Friday, 14 August 2009

Friday Morning Ramble #27 [updated]

Once again I’ve been sent so many great links this week (thank you, folks) that I haven’t been able to talk about them all in the normal run of posts, so here’s a ramble through the best of what you need to know (and sorry, I can’t always remember who deserves the hat tip).
  • Penn & Teller explain the envy-ridden simplicity of Obamanomics.  “I’m not taking pie from you, I’m giving pie to me.”
  • Organic food is just a tax on the gullible, says Dominic Lawson. [Hat tip Inquiring Mind]
  • Is safeguarding Afghanis more important than American (and New Zealand) lives?  The way the war is being fought, you’d certainly think so, says Elan Journo of the Ayn Rand Center.
  • Lindsay Mitchell wants to know: Will Roger Douglas be joining the 'Hands off our perks' campaign?
  • How about this one then.  Are ‘Green’ Programs Good for the Poor?  Well, what do you think.
  • Marketing guru CJ Lambert explains, for this modern age, Why Business Cards Suck.  I’m starting to agree.
  • Now this is how to communicate science visually.  Watch Those lovely squiddy colors.
  • Fred Wilson explains how to get a good blog comments section going – and why you should bother.  Basically, if the author of the blog “tends to the comments, replies to the good ones, signals the bad ones, chastises the loudmouth bullies, [deletes vituperative anonymous morons], and generally runs the comment threads like a serious discussion group, a serious discussion will result.”  Time consuming but worth it, he reckons. Best local example of that is probably Public Address.  (You can add you pick of worst local example in my comments below.) Mind you, he reckons that others who act as "bouncers" can be a great help. “They help . . . police the comment threads and make sure the conversation stays civil and high minded.” And also by “the commenters themselves who understand the rules, even through they are not written anywhere, and follow them.”  That’s you, he’s talking about, you know. :-)
  • New Zealanders are now enduring one of the most timid governments in living memory. Elected on a policy platform of crawling me-tooism, it’s hardly failed to disappoint. 
       From its Emissions Tax Scams to its non-reforms of the RMA, from its “bold and decisive” – and urgent! – first-hundred days (which delivered only spin, spittle and more evidence that these crawling appeasers were born to be mild) to “reshuffling” the bloated and bureaucratically managed state-owned power generators (instead of selling them into private ownership), it’s clear that the two ‘P’ words causing most fear for this government are PROPERTY-RIGHTS and PRIVATISATION – two concepts that daren’t speak their name, even in a government strapped for cash.
        So no wonder this band of halfway-house merchants are so excited about the halfway-house of so-called “public-private-partnerships,” the privatisation you have when you want to privatise profits and socialise the risks.  Liberty Scott explains why this is another halfway-house we just can’t afford.  Read: Why bother with PPPs?.
  • Margaret Thatcher’s sterling lieutenant Norman Tebbit reckons that Conservative Party leader David Cameron – Britain’s John Key – will drive UK’s Tory voters to the UK Independence Party. “The former Conservative Cabinet minister said Mr Cameron and the “clever young men” were focusing their appeal on former Labour and Liberal Democrat voters and ignoring the concerns of traditional Tories.”[Hat tip Sam Hearne]
    NZ’s ACT supporters might like to think that something similar might happen here. But they might care to notice that the UKIP has retained its principles . . .
  • "The best way to rob a bank is to own a bank"  -- quote from this Bill Moyers interview.  Think about it. So the best way to rob every bank? To be chairman of The Federal Reserve.  Nonetheless, you can only rob some of the people some of the time.  Gary North explains Why Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is Now in Panic Mode.
  • Another entry in the Destruction-of-the-War-on-Drugs file, this time in Mexico and Colombia.  Stephanie Hanson at CATO looks at the US$6 billion failure of Plan Colombia, which in six years failed to drop cocaine production, but did succeed in raising prices for producers – and adding to the already-present violence in the area.  She concludes, “As drug traffickers have shown time and time again, when efforts are made to disrupt their business, they adapt-whether by shipping their product to Europe via West Africa, or to Mexico via ship instead of air. Trying to disrupt the supply or transit of drugs is, as Ted Galen Carpenter clearly outlines, a futile endeavor.”
    Read Evaluating Plan Colombia.
  • What does Al Gore have in common with Godfather Vito Corleone?  Read this and find out: The Thuggery of Al Gore.
  • Frankly my dear, The real threat is not climate change but green climate policies.
  • UPDATE: And while we’re talking about thuggery and coercion, how about the thuggery of Obama’s goons?
  • And what about America’s ‘free market’ health care?  What free market health care?
  • Rush Limbaugh reads out Objectivist professor John Lewis’s analysis of ObamaCare.  Listen in (or just read the transcript): A Duke Professor Explains What the Health Care Bill Actually Says.
  • Lin Zinser and Paul Hsieh contrast Moral Health Care vs. “Universal Health Care” at The Objective Standard.  An oldie, but a very-very-goodie.  If you think the ObamaCare debate doesn’t affect you, then this is the one to read.
  • Looks like Australia’s rugby team the Wallabies sure have fun at training.  Ouch! [Hat tip Simon Pound]
  • From the ‘You-Meet-Ayn-Rand-in-the-Strangest-Places file. CNBC’s book blog explains Why Ayn Rand Is Still Relevant.  They’re right, she is . . . but this is CNBC saying this!
  • Getting ready to post its fifth straight apocalyptic predictions for the coming century, prediction which like the last four will no doubt all be falsified by global temperatures, the UN’s IPCC says it’s not going less of for science and more for politics.  (So what’s changed?, you might ask). 
    Read The IPCC Gets Sick of Science, by Jerry Taylor.
  • UPDATE: Les Paul, Jazz-Guitar Virtuoso and Inventor, Dies at 94. [Hat tip George Light.]  Watch the first ten minutes here of the doco Chasing Sound, of the man who took what Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian were doing, and turned it into the guitar sound that changed the world. Or even better (if you can somehow ignore the exploding head!) check out this superb track from the 1944 Jazz at the Philharmonic Concert.
  • That Prince of the Wairarapa Oswald Bastable has written a novel. True story. “After 5 years of editing, chopping and changing, reformatting, combining two books into one, recycling as firelighters and a heap of procrastination, Meddlers in Time is available as an e-book here for the princely sum of US$2.50. A dead-tree version in in the pipeline,” he promises.  Head over and congratulate him.
  • Calling all rational parents.  Rational Jenn would like you to know about a new blog carnival starting up! The Non-Punitive Discipline Blog Carnival will be a monthly collection of posts about ". . . attachment parenting, playful parenting, limit setting, and any other non-punitive ways of helping our children learn self-control."
    And yes, Virginia, rational non-punitive parents can still vote “No!”
  • Every postmodernist’s favourite philosopher Martin Heidegger was a Nazi?!  But of course.
  • PJ O’Rourke talks to Reason TV about Government Motors, and much more.  Takeaway quip: Putting politicians in charge of the financial sector is like when father burns dinner, and putting the dog in charge of the cooking. In other words, the one creature in the house you know is going to do a worse job. [Hat tip Bob Murphy]
  • This is the kind of "social responsibility" investing that companies should be doing says Steven C.: The accidental business incubator.
  • What do liberal New York Times’ contributors do when the percentage of GDP consumed by ever-increasing government spending grows too large to ignore? asks Eric Peltier at The Undercurrent. Answer: They replace GDP with a new measurement, of course. One which includes such non-quantifiable values as “ecosystem services” and “regulation of our climate on a global and local scale.” It’ll turn the economic ruin of “cap and trade” into gold, too, says Eric.
        He’s right of course, but let’s face it, so too are many of the criticisms of the GDP delusion are spot on.  The GDP fetish is a delusional nonsense anyway: it sees no difference between consumption and production – between productive expenditure and money thrown down the drain – so confusing capital accumulation with eating the seed corn.
       In fact all it really measures is the growth in the money supply. No wonder countries deep in recession can still pretend to show “positive growth.”  If you want to know more, check out these pieces on the GDP Delusion, in increasing order of thoroughness:
  • Robert Barro’s comments on the "cash for clunkers programme" in the US, posted at Anti Dismal, give you more GDP ludicrosity (to coin a word_:
    The most ludicrous . . .  intervention thus far has to be the cash-for-clunkers program. It’s not surprising that subsidising people to destroy old cars would raise GDP, because measured GDP includes the replacement cars but not the value lost from destruction. Why not also blow up houses and factories and then enjoy the expansion of GDP from the replacement investment?
  • Green shoots?  What green shoots? asks local luminary Louis Boulanger. Scrowl down to Green Shoots & Leprechauns.
  • Oh Wait, Maybe the Recession Isn't Over After All. You think?
  • What’s The Beast That Ate Our Economic Success?  Bernard Hickey has the simple answer.
  • Stephen Hicks explains What business ethics can learn from entrepreneurship, and points to an exciting new documentary to be released soon: Ten9Eight. Directed by Mary Mazzio, it is about a dozen instant-classic American success stories — and entrepreneurship’s power over poverty and adversity.
  • And finally, this here below is the speech of the week, if not the year.  In fact, one young man emailed me to say that watching it had changed his life, by bringing together for him – for integrating – ideas he’d been struggling with.
        The lecture is by John Allison, the man who took over a small North Carolina bank, BB&T, and turned it into one of America’s largest banks, holding over $130 billion, and one of the soundest.  Still is. 
        In this lecture, Allison outlines the values of his organisation that made that success happen – how sound philosophy gives you, and your business, a competitive advantage.
        Sit back, relax, and take notes.  It’s that good. (And then send the link to your friends.)
  • UPDATE: Jeff Perren just posted this note over at SOLO.  See if you can identify its connection with the point at the heart of Allison’s presentation above:
  • I remember an interview with Sean Connery during which he was asked, I'm paraphrasing - but closely - the question and his answer, what was the most important thing in the world to him. His reply was: "To feel good inside my own skin at the end of the day."
PS: Is there anyone out there who reads Czech?  Scott Powell at Powell History needs some help with a little Czech translation if you’d be able to help, or know someone who could.  If you can help then email me at organon at with CZECH in the heading, and I’ll pass it on.


  1. "Best local example of that is probably Public Address."

    Yes of course. Because they're a bunch of boring snot nosed simpering ponderous patronising sneering smearing up themselves elitists, Marxists, Communists and Progressives.

  2. Thanks for the plug- my sales have doubled!

    (That's two copies now!)


  3. "Yes of course. Because they're a bunch of boring snot nosed simpering ponderous patronising sneering smearing up themselves elitists, Marxists, Communists and Progressives. "

    Well, yes they are. But they're also polite to each other.

    You arsehole. :-)

  4. "Thanks for the plug- my sales have doubled!"

    Pleased to hear it. Let me know when it gets to three and I'll claim my commission. :)

  5. Penn & Teller dead on the money again, in less than 2 mins.

  6. I only write Czechs, I don't read them.

  7. Have you seen this

    A fucking outrage. It would seem as long as you are a Maori and criminally stupid and ignorant, you can blithely go and kill someone and be sentenced to being indoctrinated with even more wishy washy crap. As if the fact that they didn't have enough knowledge of "their culture" is an excuse to murder someone.

  8. Sounds like they already had a bit too much of their "culture" if you ask me.

  9. Had too much of people tiptoeing round their mythical bullshit.

  10. I'm waiting to see what happens when John Key's cycle path encounters the taniwha!

  11. "they're also polite to each other'

    Of course, because they're all in asplendid greement with the main argument, and only occasionally at odds over the detail.


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