Friday, December 05, 2008

The week at NOT PC, to Dec 5th

A blogging week here that started with ongoing reactions to the atrocity in Mumbai, and continued through Keynes, cash rates, carbon-trading and assorted other crap. 

It could be easy to forget that defending the good life means living it sometimes – and that describes my week outside the blog.  Met with an enlightened client at the Hallertau Brewpub Tuesday afternoon; had a gorgeous drive up north in my MG to look at the client's site; arrived home last night to find bottles of Schofferhoffer and Renaissance Stonecutter in my fridge donated by a grateful blog reader.  So life does has its recompenses.  :-)

And in between all that, here’s what readers were enjoying here at NOT PC:

  1. Mumbai, Muslims & Me
    Most read post this week was by Sus, and no wonder.  She knows how to nail her point: “Most of us know that all Muslims aren’t terrorists, thanks. Most of us aren’t altogether stupid. But the cold, hard truth is that while not all Muslims are terrorists – all terrorists right now would appear to be Muslim.”  It’s a reality that can’t be faked.
  2. Warmists need Christmas gifts too
    Who would have thought a simple Xmas offering for your warmist friends would prove so … controversial.
  3. Mumbai mass murder
    What do we know about the Mumbai terrorists?  Only this: they have no serious concrete demands; they love death as we love life; and the reason they kill: they are Muslim.  All hail the “religion of peace.”
  4. As-Salaamu Alaykum Me Hearties!
    Bernard Darnton takes on the new breed of pirates as only he and Thomas Jefferson (and PJ O’Rourke) can do.
  5. Lunatics (still) in charge of the economic asylums
    Global financial markets are crashing, with the impact only momentarily softened through massive injections of artificial money.  But how about us here in little old New Zealand?  No worries:  News just in from Pollyanna says we’re all going to be just dandy.
  6. RMA to be reviewed to promote easier theft-by-government
    Yes, the RMA will be ‘reviewed’ all right: Reviewed to 'look at how companies win the right to take private land.  This is what you voted for, and this is what you’re going to get.  And you’ll get it good and hard.
  7. Monckton to Obama: “Few challenges facing America and the world are less urgent than combating the non-problem of ‘global warming’”
    How spending a vast amount of money in tax to try to solve a problem that doesn’t actually exist* is not something worth believing in. (And keep an eye out for Monckton’s devastating Open Letter to John Key, only in your summer ‘Free Radical’!  You heard it here first…)
  8. What a lot of whingers!
    Write the obituary for Kiwi ingenuity. Bury the number 8 wire.  NZers’ reputation for resilience and self-reliance has now been well and truly buried – buried under a mountain of whinging that “the gummint isn’t doing enough” to repair holidaymakers' tattered Thai travel plans. 

So a good week for readers and writers then, despite some of the most appalling news.  Hope you had a good week too.

Cheers,
PC

PS: Don’t forget to check out this week’s Objectivist blog roundup, and there’s good stuff too in the stuffily named but otherwise sound Foundation for Economic Growth newsletter out today.  Enjoy!

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Beer O’Clock: Best of 2008

Stu from Yeastie Boys, SOBA, and all points in between looks back at NZ’s year in beer…

Fresh from a busy week (starting a new job, releasing a new beer and cycling 320km last Saturday) here are my top ten New Zealand beers of 2008*:

  • Cock and Bull Monk's Habit - Lots of hops and malt, and a little strong for the drivers, but this beer is balance beersonified. Becoming hard to find (if not impossible) outside Cock and Bull pubs, which is a crying shame
  • Emerson’s Bookbinder – Still the best beer name in New Zealand and, although I still pine for a return to the English malt of its origins, it is the number one widely available session beer in New Zealand. At 3.7% you can have two pints and drive home.
  • Epic Pale Ale - New Zealand's most consistently true-to-origin (and award winning) American Pale Ale. And for those of you who love to mix-n-match, this beer is now available in single 500ml bottles. 
    Invercargill Pitch Black – Sweet and sexy. This is the beer that black ale lovers are thinking about when they crack open a bottle of beer. Puts the mainstream black beers to shame and tastes fantastic in a pie filling.
  • Invercargilll Smokin' Bishop - The second year of this annually-released smoked bock was even better than the first year, and that's saying something. With this and his “Boysenbeery”, Steve Nally is making a name for himself as the very best off-centred beer maker in New Zealand.
  • Moa Original – Very special. A fantastic combination a sweet malt, smooth bitterness, and mouth-filling yeasty goodness (and it comes in a nice bottle too!). 750ml bottles or bigger please (the smaller ones are filtered and pasteurised, leaving them short of the balancing yeasty goodness). Drop the champagne at Christmas and put one of these bottles on the table.
  • Renaissance Perfection - More guts and a little less refinement than Epic Pale Ale, which is often the way I like it. Sweeter, hoppier, and more bitter. The most improved beer (and brewery) of the last couple of years.
  • Renaissance Elemental – The beer world’s equivalent of a big tannin-balanced red wine. Sweet malts carry berry fruit, dark chocolate, a little toast, a neat fruity hop flavour and resounding bitterness with a long ashy finish.
  • Tuatara Porter - Subtle and sexy. Lighter, drier and easier to drink than people are expecting from a black ale and is a fantastic showcase of “ale” with its delicate fermentation fruitiness.

What else in 2008?

  • It’s the year we said goodbye to Colin Paige, the head brewer who brought Mac’s back from the brink of ‘Monteithsian’ collapse (with beers like the outstanding Brewjolais, sassy Sassy Red, the oh-so-drinkable Hop Rocker and the much missed Wicked Blonde). Colin’s off to Asia to build something fresh and enjoy some warmer weather.
  • Galbraith's (right) and The Twisted Hop remain New Zealand’s best brewpubs - two great venues with outstanding beers for the lucky locals in Auckland and Christchurch. Aucklanders are doubly lucky as they have the relaxed atmosphere and interesting beers of Hallertau just a short drive away.
  • The best new business venture, and a winning solution to the “where do we bloody get these beers you rave on about?” question that I’m constantly asked - www.beerstore.co.nz

* DISCLOSURE: This list could change subtly on any day of the week but will never include my own Yeastie Boys beers, simply because they transcend all ‘best of’ lists.  ;-)

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Peace in the Middle East?

Peace in the Middle East?  When the hell has that ever happened.
Watch three-thousand years of Middle East history in ninety seconds and see just how rare a commodity it always has been. [Hat tip History At Our House]

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Auditors talking Paulson Bailout Blues

Henry Paulson promised to “cover us in TARP”: he insisted on an urgent buyout of Toxic Assets, and an urgent bailout of toxic asset holders.

And then he went and blew your money on a different sort of spending spree that has auditors picking through the debri and wondering “Who was that masked man?”  And what the hell just happened?

Who would have guessed?  The government takes all the money from your dresser and doles it out to your neighbours, and it turns out it’s both immoral and impractical – just as Jeff Perren and others said it is and would be .  Guess he’s earned the right to say "I told you so."  (And you can thank him for that nice simile, too.)

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Cut your coat according to your tattered cloth

MEMO to Phil Goff:  This is nota healthy set of books.”

A decade of projected government deficits.
Unemployment and welfare payments set to rise as recession hits.
Tax receipts set to fall as recession bites further.
News yesterday that there’s a 2.5 billion dollar hole in ACC accounts.
And news just out today that the government’s surplus has now plunged by five billion dollars, from a $1.5 surplus to a $3.5 billion deficit.

So at what point does the new government say “We can’t afford the status quo.” At what point does it point out that government spending at the levels it is now is unaffordable.  That it must be cut, and cut seriously.  I’m not talking “razor gangs” here.  I’m not just talking about “trimming the fat.” I’m talking slash and burn gangs.  I’m talking about cutting the fat and muscle and bone – and even ripping out several of those unnecessary organs that have gone necrotic, and are making the rest of us anaemic. 

Cutting spending beyond the bone is urgently necessary – even more urgently necessary now that we know how bad are these books.  In parlous economic times, a government going into debt should not even be an option: there are only three ways a government can raise money to meet exploding deficits, either by taxing more, by borrowing even more, or by printing money.  All of these is destructive.  All of them take money out of the pockets of the productive (on whom we’re relying for a genuine recovery).  None of them should be seriously considered by any responsible government.

So how about a MEMO to Bill English, explaining that any government that had any sort of aspiration to responsibility should now be looking at their accounts saying, “Where do we cut? 

That this lot are not and will not be doing that tells you all you need to know about how responsible they are.

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Change you can make believe in

If you've been promising "change" -- and you might have noticed the Obamessiah has mentioned it once or twice -- then why would you have just put together a cabinet comprising a combination of Clinton and Bush Administration time-servers? Any why, when Bush was so despised and Iraq was a primary election issue, would you have left Bush's defence secretary in place?

The answer is clear enough, says Myrhaf. "By Obama’s thinking, he is already a successful president, even though he does not take office until January 20th, 2009."

How's that? What does all that mean? How could this all be true? Let Myrhaf join the dots for you. [Hat tip Objectivist Roundup]

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Atlas’s ‘tunnel scene’

I’ve had several conversations with friends disturbed about the ‘tunnel scene’ in Atlas Shrugged (although not as many as I’ve had about the ‘rape scene’ in The Fountainhead). They think it’s cruel.  I’ve pointed out it’s just.

If you’ve found yourself troubled by the scene, you might appreciate Darren Cauthon’s analysis.  But do watch out for spoilers. [Hat tip Objectivist Roundup]

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Nude on a Beach – Pablo Picasso

NudeOneABeach

Yes, it’s witty.  Yes, it’s amusing.  Yes, he does so much with just a few lines.  Yes, it’s Picasso (and Pablo Picasso never got called an arsehole, did he).  But does it really say anything at all that’s really worth a damn?  Does it communicate a worldview?  If so, what?  Is it a shortcut to your very philosophy; a way to see and to experience your deepest values and to celebrate them in the process

In other words, is it art? Or is it just good graphics to chatter about with your friends?

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

A pump primed means a recovery delayed

“Confused concepts result in catastrophic consequences,” says George Reisman.  This is true. The latest example of this is the confused response to “deflation,” which result is likely to be as catastrophic now as it was in the early thirties.

Seen properly, deflation is not falling prices – deflation is actually a contraction of the money supply (of which falling prices is one result), which in the present circumstances is the inevitable result of the fractional reserve banking system. And, says Reisman,

    If there is a deflation, in the correct sense of a decrease in the quantity of money and/or volume of spending, then falling prices, so far from being the cause of deflation/depression are the way out of it. In such circumstances, a fall in wage rates and prices is precisely what’s needed to allow a reduced quantity of money and volume of spending to buy all that a previously larger quantity of money and volume of spending bought…
    Viewing the fall in wage rates and prices that is needed to recover from deflation as itself being deflation and thus preventing the fall in wage rates and prices, as occurred under Hoover and the New Deal, serves only to perpetuate the unemployment and depression.

But the mainstream economists are still trying to pump up spending.  They’re still trying to reward debtors and penalise savers by lowering interest rates and pumping up the money supply by easy credit, thereby (they hope) re-inflating the economy.  But their pump priming won’t allow the economy to correct –- which is what the recession is telling us is vitally necessary:  it is likely only to further deplete the pool of real savings that is needed for real correction, and to keep high the prices that need to drop if correction is ever going to happen.

They’ve clearly learned the wrong lesson from the Great Depression.  Sadly, the new head of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors  is one of those who’s learned that wrong lesson, as C. August at Titanic Deck Chairs reports.  Christine Romer, the newly appointed head, is another like Fed chairman Ben Bernanke who thinks the primary error of the depression years was what government did in the early thirties – ignoring completely what was done in the twenties to bring on the Great Crash. And they draw precisely the wrong conclusion about what was done in the thirties, meaning their solutions are the same toxic poison as Hoover applied: keeping prices up.  In other words, she’s the same sort of “expert” who caused that crash with gobs of easy credit, and who caused the present crash by the same means.  Her argument is that

    “the US government's inadequate response during the Depression was a "policy mistake of monumental proportions."

Well yes it was – but not in the way Christine thinks.  To Obama’s new senior advisor, the explosion of American deficit spending in the thirties that sucked capital  away from productive enterprise and served to prolong the American Depression was not too much but far too little.

    That may mean she will urge Obama to act aggressively to keep capital flowing through the financial system and to enact an economic stimulus package that injects government spending into the economy at the risk of ballooning the deficit.
    "She'll be weighing in on the side of a large stimulus," said J. Bradford DeLong, a fellow Berkeley economist.

No kidding.   The ghost of Keynes is still ruling us from the grave.  "It is extraordinary," as economist Frank Shostak says, "to suggest that Keynes's ideas are now coming back to save the world.

"Keynesian ideas have never left the rooms of government and central-bank decision makers. The essence of the thinking of the most influential economists was and still is Keynesian. So various stimulus packages that are now introduced are a continuation of the same Keynesian policies we have been subjected to for many decades. The present economic crisis is the outcome of the large dose of Keynesianism we have been given over many decades."

As was the economic crisis of the thirties – though the so-called experts still refuse to look any further beyond the Great Crash to what was being done in the twenties to cause it.  Our friend at the Titanic Deck Chairs blog points to one luminary who has done that job: Henry Hazlitt.

For an alternate view, let's look at a description of what Henry Hazlitt had to say about the causes and lessons of the Great Depression. From "Hazlitt and the Great Depression" by Jeffrey Tucker (1993):

    A stable market order, he said, requires an atmosphere free of shocks, or at least a government that allows the economy to correct once those shocks had occurred. The [First World War] had artificially inflated the prices of commodities and they needed to correct downward to a more realistic level. He argued the crisis of 1929 was that downward correction.
    "But the focus of this collapse," he wrote, "was aggravated enormously by the whole series of post-war policies." Among these he listed the "vicious Treaty of Versailles," the "disorganization caused by reparations and war debts," the "preposterous tariff barriers thrown up everywhere," the abandonment of the gold standard [and Britain’s ridiculous adoption of the pre-war parity with the dollar] and the adoption of the "gold-exchange standard," and "reckless lending to foreign countries.
    Most importantly, he blamed the "artificial cheap-money policy pursued both in England and America, leading [in the US] to a colossal real-estate and stock-market speculation under the benign encouragement of Messrs. Coolidge and Mellon." This
malinvestment, caused by inflationary policies, created distortions in the capital stock which called for correction.

Those same (or similar) distortions exist now, and for the self-same reasons.  And as long as governments far and near continue their inflationary pump priming, the many malinvestments will continue to suck in and consume real capital, and prices will remain uncorrected.

Which means at best that the recovery everyone one wants will be forever and inevitably delayed: the inevitable and catastrophic consequence of some enormously confused concepts.

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NOT PJ: Pssst Buddy ... Wanna Buy An Emission?

BernardDarnton Bernard Darnton writes that there’s a market for crap -- and voters are buying it wholesale.

As a concept, emissions trading completely escapes me. Why would you want to buy an emission? No one’s ever offered to buy any of my emissions – some have even complained about getting them for free.

You used to be able to sell old Coke cans to Comalco, mainly because aluminium production is so energy intensive that the can – at two cents – was worth more than its contents. Homeless people would push shopping trolleys from bin to bin and fish out the cans so that they could cash them in for a couple of dollars. Even so, they’d probably have been better off selling their shopping trolleys back to the supermarkets they were “borrowed” from.

That line of business has been ruined by councils who now pay people to drive round in big trucks to pick up your cans and bottles from the kerbside. Another kick in the teeth for the entrepreneurial vagrant.

There’s absolutely no question that kerbside recycling is desperately inefficient. I once watched as the bin-man, or “resource recovery officer” or whatever they’re called now, picked up the recycling outside our house. He picked the bottles out of the bin and threw them into the truck one by one. There were a lot of bottles there so it took forever. When I say “a lot” of course I mean a perfectly reasonable number for a social drinking New Zealander. Not that many at all. Very few actually.

Anyway, assuming minimum wage and a market price for glass of thirty dollars a tonne, a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that recycling isn’t even worth the time it takes to do a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation. The time I’ve just spent writing about it has added to the problem and the time you’ve just spend reading about it has compounded it further. The folly never ends.

People from Yorkshire sometimes say things like, “Where there’s muck there’s brass,” and give you a conspiratorial wink. It’s a conspiracy that I’m certainly not party to, being born well south of the Humber. I simply don’t understand the desire to trade in waste.

Emissions “trading” isn’t trading at all. Genuine trade requires two willing parties. The baker wants my four-dollars-fifty. I want the baker’s Rogan Josh pie. We swap and then we both say “thank you.”

By that definition, emissions trading isn’t really trade – it’s rationing. The government puts a limit on the amount of carbon dioxide industry is allowed to emit (a “cap”) and then unused quotas can be sold. It’s certainly not a market operation because the key feature is the government limit, not the buying and selling.

This is called a “cap-in-hand” system; the important feature of the system is that productive people have to go cap-in-hand to people who’ve never done a day’s work in their lives to ask for permission to be productive. The truly bizarre part is that these finger-wagging clipboard-wielding people who’ve never raised a cow, laid a brick, or drilled for gas – who’ve done nothing except get in the way of those who have – still expect society to provide them with food and a warm house. Presumably by magic.

It turns out there is a market for crap and voters are buying it.

My father grew up in Sunderland during and after the Second World War. He used to tell me about rationing and it didn’t sound like fun. Once again fascists are trying to destroy our industrial base so it’s no surprise that rationing is making a comeback.

This time around, rather than sinking convoys full of supplies and having rationing as a consequence, our overlords have decided to cut supplies by applying the rationing directly. At least it saves on those nasty fossil fuel-burning U-boats.

* * Read more from Bernard Darnton every Thursday here at NOT PC  * *

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What a lot of whingers!

Annie Fox hits the nail on the head:

Kiwis travellers are complaining that they have been stuck in Bangkok for four days and NZ government hadn't managed to bus them out.
Honestly what's wrong with these people - just go to the train station and get a train down to Malaysia - New Zealanders were once known for their ability to look after themselves - the socialist system has turned too many into useless, whingers with limited problem solving abilities.

Tyler’s reading Keynes!

Austrian Economist Peter Boettke laments Tyler Cowen’s decision to host a book club reading on his blog for Keynes's General Theory.  Why on earth would you want to?  Keynes is now that defunct and long-dead economist to whose ideas we are now all in thrall.  Sincerely, says Boettke,

    you want to know what is going on in 2008 --- it is the consequence of the bad economic ideas of Lord Keynes that have led to the victory of Keynesian policy (of either the liberal or conservative variety) since 1940.  
   
We are living through the consequences of Keynes's ideas. The Soviet Union had to confront the legacy of Marxist-Keynesianism in the 1980s, and we are dealing with the consequences of Social Democratic-Keynesianism in the 2000s.
   
Hayek warned us about the "tiger by the tail" problem of inflation and Buchanan warned us about the destruction of the "old-time fiscal religion" due to Keynesianism… Keynesianism represented the pushing open of an already opened door to fiscal and monetary irresponsibility and opportunistic politicians left and right walked right through… I would rather we have a serious discussion of the consequences of Lord Keynes with respect to world-wide fiscal imbalance associated with intergenerational accounting and world-wide inflation as governments attempt to meet those obligations through monetization of debt.  Somehow I doubt that will take place in our current intellectual and policy context.

He’s right, you know.

    I also think that the emphasis on Keynes demonstrates a collective delusion among economists.  Even Milton Friedman can be quoted as emphasizing Keynes's brilliance.
   
But what of Knight's judgment that "what is new isn't true, and what is true isn't new", or of Hayek's judgment that Keynes's idle resources argument assumes a post-scarcity world, or of Mises's judgment that Keynesian economic policy assumes the miracle that stones can be turned into bread?
   
The problem with economics since 1940 has been the thorough victory of Keynes throughout the democratic western nations.  We have Keynesian theory, the development of Keynesian inspired data collection, the "testing" of Keynesian theory via Keynesian data with the purpose of providing tools for Keynesian policy.  This exercise survived the Monetarist and New Classical intellectual challenge, and it survived the Supply Side revolution in policy.  All that remained was an oscillation between liberal and conservative Keynesianism, never a serious challenge to the paradigm of Keynesian policy manipulation of the economy.

The “theory” has failed – and so has the tinkering the theory inspired – failed spectacularly in the black hole of failed macroeconomic theory down which Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson have now poured $7 trillion. 

Fact is, says Boettke, there’ s better things to have in your suitcase for summer reading if you want to get to the bottom of “the destroyer of monies”:

2d76228348a06d00f3066110._AA240_.L Instead of reading Keynes one more time with feeling, I would suggest an alternative reading experience. (Or at least an additional one)  Start with Henry Hazlitt, ed., The Critics of Keynesian Economics, move on to Hazlitt's The Failure of the "New Economics", graduate to W. H. Hutt's The Keynesian Episode, and then read closely Buchanan and Wagner's Democracy in Deficit and then Higgs's Crisis and Leviathan and War, Depression, and Cold War.

To round this off which I would add Ayn Rand’s brilliant presentation ‘Egalitarianism and Inflation,’ which fully nails home the epistemological destruction behind Keynesian macroeconomics, and the real metaphysical destruction this unleashes. (You can read the edited presentation in 'her book Philosophy: Who Needs It?).  It concludes in part:

    Did you think a spending orgy of [the Keynesian] kind could be paid for out of current production? No, the situation is much worse than that. The government is consuming this country’s stock seed—the stock seed of industrial production: investment capital, i.e., the savings needed to keep production going. These savings were not paper, but actual goods. Under all the complexities of private credit, the economy was kept going by the fact that, in one form or another, in one place or another, somewhere within it, actual material goods existed to back its financial transactions. It kept going long after that protection was breached. Today, the goods are almost gone.
   A piece of paper will not feed you when there is no bread to eat. It will not build a factory when there are no steel girders to buy. It will not make shoes when there is no leather, no machines, no fuel. You have heard it said that today’s economy is afflicted by sudden, unpredictable shortages of various commodities. These are the advance symptoms of what is to come…
    If government spending continues, that incredible wealth will not save you. You may be left with all the magnificent skyscrapers, the giant factories, the rich farmlands—but without fuel, without electricity, without transportation, without steel, without paper, without seeds to plant the next harvest.
    If that time comes, the government will declare explicitly the premise on which it has been acting implicitly: that its only “capital asset” is you.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Lunatics (still) in charge of the economic asylums

Global financial markets are crashing, even as the impact is momentarily softened through massive injections of artificial money – which will serve only to extend the pain while numbing us to its virulence. 

But how about us here in little old New Zealand?  No worries:  We’re all going to be okay say the Pollyannas at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research who “predict,” based on their “models,” that a “pick-up in consumer spending” will “haul” the local economy out of recession “in the first half of next year.”

Clearly these are people who have no conception that their “models” are bad enough at the best of times – and “the best of times” is not the phrase one would use when the fundamentals of the world’s economic structure are creaking like the opening scenes of a Saturday afternoon disaster movie. The world’s money is broken, yet the NZIER and the like continue myopically churning out their “predictions” as if they meant something.

Economics gives no man a crystal ball.  And with “models” as simple as this,* and “predictions” as risible as the one above, it’s no wonder their so-called profession is derided as being so dismal.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
* George Reisman points out the standard Keynesian model of GDP, on which the morons at NZIER rely for their risible claim, "is literally playing with half a deck.”

It purports to be a study of the economic system as a whole, yet in ignoring productive expenditure it totally ignores most of the actual spending that takes place in the production of goods and services. It is an economics almost exclusively of consumer spending, not an economics of total spending in the production of goods and services.

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LIBERTARIAN SUS: Mumbai, Muslims & Me

By Susan Ryder:

It could be the latest Frederick Forsyth.

  • Meticulous planning that took more than a year
  • Detailed reconnaissance training
  • Remote mountain camps in Kashmir
  • Marine commando techniques
  • Covert acquisition of ships
  • Hijacking fishing boats
  • Stockpiling weapons while holed up in the Taj Mahal hotel, itself.

But it’s not the latest Forsyth, more’s the pity. It’s not fiction. It’s commentary from the London Telegraph via yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald, reportedly from the sole captured Mumbai terrorist, Ajmal Amir Kasab, aged 21. “We wanted to kill 5000,” the newspaper quotes him as saying. Kasab and his cohorts fell a bit short of the mark, getting 172 as of yesterday; 172 innocent people including children, who this time last week were alive and well and planning for long and fruitful lives.

An end-of-year prize-giving ceremony was held at a secondary school in Sydney last Thursday evening. While the Principal was addressing the large turnout, there was a disturbance in the audience. It quickly became obvious that there was a problem that didn’t look like resolving itself in a hurry. Within seconds the horrified audience watched two students – sisters – gasp with horror and turn white with shock as they were bundled out of the auditorium by weeping family and friends.

News travels quickly and bad news the fastest of all. It transpired that the girls had just been informed that their father, in Mumbai on business, had been formally identified as one of the murdered.

Q: Do you think Kasab feels any sorrow – the tiniest bit – for having been party to deliberately taking the life of an innocent businessman from the other side of the Indian Ocean? Of depriving an innocent family of their much-loved dad? Well, do you?

Unless I have to be elsewhere, I routinely talk to my sister in Sydney every Friday night. We usually yak for ages, catching up with what each other’s been doing and swapping family news. We especially relish reliving old family stories guaranteed to bore all senseless, including the participants. We discuss politics, films, books and important stuff like facts about the Bay City Rollers whom we both loved with a passion 30+ years ago. (I’m not joking. You don’t joke about real love -- and that’s what it was, so there). It’s the sort of female phone call that men (most men … like 99 out of 100) just don’t get.

There was none of that last Friday. It was a sombre call and very brief. You just can’t scream with laughter over abject nonsense when your sister’s colleague is barricaded in the bathroom of his Oberoi hotel room in Mumbai and has been for two days. That the SAS has told him to push a mattress between the door and whatever heavy furniture he can drag over, as a makeshift shock absorber in the event of an explosion. That he’s had little or no food. That he doesn’t know what the hell’s going on for most of the time. That his cellphone’s almost out of battery and the power’s off. That while his Australian passport may (or not) offer some ‘protection,’ his religion, should it be discovered, is another story. You see, my sister’s colleague is Jewish.

After I hung up, I thought about the first Muslims I ever came across. It was in London’s Paddington where I lived in a grungy place just around the corner from the famous old station. Like Kasab, I was 21. Funds were tight, and I used to walk miles to avoid tube fares. Walking down to Oxford Street involved navigating Edgeware Road, which I always dreaded, thanks to its inhabitants who seemed to consist solely of young Muslim males. These guys never seemed to do anything, except loll about the footpaths mouthing obscenities at passing women. I’ve never been good at taking crap from anybody, least of all sexist pigs, and I was determined to stop them.

My efforts were in vain. The obscenities became so bad, so quickly, that I sought drastic action. I bought a Walkman, which I had vowed and declared I would never do (being anti-social, you see). I could then cheerfully walk past them all and not hear a thing. I can truthfully say that I detested those individuals, each and every one of them. I would have been delighted to change my mind had I met one – just one – who didn’t look upon me as nothing more than a piece of meat, but I never did. And what really disgusted me was that this feudal nonsense was occurring in one of the world’s leading western capitals.

Earlier last Friday, Paul Holmes chatted with Mike Hosking and Wendyl Nissen. When he opened the segment by deriding the terror in Mumbai, Wendyl immediately jumped in to remind us all that “not all Muslims are terrorists” and “most Muslims are lovely people,” blah blah.

I wonder if Wendyl would have been so quick to be so tempered had she personally known somebody trapped and terrified in the Trident-Oberoi right at that moment? Or if her children had received the horrific news of their father’s murder the night before?

Memo to the Wendyls of this world: Most of us know that all Muslims aren’t terrorists, thanks. Most of us aren’t altogether stupid. But the cold, hard truth is that while not all Muslims are terrorists – all terrorists right now would appear to be Muslim.

It’s been a long time since I walked down the Edgeware Road. I wonder if the next generation of young western women are being hassled by the next generation of young Muslim males. Something tells me it’d be a safe bet.

* * Read more of Sus’s brave and brilliant words at Sus’s Soundbites * *

Ridhima Mehra recounts the ordeal she went through trying to get a licence for her late father’s gun. “Even though my husband is a senior government official, I had a tough time,” she says.

Now that she has finally got the permission to keep the gun, she cannot buy the bullets that go into it. ”We don’t have a licence for the bullets,” she says.

Consider how less enthusiastic shooty terrorists might be to swarm a city if they knew their targets could shoot back.

shilpaAnd:

Bollywood Rises Up
It’s difficult to imagine anyone from the Film Actors’ Guild ever making this much sense:

Wake up and strike terrorism with an iron hand, say Bollywood’s stars shocked by the brazen terror attack that targeted Mumbai’s poshest areas.

Shilpa Shetty further nails it: “This is an open war against humanity.”

Bravo!

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Judith II – Gustav Klimt

Gustav_Klimt_Judith_000

Monna Vanna.  Medea. Lucrece. Judith. Salome. Woman in literature and history whose terrible and heroic choices altered destinies and overthrew dynasties.  The ultimate sexually charged femmes fatale!

Read the story of Judith here –- and see how other artists depicted her.  And read a Life in Opera here: Klimt’s Judith from 1909 bears more than a coincidental resemblance to Salome, don’t you think?

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Supply and demand

Through hard work and incredible diligence the NZ Police have pushed up the price of cannabis, ensuring better prices for dealers, and ensured demand for harder drugs will soar. (In the jargon, they’re ensured a leftward shift of the cannabis supply curve, and a positive substitution effect for harder drugs.) News here.

Turning the other eye

Commenters at the TurnToIslam website (see the 'Mumbai blasts - The inside story' thread) have now decided that the bloody murders in Mumbai (about which I commented here) were carried out either by a) “Indian Military Intelligence officers in orchestrated acts of terrorism against Muslims to create a Hindu-Muslim riot situation as well as to create a justification for war against Pakistan,” b) the Hindus, c) the media, or d) the Jews. 

While “we may never know the truth but ALLAH is the All-knowing,” apparently, what they do know for sure it wasn’t the Muslims -- and “even if it was done by muslims, we should not be apologetic....”

They make the moon-landing conspiracies look rational, don’t they. [Hat tip Duncan Bayne]

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Monckton to Obama: “Few challenges facing America and the world are less urgent than combating the non-problem of ‘global warming’” [update 2]

Following up on his pre-election 'Open Letter to John McCain' on the non-worry that is the climate myth – a concise, up-to-date summary of both the peer-reviewed science on the global warming myth and the economic damage that will result from responding to the myth – Christopher Monckton (who he?) has delivered a message to President-Elect Obama on the 'urgency' of combating 'global warming'.  Says Monckton,

    Few challenges facing America and the world are less urgent than combating the non-problem of "global warming". On all measures, there has been no increase in global mean surface temperatures since 1995; and, according to the University of Alabama at Huntsville, near-surface temperatures in 2008 will be lower than in 1980, 28 years ago, the first complete year of satellite observations.
    On all measures, global temperatures have been falling for seven full years since late 2001. The January-to-January fall in temperatures between 2007 and 2008 was the greatest since global temperature records were first compiled in 1880, 128 years ago.
    The rate of new Arctic sea-ice formation in mid-October 2008 was among the fastest since satellite records began almost 30 years ago. There has been no decline whatsoever in the total global extent of sea ice since satellite records began.
   New records for the extent of northern-hemisphere snow cover were observed by the satellites in the winter of 2001 and again in 2007. This year, many ski resorts are opening early as Arctic weather strikes. Many temperature stations in the northern hemisphere recorded record low temperatures in October/November 2008.
   
These facts are inconsistent with the notion that "global warming" is occurring, still less that it is dangerous.

Remember how the Obamessiah chose the moment of his nomination to tell the world “This is the moment the waters stopped rising and the planet started to heal.” Be a great miracle to pull off if the Messiah could stop a non-problem, huh?

PS: And by the way, for those of you who’ve bought the myth of the catastrophe of “rapidly rising” anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions and who are still flummoxed by that relatively flat line in Friday’s graph (“where’s the huge leap Al Gore promised us?” some of you are still wondering), you’ll appreciate this snippet from Monckton’s letter to John McCain:

The facts about carbon dioxide concentration
   
…Greenhouse gases keep the world warm enough for plant and animal life to thrive. Without them, the Earth would be an ice-planet all of the time rather than some of the time. The existence of greenhouse gases, whether natural or anthropogenic, retains in the atmosphere some 100 Watts per square meter of radiant energy from the Sun (Kiehl & Trenberth, 1997) that would otherwise pass out uninterrupted to space.
    According to the UN's climate panel [IPCC, 2007], anthropogenic "radiative forcings" from all sources compared with 1750 account for just 1.6% of this total, or perhaps almost 5% if temperature feedbacks as currently overestimated by the UN are taken into account. I say overestimated because the sum of the UN's high-end estimates of individual temperature feedbacks exceeds the maximum that is possible in the feedback equation used by the UN, implying that the central estimates are also very likely to be excessive…
   …[T]he "worst" greenhouse gas - the one which, through its sheer quantity in the atmosphere, accounts for two-thirds of the 100 Watts per square meter of greenhouse-gas radiative forcing reported by Kiehl & Trenberth (2007, op. cit.) - is water vapor. Carbon dioxide accounts for little more than a quarter.
    Two-thirds of the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is naturally present, and carbon dioxide occupies just one-ten-thousandth more of the atmosphere today than it did 250 years ago (Keeling & Whorf, 2004, updated): for the atmosphere is large and we are small.
    The UN's climate panel [IPCC, 2007] thinks that a doubling of carbon dioxide concentration compared with 1750 might occur later this century on current trends, and may lead to a global temperature increase of almost 6 °F. However, numerous papers in the peer-reviewed literature confirm that the UN's central climate-sensitivity projection must be excessive.
    Allowing for the fact that the UN's climate panel has exaggerated the effects of temperature feedbacks, the temperature increase in consequence of a doubling of carbon dioxide concentration could be as little as 1 °F. Values as low as this have been suggested in the peer-reviewed literature (e.g. Chylek et al., 2007).
    You have proposed … that three-fifths of the US economy should be closed down by 2060 [to combat “global warming”]. Do you not think that a far greater degree of scientific certainty as to the effects of minuscule increases in carbon dioxide concentration on temperature would be advisable before strategic damage on any such scale is inflicted upon the US economy from within, and by a Republican?

UPDATE 1: If you’d like to sit back and admire Christopher Monckton’s debating style, then read the comments thread on this post on CO2 and peer-reviewed science at the Indonesia Matters blog.

UPDATE 2: It’s the attack of the Christophers!  Says Christopher Booker: “President-elect Barack Obama proposes economic suicide for US.”

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RMA to be reviewed to promote easier theft-by-government

Despite what some of you are still pathetically hoping for, the revolting Nick Smith, the Minister for the RMA, promises no change at all to the heart of the RMA, which is where the real poison lies -- he exhibits explicit disinterest in property rights (which is what is so desperately needed at the heart of the RMA) -- and no interest at all in making the RMA work better for you and me: only in making it work better for the government's Think Biggish public works programme.

If you still don’t believe me, take a look at what this vile scum is promising.  The National/ACT Government, he says –- the Government that you voted for --  will review the Resource Management Act to, quote, “'look at how companies win the right to take private land.”  

Yes, you read that right.  To “'look at how companies win the right to take private land.”

This is what you voted for.

The first ones to be hit will be Canterbury farmers, who Nick Smith is preparing to set up for theft-by-government to make way for the Central Plains irrigation scheme. As Libertarianz deputy Richard McGrath points out, "Environment Minister Nick Smith doesn't even pretend to be concerned for the property rights of Canterbury farmers. His primary goal is to make it easier for a private developer to steal their land."

This is the “brighter future” you voted for.  You can’t say you weren’t warned.

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Blog stats for November '08

Since it got a little hectic there for a while, I haven’t done my blog stats since September – something about an election, I think it was.  So I’m curious to see what’s changed in all the kerfuffle.  Here's some of the main stats for NOT PC last month:

NZ Political Blog Rank for NOT PC: 6th (August, 7th)
Alexa Ranking, NZ: 538th  (last month 577th)
Alexa Ranking, world: 239,877th (last month 255,965th)
Avge. Monday to Friday readership: 1591/day (1345)
Unique visits [from Statcounter] 45,674  (39,618)
Page views [from Statcounter] 70,548 (59,647)

Top posts this month:

Top referring sites:
Search engines 3490 referrals; No Minister 1485; Kiwiblog 1364; Libertarianz 818; NZ Capitalist 358; Lindsay Mitchell 228; Roar Prawn 214; Mulholland Drive 187; Trotter/Hooton 185; Facebook 178; Liberty Scott 166; Samizdata 155; Barnsley Bill 154; Annie Fox 153; Oswald 133; WhaleOil 132
Top searches landing here:
not pc/pc blog etc 814; peter schiff 565; causes of global financial crisis 186; greens ban word appears site 127; gold shortage 95; broadacre city 91; wisdom supporting freedom sculpture jules dalou 87; sean kimpton 83; free radical john key 69; lgm not pc hadron collider 61; mcshane environmental legal assistance fund 57; female bloggers 56;  nude olympians 49
They're reading NOT PC here:
NOT-PC-November08Map
Top countries/territories
NZ 43%; USA 24%; UK 4.6%; Australia 4.5%; Canada 2.6%; Germany 1.3%; India 1.3%; Italy 1.1%; Indonesia 0.8%; France 0.7%; Spain 0.7%  (and still not one visitor from the proud state of Alaska).
Top cities 
Auckland 27%; Wellington 6.9%; Christchurch 4.4%; Sydney 2.0%; London 1.6%; Palmerston North 1.0%; Tauranga 1.0%; Melbourne 0.9%; Hamilton 0.8%; New York 0.7%; Brisbane 0.7%
Readers' Browsers
IE Explorer 45%; Firefox 43%; Safari 7.7%; Opera 2.2%; Chrome 1.5%
Readers' Connection Speeds
Unknown 40%; DSl 31%; Cable 17%; T1 9.1%; Dial-up 3.0%; OC3 0.4%; ISDN 0.1%

Cheers, and thanks to you all for reading and linking to NOT PC this month,
Peter Cresswell

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