The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

In which I am proven to be an amazingly prescient genius person and not just because I know the word “prescient”

Hi there. I’m Tim. Sometimes I make predictions. Sometimes they are hugely false, like that time I predicted Trump would resign after six months because he would get sick of working eight hour days. Silly me… I should have figured he’d only work a three hour day. But sometimes… sometimes I prove to be amazingly prescient. Like the time I predicted this:

Once marriage equality comes in, the objections [to it] will stop. The bigoted fear-merchants who fought for so long, and warned of such dire consequences, will put down their tooth and nail, pack up their placards, and fade into obscurity.

You see, today marks the first anniversary of that time the Liberal government made us all waste $120 million to spend a few months vilifying the LGBTIQ community to re-verify the results of countless already-available public polls and decide on an issue that wasn’t the public’s business and parliament could have voted on for free. So it’s a perfect time for me to reflect on my prediction and check in on how amazing I can be. And lemme tell you… all signs point to me being quite amazing.

You see, I have noticed a little bit of a trend in conservative objections to progressive ideals, which seems to be thus:

  1. An injustice is recognised.
  2. A proposal is made to correct the injustice.
  3. We are told that correcting the injustice will lead to the wholesale destruction of society.
  4. The change is made anyway.
  5. Society is not destroyed.
  6. All the people who said society would be destroyed forget about it and move on to something else.

This exact sequence of events has played out in a multitude of historic advances. Female suffrage, inter-racial marriage, no fault divorce, IVF, and the decriminalisation of homosexuality, to name but a few. In each case, we were told that to make the change would be to ring the death knell of life as we knew it, and usher in a new era of calamity and universal suffering.

We know, of course, that in each case, no such calamity ever came to fruition. Instead, we collectively benefited from a society that was more accepting, more kind, and one step further along the long path to true equality. Every time these disastrous changes were made, we saw that, ultimately, life went on, and after a while, most people didn’t care.

I should point out that, logically speaking, this does not at all prove that their objections were unfounded (there are many other reasons that prove that). What it does highlight, however, is the perfidy of their professed sincerity.

Let’s just think about this for a second. Female suffrage, we were told, would be an absolute disaster. One poster that depicted the dangers of female suffrage showed “a grim-looking man arriving home from work to a scene of domestic chaos, with weeping children, a dangerously smoking lamp, and a casual note attached to a suffrage poster – ‘Back in an hour or so’”. My god, that sounds horrendous! Can you even imagine? If you can’t imagine, the people of the time were happy to produce gems like this to help out:

Yes, friends… if women were allowed to vote, it would definitely, definitely result in never ending nagging.

So, with so much on the line, what did such people do when women were finally granted the right to vote? Did they fight to their last breath to have universal suffrage overturned? Are they still fighting today? Or did they all die from incessant nagging? The answer to all of those questions is a resounding “No”. I wonder why.

Which brings me to my prediction about marriage equality in Australia. We were told that it would destroy families. We were told it would result in people marrying their cats. We were told that there would be another stolen generation, which was a rather oblivious objection, coming as it did from the sort of Christians who instigated the original. Even I can admit that, if true, that would be a high price to pay indeed.

History now shows that they lost, as they were always going to. That’s not particularly interesting, given the multitude of polls that showed that defeat was inevitable. What is interesting, is what happened next.

And what happened next was… nothing.

Sure, there were a few whinges on social media. Lyle probably cried, not there’s anything wrong with that. But apart from that… nothing. No extended campaigns to reverse the decision. No marching in the streets demanding the maintenance of the status quo. No bills introduced to parliament to prevent this catastrophic change to Australian society.

Which means one of two things. They’re just a fear mongering bag of dïcks, or they don’t really believe the shït they’re shovelling.

And just to be fair, I’ll let them decide which.

A picture tells a thousand words… and lots of them are racist

It’s now been a little over a month since Mark Knight published his cartoon depicting Serena Williams at the US Open. Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking. Jeez, Tim, that was ages ago, and we’ve all moved on to needles in strawberries, Billy Slater, needles in bananas, Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s mushroom pee-pee, horse racing on Opera Houses, kicking gay kids out of schools, the TPP, wondering whether it’s OK to be white, administrative errors, moving our Israeli embassy, journalists being murdered in the Saudi embassy, and needles in cucumbers. And you are of course right. We have indeed moved on.

Or have we?

Sure, we’ve all found new things to be outraged about. In fact, the only thing more outraging than being outraged at things, is not having enough outrage to be outraged about the sheer number of things we have to be outraged about, which is, quite frankly, outrageous. But there is another, more important sense, in which we haven’t moved on at all. To wit, we all seem to be very good at forming a quick opinion on something, but we don’t seem to be very good at revising that opinion, when presented with new information. Or, put another way, people are fond of basing outrage on gut reactions, and are also fond of hunkering down and doggedly ignoring all evidence to the contrary.

For the Mark Knight cartoon, I, like most people, had an initial gut reaction when I first saw it. I hadn’t watched the women’s final, and hadn’t seen Serena’s dispute with the umpire, but I had heard enough about it to get the “joke”. Mark Knight thought that Serena had thrown a huge, unnecessary hissy fit, and there she was, jumping up and down, with a spat out dummy on the ground. So, apart from lacking cleverness, and not being at all funny, I didn’t really see much wrong with it. Here it is again, in case you’ve forgotten.

Haha, boy that Serena sure is grumpy! Point made, fair and square. Right?

Well, not quite. Call me old fashioned, or a (partially qualified!) actuary, but I happen to think that it’s always a good idea to check your assumptions. In a spreadsheet, ideally. And so despite my assumption that Mark’s cartoon was merely a bit cräp, the fact that so many people thought it had transcended cräp and jumped feet first into full on racism gave me pause. So I did what every reasonable person would do and just ignored them to make myself feel better. Oh wait, no I didn’t. I actually went and read about why people were upset about it. Interestingly, it had absolutely nothing to do with the point Mark Knight was trying to make. No one seemed to be upset about his claim that Serena had thrown a massive hissy fit, or that she seems to be playing with a wooden racquet that is smaller than her head, or that he’d coloured the whole court blue when the perimeter is clearly green, or that professional athletes very rarely use a dummy due the risk of choking. What was clear, however, was that many, many people were objecting to the way he had drawn Serena, and, perhaps even more so, the way he had drawn the other player in the cartoon, Naomi Osaka.

Serena was hard to miss. Not only is she the subject of the cartoon, but Mark had depicted her as a ridiculously large woman, with huge arms, huge hair, huge face, huge mouth, and huuuuuuge bum. I mean, the size of her bum is something to behold, assuming you could even find enough hands to hold it. It looks to be six times as wide as her racquet, which would make it around four and a half metres across, and happens to be the same length as my car. Haha… Serena big!

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. “But, but… it’s a caricature! And she is a large woman!”. Let’s park that for a second.

There is a second player in the cartoon, being Serena’s opponent, Naomi Osaka. In contrast to Serena, Naomi is depicted as a small, svelte, white woman with a blonde ponytail. This must obviously be a caricature, because that’s what Mark did to Serena, so in real life I guess Naomi must be less skinny, less blonde, and have fewer ponytails. Imagine my surprise, then, when I learned that Naomi is actually of Haitian-Japanese descent, has dark skin, dark hair, is 5cm taller than Serena, and weighs only 1kg less. And has exactly one ponytail. Interesting.

But back to Serena. Why was everyone upset about his depiction of Serena? Two seconds on Google was all I needed. He had basically drawn her in the same way as 19th and 20th century cartoonists who openly admitted they were racist.

At that point one might have hoped that either Mark or his publisher would take all the feedback on board and issue some kind of explanation. Something along the lines of “Look, I didn’t realise at the time, but I can see now that my cartoon is offensive to people of colour”. But no, of course what we had as a doubling-down on the next day’s front page, with cries of political correctness, and dire warnings of the demise of free speech. Which, when added together and yelled by the same person, invariably means they just want the right to be a massive ärsehole.

So far, so predictable.

But it shouldn’t be. And to make things easier for people like Mark Knight, I’ve prepared this handy guide, The Official Good Bad Asinine Guide to What to Do When You’ve Drawn a Cräp Cartoon That Lacks Cleverness and Isn’t At All Funny and Lots of People Get Upset Because It’s Pretty Racist. Enjoy.

The Official Good Bad Asinine Guide to What to Do When You’ve Drawn a Cräp Cartoon That Lacks Cleverness and Isn’t At All Funny and Lots of People Get Upset Because It’s Pretty Racist

1
If you want to make a point about someone having a hissy fit, and you’re able to make the point without drawing them with a 4.5m butt, then you should do that.

2
The people with the most insight into whether something is offensive are generally not the people doing the offending.

3
If someone explains to you why something you did was racist, complaining about political correctness just makes you more racist.

4
There’s no shame in admitting you’re wrong. But there is plenty of shame in being racist.

Hope that helps!

Jordan Peterson – The World’s Most Popular Halfwit

jordan peterson

I know I’m going to cop a lot of flack for this one. Jordan Peterson is much loved as an inspirational figure, a voice of reason and morality in a crazy world of hyper-liberal relativism, a light in the darkness of a post-feminist, post-structural, post-everything-good world. The thing is, I get it. I have no intention of hitting the same old tired tropes of most Peterson critics – his unintelligible Jung and Hegel derived flights of rhetoric, the fact of his worldview being actually and technically fascist, his apparent (but almost certainly nonexistent) misogyny, his rarely acknowledged political funding sources, his severe logical deficits and habit of eliding definition resistant generalities into chains of reasoning which are invalid in all possible universes. None of these things really matter when it comes to him or his followers because nobody who is actually a philosopher can accept him as one, and nobody, therefore, who thinks of him as one, tends to forensically examine his arguments, such as they are. In the same way that the Sermon on the Mount, taken from a certain point of view, doesn’t make a lick of sense, Peterson’s pronouncements are not, as far as I can tell, valued because they make sense or are specific, but because they don’t and are not.

What Peterson is primarily selling is a feeling. It’s very easy when looking out at the world, especially if one’s lens on that world is the internet, to get the feeling that masculinity is, in fact, in crisis. An entire generation weeping over puppy dogs and irrelevant causes, drowning in political correctness, and in headlong flight from tried and tested values like masculine pride, personal responsibility, and freedom of speech. Peterson’s clear and apparently sincere indignation at these regressive tendencies has an appeal which is very easy to understand, and his habit of reducing the solutions to these problems to simple, self-help style commandments makes for compelling stuff. Follow the twelve simple rules, and you can immediately cast yourself as a warrior for freedom, an island of sanity in an insane world. And when it comes to things like taking personal responsibility for one’s failings and actions, keeping one’s space and oneself neat and tidy as a nod to both universal order and self respect, parsing all politics through an aggressive dialectic and forensic lens, I find myself in complete agreement with the man. All of these things are vitally important. As important as it is to be proud of one’s manhood, in whatever form it is expressed, to set boundaries and draw lines around tolerance, to avoid at all costs pandering to pity and outrage merchants, or to the blind knee-jerk advocacy of partisan causes. I more than agree with all this stuff. In fact, I actively proselytise it. The problem with Peterson does not lie in this side of things in which, as a clinical psych, we’d sort of expect him to be rock solid. Where there is a massive problem is in the elision of this very sensible thinking with a world view which is not just parochially narrow, but actually crazy.

It should be freely acknowledged that the regressive left is a problem. In the rarefied atmosphere of some university campuses, and in quite a bit of the feminist and LGBTQI press, a certain kind of victim rage insanity festers and spits at the rest of the world and, because media largely trades in emotions like outrage and shock, gets wildly disproportionate and unrepresentative airplay. It should also be acknowledged that Canadian universities seem to have a particularly bad time with these idiots, with faculty losing their jobs on political grounds, blatant propagandising, and the espousal of frankly loopy positions. I would point out, though, that Peterson’s own dismissal appears to have been the simple result of a refusal to follow a reasonable instruction from his employer. But that’s by the by – and highly arguable – my point here is that when we look at the environment from which he’s come, it’s very easy to identify the dragon which he wishes to slay. But Canadian higher education – Canada in general, to be brutally honest – is not even close to being the whole world. What we see from Peterson, however, is a classic narrative of threat which seems to be predicated on the opposite assumption. It never ceases to amaze me how people who can be cynical about the manufactured threat narratives of global terrorism, Macarthyism, AI alarmism, and so on, can so utterly fail to see that the exact same methodology is at work in Peterson’s message.

Let’s take a look at some of his more classic statements in order to explain what I mean here. “For thirty years now, nobody – at least nobody who is on their side – has been talking to kids about responsibility.” What in the name of sanity does this statement actually mean? Parse it as closely as possible, sieve it for nuance, make all possible allowances, and all we can really get from this statement is that the world is going to pot because this new generation hasn’t been brought up properly. Leaving aside problems such as the appallingly invalid assumption that every young person across the globe is in the same boat, or the galling refusal of the speaker to provide even a working definition of ‘responsibility’, it should be pretty obvious to anyone not blinded by love or ‘me-too-ism’ that this is a sentiment (and I use that word advisedly) which can be found in the writings of cranky old men from 2000BCE to the present day. Or let’s take this doozy: “Medical science isn’t about welfare, it’s about science.” Well, yes, if you’re willing to suspend the three seconds of thought it takes to arrive at the conclusion that medical science is, in fact, one branch of the entire medical endeavour which, for the entirety of civilisation, has been about the welfare of individuals and groups, among other things. Or the nanosecond of thought required to understand that something as huge as all of medical science cannot possibly be summed up in a fortune cookie bon mot. But that’s the thing with Peterson. It’s not about logic, or fine points like parsing the actual meanings of statements. No, what it’s about is furious and indignant agreement – an extrapolation of personal responses to our own ant’s-eye views of the world into global positions predicated on the basis of ‘stuff was better when I was a kid’ and ‘I’m disturbed by what I’m seeing’.

I honestly think that the vast majority of Peterson supporters are intelligent, decent people. I also suspect that almost all of them engage with his actual content at the same level most people do with the law. They think it’s a very good thing, will fight vigorously to defend it, and, for the vast majority, have never actually read a word of it. I read the pieces which attack Peterson, and by no means are all of these from the left wing press. The majority of articles I’ve read have been from faculties of philosophy, political science, and, weirdly, international relations. They come from a broad spectrum of people from left and right of centre (I’m sorry – I really can’t be bothered with the extreme ends of the spectrum, so don’t know what they have to say about him) – and uniformly express utter disbelief at just how childishly simple it is to spot that his entire body of work is deeply irrational and founded on reasoning so invalid it isn’t actually reasoning. And that’s the biggest problem – Peterson’s framework does not stand up to even the most cursory rational examination, sure, but for as long as he so effectively touches the right emotional chords in his audience, they’re never going to subject him to it. And given that he seems to be genuinely half-witted enough to believe that his ramblings are actually cogent chains of ratiocination, he’s going to be imbued with the kind of Messianic sincerity which practically guarantees this result indefinitely.

Orwell Would Have Hated You, Stupid. And Me Too.

When Orwell died, he left clear instructions that his notes and papers be destroyed. It’s typical of the way the world has always treated him that I’ve read them all for the simple reason that his dying wishes were ignored, and all his essays, letters, and short manuscripts are now available in an annotated Penguin collection, a format, by the way, which he would have despised.

There’s quite a lot of debate about Orwell’s politics, all against a near constant background hum of his words and works being co-opted in support of everything from Chinese Communist Party propaganda to libertarian arguments against regulation. As with most figures in history, in order to understand his politics it’s probably beneficial to know a little something about the man himself. Everybody will have read the Penguin bio, so would know that he was born Eric Arthur Blair, that his father was an official of the British Empire, and that he therefore went to Eton on a scholarship, but I’d hazard a guess that that’s generally as far as it goes.

Orwell was a man tortured by class. This can be very clearly seen in multiple works. In Keep the Aspidistra Flying, a semi-autobiographical account of a starving writer caught between his parlour communist posh friends and actual working class folk who despise him, there is a telling quote. The protagonist has a financial windfall and goes on a champagne-fuelled binge. Somewhere in the middle of this, he catches a sort of pitying look from one of his posh mates and reflects on his own mendacity, thinking that “…the rich take their pleasures gracefully…”, and seeing his own feverish, poverty-driven excesses as ridiculous aping of his ‘betters’. In Wigan PierSuch, Such Were the Joys, and even when disguised as a tramp and meandering from Spike to Spike in Down and Out in Paris and London, Orwell is plagued by a sense of his class, the idea of being a ‘gentleman’, and the fact he has not the money to sustain this position. He hates the charity of his friends, the shame he feels in his own poverty, and the system which, to his mind, debars him from simply and permanently becoming a navvy or dustman. In fact, the only time he doesn’t seem hagridden by the constraints of his social status is during that passage of Down and Out where he is living as a dishwasher, or plongeur, in Paris.

It’s during this period that we get to see another side of the man. The bulk of this passage of writing, which I would highly recommend as incisive social history, has to do with food, not having enough, and the trials and tribulations involved in trying to keep fed. Orwell was so hard up he recounts waiting five days for a cheque to clear before he can eat, stating that his sole refuges were tobacco, without which “life would not have been tolerable”, and a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories, which were all he was “capable” of reading. In the context of being this hungry, he lists a series of disasters which can befall a poor man. Queuing for five centimes worth of bread, the girl clumsily over-cuts the loaf for the customer before him, saying, “You don’t care about a couple of sous extra, no?”. This causes Orwell to walk shamefacedly away, as should the same thing happen to him, he has not even a sou to cover it, going without bread as much because of his shame at his poverty as the poverty itself. Or another time, starving in a garret, he is boiling milk and potatoes in a spirit stove when an insect of some kind falls into the pot. He recounts, as a matter of course, that the whole meal must then be thrown away. But even in the midst of all this we see a keen spirit of observation reminiscent of the Enlightenment novelists and thinkers who were among his literary heroes. He notes that a man’s description of what bread tastes like to a starving man (thick, wet, doughy) is accurate. He records faithfully a typical example of tenement gossip, involving a miserly eccentric suspected of being a paedophile, and a shipment of cocaine (nothing changes). He notes with the care of an eighteenth century naturalist the lassitude, sensory changes, changes in mood, in texture of spittle, associated with both starvation and extreme fatigue. He records in full the alcoholic boasting of a teenager claiming to have raped a virgin newly installed in a brothel. Orwell is that very rare type of observer who is fastidious and methodical enough to make observations of value, and willing and able to become intimately familiar with the dregs of life.

And here, I think, is the key to understanding where Orwell stood. He stood alone. If there was a tide making, he would almost certainly swim against it. He has been described as a “perpetual political misfit”, and this is true. We can see it in his essays where he excoriates right wing patriots and revolutionary communists alike, where he agonises over whether or not to support his country’s war effort, rails at Auden for his use of the phrase “necessary murder”, accuses Dickens of childish parochialism while praising his imagination and social activism to the skies, staunchly defends English cooking, English murder mysteries over American, and rails passionately against the existence of the compound word ‘onto’. And we can see it in his journalism, his unflinching and strangely unsympathetic accounts of the very poor, his furious frustration with Spanish anarcho-communists, parlour socialists, his doubt of the veracity of his own socialism, and his frank disgust at the smug self-satisfaction of his friends and supporters on the left. And we especially see it in his literature. Animal Farm, amongst other things, is much more a tale of ideologues enforcing their own particular vision of the state without reference to the people than it is anything else. And as for 1984, only a fool or a teenager would allow themselves to be distracted by all the quaint futurism and buzzwords like “newspeak”, and thereby miss the central point of that work, which is despair. Despair at the limitations of the proletariat, at the cowardly conformist mendacity of humankind, of any possibility of human redemption or perfectibility. Two plus two equals five not just because the state says so, but because the people will grant this and anything else besides, merely in order to feel safe and fill their bellies. To be relieved of the burden of actually having to think about anything.

While it’s not possible to sum up a human in a single sentence, it is possible to say a true thing about them, and the true thing in Orwell’s case is that he was uncompromisingly rational. He hated all forms of mob enthusiasm, all manifestations of blind and mindless party allegiance. He prized self examination above all things, and was contemptuous of anyone either unwilling or unable to think past their own feelings. And this is why a libertarian co-opting his arguments against totalitarian control in support of deregulation is basically the equivalent to pissing on his memory. The whole attitude of ‘my ideology right or wrong’ was deeply invidious to him, as was the kind of obtuseness capable of blurring the distinctions surrounding his own arguments. And as for communists and ersatz socialists repeatedly and determinedly missing the point of his calls for revolution, the same applies. And as for me, I think he would have been deeply annoyed by my faith in the military, my tolerance for homosexuals and Catholicism, my cowardice in choosing to feed myself by teaching the children of the rich. And he would have been seriously unhappy about the fact that I read all his letters. So I don’t quote him in support of my ideas as I’m very well aware that he would not have liked me. And nor would he have had a single second for the unreflective armchair activists and keyboard warriors who spew out what passes for political discourse today.

 

Tony Abbott On Balance

Warringah’s fearless PM in exile, Tony Abbott, has been in the news again defending the rights and feelings of that beleaguered minority of Australians known as ‘The White Heterosexual Middle Class’, this time by pointing out that the invasion of Aboriginal territories, repeated attempts at both cultural and actual genocide, and continuing Darwinist paternalism towards indigenous Australians have been, on balance, a good thing – not just for the waves of settlers who benefited from the wholesale appropriation of land and rights, but also for those people who were dispossessed, marginalised, and murdered. He has said that the First Fleet brought the light of civilisation, scientific curiosity, and political equality to the benighted peoples of our great continent. He then went on to point out that this civilisation was a bit crude, wasn’t great at medical science, and didn’t really have all that much equality. You can read his totally not incoherent, rambling, or logically inconsistent argument in full here.

On that basis, I would like to call for Tony Abbott to join the rest of the nation in celebrating a holiday commemorating the day marriage equality legislation passed the house. Because, on balance, it was a good thing. Sure, he fled the house in order to abstain, and to show that what was being done was happening very much against his will. And sure, he has complained loudly and repeatedly that such a step would violate his own tribal taboos and destroy an important pillar of his traditional way of life. But the thing is, what that day really represents is the moment Australia was brought up to speed with the rest of Western civilisation. There he was, practising his parochial, primitive, and outdated way of life, when a political movement which started in the heartlands of the West landed in his native parliament house and changed his beloved nation forever. The bright light of pluralism and political and legal equality was wafted over the seas to land on our shores, dragging Tones and his ilk kicking and screaming into the ambit of the broad moral and legal consensus of the twenty first century.

Sure, this happened without his consent, but there’s three hundred and sixty four other days on which we can wear a conservative Catholic armband. What we should be celebrating is the modernisation and enlightenment of this our great nation. His minority group has certainly been marginalised and subjected to the horrors of name-calling and whatnot, but on balance, what happened that day was a good thing, not just for the millions of Australians who were in favour of marriage equality, but for him as well – now Tones is blessed with the benefits of living in a thoroughly modern and pluralist nation, whether he likes it or not.

Given all this, I call on the honourable Tones to turn out on December 7 next year draped in a rainbow flag in order to honour the day when our great nation moved forward into the modern world and destroyed forever his traditional way of life. Because it was really only his own personal religious prejudices which took a hit that day – so according to his own rationale, what’s good for the horribly, savagely mistreated goose should also be good for his really only slightly miffed gander.

Tim reviews… The Bachelor!

OK so I’ve started like 1,000 posts on reeeeeally smart topics, but I never seem to finish them because I’m not very smart, so I decided to just review an episode of the US Bachelor instead. We’re already up to Episode 3 though so I’ll have to catch you up.

The plot… Arie Luyendykzxyk is some kind of Camry racing car driver who has never won a race because he races in a Camry and who is famous for being rejected on national TV by a Disney princess named Heaps White and has now decided that he should be the one doing the rejecting on national TV so he jumped in his Camry and drove to California in a totally genuine attempt to find love with a group of normal fame-averse people who love Camry drivers.

The cast…

  • CamArie… the hero of our story, who is really cool cos he races CamAries and looks like John Travolta.
  • Bibiana… one of our villainous villains, whose parents created her name out of thin air by combining their favourite book (Bible) with their favourite state (Indiana). Apparently they almost named her Koranacheussets, but then they decided they didn’t really care for Boston.
  • KrystalMeth… another villainous villain, who is fun at first but ends up making your teeth fall out.
  • Androgynous extras… a group of 23 other people named Lauren who will generally not feature unless they get reeeeeally drunk or burn their boob on a waffle iron or get in a fight with Koranacheussets or KrystalMeth.

OK… Episode 3… let’s do this.

We begin with the entire cast sitting casually in the lounge room, because obviously it’s California and no one would dare go and sit outside or swim in the pool. The previous episode’s antagonists, Koranacheussets and KrystalMeth, have decided to sit next to each other because the producers made them. KrystalMeth says that it’s the Bachelor, so toes are going to get stepped on, which makes her choice of open-toed slippers somewhat silly.

Chris Harrison appears like magic looking exactly the same as he did 15 years ago. He reminds the cast that the first rule of Bachie is you talk about Bachie, or rather, to Bachie, at every possible opportunity, because #timeisprecious. This week there will be two “very fun” group dates, and one romantic one-on-one date. An audible gasp makes it way around the room, which was either due to surprise or a simultaneous and spontaneous tightening of sphincters.

“You know they say,” says Chris, “that behind every good man are a loving home, a good education, and a decent socio-economic background. And also a very strong woman.” The women agree wholeheartedly, blissfully unaware of the apparent corollary, that behind every very bad man is a weak woman who nags a lot and is crap at Instagram. “And we’re about to put that to the test today,” he concludes. Which I’m guessing means some kind of spelling bee or fight to the death. The date card is read out, and what do you know, the people attending are eight nobodies, Koranacheussets and KrystalMeth, which is a surprise to everyone.

They arrive at the venue to discover that the date is… WRESTLING. Because every woman wants to wrestle another woman in front of a huge crowd on date with a Camry driver. CamArie appears to much ovulation, as do the instructors, two women from GLOW, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, and no, I am not making this up. The first move the GLOWs teach them is the extremely deadly and impossible to defend forward roll, which is of course how Conor MacGregor has won most of his fights.

Four amazing things then happen in quick succession. First CamArie tells us he’s looking for someone who is going to have fun with wrestling another woman in front of a huge crowd on date with a Camry driver. Then, amazingly, the women start having fun. Then the GLOWs tell the women they’re having too much fun. Then one of the GLOWs decides she wants to have fun herself, so she makes her own fun, out of Koranacheussets’ name, by saying it doesn’t even make sense. Koranacheussets could have of course explained that it makes complete sense because favourite books and favourite states are totally a thing, but she’s too upset so she doesn’t.

One of the women, who is probably named Lauren, then has her haired pulled by one of the GLOWs, and even I’m starting to think that this is getting a little weird. CamArie, being the totally good man that is looking for a strong woman to stand behind him, says nothing on these developments, and instead begins wondering whether he is actually a good man, given that it requires a strong woman standing behind him, and he is currently single and making women wrestle each other in front of a large crowd on a date with a Camry driver. All of this is just too much for Koranacheussets and WOPNAL (Woman Probably Named Lauren), who both exit the ring to have a long hard look at themselves, and think about why they are crap people and not having fun wrestling another woman in front of a huge crowd on date with a Camry driver.

But look, perhaps I’m being too hard on CamArie. In his defence, he does wait around until WOPNAL and Koranacheussets have spent 20 minutes composing themselves and re-entered the ring, before going over and telling them that hey, he feels uncomfortable too, because it’s really hard having 10 woman wrestle for your affections.

It’s then time for the women to go and choose their costumes, and as Guns ‘n’ Roses would say, get in the ring. The fights themselves are boring, in that no one was injured, and the producers somehow forgot to make KrystalMeth and Koranacheussets fight to the death.

As a reward for the enforced humiliation, CamArie takes all the ladies to an actual trailer park, which seems oddly appropriate. Within seconds of arriving, KrystalMeth has whisked CamArie away to a romantic trailer within earshot of everyone else, where CamArie tries to prevent her from talking with his patented Face-Grab Mouth-Trap (TM) kissing technique. Like so:

FACE GRAB!

This works for a while, until KrystalMeth asks him whether she needs to “Be… aggressive… Be, be aggressive” on group dates. She then says she wants to make sure she doesn’t get lost, which admittedly can happen when being followed by 20 cameras on a reality TV show.

Then of course it’s Koranacheussets’ turn, and she tells CamArie that group dates are intense. At this point CamArie should really have pointed out that they’re not in tents at all, they’re in trailers, but he is also apparently too stupid to know the difference.

CamArie then takes the WOPNAL that had her hair pulled into a very nice trailer indeed, where he lovingly tells her, “When I saw you were upset, I was like, oh that’s interesting.” That is a word for word quote, by the way, proving once again that he is indeed an already good man who needs a very strong woman behind him even though he can’t be a good man yet because he doesn’t have a strong woman behind him. “You know,” he continues, “I’d like you to tell me when you’re upset, because then I can make you feel better, and that makes me feel like a man.” Also an actual quote. Hmm.

At this point it’s painfully obvious that all CamArie wants to do is Face-Grab Mouth-Trap (TM) the crap out of her, which he does, because he made her feel better, so he’s a man, and that’s what men get to do when they make people feel better. So he does.

FACE GRAB!

Back at the mansion, someone named Lauren was just selected for the one-on-one date, with a card that says, “You had me at merlot.” Seriously.

CamArie is now in a trailer with someone who looks suspiciously like Rizzo from Grease, which, given his uncanny resemblance to John Travolta, makes for a fascinating sub-plot. In any event, CamArie’s hands are starting to feel weird, so he needs to do something with them, like grab yet another woman’s face.

FACE GRAB!

CamArie is quickly turning into Kisstopher Columbus, discoverer of the New World. And Lipstenstein. Rizzo then gets the rose, which will make both Kenickie and Sandy very upset.

It’s now time for the one-on-one… you know, the one where Lauren “had him at merlot”. Which means, as Lauren says in a sudden blaze of intuition, that it might have something to do with wine. Once they arrive at the winery, CamArie observes that “I could totally see myself here”, which is amazing, because he is there. I LOVE THIS SHOW. The rest of the date is equally amazing for two reasons. Firstly, Lauren is talking NON-STOP. Secondly, CamArie is actually eating his dinner, WHICH NEVER HAPPENS. The obvious conclusion is that he would rather grab his fork than Lauren’s constantly-talking face, which means that things are not looking good for Lauren. The nail in the coffin is when CamArie asks what was missing in her last relationship, and just as she replies that it was a lack of romance, CamArie shovels in a mouthful of beans. And we all know what beans means. And if you don’t know what beans means, you at least know that it doesn’t mean a rose. Lauren goes home, and her biggest regret is probably talking too much, because now she is hungry as well as single. Not CamArie though, he goes home full of beans. (see what I did there?) A mysterious man arrives at Bachie central to remove her bag in front of all her friends, and, just like that, she is gone forever, or at least until the next season of Bachelor in Paradise.

It’s time for the second group date now, and the good news is that this one just involves dogs. Sorry I mean competing with dogs on stage in front of a huge audience, which is totally chill. The bad news is that one of the Laurens, whose name is Annaliese, had a very traumatic experience with a dog when she was a baby. In an amazing coincidence, the Bachelor film crew were there to capture the moment:

100% actual footage of dog trauma

The actual date involves the women trying to get the dogs to do things on stage. Which is exactly as boring as it sounds, so we pretty much move straight to the cocktail party. Chelsea notes that “It was tough to be around dogs in a playground setting”, and that she “adores the person that she has become”. CamArie responds that “Sometimes, it really feels good to reflect”, which is either the world’s most scathing put-down, or a confession that he wants to be a mirror. Either way, she appears to not be worthy of having her face grabbed. I’ll tell you who is worthy though… the next woman he talks to, whose name is probably Lauren. And the next woman he talks to, whose name is also probably Lauren. But not the next one, who he tells “This whole thing is difficult, you know what I mean?”. To which she obviously replies, “No CamArie, I do not know what you mean. Is that even English?”. Another Lauren then arrives to ask if she can interrupt, and, honestly, I haven’t seen CamArie this happy since he grabbed Lauren’s face two minutes ago. He then makes himself feel better by grabbing the next Lauren’s face and eating it. And the next Lauren’s face. And no, I’m not exaggerating. I think he’s kissed like 8 people tonight, which is totally the whole point of this show. #kisstophercolumbus

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for… the rose ceremony. CamArie arrives in his Camry, which looks suspiciously like a Mercedes. AND OMG THERE IS SUDDENLY A GORGEOUS WOMAN THERE WHOSE NAME IS SIENNE AND NOT LAUREN. But there’s no time for that because Koranacheusettes has prepared a romantic nighttime day bed and telescope to woo CamArie into astronomy and a Face-Grab Mouth-Trap (TM). The Bachie Gods are geniuses, however, so of course at that precise moment, someone (actually) called Lauren drags CamArie outside, where they miraculously discover the nighttime day bed and telescope, which provides all the romance and astronomy needed to initiate a full-blown Face-Grab Mouth-Trap (TM). In a shocking twist that no one saw coming, Koranacheussets decides to head outside at that very moment to see what’s going on, and is told to come back in five minutes. She then says, and I am not joking, that “The struggle is real.” I LOVE THIS SHOW.

Needless to say, Rizzo gets a turn on the astronomy nighttime day bed too, where CamArie asks her, “Where do you come from?”. Rizzo replies that, when two people really love each other, they get drunk and go to their trailer and grab each other’s faeces. Oh sorry I meant faces. Typing is not my strong suite. (that one was on porpoise)

The Lauren who had her hair pulled, whose name is now Tia, is now eating CamArie’s face. Or he’s eating hers, it’s difficult to tell. What is NOT difficult to tell is that Koranacheussets has still not been on her own nighttime day bed and used her telescope. And OH CRAP Annaliesesese just basically asked for a kiss and was turned down, which I literally did not think was possible for CamArie. Aaaaaaand then two minutes later he’s grabbing face with someone else probably called Lauren. Poor Annaliesesese eventually asks for a kiss and is told to go home. Such is the power of strong men who race Camrys for a living.

The rose ceremony arrives and, mercifully, it’s Koranacheussets who is going home. This seems a little strange, in that she has not yet fought to the death with KrystalMeth, so I think the producers must be drunk. In any event, she finally retires to her nighttime daybed and uses her telescope to gaze into the endless abyss of space, and contemplate why she apparently wasn’t good enough to have her face grabbed by a guy who races Camrys.

The end.

North Korea – Our Favourite Disneyworld Ride

North Korea

When I woke up the other day, I thought that either hell had frozen over, or that I’d been transported to an alternate universe. The reason for this was that every major news outlet, even the two remaining reputable ones, was reporting the DPRK’s test firing of an ICBM. DPRK is, of course, our favourite comedy villain, The Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, and ICBM is Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile.

I’m very tempted, at this point, to launch into some highly abstruse alphabet soup, complete with missile designators, performance graphs, finely sliced shades of definition for ‘inter-continental’ and ‘ballistic’, and a semantic disambiguation of the ICBM trope from its actual technical meaning. Thing is, there’s quite a bit of this stuff publicly available right now, and since nobody, journalists included, seems to have read or understood it, I don’t really see why I should bother. Let’s instead boil it down to simple terms suited to what I am reluctantly forced to call the ‘discourse’ on this subject.

Question: Does North Korea currently possess, in the apocalyptic sense all of us Cold War babies understand the term, any ICBMs?

Answer: Almost certainly not.

And there in the answer is what I think is the essence of the problem. For those of us who are accustomed to having their statements listened to and acted upon, and who actually care about this beyond the action of clicking on an article (I’m looking at you, journalists), a flat yes or no on this question is almost impossible to issue. This is because the study of security, international relations, and other related fields, breeds a healthy and not entirely unjustified paranoia. Certainty is a luxury of the ignorant or un-involved. There is a chance, roughly equivalent to the chance that human civilisation was initially formed by fish-shaped aliens, that the DPRK does, in fact, have a functional arsenal of ICBMs. And the existence of this miniscule chance is enough to render it impossible for most of the security and intelligence establishment to say that they definitely don’t. And it is this miniscule gap which Trump, Kim Jong Un, and the world’s media in general has taken to with a crow bar.

The fact is, the DPRK’s last successful missile test was surprising for most analysts. Right up to the point where they’d had enough time to actually analyse the data and come to the conclusion that this wasn’t, in fact, a new missile, but rather a clever mashup of some old ones. And that this test represented not a re-write, but a slight adjustment in the rogue nation’s nuclear timetable. The idea that the DPRK was heading towards developing nuclear tipped missiles capable of inter-continental range is not a new one, and nor is the idea that they’re getting closer. So why the sudden hysteria? The answer can’t be technical – the simple fact is that the projections haven’t actually changed that much. Certainly not enough to justify all this extra noise in both camps. So what is, in fact, the cause?

The answer isn’t as bloodcurdling as many would like it to be, but it is depressing, if that’s any comfort. The fact of the matter is that the drastic increase in chilling DPRK disaster porn is almost certainly being driven by politics (there’s that ‘almost’ again – I can’t help myself). Idiot in Chief President Trump has made up what must by courtesy be called his ‘mind’ to ‘solve’ the diplomatic tangle surrounding the DPRK. In doing so, he has sent a clear message to Kim Jong Un that acting out like a toddler having a tantrum in a supermarket is once again a policy which will generate diplomatic returns, and to the rest of the world that he’s a goddamned idiot. What opening this dialogue does for both leaders is create opportunities to meet and negotiate, while simultaneously pumping out enough rhetoric and propaganda to satisfy their own domestic requirements.

It should be noted that Trump and Kim have key similarities. They both rely heavily on a kind of personality cult to legitimate their power. They both have a requirement to look and act like crazy people in order to satisfy their political bases. And they both have access to a voting public capable of believing they’re on the brink of war in spite of zero pre-positioning or additional mobilisation taking place. So far, so comical.

What isn’t comical, however, is the very real potential for the world to stumble over its feet into an actual armed confrontation by joining in with the hysterical fantasies of megalomaniacs and clickbait generators. There’s ample precedent for this kind of nonsense, and it’s all gut-bustingly hilarious until the coffins start coming home. So while I do understand that the North Korea ride is definitely one of the most emotionally satisfying, I’d urge everyone to please, for the love of all that’s good in the world, just click a few more times. To read more than just headlines. To treat all of Trump’s statements as seriously as we treat Kim Jong Un’s haircuts. And, most important of all, to get off this stupid ride before we all nose it off the rails with our shouty groupthink silliness. We’ve had our thrills and spills, and it’s time to stop before somebody really gets hurt.

Marriage Equality And Our Captains Courageous

Marriage Equality

I’m a bit sick of the marriage equality/same sex marriage/marry a donkey or a cat/won’t somebody think of the Christians/children/God’s apparently delicate feelings ‘debate’. One of the reasons I’m sick of it is because it’s never really been anything worthy of the name ‘debate’. Depressingly successful attempts to reduce the issue to a semantic dispute, inflate it into some sort of moral existential crisis, or otherwise obfuscate a very clear-cut issue with rank silliness, have left me deeply unwilling to participate in any way. Except for one, of course. If our Captains Courageous are successful in their bid to abrogate their moral and legal leadership and shift it back on to us, I will emphatically vote in favour of marriage equality, even if I have to use the experimental archaeology skills involved in doing this by ‘post’. Whatever that is.

Sure, there’s a few problems with this. There’s the problem of religious protections, for example. Now, religious protections are crucially important for a free society. They’re the same protections which allow me to suggest that fundamentalist Christians should be de-registered as humans because nothing with a cognitive ability that low should be given either a vote or a seat in parliament. I’m looking at you, Magic Mike Baird and the right faction of the Liberal Party. And I suppose it’s important that the poor beleaguered minority of Christian cake makers, eking out an existence in the majority religion of the nation, shouldn’t be bullied by horrible militant gays or suchlike. Actually, it probably isn’t. But the preservation of real and actual religious pluralism is definitely top priority if I’m not to lose my right to say that belief in an anthropomorphic interventionist god should be classified by the UN as a disability. Leaving aside the fact that it’s got four fifths of diddly squat to do with marriage equality, in the abstract, it’s an important principle.

And then, of course, there’s the issue of this whole postal plebiscite/survey/waste of time/display of moral cowardice/popular vote thing. If I were to display the same kind of moral rigour as a Cato the Elder, or either of the Brutii, I’d probably be required to treat this whole debacle with Olympian detachment and abstain. The grounds for this would be that voting to change back a piece of legislation which was more or less arbitrarily changed by a befuddled reactionary thirteen years ago simply isn’t my job. It’s parliament’s. And that actual equality before the law for all citizens, regardless of orientation or creed, is not a question of popular will, but of moral and legal necessity. And that this is not so much a bid to gauge the (entirely irrelevant in this case) popular will, but rather a pathetically transparent delaying tactic designed to appease the government’s conservative Catholic base. Leaving all that aside, my personal belief is that it’s incumbent on us to rise above the nonsense and gently but firmly show the government the bloody obvious, rather like a new dog owner pushing a puppy’s snout into the mess it’s just made on the carpet.

So, regardless of what happens in various courts, or in the morally mendacious lower house and its mentally deficient cousin, the upper, I’d say the order of priority would run as follows:

  1. Vote ‘yes’ on marriage equality
  2. Demand parliamentarians do their actual jobs
  3. Marry a cat

That last one’s basically designed to keep Corey Bernardi happy. Because when he’s not happy, he talks about stuff, which is almost as bad as having a government who actually has to ask the general public whether or not it should continue to actively deprive sections of the population of their basic statutory and human rights.

Court 1: The Margaret Court Centre for Kids Who Can’t Write Letters Good and Want to Do Other Stuff Good Too Like Play Tennis

Say what you like about Margaret Court and her views on marriage equality, but dayum… girlfriend sure knows how to write a letter.

I know this because she wrote one and, like many of you, I read it. But unlike the rest of you Philistines, I didn’t merely recoil with horror at her tendentious mendacity, and berate her for the belligerent homophobia of her splenetic polemic. No! Because to me, her words were art. And, much like a painting by Andrew Bolt’s doodle, surely we can appreciate a great work of art, while distancing ourselves from the dïck that created it. What is to separate us from the beasts if we can’t? Oh, pants. Pants also separate us from the beasts. But you get my point – Splenetic Polemic would be a great band name. And also, Margaret Court’s letter was like a painting by Andrew Bolt’s doodle.

So that is why I waited a little while for things to settle down for Margaret, before rushing to enrol in The Margaret Court Centre for Kids Who Can’t Write Letters Good and Want to Do Other Stuff Good Too Like Play Tennis. And boy, am I glad I did. After attending the course last week, I can now say without a word of a lie that, not only is Margaret a great tennis player – oh hang on she’s probably not that good any more. I’ll start again. Not only is Margaret a great former sports entertainment person, but she’s a great teacher, too. And for those of us lucky enough to attend the course, she great teachered the cräp out of us. I now know how to write a letter just as amazing as Margaret’s, and my forehand has improved by at least 8%.

Now, Margaret wants to keep this knowledge a secret. She said that with a great forehand comes great responsibility, or something like that. But I think this knowledge deserves to be out there. I think we should all be able to write letters like this. Especially today, when there are so many letters to write, and so many social causes to champion. So, at great personal risk, I managed to smuggle out the Margaret Court Guide to Writing Letters Good, which walks you through the real-life letter mentioned above, and shows you how you too can write a letter just as amazing.

And at the risk of being sued, here it is:

See? I told you it was amazing. But as amazing as it most certainly is, what if such brilliance is beyond me? How can I possibly know whether I am worthy of receiving such wisdom? Well, I thought about it a long time, and I decided that the only way I will ever know is to write a letter myself. And so I did – to Virgin, who are also an airline, and who also support marriage equality. My letter is below, and Margaret, if you are reading, I hope I did you proud, and you find it a fitting tribute to the elegance and luminosity of your undeniable artistic ability.
_____

Dear Mr Board Person,

I write this as an open letter to the Virgin board as someone who works with spreadsheets a lot. Seriously, I have the best spreadsheets. Just fantastic.

As you will know, I can make a really funny noise with my ear, and I once ate a whole box of Barbecue Shapes for dinner.

Now, I’m not mad, but I’m disappointed that Virgin has decided to actively promote gender equality in the workplace. I believe that it is wrong to plough with a donkey and an ox yoked together, as stated in the bible.

I feel so strongly about this that I absolutely refuse to fly with you ever again. That is how important it is to me. But, on the other hand, I don’t like trains or buses, and I can’t fly Qantas, so I might have to fly with you sometimes. But I will give you all dirty looks.

How proud I was to promote Virgins throughout the world, from the Aircar SkyChariots to the Boeing 7-Elevens. I did this as I was absolutely quite certain that Virgins were a huge promoter of gender inequality, right up until your recent public statement.

I used to be a penguin, and will be pleased to attend your family Christmas dinner at any time. But it won’t be in March.

May the kisses of a thousand racehorses grace your birthday party.

Tim, B.BBQ Shapes, Somewhere in Scandinavia
_____

There. It is done. Thank you Margaret for your guidance, and may the kisses of a thousand racehorses grace your birthday party.

The Real Malcolm Stands Up

When I look at the state of the world today, with Trump being Trump, low-level, nasty little wars burning all over the Middle East and North Africa, crazy fluctuations in global resource and commodity prices, various crises playing out in Europe, the US, and even here in quiet little Australia, the first thing which occurs to me, obviously, is that something urgently needs to be done about the way we administrate foreign workers and citizenship.

How fortunate, then, that we have a government and a Prime Minister so well versed in the arcane business of government. Weaker minds might think that our most urgent priorities might be the future-proofing of our economy, defence, and foreign policy in the face of a rapidly changing world, but this would obviously be foolish and reactionary. What’s really needed, here, is for the government to embark on six weeks of consultation about what constitutes ‘Australian values’, having first declared to the nation what they are.

Truly, we are blessed to have leaders who so intimately understand the true nature of government. Who maintain such a tight grip on what’s actually important and relevant. And it’s not just our federal pollies who display such sagacity. Even at state level, we see the same fearless integrity at work, with a government so focussed on essentials that in the face of spiralling gun and drug crime, and record voter disaffection, they have bravely chosen to spend their time dropping the Safe Schools program.

Do you remember those heady days when Tony Abbott was rolled, countries like Taiwan (Taiwan!) were in a position to find our politics laughable, and myriad Australians were calling for the “real Malcolm Turnbull” to stand up? Well, as it turns out, he was planted foursquare on his tap dancing little footsies even then. His true stature as a leader has been apparent from the very beginning, and we should be pleased and grateful for his perspicacity and foresight. Because the real Malcolm Turnbull has now proven himself to be intimately familiar with what is important in Australian politics. Some idiots might think that the real business of government is the balancing of national, public, and commercial interests as part of a process of… well, of governing the country. But no, Malcolm and his right wing puppeteers know the score. They know that the essence of government in this country is to wall oneself off from the real issues of the day and play out petty factional fights in the great forum of the nation, whilst simultaneously leaning loudly in whichever direction one thinks the wind is blowing by making nakedly populist announcements about nothing very much at all.

I, for one, am overjoyed that this government has so nobly stuck to its guns and decided to continue the age-old Australian tradition of picking on immigrants in order to gain political brownie points. It shows a real respect for core Australian political values, and reveals, unequivocally, the intelligent, informed, and generally just wonderful state of our public discourse. Tony Abbott in a Malcolm suit is exactly the hero our country needs.