Once a prison island . . .

The First Fleet Ships (Convicts) | Discovery of Australia | Seacraft Gallery

Convicts sent to Australia from England and Ireland were sentenced to either seven years of hard labour, fourteen years or life. None were allowed to return home. That was the punishment: to live out their lives on the opposite side of the world, far from civilization.

Those who escaped mostly assimilated into Aboriginal tribes beyond the frontier of settlement. Finding a berth for the perilous, eight-month return journey was almost impossible.

In one of history’s customary ironies, some convicts found life in the antipodal hellscape agreeable enough to send for their families, a policy encouraged due to the severe sex imbalance. Colonial women frequently suffered problems during labour because they were small from growing up in poverty while their unborn babies grew large from their mother’s new, protein-rich diet.

They were still poor but land was plentiful and mutton was cheap.

Few of the big, colonial-born subjects of the Empire returned to their ancestral homelands. They were allowed to but the tyranny of distance meant that few could even consider such a journey.

In later years, many Europeans would emigrate as free settlers in hope of a better life. Like the convicts, their farewells were mostly final as few saw their relatives in the old country again.

In 2021, we see a rebirth of this strange phenomenon of prison-island-as-haven.

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Word from the Dark Side – America’s new flag, an army’s airy-fairy antics, Afghans are acoming, amorous J-cops (again) and the art of cheering up

Happy birthday to Stevie Nicks who just turned 73 and is still performing

Note: I bookmark interesting links from all over the place and usually forget where I found them. If you reckon I got one from you, feel free to give yourself a HT in the comments.

And Moldbugman, I forgive you and I’ve called off the hit.

In the news, BLM flags are fluttering over US embassies worldwide during this holiest of weeks.

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Friday Finance: the trouble with REITs

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This is an extract from The Poor Man’s Guide to Financial Freedom: A Realistic, 10-Step Manual for Building Liberating Wealth on a Low to Medium Income.

REITs

There is a way to invest only a small portion of your capital in property instead of buying a whole house.  This is through a fund that pools investor money and uses it to invest in many properties.  Such a fund is usually called a real estate investment trust (REIT, pronounced ‘reet’).  Through this vehicle, you can put exactly as much or as little of your wealth into property as you want, with plenty left over for investing in shares and bonds in order to better diversify your holdings. 

In addition, these REITs can invest in a variety of types of properties, i.e. mortgages, commercial office space, or retail, and they can invest across many locations, thus significantly reducing the risk should any one investment go bad.  For some investors, this can be a good way of getting into property without having all the hassle of owning an actual house.

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Rhetoric vs reality on vaccines

Rhetoric vs Logic

I try to keep things real here, though I sometimes descend into a rant or silliness. The People’s Blog might as well be a private discussion board as normal people don’t come here and if they do, they don’t linger. We can speak freely and acknowledge complications.

When speaking publicly, a less measured approach is more effective.

For example, lockdowns.

Realistically, I’m open to the idea that they may reduce infection rates temporarily in some cases but am against them because (a) the costs do not outweigh the benefits according to my own values and (b) we should not exchange freedom for a little safety except in extreme cases. It usually turns out badly, from banning dope to arbitrary War on Terror laws that are still on the books today.

If speaking in another forum I wouldn’t choose those words.

Ordinary people are not compelled by nuanced arguments. The world’s greatest orators didn’t move crowds by saying, “On one hand, I guess I can see their point of view on x, but on the other hand . . .” Did Cicero ever make a speech like that? Did Lincoln?

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Infection fatality rate

[I brought this post forward as the issue is presently under discussion]

We all learned a bit of epidemiological jargon over the last year, hey?

The term ‘infection fatality rate’ means:

. . . the proportion of deaths among all infected individuals, including all asymptomatic and undiagnosed subjects. It is closely related to the CFR [case fatality rate], but attempts to additionally account for inapparent infections among healthy people.

The case fatality rate means the death rate among those diagnosed with the disease and will necessarily be higher than the IFR.

I wanted to know: overall, if you get infected with Covid, what are your chances of survival? I saw a big argument about this online with some saying it was way over 1% and some saying it was way less.

Let’s get to the bottom of it.

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Word from the Dark Side – the Lizardman Constant, lazy studies, long-lived larrikins and leaving money to the government

Teardrop by Massive Attack, 1998. The clip used here is from Ghost in the Shell.

Last week I reported that 8.5% of survey respondents thought they could beat a gorilla in a fight. It seems there is a word for this tendency for ridiculous answers: the Lizardman Constant. Scott puts it at around 4% but I reckon it depends on the demographic and the question. Ask about fighting animals, for example, and you’ll elicit whacky responses from people who just want to see the world burn.

If you had an actual gorilla and invited the audience to throw their hats in the ring, I reckon you’d get less than 8.5% willing to have a shot.

Here’s another example. Perceived social media bias by demographic:

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Friday Finance: should you buy an investment property?

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This is an extract from The Poor Man’s Guide to Financial Freedom: A Realistic, 10-Step Manual for Building Liberating Wealth on a Low to Medium Income.

An Investment Property

You might want to buy a property in order to charge others rent to live there rather than live in it yourself.  In addition to the rent, which will perhaps increase over time, you’ll hopefully profit from capital gain when you eventually sell the property for a higher price.  This is called an investment property.

In many countries it offers generous tax concessions.  However, you should not be buying an investment property just for the tax advantage – it must be a sound asset to begin with.

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Scaremongering about India

‘Entire families’ wiped out by Covid’s carnage in rural India, screams the headline.

The story went around the world via various mastheads but I tracked down the original to The Times of India.

Experiencing doubt, I decided to look into it.

In Basi . . . about three-quarters of the village’s 5,400 people are sick and more than 30 have died in the past three weeks.

Three-quarters? As about twenty percent of those infected with Covid never show symptoms, that means almost the whole village must be infected. I haven’t heard of that happening in any other place in the world (fact check me if I’m wrong).

Or perhaps they mean that 75% of people being tested are found to be positive. If they were only testing those presenting with symptoms that would make sense.

Thirty dead? Even if 100% of the village is infected, itself extremely unlikely, that gives us an infection fatality rate of 0.56%.

Doubt.

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Follow the leader

As the US circles the bowl, I’ve noticed for some time that Australia seems to be in slightly better shape. Not good shape, but better.

It’s certainly true that Based America put up much stronger and more effective resistance against Covidian tyranny. If one of youse crosses the Rubicon, I may apply for asylum there on the grounds of being a Stateless Person.

Overall, however, Australia has outperformed the US on these measures:

  • The population is not so fiercely divided along political lines. I think; been away a while
  • There were BLM protests but little resulting violence or property damage
  • While race-baiting media campaigns continue apace, the racial situation on the ground is calmer
  • There are no massive homeless populations as in some US cities
  • There is widespread faith in the electoral process on all sides
  • The national debt is much lower

On this last, Australia is suddenly catching up to our cousins across the pond. The latest federal budget will plunge Australia into a level of debt that may drown us.

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Beware of these two finance gurus

Jessica

Jessica Irvine is a Senior Economics Writer at the Sydney Morning Herald, one of Australia’s premier legacy media outlets. She’s kind of a big deal.

I’ve been following her with bemusement for a while, mostly because of her far-fetched stances on some issues. For example, she’s one of those jaded feminists who proclaim true equality will be reached when child-care is provided free by taxpayers (men) so that strong, independent single mothers like her don’t need to depend on any particular man.

Her reasoning powers are also on display in this TV appearance where she claims that a federal minister accused of rape (via a letter from a dead woman, not a police complaint) should not be given a ‘platform’ (press conference) to defend himself. On the grounds that the accuser can no longer speak for herself. Jessica’s not saying he’s guilty of course, just that men in parliament need to be ‘held to a higher standard’ and that ‘the Prime Minister should take a stronger stance’ (sack him without evidence).

Yikes, I only just found that one when searching for her qualifications. This was going to be a gentle piece but now the gloves are off. After all, such a prominent person with a national platform should be held to a higher standard.

Back to finance. Some time ago, Jessica gregariously wrote posts listing her exact superannuation savings, the cost of her house, and hinted at what deposit she’d put down and how’d she’d managed the financing – a bit of help from Australia’s most trusted institution, the Bank of Mum and Dad. No shame there. The median house price in Sydney and Melbourne is around $1M so purchasing a home is an intergeneration project.

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Ricky Vaugn vs Albert Langer

You may have heard the odd case of Douglass Mackey, aka Twitter troll Ricky Vaughn. He was arrested in January 2021 for a 2016 tweet telling Hillary Clinton supporters they could vote for her via text:

Apparently 4,900 people fell for it or at least sent the text as a lark to see what would happen.

From the NYT:

Mr. Mackey, who was released from custody on Wednesday on a $50,000 bond, faces an unusual charge: conspiracy to violate rights, which makes it illegal for people to conspire to “oppress” or “intimidate” anyone from exercising a constitutional right, such as voting. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

A notorious prankster, it seems a bit rough to arrest him and threaten a decade in jail for a stupid meme.

Compare a similar case from Australia in the 1990s:

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Word from the Dark Side – blunders down under, badly behaved teachers, bizarre Bill Gates divorce story and buxom beauty’s arrest bags bulging AV bonus

Kelly Watch the Stars by Air, 1998. The album, Moon Safari, is a classic.

I’ve said before that Australia blindly follows every path that the US blunders down.

You may have noticed last week, with the Nigerian-Australian basketballer parroting American vernacular in her parroting of American Woke denunciation of everything. Here’s her back story, by the way.

Now, my dear American readers, watch as your retarded cousins of the south dance like monkeys to your tune!

1. Meet Australia’s youngest drag queen (thirteen, if you don’t want to look)

2. The right to chestfeed enshrined in government workplace agreement

3. Daily stories reminding us Black Good, White Bad

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Friday Finance: do you need to buy a house?

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This is an extract from The Poor Man’s Guide to Financial Freedom: A Realistic, 10-Step Manual for Building Liberating Wealth on a Low to Medium Income.

Growth Assets 2: Real Estate

Executive summary:

Jargon: The terms ‘real estate’ and ‘property’ can include houses, apartments, office space, retail space, or even farmland.

Risk: Like shares, it is possible for the value of real estate to fall as well as rise.  More about this below.

Return: If you go online you can enjoy reading never-ending arguments about which is the better growth investment in the long term, shares or real estate.  These threads usually end in vicious personal insults and accusations that the other contributor is merely a shill for the rival investment vehicle, and an idiot.  I’ll not get into it. 

Let’s leave it at this: over a long investing horizon, returns on real estate in general are comparable to those of the stock market, i.e. pretty high.  That’s what makes it a growth asset.

The details:

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Electing Trump backfired

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

This is true in human affairs. When people begin pushing for gay marriage, for example, the anti-gay marriage camp will redouble their efforts in response. When a new religion proselytizes, those who oppose it become more vocal.

The moral of the story is not to avoid changing anything. Rather, one must realize that any new initiative will be met with increased resistance by those who oppose it. While things might be quiet now, expect things to heat up once you start pushing.

In other words, bring it.

This film is better than you’d think.
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Death rates

Some time ago I tried looking up total death rates for different countries to get a mathematical view of Covid’s impact. Curiously, one of the countries that compiles and releases its data first is Sweden.

What I found was so interesting that this post will only consider Covid in passing as it investigates broader trends.

Have a look:

You can see the Covid bump in 2020, likely to be repeated in 2021, but there are many other interesting things going on in this graph.

First, there’s a very obvious downward trend over the decades. You can see how improved nutrition, medicine etc. over the last century led to dramatically lower death rates, especially among infants.

There’s also a bulge over the 1980s. This is no doubt due to the age structure of society at that time as the graph shows crude death rates that are not adjusted for the age of the population.

Do you see those really big spikes? That’s what major pandemics look like. No doubt you can spot the Spanish Flu of a century ago.

Notice how early years have much more irregular death rates due to pandemics (mostly), harsh winters, crop failures and other perils of the pre-modern period. Compare to how death rates smooth over the twentieth century along with economic and technological development.

Most people understand that death rates have gradually declined since the Olden Days but it’s surprising to see that mortality has continued to drop even in the twenty-first century. In Sweden’s case, this decline is such that the Covid blip pushed 2020’s mortality rate up to what would have been normal a decade ago and still well below the average of two decades ago.

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Word from the Dark Side – stirring the melting pot, striking a pose, squeezed to zero and the Sirens of divorce

Heaven’s Gonna Burn Your Eyes from the 2002 Thievery Corporation album, The Richest Man in Babylon. I recall liking this song more than the whole album but relistening now, the album’s pretty good it you’re into that sort of thing.

An indigenous academic apologizes for calling a report into African crime ‘racist’ after being informed the author is African. Specifically he’s creole from Mauritius while those getting into trouble are mostly from South Sudan but I doubt she can grasp the significance.

Australia is not ready to discuss this sort of issue without a passably dark-skin person leading the way.

In other African vs Aborigine news, an Australian women’s basketball player threatens to boycott the Olympics because of the lack of diversity in promotional shoots. She is half Nigerian.

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Friday Finance: are you a sophisticated investor?

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This is an extract from The Poor Man’s Guide to Financial Freedom: A Realistic, 10-Step Manual for Building Liberating Wealth on a Low to Medium Income.

What is a sophisticated investor?

Some investments are recommended for, or restricted to, ‘sophisticated investors’, also called ‘accredited investors’.  This is because the investment requires a high level of capital or expertise to manage properly.  Such products are sometimes called ‘wholesale’, rather than ‘retail’, which means that they are mostly marketed to institutions rather than to individuals and often the minimum investment amount is half a million dollars or more. 

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6 remaining questions from 2020

Gawd, that year.

Looking back, there are still some issues we never got to the bottom of:

1. Why was Soleimani visiting Baghdad anyway?
According to some sources, he was there to carry a conciliatory message to Saudi Arabia:

Iran’s most powerful general Qassem Soleimani was carrying a message about Tehran’s desire to resolve tensions with Saudi Arabia when he was killed by an American drone strike last month.

Iran wants to resolve differences with Gulf states Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates “as quickly as possible”, Tehran’s ambassador to Iraq told the Iraqi state news agency in an interview published on Tuesday (local time).

Was the assassination really about eliminating a US enemy and reducing Iranian influence?

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Hopium

I need some.

This blog has become dour. That’s because my life’s been flipped upside down like a beetle and I’m not sure if I can turn it back the right way.

I’ve missed out on two jobs due to pandemic travel restrictions. My own country has abandoned me. Those closest to me have fallen into the Woke/Covidian cult. Right now I still have no good option for getting off this fecking island and doing something with my life.

I’ve become negative about the future because it appears that hysterical restrictions on everything and tyrannical controls on free speech are here to stay.

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