thinking: the only reason those companies don’t ship internationally is laziness. Or short-sightedness. Or both. In any case, not doing what Amazon has done for years, which is, go the extra mile. People love to hate on Amazon. But ask them if they’d rather not have Amazon? 
An Amazon trope is that it underpays its staff. It does not. Its least paid workers get a little over $US20/hour. The US minimum wage is $7.25. Amazon is paying its least paid 2.75 times the minimum wage. Hardly enough to support a family for sure. But consider: unless you have zero drive in your life (something which all billionaires have in abundance) you’re not there to stay at minimum wage. That’s just entry level. It’s clear from the Amazon employee structure that there’s plenty of opportunities to move up the ranks, right up into the senior management ranks, if you’re good enough and -- again -- if you’re driven. Drive is the key, despite Reich pooh-poohing it. 

ADDED (2): I haven’t touched on other bits of “Reich’s recap”, like the “government subsidies”. In the Tesla case, it was a government loan (not a subsidy) and Reich fails to mention: Ford and GM both got more than Tesla and Tesla has repaid it in full (the others have not). On “Tax loopholes”, I won’t go there, save to say they are also known as “tax planning”. And if you don’t plan your tax, you’re a fool. If you’re a public company, if you don’t tax plan, you’re failing in your fiduciary duty and shareholders will come after you. Simply saying “tax loopholes” is smearing these companies, to no end, save to get foolish folks to Like.

ADDED (3): Reich is talking about America. If we look at the billionaires in Hong Kong, they virtually all arrived here as penniless refugees. That’s the case of our richest man, Li Ka-shing, who famously left school at 15 to start selling plastic flowers. Which he parlayed into a global empire, employing tens of thousands. It’s true that his wealth and that of fellow tycoons is now being passed on to younger generations so they there’s that inherited wealth angle; as they say “we ought have a discussion around that”.  Similarly the inequality of wealth issue. Reich raises a large straw man here, for I don’t know anyone claiming that it’s due to the “choices of everyday Americans”. At least not as the only reason. If you look it up, you find quickly that it’s multi-factorial. “Choices of everyday Americans” is part of it; must be. And part of it must be the negative effect of Americans of Color, everywhere everyday being told that there’s systemic racism in the country, that it’s irredeemable and that therefore they can never succeed. That surely is counterproductive and horrid message to give out to a huge section of America. How can that be a good thing? And how can that provide the grit needed to succeed, to work to be a billionaire? 

Caesar Salad

 

Sunday, 25 September 2022

“Trump still lives rent-free in ‘Doonesbury’ cartoonist Trudeau’s head“ | Wa Times

Click to enlarge 
I can still remember that November day in 2016 when we learned that Donald Trump had become America’s 45th president. I was, like “huh!?” Thought it was pretty weird and next thought was I wonder what he’ll do. In short : I’d never been a supporter, nor subject to what came to be known as Trump Derangement Syndrome. Which many in the Left succumbed to, prime amongst them the above Garry Trudeau.

To find todays cartoon funny, at some level you have to accept the notion that Trump is neo-Hitler. Looking back in his four years, Trump did some good things (Abraham Accords, First Steps Act) and some stupid things (Jan 6, et.seq.). But Hitlerian? I struggle to see anywhere anything like. If he was a would-be dictator, he was pretty bad at it. Those that hammer him for “election scepticism” — rebranded as “insurrection” —  conveniently forget they spent four years and a whole independent investigation, the Mueller Report, to look at, and ultimately disprove, their obsession that 2016 was “illegitimate”. And continue to support Stacey Abrams’ bizarre and repeated claims that she “won” the 2018 election for governor of Georgia, despite having lost by over 50,000 votes,… four years ago! [Fact checked by WaPo]

Now, that’s funny.

Read more at “Trump still lives rent-free in ‘Doonesbury’ cartoonist Trudeau’s head

Saturday, 24 September 2022

Tous Les Mêmes -- "We’re all the same”

Stromae, “Tous Les Mêmes”. Click for the vid.
Quite one of his best
“All the same”. We men, that is. Not women. Women are all different, of course. And better. 

Stromae does the fantastic “Tous les Mêmes“, and also sings of the workers during Covid in Santé . The true heroes.  Not the laptop class, but the working class. Good on him. 

The pandemic was when we learnt we weren’t really all the same. There were those with their guaranteed incomes -- the "laptop class”: the media, the experts, the academics, the civil servants, the comfortable retirees -- and then there’s the “working class”, those out there making a living, making work for themselves and others, running pubs, making subs, manning checkouts, trucking orders, serving the laptop class. But heaven help them they dared complain, about being kept from their work -- then it was all “so you want to kill grandma” and how dare you, for “one death is too many”. Enough! For me that is.

Most of my friends and all of my family, me included, are members of the laptop class. All all either salaried or retired. I don’t know if they understand what the working class have gone through. Many, for sure, of the laptop class are oblivious. To the true suffering and for many the true disaster of this pandemic. Which for the laptop class was measured only in deaths. Not in lives ruined. 

The reason I mention this now, at the fag-end (one hopes) of the pandemic, is that there’s a renewed push, I discern, to go back to days of lockdowns, because there’s yet another wave looming. And Long Covid. And children sickened. We can’t have that, so they say, so more lockdown. The working class, plus laptop class traitors like me, must resist. We must resist more lockdowns. 

Me -- a laptop class member, retired and comfortable, but a traitor to my class -- I want us to ignore the looming waves. I’m right in its path of a wave, very vulnerable, as an elderly with comorbidities. But still, I don’t want the world to shut down again, for the sake of we vulnerable. Yet there are plenty who do. Especially doctors and experts. Who want us to contemplate and be afraid, of the horrid deaths from covid, of the fact that young ones do die of it, of the possibility of a new variant, of... whatever, of.... anything. Safetyism run riot.

ADDED: There’s another view, which maybe is also kind of in the space of Stromae. Adam Carolla talking to Michael Yo, about his thoughts on “chickthink”. Here.

Friday, 23 September 2022

“Lee warns city’s journalists to avoid ‘camouflaged media’” | SCMP

I don’t even know what “camouflaged media” is. And we don’t learn anything from the article. Though Ronson Chan, head of the Journalists Association says our chief executive John Lee, the one issuing these dire warnings, should name names. 

Presumably “camouflaged media “ is something dark. Media; hiding themselves, hiding their motives, cleverly, cunningly hiding their real views behind “patriotic” news. That’s the camouflage! I guess something like that. Typical of paranoid communist view of the media. Unless they’re praising you they’re against you. Or … maybe even the praise can be camouflage for bad intent! You never know the perfidy of that horrid western-led media! With all its “freedom of speech” and stuff.

Not a nice report in media freedom here in Hong Kong, with Lee issuing a lot of commie-speak pabulum: “Tell the Hong Kong story well…give correct information …carry on the tradition and forge ahead.…speak up against smearing by foreign forces.” Oh, those horrid “foreign forces”! 

As we have dropped 60 places to 148 out of 160 on the global press freedom index. Gloom.

Thursday, 22 September 2022

“Is Australia the greatest NIMBY country in the world?"

 

Baker Gardens, ACT. My proposed site for Australia’s first 
Small Modular Nuclear Reactor. (Google Maps)

"NIMBY OZ"

I have an idea for Canberra. Install the latest nuclear technology, a Small Modular Reactor in a central suburb. And I know exactly where: Baker Gardens, Ainslie, Canberra, ACT. There’s an unused park in the middle of the Gardens that would be the perfect size and location. (see pic above).
A SMR of around 500MW capacity would generate enough power to provide for all of Canberra’s needs.
Thus, at one fell swoop, Canberra would become the Net Zero Capital of Australia. Perhaps the Net Zero capital of the world.
Imagine what a fillip this would be to our tired, our poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe a carbon-free future. Imagine a new Canberra Colussus!
“But, Peter”, I hear you object, “what about the waste?” Again, I have the answer.

This case of Mermaids v LBGA is a big deal in sexual and gender rights

When Michael Gibbon KC, counsel for Mermaids, was cross-examining Harris, he asked her to reflect on whether some people would understand “lesbian” to refer to something other than a natal female who is attracted to other natal females. Or, as he put it, would Harris consider whether some people would have a different understanding of “lesbian” from the understanding her organisation is based on?

Harris broke down into tears, asking: “That a lesbian can be a man with a penis?” After composing herself, she responded: “I’m going to speak for millions of lesbians around the world, who are lesbians because we love other women … We will not be erased and we will not have any man with a penis tell us he’s a lesbian because he feels he is.” [my emphasis]

More here 

Yekaterinburg

 

Four Men in a Voxy
Joe, Gordie, your blogger PF, Rob. Outside the church where the Czar
and family were kept before being slaughtered by Lenin’s goons
Another Google-fed photo. 

We drove a Toyota Voxy from Vladivostok to Moscow. Across the wastes of Siberia and into the capital.

And I’m wondering what it would be like to cross today's Russia as we variously hear “Putin is losing” or “Putin is regrouping” as I sit studiously on the fence for the fog of war is real and who quite knows, not even Putin or Zelenski themselves. Not that I don’t share the widely held hope that Ukraine prevail.

But I do wonder. What would four guys, none of whom speaks Russian, driving across the whole country, know of what’s going on, how people feel, in a country at war. Would we even tell they are different today than a decade ago? They were pretty dour then. More or less dour now? Now that Putin has called up reserves? And told the troops down Donbas way, “you’re not coming home”?

“Pentagon to review psyops after fake accounts exposed” | SCMP

I was sent the actual report a few weeks back by an Occasional Reader. The report that the US engaged in psychological warfare. After glancing through it my comments at the time were:

a. So what? As in, t’were ever so. We’ve always done it. And they’ve always done it. It was China wot invented spy craft. As the Pentagon spokesman says above “It’s an aspect of warfare as old as warfare itself”.

b. In any case, the report says (though not the news item above) that open and official government Twitter posts get more Likes and Retweets than any of the fake ones; so…“so what?” even more.

c. Who does this help, this Stanford Report, other than enemies of the west? To answer my own question, no-one. Stanford University, the authors of the report, may think they are helping bring peace to the world, or adding to the sum of human knowledge. But they are achieving neither because a) we already knew w eeyhing they reported and b) they are giving more free ammunition to the anti-western cabal.

Note the underlined bit above: 

the accounts “consistently advanced narratives promoting the interests of the United States and its allies while opposing countries including Russia, China and Iran.” 

Shocking! Can’t you just hear the disdain dripping off that sentence.  To the authors, one feels, no aim is more ignoble than promoting the interests of the west.  And, to them, it is good that this effort is “facing scrutiny”.

Well done, Stanford! Pinning your colours firmly to a mast of lovely countries, Russia, China, Iran. Just surprised they didn’t add North Korea and Cuba for good measure. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Rocky

Grandson Rocky. 2.y.o.
5 February 2020, Brighton, England 
A random Google-fed photo.

“Another policy critic silenced online before party congress”

Today South China Morning Post 
This going on in China. Lau Dongyan, Sima Nan, Xu Zhangrun, He Weifang. All brave critics. Subject now to Chinese version of cancel culture, as it readies for the Party Congress. Butter spots my own work.

Professor Lau is right to express her concerns about the abuse of Covid-developed technology being used for ongoing forever control of the population. Which, she notes, harms the rule of law.

Elsewhere today. Josephine Ma talks about the forever restrictions and control, result of Zero Covid policies (ZCP). As happened with the Beijing Olympics control measures begun in 2008 — like metal detectors at subways. Begun as “temporary measures” for the Games. Still with us 14 years later. That’s what I fear for us here in Hong Kong. For things like masks. You can always deploy the “one-death is-too-many” argument to keep us forever masked.  And muzzled, like Lau et.al. Safetyism rampant.

ADDED: A bit strange. The comments at Josephine Ma’s piece are running pro ZCP. Recently they’ve tended to be very anti ZCP, so what’s going on? Maybe it’s China’s “50 cent army” deployed to post when someone is critical of China. The 50cA say “history will prove the ZCP right”. I’m not so sure. History is written by the Victor. And who will the Victor be? Not China surely, what with its duplicity and cover-ups, but also not the US, not the UK or EU. So maybe no one. It’s hard to see how Zero Covid is going to come out smelling sweet, except to zealots. Meantime an observation: in the ten days mourning for the Queen there was not a hint of anti Covid measure. No one even talked about it. Done and dusted, even if there are still some cases and some deaths daily. The UK are getting on with it. People have just had it with Covid. And that I like. Even if the 50-cent trolls don’t, and at the behest of Beijing  call it “lying flat” … a silly, nonsensical barb. 
By the way, I do accept that the fact of a bus crash, even one that kills 27(!), should not be put down to Covid, even if they’re carrying Covid-quarantine people. But her main point that ZCP is overall harmful and ultimately pointless, holds true. IMO.

Germany national suicide

Snip:

…Yet Germany’s political leaders seem to be putting their commitment to green orthodoxy above all else – including the need to tackle the multiple crises Germany now faces.

Take Cem Özdemir, the German food and agriculture minister. In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, he said that ‘hunger should not be abused as an argument to make compromises regarding biodiversity or protection of the climate’. SPIKED

Germany is unlikely to extend the life of its three remaining nuclear power stations due to the energy crisis, said Economy Minister Robert Habeck. However, he added, one power station in Bavaria may stay open if needed

Germany now:


Tuesday, 20 September 2022

The Queen is laid to rest

The famous Richard Stone portrait. Click it for the full vid
And I, like countless others around the world, felt myself surprisingly and deeply moved. More that I’d expected. The reason so many queued for 16 hours, for 20 hours, readily, eagerly and willingly, they told us, over and over, was “because she did her duty, never failed, and we felt we had to pay our respects.” They came from all over the world, all ages, all ethnicities, to stand in the longest queue in the world. And then all along the path to Buckingham Palace, to Windor Castle and her final resting place in St George’s Chapel, next to her beloved husband, her sister, and her mother and father. How fitting.

For a lifetime atheist like me, it’s weird to say “lay to rest”, but it seems a mark of respect for her quiet, unassuming faith. I’m happy to do it. The BBC was happy to do it. The BBC, btw, did an absolutely fabulous job throughout the ten days of mourning, and on this day, yesterday, of the funeral service and burial. The main commentator has the most silken voice. And he didn’t over-talk.  

Andrew Sullivan, ex Brit now resident in the US, captures my own feelings best:

Part of the hard-to-explain grief I feel today is related to how staggeringly rare that level of self-restraint is today. Narcissism is everywhere. Every feeling we have is bound to be expressed. Self-revelation, transparency, authenticity — these are our values. The idea that we are firstly humans with duties to others that will require and demand the suppression of our own needs and feelings seems archaic. Elizabeth kept it alive simply by example.

With her death, it’s hard not to fear that so much she exemplified — restraint, duty, grace, reticence, persistence — are disappearing from the world. As long as she was there, they were at the center of an idea of Britishness that helped define the culture at its best. Perhaps the most famous woman in the world, she remained a sphinx, hard to decipher, impossible to label. She was not particularly beautiful or dashing or inspiring. She said nothing surprising. She was simply the Queen. She showed up. She got on with it. She was there. She was always there.

An Icon, Not An Idol”, Andrew Sullivan.

Monday, 19 September 2022

Where’s the truth ?

 

It’s in there somewhere! Usually at the intersections.

The main point here is: you have to read / watch from the Red side, from the Blue side, and, for good measure, from the Green / middle as well. 

As for the Martha’s Vineyard Mess, aka the Martha’s Vineyard Hypocrisy, the below grey area is about it: all agree it was a stunt. It was a pretty good one. Got the political class looking at the issue, that of illegal immigration, that till now they’ve studiously ignored or simply denied.

It’s time to go Nuclear

Click for the video, 14:00

Kyle Hill looks like a bit of a retro hippie, but he’s a bona fide science educator and knows whereof he speaks.

Which is the simple message I’ve been banging on for ages: Nuclear is safe; nuclear is secure; nuclear is cheap and nuclear is clean. 

We are letting fear of nuclear stop what’s the simplest path forward to substantial, carbon free baseload power. Fear of fission trumping fear of climate change. 

Shame on us. Shame on the Greens. As the Germans commit national suicide because of the German Greens influence. Mad Mutti Merkel has herself a lot to answer for. Closing nuclear after Fukushima! Which made no sense then and even less now. Truly shocking is: the Minster of Industry in Germany appears to give not a single hoot that his closing nuclear stations is going to shutter industries. And his Food Industry collegue doesn’t give a single hoot that his cutting fertiliser production will lead to hunger. “Criminals for a thousand years” as the Chinese would say. Crimes against humanity, in the sake of ideology. 

Backyard 3 April

What the folks at Martha’s Vineyard say about illegal immigrants and what they actually do

Sign in shopfront, Main St, Martha’s Vineyard. Similar lawn signs
are all over the island

This is about the progressives of that chic holiday isle of Martha’s Vineyard. Home to rich Democrats. It’s about what they say they believe and what they actually do, when they’re faced with the reality of their own principles. This has come to sharp focus with the arrival of a small group of illegal immigrants. Sent to their cute, swank, liberal little town by the horrid monster in charge of Florida, Ron DeSantis. 

What do the liberal folks of Martha’s Vineyard say? What do they say they believe?  

Well, it’s all in the yard sign. The one above that’s on a window of a shop of Main St, Martha’s Vineyard. Lots of fine sentiments, including, re immigration: “We stand with immigrants, with refugees”, and “All are welcome here”. 

What do the liberal folks of Martha’s Vineyard actually do? What do they actually believe?

When a few -- just 50, that’s a 5 and a zero -- immigrants actually land on their doorstep, and the locals realise what’s going on, they don’t say “You are welcome here”. No, they say: “you can’t stay here, we don’t have the room”. Really. They really said that. Right on the main street. And they said it on TV. They are unabashed. I gotta say, it’s truly shocking. 

This “we don’t have the room” on an island that currently has 120,000 vacant rooms (per AirBnB). Because the season is over and those rooms are going to be vacant for six months. But no-one in town could find 25 rooms? Not one of these good folks who say “all are welcome here”? Not one of these good folks who trumpet themselves as so tolerant, can find just a few rooms, just a few? It beggars belief. 

If you want to know what these fine and tolerant folks really think of the illegals, below is a tweet from Max Lefeld, a Martha’s Vineyard resident and head of a local charity, the Casa Venezuela Dallas foundation, which helps recent refugees. But still, according to Max, they’re just rubbish. They’re like Trash being tossed about. Talking of Ron DeSantis giving plane tickets to immigrants who were free to accept them or not, and who, on arrival, professed themselves “very happy”, to the few non-CNN journalist there, Max, our noted local philanthropist says it’s like....

Comparing the immigrants to trash. Mad Max. 

You want to know what hypocrisy looks like, progressives? look in the mirror. Stare into it good and hard. This, in my life of 70+ years, is the most monstrous, the most cruel, the most hideous, the most... I dunno, just the most, MOST, horrid example of hypocrisy I’ve ever seen. Not a bigger one I’ve seen. If there is, please tell me. Till then, this is the worst. The most egregious. 

“Martha’s Vineyard” ought to become the byword for Hypocrisy. It’s hypocrisy writ large. 

Earlier post. And even earlier