Sharks in the Canals
Lessons in the Law of Unintended Consequences from our pre-award winning series...
Joel Bowman, appraising the situation from Buenos Aires, Argentina...
The older I get, the better I was.
~ Van Dyke Parks
Welcome to another Sunday Sesh, dear reader, that time of the week when we kick back with a glass or two of fat-bottomed bonarda and praise Zeus we’re here to spin another yarn.
Today’s tall tale begins on the City of the Gold Coast, where as a child your carefree editor frolicked, cherub-like, we are told, on the sun-kissed sands of his coastal home town, nestled cozily in Queensland’s great southeast.
When not dazzling beachcombers with his totally bodacious surfing skills, helping injured kittens across the street, or rescuing pensioners from lofty mango tree branches, your humble weekend correspondent spent a good deal of time splashing about in the city’s Venice-like canal system. The man-made estuaries are a spectacular feature of “Australia’s playground,” as the tourist Mecca is known to people who don’t live there. Or at least, they used to be...
We all heard the rumors, of course. Bazza’s second cousin spotted a dorsal fin around dusk over the Ekka day break... Dazza’s dad landed a bull pup while fishing for bream and flathead off the Tally bridge... Gazza’s mom lost her leg after the old man pushed her off the back of their tinny, which is why the family moved back to Wagga Wagga and were never heard from again...
It was the kind of antipodean schoolyard scuttlebut you’d expect to hear on the playground over little lunch (provided you remembered your hat and were therefore allowed out from under the dreaded “shelter shed”).
Still, we were all a bit shocked when the Gold Coast City Council (GCCC) stepped in (sometime around eighth grade, if memory serves) and decided to “do something” about the shark problem. For one thing, it legitimized the issue, thereby exonerating the ‘azza’s from the unforgivable charge of schoolyard perjury. (Whatever did happen to Gazza’s mom, anyway?)
More importantly, however, it provided our very first real world lesson in the Law of Unintended Consequences. (That is, if you don’t count the whole Prickly Pear debacle... and the Myxomatosis disaster... and the local Cane Toad infestation... to say nothing of the devastating Drop Bear invasion…
And so it came to pass that, in their decidedly finite wisdom, and deaf to the lessons of history, the GCCC decided to “net off” the canal system at its twin seaways – the Tweed River to the south and, to the north, ironically enough, the Southport Spit, known to locals as, simply, “The Spit.”
The idea was simple-minded enough, even for a group of councilmen: Use small gauge gillnets to stop the big, bad bull sharks swimming upstream and attacking the ‘azzas and their mates. Which is exactly what they did.
Mission accomplished, no? Well... no.
As it turned out, the problem wasn’t what the nets did stop... but what they did not stop, i.e., baby (pup) sharks. And now that the pups were in, they were free to feast, unmolested by their natural, open ocean predators. Oh yeah, and they couldn’t get out, either. So they did what all animals do when there’s nothing better on the discovery channel. They bred. A lot.
Today, the Gold Coast canal system is full of the hungry man/woman/they-eaters. We had to go all the way back to yesterday to find the latest news footage from our childhood hunting grounds. Here’s the video...
Fortunately for local residents, bull sharks aren’t even in the top two most dangerous sharks in the whole world (those being the Great White and the Tiger Shark, respectively). Unfortunately, bull sharks are known to thrive on a steady diet of illiterate tourists, drunk kayakers and kids who like dangling their fleshly little limbs off the back of dad’s jetty on a weekend.
But we’ll leave the Darwin Awards for another Sunday. For now, let us stick with the Law of Unintended Consequences lesson in today’s weekend column, below...
Sharks in the Canals
By Joel Bowman
Chief Brody: “Why don’t we have one more drink and go down and cut that shark open.”
Ellen Brody: “Can you do that?”
Chief Brody: “I can do anything. I’m the chief of police.”
~ From the 1975 classic movie, Jaws
Welcome to the Age of Causes Great and Grand, dear reader, where no calamity, neither borne of nature nor of man, is so disastrous that our better angels do not stand at the ready to make matters infinitely worse. From Covid hysteria to the climate “emergency”... on matters of policy domestic and foreign... whether tilting at turbines or howling at balloons...
...when the situation calls for a scalpel, you may count on The State to arrive with a chainsaw. The consequent mess, as predictable as its perpetrators are pathological, is afterwards debated in unread sections of mainstream newspapers and in fringy weekend columns like these, but the results remain the same; whether the razor belongs to Hanlon or Occam (or both!), the blade still weighs heavily on the public’s jugular, even as the cut-throats escape, scot-free.
We commence our pre-award-winning series on governmental ineptocracy with the Great Covid Debacle of 2020-202? (Don’t worry, we’ll get to War, Inflation, Climate and the rest of the third rail subjects in coming Sundays. So if you’re not offended today, stay tuned...)
When confronted with the epic blunder that was the government’s response to the virus, one feels rather like a mosquito at a nudist colony... wherever to begin?!
How about... at the beginning?
Year of the New Narrative
Your weekend correspondent is old enough to remember the censorious climate of 2020, when so much as hypothesizing over a possible “lab leak” origin of the virus was tantamount to suggesting the moon was made of stilton or that only a woman could give birth. Indeed, respected scientists were publicly mocked, ridiculed and ostracized from “polite” society which, as we all know, consists mostly of people who still believe Jimmy Fallon’s laugh is genuine.
And yet, here we are, in Year of the New Narrative 2023... and once again the tin foil hat brigade has proven itself well ahead of the curve. Already the long-haired hippies over at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have declared the most likely scenario is that Covid leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China (the very same lab which the Chinese cheekily located right next to the infamous wet market, whence the superbug allegedly escaped... and where not a single animal, not even a bat, has tested positive for the virus since. Hmm...)
Here’s FBI director and unreconstructed Grateful Dead fan, Christopher Wray, on Fox earlier this week...
“The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan. Step back for a second, the FBI has folks, agents, professionals, analysts, virologists, microbiologists, etcetera who focus specifically on the dangers of biological threats, which include things like novel viruses, like covid.
“The concern is that, in the wrong hands, some bad guys, a hostile nation state, a terrorist, a criminal... the threats that those could pose. So here, you’re talking about a potential leak, from a Chinese government-controlled lab that killed millions of Americans. And that’s precisely what that capability was designed for.”
(An inquiring mind might well wonder, not so much why China... but why now? Ah... but we’ll save foreign misadventures for future installments...)
Meanwhile, here comes The Wall Street Journal, which reported last weekend that another fringy, racist, alt-right, transphobic, science-denying organization had jumped on board the trending lab leak bandwagon. From the WSJ...
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Energy Department has concluded that the Covid pandemic most likely arose from a laboratory leak, according to a classified intelligence report recently provided to the White House and key members of Congress [...] The Energy Department now joins the Federal Bureau of Investigation in saying the virus likely spread via a mishap at a Chinese laboratory.
Of course, this all accords perfectly with emails obtained through a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request over a year ago, which showed that Netflix’s preferred medical establishmentarian, Mr. Dr. Anthony Stephen Fauci, BA MD OMRI Sir, was not only aware of the likelihood that the virus emerged from the Wuhan lab, but actively colluded with then-director of the National Institute of Health, Francis Collins, to discredit the theory before the public ever got wind of it.
“Call it Plato’s ‘noble lie’ if you must,” we wrote, back in April of last year. “Just don’t call it ‘truth.’”
Now, what “unintended consequences” might such an abrupt about-face have on the public’s confidence in its vaunted institutions? What damage did all this authoritarian, Capital S “Sciencing” do to actual science, the kind that comes from objective analysis, double-blind tests, peer reviewed literature, open inquiry, good faith skepticism and all that unfashionable 2+2=4 stuff?
To coin a phrase, where are the sharks in the canals?
Side Effects May Include…
Never mind all that, chorus the egg spurts. Regular citizens need not concern themselves with such lofty matters anyway. Higher minds are on the case.
Here comes a pesky new “gold standard” review. The good folks over at The Free Press were on the case...
We now have the most authoritative estimate of the value provided by wearing masks during the pandemic: approximately zero. The most rigorous and extensive review of the scientific literature concludes that neither surgical masks nor N95 masks have been shown to make a difference in reducing the spread of Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses.
Bu... bu... bu...
Sorry... *removes mask*
But what about the documented developmental problems associated with masking children (who were, as it turns out, at vanishingly low risk of the virus anyway)? What about, as TFP puts it, the litany of other “social, psychological, and medical problems, including a constellation of maladies called “Mask-Induced Exhaustion Syndrome”?
Where are the sharks, damnit?!
Said Tom Jefferson (the Oxford one, who led Cochrane the study, not the Monticello guy):
“There is just no evidence that [masks] make any difference. Full stop.”
And what does Rochelle Walensky, head of the CDC and general menace to sobriety, have to say? From her congressional hearing earlier this month, in reference to the study’s findings:
“Our masking guidance doesn’t really change with time.”
Or facts, apparently. Again, what might be the reputational damage to Ms. Walensky’s (okay, we’ll pile on...) Covid Derangement Center be? What about the squillions of funky fiat dollars spent on masks, Lysol and personal protective gear (PPC), like the $200 million shelled out by New York City, which was quietly auctioned off last week for a measly $500k? (A 99.57% loss, for some rough, back-of-the-mask math.)
All we can say is, thank goodness the vaccines were safe and effective and that nobody who did the right thing and rolled up their sleeves either contracted or transmitted the disease.
Oh, wait... here’s Woody Harrelson, setting the record straight on that one, too, during what will surely be his last ever SNL appearance...
Careful, Woody... in certain elite political circles, that’s just the kind of thing that can get you suicided.
And that will do us for another Sunday Sesh, dear and patient reader. As usual, don’t forget to like and share our work and, if you’re so inclined, to dive into the comments section below. (It’s pretty safe… usually.)
Bill will be back tomorrow with his regular missives from the ranch. Tom and Dan will return with their market research notes on Wednesday and Friday, respectively.
Meanwhile, we’re off to a Buenos Aires institution today… El Pobre Luis. Supposedly, it’s the best ojo de bife in town. We’ll report back next week with our findings. Whatever you’re up to this weekend, have a great one!