Induced Labour

Last year the UNHRC decreed that access to abortion services was a human right (.pdf):

States parties must provide safe, legal and effective access to abortion where the life and health of the pregnant woman or girl is at risk, and where carrying a pregnancy to term would cause the pregnant woman or girl substantial pain or suffering, most notably where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or is not viable.

The problem with terms like “must provide X” in lists of human rights is it assumes there are people willing to provide X, unless they intend to force them at gunpoint. The right to education assumes there are enough teachers willing to do the job at the going rate. The right to an abortion assumes there are doctors willing to terminate a fetus. This assumption has run into hard reality in Argentina:

News that doctors performed a caesarean section on an 11-year-old rape victim has reignited a debate on Argentina’s abortion rules.

The girl became pregnant after being raped by her grandmother’s 65-year-old partner and had requested an abortion.

Abortion is legal in Argentina in cases of rape or if the mother’s health is in danger, but in the case of the 11-year-old girl uncertainty about who her legal guardian was caused delays.

The girl’s mother agreed with her daughter’s wishes but because the girl had been placed in the grandmother’s care some time earlier, the mother’s consent was at first deemed not enough.

However, because the grandmother had been stripped of her guardianship for co-habiting with the rapist, she could not provide the necessary consent either.

By the time the issue had been settled, the girl was in the 23rd week of her pregnancy.

This is a horrendous case and one half of the problem ought to be solved using a dark cell, a sturdy padlock, and a one-time use key. The other part is more complicated:

Further problems surfaced when a number of doctors at the local hospital refused to carry out the procedure, citing their personal beliefs.

And therein lies the rub. What do you do? Personally, I think the young girl should have had her pregnancy terminated but then I’m not the one pulling the gloves on to do it. There is a prevailing opinion among swivel-eyed feminists who are largely childless that doctors should have no say in whether they carry out abortions; they liken any refusal on religious or moral grounds to be akin to refusing to operate on a black person. To some people, the concept of medical ethics and the Hippocratic oath simply don’t exist: if the state orders a doctor to carry out a procedure he or she must comply without question. No doubt Josef Mengele agrees. In this case, rather than carrying out an abortion, the doctors peformed a C-section instead:

On Tuesday, the health authorities in the northern state of Tucumán instructed the hospital director to follow a family judge’s decision and to carry out the “necessary procedures to attempt to save both lives”.

The family court which the statement quoted has since come forward to say it had made no mention of saving two lives.

The doctors who performed the C-section said they did so not because of the instruction to “save both lives” but because the abortion would have been too risky.

The baby is alive but doctors say it has little chance of surviving.

I suspect this isn’t true, and they carried out the C-section as a workable compromise to rid the girl of her unwanted baby while keeping their consciences clear. I expect they knew its chances of survival were slim, but preferred to let God decide its fate than take the decision for themselves. Personally I don’t see any issue with this even though it’s probably making things harder for the girl. Between that and the alternative – forcing doctors to carry out abortions – I believe they chose the lesser of two evils. Not everyone agrees, however:

But human rights groups Andhes puts the blame on the Tucumán state health authorities, and pro-choice groups have said that what happened to the girl amounted to “torture”.

Yes, the state bureaucracy has complicated the already-horrific situation but this sort of reaction isn’t helpful, and only serves to give the impression abortion advocates won’t be happy until doctors are forced to terminate pregnancies on demand for any reason even if the baby has been born alive. This seems to be the case in the US, where last week the senate voted down a bill which would oblige doctors to provide medical care to a child born alive after an attempted abortion. I guess they’ll just leave ’em in the corner to die instead.

Abortion is a contentious issue in Argentina and this latest incident comes six months after a divisive debate about whether abortions should be legalised in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

A bill to that effect was defeated in the senate, much to the dismay of pro-choice groups which had been campaigning for a loosening of the laws for years.

I suspect many Argentinians don’t want a loosening of the laws for having looked at the US and other western countries, they fear of where they may end up. As with many contentious issues, the hardline fanatics are making any sort of workable compromise more difficult, leading those they claim to care about to suffer needlessly. The UN throwing its weight behind the fanatics can hardly have helped. When does it ever?


The Crying Game

Yesterday I had occasion to read the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report. As you would expect it’s largely focused around climate change hysteria, but also warns of “large scale involuntary migration”. What is not mentioned is what I think is a far greater risk to the stability of whole nations: large scale voluntary migration. But what really made me laugh was this passage on page 14:

There has been a period of renewed politicization around gender, sexism and sexual assault in the United States. The #MeToo movement, which began in October 2017, continued in 2018 and has also drawn attention to—and in some cases amplified— similar campaigns against sexual violence.

That a middle class political protest movement, which was as much about who gets to set the Democrat party agenda as it was sexual assault, should appear in a report on global risks tells you much about the worldview of those who compiled it. Then again, they might have observed half a million screaming harpies in pussy hats and concluded humanity is doomed.

Beyond being directly targeted with violence and discrimination, women around the world are also disproportionately affected by many of the risks discussed in the Global Risks Report, often as a result of experiencing higher levels of poverty and being the primary providers of childcare, food and fuel. For example, climate change means women in many communities must walk farther to fetch water.

While the men are slaughtered on the front lines of bloody wars.

Women often do not have the same freedom or resources as men to reach safety after natural disasters—in parts of Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India, men who survived the 2004 tsunami outnumbered women by almost three to one.

Okay, but:

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), women are also more likely than men to have their jobs displaced by automation.

We’re probably not talking about the same women here, are we? The paragraph lurches between the fate of wealthy western women pushing a political agenda and the genuine hardship of those living in badly-governed countries in the developing world. The two should be dealt with separately, but they’ve been lumped together in order to paint a picture of women being under serious threat globally. They’re using the image of desperate African women having to walk miles for water to drum up sympathy for American women who will soon be replaced by the Samsung Powerskirt 3000. And I seem to recall Laurie Penny cackling with glee at the prospect of automation taking all the men’s jobs.

On top of reports like this, we also have gender diversity being rammed down our throats using unsubstantiated claims it produces better outcomes. In addition, despite being thoroughly debunked, the gender pay gap is still routinely cited as real and a result of discrimination. This is why I’m really not too bothered about stories like this:

Across the U.S. and in many places abroad, transgender athletes are breaking barriers in high school, college and pro sports and being embraced by teammates and fans. But resentments can still flare when transgender women start winning and dominating their sport.

And this:

Two male runners are continuing to dominate high school girls track in Connecticut.

High school juniors Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood took first and second place in the state open indoor track championships Feb. 16, The Associated Press noted in a report Sunday. Both Miller and Yearwood are biological males who identify as transgender girls.

Miller argued that female runners should work harder, rather than complaining about unfairness, when forced to compete against male athletes who identify as transgender.

On the face of it this is insane, and in a serious society this wouldn’t be happening. But this is just a continuation of what the hardcore feminists started when they launched a war on men. If a handful of politically-motivated extremist women can invent all sorts of garbage to justify upending society for their personal benefit, others will follow suit. Feminists now upset that strapping lads are cleaning up in girls’ high-school athletics can hardly complain about inconsistency, intellectual dishonesty, and hidden agendas, can they? That’s been their stock and trade for decades and it continues to this day backed by corporations, governments, and supranational organisations as part of an industry worth billions of dollars.

I feel a bit sorry for the non-lunatic women who carried no water for hardcore feminism and are looking on with horror at what the trans activists are doing, but it’s not really my fight. If and when I can go through a week without gender politics being rammed down my throat with men told they need to make sacrifices so that privileged women they don’t know can be relieved of imaginary problems while benefiting materially, I may pick up the cudgels on their behalf. Until then, I don’t see why I should care. Women created this mess; they can solve it. Maybe the World Economic Forum can help?


The Tommy Knockers

Yesterday a chap called Mohammed Shafiq who works for the BBC boasted he’d got Tommy Robinson booted off Facebook:

Given Tommy Robinson and several of his supporters have indeed been booted off Facebook, it’s reasonable to assume Shafiq is boasting in good faith. Here’s how elected representatives to Britain’s parliament reacted:

How dare a British citizen be allowed to generate a huge following through utterances of unapproved opinions! Does he not understand Article 58? Facebook should be forced to bend to the will of the British government!

We need an independent social media regulator to ban people politicians don’t like!

We ought not to be surprised by this. Free speech in the UK is dead, assuming it ever existed. Last week an elderly black Christian street preacher was arrested for being Islamaphobic and racist. Maybe there’s more to that story than the media is reporting, but I see no reason to give plod the benefit of the doubt. When you have politicians demanding companies be regulated to suppress dissenting voices and the police arresting wrong-thinkers and none of this creates much of a stir outside libertarian circles, you can assume a good chunk of the population has forgotten the importance of free speech and will have to learn it the hard way.

Over here in France we have Charlie Hebdo, and as I’ve written before, their mere existence is reassuring:

Rather than getting upset about Charlie Hebdo’s puerile and offensive front covers, we should be glad that at least someone is putting them out there. If they weren’t, how could we be sure that speech was still free? And how would we know that what we said was not going to land us in trouble?

So long as Charlie Hebdo can continue to do what it does, everyone else is free to speak, write, and draw as they please. Once we enter into the territory of differentiating between deliberate and inadvertent offence, it becomes a negotiation with those who don’t recognise our right to do either and would rather silence us completely.

It’s also worth repeating that the sale of Charlie Hebdo, one way or another, would be prohibited in the UK. Perhaps because memories of occupation and deportations still linger, the French seem to assign greater importance to free speech than either the British or Americans. Fortunately for the Yanks they have their first amendment. Unfortunately for us, we’re at the mercy of low-IQ grifters like Lammy and Watson. This will not stop with Tommy Robinson, and one gets the impression they’re just getting warmed up.

As I’ve said before, it won’t be long before the only place political discussion can take place outside dreary repetition of establishment-approved doctrine will be in the comments sections at Pr0nhub.


Loyal Welsh Show

The Welsh seem to be doing pretty well at sport recently. Having thumped England at rugby at the weekend, we also have a Welsh holder of the Tour de France crown. When Aaron Ramsey moves to Juventus next season he will become only the second Brit after Gareth Bale to be playing top-flight football abroad: both are Welshmen.

Unfortunately, such success seems to have done little for Welsh confidence. Last week a celebrity chef did a TV show and got some things wrong about Welsh geography. Welsh Twitter went mental, which is what prompted the Times article I responded to on Friday. This is how one person on Twitter reacted:

This are not the words of someone who is comfortable being Welsh. If a huge part of your identity is dependent on what other people think of you, you’re not very confident as a people. I’ve often thought that if the English suddenly disappeared in a puff of smoke, the Irish would have to invent new ones: as Brexit has shown, they simply can’t imagine themselves without referring to the great oppressor next door. By contrast, can you imagine a Frenchman caring that a Brit got their geography completely wrong? Or a Dutchman being cross that nobody seems to know the difference between Holland and The Netherlands? If anything they’d laugh.

Alas, it seems the Welsh have looked at the Irish and Scots and decided there is political mileage in seeking offence and victim-status. Over the course of my Twitter conversations I heard numerous references to English “colonisers”, and Wales being little more than a colony of England, a view which casually overlooks that the Welsh and English have been politically, economically, and socially integrated pretty much since William the Conqueror. It appears the nationalist movement is a lot stronger than when I was growing up, and people like me who are happy for Wales to be part of the UK are denounced as “Brit Nats” (this term was new to me).

I asked a few people what the economic basis of an independent Wales would be. One said that water would be the strategic resource underpinning the exchequer, if only Wales were allowed to charge full price for it. Now I know the giant Welsh reservoirs supply plenty of English homes, but I’m not sure a London government would just cave in to a Dai Putin threatening to turn off the supply; more likely, they’d ship a few economics textbooks to Cardiff and build more reservoirs. Whatever the cost and inconvenience, England will not die of thirst without Wales. Then I got this response:

While it is true that Wales produces a lot of electricity which is sent to England, Siberia produces lots of gas which is sent to Moscow. You produce where it is convenient and you send it to where it is needed. Wales hoarding electricity makes no more sense than Siberians hoarding gas. There’s also the problem that most of the electricity generated in Wales comes from coal and gas-fired stations. Both are imported fuels, so basically Wales serves as the place to house the turbines. This is an interesting definition of a country being “energy rich”. Alas, I expect my correspondents above have no idea how electricity is generated; they’ve just seen that Welsh power stations export to England and think it represents a geopolitical advantage which could underpin an independent nation. That England could build its own power stations (green idiocy notwithstanding) and import coal Australian coal and Qatari gas directly doesn’t seem to have occurred to them.

Having been through the mill of Welsh nationalist Twitter over the past few days, I am happy about the rugby result but I think a chef making a goof on a TV show is the least of their problems.


Dead End Society

Late last week a chap called Giles Fraser wrote an article, the gist of which was:

Children have a responsibility to look after their parents. Even better, care should be embedded within the context of the wider family and community. It is the daughter of the elderly gentleman that should be wiping his bottom. This sort of thing is not something to subcontract.

Ideally, then, people should live close to their parents and also have some time availability to care for them. But instead, many have cast off their care to the state or to carers who may have themselves left their own families in another country to come and care for those that we won’t.

This sent people into apoplexy, of which the following is typical:

Of course, these days it is everyone’s right to do whatever the hell they want, and there  is no going back to the days where men worked, women raised kids, and families looked after one another. Well, unless you’re from outside the developed, western world in which case this is still perfectly normal. So in some ways Fraser’s piece does hark back to a bygone age which apparently nobody wants to return to.

However, his detractors are also missing a point. While we may all agree that society is much better now women can swap running families for high-flying careers in multinational corporations and men cede ground to feminists in the name of equality, it  does not follow that such a society is sustainable. As I’ve written before, pleasant societies might not make durable societies, whereas societies built around families, though often harsh on individuals, have proved remarkably robust.

So Fraser has spotted that subcontracting family care to third-world immigrants via the state system is a severe departure from some two thousand years of human development, and it’s not looking very clever. In response, everyone’s jumped down his throat saying this society-wide experiment we’ve been running for forty-odd years is so successful that questioning it is heresy. Now I’m not sure what time period we should take as a reasonable benchmark for judging societal success, but the Ottomans lasted six hundred years. The modern free-for-all isn’t even into its third generation. Perhaps some humility is in order?


Welsh Rabid

An odd thing happened on Twitter this morning. Oliver Kamm posted a link to this article  in The Times:

Anyone can make a mistake but Welsh viewers are entitled to expect media figures to do their homework. It’s not just a matter of pedantry or even manners. There’s a history of incomprehension and outsiders should be sensitive to it.

It is more than half a millennium since Henry Tudor, a Welshman, was crowned King of England. His son, Henry VIII, initiated the Act of Union between England and Wales in 1536. Yet in the centuries since, Wales has not always been perceived as the equal partner it should be.

The media screws up everything it touches, and one of the things that grates me most about what I see of the modern Welsh is how quickly they claim victimhood for the slightest transgression. I was born in Wales and grew up there, and I find it irritating how ultra-defensive the Welsh get if they perceive someone has slighted them in any way. The other thing that irritates me is the narrative that Welsh heritage was ubiquitous, and ignores the fact there were pockets – such as South Pembrokeshire where I grew up – which were as much English as Welsh, and that much of what is associated with Wales is a recent invention: the flag was adopted in 1959, and the national costume dates from the Victorian era. I’m of the opinion if the Welsh want outsiders to take them more seriously – which they do – they need to stop writing their history on the fly. So I made this point:

This caused a riot on my timeline, mainly with people telling me the name Hwlfordd – the town’s Welsh name – is attested to the 14th century. Maybe it is, but it seems to be a corruption of the English name and nobody’s presented any evidence anyone called it that. There are also plenty of other place names in South Pembrokeshire which are English with no historical Welsh translation, but I am told:

I grew up in this place and never heard that; this sounds to me like Welsh history being re-written for an age where everyone must be a victim. What was revealing about my timeline is the viciousness of the responses; the slightest criticism of this increasingly ahistorical narrative about Welsh heritage unleashes a barrage of abuse. Bizarrely, I was then asked to defend the practice of translating Welsh names into English with even a BBC presenter wading in:

One of the things I noticed is the assumption I can’t be really be from Wales because I dare to criticise the dual-naming policy. I can’t find it any more, but I once saw a video of a prominent Welshman in the 1960s expressing his disappointment at the increase of Welsh nationalism. He believed Welshmen should go out and conquer the world, and that the results of government efforts to “restore” Welsh heritage would end up with the country becoming parochial, inward-looking, and ultimately unwelcoming. Was he wrong? I don’t think so.


I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that a BBC presenter is being disingenuous in ascribing to me an argument I have not made:




When you work in the oil and gas business, particularly if you’re around live plant or involved in construction, safety is dinned into you with all the subtlety of Trump running commentary on the Mueller investigation. It’s so effective that when you wander outside the oil and gas environment you wonder why people are deliberately trying to lose an eye or commit suicide. The industry takes safety seriously because 1) hydrocarbons are phenomenally dangerous and 2) unlike other industries, they have plenty of money.

One of the things people involved in maintenance understand is the importance of purging vessels. If you need to do some work on a tank, separator, or drum that normally holds hydrocarbons you first empty it, then you purge it with nitrogen. Then when you open it you use an ultra-sensitive gas detector to make sure there’s nothing poisonous, flammable, or explosive left inside. I don’t know where the following video is from other than it’s Chinese and I’m not entirely sure what happened, but my guess is whatever he was doing ignited residual gas in the vessel.

Be like Stalin: purge.

(Via Obo)


Armed and Dangerous

Back when I did my podcast with Mike in Switzerland he mentioned gun laws over there allow you to keep a small arsenal in your house and fire them on ranges. Turns out Mike runs a rather successful YouTube channel called Bloke on the Range featuring all sorts of firearms and he’s armed to the teeth. I’d never fired a handgun before so just after New Year I popped over to Mike’s alpine fortress and did some skiing, drinking, and shooting (not necessarily in that order). Here’s the video of my first attempt at firing pistols:

TL/DW: Nobody died and I hit the target. And it was very cold.


Into-the-box thinking

Something I’ve learned doing my MBA is that it is possible for someone to be very intelligent, well-credentialed, and clearly a subject matter expert yet show a startling lack of intellectual curiosity or talent for critical thinking.

If someone presents themselves as an expert on a subject and I don’t know them, I try to build trust in what that person is telling me. I do this by asking them a difficult question or challenge something they’ve said. The way they respond will tell you an awful lot about what that person can really teach you. I used to do this with technical experts in my previous job, and most of the time they’d fall over themselves to explain their point in considerable detail. Thanks to one electrical engineer, I now know rather more than I used to about variable frequency drives. Opposite the electrical engineer sat a naval architect who I’d often pop in and see just because he’d start talking about some aspect of his work which I’d find interesting. Other times, particularly with managers but rarely with engineers, the response would be an instant dismissal based on the first thing which popped into their head. They most likely do this because they’re incompetent; they get away with it because of their position in the hierarchy.

But I’ve discovered even knowledgeable people like professors can respond this way too. My theory is it’s possible to become very successful in a given field by applying the prevailing orthodoxy and doing exactly as everyone expects without the slightest deviation. Like this, you can become very competent in your chosen subject – until someone chucks a curveball at you and it becomes clear you’ve had no practice in dealing with dissenting opinions. Some professors clearly like their views to be challenged or a strange idea thrown at them. “Okay, let’s look at this,” one might say and a discussion ensues. Or another will say: “Ah, no. This is why you’re wrong. What you need to consider is…” But others don’t seem to like it at all, and on occasion it’s  obvious they’re hearing common objections to an orthodox position for the first time.

Sadly, I think this is the future of education and expertise. Very bright people will be channeled into narrowly focused areas of expertise and discouraged from ever thinking for themselves outside the boundaries set by those who control the subject. A simple test of this theory is to listen to an expert in one field talk about another. More often than not it’s incoherent, emotionally-driven gibberish reminiscent of a protest organised by high-schoolers. I suspect the root of the problem lies partly in the pervasive culture of credentialism. If the certificate didn’t matter, there’d be no point attending a university or business school to get from a lecturer what you could easily learn by reading a book and doing some exercises. The added value a lecturer brings is the ability to go beyond the orthodoxy, stimulate discussion, push the boundaries a little, explore ideas, and get some real-world experience thrown into the mix. There were one or two classes I’ve had where I’d have happily paid just to hear the professor speak, because he had some fascinating insights into the world of business and management you’d never find in a textbook. But if the certificate is what matters most, lectures will turn into sessions where a professor simply regurgitates whatever you can find online or in a book.

The trouble with me – and there is always trouble with me – I go to school to learn, not to get a certificate. I also have one eye keenly trained on what I paid.


Kitchen Sink

Few things look more obviously fake than millionnaire politicians doing a photoshoot to show they’re really just like us. In 2015, then-Labour leader Ed Miliband did a photoshoot of he and his wife relaxing in their kitchen:

Which raised a few eyebrows given the house was worth about £2m. Turns out it was a second kitchen used for preparing snacks, and the real kitchen would have been rather more grand. Oddly enough, holding a photoshoot in the butler’s pantry to demonstrate his earthly connections didn’t work out too well for Miliband.

A couple of days ago Democrat presidential hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand invited photographers into her large, pristine Washington, D.C. kitchen to watch her prepare the family meal.

Unkind Twitter users were quick to point out the sharp crease in her apron, freshly bought for her that morning. Others wondered what the hell she was trying to do with that fish. Don’t you normally cut it before putting it in the frying pan? The lit gas burner with nothing on it didn’t go unnoticed, nor did the solitary mushroom looking rather lost beside the steaks, wondering where the others might have got to. I think the dog’s face tells us what we already know: this woman has never cooked before in her life.

Is there anything more cringeworthy than fake attempts to appear down with the masses? One of the most endearing things about Jacob Rees-Mogg is he’s uber-posh and wears top hats and is utterly shameless about it. One of the reasons Trump gets away with so much is he behaves exactly like you’d expect from a brash, New York billionaire. At least you know what you’re getting. People might not like posh or rich, but they really hate insincerity and, as Miliband and Gillibrand attest, faking sincerity is hard.