Monday, 20 July 2009

Monday Morning Ramble #37 [update 5]

Here’s another bunch o’links I’ve been wanting to talk to you about  for a week or so . . .

  • Liberty Scott asks if government censorship of the internet in the name of child porn is a “trojan horse for censoring more than material produced in the context of a real crime.”  Given that the Department of Internal Affairs is intending to take your name, rank and IP number if you access any one of a list of sites that only they are allowed to know (a little like playing Russian roulette with an opponent who’s also making up the rules as you go), you have to wonder.
    And Emma Hart (who believes “the Censor's Office in New Zealand does a very good job”!) is nonetheless sufficiently concerned about government “filtering” of the internet to believe you should be to.
  • MacDoctor suggests we should all be more thoughtful about Chief Justice Sian Elias’s ‘Blameless Babes‘ speech. But his own thoughts, which are representative of many, is that the menu of alternatives for the justice system is exhausted by it being either Restorative, Rehabilitative or Retributive.  Like many others, including Ms Elias, he doesn’t realise its primary purpose is to be Protective – of us.  Not to reduce the number of criminals, but to reduce the number of victims.
  • Warmists are waving the white flag.  While the politicians are insisting “the science is settled” and moving to strangle industry in the name of fighting global warming, leading warmist website Real Climate (“Climate Science from real climate scientists”) is waving the white flag.  Recognising that we’ve now seen a decade of cooling (“or at least flat lining”) instead of the runaway warming their models predict, they’re now retreating to a fallback position: that “the era of consistent record-breaking global mean temperatures will not resume until roughly 2020.” Far enough away to save their careers, perhaps.  See their wriggling at: Warming, interrupted: Much ado about natural variability.
    Anthony Watts gives the obituary for warmist science: “Imagine, twenty-two or more years (1998 to ~2020) of no new global temperature record. What would that do to the debate? . . .  Policy makers and the public can handle uncertainty, its the nonsense they have trouble with.
    And Mickey’s Muses makes it explicit: “I think I hear the fat lady singing.”
  • Meanwhile, Doug Reich “debunks the myth that stimulus programs and/or cap and trade actually will ‘create’ employment, so-called ‘Green Jobs’."
    Read Obama's "Green Jobs" Through a Broken Window.
  • And what about those "well-intentioned idealists" we call environmentalists? Says Doug (again) at The Rational Capitalist, "Given the deadly consequences of implementing the U.S. Cap and Trade Bill, among other environmentalist and leftist proposals, can anyone argue that these people are ‘well-intentioned idealists’?"
    Read Lethal Exposure and see if you still can.
  • Speaking of politicisation of science, Spiked Online weighs in on the “politics” of Swine Flu: “This politicisation of swine flu is bad for our health. There are two swine flus: the real disease, which is proving manageable, and the fantasy catastrophic disease invented by officialdom.” 
    Read This politicisation of swine flu is bad for our health.
  • And now on to the politicisation of economics.   Rational Capitalist Doug Reich invites you to try this at home: “If you want to understand why “stimulus” programs do not work in the sense of generating economic growth, try the following experiment at home or at your place of business.  Go up to someone and hand them $20 and tell them that by giving them this money, you intend to “stimulate” the local economy and observe what happens . . .”  Read on for a simple way to understand stimulunacy: Obama: Please Try This at Home.
  • What about the politicisation of childcare?  Activism on the anti-smacking law shouldn’t overlook that just because something’s legal doesn’t make it compulsory – and just because it’s been made illegal, it doesn’t make it right.
    Fact is, non-punitive discipline of children is possible, but it’s hard.  Kelly Elmore gives a great account of just how hard it is to deal with a tantrum without resorting to what we’d all like to do at such times: Horrendous Tantrum, Desire to Punish, and What I Did Instead.  Good reading.
  • And the politicisation of food?  Executive director of the Organisation for Rare Disorders, John Forman, is aghast at the cancelling of compulsory folate in bread.  He wonders “"Who is going to take responsibility for a couple of classrooms of kids that are not going to be there - every year?"  Says Elliot Smith, the answer is “My Wife.”
    UPDATE: Lindsay Perigo applauds the cancellation: “"There can be no argument about this," says Perigo. "It's solely a freedom issue, not one of the health benefits or risks of adding folic acid to bread. People who want the stuff should go visit their pharmacist, not foist it on the rest of us. . . The point now is to ensure that the wishy-washy John Key doesn't backslide on this, and that the government generally moves in the direction of favouring freedom over fascism in *all* matters. 
    “In the meantime, if bakers wanted voluntarily to enhance the health of the nation, they might consider adding prussic acid to the bread of politicians and journalists with socialist agendas," Perigo concludes.
  • Caught up with the NBR-versus-bloggers kerfuffle yet? National Business Review owner Barry Colman appears to think that bloggers are destroying his business model. Excuse me, that’s  the "huge band of amateur, untrained, unqualified bloggers” who, he says “have swarmed over the internet pouring out columns of unsubstantiated ‘facts’ and ‘hysterical opinion’" who have destroyed his business model.
    Blogger and trained economist Paul Walker destroys that argument in short order,  and then trained international economists pick up the threadBernard Hickey explains why Bazza’s business model needs work (following which Cactus returns the favour).
    Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal is celebrating, rather that denigrating, the work of economics bloggers (which rather supports Paul Walker’s argument), and the National Business Review will shortly begin charging for “subscriber-only” content.
    [UPDATE: Russell Brown weighs in.]
  • I guess I should post a link to my own thoughts on the blogger-MSM divide, posted a few weeks back: Just the Facts, Ma’am.
  • Working woman Cactus Kate explains why the most profitable career path for New Zealand women is now . .  wait for it . . . housework
    And she points out why Obama Goes Where White Men Fear .
  • 6a00d83451d75d69e201157217da8b970b-320wi If you thought that the television coverage of the last local election was appalling, then the research of Massey University’s Associate Professor Margie Comrie agrees with you.  Bryce Edwards has details: Television coverage of the 2008 NZ election.
    UPDATE:  What about the newspapers? “How well did the daily newspapers cover the 2008 election campaign? Did readers get good, substantial information to make informed choices between parties? Or did the papers focus on the personalities and events, and more superficial aspects of the campaign? Was the ‘horse race’ given greater coverage than policy? Was ‘there a structural bias towards coverage of the major players?’”
    Bryce Edwards summarises the research on these questions too – and you might be surprised by the answers. 
    Read Newspaper coverage of the 2008 NZ election.
  • colors Here’s a great optical illusion website, full of cool illusions like this one on the right. (If you see embedded spirals of green, pinkish-orange, and blue, then you might like to know that, incredibly, the green and the blue spirals are the same color.)
    Do optical illusions like this somehow challenge our claims to objectivity?  Not at all.  As the One Reality blog explains, “The senses are in fact infallible.  And optical illusions themselves are marvellous demonstrations of this fact.”
    Read Optical Illusions.
  • Ever had your photos ruined by some schmuck who’s either intentionally or inadvertently invaded your frame?  Then the photobomb website is for you, everything from videobombing to jagerbombing.
    Check it out: This is Photobomb:  Photojackers of the World Unite! [hat tip Noodle Food]
  • If you’re in Auckland and you know enough facts about whiskey (or whisky), then you could win a double pass to The Whisky Shop Tasting.
  • Ed Hudgins posts an uncharacteristically good piece celebrating the fortieth anniversary of man first walking on the moon – and explains why NASA’s finest years are behind it, and the future for private space exploration.  Read When We Walked on the Moon.
  • English grammar—it’s not just for good writing, it’s also essential for good reasoning. But it's a subject, notes the Grammar Revolution website, “that fills many of us with frustration, but it doesn't have to.”  Head to the the Grammar Revolution website to find exercises, lessons, and sentence diagrams that will turn you into a grammar pro! 
  • Following up on the July 4 celebrations, Titanic Deck Chairs hosted a spirited set of debates about the American Constitution, the motivations of the Founding Fathers, the understanding of natural rights at the time, the importance of ideas as drivers of history and other light topics. 
    See Debates on the Founding Era, Debates... Part 2, and the post that started it all, ARCTV - Ridpath on Patrick Henry.
    UPDATE: And on the same theme, Stephen Hicks recently interviewed two Adams and Jefferson scholars, Professors Brad Thompson and David Mayer, for his Rockford College  Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship. Watch videos of the interviews with Thompson on John Adams and Mayer on Thomas Jefferson.
  • Gus Van Horn “sends the pope a thank-you note for bringing up the moral basis of capitalism.”  Read A Recycled Encyclical?
  • Roderick Fitts,has a new blog focused on his investigations into induction [hat tip Titanic Deck Chairs]. Here’s two goodies already:.
    1. Roderick Fitts presents Aristotle on Induction posted at Inductive Quest, calling it his “first stop on his grand adventure to understand induction."
    2. Roderick Fitts presents Induction's Bad Reputation posted at Inductive Quest, calling it “another stop in which I discuss my problems with ‘induction by simple enumeration.’ I'm with Francis Bacon on this issue, and suggest that you should be too!"
  • All that inflation of the monetary base has to go somewhere.  Right? At present banks everywhere are putting it all under their mattresses until the rainy day is over – to the frustration of politicians worldwide – but just wait ‘till they start injecting it all into the markets!
    Which is why everyone is watching the twitching of various price inflation indicators, and why –perhaps – those price inflation indicators are being tinkered with again.
  • Bernard Hickey argues NZ’s rising debt is due to investment, not extra consumption.  He attracted some good commentary.
  • greenspan-bubble “No one saw the economic collapse coming?”  We know that’s nonsense by now – but now people are starting to examine why those who got it right did get it right.   One recent study suggests that those who use “financial accounting models” rather than “equilibrium models” did best. 
    Read "No One Saw This Coming": Understanding Financial Crisis Through Accounting Models.  The comments are interesting too.
  • No wonder the Austrian school of economics is on the rise.
  • What’s Austrian Economics?  This interview with Austrian economist Richard Ebeling is an easy introduction.
    (On a personal note, it was Ebeling’s brilliantly concise Austrian Economics: A Reader that was my own introduction to Austrian economics, so I retain a certain affection for him.)
  • What’s the lowdown on crude Keynesianism?  Simple, says William Anderson: Keynesians like Paul Krugman do “not differentiate between private and government borrowing.” Business borrowing is primarily done for capital investment, whereas government borrowing is done so governments can spend more than they take in with taxes – the former is investment, the latter is consumption – “yet Keynesians seem to believe that the only benefit business borrowing provides is the spending that takes place, so if government does the borrowing and spending instead, then all the better.”  Sounds like insanity?  It is. 
    Read The Lowdown on Crude Keynesianism.
  • On a related note, Bernard Hickey notes an ASB survey showing “rental property the most popular investment choice again for 1st time since ‘07.”
    “We've learnt nothing,” he says.
  • Gold versus fractional reserve banking.  Henry Hazlitt compares the two.
  • What’s gold up to now?  David McGregor at the Sovereign Life blog offers his thoughts.  He’s a bull.  Jim Rogers isn’t so convinced.  The IMF’s big gold sell-off makes him a bear.
  • Tax 001 Ever wondered how many NZ workers to how many NZ beneficiaries?
    Answer: in 2004, the ratio was 2.5 to 1.
    Now? It’s more like 1:5 to 1.
    And that’s not counting those “workers” who are beneficiaries as well – i.e., those whose wages are paid by the taxpayer.
    Are we at a tipping point yet?
  • And finally, more Richard Feynman brilliance has been released to the ‘net, this time by Bill Gates, who brings you all seven Messenger Lectures that Richard Feynman gave at Cornell in 1964.  [Head here to find out how to watch them].
    Czech physicist Lubos Motl says Gates “considers these lectures to be best ever. He has hoped to bring them to the public for 20 years. Now, two decades and 40 billion U.S. dollars later, he has realized his dream. :-)
    ”The seven parts discuss
    1. Law of gravitation: an example of a physical law
      (includes a funny provost's introduction)
    2. The relation of mathematics and physics
    3. The great conservation principles
      (a clever mother, unlike most, counts the blocks)
    4. Symmetry in physical law
      (includes special relativity)
    5. The distinction of past and future
    6. Probability and uncertainty: the quantum mechanical view of Nature
    7. Seeking new laws”

That’s another ramble for another week, folks.
Enjoy your Monday!


  • Tim Blair posts on another fortieth anniversary this week that America’s longest-serving beneficiary would like us all to forget:
  • Left? Right? Which side of the divide does this party sound like: “protectionist laws limiting the import of foreign goods. . . giving workers shares in their bosses’ companies. . .  nationalize the public utilities, railroad companies and so forth. Economic protectionism. Worker cooperatives. State ownership. . . “  Sounds like “far right to you”?  As Mark Steyn says, “On closer inspection, Europe’s “far right” doesn’t seem to go very far at all.”  [Hat tip Tim Blair]
    che_killsRead The New Right, er, Left.
  • And Tim Blair also links to the gratifying news that Stephen Soderbergh’s filmic eulogy to one of South America’s most-celebrated mass murders, Che, was “a complete box office failure.”
    Because “the fans of a sworn enemy of private enterprise and bourgeoisie property laws” headed out in their droves and downloaded pirated copies” -- an irony that is completely lost on the film-maker.
  • From the Chicago Black Sox to Tonya Harding, sports cheaters are the ultimate second-handers says Stephen Hicks, linking to the fifteen top cheats in sports history.


  1. Bill Gates enthusiasm about Feynman's lectures lead him to hire the great Physicist after Feynman turned up for an interview at Microsoft:

    If Richard Feynman applied for a job at Microsoft (Feynman joke)

  2. Where the fuck did you find the time to put all that together!!!!


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