Weekly salon 3/6

1. Way to go!

When you are my age, making your will, and the lawyer asks you how you want your body disposed of, it is not just a box to tick. Basically I don’t much care, I won’t be around to take any responsibility, the executors of my will and remaining close family can do what the like.

However, I don’t like the idea of taking up space. So the idea of being incinerated and ashes sprinkled in a rain forest has some attraction. Yet there is irony in using a blast of gas to add however minimally to atmospheric greenhouse emissions.

Now Washington state has legalised human composting as an alternative to casket burial or cremation. The cost is more than cremation, but less than casket burial.

So not just pushing up daisies but becoming part of the daisy has some attraction. Here’s how it works:

    The process, pioneered for humans by Seattle-based company Recompose, involves placing bodies in “vessels” and using wood chips and straw to turn the bodies into about two wheelbarrows of soil within a month. Loved ones and families can keep the new material to spread or even use it to plant vegetables or a tree.

2. The rich are creaming it!

As Michael Janda says:

In real terms, the top 200 have increased their wealth by 17 times since the list was first published in 1984.

Christopher Sheil and Frank Stilwell in a study earlier this year found that two fault lines are developing. The bottom 40% own practically nothing and are going nowhere.

Then:

    Australia’s richest 10 per cent now hold more than 50 per cent of the nation’s wealth, a share that increased substantially over the four years to 2016.

    Almost all of that increase went to the top 1 per cent, which increased their share of the nation’s wealth from 14.2 to 16.2 per cent.

However, within that 10% most of the increase goes to the top one per cent.

The wealth of the top 200 is now $341.8 billion, up from $282.7 billion last year. Their average wealth is $1.7 billion, up from $1.41 billion.

The cut-off is now $472 million, up from $387 million.

Here are the top 10:

Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes at 5 and 6 are the Atlassian co-founders. At 15 is a bloke called Clive Palmer with $4.09 in loot.

Bill Shorten was right to talk about the “top end of town”, it’s just verboten to use those words. Nevertheless, as Albanese pointed out, some of those losing franking credits were not rich. Even with their precious credits, some were below the median income.

Property is still the biggest source of wealth, accounting for 63 on the list. Then we had 29 in retail, 20 in resources, 20 in investment, 19 in financial services, 14 in technology and 13 in agriculture.

You can find 62 each in Sydney and Melbourne, 21 in SE Queensland, 19 in Perth, then it falls away to 4 in Adelaide, 3 in Tasmania, 3 in London and 20 elsewhere.

Ruopert Murdoch does not count, not being an Australian, but some of his offspring are there quite separately.

Bernard Keane at Crikey goes on about 1 in 7 approximately inheriting their wealth. That’s about 28. I guess they are the undeserving rich.

AFR emphasises the self-made magnates.

Yep, our mate Clive Palmer is there.

All this is supposed to motivate us to be aspirational. If you subscribe to the AFR, once a month the AFR Magazine falls out of the paper. It’s a super glossy, paid for by the advertising of clobber and stuff the rich buy, where they live and where they go to get away. It makes me sick!

3. Polling blues

If you want to come to grips with what happened with polling around this election, you can’t, really. No-one knows. Kevin Bonham has a pretty good go in Oh No, This Wasn’t Just An “Average Polling Error”. He is especially critical of Nate Silver and the folks who say, What’s your problem? It was all within the margin of error.

A useful antidote to this is Brian Schmidt, Nobel Laureate in physics and the vice-chancellor of the Australian National University, in The mathematics does not lie: why polling got the Australian election wrong. Get a load of this:

    You can think of the uncertainties in the polls much like what happens when you flip a coin 10 times. You can expect to get the “right” answer of five heads quite frequently, but not every time. It turns out mathematics tells us that you’ll only get five heads 25.2% of the time.

    If you do a similar calculation for the 16 polls conducted during the election, based on the number of people interviewed, the odds of those 16 polls coming in with the same, small spread of answers is greater than 100,000 to 1. In other words, the polls have been manipulated, probably unintentionally, to give the same answers as each other. The mathematics does not lie. (Emphasis added)

Peter Lewis of the Essential Report has some frank insights in As pollsters, we are rightly in the firing line after the Australian election. What happened?

Yes, the results are manipulated, in two ways. Firstly, if they can’t get their sampling right in any poll, they estimate on the basis of information they do have. It’s a bit like NASA estimating the temperature over the Arctic, where there are no thermometres, on the basis of the nearby measurements when calculating global temperatures. If they don’t do that estimate they will be sure to be wrong.

The second way is that Lewis says their latest poll before the election was nearly a week earlier. Fully 8% were undecided. They should have reported the poll 47-45 to Labor, with 8 doubtful. Instead they thought the 8% would break in the same way as the rest.

I have some sympathy for this account. Rebecca Huntley said that a three-second exposure to an image could make the difference. I suspect that this is where the saturation advertising of negative images on Bill Shorten by Palmer and the Liberals paid off. And, no, both sides did not play this game.

But I don’t know, and probably will never know. Bonham says Australian polls were seriously good by world standards, and were getting better:

This shows the virtuous effect of Newspoll:

Schmidt warns about polls as a threat to democracy. Lewis says:

    My final point of reflection though is not so much about polls but the way we all, myself included, have tended to use them. For the past decade they have become the default scoreboard for the political contest. They have become the justification of internal power plays and the fodder of lazy political analysis, part of a perpetual self-reinforcing feedback loop.

However, that was not his final point. He says we need to dig deeper to find out what is really going on, then:

    All of which is to say: I don’t think the result on the weekend is a reason to stop asking questions and being curious about Australians. But it does challenge all of us to be more critical about the information we collect and dig deeper into what it really means.

Fundamentally, I think, people being polled don’t respect the process any more. Is someone who voted to save their franking credits going to necessarily tell you that is why they voted? More likely, they’ll say “health”, “education” or “economics” or something socially acceptable.

Or with robo polls, yet another nuisance call, they just make stuff up.

61 thoughts on “Weekly salon 3/6”

  1. On polling, I’m thinking less conservatives are willing to undertake surveys at the margins.
    Progressives, I think, are more likely to do surveys of various forms, even seek them out as from of activism whereas conservatives are slightly less activistic by nature.

    Just a theory.

    Be interesting to see what the ABCs Vote Compass result compared with the the actual results tell us about their online audience participants . I’m guessing it favoured ALP.

  2. There’s something fishy about Professor Schmidt’s article. He’s a very good astrophysicist, but….

    I agree with several of his points.
    If a poll has an inherent (sampling error) uncertainty of +/- 2%, say, then a journalist shouldn’t write something like this:

    Labor’s vote has risen 1% to 52% in the last fortnight.”

    No, you measured
    51 +/- 2% a fortnight ago,
    and now
    52 +/- 2%.

    The figure a fortnight ago was very likely to be somewhere between 49% and 53%.
    The more recent figure was very likely between 50% and 54%.

    See the problem?
    Could be 51 then 51: no change
    Could be 50 then 50: no change.
    Could be 53 then 51: a drop of 2%.

    etc. etc. etc.

    (conclusions difficult to draw, if an apparent ‘change’ is ‘within the margin of error’ but headline writers can’t resist their basest impulses.)

    I also worry about this part:

    Every single one of them predicted the LNP winning 48% or 49% of the two-party preferred vote, with Labor winning 51% or 52%.

    The problem here, is the rounding to the nearest whole number. If a decimal place had been quoted in every poll report, Prof Schmidt would have observed the Labor vote wandering around.

    Now as a physicist, he might reply: “you can’t be serious! You don’t report
    51.4 +/- 2.0 %
    when the uncertainty is as large as 2.0%, to say “51.4” instead or rounding off to “51” is silly.”

    Yes, but to quote whole numbers is to ignore the fine grain that was there in the raw data.
    To get an error of 2% requires a sample of N =2,500 voters.
    [Proportional uncertainty is 1 divided by square root of N.
    The square root of 2,500 is 50. Error is then 1/50, or 2% written as a percentage.]

    OK, 51% of 2,500 is 1275 voters
    And 51.4% of 2,500 is 1285 voters.

    That’s ten more voters.

    ***
    The good Professor is correct to say sampling has likely become more difficult (falling ownership of landlines was pointed to as a difficulty in sampling inner Sydney voters, straight after the election, by a Labor warperson….)

    Anyway, will be interested to hear if your mathematician son has some insights to offer, Brian.

  3. Jumpy, the purpose of Compass was for us to answer a series of questions to locate our own political views. I didn’t bother.

    Then they started representing what Compass respondents said as being typical of the electorate. This had to be bullsh*t. The only thing it could tell us about was what Compass respondents thought. I wouldn’t think they would be typical of the whole electorate.

  4. Anyway, will be interested to hear if your mathematician son has some insights to offer, Brian.

    Our son is atypical of the clan in that he doesn’t have his head into politics to the same degree. I don’t think I could get him the read the article and your commentary or hold his attention long enough to give an answer.

  5. That being said, I had some uneasiness about Prof Schmidt’s analysis, but I’m not mathematically literate enough to make a comment.

  6. Some coal miners are switching to the renewables industry. Part of the reason would to get work that has a future and is closer to where you want to live.
    One boilermaker to switch had this to say:

    “Have you ever been out to the coal mines? Anyone that works out there, you’re black, you’re black by the end of the day, you’re covered in it,” he said.
    “We’re clean at the end of the day. We’re not sucking that shit in. Live longer doing this kind of work.”

    He might also have said that too many miners end up with lungs covered in that black shit these days.
    Central Qld is a logical place for large scale solar based industries. It has the sunlight and land that is not good agricultural land. Gladstone is a logical place for shipping/manufacturing liquid hydrogen and other end products of cheap, renewable power.

  7. Neither am I statistically literate, but I think I have a basic idea of how “inherent sampling error” occurs. That is unavoidable, because any sample cannot represent the population exactly.

    A separate problem, but one that makes the likely range of error larger is the difficulty of finding as representative a sample as possible. So many attributes that might influence, or have in the past been seen to influence, a person’s vote.

    Where do they live?
    Income level?
    Employed?
    Age?
    Gender?
    Previous voting habits, if any?
    Engagement in the political circus?
    Level of education?
    Married or single or de facto?
    Childless?

    So the standard way to adjust for those differences is to use a random but structured sample in which you include exactly the same proportions of interviewees, as their characteristics occur in the population.

    People might lie.
    Yup.

    But an extra dimension is there.
    Supposing the voter turnout is only 73% overall, yet 90% of people aged 64+ voted, while only 50% of youngsters aged
    18 – 30 voted. I’m making up these numbers but please bear with me.

    The pollster’s carefully and conscientiously structured sample may represent precisely the proportions of oldies and youngsters in the population at large,but NOT the proportions of those two groups amongst the citizens who actually voted.

    (This might be relevant to polling inaccuracy, because ccasionally there’s quite a difference by age, in polled attitudes.)

    Just saying…..

  8. Brian: Funeral costs can be reduced by switching from a funeral service with the body at the service in a coffin to cremating the body without a coffin before the service and having the ashes in an urn at the service.
    However, cremation is emissions intensive and burial of whole bodies takes up space . However, if we can overcome our cultural squeamishness there are a number of options that may satisfy our emotional requirements while reducing the environmental footprint of our passing. For example we could treat most of the body as waste to be disposed of efficiently (or recycled) while retaining a small part of the body as a keepsake that can also be used for future DNA testing or turned into ashes for scattering or….?
    In the case of my mother I scattered her ashes where she asked me to scatter them and have pictures, letters, places we went to and stuff that satisfies my emotional needs. Scattering ashes from a small part of her body would have satisfied the need and more durable pictures, recordings of her voice etc. might help in the longer term.

  9. John, we’ve gone further than that. We’ve both said we don’t want a funeral as such, but the estate will pay for a wake!

    Hope that doesn’t upset the spirit world!

  10. Brian: It is not the dead that the bell tolls for but the living. Depending on culture and the individual the living may want to be sure that the spirit is not going to come back to cause trouble, or they, the living, will have nice words said when they die, at least part of their remains will be placed at a place they remember favorably or whatever.
    We talk about society becoming more soulless. Think of this when you are planning your end of life ceremonies.
    If euthanasia becomes legal you might be able to attend your own wake before you quietly or loudly die with your friends around you.

  11. An old friend sang hymns at his own funeral – and magnificently so – because he and his wife had attended a particular church for many years, and the parishioners had video recorded him singing hymns to the congregation on several occasions.

    It was quite something to enter the church and see A—– up there on the screen singing his heart and soul out. It made for a warm and joyous occasion.

    Music!
    Nothing like it.

  12. I’m planning to outlive everyone I know closely enough to want to attend a funeral, with the exception of a few, who will be happy enough with a wake, which they can have at their convenience.

    Ambi, I can add two stories. One was Colin Thiele, (author and educator) who organised his own funeral, and wrote his own eulogy.

    The second was a colleague I worked for who invited me to his own funeral. Happened because he was chairing a heritage society which sent out invites on their email, and didn’t change his name on the bottom.

    I agree about the music.

  13. I’ve just spent a couple of hours on the phone to Telstra, so the post I was working on didn’t get finished. Have to go out now and tonight is State of Origin. It’s a time when as HG Nelson says “too much sport is barely enough!”

    I’m working on a post about Labor over-reacting to what happened and sending some really bad signals about coal.

  14. I’m always tipping the Maroons but DCE has always show he’s only good behind a dominant pack, not sure QLD have that. On paper anyway. When he’s behind a pack being outmuscled his decision making is suboptimal, almost panicky.

    We shall see….

  15. On ALPs reaction, I thought Shortens was reminiscent of Hillary’s last 2 year “ everyone but me was to blame “ tour.

    But let’s face it, Australian elections are becoming ( media driven? ) more and more presidential.
    And Bill , despite all the puss the the Libs dragged their leaders through, was never polling as preferred PM, even though every poll had a 2-3 point bias to the ALP for some reason.

    He was not a likeable candidate to the majority of voters evidently.

  16. He was not a likeable candidate to the majority of voters evidently.

    Any psephologist will tell you that doesn’t normally matter.

    I think it did, among other things, in Qld. The common wisdom is that we like strong leaders.

  17. After 6 leaders in 12 years I would hope folk would care less about them and focus more on State Governments.

    The Fed, in my opinion should have third most power behind State and Local.

  18. Thing is, Jumpy, your opinion doesn’t change anything. The feds have the money and hence that is where power tends to aggregate.

  19. Quincelanders did well. I believe we had won 5 of the last 6 on our home turf, so a loss was not to be contemplated. However, before the match the Blues always look too big, too fast, too skilful, and too well-organised.

    However, it was very much a new-look team, with few players on either side having more than 5 matches in experience.

    Maroons were 8-0 after 20 mins. Qld bombed about 4 tries in the first half. The Blues were looking in the ascendancy at half time.

    Second half saw new vigour and intent on the part of Qld, and by 75th minute the score was 18-8 in their favour. The Blues scored another at the 75th minute to trail 18-14, and we held on to make that the final score.

    The big controversy was at the 57th minute, when our player was tackled over the line just before he was going to catch the ball in his bread basket. There was no impediment for him grounding the ball. If ever the refs were going to award a penalty try, that was it, but what we got was a penalty and the guilty player in the sin bin for 10 minutes.

    Man of the match was Dean Gagai, Mackay boy who plays for Newcastle. Scored two tries, including a length of field intercept try. Now has scored 11 in 11 matches, which I think may be a record.

    I think there may be more improvement in the Maroons than in the Blues, but it usually comes down to very marginal events, like a refs call, a dropped ball which may actually have been raked out by the opposition, etc etc, or a few centimetres here and there.

    Two to go, but if you win the first you have about 75% chance of winning the series, I understand.

    So many north of the Tweed are feeling great, but remembering that there are many cockroaches living among the cane toads.

  20. Well done, Qld.

    I agree with your understanding of the probabilities, Brian.

    Qld now has
    W1
    Dropping the ‘2’ and ‘3’ labels for games 2 and 3, the four outcomes possible are:

    WLL
    WLW
    WWL
    WWW

    Three of these (out of four) have Qld winning overall.
    One has Qld losing.

    Chances of winning overall = 3/4
    or 75%.

    (An analogy is to coin-tossing.
    H was tossed.
    With two further tosses, possibilities (all equally likely) would be
    HTT, HTH, HHT and HHH)

    Introducing coin tossing emphasises that the first estimate was based on the assumption that in every game, W and L are equally likely. A score line of 18 – 14 might support the idea that it’s not a ridiculous assumption to make.

    As would your noting that it usually comes down to very marginal events.

    I admire your Olympian detachment.
    (Go, Zeus!!)

    PS, surprised Qld doesn’t have an utter domination over NSW. In the days of the Yellow Peril, we were assured that “the map tells the story”: Gravity assists any horde that storms southwards.

  21. Ambi:

    PS, surprised Qld doesn’t have an utter domination over NSW. In the days of the Yellow Peril, we were assured that “the map tells the story”: Gravity assists any horde that storms southwards.

    Be a nice change from all those retirees from down south moving to Qld to bludge off Qld social services and clutter up the roads with their silly, snobbish high drays!!

  22. Ambi, the basic fact is that NSW have about three times as many players in the NRL to choose from. A consideration these days is that anyone with a skerrick of NZ ancestry can opt to play for them, and are not available for SOO. Same is now true for Pacific islanders. Qld nurtures quite a few good players who end up playing elsewhere.

    Also NSW people on the NRL change the eligibility rules if we sneak a good player, like Greg Inglis for example, who was born and raised below the border.

    I believe there have been 91 games since 1981. I’ve watched most of them.

  23. ABC Chairwoman Ita Buttrose made a very strong statementt about the Federal Police raids on the ABC and a Murdoch press reporter so soon after the election.

    On behalf of the ABC, I have registered with the Federal Government my grave concern over this week’s raid by the federal police on the national broadcaster.

    An untrammelled media is important to the public discourse and to democracy.

    It is the way in which Australian citizens are kept informed about the world and its impact on their daily lives.

    Observance of this basic tenet of the community’s right to know has driven my involvement in public life and my career in journalism for almost five decades.

    The raid is unprecedented — both to the ABC and to me.

    In a frank conversation with the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, yesterday, I said the raid, in its very public form and in the sweeping nature of the information sought, was clearly designed to intimidate.

    It is impossible to ignore the seismic nature of this week’s events: raids on two separate media outfits on consecutive days is a blunt signal of adverse consequences for news organisations who make life uncomfortable for policy makers and regulators by shining lights in dark corners and holding the powerful to account.

    I also asked for assurances that the ABC not be subject to future raids of this sort. Mr Fletcher declined to provide such assurances, while noting the “substantial concern” registered by the Corporation.

    There has been much reference in recent days to the need to observe the rule of law.

    While there are legitimate matters of national security that the ABC will always respect, the ABC Act and Charter are explicit about the importance of an independent public broadcaster to Australian culture and democracy.

    Public interest is best served by the ABC doing its job, asking difficult questions and dealing with genuine whistle-blowers who risk their livelihoods and reputations to bring matters of grave import to the surface.
    Neither the journalists nor their sources should be treated as criminals.
    In my view, legitimate journalistic endeavours that expose flawed decision-making or matters that policy makers and public servants would simply prefer were secret, should not automatically and conveniently be classed as issues of national security.
    The onus must always be on the public’s right to know.
    If that is not reflected sufficiently in current law, then it must be corrected.
    As ABC Chair, I will fight any attempts to muzzle the national broadcaster or interfere with its obligations to the Australian public.
    Independence is not exercised by degrees.
    It is absolute.

    Morrison’s support of the raids is disturbing.

  24. John, it is a real worry as to the kind of country we are becoming.

    On next post, not done yet. New stuff keeps appearing and I’m struggling for time on keyboard.

    Al Gore is in town today and sharing the stage with Annastacia Paluszczuk today in Qld govt organised Climate Week. I’m looking forward seeing what statements come out of it.

  25. The onus must always be on the public’s right to know.

    Correct Ita.
    I want to know if and when journalists or Billion dollar media corporations break the law.

  26. John D

    The Very Large Exodus in Drays peaked in those few years when Joh the Great abolished death duties in Qld before the other States. And lo, the wealthier and elderly flocked northwards to the Promised Land.

    Leaving behind their Lands, Mansions, flocks of merino, gold mining leases, tallow works, quill sharpening workshops, whale oil distilleries….. onward and ever upward in their thousands, urged on by their Beneficiaries and Grandsons.

    “Bequeath Us More Money!” went up the cry.

    But lo, they found themselves far from their kith and verily also their kin, whom they missed most grievously…. Even they, though Victorian and aloof, noticed that their Drays were unwelcome in Johburg and Flotown.

    Some trudged back down south where their mohair rugs and long johns might be of some comfort.

    True dinks!

  27. 5 1/2 hours in moderation so far.

    Brian, is there something you want to tell me ?
    It’s ok, I can handle it.

  28. Craig, I’ve been talking to a client, who then seemed to want to discuss matters important to her for an hour, visited the Telstra shop in Toowong, did about 3 hours work out at Kenmore, came home, did this and that had a meal, talked with my wife, and now I’m here for a few minutes.

    Seems Federer is about to play Nadal. We used to get up in the middle of the night to watch Bjorn Borg play Jimmy Conners, McEnroe and others. With the Fed you never know when it is going to be his last. He turns 38 in a few months, so if he’s there, I’ll be watching.

    No I didn’t want to tell you anything. No-one calling themselves Craig Turner has posted here before. Simple as that!

  29. A story covered in all kinds of sources says that General Motors is one of two US car manufacturing companies that’s been buying greenhouse gas “permits” from Tesla. Some emphasise they’ve been building up an excess of credits “in case of a future Democrat President – with stricter emissions policies”.

    Others say it’s a standard way emissions trading should operate.

    Detroit Free Press mentions that the US taxpayers are subsidising the deal.

  30. Sh*t, BilB

    Now you’re trying to confuse us with technical data and pictures.

    Any chance the Australians could sue because it looks like a boomerang?

    Plenty of good stuff still coming out of Delft.
    Vermeer, Leeuwenhoek (sp?); just down the road from Leiden and The Hague….

  31. Ambi: Flying in a giant boomerang could be a wee bit uncomfortable. Boomerangs spin as they fly. Giddy in the middle, held down by G forces at the end of the wings. Then there is the problem of the plane wanting to come back to where it was launched all the time.
    Maybe they could be used to try and fly unwanted refugees to Aus? (Dear Mr Dutton……)

  32. Read and be depressed: George Orwell’s prescient novel 1984 is turning 70 and only growing more relevant with age Problem is that the technology makes the oppression more possible in places like China and Trump has taken the phrase “Enemy of the people” out of the book as a way of describing his enemies.
    We could be in trouble if we ever get a PM with an advertising background or we start seeing Federal Police raids on parts of the media who insist on finding and publishing things big brother doesn’t want us to know.

  33. Folau stuff is giving me irritation. Firstly, what he apparently said is just wrong and bad, hurtful to many people and unworthy.

    Secondly though, he had a contract with rugby league or whoever that required him to behave in a proper upstanding way. He failed to do that IMHO, thus breaking a term of his contract.

    Third, surely a more Christian option would be to show Christian values towards those “damned” people, not brandishing hellfire at them. And anyway, does a good married Christian have an affair with Lara Bingle circa 2010? Apparently he did, and that affair led to the end of her engagement to Michael Clark. There may have been a salacious photo of Bingle as a part of the affair.

    I don’t see any real basis beyond discussion that freedom of speech is under threat in his case. Folau broke a contract rule and was called to book for it.

  34. GH
    So a corporation can incorporate clauses relating to and infringing the Discrimination Act if agreed to and signed. No signature, no contract.

    Therefore the Catholic Education corporation can insert no gays, no adulterous conduct, no sinning basically and police it at their leisure.

    Or even my little company for that matter can insert clauses contravening the law, if signed, becomes legal.

    Big win for corporations over individuals rights there.

  35. Jumpy I don’t agree with your logic. You can do a lot of things out there and most of them come with caveats of one thing or another. E.g solicitors have many ethical limits on themselves, but they accept those limits as part of their trade.
    Folau elected to play football and accepted a lawful contract that demanded he behave to a standard. Being a Christian, a Calathumpian of even a Cardinal (dare I include a President) does not prevail over law. Being a Christian, however devout or close to God does not imbue that person with the right to do what Folau did.

    If I can comment on your example using the Catholic Church, I find that a little curious given the very public litigation involving Cardinal Pell. Just saying…

  36. GH

    Being a Christian, a Calathumpian of even a Cardinal (dare I include a President) does not prevail over law.

    Nor a journalist or their corporate overlords, just saying because it’s relevant in the “ news “ at the moment.

    My point of logic is a private entity, this one with a monopoly within our Rugby elite, be aloud to insert clauses that are not illegal on or off the field ?

    What if the ARU put in “ if you speak about having a homosexual relationship you are sacked “ ?

    Or if reading text from the Quran on any occasion on social media is sackable?

    Or if not singing the National Anthem brings the game into disrepute?

    Be careful when you accept deprivation of Liberty in your favour because that exact precedent will be used against you eventually !

  37. Geoff H

    From what I recall, it was a star AFL role model player from Carlton who, though married, had an affair with Miss Lara and took a photo of her in the shower.

    It didn’t help his marriage much.

    Try Fevola.

    I’m not sure that Mr Fevola’s religious beliefs were ever remarked upon. Don’t get me wrong: he was very good at footy. Larrikin good looks, extrovert, liked a bevvie or two.

    (Queen Victoria’s State has always been a bastion of impeccable behaviour and fine draymanship. We will not hear a word said against our refinement and gracious manners.)

  38. Jumpy:

    Or even my little company for that matter can insert clauses contravening the law, if signed, becomes legal.
    Big win for corporations over individuals rights there.

    Agree with you here. Too many commentators on the Folau case want to say that contracts are sacred writ and that it is OK for unreasonable contracts to be binding even if they are insisting on something that is illegal like breaking a law like the anti-discrimination act. We need more laws that can overthrow contracts that are unreasonable and, in extreme
    cases charge those pressuring people to sign unreasonable contracts.
    GH: Apart from what I said above, there are a number of specific issues in the Folau case. For example:
    1. If Folau really believes that people will go to hell if they don’t change their behaviour and repent he has a moral obligation to point out the risks they are taking and do what is needed to be saved.
    2. There is no suggestion that he has been harassing teammates. (I see that as a problem that might warrant dismissal.)
    3. His blogging is on a blog directed at church members, not the public in general. However, I do think public figures do have a right to use this position to champion various causes even when I don’t agree with them.
    The case raises a number of issues that need addressing. Particularly the issue of unreasonable contracts.

  39. JD thanks. The case is clearly fraught and there are issues coming out the wazoo.
    You may be right about new/more laws but I wish that human decency or principles could prevail here. Laws just produce more dissent and argument.
    Folau may see it as his duty to broadcast his beliefs. He may see that he has an imperative driven by his faith to proclaim his beliefs. Good for him. But that does not give him the right to bring hellfire and brimstone upon a specific group of individuals who are supposedly protected from this sort of thing. Perhaps he should have understood that he should limit his tirade, but he did not. Can I add, talking about intense personal belief, that one such person arose in Germany many years ago, and imposed his views upon the world at massive cost.

    Unreasonable contracts need to be looked at, but especially enforcement of unreasonable or onerous contracts and especially where vulnerable folk are involved. Apparently Folau’s contract had around $5 million left on it. He was well paid to adhere to the reasonable request not to say what he did. And his rant was, in my view, rather unchristian.

  40. Not being a lawyer, I’m not certain of this…..

    but I thought it was a principle in law, that if the terms of a contract required an illegal act to be performed, that in itself would be sufficient to void the contract in question

    In other words, such a contract could not be enforced.

    (When I have time, I may be able to report back here, to my learned friends. Still affected by watching some of the Cardinal Pell appeal in the Victorian Supreme Court last week – live streamed – the technicality, the attention to fine points of logic [not just to legal precedents and legal principles]; golly!)

    To my learned friend JohnD: the boomerang remark was a (very weak) attempt at a joke. But I did appreciate your pointing out that it might be unhelpful if an aeroplane kept trying to circle back to its point of takeoff. Your learnedness appears to know no limits, Counsel.

  41. Ambi you are right about illegal contracts. I think, from my introductory law unit, that you can not contract an illegal act e.g. to say, rob a house. Now I think that means there is no contract ever. But if a contract did exist e.g. to play football, and the terms were seriously biased against say, the player, the contract may be void or unenforceable. Dunno how that plays out for Folau.

  42. Geoff H I think you’ve got the wrong slant on Folau.

    I’ve stopped following the case in detail. Happy to leave it to the courts. However, he was not bringing hellfire and brimstone upon anyone. Basically, he was informing anyone who had access to his post out of love that they risked hell if they did not repent and eschew their wicked ways, not as he sees it, rather how God sees it, according to his beliefs.

    I’ve heard that what he said has been quoted selectively, and in full it looks very like a quote from the Bible.

    On his contract, I believe there was a discussion between him and the chief honcho person of RU. She sent him a piece of paper with writing upon it to confirm her intent for him to sign, but I understand he didn’t sign it.

    Nevertheless the RU consulted three senior counsel before giving him the flick, so it will be interesting to see what his silks come up with.

    The issue with the other players is that some believe the same things but have chosen not to say what they believe. Some are offended and say they won’t play with him.

    My forecast is that he ends up being a preacher man to his faithful, paid by his church.

  43. GH: BTW I do acknowledge that what football hero Folau said wouldn’t help some young person who is struggling with the realization that they are gay. On the other hand fundamentalist Christianity can be successful at helping people being destroyed by sex and drugs and rock and roll and football hero Folau may be the right sort of person to have an effect on some of these lost souls.

  44. football hero Folau may be the right sort of person to have an effect on some of these lost souls.

    Not if he tells them they’re going to hell.

    [Disclosure: It’s only anecdata I know, but sex and drugs and rock and roll were my salvation.]

  45. Reading the various posts about Folau I think in some respects I am correct but that said my overall view was on the shallow side.
    I still think he was out of line, and I don’t think that having deep, intense and personal feelings about something justifies inappropriate talk.

  46. Zoot: I shocked my poor old mum when i was a young teenager by giving up Christianity and reading up on religions like Buddhism long before it was fashionable. Never went back to Christianity. The inspiration for this move was evangelical Christianity. I couldn’t respect a god that didn’t meet my criteria for fairness and expected me to agree with a range of propositions that were being pushed by HIS alleged representatives. Unlike many people I knew who gave up Christianity I didn’t fall apart after giving up Christianity. I barely drank, only got drunk twice in my life (second time was an accident), never took drugs and ended up marrying a dedicated, but unorthodox Christian who, admittedly, was very enthusiastic about rock and roll. I think the evangelicals do their best work helping people who have been brought up as Evangelical Christians and struggle to survive when they kick the props away.
    I imagine that sex and drugs and rock and roll may save people who need to break away from an oppressive upbringing.

  47. Geoff H

    The Press and LGBTI advocates have emphasised Mr Folau’s Biblical admonition against homosexuality. But
    1. As Brian points out, he left open repentance and Jesus’s love, etc in this life
    2. Mr Folau also spoke against adulterers, thieves, liars, murderers (and other categories of sinners that I don’t recall, my Learned Friend **) Strangely, we have heard not a squeak from the Adulterers’ Association, the Liars League, the Internationnal Brotherhoods and Sisterhoods of Thieves, or the Advocates of Murder in Business Dealings.

    In other words, something like 60% of us have been keeping a very low profile, hoping it’ll all blow over.

    I blame the Twits.
    Several Churches that have been here for decades, have been preaching exactly these messages (on TV too), but Israel Folau gets pounced upon.
    TwitStorm = Sh*tStorm

    ** I confess to remembering Mr Fevola’s transgressions, but very quickly went hazy on the List of Sinners. Dr Sigmund might have a suggestion about that.

  48. I imagine that sex and drugs and rock and roll may save people who need to break away from an oppressive upbringing.

    You’ve nailed it John.
    I grew up in the Methodist tradition which can be encapsulated as “Methodists disapprove of sex because it might lead to dancing”.
    Had my horizons not been broadened by the aforesaid sex and drugs and rock and roll I ran a very real risk of becoming an emotionally and spiritually stunted bigot (like Mr Folau).

    And as a quick postscript: I’ve stayed out of this discussion because I know nothing of rugby and I care even less, but according to Dot at Loon Pond, Mr Folau’s church also condemns Roman Catholics to hell.
    Has anybody told Miranda Devine, the Shanahans or Greg Sheridan?

  49. Ho Boy!!

    Go zootie…

    Let’s get right into the “Spawn of Satan, Harlot of Rome” rhetoric, eh?

    Fights between (nominally) Christian sects are little humdingers at times, eh? Defenestration is still a favourite of mine, mainly because it was the only instance where learning that fenestra [Latin] translated as ‘window’ was of any use to a growing lad.

    Wars were fought in Europe, heretics tortured and killed; and yet, and yet,…. the message in the New Testament is one of love, sisterhood, tolerance, brotherhood, acts of kindness, forgiveness; equanimity in the face of insult or outrage {“turn the other cheek”}

    Likely as many Christian infidels were murdered as were Muslim infidels during the Crusades.

    When we human beings get to do some murdering, it seems any excuse completely valid reason will do. Heresy within Christian sects, insults to the nation (you don’t even have to invade us, it seems). Oh yes, a good, long fight preferably involving bloodshed: that’s our ancient and modern history.

    Choose your homeland and take your pick in the grand lottery: kulaks? starvation for you; European Jews? concentration camps for you; Japanese town dwellers? vaporisation; German or English or French or Dutch or Spanish or Italian or…..explosive bombs and fire bombs for you; Palestinians/ Jewish migrants/Lebanese/ Iraqis/ Egyptians/ Syrians? well, we have a 70-year extended plan for you, with regular surprises; New Yorkers? you won’t be able to guess!! but it’s a biggie; Cambodian high school graduates? labour first, eternity later; East Timor? look, we’re running out of innovations, so could you settle for expropriation and tyranny, with a bargain basement guerilla resistance to spice up life?

    Must war be the legacy we leave?

  50. Zoot: It was a Methodist Sunday school teacher who inspired me to dump Christianity and become interested in Asiatic religions. I was too young to be interested in dancing. Going to a Methodist church didn’t stop my parents from dancing but they went to the Methodist church as a matter of convenience rather than any commitment to the Methodist sect.
    Ambi: The German belt buckle my grandfather souvenired in WWI had “Gott Mit Uns” on it. Given that we all knew that God was an Englishman it was hardly surprising that the German belt buckle got it wrong.

  51. Ambi, here’s what the French did to Heidelberg castle in 1688:

    On the last trip in 2015 our tour went through 7 countries in 10 days. The amount of violence we were fed by tour guides was astonishing. Some of it completely cruel and perverted.

    We did see the castle in Prague where the Imperial emissaries were defenestrated in 1618, starting the Thirty Years War, but I don’t have a photo handy.

  52. Brian

    I must apologise for that rant.

    Last year on a trip to a few countries in eastern Europe, we heard about WW2 and Soviet Era horror to such an extent for about ten days that it was then a delight to join a free walking tour in charming, small Tallinn town and be regaled with tales of medieval life, merchants and artisans, peasants and farmers. Turned out the tour guides were young actors. Deft performers and spontaneous wits. No WW2, no Soviet Occupation hidtory though neither had left that place untouched.

    Many years ago at Ayuddhaya (sp?) Thailand we inspected a row of Buddha statues at a royal site which had been helpfully beheaded by invafing Burman soldiers. In that case, Buddhist on Buddhist barbarity.

  53. Ambi, no need for apology. I enjoyed the rant.

    Clearly there is enough barbarity to go around just about everywhere.

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