03 January, 2021

Trump loses poker face

In poker, as they say in the classics, every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser.

You can be holding a fist full of nothing but if you behave confidently and/or aggressively enough, you can convince a player with three kings that you’ve got a full house. To minimise losses, that player then folds, forfeiting the money they have already bet and saving you from having to show your worthless hand.

There is one hand that cannot be beaten – the royal flush. A player holding a royal flush cannot be bluffed because they know there is no better hand. However, the perfect hand can still be beaten by a pair of twos if the player holding the twos has more in the bank than the player with the royal flush.

If the pair of twos makes a bet higher than the royal flush can match, and refuses to take an IOU, unless the royal flush can raise a loan, they have to fold. This means the royal flush loses everything and the pair of twos looks like the better player.

This brings us to Donald Trump.

Trump has been holding a pair of twos all his life. The very few figures which have become public confirm that he is not nearly as wealthy as he wants everyone to believe. His sheer braggadocio is enough to convince enough people enough of the time. Trump doesn’t have the typical inscrutable poker face but he does have the master bluffing tactic of actually believing his own bullshit. He doesn’t have to pretend he isn’t lying because in his alternate reality, he isn’t.

For those who call his bluff, Trump’s go-to option is legal action. The cases would be laughed out of court if it ever got that far, but it’s litigation the defendants haven’t the time, inclination or money to fight. So they settle. Trump wins, keeps the money and doesn’t have to show his hand.

Some might suggest this makes Trump very clever, both as a businessman and a poker player. However, I don’t think even the most devout of free market libertarians would argue that this is the way a capitalist meritocracy is supposed to work.

Trump’s response to his election loss is identical to his lifelong methods – first bluff, then sue. What he evidently fails to understand though, is he is now dealing with people and institutions who cannot be bluffed, intimidated or outbid. The way he is acting like a cornered wild animal shows he has no idea of how to process this.

For the first time in his life, Trump is finally being forced to show his hand. And now the best that he can hope for is to die in his sleep.


01 January, 2021

Be the anthem

Australia has updated the lyrics of its national anthem to say “we are one and free,” instead of “we are young and free.” This is intended to reflect the fact Australia has always been home to the world’s oldest continuous culture rather than just being the “young” nation the song was originally intended to represent.

Many have criticised the change as a token one-word acknowledgement of Australia’s Indigenous people, and it undoubtedly is. Some have also suggested the anthem should be changed to better reflect Australia. While happy to check my white privilege, I respectfully suggest we go the other way. Wouldn’t it be nice if Australia reflected the anthem?

Any nation’s anthem is a brochure, a slogan, a postcard. If any country’s anthem were honest it would say, “Look, we’ve done some really bad shit but we’re trying to be better about it.” At best.

Anyone who has ever had a dog will be aware of the old saying, “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” How about Australia be the country our anthem says we are?

If we HAD wealth for toil, if we SHARED our boundless plains with those who’ve come across the sea, if we CARED for nature’s gifts of beauty rich and rare, if we WERE one (but many) and free… I’d like that.

03 December, 2020

Your opinion is irrelevant

The problem with lawyers is they think all laws are open to interpretation, including the laws of mathematics. They think they can always get the answer they want if they just ask the question the right way.

They are wrong.

74 million is less than 80 million.

74 million has always been less than 80 million.

74 million will always be less than 80 million.

There are no circumstances under which 74 million could ever be more than 80 million.

This is not opinion. These are objective facts. 

When an electoral system states that the candidate with the most votes wins, then the candidate who received 80 million votes beats the candidate who received 74 million votes.

If anyone would like to lecture me about the distinction between the popular vote and the electoral college vote, then I simply invite you to go back to the top, replace the number 74 million with the number 232, and the number 80 million with the number 306.

That’s the beauty of maths. It always works. Even a Double Irish with a Dutch Sandwich (this is a real thing by the way) will not change the answer.

Your opinion is irrelevant. Your feelings are irrelevant. Whether you believe it, is irrelevant.

The problem with people disputing the result of the 2020 US presidential election is their argument boils down to nothing more than, “I don’t believe it.”

Lawyers prosecuting the case that Donald Trump won the election keep trying to change the question in such a way as to achieve an answer they are comfortable to believe. But no matter how they try to interpret the law, they will never make 232 add up to more than 306.

There have been many credible allegations of electoral fraud in US elections in the past, but not this year. Even Trump’s lapdog Bill Barr has been forced to admit the facts are not on his side. Facts don’t take sides. Facts are facts. People choose whether to side with the facts. This decision is of course irrelevant.

Many years ago, I was in an OHS course where one of the students kept wanting to argue the legislation with the trainer. At one point, when he said, “Well, I don’t agree,” for the umpteenth time, our trainer just gave up and said, “I don’t care whether you agree or not. I’m telling you how it is.”

Although the modern world has allowed many people to create their own realities, there is still such a thing as objective truth. You may agree or disagree with the second part of that statement but it doesn’t matter.

Facts are facts. Truth is truth. Your opinion is irrelevant.

  

28 November, 2020

Black Friday Bam-a-lam!

 

Dear bands, singers, musicians, and other assorted recording artistes as appropriate:

If you must go in for this Black Friday nonsense – and I get that market forces probably mean you have to – do you know what I would really like to order from your online store?

A CD.

Not a hoodie.
Not a denim jacket with a patch bearing your name sewn on the sleeve.
Not an infant’s onesie.

Not your latest album spread across ten 7” picture discs.
Not monogrammed cigarette papers.
Not a download with extra tracks. If I’m going to pay for a download, it had better be at least 48kHz, 24-bit lossless or GTFO!
Not a pair of socks.
Not Christmas tree decorations.
Not a 250g LP in 4-colour spattered vinyl because that’s the only physical medium you chose to release the album in. Hey, I love vinyl but I’m not a fetishist.
Not a scarf.
Not a pillow case.
Not a water bottle.
Not a mug.
Not a teapot.
Not a cassette. I like retro technology but cassettes sucked even when they were the best option available.
Not a dartboard.
Not a jigsaw puzzle.
Not a hip flask.
Not a pint glass/shot glass/bar set.
Not a tote bag.
Not a tea towel.
Not a lithograph of a concert poster which was never used for the original tour anyway.
Not a CD which has been bundled with a vinyl record, T-shirt/jacket/hoodie, and art print.

Just a plain old CD.

Actually, it doesn’t have to be plain.

I love beautiful packaging, so long as your idea of beautiful packaging isn’t a massive hardcover book bound in virgin ostrich leather which will take up 25% of my shelf and cost somewhere in the vicinity of a flight to Thailand.

And it doesn’t have to be old.

I’d prefer some new music to your most popular album remastered by technicians at Space-X under the supervision of the original tape-op because somehow the four previous remasters still didn’t get it right. And that slight remix to strip the original album of the production values which didn’t remain fashionable? Not really necessary. I know they didn’t have Pro Tools in 1970. That might be why the original records were so good. If you took all the gated reverb off the snares in those 80s albums, would we even recognise the songs? And in situations where the principle artist is no longer around to approve (or disapprove), it’s getting dangerously close to musical fan-fic.

Just one further request:

Could you put ALL the music on the CD please? Don’t hit me up in another 6 months to buy the version with all the tracks you forgot to include the first time around. And if you want to do a coffee-table book edition – so called because it’s roughly the size of an actual coffee table – that’s fine for those who like that kind of thing, but please don’t expect me to invest in this massive slab of furniture just to get the bonus live disc. That really isn’t fair. DVDs are cool too. Include them by all means but the same rule applies: don’t make the DVD with all the bonus features only available to those willing to shell out for the version that comes in a ¼ size replica pyramid with certified used guitar strings and a lock of the singer’s hair.

I am more than willing to pay a price which, averaged out across the print run, will compensate you for the time and resources spent writing, recording, mixing, manufacturing and distributing the product, with a reasonable profit margin.

Is that too much to ask?

 

13 November, 2020

The five levels of Trump delusion

No-one really gives a shit that Donald Trump himself is denying all reality. 

He is just being who he has always been and doing what he has always done. 

It's not as if he didn't telegraph the fact he would dispute the election result way back in the middle of 2016. When someone starts making excuses for losing well before the game has even started, that ought to tell you something, but here we are. 

Whether or not he concedes is irrelevant. Whether or not he refuses to leave is irrelevant. If Trump is still in the White House at 12:01pm on January 20th, he will be a trespasser and treated as such by the Secret Service. Their duty is not to Trump but to the duly elected president of the day. I, for one, would pay to watch that

His backers like Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and anyone remotely connected with Breitbart, who have used Trump as a front for their own crypto-facist ambitions, don't give a rat's whether the election was free and fair or not. They would probably prefer it wasn't. To them, democracy is simply an unavoidable (for now) impediment to their objectives. 

They may or may not believe their own bullshit. It hardly matters. It's all a means to an end for them.


Trump's children - who would be irrelevant if not for their high places in the administration and campaign - probably don't know any better. Their partners, who have also been given senior positions in the campaign and/or administration have less of an excuse. They joined the cult rather than being brought up in it so their denial of reality is either wilful participation or terminal naivety. 

When you've been raised with Donald Trump as your moral compass though, what hope do you have? Invanka, Don Jr and Eric can almost be forgiven... Almost.

Media shills like Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingram, et al are playing to a particular audience. They are reactionaries with no ideas of their own. All they know is if "teh left" are for it, then they're against is and if the left are against it, then they are for it. Of course, this is from a mindset where anyone who is slightly more liberal than Mussolini is a "radical leftist." 

If Joe Biden - who by any objective standards is a centre-right moderate if ever there was one - said the Earth orbits the Sun and grass is green, these people would say he's wrong and find some de-registered crackpot to come on all their shows to agree with them. They have no other thought processes. 

As for the likes of Alex Jones, he is just a big bowl of chili way from claiming it's all a plot by the alien lizards. Anyone who listens to him deserves to. 

But it's the modern-day Quislings, Mike Pence, Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Mitch McConnell, and so many more, who history will judge the most harshly. Each of them is on the record either decrying Trump directly or at least the kind of behaviour he revels in. And they all threw whatever principles they had away and accepted Trump's hostile takeover of their party for the sake of short-term political advantage. 

Donald Trump, having never had to take responsibility or face consequences in his life, was always going to be a 74-year-old infant. Those who demonstrably knew better and still chose to roll over and say black is white, up is down, and Trump won the election, must be shown no mercy. 


30 October, 2020

Vote your conscience

 

When Trump defenders tell you it's not about the personality, it's about the policy, they're lying. Even to themselves.

The truth is, it's not about personality or policy. It's about toxic, rusted-on partisanship. 
 
How else do you explain them switching from clutching their pearls over Bill Clinton getting a knee-trembler from a consenting adult, to supporting someone who has bragged about his infidelity and being about to get away with sexual assault?
 
If it were actually about policy, Hillary Clinton would have won in a landslide because she's the best Republican candidate there's been all century. 
 
Huh Bill! Shows what you know! Hillary Clinton is a Democrat, stupid!
 
Okay then, you want to talk policies? Let's look at Hillary Clinton's policies:
 
She's never seen a war she didn't want to join.
She loves Wall St money.
Her entire platform was essentially manifest destiny.
She obviously doesn't understand modern technology.
 
Add it up! Hillary Clinton is a Republican!
 
The only actual reasons Republicans had to dislike her were her surname, the D that came after it, and possibly her vagina. (Change my mind).
 
If you've decided character no longer matters, that's your own prerogative. Just be honest with yourself and admit you were either wrong then or you're wrong now. It's okay to change your mind.
 
If you'd rather vote for a sack of shit on the Republican ticket than a flawed but policy-sound candidate on the Democratic ticket, that again is your prerogative. Just be honest with yourself about it. 
 
Vote for whoever you want.
 
 

02 June, 2020

"Not all cops"

It's all very well to say Not All Cops but it's like saying Not All Men.

No-one is saying it's ALL cops or ALL men. But the people with reason to have a rational fear of either men or cops (and if you need that explained to you, what a lovely rock you've been living under) can't tell who are the good ones just by looking at them. So they have to be wary all the time.

If you're not one of those people who has ever needed to fear men or cops, then that's what privilege looks like. And no, I'm not saying you've had an easy life - I'm sure you haven't. I'm just saying it hasn't been hard for THAT reason of what you look like.

If I happen to be walking behind a woman on her own at night, I know I'm not a threat, but SHE doesn't.

Call me a cuck if you like, but I think her right to feel safe overrides my right to the comfort of not being considered a potential rapist.

Likewise, if people who have done nothing wrong still fear police harassment, there has to be a reason for that and we need to think honestly about what that reason may be. Sure, any individual officer in any given situation may be no threat whatsoever. Indeed, that's probably the case in the majority of situations, but the how are the people on the receiving end supposed to be sure of that?